It was another early start on Sunday morning, 18th September 2016. I had two scheduled park activations for the day, each being about one hour drive south of Whyalla. The first being the Middlecamp Hills Conservation Park VKFF-1059 and 5CP-184. So after a quick bite to eat and a morning coffee I was on the road, heading south out of Whyalla.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Middlecamp Hills Conservation Park. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
I travelled south west to Cowell and then north west out along the Cowell-Kimba Road. I then turned left onto the Cowell-Mangalo Road, and then on to Ferns Road.
These are all dirt roads, and after all the rain from the day before, they were quite muddy and slippery in spots. So that combined with the kangaroos, it was quite slow going out to the park.
Above:- Ferns Road, looking south west. Yeldulknie Conservation Park is off in the distance.
This was another park that I struggled to find a lot of information about on the internet. The park which is about 857 hectares in size, is around 13 km north west of Cowell. It consists of rugged low hills with areas of dense mallee vegetation. The native scrub here consists mostly of various kinds of eucalyptus and broombush. The Silver daisy bush, which is listed as being vulnerable, can be found in the park. A variety of native animals can be found in the park including Euros and western grey kangaroos.
Above:- Aerial image showing the location of the park, to the north west of Cowell. Image courtesy of Google maps.
The only way to access this park is via Ferns Road. A small section of the park abuts the roadway. I unpacked the Toyota Hi Lux and then carried the gear carefully over the barbed wire fence. Sadly, this is another park which unless you are agile and game to climb over a barbed wire fence, does not offer any user friendly access.
Above:-Aerial view of the park, showing my operating spot. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
As it was a Sunday morning, I did not venture up to 7.144. The numerous WIA broadcasts are in that vicinity every Sunday morning. So I commenced calling CQ on 7.090 and it was very very slow going to start off. My first contact was with Rod VK7FRJG with a beautiful signal from Tasmania with his 2 elements. This was followed by Tom VK5EE at Mount Gambier, and then Peter VK2NEO who almost lifted the Yaesu FT-857d off the fold up table. Whilst I was speaking with Peter, the squid pole collapsed in the wind. I could hear Peter and others saying ‘I wonder what happened there?’ until I came back to advise what had happened.
About 10 QSOs into the activation, the Western Australian guys started up on 7.088. It wasn’t broadcast time, but a few VK6’s started chatting away, which caused a bit of QRM for me. I persisted for another 12 QSO’s until it became unbearable, so I headed down to 7.084. I had a total of 22 QSOs in the log by this time.
I started calling CQ again on 7.084 and this was answered by Bob VK5FO. It was about this time that I started to experience some showers in the park, so it was quick dash back to the 4WD across the barbed wire fence to collect the bothy bag.
I worked a total of 51 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. This included Greg VK5GJ at Meadows who was operating QRP 4 watts. I had worked Greg the day before when he was running just 40 milliwatts and I suggested he should try again. So Greg dropped his power to 40 milliwatts and I dropped down from 40 watts to 5 watts. Greg’s signal dropped from strength 9 to strength 6. My signal report dropped from strength 9 down to strength 7.
I then lowered the squid pole and adjusted the links in the dipole and heded off to 14.310 on 20m where I worked Neil VK4HNS/p. Unfortunately Neil was my only contact on 20m, and I did not have any phone coverage to I was unable to spot on parksnpeaks.
I then decided to try 80m before heading off to my next park. Again, despite band conditions being quite good on 80m, I only had 2 callers. I did however experience a little bit of noise on 80m. Callers included Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula (5/8 sent and 5/6 received), and Gred VK5GJ running QRP 400 milliwatts. Greg had a good signal and was peaking strength 8. Below is a short video showing just how well I was receiving Greg at Middlecamp Hills.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
The following station was worked on 20m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 80m SSB:-
Australian Heritage Database, 2016, <http://www.environment.gov.au/>, viewed 22nd September 2016
Department Environment Water and Natural Resources, 2013, Approved Conservation Advice for Olearia pannosa.