Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park 5CP-097 and VKFF-0897

Last night (Friday 26th February 2016) I activated the Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park (CP), 5CP-097 (for the VK5 Parks Award) and VKFF-0897 (for WWFF).  This was another activation for the regular Friday afternoon/evening event for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

I have activated Kaiser Stuhl CP once before.  That was back in January 2014, and was with David VK5PL.  But was prior to the park being added to the VKFF list for the WWFF program.  So this was to be a unique park for me for VKFF.  I had also arranged to meet Marcus VK3TST/5 at the park.  Marcus had emailed me earlier in the day asking if he could join me.

For more information on my previous activation, check out my previous post at…..


Kaiser Stuhl CP is about a 72 km (1 hour) drive north from home.  I headed out from home via Nairne, Woodside, Charleston, and on to the historic little village of Mount Torrens.  I continued on to Birdwood, the home of the National Motor Museum, and then to Mount Pleasant.

Screenshot 2016-02-27 09.03.53

Above:- Map showing the location of the Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park in the southern Barossa Valley.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

After leaving Mount Pleasant I continued north to the little town of Springton.  I made a small stop to take a photo of the ‘Herbig Tree’.  What is the Herbig Tree I hear you ask.  It is a large hollow red gum tree on the southern outskirts of the town, which was used as the  home of Friedrich Herbig and his family.  Friedrich migrated from The Kingdom of Prussia (now current day Germany) in 1855 and married three years later.  Friedrich’s first two children were born in the tree before he built a hut nearby in 1860.

I continued on to Eden Valley, which is another historic town in the southern Barossa Valley.  The town dates back to the 1950’s and contains a number of historic buildings.  There is an excellent website with lots of information about Eden Valley which can be found at…..


Whilst on my way to the park I made contact with a number of park activators including:

  • Rob VK4AAC/5 in the Danggali Conservation Park
  • John VK5BJE/p in the Mylor Conservation Park
  • VK5HDW/p in the Furner Conservation Park

I continued along the Eden Valley Road and then turned left on to Seven Steps Road through the Flaxman Valley, which was devastated by a bushfire back in 2014.  Over 25,000 hectares were burnt, and about five homes destroyed.  This area is on the southern fringe of the Barossa Valley and is famous in its own right for wine production.  One of my favourite wines is grown/produced here……Henschke Hill of Grace.



I then turned on to the Flaxmans Valley Road, and then left on to Tanunda Creek Road.  The park soon came in to view on my left.


I parked the 4WD in the small area off the road and walked a short distance inside the park and started to set up my gear which consisted of the Yaesu FT-857d and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7m heavy duty squid pole.  I was set up and ready to go by my nominated time of 0700 UTC (5.30 p.m. South Australian local time).

Screenshot 2016-02-27 09.03.11

Above:- Map showing my operating spot within the park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The area where the park was located was discovered in the mid 19th century by the prominent naturalists, H.H. Behr, F.J.H Von Muller, J.G.O. Tepper, and J. Menge.  The Tanunda Creek Bullock Track originally crossed the creek several times within the park but was closed around 1885 in favour of the more direct route along Tanunda Creek Road.  I accessed the park via Tanunda Creek Road.

A plaque within the park records the bequest to the Field Naturalists’ Society of South Australia by Mr Leo Wakem Nicholls (1894-1971).  Nicholls was a keen bushwalker whose bequest to the Field Naturalists Society of S.A. enabled that organisation to contribute $30,000 towards the purchase in 1978 of the park.  The official dedication ceremony took place in December, 1983.

The park includes granite features such as Horse Head Rock.   Weathering and erosion have produced this rock formation which, as the name suggests, resembles a horse’s head.  Capped Rock, a horizontal rock slab perched on a vertical outcrop, is another interesting feature within the park.

The park is home to native birds such as blue wrens, parrots, honeyeaters, finches and thornbills.  In the late afternoon or early morning, western grey kangaroos can be seen in the open grassland areas of the park, while Euros can occasionally be seen on the rocky ridges of the higher sections of the park.  Other animals to be found in the park include echidnas, possums, bats, and a variety of snakes and lizards.

