Over the weekend (Saturday 5th May 2018) I headed out to my local park, the Totness Recreation Park VKFF-1754, for the 2018 Harry Angel Memorial 80m Sprint.
I have activated Totness many times in the past as it is in very close proximity to my home. In fact its just a short 6-7 minute drive.
Totness Recreation Park is 41 hectares in size and on the 15th January 1970 was proclaimed as Totness National Parks Reserve. On the 22nd January 1976 it was reproclaimed as Totness Recreation Park. Prior to 1970 the land that is now Totness was the property of the South Australian Railways and the Department of Transport.
The park terrain is hilly, with the park being split into a northern and southern section by the South Eastern Freeway. The northern section of the park includes messmate stringybark woodland over kangaroo thorn, sweet bursaria and twiggy daisy-bush; South Australian blue gum/manna gum woodland; river red gum over swamp wattle and narrow leaf cumbungi sedge land around the lake which was previously a railway dam. The southern section of the park has messmate stringybark open forest and South Australian blue gum woodland.
Plant species of conservation significance recorded within the park include the state rare Manna Gum and the regionally rare Spider Orchid.
The southern section of the park was completely burnt out during the devastating 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires.
Birds SA have recorded a total of 57 native birds in the park including Superb Fairywren, Striated Thornbill, Brown Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Grey Shrikethrush, Australian Golden Whistler, White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Spinebill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, & Red-browed Finch.
Native bird species of conservation significance recorded within the park include the Bassian Thrush and Shining Bronze-cuckoo.
Various native animals can be found in the park including Western Grey kangaroo, Common ringtail possum, Koala, Short-beaked echidna, and various bat species are known to inhabit the park. Wild deer can also be found in the park.
In the northern section of the park you will find a large dam which was constructed in 1884 to supply the steam locomotives travelling to and from Victor Harbour until 1944. The water was piped around 5 km to the Mount Barker Railway Station. The dam also served as a water source for the township of Mount Barker, until replaced by water from the River Murray via the Adelaide-Mannum pipeline in 1955.
Totness Recreation Park also has historic associations with the wattle bark industry that flourished in the Mount Barker district during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The nearby Mount Barker Tannery sourced wattle bark from the area around the railway dam, for tanning leather. Stringybark trees were also cut for use as firewoord in the steam boilers and brick kilns.
A significant portion of the southern section of the park was land originally granted to John Dunne (1802-1894) who was a significant figure in Mount Barker’s early history. Dunne emigrated to Australia in 1840, having been born in Devon, England in 1802. His first steam mill, in Mount Barker, began working in 1844, the second steam mill in Australia at a time when South Australia was the only wheat producing colony in Australia.
The Harry Angel Sprint is an annual 80m contest event, first established in 1999, to commemorate the life of Harry Angel VK4HA who at the time of his becoming a Silent Key was the oldest licensed amateur in Australia.
The duration of the contest is 106 minutes one minute for each year of Harry’s life. The aim of the competition is to make as many contacts as possible in the allotted time. Each station may be worked on one occasion only per mode.
Henry Benjamin ‘Harry’ Angel was born on 14th December 1891 at Manor House, Essex, England. His parents were Henry Samuel Martin Angel (1867-1911) and Elizabeth Jesse Angel nee Eyre (1871-1962). In 1919 he married Rebecca Andrews (1891-1973). They had 3 children: Lillian May Angel, Harold Vincent Angel, and Ronald Henry Angel. Harry died in August 1998 at Brisbane, Queensland, aged 106 years.
The State Library of Queensland holds an extensive collection of QSL cards, previously belonging to Harry Angel.
I arrived at the park at around 5.50 p.m. and it was starting to get dark. I had around 10 minutes of light to set up. I used the Yaesu FT-897 and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation. I was all set up and ready to go by around 6.00 p.m. local time (0830 UTC). I tuned across the 40m band which was quite busy with South East Asian stations and a few low down North American signals. I found 7.175 clear and commenced calling CQ, which was answered by Andy VK5LA in the Riverland region of South Australia. Andy was quite low down, as I was to him, but we made it. Rod VK7FRJG then called in from Tasmania with a very big signal, followed by my wife Marija VK5FMAZ.
