Mount Lofty VK5/SE-005 and Cleland Conservation Park 5CP-042 & VKFF-0778

This afternoon (Saturday 11th March 2017) I activated Mount Lofty VK5/SE-005 and Cleland Conservation Park 5CP-042 & VKFF-0778 in the Adelaide Hills.  This was as part of an afternoon/morning of VK/Europe/UK SOTA activations, in which it was hoped that a number of Summit to Summit contacts would be obtained between VK & Europe/UK.  The event was organised by Andrew VK1AD, Mike 2E0YYY, and Ed DD5LP.

This also coincided with National Parks Week.


I have activated this summit and the park many times previously and it is just a short 20 minute drive from home to get there.  So this was going to be a triple header.  An activation for Summits on the Air (SOTA), an activation for World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF), and an activation for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 10.28.49 pm

Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Lofty, located within the Cleland Conservation Park.   Image courtesy of Open Street Map.

My wife Marija VK5FMAZ followed me over and we set up in our normal spot on the eastern side of the summit, away from the crowds of tourists who frequent the lookout and restaurant at the summit.  Mount Lofty is 727 metres above sea level and is worth 4 SOTA points.  It is the highest point in the Mount Lofty Ranges, otherwise known as the Adelaide Hills.  The summit is about 15 km east of the city centre of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia.

Mount Lofty was named by Captain Matthew Flinders on 23 March 1802 during his circumnavigation of the Australian continent.  The summit was first climbed by a European when the explorer Collet Barker, climbed it in April 1831, almost six years before the city of Adelaide was settled.  A stone cairn at the summit was originally used to mark the trig point, and in 1885 this was replaced by an obelisk which served as the central reference point for surveying purposes across Adelaide.  In 1902 the obelisk was rededicated and renamed as the “Flinders Column”.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 10.32.14 pm.png

Above:- Aerial shot showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps.

For this activation we ran the Yaesu FT-857d, initially 10 watts PEP (and later 40 watts), and the 80/40/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre telescopic heavy duty squid pole.

I started off, calling CQ on 7.090 and this was answered by Jason VK2FAVL.  This was Jason’s 1st ever contact on HF.  I handed the mic over to Marija who also logged Jason.  Next up was Darrin VK3FDAP, followed by Geoff VK3SQ, and Peter VK3TKK/mobile.  Again for each call, I handed the mic over to Marija who logged the callers in her log.  We had qualified the summit.

Our first Summit to Summit contact of the day was with Andrew VK1AD who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Ginini VK1/ AC-008.  Andrew had a beautiful 5/8 signal and reciprocated with a 5/8 for us.  Marija had her fill, and decided to head home.  I continued to operate on 40m on 7.090 and logged a steady flow of callers.  At times, mini pile ups ensued.  Please stick around if I do not get you initially.  I strongly suspect that some people give up after trying 2 or 3 times.  I won’t move off a frequency until I know for sure there are no further callers, so I will get to you.

I logged a total of 58 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  This included two further Summit to Summit (S2S) contacts:-

  • Bernard VK2IB/3, VK3/ VE-061
  • Andrew VK1MBE/p, VK2/ SC-050
  • Compton VK2HRX/p, VK2/ CT-043

And also the following Park to Park (P2P) contacts:-

  • Mike VK3XL/p, Gippsland Lakes National Park VKFF-0747
  • Bernard VK2IB/3, Alpine National Park VKFF-0619
  • Neil VK4HNS/p, Bayview Conservation Park VKFF-1469.

Other interesting contacts included Duncan VK3LZ who was using an indoor magnetic loop antenna from his shack (5/8 sent and 5/6 received).  Duncan was surprised I could hear him.  I also spoke with Peter VK3YE who was portable at Chelsea Beach using his home brew BitX40 transceiver (5/7 both ways).

I then headed over to the 20m band where I found John VK6NU/p on SOTA peak Mount William VK6/ SW-042.  John had a nice 5/7 signal.

