Bay of Islands Coastal Park, VKFF-0743

Our one and only planned portable activation for Thursday 12th November 2015, was the Bay of Islands Coastal Park, VKFF-0743.  I had planned to activate this park in the morning, but we changed the activation to the afternoon.  Instead of sitting in the park, on Thursday morning we went to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, which is set on 10 acres in Warrnambool and relects the pioneering atmosphere of an 1870’s coastal port.  It features a number of buildings from that era.  We highly recommend a visit here if you are in Warrnambool.

For more information on Flagstaff Hill, please have a look at…..

http://www.flagstaffhill.com/

After spending all morning and a bit of the afternoon at Flagstaff Hill (including an excellent lunch), we then headed off to have a look at Thunder Beach, and Logans Beach just outside of Warrnambool.  Logans Beach is a recognised whale nursery, although it was the wrong time of the year to view any whales.  We also visited ‘Granny’s Grave’ which marks the burial site of Agnes Ruttleton, who died in December 1848.  She was known as Granny, and was recorded as the first white woman to be buried in Warrnambool.  An interesting fact indeed.  But not what makes this grave and headstone unusual.  So, what does?  The headstone is marked with the name of Mrs James Raddleston.  In fact for many years, it was believed that this was the resting place of a Mrs Raddleston.  Not so!  Ruttleton’s husband was incorrectly named as a James Raddleston, and therein lies the mistake.

For more information on this very interesting story, please have a look at……

http://www.bluestonemagazine.com.au/2014/02/09/who-is-the-granny-behind-grannys-grave/

We then headed out of Warrnambool to Allansford Cheese World, situated on the Great Ocean Road.  It is owned and operated by the Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory, and is the cellar outlet for their cheese range.  This is a great set up, with various products on sale and cheese tastings.  There is also an excellent cafe here and a small museum.  This is another place that we highly recommend a visit to if you are in the area.

http://www.cheeseworld.com.au/Home

After leaving Cheese World, we continued along the Great Ocean Road, through the little areas of Mepunga West, Meppunga East, Nullawarre, Nirranda, and Nirranda South, towards the town of Peterborough, and our ultimate destination, the Bay of Islands Coastal Park.

The Bay of Islands Coastal Park protects a total of 950 hectares of fragile coastal vegetation, unique wildlife, and off-shore islands and rock stacks.  The rock stacks provide a colony of Silver Gulls safe nesting sites from predators such as foxes and cats.  Other stacks are home to Victoria’s only marine cormorant, the rare Black-faced Cormorant.

I had checked out some maps prior to leaving Warrnambool and I figured the easiest way of accessing the park was off the Great Ocean Road.

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Above:- Map of Victoria showing the location of the park.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.

Subsequent checks on maps, show that you can access the park, closer to Warrnambool, via Childers Cove Road.

 

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Prior to activating we stopped briefly at the Bay of Islands viewing plattforms, to admire the view of this amazing coastline.  There are some easy paths here leading from the carpark, to a number of timber viewing platforms.

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The area was very busy with tourists, so we wanted to find a location that was out of the way.  After driving up and down the Great Ocean Road, we found a little dirt track running south off the Great Ocean Road.  At the end of this was a small carpark.  And there were no tourists!  It was ideal.  We parked the 4WD and walked a short distance up onto a small cliff face which overlooked Massacre and Crofts Bay.  It was an idealic location.

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After setting up I headed for 7.144, but found it was busy.  Rob VK4AAC/5 was activating a park in the South East of South Australia.  Although he was unreadable to me, I could clearly hear all of the park hunters.  So I QSY’d down to 7.139 and started calling CQ.  This was answered by Ian VK5KKT, north of Adelaide, with a strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by the ever keen Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who had a good 5/7 signal coming in to the Bay of Islands.  Next up was Adrian VK5FANA at Arthurton on the Yorke Peninsula who had a strong 5/8 signal.

Signals were very good, but it was extremely noisy on the 40m band with S9+ static crashes.  Amazing really as I was bathed in bright sunshine in the park.  But clearly, the weather was unstable somewhere.

I had a steady flow of callers, but soon started to experience some QRM from VK2JE on 7.138 who was working into ZL.  I battled with the QRN and the QRM, and then decided it was just too bad.  So I QSY’d down to 7.130.  But no before working Stef VK5HSX who was operating portable from the Yeldulknie Conservation Park on the Eyre Peninsula, west of Adelaide.

After QSYing to 7.130, my first contact there was with Brett VK2VW, who has become a regular park hunter.  This was followed by Warren ZL2AJ in New Zealand with a very strong 5/9 signal.  I went on to work a further 12 stations in VK2, VK5, and VK7.  This included Gerard VK2IO who was mobile (5/8 sent and 4/7 received), and Steve VK2DDV who was running QRP 3 watts.

Whilst operating I saw a 4WD pull up into the carpark, and a gentleman started walking towards me.  It turned out to be Bill VK3LY from Nhill in western Victoria.  Bill was travelling down the Great Ocean Road and looking for a spot to camp for the night, and he had stumbled across me.  Amazing who you bump into, in the middle of nowhere!

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Bill and I had a good chat for about 10 minutes, and I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links and tried my luck on 20m.  I called CQ on 14.310 and this was immediately answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA with a strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Luc ON4BB in Belgium, followed by Luciano I5FLN in Italy, and then Sergey RA3PCI in Russia.  However signals on the long path into Europe were well down.

I worked a further 4 stations on 20m, in New Zealand and Spain, before heading back for some final calls on 40m.  After returning to 7.144 on 40m, I managed just 3 more contacts into VK2, VK4, and VK7.  It was starting to get late, and we had booked tickets to attend the ‘Shipwrecked’ sound and laser show at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village that night.

I had qualified the park, and had a total of 46 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5KKT
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK5BJE
  6. VK7XX
  7. VK5PL
  8. VK7CW
  9. VK2NP
  10. VK5WG
  11. VK5AKH
  12. VK7VAZ
  13. VK2NEO
  14. VK2HHA
  15. VK3MRH
  16. VK2PGB
  17. VK5IS
  18. VK5CZ
  19. VK2FABE
  20. VK5HSX/p (Yeldulknie CP)
  21. VK2VW
  22. ZL2AJ
  23. VK2IO/m
  24. VK2HJ
  25. VK5HS
  26. VK5NRG
  27. VK5KLV
  28. VK7CL
  29. VK5KPR
  30. VK5FTVR
  31. VK2DDV
  32. VK5BWH
  33. VK2FDAV
  34. VK2JLS
  35. VK7FRJG
  36. VK2QV
  37. VK4MWG

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. ON4BB
  4. I5FLN
  5. RA3PCI
  6. ZL4KD
  7. ZL3YF
  8. EA7BA
  9. EA5IKJ

After packing up we headed back into Warrnambool and to the motel where we freshened up and then headed off to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village for their sound and laser show, which was truly amazing.

