Murray River Parks Award

The Murray River Parks Award has now been officially released.  And my email has been running hot with applications via Logsearch.  I’ve sent out 12 already this morning.

The award is issued to Activators and Hunters, for operating from, or making contact with activators, in certain parks along the stretch of the mighty Murray River.  There are 32 qualifying parks.

I have made the levels very achievable to get involved.  Level 1 = 10 parks.  Level 2 = 20 parks.  Level 3 – all 32 parks.

Thankyou to Andrew M0YMA for incorporating the award into Logsearch.

More info can be found at…….

Screenshot 2016-03-31 14.22.01

Scott Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-0788 and 5CP-207

On Friday afternoon (25th March 2016) I had organised with my good mate John VK5BJE to activate the Scott Creek Conservation Park (CP), VKFF-0788 and 5CP-207, with a view to field testing a Spiderbeams OCF dipole and also trying our luck on 2m.  John and I had long since talked about trying 2m and some other bands during park activations, so we organised this day in advance.

So after packing the 4WD to the brim, I headed over to Scott Creek to John’s home QTH.  John was patiently and eagerly awaiting for me.  A little more gear was placed into my vehicle and off we went to the Scott Creek CP.  We were followed by John’s wife Jenny, who is involved with the Friends of the Park group for Scott Creek.  They have an excellent website which can be located at…….

The park is just a stone throw from John’s home, and about 20 km south east of Adelaide, in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.

Screenshot 2016-03-27 09.50.47

Above:- Map showing the location of the Scott Creek Conservation Park.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The park was gazetted as a Conservation Park in 1985.  Prior to that most of the park was privately owned, with the South Australian State Government purchasing some of the land during the early 1970s, and then making a major acquisition in 1975.  The Friends of the Park group has some excellent history on the park on their page.

The park owes its name to a Mr Scott who in about 1847, brought a flock of sheep into the area and established a camp near a creek in the park which flows into the Onkaparinga River.  The people of nearby Cherry Gardens referred to that locality as Scott’s Bottom, and the stream as Scott’s Creek.  Between the 1850’s and the 1870’s the area was mined for copper and silver by the Almanda Silver Mining Association.  Around 310 kilograms of silver was produced by the mine.  In the lower section of the park you can view the ruins of the old silver mine including the old engine house, chimney, mine office, and a number of mine shafts.

Scott Creek Conservation Park is about 750 hectares in size and contains an excellent example of the indigenous native vegetation of the Mount Lofty Ranges.   Most of the terrain within the park is hilly and rugged.  The scrub is very thick, and about 60 species of orchids can be found in the park.

The park is home to numerous native animals including Southern Brown Bandicoot, Koala, Western Grey Kangaroo, Yellow-footed Antechinus, Common Ringtail Possum, Southern Bush Rat, and the Common Brush-tailed Possum.  Over 28 species of birds have been recorded in the park.

We headed along Longwood Road and then Mount Bold Road, until we reached gate 8.  John and I have been to this park a number of times before and have activated from this specific location previously.  There is a nice area here to park any vehicles off the road, and it is then just a short walk to a pedestrian entry gate which leads into the park.

This is a high section of the park, with our operating spot being about 420 metres ASL, and just off the Cup Gum Track.

Screenshot 2016-03-27 09.51.36.jpg

Above:- Map showing the location of our operating spot in the park, about 420 metres ASL.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

We set up two operating stations, one for HF and the other for VHF.  The HF station consisted of my Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and a 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre telescopic heavy duty squid pole.  I powered the radio with my 44 amp hour power pack.

The VHF station consisted of John’s Yaesu FT-897, 20 watts, and a Cushcraft 3 element yagi mounted on a painters pole.  John’s tx was powered by a LiFePO4 battery.

After setting up both stations John and I set about field testing a Spiderbeam Off Centre Fed (OCF) dipole antenna.  Rick DJ0IP had kindly supplied me with the antenna for free.  The antenna is a Spiderbeam Aerial-51 Model 404-UL, which is a lightweight (weights 400 grams) 20m long OCF dipole.  It has a balun which uses two matched toroidal transformers which are potted in epoxy.

We set up the antenna on the top of a 7 metre telescopic squid pole and ran the antenna in a north-south direction.  We used a Rig Expert antenna analyser to check the VSWR of the antenna prior to any tuning.  These were the results:-

  • 7.030 = 2:1
  • 7.100  = 2.1:1
  • 7.090 = 2.1:1
  • 7.144 = 2.1:1
  • 14.200 = 1.9:1
  • 14.310 = 1.8.1
  • 21.250 = 1.9:1
  • 28.450 = 1.3:1

We then tried to tune up the antenna but experienced some difficulties with the tuner so did not get the antenna on air.  However I am on holidays for a further 3 weeks so I will be heading out portable again and will try the antenna again, and will post a more detailed review.