I didn’t expect to work much DX during this activation, yet alone any of the DX SOTA activators.  Band conditions on 20m, whilst I’ve been portable of late, have been poor to say the least.  Well, was I surprised.  I ended up logging 13 Summit to Summit contacts with stations in Europe and the United Kingdom.  They are as follows:

  • Jose EA2IF/p, EA2/ NV-151
  • Ignacio EA2BD/p, EA2/ NV-092
  • Tom HB9SOTA, HB/ SZ-025
  • Mike 2E0YYY/p, Shining Tor G/ SP-004
  • Anthony MoVED/p, G/ TW-003
  • Andy G6PJZ/p, G/ TW-002
  • Csaba YO6PIB/p, YO/ EC-426
  • Karl M3FEH/p, G/ DC-003
  • Carl 2E0HPI/p, G/ TW-001 and GFF-0012
  • Steve 2E0EFP/p, G/ TW-001 & GFF-0012
  • Colin M1BUU/p, G/ NP-008
  • Adrian GW4AZS/p, Corndon Hill GW/ MW-013
  • Ed DD5LP/p, DL/ AM-176

Carl 2E0HPI and Steve 2E0EFP were also in GFF-0012.  This was Carl’s first VK Park to Park contact.  And it was Steve’s first ever time on HF.  Not a bad induction to the HF bands Steve.

I also logged Andrew VK1AD who was on VK1/ AC-008.

All up I logged a total of 49 stations on 20m from VK1, VK2, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK8, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, Croatia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, England, Slovak Rep, Romania, Wales, France, Sweden, Belgium, & Portugal.

To finish off the activation I spent a short time on 80m, logging a total of 5 stations, including Gerard VK2IO who was on SOTA peak Bulgo Hill VK2/ IL-017 in the Royal National Park VKFF-0435.


Above:- Gerard VK2IO on VK2/ IL-017 and VKFF-0435

This was a really enjoyable activation.  Sadly I had to go QRT as I was eventually washed out by the rain.  It became increasingly more heavy as the activation went on.  I spent quite a bit of time in the latter half of the activation huddled underneath the bothy bag.

I had a total of 113 contacts in the log.  This included twenty (20) Summit to Summit contacts and six (6) Park to Park contacts.

Thankyou to everyone who called and made this such a terrific activation, and as always, many thanks to those chasers/hunters who took the time to spot me.  Your efforts are appreciated, and certainly affect the number of contacts that end up in my log.

I worked the following stations:-

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 11.27.28 pm

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 11.27.37 pm


Wikipedia, 2017, <;, viewed 11th March 2017

Lowan Conservation Park 5CP-121 and VKFF-1052

It was another Friday afternoon, 10th March 2017, and time for another Friday event for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  I headed out to activate the Lowan Conservation Park 5CP-1121 and VKFF-1052, which is situated about 130 km east of Adelaide, near Bow Hill on the River Murray.  It is about one hour drive from my home.

I had activated the Lowan Conservation Park only once previously, and that was way back in July 2013.  This was prior to the park being added to the Directory for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  For information on that activation please see my previous post at….

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 2.38.18 pm

Above:- Map showing the location of the Lowan Conservation Park, east of Adelaide in the Mallee region of the State.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

This coincided with National Parks Week.


The Lowan Conservation Park is about 660 hectares in size and consists of remnant mallee scrub in the midst of wheat and sheep farms. The park consists of grey cypress pines, dryland tea-trees, hop bush and areas of open grassland.

Numerous bird species can be found in the park, including the Malleefowl, which is an endangered species.  Malleefowl are also known as Lowan, and the park derives its name from the bird.  More information on the Malleefowl can be found on the National Mallefowl Recovery Team website.


Above:- Malleefowl.  Courtesy of wikipedia.

Western grey kangaroos are also common and it is a good place to see short-beaked Echidnas, and fat tailed dunnarts if you are lucky.  There are no marked walking tracks in the park and the mallee is very thick in parts, so a compass or GPS device is definitely needed if you are feeling adventurous.  There are no facilities and no marked campgrounds.

I headed out along the South Eastern Freeway to Murray Bridge and then took Burdett Road to Bow Hill Road where I started travelling east towards the park.  I then turned right onto Gribble Bore Road.  The intersection of Bow Hill Road and Gribble Bore Road is easy to spot as there is an old windmill and a stone water tank at this location.  There is also a cairn to commemorate the sealing of the Bow Hill Road.

I travelled about 4 km up Gribble Bore Road and soon reached the north western corner of the park.  There is a park sign at this location.  Prior to leaving home I did see on the maps that there was a track in this vicinity which travelled north-south through the park, down towards a ruin near the southern boundary of the park.  However I was unable to find this track.  I continued on to the north eastern corner of the park where I found a small break in the scrub.  This lead to an open gate and a track.  Don’t blink, because you will miss the break in the scrub.

Prior to setting up I decided to have a look where this track lead to.  It took me from the northern side of the park to the south eastern corner of the park and an open paddock.  Unfortunately I could not find any other tracks through the park.

So I headed back along the track to the northern section of the park and a clearing in the mallee scrub which was an ideal operating spot.  I set up the station which comprised the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts output and the 80/40/20m linked dipole supported on the 7m heavy duty telescopic squid pole.  The soil in the park is very sandy, so driving the squid pole holder into the ground was like a knife through butter.