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 2015, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/bay-of-islands-coastal-park&gt;, viewed 4th December 2015

Cape Nelson State Park VKFF-0754

After activating the Discovery Bay Coastal Park, Marija and I headed for the Cape Nelson State Park, VKFF-0754.  We travelled back into Portland and then headed south along the Norman Wade Scenic Drive, which follows the coastline.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the park.  Courtesy of Forest Explorer.

It wasn’t long before we had reached the park, and our first encounter with some of the local wildlife.  The speed limit is marked as low as you enter the park, and for good reason.  As we were travelling along, a koala crossed the road directly in front of us and then made a mad dash up a nearby tree.  We stopped for a quick photo opportunity.

There are a number of points along Norman Wade Scenic Drive where you can stop and admire the views of the coastline.

We also came across this rather amazing sight (see below) of a paddock absolutey full to to the brim with cattle amongst the wind farm.  I don’t think I’ve seen so many cows in the one paddock!

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The imposing figure of the Cape Nelson lighthouse soon came into view as we travelled south. We headed for the lighthouse prior to the park activation.

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The Cape Nelson lighthouse was constructed between 1882-1884.  Its height is 32 metres and it is constructed of bluestone.  There was a delay in the lighthouse being finally lit, and this was due to a delay in construction as a result of difficulty in obtaining suitable bluestone for the project.  Bluestone had originally been quarried from nearby, but this soon ran out.  Eventually, suitable stone was located at a site about 11 km away.  However there was no direct road and the stone had to be carted via Portland, a distance of around 21 km.  A total of 20 hands and 25 cutters were employed at the quarry, and 15 teams were employed to cart the dressed stone to the lighthouse.

For more information on this fascinating structure, please see…..

http://www.capenelsonlighthouse.com.au/

http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/Vic/Cape%20Nelson/Cape%20Nelson%20Lighthouse.htm

We then drove back along the Cape Nelson Road and onto Norman Wade Scenic Drive.  We found a little dirt track running off from there, which took you to a parking area.

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Above:- Our operating spot.  Courtesy of Forest Explorer.

From here it was a very short walk through the scrub to a nice little picnic area, which had a wooden table and benches.  A great shack!

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Cape Nelson State Park is situated about 12 km south of Portland.  The park is about 243 hectares (600 acres) in size, with the main vegetation within the park being Soap Mallee, Heath and Wet Heath.  A number of native animals call the park home.  We had already encountered a koala, but it wasn’t long before we had another visitor in the picnic area, an echidna.

This was a very pretty spot, but sadly it was not going to be an entirely successful activation.  I started calling CQ on 7.144 and this was eventually answered by Peter VK3PF with an excellent 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Brett VK2VW (5/6 sent and 5/3 received), followed by John VK5BJE (5/3 sent and 5/1 received), and then Gerard VK2IO 95/7 both ways).  Band conditions on 40m were very poor, with lots of very deep QSB.

I persevered and kept calling CQ, and worked a further 10 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, until all the callers dried up.  Despite numerous CQ calls I had no more takers, so I tuned across the band.  Plus I was experiencing a bit of QRM from UX2IO in the Ukraine, who was calling CQ on 7.143.  The only signals I heard coming in were on the Kandos Net, so I decided to book in there to say hi.  The only problem with this net, is that it takes a long, long time for your turn to come around.  And with band conditions as they were, I noted a dramatic change in signal strengths by the time I was called in.

I then headed back to 7.144 where I asked if the frequency was in use.  This was answered by Peter VK2NEO with his normal thumping signal from New South Wales.  But it wasn’t long before UX2IO had returned on 7.143 and was causing me some grief.  Next up was Ian VK2DI, and then Geoff VK2ZGH portable at Bourke in northern New South Wales.

My next caller was Stef VK5HSX who was operating portable in the Whyalla Conservation Park, in the Iron Triangle region of South Australia.  Although Stef was very weak (5/1), he was perfectly readable due to the very low noise floor in the park.

I worked just three more stations on 40m.  They being Nev VK5WG, Andy VK5AKH, and Chris VK2SR.  I then headed to 14.310 where I put out numerous CQ calls which went unanswered. Unfortunately, Marija and I had no mobile phone coverage with either Telstra or Optus, so were were unable to spot.

I tuned across the 20m band and the only signal I heard was a station in Malta, and even he was very weak.  Far too weak to work.  I returned back to 40m and called CQ a number of times on 7.105 but again no takers.  So I tuned across the 40m band and heard my mate Brian ZL2ASH on 7.138, talking to F5VBY in France.  I called a number of times but wasn’t able to make it.

So feeling rather frustrated, with just 24 contacts in the log, I headed back to 7.105 and called CQ again.  The silence was deafening!  My final tune across the band revealed F6CTT calling CQ on 7.143.  Although he was not strong, I tried by luck.  Alas, it was in vain.

So after about an hour and twenty minutes in the park, I had just 24 contacts in the log.  Well short of the required 44 for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  This is a park which I will have to return back to.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK2VW
  3. VK5BJE
  4. VK2IO
  5. VK2NP
  6. VK3OHM
  7. VK2PKT
  8. VK4RF
  9. VK4HA
  10. VK5NRG
  11. VK5ATQ
  12. VK2HHA
  13. VK2GJC
  14. VK5ALR
  15. VK2ARK/5
  16. VK2KF
  17. VK4FAAS
  18. VK2NEO
  19. VK1DI
  20. VK2ZGH/p
  21. VK5HSX/p (Whyalla Conservation Park)
  22. VK5WG
  23. VK5AKH
  24. VK2SR

Thanks to Gerard VK2IO who spotted me on the VKFF & SOTA Facebook page.  This was one of those parks, where spots were definitely greatly appreciated.

After the activation, Marija and I headed back into Portland and went to the Gordon Hotel for a meal.  The Gordon Hotel holds the longest running liquor licence in Victoria.

 

 

References.

Lighthouses of Australia Inc, 2015, <http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/Vic/Cape%20Nelson/Cape%20Nelson%20Lighthouse.htm&gt;, viewed 4th December 2015

Discovery Bay Coastal Park VKFF-0746 – Take two

Day four of our trip, Tuesday 10th November 2015, started off as a bit of a washout.  We had only one planned activation for the day, and that was the Cape Nelson State Park just outside of Portland.  But it was drizzling with rain in Portland, and did not look promising.

