The weekend of Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November, 2015, saw the inaugural VKFF Activation Weekend. I had planned on activating 5 Conservation Parks over the weekend: three on Saturday, and then two on Sunday. My first activation for Saturday morning was the Mount Magnificent Conservation Park, VKFF-0916, which is about 66 km south of Adelaide, on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Mount Magnifient CP. Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
I have activated Mount Magnificent twice before: back in July 2013, and December 2014. But these activations were prior to the park being placed on the VKFF list for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. So this was to be a unique VKFF park activation for me, and I was hoping to pick up the required 44 contacts to qualify the park.
For details on my previous activations, and full information on the park, please see my previous posts at…..
After leaving home early in the morning I headed out through Echunga and Meadows, and then on to Prospect Hill. I then travelled south on Blackfellows Creek Road, passing the eastern boundary of the Kyeema Conservation Park. This is a nice high point and there are some very nice views out to the west of the surrounding countryside which comprises natural scrub, cleared farming land, and pine forest.
I soon reached the western boundary of the park. I had not activated from this side of the park previously. My last two activations had been from the eastern side, off Mount Magnificent Road. So I thought it was worth a look at a different operating spot.
Sadly, most of this section of the park was burnt out. I later learnt that a fire had impacted on the park earlier in November. The fire had originally started at nearby Yundi and had burnt out about 70 hectares of land, and was finally brought under control by about 65 firefighters and 17 appliances, including water bombing aircraft.
I continued south on Blackfellows Creek Road until I reached the south western corner of the park. There was a little access track following the southern boundary of the park, and this is where I drove along.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the Mount Magnifient CP. Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
After a few hundred metres I reached a point where I could not go any further as the track came to an abrupt halt. But this looked like an ideal place to set up and operate from. It wasn’t until I had almost set up that I noticed some yellow tape around some trees at the top of an embankment. I then put two and two together and realised that this was the site of the illegal dumping of some horses here in the conservation park which had come to light in May earlier in the year.
Although a little off putting I continued to set up. I also had a view up to the Mount Magnificent summit. The trig point of the summit is actually just outside of the conservation park boundary. Sadly, the summit does not qualify for the Summits on the Air program as it does not have sufficient prominence. However, there are superb views from up there of the surrounding countryside.
I used the boundary fence to secure my 7 metre telescopic squid pole and then secured the legs of the 20m/40m linked dipole to the fence. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d and 40 watts for this activation. I was all set up and ready to go by 2230 UTC (9.00 a.m. South Australian local time).
After turning on the radio, I found that 7.144 was already occupied, so I headed down to 7.139 and started calling CQ. My CQ call was answered by Ian VK1DI who was operating portable from Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, VKFF-0855. Ian had a good strong 5/8 signal. Next up was Ron VK3MRH, followed by Peter VK3PF and then Fred VK3DAC, all of whom had good strong signals coming out of Victoria.
I was then called by two more park activators. First up was Rob VK4FFAB operating portable from Crows Nest National Park VKFF-0121, with a good 5/5 signal (5/6 received). I was really pleased to be able to get Rob in the log on 40m. Next up was Nick VK3ANL operating portable from Wandong Regional Park VKFF-0979, north of Melbourne. A few calls later I was called by Mick VK3PMG who was operating portable from the Kerang Regional Park, VKFF-0970. Mick had a good strong 5/8 signal to Mount Magnificent. It was really pleasing to see so many park activators out and about.
I had quite a steady flow of callers from all across Australia (VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, and VK7). But there was a lot of QSB on the band and many of the park hunters were mentioning that they were experiencing fading signals. Also noticeable was the lack of VK5’s. It was clear that close in propagation was not working, which was a real shame.
My next park to park contact was about 14 contacts later. It was Rob VK4FFAB who had now moved in to the Hampton National Park VKFF-0683. A few QSOs later I was called by Warren VK3BYD in the Jarvis Creek Plateau Regional Park VKFF-0969.
And then as though someone had turned on a switch, about 4 QSOs later, I was called by Col VK5HCF at Mount Gambier with a weak but readable 5/3 signal. Col informed me that he could not hear me at all a little earlier. It was great that I was finally hearing a VK5. And then two QSOs later, Brian VK5FMID, also in Mount Gambier, gave me a shout. Brian had a strong 5/8 signal.
A few QSOs’ later, David VK5AAH who was activating the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, VKFF-0782, gave me a shout. David was very weak (3/3), but at least I was hearing a VK5 park activator. David was hearing me a little better, than me him, and gave me a 5/3 signal report.
A few QSOs later I had my second VK5 Park activator in the log. It was Stef VK5HSX who was activating the Murray River National Park, VKFF-0372. Stef was very weak (5/1) but was very workable. It appeared as though the 40m band was improving a little for the close in propagation. Next up was Greg VK5GJ who almost lifted the transceiver up off the table. Greg was operating portable from the nearby Kyeema Conservation Park, VKFF-0826. And the park to park activity wasn’t finished. I was also called by Amanda VK3FQSO who was operating from the Kara Kara Conservation Park, VKFF-0629 (5/5 both ways).