About 400 plant species are supported within the park.  The park was principally established to preserve the most northerly occurrence of the brown stringybark, Eucalyptus baxteri. Their multi-stemmed, mallee-like appearance is the result of earlier, regular trimming to provide wood for the Nuriootpa brick kilns.

Large blue gums, river red gums, native pines and sheoaks provide shady cover for the diverse understorey of yaccas, wattles, tea-trees and silver banksias.   Many of the banksias were out in flower during my visit to the park.  Many plants, such as lavender grevilleas and fringe myrtles flower in spring. The green flowered hairy correa is an unusual plant that grows in the shelter of the large granite outcrops. The rare prickly tree violet also occurs in the park and is often mistaken for the African boxthorn. This native plant provides protected nesting sites for small birds.

You may see mistletoe growing on the eucalypts, acacias and casuarinas in the park. These are parasitic native plants, which provide food and shelter for many bird species. The lichens growing on the rocks are also an important part of the ecosystem helping to weather the rocks to form soil.


I headed to 7.144 and asked if the frequency was in use, and this was responded to by Stef VK5HSX/p who was portable in the Deep Creek Conservation Park.  Whilst speaking with Stef I noticed that my VSWR was up a little high and Stef reported that I was cutting in and out a little.  I think I found the issue…..a dodgy BNC connection.  Fortunately I was able to rectify the problem.

Stef was kind enough to hand over the frequency to me, and next up was Mick VK3PMG mobile on his way to Ballarat with a good 5/8 signal.  I then had three park to park contacts in a row.  First was Rob VK4AAC/5 in Danggali CP, followed by Ian VK1DI/p in the Pinnacle Nature Reserve in the ACT, and then John VK5BJE/p in the Mylor CP.  All had great signals to Kaiser Stuhl.

I then called for any mobile stations, and worked Greg VK5ZGY mobile in Mount Gambier, followed by Peter VK3TKK mobile in Melbourne.  I then asked for any QRP (5 watts or less) stations, and Damien VK5FDEC called in with a good 5/9 signal with his 5 watts.  Next up was Greg VK5GJ at Meadows in the Adelaide Hills who was running just 4 watts (5/7 signal).

A few QSOs later I worked some more mobile stations…..Daniel VK5DJW mobile in Adelaide on his way home from work (5/9 plus), and then Rob VK3FENV mobile at Sandy Creek in Victoria.  I then spoke with Les VK5KLV who was operating portable from the Winninowie Conservation Park near Port Augusta.  Les always has a great signal when I hear him, and this evening was no different (5/9 plus).  Next up was another mobile station.  This time, Tom VK5EE who was mobile at Mount Gambier in the south east of South Australia (5/9 both ways).

A slow but steady flow of callers continued to call in, with many of those being regular park hunters for both WWFF and the VK5 Parks Award.  There was good representation from across Australia, with calls from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  I did start to experience a little bit of QRM from some European stations on the same frequency, but as signals were so strong, there was no difficulty in copying anyone.

It was at this time that Marcus VK3TST/5 arrived at the park and I took the opportunity of having a chat to Marcus as the callers had started to slow down.  I checked out Marcus’ QRP home brew double side band transceiver.  Whilst Marcus and I were talking we heard the voice of Jonathan VK6JON calling CQ on 7.144.  I was aware that Jonathan was going to be heading out to a park, so I quickly rushed to the mic and gave him a call.  Although Jonathan’s signal was down, he was still very readable (5/1).  But this didn’t last, as the European QRM picked up and Jonathan’s signal disappeared.  But we had made it, exchanging signal reports.

Marcus then starting setting up, trying to get his antenna up in the air, with great difficulty.  After numerous attempts, we resorted in getting out my spare squid pole from the car.

Screenshot 2016-02-27 12.04.29

After working a total of 41 stations on 40m I lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed to 14.310.  The frequency sounded clear and I was about to ask if the frequency was in use, when I heard Rick VK4RF come back to Stef VK5HSX/p.  Unfortunately I was unable to hear Stef in the Deep Creek Conservation Park.  He was just too close for 20m propagation.  So I headed up to 14.315 but there was a large pile up going.  Not sure who it was.  So I then went down to 14.300 but there was a pulsing noise on the frequency, which I suspect to be some sort of Over the Horizon Radar (OTHR).  So down lower I went to 14.295 and asked if the frequency was in use.

