OCCFF certificate

I am very pleased to report that the brand new OCCFF Hunter award has now gone live on WWFF LogSearch.

OCCFF award certificates will be issued in increments of 7, for working Oceania DXCC entities and VK States and Territories.

All applications are electronic via LogSearch and will come via me. I will email out the certificates for FREE as a JPG or PDF file.

Many thanks to Pit YO3JW for his fantastic designs of the certificates, and thanks to Andrew M0YMAA for input to LogSearch.

And tonight when they went live I applied for my OCCFF – 7.  Here it is below…..

VK5PAS Diploma OCCFF Hunter 7

The OCCFF – 14 and OCCFF-21 look as follows…..

Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park, VKFF-919

Today (Thursday 10th September 2015) was my first of 2 days off, and the weather was beautiful…sunny and about 19 degrees C.  I had planned on activating a couple of parks on my days off, but on checking my emails this morning I found a message from Gerard VK2IO with some bad news as far as propagation.  All the bands were rated as poor.

dhihfbch

I checked the Hourly Area Prediction (HAP) charts from Space Weather Services, Bureau of Meteorology and that did not make me any happier.  Propagation out to around 400-500 km was only possible on 4mhz and below.

http://www.ips.gov.au/HF_Systems/1/1

Adelaide (1)

Nether less it was such a glorious day that I decided to head out anyway to my planned destination of the Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park, VKFF-919.  The park is about  75 km east from my home.  I have been to this park previously, and activated as part of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, but the park was recently added to the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program.  I was hoping to get 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global WWFF awards, but I wasn’t holding my breath considering the predicted band conditions.  If I got 10 QSOs, then I would qualify the park for the Australian (VKFF) program and I would be very happy.

Screenshot 2015-09-10 11.20.12

Above:- Map showing the location of the park.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park was proclaimed on the 2nd June 2005, and conserves nearly 143 hectares of Southern Cyprus Pine Forest.  It is situated about 6 km south west of Tailem Bend.  Mowantjie is the aboriginal name for the native pine found in the park, while Willauwar is a plural word meaning ‘forest of species’.  Therefore the name Mowantjie Willauwar means ‘Native Pine Forest’, and this is a very accurate description of the park.  The park was originally known as the Tailem Bend Forest and still appears on Google maps as such.

There are 23 species of plants located in the park which are either of regional, state or national conservation significance.  The nationally vulnerable Sandhill Greenhood Orchid and nationally endangered Metallic Sun-orchid have been found in the park.

Over 40 different bird species can be found in the park.  Of these at least nine native bird spcies are of state or regional conservation significance.  The park was certainly alive with wrens.  At one stage I even had an eagle soaring above my operating spot.  Other native fauna located in the park include Eastern Grey kangaroos, and Sand Goannas.

On my way to the park I stopped off at the Frank Jackman lookout at Murray Bridge.  Some excellent views can be obtained here of the mighty Murray River and the surrounding countryside.

After leaving Murray Bridge I spoke with Roald VK1MTS/2 who was activating a summit for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  Roald was on on the top of Bobbara Mountain, VK2/ ST-044 (5/3 sent and 5/7 received).  I then continued on to the little town of Tailem Bend, where I again stopped to view the Murray River.  I could see the park in the distance from my vantage point.

After leaving Tailem Bend I turned onto the Princes Highway and travelled south towards Meningie.  I briefly stopped near the northern tip of the park.  There is a parking area here and it was at this point that the Princes Highway previously cut through the park.  The road was re-routed during the 1960’s to bypass the park.  There is a monument here to commemorate the changes to the Highway.  You can operate from this spot.  There is a small gate leading into the park and plenty of room to park your car.  But I decided to head to my previous operating spot.

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Prior to setting up though, I travelled to the end of Placid Estate Road to enjoy some more views of the Murray River.  There are some very impressive shacks and houses at the end of the road, overlooking the river.  A very nice place to have a radio shack!

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I then entered the park off Placid Estate Road.  There is a gate on the northern side of the road and a track leading into the park.  I found a nice shady clearing and set up my chair and table.  For this activation I ran my normal portable set up, comprising the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on a 7 metre squid pole.

