Yesterday, after lunch I headed down the South Eastern Freeway to the small but very picturesque Conservation Park, called The Knoll (5CP-229 and VKFF-0937). I have activated this park previously as part of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, but the park was recently added to the VKFF program as part of the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, so this was to be a unique VKFF park for me.
Above:- Map showing the location of The Knoll Conservation Park, near Crafers in the Adelaide Hills. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
The park is only a 20 minute drive to the west from my home, so it was a leisurely drive down the South Eastern Freeway, and then along Waverley Ridge Road at Crafers. This road is known as Revenue Ridge Road, as it is policed heavily for speeding. And this particular afternoon was no different, with a uniform patrol car having pulled someone over on the side of the road.
I stopped just short of the park to have a look at the memorial plaque at a Police Heritage site. It remembers the loss of three South Australian police officers who lost their lives whilst fighting a bushfire in the vicinity of nearby Fosters Gully on 19th January 1951.
I found the following newspaper clippings related to the tragedy (courtesy of Trove)…..
The Knoll Conservation Park is located on the eastern side of the intersection of Waverley Ridge Road, Upper Sturt Road, and Sheoak Road. It is a small area of scrub, situated on a Knoll as the name implies.
There is a small area out the front of the park for parking. But be careful, as this intersection sneaks up on you, and Upper Sturt Road is extremely busy.
If you make the small walk up the dirt track to the telecommunications installation, you will be rewarded with some very nice views out to the south and to the east through the trees.
I set up in amongst the scrub just off Waverley Ridge Road. I strung out the 20m/40m linked dipole on the 7m squid telescopic squid pole. For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d and 40 watts output. I tried to get a bit of shelter from the sun, as it was a warm 32 degrees C afternoon.
I headed to 7.144 and asked if the frequency was in use, and Stef VK5HSX/1 came back to me. Stef was actually using the frequency, and was portable in the Namadgi National Park, VKFF-0373. Stef was a 4/5 to me, and I was struggling a little with some noise on the band, and static crashes. The noise floor was peaking a strength 5, probably due to the nearby homes that surround the western side of the park.
I then moved up to 7.150 and called CQ, and this was answered by park stalwart VK3PF with a lovely 5/9 signal. This was followed by Mick VK3PMG in Stawell in western Victoria, who was also 5/9. Both Mick and Peter kindly spotted me on parksnpeaks. Thanks guys.
A mini park pile up ensued with callers from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, many of whom were taking advantage of using the special AX prefix for Australia Day. The 40m band was in average condition, with signals down a little from usual.
After working 23 stations on 40m, I tuned across the band and found Andrew AX1DA calling CQ from SOTA summit, Snow Gum Mountain, VK2/ SW-028.
I then moved over to 20m and started calling CQ on 14.310. This was immediately answered by Mark VK4MON with a strong 5/8 signal. I was then quite surprised to be called by Luca IK6QOO in Italy. The 20m band long path has been quite poor over recent months whilst I’ve been out portable, so I was very pleased to being heard in Europe. This was followed by a call from Jaroslav OK2TS in the Czech Republic. Although signals were not strong, we were able to exchange call signs and signal reports.
I worked a further 15 stations from Italy, New Zealand, VK4, VK5, and VK6, before starting to experience some splatter from 14.307 and the Over the Horizon Radar (OTHR). It was nice to have 6 European park hunters in the log, and also Ted VK6NTE, Jonathan VK6JON, and Mike VK6MB. So I lowered the squid pole and replaced the links and started calling CQ on 7.142. I couldn’t get back to 7.144 as there was a European station on 7.145 with quite a good signal.
I was pleasantly surprised to have Gerard VK2IO come back to my CQ call. Gerard was activating SOTA peak, Mount Kembla, VK2/ IL-015, and had a strong 5/8 signal to The Knoll.
I worked a further 16 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, before having one last tune around the 40m band before going QRT. I found Lewis VK6FLEW on 7.140 calling CQ from SOTA summit, Mount Randall, VK6/ SW-039. It was quite a struggle with Lewis, but we did make it (4/3 sent and 5/1 received).
It was time to head home for tea, as it was not just after 7.00 p.m. local time. I had a total of 60 contacts in the log, and a unique VKFF park in the bag.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK5HSX/p (Namadgi National Park VKFF-0373)
- AX1DA/p (SOTA VK2/ SW-028)
- AX2IO/p (SOTA VK2/ IL-015)
- VK6FLEW/p (SOTA VK6/ SW-039)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-