AX5PAS at Ferries McDonald Conservation Park 5CP-067 and VKFF-0881

On Monday 25th April 2016, I headed out to the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park, 5CP-067 and VKFF-0881, to activate the park with the special AX prefix to commemorate ANZAC Day.  ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”

https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac-day/

I have activated Ferries McDonald CP many times previously, so this was not to be a unique activation for me.  It was just to be a fun activation and to take advantage of the AX prefix which we only get to use 3 times a year: Australia Day, ANZAC Day; and World Telecommunications and Information Society Day.

Ferries McDonald Conservation Park is just 30 km east of my home QTH, and around 70 km east of Adelaide.

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

To get to the park today I chose to take the ‘back’ route, rather than straight down the South Eastern Freeway.  I drove out along Wellington Road and into the little town of Woodchester.  I then drove north east along the Callington Road until I reached Chaunceys Line Road.  I stopped here briefly to have a look at the old Hartley Methodist Church which was used between 1865 to 1895.   It is now just a ruin but there is a plaque here to honour its past.

I continued south east on Chaunceys Line Road until I reached Hartley.  This isn’t really a town, but more a locality.  Hartley which is now a ghost town, was founded way back in 1856 and once boasted the Methodist church, a post office, a school, and a creamery.  I stopped to have a look at the history board in Hartley which details much of the history of the area.   There is also a large gum tree here where Prince Alfred the Duke of Edinburgh rested during his royal tour in 1867.

Whilst I was here getting some photographs, a local farmer pulled up in his ute to say g’day.  It turned out that he was involved in CB and UHF radio and was very interested in the antennas on my Toyota Hi Lux.  I explained to him what the antennas were for, and told him where I was heading to.  We had quite a lengthy chat about the hobby of amateur radio and I handed him a number of promotional brochures regarding amateur radio and the various parks awards.  I also gave out my business card and I am hoping to hear back for a future candidate for the Foundation course.

I continued along Chaunceys Line Road which soon became dirt, and it wasn’t long before the park came into view on my left.

On my way to the park I worked the following stations from the mobile:

  • Brett AX3FLCS/p, Macedon Regional Park VKFF-0972
  • Peter AX3ZPF/p, Mount Worth State Park VKFF-0771
  • Tony AX3VTH/p, Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264

After passing the intersection of Chaunceys Line Road & Ferries McDonald Road & Kangaroo Road, I continued on until I reached the carpark in the south eastern corner of the park.

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Above:- Map showing my operating spot within the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I set up on the western side of the carpark and I sought the shade of a native pine tree as it was an unusually warm day for ANZAC Day…..29 degrees C.

Ferries McDonald Conservation Park covers an area of about 860 hectares and contains one of the few pieces of remnant Mallee vegetation close to Adelaide.  It is important as it has never been cleared for farming, and is an example of the original vegetation of the area.  Within the park there are numerous bird species (over 60 have been recorded), echidnas, marsupial mouse, and Western Grey kangaroos.  It is also home to the highly endangered malleefowl.  Although I didn’t see one, I did go for a walk prior to setting up and I saw one of their nests which are built on the ground as a mound.  The park is named after Mr. Ferries and Mr. McDonald who donated the land for conservation, last century.

The land surrounding the park has been cleared for cropping and grazing.  It is a stark contrast to the thick mallee scrub of the park.

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For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, the 40m/20m linked dipole and my 1m dipole.  Both antennas were supported on top of the 7 metre heavy duty squid pole.  There was no issue with driving the squid pole holder in the ground, as the soil in the park is very sandy.

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I was set up and ready to go by just after 1.30 p.m. and headed straight for 7.144 where I knew that Tony AX3VTH/p was ‘babysitting’ the frequency for me.  Tony was a beautiful 5/9 signal from Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264.  After working Tony he kindly handed the frequency over to me.  Next up was Peter AX3PF, followed by Ian VK1DI/p in the Red Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0861.  Ian was a nice 5/9 signal and this was the very first time that the park had been activated, so it was nice to bag a unique park.  A number of the regular park hunters followed from VK2, VK3, and VK5.

About fourteen contacts into the activation, I was called by Peter AX3ZPF who was portable in the Mount Worth State Park VKFF-0771.  This was my third Park to Park contact for the activation.  I continued to work the pile up with excellent signals coming in to Ferries McDonald from VK2, VK3, VK4, & VK5.  It was very pleasing to see a number of the Australian amateurs using the AX prefix.  My fourth Park to Park contact was with Chris AX4FR/5 who was portable in the Swan Reach Conservation Park 5CP-221 and VKFF-0832.

I worked a total of 59 stations on 7.144 before things slowed down.  I was very pleased to be able to work Joe and Julie VK3SRC  (School Amateur Radio Club Network) who were portable at Victory Park at Bentleigh.  I took the opportunity of tuning across the band and found Peter AX5FKLR portable at Wild Dog Hill in the Whyalla Conservation Park, 5CP-253 and VKFF-0808.  This was my fourth Park to Park contact for the activation.