First taker there was Jonathan VK6JON/p in the William Bay National Park, who was much stronger than he was on 40m.  Marcus also spoke with Jonathan, and then continued to set up his station.  Rick VK4RF/VK4HA had been patiently waiting on the side, so I worked Rick and also allowed him in to get Jonathan in the log as well.  Rick was pounding in with a 5/9 plus signal


Marcus VK3TST talking to VK6JON

Rick VK4RF was kind enough to spot me on parksnpeaks and the DX Cluster, and we spoke briefly about the hope of getting some DX in the log.  AFter finishing up with Rick, I then heard a very strong signal, ask “Paul, am I DX?”  It was my old mate Ted VK6NTE with his normal very very strong signal from Western Australia.  This was followed by a call from Greg VK8KMD from Alice Springs, who was substantially off frequency.  I twirled the VFO to keep chasing Greg, who unfortunately was struggling with my signal.  Ian VK6DW then called in with a beautiful 5/9 signal from Perth, and my last contact on 20m was with Ray VK4NH/6 in the shack of VK6NTE.

Despite a number of CQ calls I had no further takers and no DX.  What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday I worked a large pile up from home, long path into Europe.  This lasted for 2 hours and I went QRT at 8.30 p.m. local time so I could have a very late tea.  Admittedly that was with 100 watts and my 5 element yagi, and from Kaiser Stuhl I was running just 40 watts and a small dipole.

Marcus and I continued to chat away, and next up I tried calling CQ on 21.244 on 15m.  Unfortunately I had no mobile phone coverage and was not able to spot on parksnpeaks.  A quick tune across the 15m band revealed no signals.

It was not just after 8.00 p.m. and as I was unable to get a message back home to my wife that I was safe in the park, I decided to pack up.

I had a total of 48 contacts in the log for my activation of Kaiser Stuhl CP.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5HSX/p (Deep Creek Conservation Park)
  2. VK3PMG/m
  3. VK4AAC/5 (Danggali Conservation Park)
  4. VK1DI/p (Pinnacle Nature Reserve)
  5. VK5BJE/p (Mylor Conservation Park)
  6. VK5ZGY/m
  7. VK3TKK/m
  8. VK5FDEC
  9. VK5GJ
  10. VK5NRG
  11. VK2HHA
  12. VK5DJW/m
  13. VK3FENV/m
  14. VK5KPR
  15. VK5AV
  16. VK5KLV/p (Winninowie Conservation Park)
  17. VK5EE/m
  18. VK5PL
  19. VK2YK
  20. VK4RF
  21. VK4HA
  22. VK3PF
  23. VK3BFR
  24. VK3HXT
  25. VK2RM
  26. VK2NWB
  27. VK3KRH
  28. VK7LTD
  29. VK3CFA
  30. VK3YW
  31. VK3VIN
  32. VKPKT
  33. VK4FR/5
  34. VK3PAT
  35. VK2NP
  36. VK3FSPG
  37. VK1MTS
  38. VK7FGGT
  39. VK5YX
  40. VK5ZLT/3
  41. VK6JON/p (William Bay National Park)


The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6JON/p (William Bay National Park)
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK6NTE
  5. VK8KMD
  6. VK6DW
  7. VK4NH/6


This was good timing anyway, as the 7130 DX Net had started and Marcus was tuning in to it.  We decided that I would get mobile, book in to the net and let Roy Vk7ROY, the Net Control, know that Marcus was there.  And this is exactly what I did.

I became mobile and booked in to the Net.  Roy VK7ROY was very strong.  I told Roy that Marcus was in the park and running QRP 2 watts.  Roy then gave Marcus a call, and the rest is history.  Marcus made a number of contacts on the net, as did I from the mobile on my way home.  This included the following….

  • Marcus VK3TST/p
  • FO5JV in French Polynesia
  • NR6Q in California USA
  • VK7VEK
  • KG7JWD in Washington USA
  • VK2RI
  • K9RM in Indiana USA
  • ZL2ASH
  • K1GUN in Maine USA
  • VO1NO/VE1 in Canada.