Portland was established in 1834 and is the oldest European settlement in Victoria.  Its population is around 9,900 people.  Portland has the only deep sea port between Adelaide and Melbourne.

After breakfast we did the Portland historic walk via our car.  It was just too wet to walk around the town.  Portland has some very impressive historical buildings, with the Portland CBD alone, featuring over 200 buildings from the 1800’s.

We then went for a ride on the Portland Cable Tram which makes its way along a 7.4 km route around Portland including the foreshore.  The two grip cars used were built from scratch and are exact replicas to the trams that hark back to the Melbourne cable tram era of 1885-1940.  This included a stop off at the Portland Cable Car Museum which houses a number of exhibits including a horse drawn carriage owned by one of Portland’s first European settlers, Edward HENTY.

http://portlandcabletrams.com.au/

Despite the fact that it was a less than perfect morning, Marija and I then took a stroll through the Portland Botanical Gardens which features over 300 varieties of roses and 130 varieties of dahlias.  It was during the walk through the park, that Marija suggested we try activating the Discovery Bay Coastal Park again, to see if I could pick up some more contacts to reach the 44 QSO threshold.  I didn’t ask twice!

We then stopped off at the Portland Visitor Information Centre, which other than having a heap of tourist information, also contains the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre.  The centre contains a number of displays depicting Portland’s rich maritime history including whaling, ship wrecks, navigation, and the local fishing industry.  It is well worth a visit.

As the weather had cleared a little, we headed out along the Bridgewater Road and found a small car parking area on the southern side of the road amongst the scrub in the Discovery Bay Coastal Park, VKFF-0746.

The carpark was a nice quiet little spot and away from the hordes of tourists.

Screenshot 2015-12-04 09.42.11

Above:- Our operating spot in the park, on the way to Cape Bridgewater.  Image courtesy of http://www.here.com

After setting up the gear I headed for 7.144 and found Stef VK5HSX calling CQ from the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park in the Mid North of South Australia.  After working Stef I went up the band to 7.150 and started calling CQ and this was answered by John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills, followed by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, and then Peter VK3KAI (VK3PF).  Unfortunately signal strengths were well down.  But there was no man made noise on the band at all from within the park, so all stations were Q 5.  It was also noticeable that there was a large amount of QSB on the band.

I worked a total of 22 stations on 40m, with my last contact there being with Col VK5HCF in Mount Gambier.  I then headed to 14.310 on 20m and worked just 3 stations there, Brett VK2VW, Adam VK2YK, and Cliff VK2NP.

After an hour in the park I had a total of 25 contacts in the log.  This combined with the 26 contacts from the park the day prior, meant that I had qualified the park for WWFF.  Many thanks to my ever patient and understanding wife, Marija.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5HSX/p (Telowie Gorge Conservation Park)
  2. VK5BJE
  3. VK5FANA
  4. VK3KAI
  5. VK2FABE
  6. VK5KLV
  7. VK7WN
  8. VK2VW
  9. VK2YK
  10. VK3PMG
  11. VK2LKW
  12. VK5PL
  13. VK2BJK
  14. VK7DY/3
  15. VK5EE
  16. VK5TN
  17. VK3GV
  18. VK3HP
  19. VK2NP
  20. VK5ATQ
  21. VK5BW
  22. VK5HCF

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2VW
  2. VK2YK
  3. VK2NP

Discovery Bay Coastal Park VKFF-0746

Marija and I had a relatively early start on Monday morning 9th November 2015.  We had two planned park activations that day.  The first activation was to be the Discovery Bay Coastal Park VKFF-0746, which is about 490 km south east of Adelaide and about 420 km north west of Melbourne. Our destination that day was Portland in Victoria, about a 200 km drive from Narracoorte.  We were planning on staying in Portland for 2 nights.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the park.  Image courtesy of http://www.here.com

After breakfast we left Peter and Aine’s house at Narracoorte.  Thanks to Peter and Aine for their hospitality.  It was great to catch up.  And no hangover, which was terrific.  We headed south on the Riddoch Highway, passing a number of parks including Hacks Lagoon Conservation Park and Glen Roy Conservation Park.  We made a short stop at the Father Woods Park about 21 km north of Penola.  The park is the home to a series of seven sculptures depicting the life of Father Julian Tenison Woods and Saint Mary of the Cross Mackillop.  There is also a large red gum tree here.  It was under this tree that Father Woods often meditated and prepared sermons.

The sculptures are really quite amazing and are well worth stopping to have a look at.  In 2010, chainsaw sculptor Kevin Gilders transformed pine tree trunks into a series of sculptures depicting Woods as a bush priest, good citizen, scientist and explorer, found and educator.

We continued on to Nangwarry where we took a short toilet break.  Nangwarry is a little town in the South East which is in the heart of logging and forestry country.  We both wished we had more time because there is a Foresty and Logging Museum here which includes a collection of old logging machinery, including the first ever log harvester in the south-east of South Australia.  There is however an old timber jinker on display out the front.  It was first used to haul large logs from forest areas in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  In the early days it was pulled by a large team of bullocks.  A team of horses superseded the bullocks as they could move the logs much quicker.

DSC_0140

 

After leaving we continued down the Riddoch Highway until we reached Mount Gambier, which is the second most populous city in South Australia.  Marija had never been here before so we headed for the amazing Blue Lake, which is a large monomictic crater lake which often displays amazing colours.  During December to March the lake turns to a vibrant cobalt blue colour, returning to a colder steel grey colour for April to November.  After a bit of touristy duties, we headed to the home of Col VK5HCF and his wife for a cup of coffee.  It was great to catch up with Col who is a very active ham down in the South East, and loves his park activating and hunting.

After leaving Col’s house we drove south east on the Glenelg River Road, through Caveton, and then Wye, before reaching the South Australian/Victorian border.  There is an interpretive sign here which explains all about the survey of the South Australian/Victoria border.  The border has a very interesting history.  It was marked from the shores of the nearby Southern Ocean to the south bank of the River Murray between 1857 and 1850.  Due to human error by numerous explorers and surveyors, it took more than 75 years and a protracted legal battle, before the precise placement of the border was settled.  This resulted in the forfeiture of more than 1,300 km2 of land from South Australia to Victoria.  In 1914, after a successfuly appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, a sum of 215,000 pounds was awarded to the State of South Australia.  A tidy some of money, and the legal dispute was concluded.

