During 2016 I undertook a total of 74 activations for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award. This included a number of parks for the ever popular Friday afternoon/evening activation event. During one of those Friday activations, in the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, I spoke with Joe W5JI, who was previously K5THB many many years ago. I have very good memories of listening as an SWL, to Joe some 35 plus years ago when I was a teenager. Joe was a regular on 40m talking with W4MIP and W2GO and other USA stations.
The Wiljani Conservation Park was gazetted and in April I headed out to the park to activate it for the very first time. As this was a new park I had plenty of callers. In fact I ended up with 101 contacts in the log. And in August, a park very close to home was added to the VKFF program. This being the Totness Recreation Park, which I activated for the very first time on 3rd August, making a total of 77 contacts. And in December I activated the newly gazetted Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park.
During the year I activated a number of parks with other amateurs including my good wife Marija VK5FMAZ (who obtained her licence in 2016), Marcus VK5WTF at the Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park, and John VK5BJE at the Scott Creek Conservation Park.
The WWFF program increased dramatically in popularity during 2016. I conducted a total of 100 park activations for WWFF/VKFF in 2016.
I activated a total of 11 SOTA summits in 2016. Four of those were in South Australia, six in Victoria, and one on Norfolk Island.
The highlight of 2016 for SOTA for me was receiving my Super Sloth certificate, issued for having reached 10,000 points as a SOTA chaser.
The year 2016 kicked off for me with an activation of Mount Lofty summit VK5/ SE-005 in the Cleland Conservation Park 5CP-042 & VKFF-0778. This was on New Years Day as part of the annual VK NY Day SOTA event. I spent about 3 hours on the summit and made a total of 93 contacts, including 36 Summit to Summit contacts.
On Australia Day I activated Mount Gawler summit VK5/ SE-013 using the special AX prefix. Stuart VK5STU & Nigel VK5NIG joined me for the activation. I made a total of 82 contacts. Later that day I activated The Knoll Conservation Park and made a total of 60 QSOs.
In early 2016 I became a Director on the Board of the Wireless Institute of Australia.
I took part in the John Moyle Memorial Field Day during March, activating the Monarto Conservation Park. I entered into the 6 hour portable section and made a total of 229 contacts. I came in at First Place for this category with a total of 458 points.
The VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award celebrated its 3rd birthday in 2016, and during April a special activation weekend was held. A total of 26 amateurs took part in the weekend, activating a total of 62 different parks. I activated a total of 6 parks on the Fleurieu Peninusla south of Adelaide, and made a total of 602 QSOs.
In March 2016 my lovely wife Marija undertook the Foundation licence course held by the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society. She was later issued with the call of VK5FMAZ.
On the 10th April 2016 Marija undertook her first park activation at the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills. Marija made a total of 69 QSOs including 4 Park to Park contacts. Below is a short video showing some of her contacts during the activation.
Later that month in April, Marija I drove up to the Riverland and attended the BRL Gathering at the historic Overland Corner Hotel. A boot sale was one of the features of the gathering, with a number of bargains on offer. I was fortunate to come away with a few goodies, including an IC751 transceiver, a Mini Palm Paddle and two antenna tuners (all previously owned by Larry VK5LY-now silent key). I gave a very short talk on the WIA and the recent proposal submitted to ACMA.
The BRL Gathering is a great social event and each Saturday night a group of us normally head out for tea. In 2016 Marija and I were joined by Ivan VK5HS and his wife Sheryl, Di (wife of Larry VK5LY), and Peter VK5PE.
Whilst away Marija and I activated a number of parks in the Riverland. It was great having Marija doing the activating with me, with her brand new Foundation call.
On the 25th April, Anzac Day, I activated the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park using the special AX prefix. I made a total of 120 contacts including five Park to Park contacts, and numerous DX contacts on both 15m & 20m.
In May Marija and I flew to Norfolk Island to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Wireless Institute of Australia. This was a very memorable trip and was well organised. On Saturday, following the AGM, I delivered a presentation on operating portable.
Norfolk Island was a very social event, with the opportunity of catching up with many amateurs. One of the highlights was a night out at the Jolly Roger, with Peter VK3PF, Heath VK3TWO and his wife Monique VK6FMON.
Whilst on Norfolk I managed to get on air as VK9PAS on 6 occasions activating from both VKFF-0392 and Mount Bates VK9/ NO-001. Marija also operated from Mount Bates. All up I made a total of 599 contacts, working 19 different DXCC entities. I was pretty happy with this considering all of my activations were portable, using the Yaesu FT-857, about 40 watts and the linked dipole. We powered the radio with a car battery which was kindly loaned to us by the hire car company.
Whilst on Norfolk I was also fortunate to be able to operate with the special call of VI9ANZAC.