I then headed to 20m and found Bob VK5FO on 14.310, activating Mount Gawler VK5/ SE-013 for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  But Bob’s signal was that low that I decided not to call as I suspected we would not have been able to make it.

I headed up a little higher and commenced calling CQ on 14.315 and this was answered by Luciano I5FLN in Italy, followed by Axel DL1EBR in Germany.  I worked 13 stations in Australia (VK4), Italy, Germany, Slovak Republic, Russia, and Belgium.  This included the WWFF Publicity Manager Danny ON4VT.  However, the little run of DX did not last, so I headed off for a look across the band.  I had seen a spot for Chris VK4FR/5 in the Swan Reach CP on 14.320, but Chris was unreadable.  I then found Lyn VK4SWE on Sweers Island chatting to Roland VK4VDX.  Knowing that Lyn is friends with Chris VK4FR, I called in to let Lyn know that Chris was in a park on 14.320.

I then headed back up to 14.320 but I could still not hear Chris very well.  Certainly not strong enough to work.  But I was pleased to be able to hear Bob VK5FO on 14.310.  We successfully worked (5/1 sent and 5/3 received).

I then lowered the squid pole and put up the 15m 1/2 wave dipole and started calling CQ on 21.244.  Things were pretty slow on 15m with just 5 contacts made.  That was into Northern Territory VK8, with VK8FLLA.  Also two contacts into Japan.  But the surprise was to work two stations in Poland.  But despite numerous lengthy periods of calling CQ I had no further callers.

So it was down with the squid pole and back up with the 20m/40m linked dipole.  I decided to try 20m again and went back to 14.315 where I called CQ.  First taker was Mikhail LY2BIS in Lithuania, followed by Oscar EA1DR in Spain, Pehr OH6IU in Finland, and then Lars SA5BLM in Sweden.  I worked a further 22 stations from Belgium, Spain, Australia (VK6), Italy, Germany, Russia, Canary Islands, Hungary, Finland, Ukraine, and England.

It was starting to get dark and the mosquitoes were starting to come out in force, but I headed back to 40m for some final calls before going QRT.  It was very very hard to find a clear frequency, with everything below 7.100 taken up by South East Asia, and a lot of VK’s and North American stations above 7.100.  I worked 8 stations from VK2, VK3, and VK6, before some VK3’s came up just 3 kc above on 7.140.  And they were smashing anyone calling me.  I worked a further 6 stations in between the very strong QRM, before I went QRT.

Thanks to everyone who called me on this very special day.  For any VK’s who would like a special AX5PAS QSL card, please send me your QSL card Direct with a Stamped Self Addressed Envelope (SSAE) to PO Box 169, Mount Barker, S.A. 5251.  All overseas stations please QSL via my QSL Manager, M0OXO.

AX5PAS_3

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. AX3VTH/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264)
  2. AX3PF
  3. VK1DI/p (Red Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0861)
  4. VK3GGG
  5. VK3PMG
  6. VK5ZGY
  7. VK3SQ
  8. VK2GAZ
  9. AX3PAT
  10. AX5SFA
  11. VK3GWS
  12. VK5TR
  13. VK5JK
  14. AX3ZPF/p (Mount Worth State Park VKFF-0771)
  15. VK3DQ
  16. VK3SRC
  17. AX5KLV
  18. AX2HHA
  19. VK3DAC
  20. AX5KX
  21. VK3NMK
  22. VK3AWG
  23. AX3BBB
  24. AX2FBKT
  25. AX2FDPI
  26. AX2LEE
  27. AX2PKT
  28. VK3MRH
  29. VK5AV
  30. VK3FOTO/m
  31. VK7AN
  32. VK2EXA
  33. VK3YE/p
  34. VK3FQSO
  35. VK5FTVR
  36. AX5FDEC
  37. VK3TKK/m
  38. VK3ARH
  39. VK3GTS
  40. VK3FIRM
  41. VK5WG
  42. VK3FAPH
  43. VK4FROO/3
  44. VK4RF
  45. VK4HA
  46. VK2NP
  47. AX5YX
  48. VK7FBBB
  49. AX4FAAS
  50. VK2QK
  51. AX4FR/5 (Swan Reach Conservation Park 5CP-221 and VKFF-)
  52. VK5FANA
  53. VK5FVSV
  54. VK3NBL
  55. VK3ARI
  56. VK2VLT
  57. VK4AAC/3
  58. VK4ME
  59. VK5/HF9ZZ
  60. AX3MVP
  61. VK3CG
  62. VK6YV
  63. VK3ELH
  64. AX2SK
  65. VK2FLEZ
  66. VK2XDA/p
  67. VK6WC
  68. VK2IO
  69. VK3ZLD
  70. VK4ME
  71. AX4FLYT
  72. AX2FKEG
  73. VK4NSA