After crossing over the Victorian/South Australian border we soon reached the little town of Nelson which is situated on the Glenelg River, just 2 kms from the River mouth.  The town is only tiny, with a population of around 250 people.  In January 1852, the town took its name from the ship, the Lady Nelson, which was used by Lieutenant James GRANT in explorations of the area during the early 19th century.

We then took Beach Road and headed towards Discovery Bay Coastal Park.  This road is bitumen and takes you along the southern shore of Oxbow Lake and down to the mouth of the Glenelg River.

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The park takes its name from the adjacent Discovery Bay which was named by Lieutenant GRANT in 1800 during a voyage along the unknown south western Victorian coast.  The park is 10,615 hectares in size and protects 55 km of ocean beach in the South West of Victoria between Portland and Nelson adjoining the South Australian border.  Inland, the park encompasses high coastal cliffs, large rolling sand dunes and a number of freshwater lakes and swamps.  Some of the popular areas in the park are the seal colony viewing platform, Swan Lake, Tarragal Caves, and Lake Monibeong.

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Above:- Map showing the park, stretching along the south western Victoria coastline.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.

Since the arrival of Lieutenant GRANT, the coastal plants of Discovery Bay have altered significantly.  Many of the dunes in the park no longer support any vegetation.  Plants typical of coastal heathlands include Coast Wattle, Coast Beard-heath and Correa.  Away from the dune areas, the plant and animal communities are quite complex. At Long Swamp there are several plant species of high conservation value, including heaths, dense paperbark thickets and both a pink and yellow flowering form of a variety of Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon var. macrocarpa) that occurs nowhere else in the State.

The park contains a large amount of native animals including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Red-necked wallabies, Brush-tailed possums, koalas, and echidnas.  The park provides important habitat for the endangered Hooded Plover and numerous other wading migratory birds from overseas.  Other birds in the park include Spoonbills, various ducks, Herons, pelicans, and swans.

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There are a few interpretive signs to view here.  One commemorates the fact that Major Mitchell landed here on 20th August 1836, having explored the Glenelg River by boat from Dartmoor.  He was hoping to find a deep sea port, but was disapointed by the very shallow estuary, and returned to Dartmoor by river to continue his expediton through Victoria.

There is also some information on the Perseverance and the Triumph.  The SS Perseverance (1890-1898) was wrecked on the sandbar at the mouth of the Glenelg River whilst attempting a voyage from Nelson to the River Murray in South Australia.  The Triumph (1840-1863) was a Western Australian built schooner which disappeared whilst on a voyage from Port MacDonnell to Port Adelaide.  The remains of the vessel were later found cast ashore at Discovery Bay.  There were no survivors.

The Great South West Walk also passes through the park.  The walk has been developed as a bushwalking trail suitable for most ages and abilities, and comprises short 2 hour loop walks, full day walks, or for the very keen, an entire 250 km loop which commences and concluded at the Maritime Discovery and Visitor Information Centre in Portland, Victoria.

We drove to the carpark towards the end of Beach Road and as it was a warm day I sheltered behind a sign near the commencement of the Livingstone Island Nature Walk.  For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 20m/30m linked dipole, supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  As it was a nice warn sunny day, out came the solar panels to charge up the battery.

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Above:- Map showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.

I started calling CQ on 7.144 and was rather cautious after propagation on the band the day before whilst at Peebinga Conservation Park.  Conditions then were very very difficult and I did not reach the 44 QSO threshold for WWFF.  So I was sincerely hoping that the conditions had improved for this activation.

It wasn’t long before I had my first contact in the log.  It was Brett VK3FLCS who was very low down (4/1) but quite readable.  Brett gave me a 3/3.  Oh no.  Band conditions seemed poor again.  This was not a good start.  Next up was Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninusla with a fair signal (5/5 both ways).  But at least Adrian was able to hear me, and with the completely noise free environment of the park, Adrian was an ‘armchair’ copy.  My third caller nearly lifted the radio off the table.  It was Peter VK2NEO neer Leeton in New South Wales with a very strong 5/9 signal.  After a chat with Peter, Andy VK5AKH called in, running his remote station whilst at Barmera in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Andy had a terrific 5/9 signal as well.

It was quite a windy morning, and whilst having a chat to Dennis VK2HHA, my seventh contact, the suid pole de-telescoped on me.  This doesn’t happen all that often.  I think I was pretty keen to get on air and had not secured the squid pole sufficiently.  I made some running repairs and came back to Dennis, apologising profusely, assuring him I hadn’t stopped talking to him by choice.

I went on to work a further 7 stations in VK2, VK3, and VK5.  But it was very slow going.  The 40m band was still not in great shape, and a weekday ensured that there was not going to be any pileup.  Rick VK4RF tried a number of times to get through to me on 40m but we just couldn’t quite make it.   So I decided to try 20m and see if the conditions there were any better.

I headed to 14.310 and asked if the frequency was in use and this was immediately answered by Rick VK4RF.  Although not his normal booming 5/9 signal, Rick still had a good 5/5 signal into Discovery Bay.  He reciprocated with a 5/5-7 signal report for me.  Next up was my mate Gerald Vk2HBG who was a good strong 5/8 from Newcastle, followed by Gerard VK2IO mobile with a good 5/7 copy.  My fith and final taker on 20m was Robert VK2XXM (5/3 both ways).    Despite a number of CQ calls there were no more takers.  It appeared that this was another park where I was not going to get 44 contacts.  Although I had qualified the park for the Australian (VKFF) program, as I now had 19 QSOs in the log.

I headed back to 7.144 and called CQ and this was answered by Col VK5HCF who was mobile at the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier.  This was followed by Mick VK3PMG from Stawell whose signal was well down compared to normal.  I worked a further 5 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, and VK5.  But despite many CQ calls, there were no more takers.  I had a total of 26 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3FLCS
  2. VK5FANA
  3. VK2NEO
  4. VK5AKH
  5. VK5TN
  6. VK3SQ
  7. VK2HHA
  8. VK5HS
  9. VK5CZ
  10. VK5WG
  11. VK3PF/m
  12. VK2XXM
  13. VK3OHM
  14. VK5BJE
  15. VK5HCF/m
  16. VK3PMG
  17. VK4AAC/5
  18. VK3MEG
  19. VK3FALE
  20. VK5EE/m
  21. VK2VW

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK2HBG
  4. VK2IO/m
  5. VK2XXM

 

References.

Heritage Victoria, 2015, Shipwreck Trail on Victoria’s West Coast.

