During 2017 I conducted 65 park activations for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award, and a total of 123 for the World Wide Flora Fauna program. This was a mixture of parks in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, with 18 of those activations counting towards the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award. Marija and I continued to activate a number of parks together.
The Friday afternoon/evening activation event for the VK5 Parks Awards continued to be very popular. I activated a number of unique parks in 2017 including the Blackwood Forest Recreation Park, the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, the Lawari Conservation Park, and the Nurragi Conservation Reserve.
On the beach at the Moana Sands Conservation Park
At the Douglas Point Conservation Park
Marija on air at Sturt Gorge Recreation Park
I conducted 13 activations for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program during 2017. Four of those summits were in South Australia, while the remaining nine were in Victoria.
The year 2017 kicked off for Marija and I with a SOTA activation of Mount Bryan VK5/ SE-001 on New Years Day. This was as part of the regular VK New Years Day SOTA event. Marija and I spent New Years Eve in Burra at one of the local pubs, and on NY Day we headed out to the summit. After 2 hours on Mount Bryan I had a total of 76 QSOs in the log including 41 S2S contacts. Marija had a total of 39 QSOs in the log including 37 S2S contacts. It had been an amazing activation.
Marija and I then did the Dare Hill Drive. This was a very enjoyable and scenic drive through spectacular countryside in the north of South Australia. The drive took us to the homestead of Sir George Hubert Wilkins, and through the historic Collinsville Station property. On the drive we stopped off to activate two rarely activated parks, the Caroona Creek Conservation Park and the Pandappa Conservation Park.
a creek crossing on the Dare Hill drive
Marija on air at the Caroona Creek Conservation Park
On air in the Pandappa Conservation Park
old Ketchowla Station shearing shed
Marija at the Wilkins homestead
In mid January I had a fun afternoon out with Chris VK5FR and David VK5KC, at the Encounter Marine Park VKFF-1707. We drove down along Goolwa Beach to the mouth of the mighty Murray River and set up on the sand. We had a number of interested onlookers, one lady being game enough to pick up the mic. The video below is a little bit of footage of the activation.
In February Marija and our daughter Olivia headed to Victoria. Our main reason for travelling there was to go to Sovereign Hill at Ballarat as Olivia has an interest in Australian history. Whilst away on the trip I activated SOTA peak Mount Warrenheip VK3/ VC-019, the Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964, and Mount Buninyong VK3/ VC-018. Whilst at Mount Buninyong, Allen VK3ARH paid us a visit.
with Allen VK3ARH
On air at Mt Warrenheip
Marija on air at Mt Buninyong being watched on by Olivia
Enjoying a Mountain Goat beer at the hotel in Buninyong
Marija and Olivia at Sovereign Hill
March 4th to March 12th 2017 was Parks Week. I had a little bit of free time from work and undertook 2 activations during the event.
On Friday 10th March I headed out to activate the Lowan Conservation Park 5CP-121 & VKFF-1052. This was another successful activation, with a total of 87 contacts in the log including a number of Park to Park contacts, including Ken ZL4KD and his wife Margaret ZL4YS who were in ZLFF-0026.
And then on Saturday 11th March Marija and I activated Mount Lofty VK5/ SE-005 which is located within the Cleland Conservation Park 5CP-042 & VKFF-0778. 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. Band conditions on 20m had been quite ordinary in preceding weeks, so I didn’t expect to work much DX during this activation, yet alone any of the DX SOTA activators. I ended up with 113 contacts in the log, included twenty (20) Summit to Summit contacts and six (6) Park to Park contacts. This included numerous DX S2S contacts into Spain, Switzerland, England, Romania, Wales, and Germany.
Above:- racking up the QSOs at Mt Lofty/Cleland CP
Later in March I headed out to the Totness Recreation Park for the John Moyle Memorial Field Day. I entered in the Six Hour Portable Operation category. Specifically the Single Operator, Phone Only, HF Bands section. Within my 6 hour block of operating I made a total of 241 contacts with a score of 482 points. I came in 1st place in the 6 hour portable section, running the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the linked dipole.
In April the special activation weekend was held for the 4th year anniversary of the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award. Marija and I headed down the Fleurieu Peninsula, south of Adelaide. We activated 4 different parks and made a total of 532 QSOs.
Operating from the homestead in the Deep Creek Conservation Park
Marija on air in the Eric Bonython Conservation Park
Marija in the Talisker Conservation Park
A total of 20 amateurs took part in the weekend, activating 29 different parks across Australia. A total of 1,311 QSOs were made over the weekend, including 410 Park to Park contacts. Each activator who took part in the weekend received a special participation certificate.