John and I headed to our respective stations and while John called CQ on 2m, I trolled across the 40m band and found Stef VK5HSX operating portable in the Hallet Cove Conservation Park, VKFF-0890 and 5CP-087.  Stef had a very strong 5/9 signal coming in to Scott Creek from south of Adelaide at Hallet Cove.

I then headed up the band to 7.150 and started calling CQ and this was responded to by Mick VK3PMG in Stawell in western Victoria who had a cracking 5/9 plus signal.  It didn’t take long for the park hunters to find me and a mini pile up soon ensued with callers from VK3, VK4, and VK5.  All signals were very strong with very little atmospheric noise on the band.  And certainly no man made noise on the band.

During the pile up, John came running over to me to advise that he had Gordon VK5GY on 2m SSB in the Bullock Hill Conservation Park.  So I ran over to the 2m station whilst John took over the reigns on 40m.  I was more than happy to be able to work Gordon as he was my very first ‘park to park’ contact on 2m SSB.  I was then called by David VK5KC, followed by Phil VK5AKK.  But despite a number of further CQ calls on 144.1 I had no further takers.

I then handed back the 2m mantle to John and I headed back to 40m.  I had just started calling CQ when a few bushwalkers came by my operating spot which was just off Cup Gum Track.  Thank you to all those who patiently waited for me to come back on air.  I had a chat with these 2 gentlemen and explained what John and I were doing, and all about the hobby of amateur radio.  They seemed very interested.

I then went back to 7.150 and called CQ and this was answered by Brian VK5FMID, followed by Don VK3MCK, and then Mike VK5FVSV.  David VK5PL who was portable in the Hale Conservation Park then called in, and it was great to get another ‘park to park’ contact in the log.  A few QSOs later I was called by Gordon VK5GY in Bullock Hill CP, for my third park to park contact for the activation on 40m, and fourth for the activation in total.

I continued to work stations all across Australia, including Mike VK6MB in Western Australia (5/8 sent and 5/6 received).  It was at this time that Peter VK5PM arrived at the park.  Peter had called me earlier in the day asking if he could pop out to check out our portable set up.  Peter is very keen to take up portable activating.

When things slowed down a little I spoke with Peter VK5PET and Rick VK5FGFK in the nearby Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, on 2m FM on the Yaesu VX6R handheld.  This wa say first ever ‘park to park’ contact on 2m FM.  Only something small I know, but another milestone and something different.  John and Peter also spoke with Peter and Rick.

Time was starting to push on a little and it was now just after 5.00 p.m.  John had to get up early the next morning and had a drive ahead of him, so John started packing up his 2m station.  We lowered the squid pole and erected a 6m dipole and started calling CQ on 52.2.  Sadly, our only taker was David VK5KC.

John and Jenny, and Peter then left the park.  I replaced the 6m antenna with the 20m/40m linked dipole and headed for the 20m band hoping to get some DX in the log.  Prior to calling CQ, I found Phil VK6ADF on 14.310 in the Drovers Cave National Park VKFF-0146.

After working Phil I then went down to 14.305 and started calling CQ and this was answered by Al VK7AN, followed by Steve VK4KUS and then Ted VK6NTE & Ray VK4NH/6.  This was followed by the first DX for the day on 20m Max IK1GPG.  Sadly I only worked a further 4 DX stations (Italy, Japan, and Spain), along with a number of VK’s (VK2, VK4, and VK6).  This included my good mate Ted VK6NTE and Ray VK4NH/6 (staying with Ted), and Jonathan VK6JON mobile.

I decided to take a break from operating and went for a walk along the Cup Gum Track for about 1.5 km until I reached a clearing where you are rewarded with some amazing views of the surrounding countryside.  The sun was just setting, so there was a  nice orange glow off the gum trees in the park.

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I returned back to my operating spot, and prior to heading back to 40m, I had a glance across the 20m band and found it to be fairly quiet, with very little DX.  But I did find Bill KE0HWZ in Colorado calling CQ on 14.229 (5/9 both ways).  Bill was operating remote from Texas.  But that was the extent of the DX.

So I headed back to 40m and started calling CQ on 7.135 and this was answered by Steve VK5FSPJ who was operating portable from his backyard, followed by Steve VK7FTAS, and then Ian VK5IS.  It was pleasing to hear a steady flow of callers again, with conditions being very good.  Callers on 40m were from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6 and New Zealand.  This included Ken ZL4KD, the ZLFF co-ordinator.

After working a total of 37 stations, I had a tune across the band and found Phil VK6ADF again, in VKFF-0146, with an equally good signal on 40m, as he had on 20m.

