Today (Friday 21st August 2015) I had a day off work, but the morning did not give any good signs of it being an ideal day to head out for a portable activation. The weather was cold, cloudy, with showers. But by lunch time the weather had cleared and the sun had revealed itself. So I packed the 4WD and headed to the Mount George Conservation Park, VKFF-784. The park is just a short drive from my home, down the South Eastern Freeway towards Adelaide.
I have activated Mount George CP previously as part of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award. But this was the first time I had activated the park as part of the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.
Above:- Map showing the location of Mt George CP. Courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
Mount George CP was set aside as a reserve to protect stands of native vegetation, inspiring landscape and a diversity of habitat types. The 62 hectare park is divided into trwo sections, which are separated by Mount George Road, Cox Creek and the Mount George picnic ground. The famous Heysen Trail also passes through the park.
Prior to European settlement, the area of land belonged to the Peramangk Aboriginal people. After European settlement, the land was farmed and the surrounding stringybark forests were logged for timber and firewood until the 1940’s. Most of the park was left in its original condition. The fenced Eastern Section was developed as an Earthwatch Reserve in 1986 for nature conservation and environment education.
The park is covered with vegetation ranging from wetlands to open forest. Brown and messmate stringybark trees cover the higher slops. A mixture of candlebark and manna gum (considered rare in South Australia) covers the lower slopes. Rocky outcrops, some with superb views, are found in both sections of the park. The understorey offers spectactular spring glowers, including flowering pea flower, ground hugging correas and various native orchids. Native cherries are also pound in the park.
Many native bird species can be seen in the park including Superb blue wrens, red-brown finches, white-throated treecreepers, yellow tailed black cockatoos and wedge tailed eagles.
A variety of mammal species may be seen in the park, particularly at dawn and fusk. They include western grey kangaroos, possums and echidnas. Bearded dragons, sleepy and blue tongued lizard, and various skinks are just some of the reptiles to be found in the park.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot. Courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
I set up on one of the wooden benches and tables in the Mount George Picnic ground area. The afternoon was cool, but the sun was out and it was quite pleasant sitting under the large gum trees. The park was quite active, with lots of people enjoying the sunshine.
I used the normal equipment for this activation, consisting of the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and my 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.
I had nominated 7.144 as a starting point, but there was a station from VK3 on 7.140, so I headed to 7.145 on 40m. I called CQ for a few minutes before being answered by park stalwart, Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula. Adrian had a good 5/9 signal. This was a good sign, as 40m has been a little ordinary the past week or so. Next up was Col VK5HCF at the other end of South Australia, down in Mount Gambier. Again, a great 5/9 signal. This was followed by a call from Rick VK4RF in Queensland with a nice strong 5/8 signal. Rick has become a regular park hunter.
Thanks to Adrian VK5FANA and Mick VK3PMG for spotting me on parksnpeaks. And also thanks to Rick VK4RF for spotting me on the VKFF/SOTA Facebook site and the WWFF Facebook site. I’m sure this contributed to the steady flow of callers that followed.
I worked a total of 42 stations on 40m including some very interesting contacts. That included a QSO with Amanda VK3FQSO who was QRP, running just 1 watt. Amanda was a genuine 5/9 signal from Victoria. I was also called by Andre V51B/VK2. I have spoken with Andre a number of times from Namibia on 10m short path. So it was a real surprise when I heard his voice on 40m. Also some excellent mobile signals. This included Andrew VK5FLCS mobile near Tiboburra in far north west New South Wales (5/9); Danny VK4SD/2 (5/9); John VK2YW mobile 180 km north west of Broken Hill (5/9); and John VK3FCAN mobile (5/8).
I was also called by Gerard VK2IO who was portable on top of Livingstone Hill, VK2/ SM-093 as part of the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. Gerard was a good 5/7 signal.
And I also spoke with regular park hunter, Ken ZL4KD in New Zealand, who called in with a good 5/7 signal from Christchurch.
The weather was starting to come in from the west. The sun had gone, the wind had picked up and I was receiving the occasional drop of rain. So I headed to 20m where my first contact was Rick VK4RF with a very strong 5/9 signal. Rick was kind enough to spot me on the DX cluster, which resulted in a number of DX contacts into Slovenia, Italy, Ukraine, Slovak Republic, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, England, Russia, Spain, Japan, and the Czech Republic.
There were also some VK’s in amongst the DX. That included Perrin VK3XPT, who I had also worked on 40m; Robert VK2XXM who has become a regular park hunter; Peter VK4PHD on Bribie Island; and John VK5BJE who was my last contact.
Thanks to Rick VK4RF, Luciano I5FLN, Gyula HA6OB, and Robert VK2XXM for spotting me on the DX cluster.
So after 2 hours in the park I had a total of 64 contacts in the log. Another successful activation, and another park under my belt.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK2IO/p (SOTA VK2/ SM-093)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-