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. I5FLN
  2. DL1EBR
  3. VK4RF
  4. VK4HA
  5. IK8FIQ
  6. OM7OM
  7. RA3PCI
  8. IK2ZJN
  9. ON5SWA
  10. ON4VT
  11. OT4V
  12. VK6NU
  13. IK1GPG
  14. AX4SWE
  15. VK4VDX
  16. AX5FO/p (SOTA VK5/ SE-013)
  17. LY2BIS
  18. EA1DR
  19. OH6IU
  20. SA4BLM
  21. ON2VR
  22. EA7ANC
  23. EA4EQI
  24. VK6MB
  25. IZ1YQV
  26. IZ4TNN
  27. ON7HJA
  28. DL4BBH
  29. R2AGM
  30. EA8TL
  31. HA0LG
  32. HA5MA
  33. IZ4UFD
  34. G0DEF
  35. ON3ANY
  36. G7AFM
  37. G0RQL
  38. G0BPK
  39. DL6DBA
  40. VK6YV
  41. OH6RP
  42. UR7ET

I worked the following stations on 15m SSB:-

  1. JH1RFZ
  2. VK8FLLA
  3. SP5UDD
  4. JR7NXM
  5. SP5GKN

Maize Island Lagoon Conservation Park 5CP-123 and VKFF-0827

After packing up at Cooltong, Marija and I continued our journey west along the Sturt Highway and drove in to Waikerie for some lunch at the Newland bakery.  We can highly recommend the bakery, as the food here is extremely fresh.  I had a pastie and a custard tart, whilst Marija had a nice healthy ham and salad roll.  Perhaps not the best option for me with my waistline.  But what the heck.

We then headed off to the Maize Island Lagoon Conservation Park 5CP-123 and VKFF-0827, which is located about 160 km north east of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2016-04-19 16.35.35

Above:- Map showing the location of the Maize Island Lagoon Conservation Park near Waikerie.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

We then drove back along the Sturt Highway until we reached the lookout where it was a brief stop to enjoy some fantastic views of the mighty Murray River and out towards Maize Island Lagoon.

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We continued east on the Sturt Highway until we reached Holder Top Road and then Hawkes Hill Road.  The park is well signposted.

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As we travelled along Hawkes Hill Road towards the park we travelled passed a number of orange orchards.

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We soon entered the park and drove along the 4WD track following the Murray River.  The track is a bit sandy in parts but is easily passable in a conventional vehicle.

It was a beautiful afternoon, with the temperature around 28 degrees C, so there was plenty of activity on the river.

Maize Island Lagoon CP is about 215 hectares in size and is backed by magnificent cliffs created by the mighty River Murray.  The park contains many backwater lagoons lined by majestic River Red Gums.  The park is alive with a variety of waterbirds.  The park was so named because early pioneers had grown crops of maize as fodder for cattle and horses on the drying lagoon bed following high rivers.

The area was first settled in 1880 by the Shephard brothers who named their sheep run Waikerie Station, and built the little homestead still standing on Holder Bottom Road.  In 1888 the Government cancelled pastoral leases and began surveing the country for closer settlement.  Village settlers arrived in 1894 to establish themselves on horticultural allotments in the area of Holder Bottom Road.  In 1921 a pipeline was built to Maize Island and orchards were established there.  In 1956, the infamous Murray River flood struck, with more high rivers in the following years, which convinced the Government to resettle people in 1975 and control the area as a Conservation Park.

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We found a little parking area off the 4WD track and parked the Hi Lux.  There was a nice area opposite the parking area, right alongside of the river, with plenty of room to stretch out the 40m/20m linked dipole.

Screenshot 2016-04-19 16.32.49

Above:- Aerial view of the Maize Island Conservation Park, showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I headed to 7.144 and commenced calling CQ and this was answered by Jock VK2EJW with a strong 5/9 signal.  Next up was Nick VK3ANL, Ron VK3MRH, and Simon VK2JAZ.  Eleven contacts into the activation and I had my first Park to Park contact in the log from Maize Island Lagoon.  It was Gerard VK2IO who was portable in the Hunter Wetlands National Park VKFF-0595.  This was followed by another Park top Park contact with Stef VK5HSX who was portable in the nearby Morgan Conservation Park 5CP-141 and VKFF-0911.

The 40m band was in good shape, with great signals coming in from VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5.  I worked a number of stations running QRP: Ron VK3MRH in Wodonga with just 5 watts, and Terry VK3TEZ in Hoppers Crossing running just 5 watts.  It was also nice to get Chris VK4FR/3 in the log, who was mobile near Murrayville in Victoria.

I worked a total of 30 stations and then handed the mic over to Marija.

Marija was keen to get on the road and head home, so she quickly made a total of 16 contacts into VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  This included a Park to Park contact with Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069.