It was starting to get very cold with the temperature dropping down to 8 degrees C.  Local South Australian time was 8.40 p.m. (1020 UTC), so I headed to 7.130 and booked in to the 7130 DX Net. I worked Carsten VK6PCB who was portable and QRP, William FO5JV and Paul VK7CC.

At around 9.15 p.m. local time I packed up the gear and headed home.  It was a slow drive home avoiding all the kangaroos.


For me, this was a very enjoyable activation.  I had a total of 102 stations in the log, including eight ‘park to park’ contacts.  That included some 2m contacts and a 6m contact, and the company of John and Peter.  John’s most distant contact of the day was with Bill VK3LY in Nhill in western Victoria, and a number of amateurs in the South East of South Australia.  I think I have been bitten by the 2m bug and I will definitely be trying some more 2m action this year during my park activations.

More information on our activation can also be found on John’s WordPress site at……

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5HSX/p (Hallet Cove CP VKFF-0890 & 5CP-087)
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK5TR
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK4RF
  6. VK4HA
  7. VK3PF
  8. VK3SQ
  9. VK5ZGY
  10. VK5JK
  11. VK5KBB
  12. VK3ZPF
  13. VK5FMID
  14. VK3MCK
  15. VK5FVSV
  16. VK5PL/p (Hale CP VKFF-0889 & 5CP-086)
  17. VK5DK
  18. VK3FADM
  19. VK5GY/p (Bullock Hill CP VKFF-0873 & 5CP-265)
  20. VK3NBL
  21. VK3FALE
  22. VK5QI
  23. VK4FAAS
  24. VK3ZMD
  25. VK5DJ
  26. VK5MRE/p
  27. VK5FANA
  28. VK4AAC/3
  29. VK7LTD
  30. VK3LY
  31. VK2NCS
  32. VK2GFE/p
  33. VK2AR
  34. VK4FW
  35. VK5NIG
  36. Vk5DC
  37. VK3AWG
  38. VK6MB
  39. VK5FSPJ/p
  40. VK7FTAS
  41. VK5IS
  42. VK6JON/m
  43. VK3LED
  44. VK5FDEC
  45. VK6NU
  46. ZL4KD
  47. VK3VKT/m
  48. VK5KPR
  49. VK5KLV
  50. VK2IAN
  51. VK2VOO
  52. VK3VIN
  53. VK2ND
  54. VK2ALH
  55. VK5TT
  56. VK3HN/p
  57. VK3IO
  58. VK5MJ
  59. VK2FROD/p
  60. VK5LDM
  61. VK4NSA
  62. VK5FCLK
  63. VK3FSPG
  64. VK4MNM
  65. VK5HW/m
  66. VK4NAI/6
  67. VK2SR
  68. VK4MWG
  69. VK5HS
  70. VK3CM
  71. VK4MON
  72. VK3FJBA
  73. VK2JDW
  74. VK4IL
  75. VK7PSJ
  76. VK6ADF/p (Drovers Cave NP, VKFF-0146)
  77. VK6PCB/p
  78. FO5JV
  79. VK7CC

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6ADF/p (Drovers Cave NP, VKFF-0146)
  2. VK7AN
  3. VK4KUS
  4. VK6NTE
  5. VK4NH/6
  6. IK1GPG
  7. BK6JON/m
  8. VK6WE
  9. VK6BG
  10. VK4ABH
  11. JA8RJE
  12. IZ6CLZ
  13. VK2NP
  14. IK8FIQ
  15. EA5CTE
  16. KE0HWZ

I worked the following station on 2m SSB:-

  1. VK5GY/p (Bullock Hill CP VKFF-0873 & 5CP-265)
  2. VK5KC
  3. VK5AKK

I worked the following station on 2m FM:-

  1. VK5PET/p (Mark Oliphant CP VKFF-0782 & 5CP-127)
  2. VK5FGFK/p (Mark Oliphant CP VKFF-0782 & 5CP-127)

I worked the following station on 6m SSB:-

  1. VK5KC


Here is a short 10 minute video I have put together of the activation……




Friends of the Parks, <;

John Moyle Memorial Field Day 2016 and Monarto Conservation Park

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday 19th March 2016) my wife Marija and I headed up to the Monarto Conservation Park, for the 2016 John Moyle Memorial Field Day.  I had planned on going to the Coorong National Park, but after feeling a bit ordinary over recent times, I decided to choose a park a little closer to home.  Monarto is a nice little mallee park, and is just 30 km east from home, along the South Eastern Freeway (about 65 km east of Adelaide).