I logged a total of 10 contacts, including Peter VK3ZPF/p who was activating the Churchill Island Marine National Park VKFF-0947, and Andrei ZL1TM in New Zealand. Again, Peter was quite a low signal, but as we both had no man made noise, we were able to exchange signal reports quite easily. But that was it, with the 40m band being in quite poor condition. It was apparent that propagation around VK2, VK3 & VK5 was very poor.
It was now approaching 0900 UTC and I still had one hour to go before the contest. I tuned across the 40m band but didn’t find a signal VK station, except for Peter VK3ZPF/p who was calling CQ on 7.155. The American net which is held each evening on 7.163 revealed only moderately strong signals. Certainly not strong enough for me to call in and make contact with any of the USA stations. So I took the opportunity of ensuring my logging software was up to date on my laptop, and set the time on my clock (to what I thought was accurate – it wasn’t. Mentioned later). I headed back to 7.175 and called CQ again, and again, and again, with no takers. Eventually, Steve VK4QQ came back to my call, but he was the sole responder.
At around 0950 UTC I moved down to the 80m band hoping to find myself a clear frequency before everyone starting calling CQ contest. The 80m band was already quite full of stations and the Over The Horizon Radar (OTHR) was present across most of the band and was getting up around the strength 8.
I found 3.640 clear and started calling CQ which was answered by Chris VK6LOL with a 5/9 signal. This was followed by Marija VK5FMAZ, Ken VK6AKT, and then Merv VK4EM.
I relogged Merv VK4EM and he became my first contact in the log for the Harry Angel Sprint. Peter VK3PF was second in the log, followed by Ian VK2IAN, Bill VK3CWF and then Chris VK6NC. Sadly it was very slow going, and after 20 minutes I had just 14 contacts in the log, including Peter VK3ZPF/p who had called back in for the Sprint. So with things being very quiet, I tuned across the band and logged a number of stations.
I spent the remainder of the Sprint, calling CQ and hunting across the band for new callers. Unfortunately I was having a nice little run of callers, when I much higher powered VK2 moved in just 2 kc away from me, and that was the end of the that. The OTHR was also making it very difficult to pick up stations below strength 8.
I was pleased to pick up another Park to Park contact, with Marcus VK5WTF/p who was in the Sandy Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0933. And also a call from Bill ZL3VZ in Christchurch, New Zealand.
I ended up logging a total of 51 stations on 80m during the contest. This was down by 12 compared to last year when I logged a total of 63 stations during the contest.
Most of my contacts were into Victoria and New South Wales. Conditions into the eastern States were pretty good, but there were some stations who were suffering with noise and struggled a bit with my signal. Fortunately I had no man made noise in the park, except for the Over the Horizon Radar. The map below shows my contacts into the eastern States.
I was very pleased to be able to work some Western Australian stations about 2,500 km away. The map below shows my contacts into Western Australia.
The graph below shows my contacts during the Sprint. I worked thirteen (13) Victorian (VK3) stations, followed by twelve (12) from New South Wales (VK2), and nine (9) each from Queensland (VK4) and South Australia (VK5).
I was a little disappointed in the outcome. Unfortunately there were not a huge number of participants in the Sprint, and my little portable signal wasn’t quite making the grade into certain stations. This together with the very annoying OTHR.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB before the Sprint commenced:-
- VK3ZPF/p (Churchill Island Marine National Park VKFF-0947 VKFF-0947)
I worked the following stations on 80m before the Sprint:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB during the Sprint:-
- VK3ZPF/p (Churchill Island Marine National Park VKFF-0947)
- VK5WTF/p (Sandy Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0933)
I worked the following stations on 80m after the Sprint:-
Birds SA, 2018, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/totness-recreation-park/>, viewed 6th May 2018
Department for Environment and Heritage, 2007, Totness Recreation Park Management Plan
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totness_Recreation_Park>, viewed 6th May 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dunn_(miller)>, viewed 6th May 2018
Wireless Institute of Australia, 2018, <http://www.wia.org.au/members/contests/harryangel/>, viewed 6th May 2018