Christmas present under the tree in Belgium

Over Christmas I received a Facebook message from Yves ON8ON in Belgium.

Yves stated:

Received just b4 Christmas the nice QSL from VK5PAS vs ON8ON/P.  Paul made my day ! Long Path QSO on my Flora Fauna activation ONFF 0186 Près Rosières.  SSB 20m band with my pocket size ( 3m high ) vertical dipole I-Pro Traveller. Amazing sigs real 59 via Long Path 24.000 Km.  Merry Christmas Paul. 73 Yves ON8ON/P”.

2016 VKFF Activation Weekend stats

I have finally been able to put together the statistics for the 2016 VKFF Activation Weekend.  I had been waiting on a log.  

This was the second year of the VKFF Activation Weekend, which is all about having fun and promoting the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program in Australia.

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A total of 2,655 QSOs were made over the weekend of Saturday 26th November 2016 and Sunday 27th November 2016.

Of those, a total of 1,373 QSOs were made on the Saturday, whilst a further 1,282 were made on the Sunday.

There were an amazing number of Park to Park (P2P) contacts over the weekend.  In fact, a total of 1,010 P2P QSOs (490 on the Saturday and 520 on Sunday).

A total of 43 activators took part in the weekend.  They were…….  

  1. Andrew VK1AD
  2. Jim VK1AT
  3. Ian VK1DI
  4. Gerard VK2IO
  5. Rob VK2QR
  6. Liz VK2XSE
  7. Adam VK2YK/4
  8. Allen VK3ARH
  9. Warren VK3BYD
  10. Brett VK3FLCS
  11. Julie VK3FOWL
  12. Tim VK3MTB
  13. Peter VK3PF
  14. Mick VK3PMG
  15. Leigh VK3SG
  16. Peter VK3TKK
  17. Norm VK3XCI
  18. Tony VK3XV
  19. Joe VK3YSP
  20. Peter VK3ZPF
  21. Rob VK4AAC/3
  22. Neil VK4HNS
  23. Bob VK5AFZ
  24. Tom VK5EE
  25. Adrian VK5FANA
  26. Marija VK5FMAZ
  27. Norm VK5GI
  28. Greg VK5GJ
  29. Gordon VK5GY
  30. Col VK5HCF
  31. Les VK5KLV
  32. Peter VK5KPR
  33. Nigel VK5NIG
  34. Paul VK5PAS
  35. Peter VK5PET
  36. David VK5PL
  37. Greg VK5ZGY
  38. Phil VK6ADF
  39. Lewis VK6LDX
  40. Hans VK6XN
  41. Andrew VK7DW
  42. Helen VK7FOLK
  43. Jonathan VK7JON

Each activator will receive a participation certificate.

Screen Shot 2016-12-27 at 1.19.51 pm.png

A total of 28 activators headed out on the Saturday and activated a total of 37 unique parks in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7.

On Sunday, a total of 29 activators headed out and activated a total of 33 unique parks in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7.

I would like to thank everyone who took part in the weekend as either a park Activator or a park Hunter.  I hope that everyone enjoyed themselves.  Marija and I certainly did.

Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park Winaityinaityi Pangkara, VKFF-1766

Late yesterday afternoon (Friday 16th December 2016) I activated the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park Winaityinaityi Pangkara, VKFF-1766 (not yet allocated a 5NP number).  This is a newly gazetted park (established 27th October 2016) and as such this was a first time activation of the park.  The activation was as part of the Summer Friday afternoon/evening events for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-9-14-41-pmAbove:- Map showing the location of the park north of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is a unique safe haven for shorebirds, with the northern section of the bird sanctuary recently being proclaimed as a National Park.  It is South Australia’s first new national park in a decade.

I had quite a bit of expectation leading up the activation of this park as the National Parks South Australia website stated: “If you love bird watching the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary and new national park present an exciting new opportunity to explore and appreciate birds in their natural habitat‘.  Sadly I was to be very disappointed as I did not see to many birds at all.