Parks Victoria, 2015,

Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, 2015, <http://www.marymackilloppenola.org.au/memorialpark/dsp-default.cfm?loadref=147&gt;, viewed 26th November 2015.

Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson,_Victoria&gt;, viewed 26th November 2015

Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Australia%E2%80%93Victoria_border_dispute&gt;, viewed 26th November 2015.

Ngarkat Conservation Park VKFF-0829

Whilst I was in Hattah Kulkyne National Park in Victoria, I had toyed with the idea of activating the Ngarkat Conservation Park, VKFF-0829, in South Australia, after I had crossed the border.  I still had a fair drive ahead of me to get home, but I had worked out that I had enough time for a quick stop at Ngarkat.  I had activated Ngarkat previously, but as part of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, and not the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  So this was to be another unique WWFF/VKFF activation for me.

Screenshot 2015-10-31 10.15.36

Above:- Map showing the location of Ngarkat CP.  Courtesy of mapcarta.com

So after leaving Hattah Kulyne National Park I drove west along the Hattah Kulkyne-Robinvale road until I reached the Calder Highway and the little town of Hattah.  Don’t blink, because you will miss it.  There was once a post office here but it closed in 1974.  Today there is a General Store, and that is it.  I then travelled south to Ouyen where I stopped briefly for a bite to eat at the Mallee Deli, consisting of a very enjoyable steak sandwich with the lot.  I then drove west on the Mallee Highway, back through the towns of Walpeup, Torrita, Underbool. Linga, Boinka, Cowangie, Murrayville, and Carina, until I reached the Victorian/South Australian border.

Along the way I spoke with Rob VK4AAC/5 who was operating portable from the Padthaway Conservation Park, VKFF-0924.  Rob had a nice signal coming into the mobile from the South East of South Australia.

DSC_0372

I continued west on the Mallee Highway, towards the town of Pinnaroo, until I reached the Rosy Pine Road.  There is a sign here which shows Ngarkat Conservation Park and another sign for Roseleigh Homestead.  Interestingly, the sign also refers to Scorpion Springs Conservation Park which no longer exists.  It was absorbed into the Ngarkat Conservation Park back in 2004.  Clearly the sign has never been replaced.

DSC_0373

I stopped off briefly to have a look at the site of the old Rosy Pine school.  The school, along with a number of other outlying schools from the town of Pinnaroo, closed in 1943.  Students from these outlying areas were then required to travel to Pinnaroo by bus.  Today there is nothing left of the school.  But a memorial plaque signifies its previous existence.

B18787

Above:- The Rosy Pine school, c. 1916.  Image courtesy of State Library SA.

I continued on towards the park along Rosy Pine Road, which then becomes Centre Track, and on the way I spoke with Peter VK3PF who was portable on SOTA peak, Jarvis Creek Plateau VK3/ VE-208, which is contained within the Jarvis Creek Plateau Region Park VKFF-0969 (5/6 sent and 5/7 received).  I continued south until I reached the Scorpion Boundary Track where there is an unlocked gate.  I entered the northern side of the park, and paid my $10.00 entry fee, before proceeding into the Scorpion Springs camping area.

Ngarkat Conservation Park is a very large park and is located about 200 km south east of Adelaide.  It covers an area of around 270,000 hectares of vegetated sand dunes, mallee and heath.  Ngarkat was proclaimed in September 1979 to conserve the mallee heath habitat of the 90 Mile Desert.  The park was previously four separate sections: Ngarkat Conservation Park, Mount Rescue Conservation Park, Mount Shaugh Conservation Park, and Scorpion Springs Conservation Park, but these were all absorbed into the one park in May 2004.  On many maps, including Google maps, it incorrectly shows the former conservation parks.  Unfortunately, many of the tourism sites also refer to the former three Conservation Parks.

The park is adjacent to the Big Desert Wildnerness Park and Wyperfeld National Park in Victoria.  This is a vast area of remote mallee wilderness in South Australia and western Victoria.  The name Ngarkat (pronounced Narr-kat) takes its name from the Ngarkat aboriginal people who were the original inhabitants of the area.

The Ngarkat Conservation Park is alive with wildlife including Western Grey kangaroos, Little Pygmy Possum, Short-beaked echidnas, Mitchell’s Hopping mouse, and Common dunnarts.  More than 120 species of birds can be found in the park including the rare Malleefowl and the Western Whipbird.

Leipoa_ocellata_-Ongerup,_Western_Australia,_Australia-8

Above:- The rare Malleefowl.  Image courtesy of wikipedia. 

It was a very warm afternoon, so the first thing I did was to seek out some shade.  I set up my gear, the Yaesu FT-857d and the 40m/20m linked dipole in the campground.  There was a wooden table and benches under the shade of a gum tree so I took advantage of that.  I attached the 7 metre squid pole to a post on a fenceline, with the assistance of an octopus strap.

Screenshot 2015-10-31 10.18.32

Unfortunately there was absolutely no mobile phone coverage out here so I couldn’t send out an SMS message or spot myself on parksnpeaks.

Prior to calling CQ, I hunted around for Peter VK3PF and found him calling CQ on 7.090.  After securing Peter in the log, I headed to 7.085 and started calling CQ.  This was answered by John VK2YW in Wagga Wagga with a strong 5/9 signal.  Half way through my QSO with John the radio cut out.  Bugger!  I have been having an intermittent problem with the connection between the power supply and the transceiver.  But fortunately that was sorted out quickly and I was back on air.  This was followed by calls from Mike VK3ZMD in Melbourne, Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, and then Mick VK3PMG in western Victoria, all with 5/9 signals.  My 16th contact in the park was with Rob VK4AAC/5 in the Padthaway Conservation Park, VKFF-0924.  Rob called me, so it saved me having to hunt him down.

I worked a total of 34 contacts on 40m in VK2, VK3, and VK5, before trying 20m.  Conditions on 40m were quite good, however with all the storms across Australia, the band was very noisy with strong static crashes.  I called CQ on 14.315 and this was answered by Rick VK4RF with a powerful 5/9 signal.  Rick had tried calling me earlier on 40m but we just couldn’t make it.  My first DX station was Xaver DK4RM in Germany.  This was followed by Gerard F1BLL in France, and then Mauro IZ7EIU in Italy.  Conditions into Europe on the long path were less than favourable, and after 20 minutes, I had worked a total of 12 stations on 20m in VK2, VK4, VK8, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Australia, and Greece.