Screenshot 2016-03-19 22.10.42

Above:- Map showing the location of the Monarto Conservation Park, east of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The John Moyle Memorial Field Day (JMMFD) is held annually in memory of the late John Moyle.  The WIA website states:

“The contest is run each year in memory of the late john Moyle who was a long term editor of the Wireless Weekly, (later Radio & Hobbies – later Radio Television & Hobbies) from 1947 until his untimely death in 1960.  He served in the RAAF with distinction and was responsible for a number of innovative solutions to keeping radio and radar equipment working under difficult wartime and working conditions.  The WIA decided that a suitable long term memorial to John Moyle would be a Field Day with a focus on portable or field operation. The contest has been conducted annually ever since”.

In the leadup to the contest I had had heard some amateurs referring on air to: ‘bloody contests’ and ‘what do they get out of it’.  Although I’m not a huge contester, I do compete in a handful of amateur radio contests during the year, and the JMMFD is one of those.  The JMMFD tends to be a lot more laid back than the big international contests, and on a sunny day like yesterday, its a great way to spend an afternoon out in the field.  I’m always concerned about amateurs criticising the interests of other amateurs.  This is an amazing hobby, with so many diverse and interesting aspects, and we, the amateur radio community, should be embracing all of them.  It’s the old saying of what floats one persons boat, doesn’t necesssarily excite another.

And who really is John Moyle?  I had read a little bit about the man on the WIA website, but really didn’t know much about him.  I had even read some Facebook posts from some hams, spelling his name incorrectly.  So I decided to have a look around the internet and see what I could come up with.  I was also provided an article by Peter VK3RV, the WIA Historian.  Thanks Peter.

John Murray Moyle (VK2JU) was born on the 28th February 1908 in Malvern, Victoria.  He was educated at Scotch College in Melbourne where he was the Editor of the school magazine and involved in the debating team.  John’s first role in radio was with radio station 3DB in Melbourne where he assisted well known broadcaster Ren Miller in the commercial advertising department and also wrote short stories and technical articles on radio for the ‘Listener In’ (Melbourne).  In 1932, John joined the staff of ‘Wireless Weekly‘, a Sydney publication, and soon became Assistant Technical Editor, and then Technical Editor.  John was also first licenced in 1932 as a radio amateur.

Screenshot 2016-03-20 09.59.19

Above:- John Murray Moyle.  Image courtesy of Peter VK3RV.

In 1933 John married Alice Marshall Brown (1908 Bloemfontein South Africa -2005).  She was one of the seminal figures in Australian ethnomusicology and founding members of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.


Above:- Alice Marshall Moyle nee Brown.  c/o

John and Alice had two daughters, Josephine and Carolyn.


Above:- The Moyle family, c. 1950’s.  Image courtesy of

In April 1939, ‘Wireless Weekly‘ became a broadcasting programme weekly publication, with its technical activities separated into a monthly magazine entitled ‘Radio and Hobbies‘.  John was the Technical Editor of the new magazine, and some became the Editor.

John served as a Squadron Leader with the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II.  His service number was 263664.  He was in charge of all radar publications at the Melbourne RAAF Headquarters, and was discharged on the 18th January 1946.

John Moyle served for many years as a Federal Councillor with the WIA and President of the NSW Division.  In 1959 he was selected to represent the WIA as an officially accredited member of the Australian delegation to the Administrative Radio Conference of the International Telecommunications Union, held in Geneva Switzerland.  He also made weekly technical broadcasts on radio station 2UE in Sydney.

John Moyle died on the 10th March 1960, aged just 52 years, after a short illness.  His resting place is the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium in North Ryde, NSW.

John Moyle VK2JU Obit lr

Upon leaving home it was quite overcast and there appeared to be the possibility of rain in the Adelaide Hills.  We travelled along the South Eastern Freeway and turned off at Monarto and then drove south along the Ferries McDonald Road towards the park.

Monarto Conservation Park consists of typical open mallee and is surrounded by cropping lands.  A large variety of native wildlife call the park home, including Western Grey kangaroos and at least two species of Marsupial Mouse.  More than 80 species of birds have been recorded in the park, including the endangered Malle fowl.

The small ‘town’ of Monarto is located to the north of the park, on the opposite side of the South Eastern Freeway.  This area was once earmarked (in the 1970’s) by the then South Australian Premier Don Dunstan, as a satellite city to Adelaide.  However, due to a variety of reasons this never eventuated.  Today, Monarto is a farming district and is situated adjacent to the main Adelaide-Melbourne rail line.  Monarto is probably best known for the Monarto Zoological Park which is the world’s largest open plains zoo, featuring a variety of animals including cheetah, rhinoceros and giraffe.

Marija and I pulled in to the car parking area in the north eastern corner of the park, off Ferries McDonald Road.  This is where I normally operate from.  There was already a family having a picnic lunch in the carpark, and they watched on with great interest as the squid pole was erected.  I had a short conversation with them, explaining what we were doing and a little bit about amateur radio.