‘Kaisertstuhl Conservation Park’ brochure, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

National Parks South Australia, 2016, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Barossa/Kaiserstuhl_Conservation_Park&gt;, viewed 27th February 2016

Black Hill Conservation Park 5CP-022 and VKFF-0776

As I watched the weather on Friday afternoon (19th February 2016), it was not looking very promising for my planned activation of the Black Hill Conservation Park 5CP-022 and VKFF-0778.  I was hoping to get out for the 5th Friday event for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  Although it was not heavy rain, it was steady drizzle up here in the Adelaide Hills.

As it got closer to time for me to leave home, I put my sandshoes on and headed outside to start loading the 4WD.  But it was still drizzling, so back inside I went, feeling rather frustrated.  Off came the sand shoes and onto the web I went to check out the weather radar.  It looked like the activation was going to have to be cancelled.  I waited a further 10 minutes, with regular trips outside to see if the weather was clearing.  But sadly it wasn’t.  So I decided to take a risk and headed north west to the park, with the hope that the weather was a little clearer, closer to Adelaide.

Black Hill Conservation Park is about 35 km to the north east of my home QTH, and is situated about 15 km to the north east of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.03.09

Above:- Map showing the location of the Black Hill Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

As I travelled west along the South Eastern Freeway, it was looking less than promising.  The rain was continuing to fall and the windscreen wipers were working overtime.  I reachers Crafers and it was still dark and wet.  I then travelled through the Piccadilly Valley and on to Summertown.  Much to my surprise, as I got closer to the western fringe of the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’ the weather started to clear.  The sun was even coming out.  Things were looking up.

This is a beautiful drive through the Adelaide Hills, and there are some very nice views to be enjoyed from Marble Hill Road, and Montacute Road.  This is very hilly terrain, and as I drove through the area, I wondered how some of the hills here were not on the list for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  Clearly they do not have the required prominence, but I will have to double check on that, as many look very prominent and steep.

Above:- Views through the trees out to the west, from Marble Hill Road.

Black Hill Conservation Park covers an area of around 684 hectares and is bounded by rugged ridges on the southern side of the park.  A wide variety of native plants and animals are located in the park.  Bushwalkers can enjoy an extensive network of walking trails.  The park features low sheoaks which give Black Hill its name. The foliage of the sheoaks gradually matures to a dark rusty, almost black colour, as summer progresses.  As you look from the Adelaide Plains, the hills appear to be black in colour.

I was brought up as a boy in the north eastern suburbs of Adelaide, not far from the park.  I have plenty of fond memories of climbing up onto the roof of our home, and into my cubby house in the walnut tree, which afforded great views of the surrounding area, including the Black Hill Conservation Park.

The park has a number of nearby Conservation Parks, including Montacute CP, Horsnell Gully CP, Giles CP, Cudlee Creek CP, and Morialta Conservation Park which is situated directly opposite.

Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.05.22

Above: Map showing the location of the Black Hill Conservation Park (marked with red circle) and various nearby Conservation Parks (marked with yellow circles).  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Just before reaching the park I passed through the little town of Montacute.  Copper was discovered in the area way back in 1834 and a mine was soon set up.  Sit John Baker, one of the mine’s financiers, named the area Montacute, after Montacute in Somerset in the UK, near his birthplace.  A few years later, in 1846, gold was also discovered in the area.


I continued west on Montacute Road, disecting the Black Hill Conservation Park on my right (to the north), and Morialta Conservation Park to my left (to the south).  I soon reached the park, which is well signposted.

There is a gate on the northern side of Montacute Road, but unfortunately it is the stock standard locked gate by the Department of Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).  There is a parking area on the other side of the gate, which cannot be accessed due to the locked gate.


Above:- The 4WD parked at the locked gate on Montacute Road.

