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…..
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.
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:-
- VK4HNS/p (VKFF-0129)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-