Totness Recreation Park VKFF-1754 and the 2018 Harry Angel Memorial 80m Sprint

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.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Totness Recreation Park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

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.

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Above:- Aerial shot showing the park and my operating spot, and m home a few km away.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

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.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Totness Recreation Park.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

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.

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Above:- Aerial shot showing the Totness Recreation Park in the foreground, looking west back towards Adelaide.  Image courtesy of google maps

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.


Above:- A view of the Mount Barker Tannery from Paddys Hill.  Image courtesy of Mount Barker District Council.

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.


Above:- John Dunne Snr.  Image courtesy of wikipedia

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.


Harry Angel.  Image courtesy of

The State Library of Queensland holds an extensive collection of QSL cards, previously belonging to Harry Angel.

Made with Square InstaPic

A selection of JA cards in the Harry Angel QSL card collection.  Image courtesy of State Library of QLD

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.

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Above:- Map showing my contacts during the Sprint (VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, & New Zealand).  Map courtesy of

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.

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Above:- Map showing my contacts into the eastern States.  Map courtesy of

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.

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Above:- Above:- Map showing my contacts into Western Australia.  Map courtesy of

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).

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Above:- Graph showing my contacts per State/Territory/Country during the Sprint.

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:-

  1. VK5LA
  2. VK7FRJG
  3. VK5FMAZ
  4. VK5AYL
  5. ZL1TM
  6. VK6BEC
  7. VK4HNS
  8. VK3ZPF/p (Churchill Island Marine National Park VKFF-0947 VKFF-0947)
  9. VK4TJ
  10. VK4DO
  11. VK4QQ

I worked the following stations on 80m before the Sprint:-

  1. VK6LOL
  2. VK5FMAZ
  3. VK6AKT
  4. VK4EM

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB during the Sprint:-

  1. VK4EM
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK2IAN
  4. VK3CWF
  5. VK6NC
  6. VK2io
  7. VK5FMAZ
  8. VK1MIC
  9. VK3LM
  10. VK3DAC
  11. VK4NA
  12. VK3ZPF/p (Churchill Island Marine National Park VKFF-0947)
  13. VK4LAT
  14. VK3AN
  15. VK2PR
  16. VK7JGD
  17. VK4YZ
  18. VK4KKN
  19. VK2PX
  20. VK4QH
  21. VK6AKT
  22. VK2XAX
  23. VK2MT
  24. VK2KDP
  25. VK4TLA
  26. VK5WTF/p (Sandy Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0933)
  27. VK5DT
  28. VK4JRO
  29. VK5CP
  30. VK4ITT
  31. VK3BL
  32. VK2DEK
  33. VK2QN
  34. VK2KQB
  35. VK1AT
  36. VK3AB
  37. VK3BOY
  38. VK6EK
  39. VK2EHQ
  40. VK5LJ
  41. VK2VIN
  42. VK6QM
  43. ZL3VZ
  44. VK5CV
  45. VK5GR
  46. VK5SFA
  47. VK3VT
  48. VK2XXL
  49. VK5FANA
  50. VK3OHM
  51. VK3FCMA

I worked the following stations on 80m after the Sprint:-

  1. VK2SR
  2. VK3MEG
  3. VK5FBBJ
  4. VK2KJJ
  5. VK5SFA
  6. VK2XXL




Birds SA, 2018, <>, viewed 6th May 2018

Department for Environment and Heritage, 2007, Totness Recreation Park Management Plan

Wikipedia, 2018, <>, viewed 6th May 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <>, viewed 6th May 2018

Wireless Institute of Australia, 2018, <>, viewed 6th May 2018

4 thoughts on “Totness Recreation Park VKFF-1754 and the 2018 Harry Angel Memorial 80m Sprint

  1. Hi Paul
    Congratulations on your participation in the Sprint. You did very well considering the handicaps of low level signal (no sun for the battery) and the radar signals.
    I enjoyed reading your description of the Park.
    John D

  2. Hi John,

    I think they should have a low power section for the Sprint. It’s very hard when you’re up against guys running 400 watts. Anyway, it was a fun night out.


    Paul VK5PAS

    • Hi Chris,

      I’ve got a home brew 80m dipole sitting here waiting to be put up. To work the park activators to date, I’ve been tuning up the 40m dipole. Must get motivated and get that 80m dipole in the air here at home.


      Paul VK5PAS.

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