So your only options, are……. 1.  not to stop and keep going (don’t visit the park….well at least at this point), or 2. park across the gate even though it says not to (which is what I did).  There is absolutely nowhere to park on Montacute Road (way to dangerous to do so), and I figured I was going to very close to the gate anyway, so my vehicle could be moved in the event of an emergency.  Not really sure why the gate is padlocked and access is prevented to the parking area, but I suspect the authorities have their own good reasons for doing so.

In any event, there is plenty of room here to stretch out an antenna.  It was quite a cool afternoon, with the temperature being around 17 degrees C.  But at least it wasn’t raining. There were no bushwalkers here this day, and the tranquility of the park was only broken by the occasional vehicle passing by on Montacute Road.

Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.06.38

Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the Black Hill Conservation Park, just off Montacute Road.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

This is the start of one of the walking tracks through the park, the Orchard Track.  The track connects to the Eagle Track, and also the Black Hill Track, which takes you up to the Black Hill Summit, at 467 metres.  Unfortunately the summit does not qualify for SOTA.


There is quite steep terrain at this location, on either side of Montacute Road, with a small creek following the roadway.

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For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 40m/20m linked dipole, which I supported on the 7 metre heavy duty squid pole.  I used the permapine post and wire fence to secure the squid pole to, with the assistance of an octopus strap.  I set up the fold up table and made myself comfortable in the deck chair.


I was set up and ready go, spot by my alert time of 0700 UTC (5.30 p.m. South Australian local time).  I headed to 7.144, my nominated operating frequency, and asked if the frequency was in use.  My query was answered by Dennis VK2HHA, who had been sitting on the frequency waiting for me to come up.  Dennis was a good 5/9 signal from Albury.  Next up was Mick VK3PMG in western Victoria with a very strong signal, followed by Mark VK5QI who was mobile on South Road in Adelaide.  Mark was struggling at times to hear me due to power line noise.

About seven contacts into the activation, whilst speaking with Rick VK4RF, I started to experience some QRM from Mike OE6MBG in Austria, who was calling CQ DX on the frequency.  I tried to get through to Mike on a handful of calls, but he was not hearing my 40 watt signal from the dipole.  Mike had no takers to his CQ DX calls, and then moved off frequency.

I then worked Ian VK1DI who was operating portable in the Lower Molonglo River Corridor Nature Reserve VKFF-0990 in the ACT.  Ian had a beautiful strong 5/8 signal coming in to Black Hill, and was my first Park to Park contact for the activation.

About eight contacts later I was called by Peter VK3PF/p who was near Mount Hotham in the Alpine National Park.  Peter was up in the Alpine region with a number of other SOTA enthusiasts for a SOTA gathering.

A few QSOs later I spoke with Cleeve VK2MOR who was mobile in Newcastle.  I was then called by Julie VK3FOWL/p, operating portable from a school in Highett in Melbourne.  Julie conducts practical amateur radio sessions in a number of schools in Victoria, promoting the hobby.  Unfortunately, Julie had no students in the room at the time, but we agreed that she would call back once she did.

For more information check out………


I then spoke with Adam VK3AGD mobile on his way to join the SOTA crew at Mount Hotham, followed by Damein VK5FDEC running just 5 watts, and then Tim VK7NSE on Flinders Island, OC-261.  Soon after I was called by Mike VK6MB in Western Australia, with a good 5/6 signal (4/5 for me).  I was then called by Andrew VK1AD/3, Allen VK3ARH/p, Tony VK3CAT/p, and Ron VK3AFW/p, who were all portable in the Alpine National Park for the SOTA get together.

A few QSOs later, Julie VK3FOWL/p called back in.  This time she had young Aneka in the room with her.  I had a chat with Aneka and explained to her where I was set up.  Unfortunately the contact was spoilt a little by some European QRM and some very close by VK’s.

I worked a further 6 stations and then headed to 20m, where I commenced calling CQ on 14.310.  My first taker was Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, followed by Luciano I5FLN in Italy.  Luciano was not his normal booming 5/9 and was struggling to hear me.  This was not a good sign of things to come.  Mike VK6MB was next up.  He had followed me up from 40m, and on 20m was a solid 5/9 (5/9 received as well).  I worked a further seven stations on 20m which included a handful of VK3’s, Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs, and Steve G0KIK.  Steve was a good 5/7 signal to me, but was really struggling with my signal in the UK (3/3 received).

