Yesterday after finishing work, I headed home and packed the 4WD and headed down to the Fleurieu Peninsula for the second 2015/2016 Friday afternoon/evening event for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award. Very hot weather, Christmas, and New Year had prevented activations during the past 2-3 weeks on Fridays.
My intended destination was the Mount Billy Conservation Park, VKFF-0912, which is situated about 75 km south of Adelaide, and about 12 km north of the seaside tourist town of Victor Harbor.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Mount Billy Conservation Park. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
I have activated Mount Billy once before, back in December 2013, but in recent times the park has been added to the list of qualifying parks for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. A check on WWFF Log Search showed that the park had not been activated before for WWFF, so this was going to be a unique VKFF activation for me, and a brand new park activation for the program.
For more information on my previous activation, please have a look at my previous post…….
I travelled out of Mount Barker, through the little town of Echunga and on to Meadows. I then drove west along Brookman Road until reaching Willunga Hill and then travelled south towards Victor Harbor.
Along the way I spoke with Peter VK5PET who was activating the Bullock Hill Conservation Park (5/5 both ways).
I stopped briefly to have a look at Cut Hill Wall, to the north of Victor Harbor. The stone wall was built in 1868 by Jabez Grimble, under contract to the Central Roads Board. The road was reconstructed in 1961 by the Highways and Local Government Department.
There is a very interesting page detailing the life of Jabez Grimble which can be found on the Encounter Bay Family History Group, at…..
I then turned right onto Hindmarsh Tiers Road and travelled west towards the park. I made another brief stop to have a look at the old Hindmarsh Valley school which was established in 1867. It is a magnificent old stone building.
It wasn’t long before I reached the park on my left, on the western side of Hindmarsh Tiers Road. The park is well signposted and there are three gates allowing access to the park (not vehicular access though). I headed for gate number one which is at the northern end of the park.
Above:- Gate 1 entrance to the park. With my squid pole visible amongst the scrub.
Mount Billy Conservation Park is about 199 hectares in size and represents some of the best preserved mallee and forest, not only on the Fleurieu Peninsula, but also in the entire Mount Lofty Ranges. Mount Billy summit is located in the southern section of the park, along with the Hindmarsh Valley Reservoir. Sadly, Mount Billy does not qualify for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.
The park is, as you would suspect, home to a large amount of native wildlife and native birds. This includes Western Grey kangaroos, the Southern Brown Bandicoot and the endangered Bassian Thrush.
Above:- the Bassian Thrush and the Southern Brown Bandicoot. Images courtesy of wikipedia.
The scrub within the park is very thick and consists of Pink Gum, Blue Gum, Cup Gum, Woodland Sheaok, Banksias, flowering orchids, and ferns.
I set up just inside gate number one. Hats off to DEWNR, who have allowed provision for access by foot to this park.
I set up the deck chair and fold up table under some shade, as it was quite a warm evening. This was just off one of the tracks which runs through the park. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and te 20m/40m linked dipole on top of the 7 m squid pole for this activation.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the northern section of the park. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
I was set up and ready to go by 6.00 p.m. South Australian local time (0730 UTC). I headed for my nominated operating frequency of 7.144 and it wasn’t long before I had my first QSO in the log. And it was a park to park contact, with Les VK5KLV who was activating The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park, north of Port Augusta in the north of South Australia. Les had a particularly strong 5/9 signal. This was followed by John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills, Mick VK3PMG in western Victoria, and Peter VK3PF, all of whom had strong 5/9 signals. The 40m band was in great shape.
As this was a unique park I had quite a few callers lining up to get Mount Billy in the log. The band was in top condition, with some static crashes, but generally very quiet. I experienced just a small amount of QRM from some low down European stations.
About 20 contacts into the activation, I had a few more park to park contacts. This time it was with Theo VK5MTM and Gary VK5FGRY who were activating the Morialta Conservation Park, VKFF-0783. Theo and Gary were exceptionally strong…5/9 plus plus.
I worked a total of 44 stations on 40m. Just the right number to qualify the park for the global WWFF program. I then headed over to 20m after removing the links in the dipole. I commenced calling CQ on 14.244 and this was soon answered by Owen ZL2GLG who was portable in Otago. Owen had a strong 5/8 signal, but unfortunately our QSO was rapidly brought to a halt by ZL9A who started operating split, with the calling frequency on 14.245.
I moved down the band to 14.220 and started calling CQ again and this was answered by Chris VK3PAT who was a sold 5/9. This was followed by Glenn VK2WGW, and then Rob VK3EY. Next up was Rick VK4RF who advised me that Danny OT4V was activating a park on 14.310. I headed up there, hoping to get a park to park with Danny. Sadly, his signal was very very low down and we were unable to make contact. So I headed back to 14.220 and called CQ again.
My CQ call was answered by David ZL1GQ and then Sergey RA3PCI (5/5 both ways). Sadly, Sergey was my only European contact. I was then called by Peter K3BV (VK3FN) who was operating remote from New York. An interesting contact. And following my QSO with Peter, I was called by my friend Bill W1OW in Massachusetts (5/7 sent and 4/4 received).
It was just after 8.00 p.m. local time and had cooled down to just 13 degrees C. I headed back to 40m and booked in to the 7130 DX Net. I worked a total of 8 stations on the Net from VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, New Zealand, and French Polynesia. This included a contact with Craig VK6VCK maritime mobile, who was on his boat, about 3 km off shore, off the coast of Rockingham.
I then checked out of the Net and put out a few CQ calls on 7.144 and worked into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5. I started experiencing a bit of QRM from just above me from a number of Japanese stations who were working a T88 in Palau. So I moved up the band to 7.155 and called CQ again. I worked 8 stations before a very strong JA3 came up on the frequency and started talking to another JA who was portable in the Philippines. The Japanese station was 5/9 plus and was wiping everything out, so I took the opportunity of going QRT.
I had a total of 80 contacts in the log.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK5KLV/p (The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park)
- VK5MTM/p (Morialta Conservation Park)
- VK5FGRY/p (Morialta Conservation Park)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-