I then jumped back on air and worked a further 20 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.  This included a Park to Park contact with John VK5BJE/3 in the Green Lake Regional Park VKFF-0967.  I also worked a few more QRP stations: Alan running an SDR at 5 watts (5/8 sent) and Greg VK5GJ at Meadows in the Adelaide Hills running 4 watts (5/8 sent).

Time was marching on, so I had a quick tune across the 40m band before heading to 20m.  I found Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park with a fantastic 5/9 signal.

I then quickly headed up to 14.310 on 20m where I made contact with Bill VK4FW, Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, Mike VK6MB, Steve VK4KUS, and finally Steve VK4QQ.  Rick informed me that Gerard VK2IO was on 14.315 in Hunter Wetlands NP, and I had a quick listen there, but could not hear a sausage.  So it was time to pack up and head home after a very enjoyable weekend away.

I had a total of 57 contacts in the log.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2EJW
  2. VK3ANL
  3. VK3MRH
  4. VK2JAZ
  5. VK3SQ
  6. VK3PF
  7. VK5FANA
  8. VK4HNS/p
  9. VK3GGG
  10. VK3PMG
  11. VK2IO/p (Hunter Wetlands National Park VKFF-0595)
  12. VK5HSX/p (Morgan Conservation Park, 5CP-141 and VKFF-0911)
  13. VK3VKT/p
  14. VK4FR/m
  15. VK3CRG
  16. VK3MVP
  17. VK3GTS
  18. VK2YK
  19. VK3TEZ
  20. VK5KC
  21. VK6MB
  22. VK1DI
  23. VK3EJS
  24. VK3UCD
  25. VK2LEE
  26. VK5FMID
  27. VK3FTAD
  28. VK3FAJD
  29. VK3YYR
  30. VK5HCF
  31. VK4FAAS
  32. VK3BBB
  33. VK2NP
  34. VK3TKK
  35. VK3TJK
  36. VK3FAPH
  37. VK3XZ
  38. VK3BL
  39. VK2GSP
  40. VK4VXX/2
  41. VK3VIN
  42. VK3ZLD
  43. VK2AJG
  44. VK5BJE/3 (Green Lake Regional Park)
  45. VK3NRG
  46. VK4RF
  47. VK4HA
  48. VK3YW
  49. VK5GJ
  50. VK3FMOL
  51. VK4AAC/3 (Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4FW
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK6MB
  5. VK4KUS
  6. VK4QQ

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5HCF
  2. VK3SQ
  3. VK4AAC/3 (Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069)
  4. VK3ACT
  5. VK7FMPR
  6. VK4RF
  7. VK4HA
  8. VK5FMID
  9. VK3ARH
  10. VK3ZMD
  11. VK3GGG
  12. VK3PMG
  13. VK3FTAD
  14. VK3TJK
  15. VK3NBL
  16. VK4HNS/p

On the way home we dropped in to the Cambrai Hotel for a meal.

Cooltong Conservation Park 5CP-046 and VKFF-0823

On Sunday (17th April 2016) Marija and I had two planned park activations on our way back home.  Our first was the Cooltong Conservation Park 5CP-046 and VKFF-0823, which is located about 250 km north east of Adelaide and just to the west of Renmark in the Riverland region of South Australia.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Cooltong Conservation Park in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Prior to heading out to the park, we stopped in to Ivan VK5HS’ home for some quick earthing on my mobile in the 4WD, and the obligatory coffee and chat of course.  We then drove out of Renmark west along the Sturt Highway, and then turned right onto Santos Road.  There is no sign for the park.  Santos Road is a dirt road but is perfectly fine for conventional vehicles.

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About two km along Santos Road we came across the sign for Cooltong Conservation Park.  We also saw the signs for covert cameras, as there has been a problem with the illegal dumping of rubbish in the park.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-07/tonnes-of-rubbish-dumped-illegally-left-to-rot-in-sa/5949786

Cooltong Conservation Park is a large park and comprises 3,681 hectares.  The park was dedicated in 1993 to preserve quality mallee vegetation and habitat for various mallee bird species that frequent the area.  This includes the endangered Malleefowl.  The park is dominated by mallee vegetation, with undulating dunes and shales.

The name Cooltong is derived from a local aboriginal name meaning ‘lizard place’.

We drove towards the middle of the park along the main track, and then took another track leading off to the east.  We found a nice clearing amongst the mallee and set up the 40m/20m linked dipole, and the Yaesu FT-857d.  It was already a warm morning, so we ensured that the fold up table and deck chair were in the shade.

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

As it was a Sunday and the WIA Broadcasts take up much of the 40m band from 7.130 and above, I decided to call CQ on 7.095.  My CQ call was answered by Matt VK1MA in Canberra with a very strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Les VK2CPC who was also 5/9.  Next up was John VK2AWJ/3, followed by Chris VK3PAT, both of whom were portable in the Brisbane Ranges National Park as part of a parks portable Show ‘n Tell display by Amateur Radio Victoria.  During the morning I also worked John VK5BJE/3, Julie VK3FOWL/p, Joe VK3YSP/p and Bob VK3FLAK, all of whom were in the Brisbane Ranges National Park.