Screenshot 2015-09-10 11.19.35

Above:- Map showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I was set up and ready to go at 3.15 p.m. (0545 UTC).  I called and called and called CQ on 7.144 on 40m with absolutely no takers.  I then tuned across the band and did not hear a single station.  Oh oh!!  Fortunately I had phone coverage so I sent out an SMS message to some of the keen park hunters.  But sadly the response was not a good one.  Col VK5HCF at Mount Gambier advised that he could not hear me, as did Mick VK3PMG in Stawell in western Victoria.  And then Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula also texted me to advise he could not hear me.

It was starting to get very frustrating.  Not only was the band in poor shape, but the mosquitoes were as big as birds and were biting hard, along with the sand flies.

I called CQ again a number of times, but again, not a single taker.  It was now 3.30 p.m. (0600 UTC).  I tuned across the band and found the Kandos Group starting up on 7.093.  Tom VK2KF, the net controller had a very strong 5/9 signal so I gave him a shout and booked in to the net.  But it took a long time for my over, and the mozzies were starting to make a meal of me.  So I headed for the safety of the 4WD until it was my turn on the net.  I could not hear any of the VK3’s or VK5’s on the net, but the VK2’s and VK4’s were coming in quite well.

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After my go on the Kandos net I headed down 5 kc and called CQ on 7.088 and this was answered by Gerard VK2IO, who is a very keen SOTA and parks activator and hunter.  Gerard was 5/7 with significant QSB, and he reciprocated with a 5/5 signal report for me, also reporting QSB.  I was then called by Rick VK4RF, who recently was awarded the Diamond VKFF Hunter certificate, despite being only new to the WWFF program.  Rick was 5/5 and returned a 5/5 to me.

Despite the band being in poor shape I did manage to work VK1, VK2, VK4, VK7, and VK8.  This included a contact with Rob VK4FFAB.  I told Rob that I had brought my 15m dipole with me, but Rob advised not to even bother with 15m as he had been there a little earlier and called CQ for 30 minutes with no replies.

My last contact was with my good mate Gerald VK2HBG, who must have a very kind signal strength meter on his transceiver, because he gave me a 5/9.

I then QSY’d to 20m and called CQ on 14.310.  Again I called and called and called and absolutely no takers.  So again, I tuned across the band to find very few signals, and those that were there, were very low down.  Back to 14.310 and CQ again.  This time I was answered by Greg VK5GJ at Meadows in the Adelaide Hills.  Greg was 4/1 at best with very deep QSB.  And then the ever reliable Rick VK4RF called, but that was the end of activity on 20m.  Not a single European!

I moved back to 40m and called CQ again, but I could only manage 1 more contact, this time with Peter VK3ZPF.

The poor band conditions and mosquitoes had got the better of me.  I packed up and headed off with just 14 contacts in the log.  Well short of the required 44 contacts for the global WWFF program, but fortunately I had my 10 contacts and had qualified the park for VKFF.

On my way home I stopped off briefly at a lookout just down from the park off Princes Highway for some more views of the Murray River.

When I got home, I checked the HAP charts again, and as you can see below, band conditions were very very poor.  Thanks again to everyone that called, and thanks to those that took the time to spot me on either parksnpeaks, the DX cluster, and/or Facebook.

Adelaide

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Tom VK2KF
  2. VK2IO
  3. VK4RF
  4. VK4HA
  5. VK7CW
  6. VK1ATP
  7. VK8GM
  8. VK1ZZ/4
  9. VK4FFAB
  10. VK2HBG
  11. VK3ZPF

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. Greg VK5GJ
  2. Rick VK4HF
  3. Rick VK4HA

References.

Department for Environment and Heritage, 2008, ‘Mowantjie Willauwar and Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Parks Management Plan’.

Horsnell Gully Conservation Park VKFF-894

After packing up at the Giles Conservation Park, I headed to the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park, VKFF-894, for my second park activation of the day.  Mark VK5QI had recommended to activate from the picnic ground at the bottom of the park, but this meant a longer drive for me down into the foothills and the suburb of Skye.  So I headed south along Woods Hill Road, and onto the Ashton -Mt Lofty summit Road.  I then turned right into Coach Road, and travelled to the end of the road where there is a small carpark.