We also paid a visit to the VK9NT DXpedition team: Chris VK3QB, Luke VK3HJ, Lee VK3GK, Brenton VK3YB, and Allan VK2CA.
For anyone that worked me during my visit to Norfolk, I have a special VK9PAS QSL card which is available through my QSL Manager, Charles M0OXO.
There was also a special Norfolk Island Award which was on offer.
In June I drove down to the South East to attend the South East Radio Club’s annual convention and the National Fox Hunting Championships. I delivered a presentation on the WIA at the convention to around 75 people.
The SERG Convention coincides with the VK Shires Contest. So when I had some time I headed out for some VK Shire activity. I operated during the contest from the Telford Scrub Conservation Park 5CP-226 & VKFF-0805, and the Carpenter Rocks Conservation Park 5CP-038 & VKFF-1018. I came first in the Rover section with a total score of 16,704 points.
In late June the very first ‘Freeze your Butt Off’ contest was held in Australia. I activated the Ettrick Conservation Park and made a total of 151 contacts in 8 deg C and rainy conditions. I came first in the portable section with a total of 22,550 points.
In July I took part in the Trans Tasman Low Band Contest. The contest has an aim to encourage Low Band activity trans Tasman, that is between VK and ZL, on the 160, 80 and 40m bands. I activated the Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park on the way home from the Coorong, and made a total of 90 contacts in about 90 minutes. I received a certificate of merit for taking part in the contest.
In August the ACT Summits on the Air (SOTA) enthusiasts held their annual VK1 SOTA Winter QSO Party. Marija and I headed down the Fleurieu Peninsula to the little one point summit of Black Bullock Hill VK5/ SE-016 to take part in the event. At the end of the activation I had a total of 65 contacts in the log, including 35 Summit to Summit contacts (113 S2S points). Marija had also qualified the summit with a total of 9 contacts and 8 Summit to Summit contacts (19 S2S points).
The John Moyle Memorial Field Day took place on Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th August. I decided to go portable this year and I activated the Totness Recreation Park just down the road from home. I made a total of 426 contacts during the contest and came in 2nd place in VK5, and 14th overall in the Single Operator-Phone section. I was really pleased with this considering I was operating portable.
A little later in August and it was time for the International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend (ILLW). Together with a number of other amateurs from the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society, I headed over to Kangaroo Island to activate the Cape WIlloughby lighthouse, using the special call of VK5CWL.
Our final QSO count for the 2016 ILLW was 547 contacts on the 160, 80, 40, 30, 20 and 2 m bands, on PHONE, CW, PSK, and JT65. We worked a total of 36 different countries.
Other than a lot of contacts being made, this was a terrific social event, with plenty of great food and lots of red wine.
I remained on Kangaroo Island following the ILLW and activated 10 different Conservation Parks, making a total of 542 QSOs. Many of these parks had only been activated once before, so they were in high demand by the WWFF hunters.
On Sunday 11th September, the Belair National Park celebrated its 125 year anniversary. And as part of these celebrations, an Open Day was held at the park. My good friend John VK5BJE was approached by the Senior Ranger for the Mount Lofty Parklands, asking if he would be interested in setting up an amateur radio station in the park as part of the Open Day. John kindly invited myself and my wife Marija VK5FMAZ, to come along and participate.
We had quite a bit of interaction with the public during the day, including a visit by a scout group. We even convinced a number of people during the day to pick up the mic and say g’day.
John, Marija, and I made a total of 221 contacts over the duration of the day.
A few of the highlights of the day for me were:-
- convincing some of the children to pick up the microphone to say hello
- contact with newly licenced amateur, Helen VK7FOLK/p
- contact with Stephen VK2LAD, activating his very first park
- contact with Chris VK5CP, operating portable with just 200 milliwatts
- contact into St Lucia in the Carribean with J68HZ, a rare DXCC entity.
- contact on 40m with my mate Danny ON4VT in Belgium
- contact with Peter VK2PV using 300m of fencing wire as his antenna
Also in September Marija and I travelled to Whyalla in the ‘Iron Triangle’ region of South Australia. This trip was to stay with, and visit family and friends, but whilst there I activated a number of parks.
In early October 2016 Andrew VK6AS and I travelled around South Australia to deliver a number of presentations to various clubs about the WIA. We covered around 1,100 km in 3 days. Whilst away we activated a handful of parks including Mount Monster Conservation Park, Peebinga Conservation Park, and Loch Luna Game Reserve.
On the 16th October, Marija and I activated the Monarto Conservation Park as part of the inaugural VKFF Team Championship. A total of 8 teams took part in the event. Sadly band conditions and weather conditions were pretty average. But we did make a total of 138 contacts. This included 23 Park to Park contacts. Marija made 70 contacts and I made 68 contacts and won the 2 ops/single tx/40m & 15m/100 watts or less section. The overall winners were Team Kookaburra consisting of Tony VK3XV and Mick VK3GGG.
