Yesterday (Thursday 27th August 2015) afternoon was one of my 2 days off. I’m back to work tomorrow to work 7 straight day shifts. And of course, the weather is never kind when you’re on days off is it! I had planned to activate two parks, Giles Conservation Park, VKFF-884 on Thursday, and then Warren Conservation Park, VKFF-941, on Friday. I had activated both parks previously as part of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, but both parks were recently added to the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program. So I was hoping to obtain the required 44 contacts from each.
Unfortunately Thursday morning’s weather was very grim. The weather forecast was for ‘occasional showers, clearing in the afternoon’. But I am always cautious, because the forecast in centred around Adelaide. And although that it is only 40km away from home, the weather up here in the Adelaide Hills, can be quite dramatically different to that of Adelaide.
So I patiently waited and when the clouds and the drizzle disappeared I hit the road for the Giles CP. It was around 12.45 p.m. South Australian (S.A.) local time I had planned to be on air by 0400 UTC (1.30 p.m. SA local time). Giles CP is about 30 km to the north west of my home (by road). and is a beautiful drive through the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.
Above:- Map showing the location of Giles CP. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
I travelled down the South Eastern Freeway to Crafers and then headed north through the very picturesque Piccadilly Valley and on to the little town of Summertown. I then took Tregarthen Road and then on to Woods Hill Road. I stopped at gate 4 on Woods Hill Road. This is a nice entry point into the park, and forms part of the Heysen Trail.
The Giles Conservation Park area was settled by Charles Giles, a pioneer of the horticultural and floricultural industry of South Australia. He purchased the land while living at another property on South Road and walked to the Summit every Monday morning with his week’s provisions, returning home on Saturdays. There was no road up the valley of Third Creek at that time, and to reach his land the creek had to be crossed 21 times. Ruins of the workers’ accommodation huts, once part of an extensive nursery and orchard, can be seen.
Above:- Charles GILES. Image courtesy of Trove
The adjacent Horsnell Gully Conservation Park, including the Giles section, was set aside as a conservation park in 1964 to conserve vegetation associations of the Hills Face Zone, including a number of rare and endangered plants species. In 2007, the eastern section of the park was renamed Giles Conservation Park to honor the Giles family’s historical connections to the park.
For more information on the park, and information on my previous activations at Giles CP, please see…..
I set up just inside the park boundary. The weather was looking nasty. Lots of big black clouds. It did not look promising. I set up my fold up table and deck chair and for this activation I used my normal set up consisting of the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole.
I headed to my nominated operating frequency of 7.144 and called CQ. Much to my surprise this was answered quite quickly by Peter VK7ALB with a good strong 5/8 signal from Launceston in Tasmania. This was a good sign. The bands were predicted to be in poor shape, but Albert was nice and strong. But our QSO was dramatically cut short by rain. And it wasn’t just a shower. It was very heavy rain. So I quickly disconnected the radio and made a dash back to the 4WD, where I waited for about 20 minutes until the rain had stopped.
Take two. Back to my operating spot and a quick CQ call which was answered by John VK5BJE, who had been patiently waiting for me. John had a nice solid 5/8 signal. John’s QTH is not all that far away from the park as far as ‘the crow flies’, so it was probably ground wave propagation. Certainly, he was the only VK5 to be found in my log for this activation.
My third QSO was with Peter VK2NEO, south east of Griffith in New South Wales. Peter has one of the loudest signals on 40m. Fourth in the log was Rick VK4RF, who has become a very active participant in the WWFF program and the VK5 Parks Award.
I went on to work just 14 stations on 40m including Andre V51B/VK2. Andrew is holidaying in Australia, and this was the second park in the past couple of weeks that he has called me in. Sadly I had to cut the activation short due to heavy rain. So, no playing on 20m and no 44 contacts. I will have to venture back to this park another day to pick up another 30 contacts and qualify the park for the WWFF global award. Many thanks to all those that called and apologies to those that were after a new park. The weather gods were not smiling.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-