2018 CQ World Wide WPX Contest

Last weekend (Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th March 2018) I took part in the CQ World Wide WPX Contest.  The WPX Contest is based on an award offered by CQ Magazine for working all prefixes. Held on the last weekend of March (SSB) and May (CW), the contest draws thousands of entries from around the world.

wpx contest

My equipment was a Yaesu FT-2000, 100 watts and a TET Emtron TE-53 tri bander on 10, 15, & 20m, and my home brew 40m 1/2 wave dipole for 40m.

I found band conditions to be very poor.  Long path propagation to Europe on 20m was very poor.  The majority of my contacts were made on the 15m band.

  • 10m – 7 QSOs
  • 15m – 106 QSOs
  • 20m – 79 QSOs
  • 40m – 60 QSOs

I did not hear many South American stations, and those that I did, I was unable to get through to.  This included a Peruvian station on 40m.  That would have been a new country for me.  Nor did I hear many African stations.

But admittedly I did not make it an all nighter on either night during the contest.  So I probably missed the best time for the Africans on the short path to Australia.

My final tally was a total of 252 contacts on 10, 15, 20 & 40m SSB, with a claimed score of 152,663 points.

I picked up a few new countries on 40m.  But I missed out on many other new ones, with my 100 watts and dipole just not making it.

Below is a map showing my contacts during the contest.

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Below are my contacts in the Asian region.  The majority of these were made on 15m SSB.

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Below are my contacts in Europe and northern Africa.  The European contacts were made on 20m long path and 15m short path.  The two Moroccan stations (CN2AA & CN3A) had huge signals on 40m

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And finally here are my contacts in North America.  Most of these were made on 40m SSB during ‘our’ evening.  Some of the signals from the USA were huge.

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So it was only a meager effort on my part compared to the big gun stations.  Those in Australia who I heard active and doing very well included VK4KW, VK2AU, and VK4QH.

Good luck to all in the 2018 CQ WW WPX Contest

John Moyle Memorial Field Day 2018

The John Moyle Memorial Field Day (JMMFD) is held annually in March in memory of the late John Moyle, VK2JU.   The aim of the JMMFD is…..

“The aim is to encourage and provide familiarisation with portable and field operation, and provide training for emergency situations. The rules are therefore specifically designed and focussed to encourage field operations.”

For those who might be interested to read some history behind the man, in whose name the field day is named, you might find one of my previous posts interesting.  It can be found at…..

https://vk5pas.org/2016/03/20/john-moyle-memorial-field-day-2016/

There are a number of photographs there of John Moyle and lots of interesting history on this gentleman.

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I normally head out into the field to a park and operate portable for the JMMFD, but unfortunately this year I had to work dayshift on the weekend.  I was hoping to get out into the field on Saturday afternoon, but Saturday was rated as extreme for the potential of bushfires, so I decided to stay home.

I handed out a few numbers from home, going between the shack and the living room to get an update on the South Australian State election which was held that weekend.  I made a total of 78 contacts, all on 40m, with a claimed score of 108 points.

As of today (28th March 2018), a total of 124 logs have been received.  This includes fifteen (15) logs from South Australia (VK5).

Good luck to everyone who took part in the 2018 JMMFD.

The trip home and the Bernouilli Conservation Reserve VKFF-1684

After leaving the Little Dip Conservation Park and reinflating our tyres, we headed back towards Robe to refuel, before continuing on our way home.

As we travelled north on the Nora Creina Road we stopped briefly to have a look at ‘Dingley Dell’, a little freestone cottage which was built by George Kendle in 1861.  It was named after Mr. Wardle’s home in Charles Dickens’ novel, ‘The Pickwick Papers’.  Alexander Tolmer, previously Robe’s Superintendent of Police, moved here in 1865 when he became Crown Lands Ranger for the Guichen Bay district.  The poet Adam Lindsay Gordon, was a frequent visitor.  From the mid 1870’s Dingley Dell was the home of William and Anna Maria Dawson and their eleven children.  Their great grand daughter Helen, and her husbamd Ray Fulbohm have restored the old homestead.

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A little further up the road we stopped to have a look at the old CSIRO Field Station and Research Farm which operated between 1935 and 1976, was the site of research on pasture trace minerals deficiency in the diet of local sheep.