National Bird Week was held between 17th-23rd October 2016, and this aligned nicely with two newly gazetted Conservation Parks in South Australia. So for Bird Week I activated one of those parks, the Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park. I made a total of 60 contacts from the park. I have a special QSL card for anyone who worked me.
In late October I headed over to Western Australia, where Andrew and I delivered another presentation on the WIA. Andrew was kind enough to put me up at his house. Whilst in VK6 I also snuck in a few park activations. It was certainly very different operating over in VK6, with the number of callers during activations far less than over in VK5 and on the east coast.
The Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society held their annual Buy and Sell on Sunday 6th November 2016. Myself and Ian VK5CZ, the SOTA VK5 Manager, set up a display at the Buy and Sell, promoting the various Parks programs (including World Wide Flora Fauna, & VK5 Parks Award), and the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.
On Friday 11th November 2016 I headed to Victoria for the annual parks activation weekend for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award. And whilst interstate I had arranged to team up with fellow Director of the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA), Andrew VK6AS to deliver some presentations. I returned home on Thursday 17th Nov 2016, after delivering 4 WIA presentations and activating a total of nine parks and five summits of the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.
I made a total of 570 contacts whilst away.
Whilst in VK3 I caught up with my good mate Bob VK3SX at ‘the ranch’ at Gunbower. We even did an activation together at the Gunbower National Park. I also called in to see Peter VK3FPSR in Cobram.
In late November the 2016 VKFF Activation Weekend was held. This proved to be a very popular weekend, with a total of 43 activators taking part. A total of 2,655 QSOs were made over the weekend. Of those, a total of 1,373 QSOs were made on the Saturday, whilst a further 1,282 were made on the Sunday. There were an amazing number of Park to Park (P2P) contacts over the weekend. In fact, a total of 1,010 P2P QSOs (490 on the Saturday and 520 on Sunday).
Marija VK5FMAZ and I activated 2 parks on Saturday 26th: Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park VKFF-1082, and Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park VKFF-0919. We made a total of 233 QSOs including 74 Park to Park contacts. On Sunday 27th I activated 3 parks: Marne Valley Conservation Park VKFF-0906, Swan Reach Conservation Park VKFF-0832, and Ridley Conservation Park VKFF-0932. I made a total of 191 QSOs including 48 Park to Park contacts.
All activators who took part in the weekend received a participation certificate.
In 2016 I decided that my wife deserved a little token of my appreciation, so I made up a Certificate of Appreciation. This became so popular that I was asked by a number of other amateurs to make up a certificate for their wives.
During 2016 I met a number of amateurs. This included Brian VK3MCD who was visiting from Victoria. We also had a handful of SOTA/Parks coffee mornings, where hams who are interested in portable activity had a chance for a chat and to exchange ideas.
I delivered a number of presentations during 2016 to various clubs which included the South Coast Amateur Radio Club, the South East Radio Group, the Elizabeth Amateur Radio Club, and the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group.
I received a number of awards during 2016 including the following:-
- SOTA Summit to Summit 500 points
- SOTA Super Sloth 10,000 chaser points
- SOTA Platinum Mountain Hunter
- 5BFF (Cyprus) 3 references worked
- Keith Roget Activated 10 parks
- Pine Cone Award 50 QSOs 10 locations
- Pine Cone Award 75 QSOs 15 locations
- Pine Cone Award 100 QSOs 20 locations
- Pine Cone Award 125 QSOs 25 locations
- DLFF (Germany) Silver Hunter
- Murray River Parks Hunter 10
- Murray River Parks Hunter 20
- Murray River Parks Hunter 30
- DXFF Activator 6
- WWFF Park to Park 10
- WWFF Park to Park 44
- WWFF Park to Park 88
- WWFF Park to Park 132
- WWFF Global Hunter 544
- WWFF Global Hunter 644
- WWFF Global Hunter 744
- VKFF Activator Honour Roll 100
- VKFF Activator Honour Roll 125
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 350
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 375
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 400
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 425
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 450
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 475
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 500
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 525
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 550
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 575
- WWFF Activator 77
- WWFF Activator 88
- WWFF Activator 99
- WWFF Activator 110
- WWFF Activator 121
- WWFF Activator 132
In 2016 I featured in the Top 44 list again. I received a certificate for being number 12 in the world for activated references, and another certificate for being number 33 in the world for the number of QSOS whilst activating.
Propagation during 2016 continued to be quite good, with a number of DX SOTA & Parks activators appearing in my log including Andy G7SQW, Bernard PB7Z, Chris OU7M, Iratxe EA2DNQ, Antonio EX2AG, Dariusz SP9DPM, and Nadika 4S7RS.