When things slowed down a little, I took the opportunity of tuning across the band. I was hoping to find a few more park activators. And it wasn’t long before I had found my mate Gerald VK2HBG on 7.095, who was activating the Bimberamala Nationa Park, VKFF-0032 (5/5 both ways). Next was Nigel VK5NIG and Stuart VK5STU who were on 7.110, operating portable from Sandy Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-0933. Although they were very weak (5/1), they were very workable, as there was no man made noise in either of our parks.
I then found Rob VK4AAC/5 on 7.115. Rob was in the Little Dip Conservation Park, VKFF-0904 (5/5 sent and 4/3 received). I was so pleased that propagation had opened up a little around VK5. Next, I worked Adrian VK5FANA on 7.125, who was in the Bird Islands Conservation Park VKFF-0871 on the Yorke Peninsula, followed by Tony VK3VTH on 7.144, who was activating the Tocumwal Regional Park VKFF-0978 (5/7 sent and 5/8 received). I then found Ray VK3YAR on 7.090 who was operating from SOTA peak, Mount Moliagul, VK3/ VN-024, west of Bendigo.
After working Ray I headed to 7.100 and called CQ. This was answered by John VK3FCAN, and then Peter VK3PF, followed by Alan VK3LSD, who I was struggling with a little. Alan had a very severe hum on his transmission and it made reception quite difficult. A few contacts later, I was called by Les VK5KLV operating from the Whyalla Conservation Park VKFF-0808. Les had a very strong 5/9 signal coming in from the north of the State. Unfortunately I started experiencing QRM from some VK6’s who were very closeby, so if I missed any low down callers, I apologise.
It wasn’t long before, I had another park to park contact. This time it was Gerard VK2IO, who called in from the Sydney Harbour National Park, VKFF-0473. Gerald’s signal was down a little (4/3) but we managed a successful contact (4/5 received). Immediately after, Cliff VK2NP called me. Cliff was activating the Sea Acres National Park, VKFF-0606, near Port Macquarie (5/3 both ways). Two contacts later, I spoke with Greg VK5ZGY who was in the Nene Valley Conservation Park, VKFF-0801 in the South East of South Australia. Greg had a strong 5/8 signal, so it was clear the band was improving. And then finally, I was called by David VK5PL operating portable in the Warren Conservation Park, VKFF-0941 (5/3 sent and 5/5 received).
Time was getting on, so I headed to 20m and called CQ on 14.310. This was answered by Fred VK3DAC (5/1 both ways), followed by John VK2FR, and then Robert VK2XXM. But that was the end of the park hunters despite many CQ calls. I tuned across the band and heard Gary VK8BN calling CQ from Darwin. We had a good chat, as Gary was a good strong 5/9 and he was hearing me well (5/5). At the end of my QSO with Gary, Geoff VK3SQ asked me to QSY down, which I did and placed Geoff in the log.
I then tried my luck on 15m. I packed away the 20m/40m linked dipole and erected the 15m dipole. I called CQ on 15m and this was answered by Geoff VK3SQ who had followed me up. Geoff had a strong 5/8 signal on 15m. This was followed by John VK2FR (5/9 both ways), who had also followed me up, and then Cleeve VK2MOR. Rob VK4FFAB then called in from Hampton National Park, VKFF-0683. Rob was not strong (4/1) but was very workable. My final contact on 15m, and the final contact for the activation was with Kyoyu JA8RJE in Japan.
I packed up and headed off to my second activation of the day, the Scott Conservation Park. I was very pleased, with a total of 75 contacts in the log, including 24 park to park contacts. What an activation! And what a great way to start the VKFF Activation Weekend.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK1DI/p (Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve VKFF-0855)
- VK4FFAB/p (Crows Nest National Park VKFF-0121)
- VK3ANL/p (Wandong Regional Park VKFF-09979)
- VK3PMG/p (Kerang Regional Park, VKFF-0970)
- VK4FFAB/p (Hampton National Park VKFF-0683)
- VK3BYD/p (Jarvis Creek Plateau Regional Park VKFF-0969)
- VK5AAH/p (Mark Oliphant Conservation Park VKFF-0782)
- VK5HSX/p (Murray River National Park VKFF-0372)
- VK5GJ/p (Kyeema Conservation Park VKFF-0826)
- VK3FQSO/p (Kara Kara National Park VKFF-0629)
- VK2HBG/p (Bimberamala National Park VKFF-0032)
- VK5NIG/p (Sandy Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0933)
- VK5STU/p (Sandy Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0933)
- VK4AAC/5 (Little Dip Conservation Park VKFF-0904)
- VK5FANA/p (Bird Islands Conservation Park VKFF-0871)
- VK3VTH/p (Tocumwal Regional Park VKFF-0978)
- VK3YAR/p (SOTA VK3/ VN-024)
- VK5KLV/p (Whyalla Conservation Park VKFF-0808)
- VK5GJ/p (Kyeema Conservation Park VKFF-0826)
- VK2IO/p (Sydney Harbour National Park VKFF-0473)
- VK2NP/p (Sea Acres National Park VKFF-0606)
- VK5ZGY/p (Nene Valley Conservation Park VKFF-0801)
- VK5PL/p (Warren Conservation Park VKFF-0941)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
- VK5GJ/p (Kyeema Conservation Park VKFF-0826)
The following stations were worked on 15m SSB:-
- VK4FFAB/p (Hampton National Park, VKFF-0683)