The Bird Sanctuary encompasses over 60km of coastline north of Adelaide, adjacent to Gulf St Vincent, Adelaide’s northern suburbs and spans across four local council areas. Within the bird sanctuary sits the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park – Winaityinaityi Pangkara.

The park is home to numerous resident shorebirds, several of which are listed as endangered including Curlew sandpiper, Ruddy turnstone, Red knot and Eastern Curlew.

Above:- Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.

The park is visited by more than 23 migratory shorebirds, who leave their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere on a journey that spans thousands of km across the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF).  The EAAF extends from within the Arctic Circle, through East and South-east Asia, to Australia and New Zealand, stretching across 22 countries.  It is used by more than 5 million birds a year, 27,000 of which call the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary home.  Birds fly from as far as Siberia and Alaska, passing through 22 countries.

flayway_9_total_small

Above:- Map showing the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.  Courtesy of eaaflyway.net

The Bird Sanctuary currently encompasses about 60 km of coastline to the north of Adelaide, adjacent to Gulf St Vincent, Gulf St Vincent Marine Park and the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, and Adelaide’s northern suburbs.  The mangroves, samphire communities, wetlands, dunes and creeks support about 263 fauna and flora species.  The National Park itself is located in the northern section of the sanctuary.  However over the next 12 months the park will be further expanded.

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 9.29.37 pm.png

Above:- Map showing the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park, also indicated the areas for inclusion in the future.  Courtesy of National Parks SA

Here is a very interesting video about the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary……..

Prior to leaving home I had checked maps to find the best way into the park.  I wrote down three possible routes.  The first was via Light Beach Road.

I turned left onto Light Beach Road from the Port Wakefield Road and travelled west towards the park.  The road is dirt and is easily passed using a conventional vehicle if you drive slowly.  After about 4 km I reached the Lower Light rifle range and a short distance on from there I found a gate.  There was a 4WD track beyond the gate, which was unlocked, and there was no sign on the gate.  But I made the cautious decision not to proceed any further just in case it was private property.

It was at this time that I worked Rob VK4AAC/3 who was portable in the Dergholme State Park VKFF-0756 (5/9 both ways).

Option number two was via Ruskin Road.  As there was no access to the north from Light Beach Road, I had to drive all the way back to Port Wakefield Road and travelled north until I reach Thompson Road.  I drove a short distance along Thompson Road until I reached a T junction.  I turned right here onto Thompson Beach Road and travelled north until I reached Ruskin Road.  I then travelled west on Ruskin Road towards the beach.  The maps at home had shown that the park commenced west of Beach Road, where there is a sharp left hand bend on Ruskin Road.  However as I drove along Ruskin Road there were signs either side of the road stating ‘Cheetham Salt Limited.  Private Property. Tresspassers Prosecuted’.  Now I was really confused.

I drove to the end of Ruskin Road and into the little town of Thompson Beach.  I had not been out here for years, but I have very fond memories of coming out here regularly with my grandfather when I was a boy, dabbing for Blue Swimmer Crabs.

There are some interesting interpretive signs here at Thompsons Beach which explain about the conservation importance of the area.

Maps indicated that I would be able to travel south of Thompson Beach along The Esplanade and onto Thompson Beach Road.  But this wasn’t the case.  I again reached a dead end.

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Above:- The no though road on The Esplanade

So I decided for option number three which was the northern approach along Thompson Beach Road and then Port Prime Road.  I drove back along Ruskin Road, onto Thompson Road, and then south along Thompson Beach Road.  I then reached the intersection with Port Prime Road and drove south west along Port Prime Road.  Although not directly signposted, the park was now either side of the road.  I did find a gate which had a sign on it which read ‘Conservation Area.  Please keep out’ and on the other side of the road a much larger ‘Conservation Area’ sign.