I also spoke with Andrew VK1DA/2 who was activating Summits on the Air (SOTA) peak Mount Mundoonen VK2/ ST-053 near Yass.  Andrew had a strong 5/8 signal.  Other SOTA contacts were made with Andrew VK1AD on SOTA peak Mount McDonald VK1/ AC-048 and Tony VK7LTD/p on SOTA peak Collins Bonnet VK7/ SC-002.

Other than the Park to Park contacts with the troops in the Brisbane Ranges National Park, I also had Park to Park contacts with Gerard VK2IO in the Hunter Wetlands National Park VKFF-0595, Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069, and Will VK5AHV in the Sandy Creek Conservation Park 5CP-203 and VKFF-0933.

I also managed to drag Marija out of the 4WD and her movies on the ipad.  Marija made a total of 15 contacts, thus qualifying the park for the VKFF program.  Her contacts included two park to park contacts: Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park, and John VK2AWJ/3 in the Brisbane Ranges National Park.  Also two SOTA contacts with Andrew VK1DA/p on VK2/ ST-053 and Andrew on VK1/ AC-048.

We were a bit short of time, so I only got up to 20m for around 5 minutes, where I worked Steve VK4QQ, Mike VK6MB and Neil VK4HNS.  Unfortunately there was no time for 15m during this activation.  Local propagation for this activation was non existent at the commencement of the activation, but opened up nicely around VK5 around 30 minutes from going QRT.

So after a little over 2 hours in Cooltong, I had a total of 59 contacts in the log.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK1MA
  2. VK2CPC
  3. VK2AWJ/3 (Brisbane Ranges National Park)
  4. VK3PAT/p (Brisbane Ranges National Park)
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK5HS
  7. VK3ZZS/2
  8. VK5BJE/3 (Brisbane Ranges National Park)
  9. VK3FOWL/p (Brisbane Ranges National Park)
  10. VK3YSP/p (Brisbane Ranges National Park)
  11. VK3TKK/p
  12. VK1DI
  13. VK2SK
  14. VK2FGOE
  15. VK2NP
  16. VK3FAPH
  17. VK1DA/p (SOTA VK2/ ST-053)
  18. VK2IO/p (Hunter Wetlands National Park)
  19. VK1AD/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-048)
  20. VK2LEE
  21. VK7LTD/p (SOTA VK7/ SC-002)
  22. VK3GSP
  23. VK3MCK
  24. VK3MCD
  25. VK3BNJ
  26. VK3FJBA
  27. VK3SQ
  28. VK2YK
  29. VK3FSPG
  30. VK6MB
  31. VK3FLAK/p (Brisbane Ranges National Park)
  32. VK3ZMD
  33. VK3ZGC
  34. VK3MVP
  35. VK3AFW
  36. VK3DAC
  37. VK3ZZ
  38. VK5KLV
  39. VK2XXM
  40. VK4AAC/3 (Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park)
  41. VK2JAZ
  42. VK3FIRM
  43. VK4FR mobile
  44. VK3MEG
  45. VK3NML
  46. VK3BHR
  47. VK2PKT
  48. VK5FANA
  49. VK3NXT
  50. VK3MHY
  51. VK5FVSV
  52. VK5ZEA mobile
  53. VK3YB
  54. VK5STU/p
  55. VK5PL
  56. VK5AHV/p (Sandy Creek Conservation Park)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4QQ
  2. VK6MB
  3. VK4HNS

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3BHR
  2. VK5HS
  3. VK7CW
  4. VK2PBC
  5. VK1MA
  6. VK3MRH
  7. VK2KTT
  8. VK3HN
  9. VK3BNJ
  10. VK5MRE mobile
  11. VK4AAC/3 (Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park)
  12. VK1DA/p (SOTA VK2/ ST-053)
  13. VK2IO/p (Hunter Wetlands National Park)
  14. VK2AWJ/3 (Brisbane Ranges National Park)
  15. VK1AD/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-048)

 

References.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, June 2011, Parks of the Riverland.

Pooginook Conservation Park 5CP-186 and VKFF-0929

When the BRL Gathering started to wrap up late on Saturday afternoon (16th April 2016), Marija and I headed out to the Pooginook Conservation Park, 5CP-186 and VKFF-0929, for a quick park activation.  This is exactly what Marija and I did last year.  The BRL Gathering wound up and we headed out to Pooginook, about 23 km further up the Goyder Highway.  So it was a repeat performance of last year.  We had time restrictions this year though, as we had arranged to go out for tea that night.

Pooginook Conservation Park is located about 200 km north east of Adelaide and about 70 km west of Renmark.

