Yesterday (Sunday 26th February 2017) I had a very enjoyable lunch with my wife Marija, our daughter Olivia, our son Jake and his girlfriend Samara, and my Dad and step mum. Marija served up her very well received, home made lasagne, and we sat underneath the pergola enjoying the sunny warm day. It was a bit of a celebration for Olivia, who is about to turn 18 and who has just started university where she is studying nursing.
When everyone left just after 3.00 p.m. local time I decided to head out to activate a park. It was too beautiful a day to be sitting around at home. I jumped on to the computer and checked out the KML file on Google Earth and decided to head to the Greenhill Recreation Park VKFF-1712. This was to be a unique park for me, and in fact, the first time the park had been activated for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. Greenhill is about 7 km east of the city centre of Adelaide, and is located in the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Greenhill Recreation Park, east of Adelaide. Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
Greenhill Recreation Park was declared on the 1st January 1952 and is 24 hectares in size. The park’s vegetation consists primarily of Eucalyptus open woodland over an understorey of grasses, herbs and forbs. Greenhill’s terrain is quite steep. A number of walking trails pass through the park.
Above:- Aerial shot showing the location of the park in the Adelaide foothills, just above the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. Image courtesy of google maps.
The area of Greenhill dates back to the mid 1800’s. Once a road had been constructed in the 1850’s, a number of market gardens, an orchard and dairies were established in the area. A vineyard was planted by William BREWER, who with his wife Eliza, erected a stone home on Greenhill Road in 1857.
The park’s southern boundary borders Greenhill Road, which today is a busy bitumised road leading from Adelaide’s eastern suburbs up into the Adelaide Hills. Greenhill Road was originally a rough bullock track leading to the wheat cops and market gardens of Greenhill, Carey Gully, Uraidla and Summertown in the Adelaide Hills. In 1860, one settler wrote:
“Many families to my certain knowledge are suffering great privations, being unable to bring their commodities to market’.
“A horse belonging to one of our settlers was thrown down into one of the deep mud-holes upon this road……Persons returning from town are compelled to travel in company,, for it is positively unsafe to travel on this road alone”.
The park is located just down the road from Yarrabee Road Greenhill, which was heavily impacted during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. Over 3,700 homes and buildings were destroyed and 75 people lost their lives in South Australia and Victoria. Of those, five people died at Yarrabee Road, Greenhill. Nearly 4,200km2 of land was burnt in one day. To put that into perspective, that is almost twice the size of Luxembourg in Europe. The Ash Wednesday bushfires were the deadliest on record until February 2009 when 173 people perished on Black Saturday.
Murray Nicoll, a journalist provided reports on Adelaide radio station 5DN, from the fire in the Adelaide Hills. This included live broadcast of him watching his own house burning to the ground at Greenhill.
“The sky is red and then white, it’s going crazy, the fire’s jumped 150 feet high straight over the top of Greenhill Road. I’m watching my house burn down, the roof is falling in, it’s in flames and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Below is some audio of Murray Nicoll reporting from Greenhill (listen in for some very powerful broadcasting from 1.15 – 4.00)……
If you wish to activate this park, there are three options. The first is to park your car in Thorpe Road Greenhill and then walk a short distance uphill to reach the park via Gate three (3). This was the first point which I checked out. I decided not to operate from this location as there are houses which back onto this northern section of the park. There were also power lines. There is a track which leads uphill, but this meant placing all the gear in a back pack and hiking uphill. It was a warm day so I decided against that.
Above:- Gate three at the top of Thorpe Road.
I then drove back up Greenhill Road to gate two (2) which is located on a sharp bend. There is a small area in front of the date off Greenhill Road which can be quite busy. But the sign on the gate says to keep the gate clear, no doubt due to access for firefighters in the event of a bushfire. There are no other parking options there, so this was not going to be an option for me to access the park.
I continued on Greenhill Road to gate one (1) which is located near the bus stop. There was an area here for me to park the vehicle off Greenhill Road.