I found a cleared area and set up, running the Yaseu FT-857 at 40 watts, and the 80/40/20m linked dipole.  I was on air a little later than planned (about 45 minutes late).  I headed to 7.144 and called CQ and this was answered by Geoff VK3SQ who has become a regular park hunter.  This was followed by Trevor VK5TW with a nice 5/9 signal.  This was a promising sign, with close in propagation back to Adelaide being very good.

Eight contacts into the activation, I had my first Park to Park contact in the log.  It was with Les VK5KLV who was in the Munyaroo Conservation Park VKFF-0920 on the Eyre Peninsula.  Les wasn’t overly strong (5/7), but was there was absolutely no man made noise in the park, I was able to receive him very well.

As is often the case during activations, there was a flurry of activity at the start, with a mini pile up.  But this soon slowed down and callers started to taper off.  I made a further Park to Park contact with Adrian VK5FANA who was in the Upper Gulf St Vincent Marine Park VKFF-1755.  Adrian was on the oppostie side of the Gulf to me, and was 5/9 +++.  A very strong signal across the water.  I also worked Adam VK2YK who was activating the Glenrock State Conservation Area VKFF-1319 (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).

Screen Shot 2016-12-17 at 1.48.49 pm.png

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

I worked a total of 36 stations on 40m, before heading over to 14.310 on the 20m band.  There I worked Gerard VK2IO who was quite low down (4/1 sent and 3/3 received).  Followed by Allen VK6XL and John VK6NU, who both had good signals from Western Australia.  Unfortunately I only logged 3 stations on 20m.  John VK6NU had told me that Mike 2E0YYY had been spotted on a SOTA peak on 14.280, but that he was not hearing Mike.  So as I had no further callers I headed down to 14.280 but was unable to hear Mike.  I tuned across the 20m band and could hear no European long path activity.  I did hear DU2US in the Philippines working T88MZ in Palau.  DU2US was strong but T88MZ was very low.  I waited until the end of their conversation, hoping that it was DU2US frequency, but unfortunately it was T88MZ’s.  As he was quite low down I did not bother calling.

I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the links in the dipole and headed to 3.610 on 80m where I logged four stations: David VK3BY, Tony VK5MRT, Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Dergholme State Park Park VKFF-0756, and Adrian VK5FANA in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1755.

I then headed back to 40m where I logged a further 13 stations from VK2, VK3, VK5, VK7, and New Zealand.  This included a Park to Park with Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Dergholme State Park VKFF-0756.

Time was marching on and I had an 8.00 p.m. Skype hook up re WIA issues, so I had to go QRT.  I headed down to the beach at Port Prime, where there were quite a few people out dabbing for Blue Swimmer Crabs.

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Sadly this is also a favoured car dumping ground for car thieves as it is quite remote.

dsc_4216

Although disappointed with the bird watching aspect of this activation, I was happy in that I had qualified the park and had given a few park hunters a brand new park.  It was topped off by a beautiful sunset.

On the way home (about a 120 km drive), I stopped off briefly to take some photographs of the Port Wakefield Road protest sculptures at Lower Light.  Back in the 1990’s the area was earmarked to have a large waste dump installed, and a number of protest sculptures were erected over a period of time protesting the dump.  Sadly the dump went ahead anyway.

On the way home I booked in to the 7130 DX Net and I made contact with a number of VK & ZL stations from the mobile.