After 90 minutes in Ngarkat I had a total of 46 contacts in the log and it was time to hit the road.  As I exited the park it was slow going as there were sheep on the road, and many kangaroos.  Once mobile back on the Mallee Highway I booked in to the Kandos Net on 40m which was being run by Tom VK2KF.  I then spoke with Doug VK7DK who had a very nice signal coming in to the mobile.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB from Ngarkat:-

  1. VK3PF/p (SOTA VK3/ VE-208 & VKFF-0969)
  2. VK2YW
  3. VK3ZMD
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK3PMG
  6. VK5FMID
  7. VK3AFW
  8. VK3VIN
  9. VK3YAR
  10. VK5JK
  11. VK3GP/m
  12. VK5GJ
  13. VK3FPBI
  14. VK5MBD
  15. VK5FDEC
  16. VK4AAC/5 (Padthaway Conservation Park VKFF-0924)
  17. VK5MAS
  18. VK5PL
  19. VK3DPG
  20. VK3FJJAE
  21. VK3FLMJ
  22. VK2PKT
  23. VK1AMG/m
  24. VK3FGMO
  25. VK5EE
  26. VK5PZ
  27. VK3JM
  28. VK5HCF
  29. VK7VEK
  30. VK4RF
  31. VK4HA
  32. VK2IO
  33. VK3PRF
  34. VK5NRG

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. DK4RM
  4. F1BLL
  5. IZ7EIU
  6. VK2XXM
  7. RN3QN
  8. VK8GM
  9. I5FLN
  10. OE6MBG
  11. VK4PHD
  12. SV3AQR

References.

Department for Environment and Heritage, 2004, ‘Ngarkat Complex of Conservation Parks Management Plan’.

Cocoparra National Park VKFF-0104

After leaving the Livingstone National Park, I headed back into Wagga Wagga and then travelled west out along the Sturt Highway towards Narrandera.  As I was leaving the park I spoke with Ian VK1DI on 7.095 who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Coree VK1/ AC-023 and Brindabella National Park (5/3 both ways).  And then as I was about to turn on to the Holbrook Road, I spoke with Peter VK3PF who was portable on Mount Flakney VK2/ RI-025 (5/9 both ways).

Once I had reached the Sturt Highway I tuned across the 40m band and found Andrew VK1MBE calling CQ on 7.105 from SOTA peak, Mount Gillamatong, VK2/ ST-034 (5/7 sent and 5/6 received).

After reaching Narrandera I headed north on Irrigation Way through Yanco and Leeton, and then headed out on the Griffith Road to Peter VK2NEO’s property.  It was great to meet Peter for the first time.  I had spoken with Peter many times on 40m and he always has an exceptionally good signal.  I had a bite to eat at Peter’s and a cool drink.  We discussed the possibility of me activating the Cocoparra National Park, VKFF-0104, to the north of Peter’s property.  Out came Peter’s atlas and we did our sums to see if I could fit in an activation at Cocoparra.

After leaving Peter’s place I made a last minute decision to head north to activate the Cocoparra National Park.  I headed to the little town of Whitton and then travelled north along the road towards Yenda.  This appears on maps as Griffith Road and then becomes Stock Route Road.

Cocoparra National Park is 8,357 hectares (20,650 acres) in size and was established back in December 1969.  The park is 457 km southwest of Sydney and about 25 km northeast of Griffith.  The park contains a prominent range of hils, including Bingar Mountain at 455 metres and Mount Brogden at 390 metres, which is one of two SOTA summits located in the park.

The park adjoins the Binya State Forest and the Cocoparra Nature Reserve.  Make sure you are in the National Park and not in the State Forest or the Nature Reserve.  Cocoparra consists of wattles, orchids, ironbark, and blue-tinged cypress pines.  Over 140 species of birds can be found in the park, which has been classified by Bird Life International as an Important Bird Area due its relatively large population (up to 50 individuals) of the near threatened Painted Honeyeater, and also the Diamond Firetail finch.  Over 450 plants have been recorded in the park.

Above:- Diamond Firetail finch, and Painted honeyeater.  Images courtesy of wikipedia.

The park is part of the traditional lands of the Wiraduri aboriginal people.  The word Cocoparra is allied to the aboriginal word ‘cocupara’ describing the kookaburra.  Nearly 60 aboriginal sites have been found in the park.  The first Europeans to visit the Cocoparra Range were John Oxley and members of his 1817 expedition exploring the Lachlan Country.

Unfortunately I did not get time to explore this park, but I will be back, as it appears to contains some great scenery and a number of walking trails to various waterfalls located in the park.

Screenshot 2015-10-31 09.55.57

I accessed the park via Whitton Stock Route Road and then followed the dirt track to the Spring Hill Picnic area.  The road is easily passable in a conventional vehicle.  There was a nice picnic area here with plenty of room to stretch out the linked dipole and lots of shade, which was definitely required as it was a very hot afternoon.

Screenshot 2015-11-05 11.11.35

I was set up and ready to go by 0415 UTC (3.15 p.m. NSW local time).  I still had a 300 km drive to get to Balaranald, so this was going to be a quick activation.  Prior to calling CQ I had a tune across the 40m band to see what the conditions were like and how active the band was.  I found Brendon VK5FSCC operating portable from the Deep Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-0780, with a nice 5/6 signal.

I then headed up the band to 7.085 and started calling CQ.  This was immediately answered by Peter VK2NEO with a booming 5/9 plus signal.  Peter and I had a bit of a chuckle with each other about me being in the park.  Six QSOs into the activation I was called by Heath VK3TWO who was activating SOTA peak Mount Buninyong, VK3/ VC-018 (5/7 both ways).  I was then called by Sergio VK3SFG who was operating portable from the Pykes Creek Reservoir Park, about 72 km north west of Melbourne.  Another portable station then called in.  This time it was Rob VK2MT who was operating portable from Hill End Historic Site in New South Wales.  And the portable trend continued, with the next calls being from John VK3TUL and then John VK3JO, who were both with VK3SFG at the Pykes Creek Reservoir Park.

Next up was Hans VK5YX who was operating from the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Club shack with the special call of VK100ANZAC.

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A steady flow of callers followed from all across Australia.  I worked a further two SOTA activators before going QRT.  They being Allen VK3HRA/2 who was portable on Mount Flakney VK2/ RI-025, and Monique VK6FMON/3 who was with Heath, operating from Mount Buninyong.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to give 20m a go, as I still had  along drive to Balranald, and the kangaroos are unforgiving when you hit them.  This was a spur of the moment activation, but I was more than happy with the 50 QSOs, as this meant it was another unique and successful activation for the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program.