I walked a short distance up the track which overlooked Greenhill Road and Chambers Gully. I made as much noise as possible to scare aware any snakes, as it was a warm and sunny day. I made a couple of trips back to the vehicle to collect gear. For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 30 watts output, and the 80/40/20m linked dipole, supported on the 7 metre heavy duty telescopic squid pole.
Above:- Aerial shot of the Greenhill Recreation Park, showing my operating spot in the south eastern corner. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
After finishing setting up I headed to 7.144 on 40m and started calling CQ. It took around 5 minutes of CQ calls for my first station to be logged. It was Brian VK3BBB who was a good 5/8, but gave me a 5/2. Oh no, this was not a good sign. Next up was Mark VK3PI who was 5/9 plus and reciprocated with a 5/9 for me. That was better. I had intially thought that the band conditions were going to be quite poor.
It was very slow going for the first part of this activation. Contact number ten, qualifying the park for me for VKFF, was Rhett VK3WE. This was after 20 minutes of being on air. I was also experiencing S7 static crashes and quite a bit of QRM from European stations, who sadly were unable to hear my signal. I went on to work a total of 24 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7. It was looking as though it was going to be hard work reaching the 44 QSOs required to qualify the park for the WWFF global program.
I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed off to 14.310 on 20m. My first taker there was John VK6NU, whose signal was down very low, but we managed to make a good contact (5/3 sent and 5/1 received). Next was Fran OK7WA in the Czech Republic with a good 5/5 signal (4/4 received). This was followed by Fuji JA8DCR in Japan (5/9 sent and 5/7 received), Max IK1GPG in Italy (5/7 sent and 5/5 received), and Hinko S52KM in Slovenia (5/7 sent and 3/3 received). I then logged Hans VK6XN in Western Australia, Danny ON4VT In Belgium, and finally Joe VK5WU.
I had received a test message from Adrian VK5FANA, advising that he was patiently waiting for me on 80m and that he was unable to hear me on 40m. So I inserted the links in the dipole and headed to 3.610 on the 80m band. Adrian VK5FANA was the first in the log on 80m (5/7 sent and 5/8 received). I went on to log a further 6 stations on 80m, from VK1, VK3, and VK5. This included Les VK5KLV at Port Augusta. It was a real struggle with Les, who was hearing me better that I was hearing him. But we made it in the end due to the tenacity and persistence of Les (3/3 sent and 5/3 received).
I now had a total of 39 contacts in the log, with just 5 more to go for me to qualify the park. I headed back to 7.144 and started calling CQ, but within a minute or so, the WIA broadcast commenced on 7.146, so I QSYd to 7.135. There I logged Howard VK3QA and Brett VK2WWV, but I was again forced to QSY, as a JA station came onto the frequency calling CQ. He was 5/9 and I was unable to compete with his very strong signal.
I then moved up the band to 7.160 where I worked a further 17 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, VK7 and New Zealand. At 0900 UTC, another WIA broadcast kicked off on 7.158, just below me. I now had 58 contacts in the log, and had qualified the park, so I decided to have a quick look around the band before going QRT and heading home.
I found Jarrad VK3BL and Jim VK2QA chatting on 7.115, so I popped in to say a quick hello. As I was signing with Jarrad and Jim, Roy VK7ROY came up to say hi, and we QSYd a bit further up the band to 7.130. I also worked Roy’s friend Mark VK7FAAZ who has just become a licenced amateur. It was a pleasure to be Mark’s first contact. I worked a further 9 stations on 7.130 from VK2, VK3, VK6, and VK7, before hitting the switch and calling it an evening. It was now almost dark and I wanted to pack the gear away before it was completely pitch black. There was a lovely sunset to be enjoyed and some great views of Adelaide from the park.
I ended up with a total of 70 contacts in the log on 80, 40, and 20m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, New Zealand, Slovak Republic, Japan, Italy, Slovenia, and Belgium.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
Nicol, S, 1997, ‘RAA touring, Adelaide Region’
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhill_Recreation_Park>, viewed 27th February 2017