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We headed back into Robe and refuelled.  As we left Rove we stopped to have a look at the old Bush Inn, which was built in 1852 and licensed in 1855.  It was also known as Mac’s Hotel and Carrier’s Arms to 1871.

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We left Robe, travelling north on the Southern Ports Highway, and took a detour to Cape Jaffa to have a look at the new marina which is in development.  Whilst there we decided to do a quick activation of the Bernouilli Conservation Reserve VKFF-1684, from the vehicle.

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

Bernouilli Conservation Park is located just south of Cape Jaffa and extends south and south-east for just over 7km.  The park is about 266 hectares in size and was proclaimed on the 11th November 1993.  The park consists of a coastal dune system.  It is dominated by Tall Shrubland with Coast Beard-heath), Coast Wattle and Coast Daisy-bush.

The name of the park is derived from Cape Bernouilli, the former name of the headland of Cape Jaffa.

Over 40 species of bird have been recorded in the park including Musk Duck, Hooded Plover, Superb Fairywren, Singing Honeyeater, Rufous Bristlebird, Orange-bellied Parrot, Red-capped Plover,  Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Striated Fieldwren, and White-browed Babbler.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Bernouilli Conservation Park.  Image courtesy of google maps.

We travelled to the end of Rothalls Road and soon found a park sign at the north eastern corner of the park.

Depending on what maps you look at, you may or may not see a road which follows the eastern boundary of the park.  We followed that road until we found a gap in the scrub and pulled the vehicle into the clearing.  We operated from the vehicle using the Icom IC-7000 and the Codan 9350 self tuning antenna mounted on the rear of the Toyota Hi Lux.

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

Upon turning on the transceiver we found Liz VK2XSE/p on 7.144 calling CQ from Barren Grounds Nature Reserve VKFF-1885.  Both Marija and I logged Liz, Park to Park.

We then moved down to 7.139 and I started calling CQ whilst Marija spotted me on parksnpeaks.  My first caller was Ron VK3AHR, followed by Peter VK3PF, and then Brian VK3BBB.  Contact number 10, qualifying the park for VKFF, was with Allen VK3ARH, about 10 minutes into the activation.  I logged just one more station, Geoff VK3SQ, before we decided we had better pack up and hit the road again.

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This is a park that Marija and I will need to go back to, so that Marija can qualify the park, and I can get my remaining contacts towards the 44 required to qualify the park for the WWFF global award.

Marija worked the following station on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2XSE/p (Barren Grounds Nature Reserve VKFF-1885)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2XSE/p (Barren Grounds Nature Reserve VKFF-1885)
  2. VK3AHR
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK3BBB
  5. VK3OAK
  6. VK2QR
  7. VK3FT
  8. VK3UH
  9. VK2IO
  10. VK3ARH
  11. VK3SQ

After leaving the park we drove down to the foreshore area of Cape Jaffa.  We stopped briefly to have a look at the seafarers memorial.  This recognises lighthouse keepers, seafarers, and fisherman who have lost their lives in the Cape Jaffa area.

We took the Cape Jaffa Road out of town and soon reached the Southern Ports Highway and headed north.  At Reedy Creek we stopped to have a look at the police memorial re the murder of Trooper Harry Edmonds Pearce way back in 1881.

In 1881 Trooper Pearce  who was stationed at Kingston was ordered to escort a Robert Johnson alias William Nugent to court to appear on charges of having sold liquor to aborigines, and also for having been in possession of a stolen horse.   Trooper Pearce had escorted his prisoner for about 2 miles when Johnson dismounted from his horse and refused to go any further.  Johnson then tackled the trooper with a long knife and during the struggle Pearce’s hands were cut and he was unable to use his revolver.  Johnson proceeded to strike Pearce a number of times and attempted to cut his throat as the two wrestled together.  Upon being slashed to the abodomen Pearce became faint and then collapsed.  Johnson then turned the trooper’s horse adrift and left him to die. Pearce was found the next morning but died from his wounds on the 18th May 1881.  Many years ago I worked in the Police Force with the gt gt gt grand daughter of Pearce.

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We continued on to Kingston, where we stopped for a bite to eat and then continued on the Princes Highway, passing the Coorong.  Our next stop was at Jack Point where there is a Pelican Observatory Walk.  The bird hide overlooks a cluster of small islands where pelicans, terns, seagulls have established large permanent breeding colonies.  Sadly we didn’t see any pelicans.  We did observe some other waterbirds.