Above:- participation certificate for the 4th year anniversary of the VK5 Parks Award.
A few weeks later I headed to Victoria to Foster to attend Antennapalooza run by the Gippsland Gate Radio & Electronics Club. The them for the 2017 event was operating portable, and I was asked to deliver a presentation on the parks awards. Whilst away I activated a number of parks and SOTA summits.
with Tony VK3XV, Joee VK3YSP & Marshall VK3MRG
My display table
One of my activations whilst away was a joint activation with Chris VK3QB and Chris VK3PAT at the Shallow Inlet Marine Coastal Park VKFF-0749. This was a really enjoyable morning on the beach under the shade of the awning of the Toyota Hi Lux.
On air with Chris VK3QB
Chris VK3PAT on air, with Chris Vk3QB
Our operating spot at Shallow Inlet
On Easter Sunday Marija and I activated the Scott Creek Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills. After Marija had qualified the park I jumped on the mic using the special call of VK5WOW, issued for the 2017 WIA AGM at Hahndorf. I ended up with a total of 157 contacts as VK5WOW, on the 20, 40 and 80m bands, including 11 Park to Park contacts. A small amount of DX was logged from New Zealand, Croatia, Finland, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, and Belgium. Below is a short video of the activation.
Later in April Marija and I drove to the Riverland and attended the BRL Gathering. Whilst away we activated a number of parks. Once again I set up a small display at the event, showing various portable transceivers, antennas, power sources, and awards. I also delivered a presentation on operating portable.
Marija on air at Ramco Point Conservation Park
Delivering a presentation at the BRL Gathering
My display table at the BRL Gathering
A highlight of this year’s BRL Gathering was a high altitude balloon launch by the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group.
Getting ready to launch
Ivan VK5HS making contacts via the balloon
One of my activations whilst in the Riverland was at the Cooltong Conservation Park. Marija activated & qualified the park first and I then operated as VK5WOW, making a total of 161 contacts. Whilst activating the park Shaun VK5FAKV came out to pay us a visit.
On Anzac Day Marija and I activated the Tolderol Game Reserve VKFF-1752, using the special AX prefix. We made a total of 176 contacts between the two of us.
In late April I activated the Monarto Conservation Park using the special call of VK5WOW. I made a total of 113 QSOs.
In early May I activated the Totness Recreation Park, again using the special call of VK5WOW. I made a total of 130 contacts.
On 6th May I activated the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park for the Harry Angel Memorial 80m Sprint. I worked a total of 63 stations during the Sprint from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and VK8.
The weekend of 13th & 14th May was the Mills on the Air Weekend. On Saturday I activated Nixon’s Mill at Hahndorf using the special VK5WOW call. I made a total of 89 QSOs, including making contact with hams at the Dunn Mill at Mount Barker, and Andersons Mill at Smeaton in Victoria. Later that day I also activated the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park as VK5WOW and made a total of 107 contacts. On Sunday I activated the old Laucke Flour Mill at Strathalbyn and made a total of 87 QSOs. I was joined briefly by Tony VK5MRT.
On 17th May I activated the Mount George Conservation Park with the special VI5WOW call. I made a total of 84 contacts.
This was my 6th activation using VK5WOW or VI5WOW. During April & May under these calls I made a total of 872 contacts. Sadly, propagation was not great when it came to DX.
During May the Annual General Meeting & Convention of the Wireless Institute of Australia was held at Hahndorf, just down the road from my home. Andrew VK6AS, and Heath VK3TWO & his wife Monique stayed with us. The theme of the convention was ‘Radio is Magic’.
The event kicked off on the Friday evening with drinks and gourmet pizza at the Hahndorf Convention Centre. Saturday saw the AGM and presentations. I delivered a presentation on ‘Operating field portable in the great outdoors’. The Saturday night formal dinner was at the convention centre.
On Sunday morning, myself and 4 other team leaders (John VK5BJE, Peter VK5PET, Les VK5KLV, & Chris VK5FR) took a number of amateurs out into the field to activate parks. For many it was their first park activation. One of my team was Gerard VK2JNG, who has taken to park activating like a duck to water. Later that day there was a Come and Try event at the Hahndorf Oval. Chris VK5FR and I set up a parks display table.