So a total of 56 stations were logged at the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park, including six Park to Park contacts.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3SQ
  2. VK5TW
  3. VK2IO
  4. VK3PF
  5. VK3BY
  6. VK3PMG
  7. VK3GGG
  8. VK5KLV/p (Munyaroo Conservation Park VKFF-0920)
  9. VK1AD
  10. VK2XXM
  11. VK4RF
  12. VK4HA
  13. VK3FLCS
  14. VK3IP
  15. VK4GSF
  16. VK3SFG
  17. VK5SFA
  18. VK7FRJG
  19. VK4PDX
  20. VK4HNS/p
  21. VK7LTD
  22. VK4FFAB
  23. VK3FOTO/m
  24. VK2UH
  25. VK7JON
  26. VK5FANA/p (Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1755)
  27. VK1DI
  28. VK4KUS
  29. VK2YK/p (Glenrock State Conservation Area VKFF-1319)
  30. VK7FAMP
  31. VK2FPRM
  32. VK3FPHG
  33. VK3MRH
  34. VK3WAR
  35. VK5VBR
  36. VK5EMI
  37. ZL2ALK
  38. ZL4KD
  39. VK7CW
  40. VK4AAC/3 (Dergholm State Park VKFF-0756)
  41. VK3KRH
  42. VK3TKK/m
  43. VK3CBP
  44. VK3UH
  45. VK2LAX
  46. VK3YE
  47. VK4SMA
  48. VK5FAKV

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO
  2. VK6XL
  3. VK6NU

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3BY
  2. VK5MRT
  3. VK4AAC/3 (Dergholm State Park VKFF-0756)
  4. VK5FANA/p (Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1755)

References.

East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership, 2016, <http://www.eaaflyway.net/about/the-flyway/&gt;, viewed 17th December 2016

National Parks South Australia, 2016, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Adelaide/adelaide-international-bird-sanctuary-national-park&gt;, viewed 17th December 2016

National Parks South Australia, 2016, ‘Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary Interim Management Statement’.

DX WWFF contacts

This evening (Monday 12th December 2016) I worked Nadika 4S7RS who was activating the Hiyare Forest Reserve 4SFF-0019. I would like to say thanks to Hans VK6XN for posting an alert on the WWFF Facebook page which alerted me to 4S7RS being on the band.  Nadir was using 200w and a 4 element yogi and was 5/9 +++ into my QTH.

This was my very first World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) activator I had worked from Sri Lanka.

The Hiyare Forest Reserve is located in southern Sri Lanka near the town of Galle.  It is a lowland rain forest, comprising about 600 acres, with a high diversity and an amazing amount of wildlife.

Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 10.08.27 PM.pngAbove:- Hiyare Forest Reserve.  Courtesy of Amazing Lanka.

Over 150 species of fresh water fish, reptiles, amphibians, land snails birds, and mammals can be found in the Reserve.  Of those, 60 are endemic to Hiyare.  There are 55 species of dragonflies, of which 12 are found only in the Hiyare area.  A total of 78 butterfly species have been identified with three endemic to this area.  Hiyare is one of the highest concentrations of unique species found in one small rainforest anywhere in the world! And more undiscovered species are being found each year.

hiyare.jpgAbove:- Hiyare Forest Reserve. Courtesy of Amazing Lanka.

More information can be found on the 4S7RS QRZ.com page.

I then lucky enough to work Polish station SP5ZIM/p who were in Witnicko-Dębiańska, SPFF-0551.

The park is 46,993.1 hectares in size and is located in western Poland near the German border. It is part of Natura 2000 network of nature protection areas in the European Union.  Numerous birds call this park home including the White-tailed Eagle, Osprey, Honey buzzard, Spotted Crake.

 

References.

Amazing Lanka, 2016, <http://amazinglanka.com/wp/hiyare-forest/&gt;, viewed 12th December 2015

Wikipedia, 2016, <http://obszary.natura2000.org.pl/index.php?s=obszar&id=638>, viewed 12th December 2016

Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park 5CP-276 and VKFF-1763

Last night (Friday 9th December 2016) I activated the Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park 5CP-276 and VKFF-1763, for the very first Friday afternoon/evening activation event in 2016 for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  The Friday afternoon/evening events have proven to be very popular in previous years, so it was decided during the week that I would kick off these events again.  Sadly I had quite a few e-mails from a lot of the regular park activators advising they could not get out this Friday due to Christmas functions.