It only took a few minutes to have everything set up.  We were ready to go a little earlier than predicted.  It was around 1.30 p.m. South Australian local time.  This was just my normal little humble portable station consisting of a deck chair, fold up table, the solar panels topping up the 44 amp hour power pack, the Yaesu FT-857d set on 40 watts, and the 20m/40m linked dipole on top of a 7 metre heavy duty squid pole.  I secured the squid pole to one of the permapine fence posts of the carpark boundary.

Screenshot 2016-03-19 22.09.06

Above:- Map showing our operating spot in the park.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

It was a very hot day, despite all the cloud cover.  When that sun came out, it certainly had a bite.  So out came the umbrella to shield me from getting sunburnt (which happened anyway).  The 40m band was very busy and it was quite difficult to find a clear frequency but eventually I did.  My first contact was with Roald VK1MTS/p in the ACT, followed by Damien VK5FDEC, and then Dale VK3VZX.  My fourth and fifth contacts were park to park contacts.  They being with Hans VK5YX who was portable in the Onkaparinga River National Park VKFF-0402, and Chris VK3PAT who was portable in the Avon Wilderness Area VKFF-0942.

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I had not long been on air, when from underneath the umbrella, I heard Marija talking to someone.  Between calls, I poked my head out to find that it was Peter VK5PM and his wife, from Nairne.  Peter had phoned me a few weeks earlier and was quite interested in getting involved in portable work.  So when things slowed down a little, out I popped from the umbrella for a chat.


Above:- with Peter VK5PM.

Peter stayed for around an hour and we had a bit of a chat between contacts.  Hopefully I may have encouraged another park activator.  Fortunately the cloud cover started to move in as the afternoon went on, and the very hot sun abated, so I was able to dispense with the umbrella.

There were long periods of calling CQ with no takers which was a little disapointing, with band conditions being quite good, with a number of contacts into Queensland during the middle of the day.

I worked a number of other SOTA & park activators during the day.  They included:

  • Johnno VK3FMPB/p in the Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264
  • Tony VK3VTH/p in Mount Buangor State Park VKFF-0766
  • Peter VK3YE/p in Mornington Peninsula National Park, VKFF-0333
  • Nigel VK5GRC/p in the Sandy Creek Conservation Park
  • Tony VK1VIC/p on SOTA peak VK1/ AC-008
  • Gerard VK2IO/p on SOTA peak VK2/ HU-024 in VKFF-0362
  • Jim VK1AT/p in VKFF-0269

I did try 20m briefly during the activation but only worked four (4) stations there:- VK6BRC, VK6WE/p, VK4QD/p, and VK6NC/p.

I stopped at around 0800 UTC for a quick bite to eat and a stroll around the park, before getting stuck back into working my last couple of hours.

The laptop held out quite well for the 6 hours in the park.  I have an inverter which allows me to charge the laptop via the Toyota Hi Lux battery, but it is extremely noisy, so I had to take some breaks from the radio, as it was totally impossible to operate due to the noise.  This is something I’m going to have to look at.

My last contact was with Adam VK2FABJ near Coffs Harbor.

So after my 6 hours in the park I had a total of 229 contacts in the log.  Down a little from last year’s 238 contacts from the Coorong National Park.  But still, a very enjoyable afternoon out in the park.

Thanks to everyone who called.

Here is a 10 minute video I put together of the activation and some of the contacts…….



Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 2016, <;, viewed 20th March 2016.

Commonwealth of Australia, 2016, <;, viewed 20th March 2016.

Discogs, 2016, <;, viewed 20th March 2016

Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, 5CP-127 and VKFF-0782

On Friday night (11th March 2016) I headed over to the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, 5CP-127 and VKFF-072, for the regular Friday afternoon/evening event for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  But it was almost a no-goer for me, as the weather at home was extremely stormy with consistent light rain.  It was not looking promising.  I jumped on to the weather radar and despite the gloomy outlook outside, the radar was showing up as quite clear.

Screenshot 2016-03-14 09.01.29Above:- The Adelaide weather radar.  Courtesy of

I took a punt and packed the 4WD and headed west along the South Eastern Freeway.  To my surprise the weather was clearing the further west I got.  But as I looked back in the rear vision mirror, it was certainly very very black.

The Mark Oliphant Conservation Park is located about 22 km west of my home QTH and about 22 km south east of Adelaide.  I have activated it a number of times previously and have well and truly qualified the park for both the VK5 Parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

Screenshot 2016-03-12 09.51.41

Above:- The location of the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Mark Oliphant Conservation Park was first used for recreation in the 1930’s and in 1945 the park was purchased by the YMCA.  In 1953 the park was acquired by the South Australian State Government, and 19 years later in 1972, the park was proclaimed as the Loftia Recreation Park.  In 1996, the park was proclaimed as the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park in recognition of its conservation values and to honour physicist and humanitarian Sir Mark Oliphant’s contribution to conservation.