I then lowered the squid pole and put up the 15m dipole, and started calling CQ on 21.244.  But after 5 minutes of CQ calls, there were no takers, so I re-erected the 20m/40m linked dipole, and I returned back to 7.144.  I commenced calling CQ again and this was answered by Darren VK2NNN in Bondi.

I worked just 4 more stations which included Grant ZL2GD/p who was operating portable from the Victoria Forest Park in the South Island of New Zealand.  Grant was running just 25 watts into an inverted vee antenna.  Unfortunately, Victoria Forest Park does not currently qualify for WWFF.

It was now just after 8.00 p.m. local time, so I headed down to the 7130 DX Net, where I worked a total of 13 stations, including William FO5JV in French Polynesia, Greg NR6Q in California, and Mike VK3XL running just 2 watts double side band (5/3 both ways).

I packed up at around 9.00 p.m. local time, with a total of 73 contacts in the log.  I joined the 7130 DX Net from the mobile on the way home.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2HHA
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK5QI/m
  4. VK3MRH
  5. VK5KIK
  6. VK5KLV
  7. VK4RF
  8. VK4HA
  9. VK1DI/p (VKFF-0990)
  10. VK3KRH
  11. VK5PL
  12. VK5KPR
  13. VK5FANA
  14. VK1AT
  15. VK7AN
  16. VK5EE
  17. VK3PF/p (Alpine NP)
  18. VK3RU
  19. VK3WE
  20. VK2MOR/m
  21. VK3FOWL/p
  22. VK3AG/m
  23. VK5FDEC
  24. VK7NSE
  25. VK2NP
  26. VK3FAPH
  27. VK3FSPG
  28. VK6MB
  29. VK3FLCS
  30. VK1AD/3 (Alpine NP)
  31. VK3ARH/p (Alpine NP)
  32. VK3CAT/p (Alpine NP)
  33. VK3AFW/p (Alpine NP)
  34. VK3YW
  35. VK4FR/5
  36. VK2LEE
  37. VK3FBJA
  38. VK3FOWL/p
  39. VK5ZGY
  40. VK3ZZS/p
  41. VK5ATN
  42. VK5FCLK
  43. VK3HXT
  44. VK4FAAS
  45. VK2NNN
  46. VK5FDEC
  47. VK3MCK
  48. ZL2GD/p
  49. VK3ACT
  50. VK7ROY
  51. VK4FAAS
  52. VK3VIN
  53. VK4FFAB
  54. VK1MTS
  55. VK2LAW
  56. VK4FNQT
  57. VK7VEK
  58. VK5FUZZ
  59. FO5JV
  60. NR6Q
  61. VK3XL
  62. VK5MJ

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. I5FLN
  4. VK6MB
  5. VK3PMG
  6. VK3MCK
  7. VK3SIM
  8. VK8GM
  9. VK2LEE
  10. G0KIK
  11. VK3GTS


Charleston Conservation Park, 5CP-041 and VKFF-0777

On Friday 12th February 2016, I activated the Charleston Conservation Park, 5CP-041 and VKFF-077, for the 4th 2015/2016 Friday event for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  What is the 5Cp-041 reference I hear you say?

Allen VK3ARH runs the parksnpeaks spotting and alerting site and has allocated reference numbers/codes for the VK5 parks.  These codes have been adopted for use with the VK5 Parks database, which will be rolled out very shortly.  So I have commenced handing out the 5CP numbers during my activations as well as the VKFF reference.

I have activated the Charleston CP on a number of prior occasions for both the VK5 Parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, so this was just to be a fun activation for me, and hopefully a new park for some of the park hunters.

Charleston CP is about 46 km east of Adelaide, and about 25 km north from my home.

Screenshot 2016-02-15 17.27.33

Above:- Map showing the location of the Charleston Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

It is a nice drive from my home, out through the town of Nairne, and then through Hay Valley.  I soon reached Inverbrackie, the site of the Air Defence Regiment for the Australian Army, and the former Immigration Detention Centre.  I then took Pfeiffer Road, and headed north east towards the park, through beautiful farming land.