Screenshot 2016-04-19 16.29.21

Above:- Map showing the location of the Pooginook Conservation Park in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Although I had activated Pooginook previously, this was to be a unique park for me for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  The park was not on the WWFF list at the time I last activated it for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.

On the way out to the park we stopped off briefly on the Goyder Highway to admire the view out to the Murray River and the Overland Corner Hotel.

We then stopped briefly at the Overland Corner cemetery.  Some of the older headstones in the cemetery belong to the Brand family, who have a long history associated with the Overland Corner Hotel.

We continued along the Goyder Highway for a number of km until we reached the sign for the park which is on the northern side of the road.  If you only have a 2WD vehicle, you can enter the park through the open gate and operate just inside the boundary.  But if you have a 4QD vehicle, there is a sandy 4WD track which follows the eastern boundary, and this is what Marija and I did.

Don’t attempt the track if you have a conventional vehicle.  You will get bogged.

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The Pooginook Conservation Park is a large park, comprising 2,862 hectares of gently rolling sand dunes covered by multi-stemmed mallee.  The park contains dense mallee scrub in the northern section and open mallee in the south.  This area was once used largely for wheat farming.  The park provides refuge for a large amount of native wildlife including Western grey kangaroos, Red kangaroos, echidnas, hairy-nosed wombats, fat-tailed dunnarts and the rare malleefowl.  Over 20 species of reptiles have been recorded in the park including Desert skinks, Nobbi dragons, Barred snake-lizards and Jewelled geckos.

The name Pooginook, comes from Aboriginal words meaning ‘place of good food’.  The Ngawait aboriginal tribe occupied this area.  Pooginook Station was established in 1851 by John Taylor.

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We drove a few km along the 4WD track and found a nice clearing and started setting up the gear.  We used the normal portable station for this activation: the Yaesu FT-857d (set on 40 watts for me, and 10 watts for Marija), and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre heavy duty telescopic squid pole.

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

It was a warm aftermoon so we south the shade of some of the gum trees.  I commenced calling CQ on 7.144 and our first contact was with Ivan VK5HS who was mobile from Overland Corner back into Renmark.  Not surprising that Ivan was 5/9 plus to Pooginook.  Next up was another mobile station.  This time it was David VK3DMX with a good 5/7 signal.  This was followed by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, Bob VK5FPAC, and then Adrian VK5FANA.  It wasn’t long before all the regular park hunters had come out of the woodwork and were calling.

But amongst all the locals I heard my good mate Danny ON4VT in Belgium.  Danny was an excellent 5/5 signal and gave me a 4/4.  It was a real pleasure to get Danny in the log on 40m, whilst running just 40 watts and a simple little dipole.

I worked a total of 45 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7, before handing the mic over to Marija.

Marija was cognisant of our time restrictions in the park and was just seeking 10 contacts to qualify the park for the VKFF program.  Which is what she did in a very short space of time.  Marija’s first contact was with Greg VK4VXX/2, followed by Brian VK3BBB, Mick VK3GGG and then Geoff VK3SQ.  Marija worked a total of 16 stations before handing the mic back over to me.

I worked just 4 more stations on 40m including Gerard VK2IO portable on Summits on the Air (SOTA) peak Barraba Trig VK2/ HU-065.  Our time in the park was running short, so I quickly headed to 20m and started calling CQ on 14.310.  This was almost immediately answered by Don G0RQL in England, followed by Adam VK2YK, and then Danny ON4VT for a second band.  A steady flow of callers followed from Europe and Australia.  Sadly, despite the pile up I needed to go QRT.  I’m sorry to all those that were still calling.

I worked a total of 32 stations on 20m from Australia (VK2, VK4, VK6, VK7 and VK8), England, Belgium, Canary Islands, Italy, Germany, Slovak Republic, France, Hungary and Switzerland.

We had a bit of trouble during this activation to keep the squid pole in place as the ground was very hard.  We propped up a number of large rocks against the squid pole holder, but as it was quite windy, I had to stand up and hold the squid pole in place whilst Marija was on air.  Marija got quite a laugh at that: me at work whilst she was enjoying some air time!