Screenshot 2015-09-07 12.03.42

Above:- Map showing the location of Horsnelly Gully CP.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Horsnell Gully Conservation Park is an adjacent park to the Giles Conservation Park.  Both the Heysen Trail and the Yurrebilla Trail wind their way through both parks.  Horsnell Gully Conservation is located about 10 km east of Adelaide and was set aside in 1964 as a Conservation Park to conserve native vegetation in the Adelaide Hills Face Zone.  The park contains a number of rare and endangered plant species.  The park was named after the State Governor’s coachman, John Horsnell.  Coach Road was once the principal road into Adelaide from the east during the 1870s and 1880s.  There was a coach gate located on the highest point of ‘Coach Hill’, which is known today as the suburb of Skye.  The driver blew a trumpet to let the settlers know that he had been through the gate and that they had to climb up to close the gate.

Screenshot 2015-09-05 11.58.44

Above:- The location of Giles and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks.  Image courtesy of Google Earth.

I set up at the end of Coach Road.  There is no through road from here down to Skye.  But there is a nice parking spot and a clearing amongst the scrub making it an ideal location to activate from the park.  Don’t be put off by the nearby power lines.  I have operated from here previously and did not experience any issues.  Nor did I on this occasion.

Screenshot 2015-09-05 11.59.30

Above:- Image showing my operating spot in the south eastern corner of the park off Coach Road.  

Image courtesy of Google Earth.

I headed for my nominating operating frequency of 7.144, but 7.145 was occupied by some European DX.  In fact the 40m band was very active with lots of good signals coming in from Europe.  I found 7.135 clear and asked if the frequency was in use.  Steve VK3HK mobile  came back to my call, advising that he had been calling CQ there but did not have any takers.  Steve kindly allowed me to use the frequency and I called CQ and this was responded to by John VK5BJE, followed by Col VK5HCF in the South East, and then Roy VK5NRG.

The band was in very good shape, with strong signals from all around Australia and New Zealand.  I worked a total of 57 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and New Zealand.  Regular park hunter, Ken ZL4KD called in to say hi, along with his wife Margaret ZL3YF.

Unfortunately I did not get time to try 20m.  I was kept very busy on 40m, and by the time callers slowed down, it was getting dark and very cold.  So it was time to pack up and head home.

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The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3HK
  2. VK5BJE
  3. VK5HCF
  4. VK5NRG
  5. VK5FEKH
  6. VK5EE
  7. VK5KAT
  8. VK3AV
  9. VK5TN
  10. VK4RF
  11. VK4HA
  12. VK1NAM
  13. VK5NJ
  14. VK3PF
  15. VK3FQSO
  16. VK5FMJC
  17. VK5FFAA
  18. VK4FFAB
  19. VK5ZAR
  20. ZL4KD
  21. VK3PMG
  22. VK5KDK
  23. VK5MRE
  24. VK3HK
  25. VK1DI
  26. VK5FMMC
  27. VK5MCB
  28. VK2IO
  29. VK4AAC/5
  30. VK3HRA
  31. ZL3YF
  32. VK4KUS
  33. VK6MB
  34. VK2XAB
  35. VK3IL
  36. VK5FANA
  37. VK3FPSR
  38. VK4MON
  39. VK4FTWO
  40. VK4QQ
  41. VK7MK
  42. VK3BSG
  43. VK2BOB
  44. VK3ZIB
  45. VK5DF
  46. VK3FKSA
  47. VK5KX
  48. VK4MWG
  49. VK2NEO
  50. VK3SOT
  51. VK2MRX
  52. VK3FSPG
  53. VK2WLS
  54. VK2FMJW
  55. VK6NU
  56. VK6APZ
  57. VK3TKK

References.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2010, ‘Horsnell Gully Conservation park and Giles Conservation Park’.

Giles Conservation Park, VKFF-884

On Saturday 5th September 2015 I activated the Giles Conservation Park, VKFF-884.  This was my second attempt at Giles.  I operated from the park on 27th August, but the weather and band conditions conspired against me, and I fell short of my required 44 contacts for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  Unlike last time, the weather on this occasion was beautiful with long periods of sunshine.

For info on my previous activation, please see…..

https://vk5pas.org/2015/08/28/giles-conservation-park-vkff-884/

On my way to the park I had the IC7000 going in the Toyota Hi Lux and I was lucky enough to get three park activators in the log.  The first was Mick VK3PMG (5/7 sent and 5/9 received) who was activating the Ararat Hills State Park, VKFF-958, followed by Tony VK3VTH (5/9 both ways) who was in the Broken Boosey State Park VKFF-752, and then Rob VK4AAC/5 (5/7 both ways) who was activating the Hale Conservation Park, VKFF-889.