Screenshot 2016-03-12 09.53.30

Above:- Map showing the location of the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills, to the west of my home QTH.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Sir Marcus ‘Mark’ Laurence Elwin Oliphant, AC, KBE, FRS, FAA, was born on 8th October 1901 at Kent Town in South Australia.  Sir Mark Oliphant was an Australian physicist and humanitarian who played an important role in the first experimental demonstration of nuclear fusion and also the development of nuclear weapons.

For more information on Sir Mark Oliphant, please see…….


Above:- Sir Mark Oliphant.  Courtesy of wikipedia.

Messmate stringy bark and brown stringy bark dominate the forest canopy in the Mark Elephant Conservation Park.  A small stand of Candlebark gums can be located near the oval.  This type of tall eucalyptus with white bark is rare and is only located in the higher rainfall areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges.  Small patches of Pink Gum, Manna Gum and Blue Gum can also be found in the park.  The forest understory contains many spring-flowering shrubs, including Myrtle-leaved Wattle, Beaked Hakea and Large-leaved Bush Pea.

A number of native animals call the park home.  This includes the rare Southern Brown Bandicoot and Yellow Footed Antechinus.  Several lizard, snake and for species also inhabit the park, however most of these are rarely seen.  The park is alive with bird life including the Superb Fairy-wren, Scarlet Robin, Golden Whistler, and Adelaide Rosella.

A major fire burnt through the park in January 1995.  Sadly, this park was deliberately lit, and I was one of the police investigators that was involved in the investigation into the arson and the subsequent arrest of the offender.

I turned right onto Evans Drive from Scott Creek Road and commenced travelling through the park, which is on either side of Evans Drive.


Above:- Evans Drive, with the park on either side of the road.

There are some nice views from Evans Drive out to the south towards Ironbank and Scott Creek.

As you drive further along Evans Drive, the terrain starts to drop away on the southern side of the road, into some deep gorges.  This is where a lot of ferns can be located due to the cooler conditions underneath the tree canopy.

I drove a short distance along Evans Drive and stopped at gate 22.  There is a small parking area here off the road.  I set up just off the HoneyEater Track which is located in the north eastern corner of the park.

Screenshot 2016-03-12 09.50.16

Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the north eastern area of the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I use an app called ‘treksafe’ on my iphone to notify my wife when I’m safe in a park or on a summit.  So I sent the obligatory message to Marija to let her know my location.


For this activation I ran my normal park set up, consisting of the Yaesu FT85As I was setting up my deck chair and fold up table I heard a noise which sounded like a chicken.  Surely not?  A chicken in the park.  But I couldnt see anything, so I continued to set up and then heard the noise again.  This time, the chicken made its appearance out of the scrub.  Needless to say I was very surprised.


I was set up and ready to go by around 0600 UTC (4.30 p.m. South Australian local time).  I headed for my nominated operating frequency of 7.144, however there was a VK6 calling CQ DX on the frequency.  The 40m band was very very busy and it was quite difficult to find a clear frequency.  As I tuned down the band I found Rob VK2QR/p on SOTA peak Mount Hudson VK2/ SM-021 (in the Kosciuszko National Park) calling CQ on 7.100.  I gave Rob a shout, who was an excellent 5/9 signal into the park and Rob reciprocated with a 5/9 for me.  Rob also kindly handed the frequency over to me.

I then called CQ and this was responded to by a mini pile up.  First taker was Peter VK3TKK who was mobile (5/9 both ways), followed by Matt VK1MA, Peter VK3PF, and then Les VK5KLV.  All with 5/9 signals.  The 40m band appeared to be in good condition.  I worked a further 15 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, before I was called by another SOTA activator.  This time it was Josh VK2JOS who was on SOTA peak RichardsonVK2/ HU-074, which is located north of Newcastle in New South Wales.

Nine QSOs later, Rob VK2QR called me again, from a different SOTA peak.  This time Rob was on Far Bald Mountain, VK2/ SM-023.  Callers had started to slow down for me, so I thought it was only fair to return the favour for Rob, and hand the frequency over to him.  I was in the process of doing so, when John VK5BJE called in and asked me to head to 2m.  John had headed out that afternoon to the nearby Scott Creek Conservation Park and we had spoken about a possible 2m park to park contact.

So I went back to the 4WD and I headed to 146.500 on my Yaesu VX-6R handheld.  I spoke with John who was a cracking signal from nearby Scott Creek.  Unfortunately John had already returned home.

After chatting with John for a few minutes, I headed back to 40m hoping to hear some of the other VK5 Park activators who had headed out for the Friday VK5 Parks event.  It didn’t take long before I found Peter VK5PET on 7.105 in the Scott Conservation Park, 5CP-206 and VKFF-0934, on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south of Adelaide.  Peter had a good strong 5/8 signal and it was nice to get my first park to park contact in the log.