It was quite a warm afternoon, around 30 deg C, so I set up the deck chair and the fold up table underneath the shade of some gum trees.  Always with a watchful eye for snakes.  I was all set up and ready to go by 0630 UTC (5.00 p.m. South Australian local time), a little ahead of my posted activation time of 0700 UTC.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 10.10.40 am.pngAbove:- Aerial shot of the park showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I headed to 7.144, which is a nominated WWFF frequency, but found there were some stations on 7.146, so I went down to 7.143 and asked if the frequency was in use.  This was answered by Ken ZL4KD who was portable in the Hakatere Conservation Park ZLFF-0026.  I knew that Ken was going to be out and about, but it was a real pleasant surprise to have him as number one in the log.  Ken had a nice 5/7 signal and it was a real pleasure to have a Park to Park contact into New Zealand in the log.  Hakatere Conservation Park is located on the South Island, west of Christchurch.  Ken was also with his wife Margaret ZL3YS, who I also logged.  This was Margaret’s first ever park activation.

Above:- Ken ZL4KD & Margaret ZL3YS operating from the motorhome in Hakatere Conservation Park in New Zealand.

Peter VK3PF then called in, followed by Dennis VK2HHA, and then Bill VK4FW.  All had good 5/9 signals.  The 40m band seemed to be in very good condition.  There was absolutely no man made noise on the band and the static crashes were about strength 5.  Unfortunately I had no internet coverage and I was relying on being spotted by others.  Many thanks to Bill VK4FW, Brett VK3FLCS and Jonathan VK7JON who spotted me on parksnpeaks, early on during the activation.  Thanks also to Steve VK4KUS who spotted me on Facebook.  Spotting certainly helps the activator and also assists your fellow park hunter.  I highly recommend hunters taking the time to spot activators.  Please don’t rely on great spotting facilities like parksnpeaks, but never bother to spot yourself.

Contact number eleven was another Park to Park contact.  Neil VK4HNS was activating the Venman Bushland National Park VKFF-0507, south east of Brisbane.  Neil had a strong 5/8 signal and reciprocated with a 5/6 for me.  My last contact on 40m before QSYing to 20m, was with Les VK5KLV/p who was in the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park VKFF-1105 and 5CP-227.  Les was quite low down, but very readable as there was no man made noise in the park.  Telowie Gorge is around 300 km north west of Lowan.

So with a total of 29 contacts in the log from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7 in the log, I headed to the 20m band.  I started calling CQ on 14.310 and this was answered by Bill VK4FW who was 5/3 off the back of his beam, followed by Rob VK4AAC with a strong 5/8 signal, and then Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who was 5/9.  My one and only contact into Western Australia followed, with John VK6NU who was only 5/3.  Conditions into VK6 of late on 20m have been down significantly.

I am sure that due to a spot on the DX cluster by Bill VK4FW, a few DX contacts followed.  I logged Valery UT5PI in Ukraine, Rolf HB9RDE in Switzerland, and Rolf DK2MH in Germany.  But sadly that was the extent of my DX contacts on the 20m band.  My final contact on 20m was with Mike VK4HS with an excellent 5/9 signal.

I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the links in the dipole and headed off to the 80m band.  It was coming up to 6.15 p.m. local time and still bright sunshine, but I was hopeful of making some contacts around VK5, as 40m was just not working for local contacts.  My first taker on the 80m band was Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG with a 5/7 signal (5/7 received) from western Victoria.  Mick kindly spotted me on parksnpeaks.  I was then called by Bill VK4FW with a strong 5/8 signal from Queensland, followed by Kev VK3VEK in western Victoria.

I went on to work a total of 14 stations on 80m, from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.  This included a Park to Park contact with Les VK5KLV in the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park, VKFF-1105 and 5CP-227.  Les was much stronger on the 80m band (5/9 plus) compared to 40m.  I also logged a Park to Park contact with Adrian VK5FANA who was activating the Clinton Conservation Park VKFF-0813 and 5CP-044.  Thanks to Don VK3MCK who went up to 40m to tell Adrian I was on 3.610.  I had very spotty phone coverage from the park, but an SMS message from Adrian did sneak through to tell me he was on 80m.  So Don kindly went up to 40m to pass the message on to Adrian for him to come down to 80m to work me.