I then took Lewis Road, and soon reached Bell Springs Road, which leads to the northern boundary of the park.  Please note, there is no signposting here for the park.


Above:- The intersection of Lewis Road and Bell Springs Road.  

The only access to the park is from Bell Springs Road. I parked at my usual spot, at the first gate, and made a number of trips from the 4WD to a clearing in the scrub.  There is a nice little spot here to park your vehicle off the road.

Charleston CP is a relatively small park, being about 56 hectares in size.  It preserves a pristine remnant of the the transition between the wetter stringy bark forests on the western side of the Mount Lofty Ranges and the drier mallee woodlands to the east.  The park consists of open eucalyptus (blue gum) woodland with reasonably extensive areas of mature banksia, numerous acacia and grass trees.  The park is surrounded by farming land.  The park is in a near pristine condition despite its surrounds, having never been grazed.

During my time in the park, it was alive with Western Grey kangaroos, Kookaburras, Rosellas, and Yellow Tailed Black cockatoos.

I immediately noticed a small fenced off area within the park, a short distance from the entrance point off Bell Springs Road.  The fencing was of the portable type, and I still have no idea of its purpose.  I could not see anything of significance inside the fenced off area.  It remains a mystery.

I was up on air by 0650 UTC (5.20 p.m. South Australian local time).  My normal equipment was used for this activation: Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and 20m/40m linked dipole, supported on 7 metre heavy duty squid pole.

I headed for 7.144 on 40m, my nominated operating frequency.  I asked if the frequency was in use, and this was immediately responded to by Dennis VK2HHA who was patiently waiting for me to come up.  No doubt Dennis had seen my alert on parksnpeaks and the Facebook sites.  Dennis was a strong 5/9 signal, and Dennis gave me a 5/8 from Albury.  Next up was Peter VK3TKK mobile, with a great 5/9 signal from his car, and then Mick VK3PMG who was 5/9 from Stawell in western Victoria.  A mini pileup ensued, with many of the normal suspects including Peter VK3ZPF, Amanda VK3FQSO, Peter VK3PF, and Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.

Screenshot 2016-02-15 17.26.43

Above:- Aerial image of the Charleston Conservation Park showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer. 

My 15th contact for the activation from Charleston was with John VK5BJE who was operating portable from the Mylor Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills, further to the south west of my location.  John was a good 5/5 signal to Charleston.  The noise floor in the park was negligible, so I was able to hear John perfectly.  Not long after working John I started experiencing some QRM from just below me.  It turned out to be XE1NVA in Mexico who was working into Europe.

Fortunately the QRM was not significant, so I perservered on 7.144.  After working a total of 20 stations on 40m, the number of callers slowed, so I took the opportunity of trying to find Adrian VK5FANA who I knew was activating the Minlacowie Conservation Park on the Yorke Peninsula.  It wasn’t long and I found Adrian on 7.110, working Adam VK2YK.  Adrian’s signal was quite low down (5/1) but very readable, with a 4/3 being returned from Adrian from across Gulf St Vincent.

Adam VK2YK was keen to get me in the log, so I arranged to QSY back to 7.144.  But once I got there, I found that there  were some other stations just above the frequency, so I went a little higher to 7.152 and called for Adam, who responded.  I then spoke with Ian VK3VIN at Corio, and then George VK4GSF in Toowoomba.  I worked a further 4 stations in VK3 and VK4, before QSYing to 14.310 on 20m.

I self spotted on parksnpeaks, which in turn sends an auto generated spot to the DX Cluster.  I commenced calling CQ hoping to get some long path Europe contacts in the log.  My CQ call was almost immediately answered by Steve G0KIK in England who was 5/5, and this was followed by Bill K4WMS near Richmond in Virginia who was a very strong 5/9.  Steve G0KIK also kindly placed me on the DX Cluster.

I had a number of Europeans calling, but clearly they were struggling with my signal, and a valid signal exchange was not made, so they didn’t make the log.  But I did manage to work into England, USA, Italy, Croatia, and Russia.  A number of the European WWFF regulars called in, including Luciano I5FLN and Sergey RA3PCI.  I also worked Mike VK6MB, and Phil VK6ADF who was portable in the Alexander Morrison National Park, VKFF-0002.  Phil was a very strong 5/9 from his park, which is situated about 281 km north of Perth.