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I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS mobile
  2. VK3DMX mobile
  3. VK4RF
  4. VK4HA
  5. VK5FPAC
  6. VK5FANA
  7. VK3NBL
  8. VK3GTS
  9. VK5HCF
  10. VK7CW
  11. VK3FTAD
  12. VK3PAT
  13. VK5PL
  14. VK3CFA
  15. VK3GGG
  16. VK3DAC
  17. VK5BJE/3
  18. VK5HEL mobile
  19. VK7ZGK
  20. VK3ZPF
  21. VK3SIM
  22. ON4VT
  23. VK4QQ
  24. VK4HNS
  25. VK3PF
  26. VK3BNJ
  27. VK3ZD
  28. VK3ZMD
  29. VK3ARH
  30. VK5ZGY mobile
  31. VK6WE/p
  32. VK2NP
  33. VK3MRH
  34. VK2SK
  35. VK4KL
  36. VK7FGGT
  37. VK3FAPH
  38. VK3AFW
  39. VK3BBB
  40. VK3SOT
  41. VK5QI mobile
  42. VK3SQ
  43. VK3FSPG
  44. VK3XAF
  45. VK4VVX/2
  46. VK3NRG
  47. VK3PMG
  48. VK2JNG/5
  49. VK2IO/p (SOTA VK2/ HU-065)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. G0RQL
  2. VK2YK
  3. ON4VT
  4. ON5SWA
  5. ON4BB
  6. EA8CER
  7. IK1GPG
  8. DK0EE
  9. DH1PAL
  10. IK2JZN
  11. OM7OM
  12. VK2NP
  13. IK8FIQ
  14. VK6NU
  15. VK2LEE
  16. VK4WJW
  17. VK7VDC
  18. EA8BA
  19. F2YT
  20. DL4BBH
  21. VK4QQ
  22. DL1EBR
  23. VK4QS
  24. DJ3GG
  25. VK4NH/6
  26. VK2RM
  27. VK6NTE
  28. VK8GM
  29. F4KJR
  30. HA6OB
  31. HB9AAL
  32. VK4MWG

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4VXX/2
  2. VK3BBB
  3. VK3GGG
  4. VK3SQ
  5. VK5FANA
  6. VK3SOT
  7. VK5FPAC
  8. VK3FAPH
  9. VK3PF
  10. VK5KC
  11. VK3ZMD
  12. VK4RF
  13. VK4HA
  14. VK5JK
  15. VK3ZPF
  16. VK5VRB

It was a quick pack up and off we headed to Renmark.  On the way back into Renmark I had a good chat with Paul VK3HN from the mobile.  After arriving back at the hotel, we freshened up and headed out for tea with Ivan VK5HS and his wife Sheryl, Di (the XYL of Larry VK5LY – SK), and Peter VK5FLEX.  We enjoyed a very nice meal at Ashley’s Restaurant and a few refreshing ales.  It was then back to the motel room to see the last quarter of the football and a great win by the Adelaide Crows.

 

References.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, June 2011, Parks of the Riverland.

National Parks South Australia, 2016, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Murray_River/Pooginook_Conservation_Park&gt;, viewed 20th April 2016

2016 BRL Gathering at Overland Corner Hotel

On Saturday morning (16th April 2016) Marija and I made a bright and early start from Renmark, and headed out to the historic Overland Corner Hotel for the 2016 BRL Gathering.  The BRL Gathering is hosted by the Riverland Radio Club, and this was to be the second year for the Gathering.

We arrived at the Overland Corner Hotel at around 7.15 a.m. and found that there was already a core group of amateurs and their wives/partners, in attendance.  A number of those had stayed overnight in their caravans and campers at the rear of the pub.

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After saying g’day to everyone and helping out setting up a linked dipole for the Riverland Radio Club Net, we enjoyed a great brekkie cooked by Ivan VK5HS and Peter VK5FLEX, consisting of toast, eggs and bacon, all cooked on the barbie.

This was followed by the Riverland Radio Group Net which was run from the Overland Corner Hotel.

A boot sale then took place with a number of bargains on offer.  I was fortunate to come away with a few bargains, including an IC751 transceiver, a Mini Palm Paddle and two antenna tuners (all previously owned by Larry VK5LY-now silent key).

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We all then gathered together for a group photograph in front of the hotel.

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It was then time for some more chatting and mingling, with the pub opening its doors.  A few of the fellas, including myself took the opportunity of some nice cold beverages.  We also enjoyed a very nice meal at the pub.

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After lunch, the more formalised part of the day took place, with a quick chat by Ron VK5MRE and then all of the amateurs introducing themselves and telling the group a little about themselves.  This was followed by the draw of the raffle, with a number of very nice prizes being awarded.  Ivan introduced me as the newly elected WIA Director and kindly asked me to draw the prizes.

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Tony VK5FTVR was then awarded with the BRL Award which he was very chuffed with.  The Award certificate was issued for achieving the most number of points gathered during 2015 and 2016 during the Riverland Radio Group Nets.

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I also gave a very short talk on the WIA and the recent proposal submitted to ACMA.  I also announced details of the recently launched Murray River Parks Award and information regarding the 4th level of this award.  Ivan VK5HS, Peter VK5FLEX and I had decided that a plaque would be awarded for those amateurs who activated/worked all of the qualifying parks along the Murray, in honour of Larry VK5LY.  Larry became a silent key in late 2015 after battling an illness diagnosed earlier in the year.  Larry was one of the stalwarts of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  It is a fitting tribute then, that a plaque would be awarded in his honour.  We had one minutes silence for Larry.