We had noticed during our trip that the Coorong was incredibly dry.  We have only had 10mm of rain this Summer and no doubt that has had a big impact.

But we did see dozens of Singing Honeyeaters.  And they were not easy to photograph.  They were very quick and just as I was about to take a shot, they would dart off to another shrub.  But I did manage to capture a few shots.

Once we got back onto the Princes Highway we did see a large flock of pelicans soaring in the breeze.  Perhaps they were heading to Jack Point?

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We arrived home around tea time on Monday night and commenced unpacking.  It had been a terrific 4 days away.  We had activated 8 South Australian parks and had made 531 contacts, which included about 124 Park to Park contacts.

THANKYOU to everyone who called us during our activations.

 

 

References.

Birds SA, 2018, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/bernouilli-conservation-reserve/>, viewed 16th March 2018

Coorong Country, 2018, <https://coorongcountry.com.au/coorong-walking-trails/>, viewed 16th March 2018

National Trust, 2018, <https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/robe-csiro-research-station/>, viewed 16th March 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernouilli_Conservation_Reserve>, viewed 16th March 2018

4WDing in the Little Dip Conservation Park VKFF-0904

It was now Monday 12th March 2018 and time for us to head home.  After a relatively early start Marija and I headed down to the main street of Robe for a bite to eat.  We went to the Union Cafe and enjoyed a very nice cooked breakfast.  We then decided to head back to the Little Dip Conservation Park to do some 4WDing.  We had toyed with the idea of getting down onto the beach in the Coorong National Park, but decided on Little Dip instead.  And I’m pleased we did.  We were to have a great time.

We accessed the park via the Douglas Dawson Track which is at the end of Beacon Hill Road.  We took the short detour first to the top of Beacon Hill where there is a lookout which offers some great views of Robe and the surrounding countryside.

It was then into Little Dip.  We deflated the tyre pressure down to about 15 psi and headed off down the track, which initially started off quite rocky, but soon became sandy.

We decided whilst we were travelling through the park that Marija would put out a few calls on 40m to log a few stations from the mobile.  Marija was only on air for a short time, as the track became very bumpy and we decided 4 eyes on the track were better than 2.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3UH
  2. VK5ZPG
  3. VK3RW
  4. VK3SQ
  5. VK2JNG

A short distance along the track we came to a junction and sat there for a while pondering on which direction to go.  It was at that time that another 4WD pulled up.  It was a couple from Victoria, Phil and Bianca, and their son Mitchell.  They told us they had got bogged the day before, and we decided to team up and do the track together.

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The track from Robe to Nora Creina is about 21 km.  We found it a little challenging in 2 parts, both of these being dune climbs.  The beach is also quite soft and boggy in parts.  The track takes you through sand dunes, rocky trails, and down onto the beach on a number of occasions.

We would highly recommend this 4WD trip if you are in the Robe area.  If you do decide to do the trip, remember:-

  • lower your tyre pressure down to 15-20 psi
  • If you become bogged it is very difficult to find someone to come and pull you out. It is therefore safer to travel with at least one other vehicle.
  • Phone coverage is often poor so you need to climb to the nearest high point to phone for help.

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Beachport Conservation Park 5CP-014 and VKFF-0791

After leaving the Lake Hawdon South Conservation Park, Marija and I headed down to the town of Beachport, about 47 km south of Robe.  As we travelled along Clay Wells Road on our way to the Southern Ports Highway we spoke to Ian VK1DI/p from the mobile.  Ian was activating the Cuumbeun Nature Reserve VKFF-1920 and had a strong 5/8 signal into the mobile.

We travelled south on the Southern Ports Highway and then took a short detour off the highway to have a look at the Woakwine Cutting.  This said to be Australia’s largest one man engineering feat.  The cutting was excavated to drain land behind the Woakwine Range.  During the 1880’s the McCourt family moved into the Woakwine area.  It was soon realised that without richer land to compliment the rocky high country, making a living on the land would be difficult.  In 1957 Murray McCourt commenced the construction of a channel from the swamp through the range to Lake George with a view fo draining a large swamp on his property.

There is a display of machines used to make the cutting and a viewing platform, but this was closed.  I had to drive down the road and then make my way through the scrub to get a view of the cutting.  It is an amazing piece of engineering.

Below is a video which gives you a good idea of this amazing feat.