I then lowered the squid pole and erected the 15m dipole and headed to 21.244 where I put out about 5 minutes of CQ calls, with absolutely no takers.  I tuned across the 15m band and only heard one very low down JA signal.

So I re-erected the 20m/40m linked dipole and returned to 14.310 where I worked F1BLL in France, S58N in Slovenia and Peter VK6RZ.

I then returned to 40m  and commenced calling CQ again on 7.144 and this was answered by Phil VK6ADF/p who had followed me down from 20m.  Although Phil’s signal was not quite as strong on 40m, he was still 5/8 from Alexander Morrison NP.  I then worked Mike VK6MB who had also followed me down from 20m.  The frequency was initially clear when I came up, but it wasn’t long before I was starting to experience some QRM from some JA’s on 7.144.

I worked 11 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK6, with the JA stations ever increasing in signal strength.  The QRM eventually became intolerable so I decided to move frequency.  And this was good timing, because at this point, 2 bushwalkers arrived at the park.  They were very interested in what this crazy guy was doing sitting in the bush on a deck chair with a squid pole in the air.  I chatted with them for about 15 minutes, explaining the hobby of amateur radio, and the various park activity programs.

It was now just after 8.00 p.m. SA local time, so I headed to the 7.130 DX Net.  The Net was extremely busy and it took nearly 25 minutes for the first round of callers to complete their calls, before Roy VK7ROY asked for further checkins.  I checked in to the Net and worked the three DX stations present: Pedro NP4A in Puerto Rico (5/9 plus sent and 5/8 received); Greg NR6Q (5/9 plus sent and 5/9 received); and Brian ZL2ASH (5/9 plus both ways).  The band conditions were incredibly good.

I then quietly disappeared from the Net and went up to 7.175 where I put out some final calls.  I worked a total of 14 stations here from VK1, VK2, VK4, and VK6.


I packed up just after 9.30 p.m. local time, and made the short but slow 20 minute drive home.  Slow, because of the number of kangaroos out and about.  I had a total of 72 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2HHA
  2. VK3TKK/m
  3. VK3PMG
  4. VK3ZPF
  5. VK3FQSO
  6. VK3PF
  7. VK3MCK
  8. VK3PNF/m
  9. VK3MRH
  10. VK4RF
  11. VK4HA
  12. VK2LAD
  13. VK3DBP
  14. VK2MOR
  15. VK5BJE/p (Mylor Conservation Park)
  16. VK3KRH
  17. VK1DI
  18. VK4FBMW
  19. VK4FATS
  20. VK2NP
  21. VK5FANA/p (Minlacowie Conservation Park)
  22. VK2YK
  23. VK3VIN
  24. VK4GSF
  25. VK3MLU
  26. VK4KUS
  27. VK3FSPG
  28. VK3FAPH
  29. VK6ADF/p (Alexander Morrison National Park)
  30. VK6MB
  31. VK2AWJ
  32. VK4FADW
  33. VK4FFAB
  34. VK4FAAS
  35. VK3FADM
  36. VK4NSA
  37. VK4XG
  38. VK3FMJM
  39. VK2QA
  40. VK2NCS
  41. NP4A
  42. NR6Q
  43. ZL2ASH
  44. VK1VK
  45. VK6FCJB
  46. VK2DSG
  47. VK3ARH
  48. VK4NAI/6
  49. VK3PMG
  50. VK3SIM
  51. VK1XP
  52. VK3MVP
  53. VK4FEMO
  54. ZL1AAW
  55. VK3GH
  56. VK4FATS
  57. VK5MAS

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. G0KIK
  2. K4WMS
  3. I5FLN
  4. 9A3NM
  5. RA3PCI
  6. VK6MB
  7. IK2ZJN
  8. IK8FIQ
  9. IK2VUC
  10. VK6ADF/p (Alexander Morrison National Park)
  11. IZ5JMZ
  12. 9A9A
  13. F1BLL
  14. S58N
  15. VK6RZ