By this stage, one chicken had become two.


I then headed to 14.310 on 20m and self spotted myself on parksnpeaks.  Typical of what often happens for me on 20m, my first taker was Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who was an excellent 5/9 signal from Queensland.  Following my QSO with Rick, Luk ON4BB called in, followed by Norbert DK7TZ.  I worked a further 16 stations from Europe, but conditions were less than ideal.  Countries worked were Belgium, Germany, Spain, Russia, France, Italy, and Slovenia.  And amongst the European callers, I was called by Marcus VK3TST/5 who was portable in the Port Gawler Conservation Park.  Marcus was very low down, but we successfully exchanged signal reports (3/3 sent and 5/1 received).

Sadly the callers from Europe tapered off very quickly, so I took the opportunity of tuning across the 20m band, and found Jim E51JD calling CQ on 14.250 from the South Cook Islands.  Jim was coming through nicely with a 5/7 signal and gave me a 5/1.  At the end of my QSO with Jim, Jonathan VK6JON mobile called in.  I arranged to QSY down to catch up with Jonathan.

So I headed down to 14.245 and had a good chat with Jonathan, and this was followed by Neil ZL2UN.  Coincidentally, Neil’s brother Guy, runs a coffee shop in Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills.  Next up was Bob VK6CG who portable at Margaret River in south western Western Australia, running 10 watts from his Elecraft KX3, and an end fed wire antenna modelled around an antenna from the February edition of Radcom magazine.

At the end of my chat with Bob, I headed back to 40m.  There was a group of ZL’s on 7.143 so I headed up to 7.148 and started calling CQ.  This was answered by Bob VK6CG portable, followed by Jonathan VK6JON mobile, both of whom had followed me down from 20m.  Despite being very readable, their signals were down a little from 20m.  I worked a further 10 stations, including Roscoe VK3KRH who was extremely strong with his 40m beam.

The SOTA Goat app on my mobile phone started bleated.  It was a few European SOTA activators being spotted on 20m.  So I lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed for 20m hoping to get them in the log.  Unfortunately I was unable to hear SQ9MOF/p in Poland on 14.288, as their was a very strong VK2 on 14.290 totally wiping him out.  And ON7DQ had already QSYd to 40m.

So I took down the 20m/40m linked dipole and put up my 15m dipole and started calling CQ on 21.244.  Sadly there were no takers, so I again self spotted on parksnpeaks and then commenced calling CQ again.  But still no takers.  I tuned across the 15m band and the only station I could hear was Emil 9A9A in Croatia, who was working a Japanese pile up on 21.277.

It was time for a walk through the park.  There was a track leading up to a high point in the park, directly in front of where I was operating from, so I decided to head up there for some views across the park.

This track actually leads up to the Heathfield rubbish dump, which is on the north eastern side of the park.  From the top of the ridgeline there are some great views out to the west and the south west.

After getting back down from the track, I headed back to 40m where I found Kevin VK3CKL and Roscoe VK3KRH on 7.140 talking to Joe W5JI and a handful of other stations from the USA.  Joe W5JI was previously K5THB many many years ago, and I have very good memories of listening as an SWL, to Joe some 35 plus years ago when I was a teenager.  Joe was a regular on 40m talking with W4MIP and W2GO and other USA stations.  So I decided to try my luck and see if Joe was able to hear me.  Sadly, Joe was struggling with 5/9 plus 10 static crashes and we couldn’t make it.  BUT, Roscoe was kind enough to tape one of my overs and play it back to Joe, who was blown away when I mentioned my SWL experiences all those years ago.  Sadly, Joe relayed the story of W2GO, electrocuting himself when he was in his 80’s.


It was not just after 8.00 p.m. local time I prior to heading to the 7.130 DX Net I had a quick look around the band.  I found TX7EU from Marquesas Islands, on 7.152 with a strong signal, working a Japanese pile up, split on 7.158.  The pile up was just too intense, so I didn’t even bother trying, and I headed to the 7130 DX Net.

It was an extremely busy Net, with a huge number of checkins.  So I stuck around for just one round on the Net and worked Greg NR6Q in California, and William FO5JV in French Polynesia.  I the QSYd up to 7.135 where I worked 10 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  My last contact was with Adam VK7VAZ, and it was at this time that a JA moved in just 1 kc above us and the Over the Horizon Radar also started up.

I had one last tune across the band and heard TX7EU calling CQ on 7.152.  This time he was even stronger, and the pile up had seemed to have subsided slightly.  So I put the FT857D into split mode and gave him a call, and much to my surprise I got through first time.  This was a new DXCC entity for me whilst portable.