With some of the crew on the Friday night
Delivering my presentation at the Convention on Saturday
Out in the field on Sunday morning
With Chris VK5FR and an interesting onlooker at our display table
I received a Certificate of Appreciation at the Convention for delivering my parks presentation. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Organising Committee for the 2017 WIA AGM & Convention: David VK5KC, John VK5BJE, Jim VK5TR, Shirley VK5YL, Stuart VK5STU, Roy VK5NRG, Grant VK5GR, Matt VK5ZM, David VK5KK, Ian VK5ZD, Joy Robbins, & Daniel VK5DF.
There was also a special 2017 WIA AGM & Convention award on offer, which both Marija and I qualified for. The certificate was actually designed by myself.
On the Sunday afternoon of the Convention I headed out to the Mylor Conservation Park for one final run of the special call of VI5WOW. I logged a total of 56 stations and hopefully gave a few more people a chance to get the special call in their log. So all up I ended up with 928 QSOS whilst using VK5WOW and VI5WOW.
In June Marija and I headed down to the South East for the annual convention and National Fox Hunting Championships held by the South East Radio Group. Whilst down that neck of the woods we activated 7 parks in South Australia and Victoria, and made a total of 567 contacts, with 44 of those being Park to Park contacts.
The SERG event coincided with the VK Shires Contest. Marija and I activated three shires – GD5, MG5, & GL3. I made 193 QSOs. Marija made 78 QSOs in her very first contest. Congratulations to Tony VK3XV who came in at number one in this category with 173 QSOs and 182 Shires and a score of 31,486 points. I managed to get position number 2 with a total of 167 QSOs and 180 Shires and a score of 30,060 points. And well done to Marija who came in at number 3, with 70 QSOs and and a score of 5,180 points.
We enjoyed a fantastic night at the SERG Convention dinner on the Sunday evening. We shared a table with my good mate John VK5NJ and his wife Tanina, and Tony VK5ZAI and his wife Jill. Marija even drew the first winning raffle ticket, winning a little BaoFeng hand held tx. I can highly recommend the SERG Convention to anyone who has not been before.
with Tony VK5ZAI and John VK5NJ
Marija in the Lower Glenelg National Park
On air at Telford Scrub for the VK Shires Contest
Marija with the handheld won in the raffle
In July I activated the Totness Recreation Park for the Trans Tasman Low Band Contest. The aim of the contest is to encourage Low Band activity Trans-Tasman, that is between VK and ZL. The contest is divided into three 2 hour periods. I remained out in the field until just after the commencement of the third period which was at 1200 UTC (9.30 p.m. local time). The cold weather got the better of me (got down to 4 deg C) and I packed up and headed home with a total of 171 contacts in the log.
Above:- ‘the shack’ at Totness for the Trans Tasman.
In August for the 2017 International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend, Marija and I activated the Marino Rocks lighthouse AU-0018 located within the Marino Conservation Park 5CP-126 & VKFF-1056. We made a a total of 210 contacts, including 22 different Australian lighthouses and one NZ lighthouse. Amongst that were 10 Park to Park contacts. Ian VK5MA visited us during the activation.
With Ian VK5MA
Below is a short video of our activation at Marino lighthouse.
On October 22nd the 2nd VKFF Team Championship was held. Six teams took part in the event. Marija and I entered the event as ‘The Walkie Talkies’ and activated the Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park. The weather was less than ideal, and Marija and I huddled underneath the awning of the 4WD during the activation. We made a total of 197 QSOs, which included 32 Park to Park (P2P) contacts under some very trying band conditions. Marija and I took 1st place this year, pipping last years winners Team Kookaburra.
On air for the VKFF Team Championship
Our certificate for the 40m section
Our Overall Winner certificate
In late October between 23rd-29th October, National Bird Week was held. I headed down to the Coorong National Park for an activation and some bird photography.
I managed to get some good photographs during my visit to the Coorong. However, not everything went to plan. I blew up my Yaesu FT-857d. Fortunately it has been fixed.
My operating spot in the Coorong National Parka
In early November I activated the Scott Creek Conservation Park with my good mate John VK5BJE. During the activation I tested my newly acquired Yaesu FT-897 which I had obtained through a deceased estate auction with my local radio club. We had a great afternoon out in the park and ended up with 102 stations in the log between us, including some nice Pacific DX contacts on 20m, and five Park to Park contacts.