Around 0830 UTC (7.00 p.m. local time) I moved back to the 40m band.  The sun was just starting to set at this time, and I was quite surprised to see a flock of pelicans flying overhead.  The park is around 20 km south of the mighty Murray River and I suspect that is where they were headed.  I called CQ on 7.144 and it wasnt long before Peter VK2NEO called in with his normal thumping 5/9 plus signal.  This was followed by Simon VK2JAZ and then Glenn VK2WGW.  Sadly, despite half a dozen CQ calls I had no further takers.  So I took the opportunity of having a tune across the 40m band.  I heard a few JA stations and a couple of USA stations, however I was unable to break through the pile ups to work them.

It was approaching 8.00 p.m. local time and was starting to get dark.  It was almost time for the 7130 DX Net.  I had about 15 minutes before the net started so I called CQ on 7.130.  This was answered by Peter VK2STO in Lightning Ridge with a 5/9 plus signal.  Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington then called me (5/9 plus), followed by William FO5JV in French Polynesia.

The net commenced shortly afterwards and I only remained on the net for one round, working Roscoe ZL1AAF an Robert VK7VZ.  I was joined by a number of bats who flew around me continuosly, perhaps attracted by the torch light.  I was getting really hungry, so I moved up the band to 7.137 with the intention of working a few stations and then heading home.  First in the log on 7.137 was Keith VK6WK who was quite a difficult copy due to the ever increasing static crashes.  Regular park hunter Damien VK3FRAB then called in, followed by Perrin VK3XPT who was operating remote.  I worked a total of 17 stations from VK2m VK3, VK6, and VK7.  Conditions on the 40m band were excellent.  My final contact on 7.137 was with Andrew VK2VRC and we agreed we would try 80m.

So I lowered the squid pole and inserted the links for the 80m length of the dipole and headed to 3.610.  I was pleased that I did, as band conditions there were excellent, with a total of 10 stations logged from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.  It was interested to note that I was hearing the Over the Horizon Radar on 80m for the very first time.  Along with some signals on the same frequency from South East Asia.

It was now 9.30 p.m. local time and I had a total of 87 stations in the log.  It was time to head home for a late evening meal.  The 1 hour drive home was quite slow at times as there were numerous kangaroos out and about.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. ZL4KD/p (Hakatere Conservation Park ZLFF-0026)
  2. ZL3YS/p (Hakatere Conservation Park ZLFF-0026)
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK2HHA
  5. VK4FW
  6. VK3FCMC/p
  7. VK3FOTO/p
  8. VK3SFG
  9. VK3TKK/m
  10. VK3FLCS
  11. VK4HNS/p (Venman Bushland National Park VKFF-0507)
  12. VK4RF
  13. VK4HA
  14. VK3ANL
  15. VK2PDW
  16. VK1DI
  17. VK4KUS
  18. VK3VIN
  19. VK7JON
  20. VK4GSF
  21. VK3HK
  22. VK2UH
  23. VK7LTD
  24. VK2TAZ
  25. VK4XAC
  26. VK7DW
  27. VK7FAMP
  28. VK5KLV/p (Telowie Gorge Conservation Park VKFF-1105 and 5CP-227)
  29. VK2NEO
  30. VK2JAZ
  31. VK2WGW
  32. VK2STO
  33. ZL2ASH
  34. FO5JV
  35. VK7VZ
  36. VK6WK
  37. VK3FRAB
  38. VK3XPT
  39. VK2NED
  40. VK3FLJD
  41. VK3KRH
  42. VK3RU
  43. VK3PAT
  44. VK3FSPG
  45. VK3MPR
  46. VK2FROX
  47. VK3GMC
  48. VK7FRJG
  49. VK3JR
  50. VK3BL
  51. VK2AC
  52. VK2VRC

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4FW
  2. VK4AAC
  3. VK4RF
  4. VK4HA
  5. VK6NU
  6. UT5PI
  7. HB9RDE
  8. DK2MH
  9. VK4HS

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3GGG
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK4FW
  4. VK3VEK
  5. VK3ANL
  6. VK3MCK
  7. VK2KV
  8. VK3ZE
  9. VK5KLV/p (Telowie Gorge Conservation Park VKFF-1105 and 5CP-227)
  10. VK2IO
  11. VK3HMV
  12. VK5FANA/p (Clinton Conservation Park VKFF-0813 and 5CP-044)
  13. VK3FOTO/p
  14. VK2SVN
  15. VK2AC
  16. VK3MBW
  17. VK5NM
  18. VK5SFA
  19. VK3BL
  20. VK2FKEG
  21. VK2FROX
  22. VK3XP
  23. VK2VRC
  24. VK4BOV


Mallee Bound, 2017, <;, viewed 1th March 2017