This was the second time that I had activated Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park.  I had qualified the park previously, so I was hoping to give some park hunters a new park during this particular activation.  More information on the park and my previous activation can be found at…..

https://vk5pas.org/2016/10/19/monarto-woodlands-conservation-park-vkff-1763/

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

The Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park was gazetted on the 22nd September 2016 and was previously set aside as Crown land.  The park extends about 15 km along the South Eastern Freeway from near Callington to Murray Bridge.  The park is 426 hectares in size, and provides important habitat for more than 60 bird species, five of which are of State conservation significance.

The scrub located within the park is a mixture of plant species from across Australia.  This is due to the extensive planting in the area due to the proposed satellite city of Monarto back in the 1970’s.  The then South Australian Premier, Don Dunstan had proposed that Monarto, or ‘New Murray Town’ would become the site of a satellite city of Adelaide.  However this concept was eventually abandoned.

The park is in close proximity to the newly gazetted Kincina Conservation Park, and also the Monarto Conservation Park and the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park.

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 9.02.11 am.png

Above: Aerial shot showing my operating spot in the park, and other nearby parks and towns.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Monarto Woodlands is a short drive from home.  I took the Mount Barker exit onto the South Eastern Freeway and headed east to the Monarto turnoff.  From there I drove north for a short distance towards Monarto South and then turned right onto White Road.  Last time I was out at the park, White Road was under construction.  They have now laid bitumen the length of the road.  A short drive of about 1.5 km up White Road and I came to the entrance to the park.  It is not marked at all, but is a break on the fenceline.

It was a beautiful late sunny afternoon with a temperature of 21 deg C.  So I found some shade underneath a gum tree and set up the fold up table and deck chair.  I used the Yaesu FT-857d set at 40 watts, the 80/40/20m linked dipole and the 15m dipole for the activation.  As it was a suny day I also set up the solar panels to top up the battery.

I was all set and ready to go by 0630 UTC (5.00 p.m. South Australian local time).  I headed to 7.144 on 40m and started calling CQ and this was answered by Nick VK3ANL.  Nick was  a strong 5/9 and was receiving me at 4/9.  Nick was experiencing a bit of local noise at his location.  As is the case with most portable activations, there was no man made noise at all in Monarto Woodlands.

Nick kindly spotted me on parksnpeaks and this resulted in a handful of the regular park hunters giving me a call, including Peter VK3PF and Rick VK4RF.  But it was very very slow going.  My seventh QSO was a Park to Park contact, with Neil VK4HNS who was portable in the D’Aguillar National Park VKFF-0129.  Neil was camping overnight in the park, and I was his first contact for his activation (5/8 both ways).

Next up was John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills who was very very low down but perfectly readable.  We exchanged 5/1 signal reports, and just in time.  I started to receive QRM from some VK2 stations on 7.146.  It was also at this time that my good mate Danny ON4VT in Belgium sent me a message on Messenger to advise that he was just hearing me on 40m.  I called Danny and could just hear him in there, but not enough to make a valid contact.  I worked a further 3 stations, Jonathan VK7JON, Ian VK1DI, and ANdrew VK7DW, before heading to to the 20m band.

Unfortunately it was not much better there.  I was only able to log Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.  Despite numerous CQ calls I had no further takers.  Danny ON4VT sent me another message to advise that I was not being heard in Europe.  I tuned across the 20m band and only heard Steve VK4KUS working PY6RT on 14.200.  I then lowered the squid pole and erected the 15m antenna and called CQ on 21.244.   But despite 5 minutes of calling I had no response from anyone.

I then re-erected the 80/40/20m linked dipole and started claling CQ on 3.610 n the 80m band.  This was answered by John VK5BJE who was a good 5/9, followed by David VK5PL and then Tony VK5MRT.  I logged a further 5 stations on 80m: Mike VK5FMWW/VK5FVSV, Mick VK3PMG/VK3GGG, and Adrian VK5FANA.