My newly acquired Yaesu FT-897
With John VK5BJE
In November Marija and I enjoyed 2 great weeks away in Victoria and New South Wales. Whilst away from home we activated a total of six (6) summits for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program, and a total of twenty seven (27) parks for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award. We made a total of 1,680 QSOs under some pretty trying band conditions at times. This included x 2 Summit to Summit contacts, and 138 x Park to Park contacts. We travelled a distance of 4,450 km.
‘the shack’ at the Ninety Mile Beach Marine Park
At Alfred National Park
At Nadgee Nature Reserve
On the beach at Point Hicks Marine National Park
Marija at VK3/ VG-048 in Errinundra National Pakr
Both Marija and I received an activator certificate for taking part in the KRMNPA Weekend. Many thanks to Tony VK3XV, the KRMNPA Awards Manager.
Radio wasn’t the only thing on the agenda during the trip away. We did a lot of sightseeing including a really enjoyable cruise in the Croajingolong National Park viewing the majestic White Bellied Sea Eagles.
A great food at Mallacoota
4WDing in the Nadgee Nature Reserve
White bellied sea eagle in the Croajingolong National Park
And whilst away we met up with a number of amateurs. We called in to see Paul VK3SS at Stratford, and enjoyed a nice evening out with some of the local hams at Traralgon. Whilst at Malacoota we bumped in to John VK2AWJ. And on the way home we caught up with Kev VK3VEK and Peter VK3TKK.
Out for tea with Sergio VK3SFG, Brian VK3BBB, Peter VK3PF and Ken VK3UH
In the shack of Paul VK3SS
With John VK2AWJ
With Kev VK3VEK
With Peter VK3TKK
Later in November the 2017 VKFF Activation Weekend was held. Marija and I stayed at Morgan for a few nights and activated 6 parks whilst we were away. We made a total of 490 QSOs including 138 Park to Park QSOs.
Taking some time out at one of the local wineries
Marija on air at the Brookfield Conservation Park
On air at the Hogwash Bend Conservation Park
On air at the Morgan Conservation Park
Each activator who took place in the 2017 VKFF Activation Weekend received a special participation certificate.
During November the VKFF Annual Photographic Competition was held. There were a total of 31 entries. Thankyou to everyone who submitted photos (VK3FLCS, VK3GGG, VK3PF, VK3ZPF, VK4HNS, VK4JAZ, VK4SMA, VK4SOE, VK5FMAZ, VK5PAS, VK7JON). A total of 17 amateurs took the time to cast their vote/s. First place was shared by myself and Neil VK4HNS. Second place was shared by Grant VK4JAZ, Marija VK5FMAZ & Paul VK5PAS. Third place was shared by Jonathan VK7JON, Peter VK3ZPF, Peter VK3PF, & Paul VK5PAS.
During 2017 I was issued with a number of awards including the following:-
- WWFF Park to Park 264
- WWFF Park to Park 308
- WWFF Park to Park 352
- WWFF Park to Park 396
- WWFF Park to Park 444
- WWFF Park to Park 544
- DXFF 40
- YOFF Diploma 10 x 200 QSOs
- WWFF Activator 154
- WWFF Activator 165
- WWFF Activator 176
- WWFF Activator 187
- WWFF Hunter 944
- WWFF Hunter 1044
- Murray River Parks Activator 20
- NSW National Parks 50 year
- VKFF Activator Honour Roll 175
- VKFF Activator 200
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 600
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 625
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 650
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 675
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 700
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 725
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 750
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 775
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 800
- VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 825
Each year the VKFF program issues certificates to the Top VKFF Hunter and the Top VKFF Activator. This year the Top VKFF Hunter with a total of 548 different VKFF references during 2017 was Peter VK3PF. An amazing effort. Coming in at 2nd place was Gerard VK2IO with 547 different VKFF references, just 1 behind Peter.
The Top VKFF Activator turned out to be myself with 102 different VKFF references activated during 2017. This was very closely followed by Gerard VK2JNG with 99 different VKFF references activated. Gerard has certainly taken to park activating.
And each year the global WWFF program issued Top 44 certificates. The first Top 44 certificate is issued each year for the Top 44 activators in the world, and is based on activations where 44 QSOs are achieved. I came 13th in the world with 90 activations. The top activator in the world was SP5UUD with 505 activations. Now that is an achievement.
The other Top 44 certificate is issued to activators who have made it into the Top 44, with respect to the number of QSOs made during activations. In 2017 I came in at position number 27 with a total of 7,037 QSOs from 102 different references. That works out to around 69 contacts per activation.
Some of my best DX contacts whilst out portable in 2017 was with Grant E6AG on Nieue, A25BE in Botswana.