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It was then back to enjoying the company, the sunshine, and the ice cold Bundies from the hotel.

The weather for the day could not have been better, with the top temperature reaching around 28 degrees C.  The shade of the trees and the umbrellas was sought after by all.

This is always a great weekend, and I highly recommend the BRL Gathering.  Marija and I will certainly be attending again next year.

Pike River Conservation Park, 5CP-180 and VKFF-0831

Late Friday afternoon (15th April 2016), Marija and I left home in the Adelaide Hills, and made our way towards Renmark in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Our reason for heading up to that neck of the woods was to attend the Riverland Radio Group’s BRL Gathering at the historic Overland Corner on Saturday.  Fortunately I was still on holidays, but Marija had to work on Friday, so it was around 3.00 p.m. when we left home.

We had planned to activate the Pike River Conservation Park, 5CP-180 and VKFF-0831 on Friday evening, after booking in to our motel.  The park is located about 260 km north east of Adelaide, and around 10km from Renmark.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Pike River Conservation Park near Renmark in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I have activated Pike River previously, for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, but that was prior to the park being added to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  So this was to be a unique WWFF/VKFF activation for me.

It was just after 6.00 p.m. by the time we reached Renmark, and almost dark, so it was a quick check in to the motel, and then off to Pike River.  We headed south east along the Sturt Highway, through the little town of Paringa, passing over the historic Paringa Bridge, until we reached the open and unlocked gate leading into the park.  The park is not signposted, so keep an eye out for the gate which is a few hundred metres after passing the carpark/lookout on the western side of the Sturt Highway.

We drove a short distance down the dirt track towards Pike Lagoon, admiring the amazing sunset.

Pike River Conservation Park forms part of the Pike River Floodplain and is an anabranch system of the Murray River.  The park is about 296 hectares in size , and has a number of species of national significance including the Southern Bell Frog, Murray Cod, and the Regent Parrot.  It also contained an additional 18 species with State Conservation significance.

We set up the deck chair and fold up table.  I still had my thongs on but had to quickly change into socks and sandshoes as the mosquitos were biting hard and the stubble on the ground was extremely prickly.

Screenshot 2016-04-19 16.39.46

The 40m band was quite busy and I was unable to get to 7.144 due to some South East Asian stations who were in very close proximity to the frequency.  So I decided to head down to 7.130 and put out a CQ call.  My first taker was Jonathan VK2VJS who was a good 5/5 to the park, but sadly Jonathan was really struggling with me.  I received a 3/2 signal report.  Next up was Mike VK6MB who was booking in at 5/9 and Mike also reciprocated with a 5/9 signal report for me.  Rob VK4AAC/3 who was in the Mount Lawson State Park VKFF-0768 was next, with a good 5/9 signal.

Rick VK4RF/VK4HA gave me a shout and informed me that Phil VK6ADF was in a National Park on 7.144, so I ducked up there to get Phil in the log from Watheroo National Park VKFF-0524.  I then returned back to 7.130 and worked a further 4 stations just  prior to the 7.130 DX Net starting up.  I moved up to 7.135 and worked 7 stations in VK2, VK4, VK5 and VK6.  I then returned back to 7.130 and booked in to the Net where I worked into VK4, VK5, VK6, USA, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand.

Sadly for this activation, band conditions were well down, with lots of very severe QSB.  I did not reach the required 44 QSO threshold to qualify the park for the global WWFF program, but I did qualify the park for the Australian (VKFF) program, which only requires 10 QSOs from the park.

I had a total of 25 contacts in the log, including two Park to Park contacts and a handful of DX on 40m, so I was still quite happy.  It will be a trip back to Pike River to pick up the remaining 19 QSOs.

Marija also operated from the park and got her required 10 QSOs to qualify the park for VKFF, including two Park to Park contacts with Rob VK4AAC/3 and Phil VK6ADF/p.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2VJS
  2. VK6MB
  3. VK4AAC/3 (Mount Lawson State Park VKFF-0768)
  4. VK2IO
  5. Vk4RF
  6. VK4HA
  7. VK6ADF/p (Watheroo National Park VKFF-0524)
  8. VK3PF
  9. VK6VCK/m
  10. VK3SIM
  11. VK7ROY
  12. VK4GSF
  13. VK2WDD
  14. VK2HPN
  15. VK4FDAD
  16. VK5FAKV
  17. VK4NAI/6
  18. VK4FZZW
  19. VK5MJ
  20. VK6PCB
  21. NR6Q
  22. NP4A
  23. ZL3SV
  24. W1OW
  25. VK4TH

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK6MB
  2. VK4AAC/3 (Mount Lawson State Park VKFF-0768)
  3. VK2IO
  4. VK4RF
  5. VK4HA
  6. VK6ADF/p (Watheroo National Park VKFF-0524)
  7. VK6VCK/m
  8. VK3SIM
  9. VK7ROY
  10. VK3PF