And on the way back to Balranald I worked a number European stations from the mobile, as part of the CQ World Wide Contest.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5FSSC/p (Deep Creek Conservation Park)
  2. VK2NEO
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK3DAC
  5. VK2VW
  6. VK3TWO/p (SOTA VK3/ VC-018)
  7. VK3SFG/p
  8. VK2MT/p
  9. VK3TUL/p
  10. VK3JO/p
  11. VK1000ANZAC
  12. VK5YX/p
  13. VK5NRG
  14. VK3YSP/m
  15. VK3FOWL/m
  16. VK2GSP
  17. VK5BJE
  18. VK3PMG
  19. VK3PI
  20. VK2YK
  21. VK2YW
  22. VK4RF
  23. VK4HA
  24. VK2IO
  25. VK7CW
  26. VK2HBG
  27. VK3TKK
  28. VK2HEW
  29. VK2JAZ
  30. VK2HJ
  31. VK3BSG/m
  32. VK1AT
  33. VK5TT
  34. VK5BW
  35. VK3CAT
  36. VK3DBP
  37. VK7MK
  38. VK3FTAD
  39. VK7NWT
  40. VK1HW
  41. VK3VEK
  42. VK7FRUS
  43. VK3AFW
  44. VK2FE
  45. VK5FAKV
  46. VK3HRA/2 (SOTA VK2/ RI-025)
  47. VK3BBB/m
  48. VK3FAPH
  49. VK2FABE
  50. VK6FMON (SOTA VK3/ VG-018)

References.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, March 1996, ‘Cocoparra National Park and Cocoparra Nature Reserve Plan of Management’.

Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoparra_National_Park&gt;, viewed 5th November 2015

Livingstone National Park VKFF-0292

On Sunday morning (25th October 2015) I had a little bit of a sleep in, as my intended park activation of the Livingstone National Park, VKFF-0292, was only 30 km south of Wagga Wagga.  Nether less I was still on the road by 7.00 a.m. NSW local time.  This was my last night in Wagga Wagga.  I had stayed at the International Hotel at Wagga Wagga which I can highly recommend.

DSC_0302

I briefly drove around Wagga Wagga for a final look, before heading out to the park.  I stopped off at Geoff Lawson Oval, named after the former Australian cricketer, and also made a brief photo stop on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

I then headed south out out of Wagga Wagga on the Holbrook Road, and then turned left onto O’Briens Creek Road, and then right onto Wrigleys Road which takes you into the park.

Screenshot 2015-10-31 09.53.02

The park is well signposted along the way.  Not the normal big brown park signs we have in South Australia.  But keep an eye out for the blue coloured signs with the NSW NPWS emblem on them.  The park was clearly visible as I travelled along O’Briens Creek Road, as was Mount Flakney which I had activated the day before.

I entered the park via Wrigleys Road and followed the dirt track up to Pine Ridge Track.  This looked like a nice elevated position to operate from.

I found a small clearing on the northern side of Pine Ridge Track where people had obviously been camping, as there was a little campfire.  I parked the 4WD and started setting up the gear.

Screenshot 2015-10-11 18.43.14

Livingstone National Park was established in January 2001 and is about 1,920 hectares in size.  The park was originally proclaimed as a State Forest in 1915 for timber located within the forest which was to be preserved for the town of Junee.  At one stage there was a railway line located next to the forest, used to carry timber.  In fact the park is still marked on Google maps as a State Forest (a good example of why I don’t rely on Google Maps).   In 1976 the Wagga Wildlife and Conservation Society requested that the state forest be gazetted as a national park after it was under threat, however the request was denied.  It wasn’t until January 2001 that the State Forest was gazetted as a National Park.

The park consists of four different types of vegetation, including grass trees, mallee, kangaroo grass, and open forest.  The park has been identified as having one of two colonies of squirrel gliders, located in southern New South Wales.  Over 100 species of native birds call the park home.  Livingstone National Park has been identified by BirdLife International due to its importance for the conservation of Swift Parrots and Superb Parrots.

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After setting up I headed to 7.144, the frequency I had nominated on parksnpeaks.  Unfortunately the CQ World Wide contest was on and there were some very strong signals across the entire 40m band, including A71CV from Qatar on 7.144.  So I headed down the band and found that 7.085 was clear.  I started calling CQ and my first park hunter for this activation was Col VK5HCF in Mount Gambier with a good strong 5/8 signal.  This was followed by John VK5BJE, Peter VK5FLEX, and then John VK5NJ.  All with good strong 5/9 signals.

My next caller was Rob VK4FFAB who was portable in Aramoor National Park, VKFF-0662 with a very respectable 5/9 signal to Livingstone.

I went on to work a further 16 stations around Australia, including Peter VK2NEO who I arranged to catch up with later in the day.  It was at this time that I heard some rustling in the undergrowth.  As the two fugutives, the Stoccos, were still at large in the general area, my ears pricked up.  Fortunately, up over a ridgeline came some mountain bikers, who saw my 4WD and appeared a bit concerned as well.  I had a chat to the 2 lads who were locals, about their hobby and mine.  We also shared the view that we would high tail it out of the area if we saw the Stocco’s vehicle.

After the lads rode off into the bush, I hopped back on the radio and called CQ again.  This was answered by Ian VK5CZ/2 who was mobile out of Wagga Wagga to a summit for an activation as part of the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.   After my contact with Ian, I had a steady flow of callers from across Australia.  Unfortunately I had a VK7 Foundation station calling and calling and calling, but not responding to my calls back to him.  So this made it a bit hard to pull out some of the weaker stations that were calling me.  Sorry if I missed anyone.

I was just about to scout around the bands to find the Wagga SOTA & Parks symposium attendees, who I knew were going to be out undertaking some SOTA activations, when Peter VK3PF/2 called me with a 5/9 plus signal from nearby Mount Flakney.  Peter was on the summit with John VK2YW/p, Warren VK3BYD/2, and Knud VK2KJJ, all of whom gave me a call.

A local VK3 net was about to commence on 7.085 so I headed off to have a look around the 40m band.  I found Dave, VK2JDC activating the Nangar National Park, calling CQ on 7.113 with a strong 5/8 signal.

I then headed over to 20m and struggled to find a clear frequency due to the contest.  I called CQ on 14.308 and this was answered by Rick VK4RF, followed by Mike VK6MB, and then Peter VK6RZ.  Unfortunately another VK6 came up just below us and started calling CQ contest, so that put a quick halt to my activity on 20m.

I headed back to 40m, hoping to find Marcus VK3TST and Dave VK4DD who were also going to be out and about activating a local summit.  It wasn’t long before I found them on 7.090 calling CQ from a great summit called Wheel of Fortune, VK2/ RI-031.