The mozzies were biting hard and it was now just after 9.00 p.m. local time, so I packed up the gear and headed home with a total of 86 stations in the log.

The following stations were worked on 40m SB:-

  1. VK2QR/p (SOTA VK2/ SM-021 and Kosciusko National Park)
  2. VK3TKK/m
  3. VK1MA
  4. VK3PF
  5. VK5KLV
  6. VK3PMG
  7. VK5JK
  8. VK4AAC/2
  9. VK3PAT
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK3VIN
  12. VK3DBP
  13. VK4RF
  14. VK4HA
  15. VK2HHA
  16. VK3ZMD
  17. VK3FQSO
  18. VK5GJ
  19. VK7NWT
  20. VK2JOS (SOTA VK2/ HU-074)
  21. VK5FMID
  22. VK3ARH
  23. VK5VRB
  24. VK5ZGY
  25. VK3MCK
  26. VK2NP
  27. VK2LAD
  28. VK7LTD
  29. VK5MTM/m
  30. VK2QR/p (SOTA VK2/ SM-023)
  31. VK5BJE
  32. VK5PET/p (Scott Conservation Park 5CP-206 and VKFF-0934)
  33. VK6CG/p
  34. VK6JON/m
  35. VK2IO
  36. VK1MTS
  37. VK5TRM
  38. VK5NFT/m
  39. VK1DI
  40. VK3KRH
  41. VK5PET/p (second QSO) (Scott Conservation Park 5CP-206 and VKFF-0934)
  42. VK4FFAB
  43. VK4FBMW
  44. VK2MCB
  45. VK3CKL
  46. W5JI
  47. VK3KRH (2nd QSO)
  48. KA1W
  49. NR6Q
  50. FO5JV
  51. VK2NED
  52. VK4FAAS
  53. VK2MOR/p
  54. VK3GYH
  55. VK4MON
  56. VK2ZRD/p
  57. VK4QQ
  58. VK3ZMD (2nd QSO)
  59. VK5VBR
  60. VK7VAZ
  61. TX7EU

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. ON4BB
  4. DK7TZ
  5. EA2KV
  6. RA3PCI
  7. ON4GI
  8. ON5SWA
  9. EA4DTV
  10. VK3TST/5 (Port Gawler Conservation Park)
  11. F1BLL
  12. I5FLN
  13. I1POR
  14. ON4VT
  15. EA7TR
  16. RC5F
  17. ON5GM
  18. S57S
  19. EA4FVT
  20. EA3DIU
  21. E51JD
  22. VK6JON/m
  23. ZL2UN
  24. VK6CG/p

The following stations were worked on 2m:-

  1. VK5BJE




Department of Environment and Natural Resources, ‘Mark Oliphant Conservation Park’

A new amateur on the bands

There is a new amateur on the bands.  In fact a new amateur in our household.

This weekend, my wife Marija undertook the Foundation licence course held by the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society (AHARS).  She PASSED.

So hopefully in 6 weeks time, there will be a new amateur on the bands….VK5FMAZ.

Marija has been a great supporter of my interest in the hobby over the years, and has accompanied me on many SOTA & Parks expeditions.  It will be terrific to share the hobby with her and hear Marija up on air from a SOTA peak or a National or Conservation Park soon.

Well done Marija, and many thanks to AHARS and the exam/course convenors.


XYL Appreciation certificate

I read some ‘tongue in cheek’ comments on Facebook recently by Wendy, who is the wife of Stef VK5HSX, about a wife/partner certificate for their devotion to their partner’s crazy hobby of ham radio (particularly the SOTA & Parks activators).

I had a think about this and thought there was a lot of merit in this, and have produced the certificate below.

I know on a personal level, my wife Marija, has devoted countless hours in accompanying me to parks and summits.  This has included early morning starts, late nights, long drives, making of lunches, boiling of coffee, mosquito bites, avoiding snakes, and the inevitable bumps, scratches and bruises (not to mention her missing out on the Bold and the Beautiful).

So if you’d like this certificate to present to your better half, drop me an email at……


Aeronautical mobile contact

Last Thursday night (25th February 2016) I was having a chat on 40m with 2 friends, Rob VK4FFAB and Marshall VK3MRG, when we were called by Tim VK5ML who was aeronautical mobile on his way to Sydney in a British Aerospace 146 cargo aircraft, VH-NJM.

I jumped on to Flight Radar 24 and was able to view Tim’s exact location, which was eastbound, approaching the Kanangra-Boyd National Park in New South Wales.  Tim was at 17,400 feet.

Screenshot 2016-02-25 21.37.20

Tim had a beautiful 5/9 signal into my shack.  After concluding our QSO, I continued to track Tim until he landed at Sydney Airport.

Screenshot 2016-02-25 21.54.34

Here is some video of Tim chatting to Marshall……