After leaving Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park, I continued south east along the Dukes Highway until I reached the town of Keith where I turned off onto the Riddoch Highway and commenced to travel south towards my next planned park activation, the Christmas Rocks Conservation Park VKFF-1020 and 5CP-266.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Christmas Rocks Conservation Park. Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
On the way to the park I spoke with Paul VK3SS and Tom VK5NFT on 40m. Paul was thumping in, and Tom was initially a good 5/7 and then completely faded away on me.
The Christmas Rocks Conservation Park is just slightly north of the tiny town of Willalooka. Sadly, there is no sign to indicate that there is a Conservation Park. There is however a brown tourist sign indicating that in 400 metres ahead there is a photo opportunity. If you’re travelling south and you’ve reached Willalooka, you have gone too far. Willalooka itself is just a tiny place containing a general store & service station, tavern, community hall and a Country Fire Service (CFS) station.
The park was proclaimed in 2014 and consists of a small square shaped section of native scrub and a series of granite rock outcrops. These were once part of the archipelago of granite rocks in the shallow sea that covered the Limestone Coast some 25 million years ago.
There is a short walk up to the top of the granite outcrop and this affords you with some very nice views of the surrounding countryside. If you’re lucky you may also spot a wallaby.
I parked the vehicle in the carpark and walked a short distance into the scrub and set up my station, comprising the Yaesu FT-857d (set at 30 watts output) and the 40m/20m linked dipole, on the 7 m squid pole. I called CQ on 7.144 and this was answered by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula (5/9 both ways), followed by Les VK5KLV in Port Augusta (5/9 both ways), and then Tom in Millicent. Our signal reports though were definitely not 5/9 both ways. In fact it was 4/1 both ways, as Tom’s QTH is about 150 km south of the park, and it was clear that close in propagation was not working well.
A mini pile up ensued with callers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6, and VK7. I was very surprised to hear Col VK5HCF in Mount Gambier, about 180 km from the park. Col was 5/9 and gave me a 5/5. This QSO was just 10 minutes after my contact with Tom, and the band conditions had clearly changed for the better for the close in contacts.
Above:- Aerial shot showing my operating spot in the park. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
Eighteen contacts into the activation, I had my first Park to Park contact in the log for the activation. It was with Gerard VK2IO who was activating SOTA peak Brumlow Tops VK2/ MN-120 in the Barrington Tops National ParkVKFF-0017. Gerard had a good 5/7 signal and advised that it had been an 8km walk in to his 10 point summit. A dozen or so QSOs later I was called by Greg VK4VXX who was portable in the Currawinya National Park VKFF-0127. I don’t believe that Greg is a dedicated park activator, so I will have to contact Greg to explain the WWFF program to him, and seek his log. This was followed by a call from Mitch Vk3XDM who was activating SOTA peak Mount Bolton VK3/ VC-023 (5/2 sent and 5/3 received). Half a dozen QSOs later I was called by Phil VK2JDL who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Elliot VK2/ HU-093 (5/7 sent and 5/8 received). And shortly afterwards I made another SOTA contact, this time with Andrew VK1MBE who was portable on Mount Stromlo VK1/ AC-043 (5/7 sent and 5/9 received).
It was also pleasing to get Mike VK6MB in the log again on 40m with such a good signal late in the morning. We exchanged 5/7 signal reports at 11.30 a.m. SA local time which is very good on 40m. Some of the mobile stations that I worked also had excellent signals. That included Jonathan VK6JON/7 mobile near Deloraine in Tasmania, Mark VK3FOTO/m and Wayne VK2PDW.
I worked a total of 45 stations on 40m and then decided it was time to head to 20m. I commenced calling CQ on 14.310 and this was answered by John ZL1BYZ in Pukekohe, south of Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand (5/8 sent and 5/7 received). Much to my surprise this was followed by a contact with Albert S58AL in Slovenia (5/5 sent and 5/5 received). It was only 12.19 p.m. local time (0249 UTC) and this was very very early for long path Europe to be coming through. I then worked into VK4 and VK6, and my last contact for the activation was with Dima UA9LT in Western Siberia.
The weather was starting to move in and I had 1 more park to activate and still a few hundred km before I reached Mount Gambier, so I packed up with a total of 52 contacts in the log.
Thanks to Peter VK3PF, Adrian VK5FANA, & Brett VK3FLCS, and for spotting me on the DX Cluster.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK6JON mobile 7
- VK3DRM mobile
- VK2IO/p (SOTA VK2/ MN-120 and VKFF-0017)
- VK4VXX/p (VKFF-0127)
- VK3XDM/p (SOTA VK3/ VC-023)
- VK3FOTO mobile
- VK2PDW mobile
- VK2JDL/p (SOTA VK2/ HU-093)
- VK1MBE/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-043)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-