Screenshot 2015-08-28 16.57.41

Above:- Map showing the location of Giles CP.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I set up on the eastern side of the park, at gate 4 off Woods Hill Road.  There was lots of activity in the park with many bushwalkers and joggers travelling passed me whilst I was setting up.  Unfortunately this is not the quietest location as Woods Hill Road is quite a busy road between Norton Summit and Ashton.  This includes the ‘weekend warriors’ on their high powered Japanese motorcycles, who roar passed the park on the windy stretch of road.  There is a sharp right and then left hand bend just above the location where I set up, which then opens up into a short straight stretch, so the motorcyclists really accelerate hard out of those corners.  I was waiting for one of them to come off and come sliding through the park fence.

And I didn’t get off to a great start.  As I removed the squid pole from the car, with the linked dipole attached to it, both legs of the dipole snapped off due to the weight.  So out came the leatherman and with some improvisation, I was very pleased to get the antenna working with a very flat VSWR.

Screenshot 2015-08-28 16.57.07

I headed to 7.144 on 40m, my nominated operating frequency and asked if the frequency was in use.  Tony VK3VTH came back to me from Broken Boosey State Park, to advise the frequency was all clear, and Tony became my first contact in Giles.  This was followed by Mark VK5QI mobile and Gary VK5FGRY mobile, who gave me some directions on how to get to the picnic ground at Horsnell Gully Conservation Park, my next planned activation.

It wasn’t long before a little pile up ensued, with callers from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7.  I was very pleased to hear the VK5’s coming though.  This was certainly not the case last time I was here in Giles with local propagation being very poor.  Eleven QSOs into the activation, and I was called by another park activator, Mick VK3PMG who was portable in VKFF-958.  It was nice to speak to Mick from both the mobile and whilst I was in the park.

A handful of QRP stations called in again.  They included John VK3FCAN running 5 watts from his Yaesu FT-817 (5/8 sent and 5/9 received); Peter VK3PF running 5 watts from his new Zeus ZS-1 software defined radio (5/3 sent and 5/7 received); Amanda VK3FQO running just 1 watt (5/4 sent and 5/6 received); and David VK3UCD running 5 watts from his little FT-817.

After working a total of 34 stations on 40m, I lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed to 14.310 on 20m.  I could just barely hear Tony VK3VTH calling CQ on that frequency, so I headed up to 14.315 and called CQ.  This was immediately answered by Albert S58AL in Slovenia.  Sadly, 20m did not appear to be in great shape.  Albert did not have his normal strong 5/9 signal but was still a respectable 5/7 signal, with a 5/5 report being returned to me.  Not bad, considering I was just running 40 watts and the little dipole.  This was followed by S52KM and then John VK5BJE.

I worked a total of 17 stations on 20m from Slovenia, Russia, New Zealand, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, VK4, VK5, and VK6.  Things were very slow and this was not such a bad thing.  I was running a bit late to get to the next park, and I was also being splattered by VK5HX who lives just down the road at Norton Summit.

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After about 90 minutes in the park, I had a total of 51 contacts in the log.  Combined with my 14 contacts from the August activation, I had well and truly qualified the park for WWFF.  So I packed up the gear and headed to my next activation, the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  • VK3VTH/p (VKFF-572)
  • VK5QI/m
  • VK5FGRY/m
  • VK5SFA
  • VK5JK
  • VK5FTRG
  • VK3FCAN
  • VK5KDK
  • VK5PL
  • VK3TKK
  • VK3PMG/p (VKFF-958)
  • VK3PF
  • VK5HCF
  • VK5EE
  • VK2NEO
  • VK3BSG
  • VK3JP
  • VK3FPBI
  • VK3FQSO
  • VK7VDL
  • VK4RF
  • VK4HA
  • VK3ANL
  • VK2IO
  • VK3ZPF
  • VK5BXN
  • VK4AAC/5
  • VK3AUQ
  • VK3SIG
  • VK5WG
  • VK5ZAR
  • VK3UCD
  • VK5FLEX
  • VK3SOT

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  • S58AL
  • S52KM
  • VK5BJE
  • VK4MWG
  • RA3PCI
  • ZL4KD
  • VK6RZ
  • IZ8EFD
  • VK6MB
  • OK7WA
  • IK1GPG
  • VK4RF
  • VK4HA
  • IZ8DFO
  • VK6NU
  • OM7OM
  • VK4PHD