We soon reached Beachport, a small town of around 880 people.  The town was named on 23 May 1878 for the then British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Michael Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn.  Beachport has a large crayfishing fleet, and is known for its 772-metre (2,533 ft)-long jetty.

We stopped off first to have a look at the Beachport Customs House which was used between 1879-1900.  It was originally located at the railway yards and was used to record incoming and outgoing goods.  Following Federation, the buidling was used as a railway office for goods and for men who travelled down in front of the train on a trolley to ensure that the tracks were clear.  Men would sleep overnight in the buidling and return back ahead of the train the following day.

We then drove along the Scenic Road in Beachport taking in some of the great views of the lighthouse, the town itself and the surrounding coastline.

There was plenty of activity down on the beach by 4WD enthusiasts.

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We decided to do a very quick activation of the Beachport Conservation Park 5CP-014 & VKFF-0791, but from the vehicle.

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

Beachport Conservation park is about  875 hectares (1.160 acres) in size and was established on 1st January 1959.  The conservation park was originally created as a reserve in 1959, declared as a National Park in 1959 and was re-proclaimed as a conservation park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 for the purpose of setting ‘aside to preserve and protect a representative sample of the coastal environment of south east South Australia.’

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We travelled along a sandy track at the end of Scenic Way and found a small clearing off the side of the track.  We didn’t want to venture too far, as the sand was very boggy and I didn’t plan on spending an hour or two digging our way out.

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Above:- Map of the Beachport Conservation Park showing our operating spot.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I called CQ on 7.135 and this was answered by Hans VK5YX/2 who was in the Kosciuszko National Park VKFF-0269.  It was relatively slow going from the vehicle, with signals being a bit down with my mobile antenna compared to the linked dipole.  But within about 13 minutes I had contact number 10 in the log, with a QSO with Bill VK4FW/p who was activating the Reinke Scrub Conservation Park VKFF-1634.  Marija also logged Bill.

I worked a further 4 stations before heading down to 80m very quickly where I logged my good mate Ivan VK5HS, who was booming in from the Riverland region of South Australia.  Marija also logged Ivan.

Marija worked the following station on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4FW/p (Reinke Scrub Conservation Park VKFF-1634)

Marija worked the following station on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5YX/2 (Kosciuszko National Park VKFF-0269)
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK5KLV
  4. VK4TJ
  5. VK4/AC8WN
  6. VK4/VE6XT
  7. VK4FDJL
  8. VK2IO
  9. VK1DI
  10. VK4FW/p (Reinke Scrub Conservation Park VKFF-1634)
  11. VK4PDX
  12. VK2LEE
  13. VK2GPT
  14. VK2VX

I worked the following station on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS

We then drove back into Robe and out along the Lake George Road and back into the Beachport Conservation Park.  This part of the park is suitable for conventional vehicles.

We stopped briefly to have a look at Wooley Waterhole.  Native birds including Superb Fairy Wrens, Red-browned finches and Yellow-rumped Thornbills depend on this waterhole for fresh water.  It is beieved the waterhole was dug during the late 1800’s.  I captured a shot of a Grey Fantail at the waterhole.

I also caught these two Silvereyes heading down for a drink.

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We then stopped to have a look at the memorial plaque in the park which recognises the old Robe to Beachport track, which was once used by mail coaches and travelleres passing through what is now known as Wooley Lake.  The waters of the lake often quenched the thirst of horses and travelleres, but today only the waterhole remains fresh.

We then took a short detour off road to have a look at Lake George.  It was bone dry during our visit, but each year high tides and fresh water run off into drains that fill the lake.  During these periods you can often see windsurfers on the lake and people swimming.  But not during our visit.

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We headed back in to Beachport and headed to the local hotel for a feed and a few cold beverages.  It was a great meal.

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On our way back to Robe we stopped off to have a look at the memorial for two Able Seaman, W.L.E. Danswan and T.W. Todd who lost their lives on the beach at Beachport when a German mine they were destroying exploded on 14th July 1941.  These men were the first casualties due to enemy action on Australian soil during World War Two.  There is also a memorial here to all fishermen who have died in the Beachport area.

It was the end of another great day, with an amazing sunset.  This is certainly a very beautiful part of South Australia.

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References.

Wattle Range Council, 2018, <http://www.wattlerange.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=2341>, viewed 15th March 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beachport>, viewed 15th March 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beachport_Conservation_Park>, viewed 15th March 2018