I decided to try 20m again and had a little bit more success this time, logging 4 stations: Clive ZL/GM4FZH running QRP 5 watts from his Yaesu FT-817 and linked dipole, Adam VK2YK, John VK6NU, and Ken ZL4KD who is the ZLFF co-ordinator in New Zealand.

I headed back to 40m and had a tune across the band.  I heard Max IK1GPG, who is a regular park hunter, chatting to another European station.  Max was a good 5/8 and this was a great sign that I may have been able to work into Europe on 40m.  I headed up the band found a ZL calling CQ on 7.145 so I moved down to 7.137 and asked if the frequency was in use.  Hauke VK1HW came back to my query, with a booming 5/9 plus signal.  I went on to work a total of 21 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.   I’m sorry to the weaker stations that were calling, but I was experiencing a lot of splatter from a very strong VK3 station on 7.140, and it made it very very difficult.

As the time approached 8.00 p.m. local time I headed to the 7130 DX Net, which was being held on 7.127 due to QRM.  I booked in to the net where I worked a total of 5 stations including Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington and Ian VK3IRS running QRP 5 watts.  The net was running very very slow so I booked out and moved uo to 7.140 and started calling CQ.  Darryl VK5JDS called in, followed by Damien VK5FDEC running QRP 5 watts.  Brian VK5FMID also called running just 5 watts from Mount Gambier and was a nice 5/9 signal.  I was also called by Perrin VK3XPT operating remote from Newell Beach in Queensland.  Perrin was a very nice 5/9 signal but was experiencing some QRM at his end from South East Asia.

We both QSYd up to 7.142 where Perrin called me from his QRP set up in Queensland.  There was a signficant drop in his signal from 5/9 down to 3/3.  It was quite a difficult copy with nearby QRM and the static crashes.  I worked a further 9 stations on 40m before QSYing to 3.610 on 80m where I logged 6 stations from VK3, VK5, and VK7.

I was famished and it was down to 11 deg C, so with 73 contacts in the log it was time to pack up and head back home.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3ANL
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK4RF
  4. VK4HA
  5. VK2KJJ
  6. VK3FSPG
  7. VK4HNS/p (VKFF-0129)
  8. VK5BJE
  9. VK7JON
  10. VK1DI
  11. VK7DW
  12. VK1HW
  13. VK7VZ/2
  14. VK4PDX
  15. VK3FRAB
  16. VK2FLEZ
  17. VK3SFG
  18. VK5UK/p
  19. VK3ARH
  20. VK4FFAB
  21. VK2YW
  22. VK2FOUZ
  23. VK7CW
  24. VK4AAC/3
  25. VK5WG
  26. VK3BKT
  27. VK1EM
  28. VK3SQ
  29. VK5FD
  30. VK6ANC
  31. VK2STO
  32. VK2FPRM
  33. VK7VEK
  34. VK3TJS
  35. VK2NED
  36. ZL2ASH
  37. VK3IRS
  38. VK5JDS
  39. VK5FDEC
  40. VK5FMLO
  41. VK5FMID
  42. VK1MTS
  43. VK3XPT/4
  44. VK3AB/p
  45. VK7CC
  46. VK7FRJG
  47. VK6RC/m
  48. VK2FARL
  49. VK7FPRN
  50. VK2QK
  51. VK3FCMC
  52. VK3FPSR

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK6XN
  4. ZL/GM4FZH
  5. VK2YK
  6. VK6NU
  7. ZL4KD

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5PL
  3. VK5MRT
  4. VK5FMWW
  5. VK5FVSV
  6. VK3PMG
  7. VK3GGG
  8. VK5FANA
  9. VK5FMID
  10. VK5FMLO
  11. VK7FPRN
  12. VK3AB/p
  13. VK3FPSR
  14. VK5LB