My last contact before going QRT was with Ian VK5CZ/2 who was on top of Mount Flakney, VK2/ RI-025.

It was now just after 10.00 a.m. NSW local time, and I needed to pack up and head off to Leeton to catch up with Peter VK2NEO.  I had a total of 51 contacts in the log.  Another new park for me and with over 44 contacts I had qualified the park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5HCF
  2. VK5BJE
  3. VK5FLEX
  4. VK5NJ
  5. VK4FFAB/p (Aramoor National Park)
  6. VK5FMID
  7. VK5FANA
  8. VK5FTRG
  9. VK5FTVR
  10. VK5AV
  11. VK5HS
  12. VK7NWT
  13. VK2YK
  14. VK5EE
  15. VK7ZM
  16. VK5JK/p
  17. VK4HNS/p
  18. VK3PMG
  19. VK7MK
  20. VK3VTH
  21. VK2NEO
  22. VK5CZ/2
  23. VK2VW
  24. VK3ZZS/4
  25. VK4RF
  26. VK4HA
  27. VK3AP/2
  28. VK4AAC/5
  29. VK2KF
  30. VK5MBD
  31. VK5FMJC
  32. VK2GGA
  33. VK3FCAS/p
  34. VK2LGW
  35. VK5FUZZ
  36. VK5ATQ
  37. VK2FPQ
  38. VK3PF/2 (SOTA VK2/ RI-025)
  39. VK2YW/p (SOTA VK2/ RI-025)
  40. VK3BYD/2 (SOTA VK2/ RI-025)
  41. VK2KJJ/p (SOTA VK2/ RI-025)
  42. VK2AAA
  43. VK2IO
  44. VK2JDC/p (Nangar National Park)
  45. VK3TST/2 (SOTA VK2/ RI-031)
  46. VK4DD/2 (SOTA VK2/ RI-031)
  47. VK5CZ/2 (SOTA VK2/ RI-025)

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK6MB
  4. VK6RZ

 

References.

Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livingstone_National_Park&gt;, viewed 5th November 2015.

Yanga National Park VKFF-0554

After leaving Wyperfield National Park I hit the road again and continued my journey east along the Mallee Highway, through the towns of Ouyen, Kulwin, Manangatang, and then Piangil, heading for the Yanga National Park (NP) VKFF-0554, near my intended overnight stop at Balranald in the far southwest of New South Wales (NSW).

Screenshot 2015-10-31 09.02.31

Above:- Map showing the location of Yanga National Park in New South Wales.  Image courtesy of google maps

After reaching the junction of the Mallee Highway and the Murray Valley Highway I turned left and headed into the little town of Tooleybuc.  This is where you cross over the mighty Murray River which forms the border between the States of Victoria and New South Wales.  Tooleybuc is the home to a historic bridge which was constructed in 1907.  The bridge was designed to rise to allow paddle steamers to pass through.  I stopped briefly here for a photo stop and some lunch, and then made a shot detour into the Tooleybuc cemetery to take some photographs of some headstones, as family history is another hobby of mine.

I then continued north on the Mallee Highway, passing through the little town of Kyalite, and on to Balranald.  I booked in to the caravan park, and offloaded some of my gear, and I then headed back out to the Yanga National Park.  If you are passing through this area, I would highly recommend the caravan park here at Balranald.  It is situated on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, which is Australia’s second longest river and is a major tributary of the Murray River.  I stayed in a self contained cabin which was very clean and contained all the required essentials.

http://www.balranaldcaravanpark.com.au/

I accessed Yanga National Park via Woolshed Road, which runs off Windomal Road to the south west of Balranald.  This part of the park is very well sign posted.  You can also access the park off the Sturt Highway.

Yanga National Park was established in February 2007 and is a large park, comprising 667,334 hectares.  It has a 170 km frontage on the Murrumbidgee River.  The park was formerly an important pastoral station which was established in the 1830’s, by explorer, William WENTWORTH.  Yanga Station was in its time, the largest privately owned station in the southern hemispherem covering 210,000 acres including the historic Yanga homestead which was built in around 1870.  In July 2005, the NSW Government announced that it had purchased the station with the intention of creating a National Park.  About 2 years later, on the 28th February 2007 the park was gazetted as a National Park.

William_Wentworth

Above:- William WENTWORTH.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Over 300 plant species have been documented in the Yanga National Park.  The park comprises River red gum forest and woodland, black box woodland, and lignum/nitre goosefoot shrubland, and spike rush dominated sedgeland.  Yanga NP incorporates a number of wetlands and as a result, a large amount of native wildlife can be found in the park.  A total of 24 reptile species including geckos, goanna, dragons, skinks, snakes and turtles can be found in the park.  A total of 18 fish species also call the park home.  And around 33 mammal species and about 150 species of birds can also be found in the park.  The number of bird species varies dependant on the amount of water in the wetlands.

Prior to activating the park I stopped off at the historic Yanga woolshed, which when constructed, was once the Riverina region’s largest.  The wooldshed was built during the late 1800’s and housed 3,000 sheep and provided work for up to 40 shearers at a time.  Yanga was a working woolshed up until 2005.  There are a number of interpretive displays in the shed which give you a great insight into the history of the woolshed.  If you visit the park, this is a must see.

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After visiting the woolshed I headed to the Mamanga campground area, and followed the dirt tracks to a nice quiet spot alongside the Murrumbidgee River.  There were plenty of options, with a number of campspots alongside of the river.  Should you decide to camp here, there are great facilities including picnic tables, wood barbecues, and toilets.

Screenshot 2015-10-31 08.48.06

Above:- Map of Yanga National Park, showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of

For this activation I again ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 20m/40m linked dipole, supported on the top of the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  There was a strategically placed wooden table and benches in the camp ground I chose, so I secured the squid pole to the table with the help of a long octopus strap.  As it was a nice sunny day, I also had the solar panels out to top up the battery.

I was on air and ready to go by just after 0500 UTC (4.00 p.m. New South Wales local time).  I headed for my nominated operating frequency of 7.144 and started calling CQ.  My CQ call was answered by the ever reliable John VK5BJE who was a very nice 5/9 signal to Yanga.  This was followed by another park devotee, Mick VK3PMG, and then Rob VK4AAC who was portable in the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park, VKFF-0899.

After working a total of 31 stations on 40m in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7, I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole and headed for my nominated operating frequency of 14.310.  Once I got there I found that the frequency was already occupied by another WWFF park activator, YP1WFF in Romania.  Unfortunately they were a little low down for me and had a very big pile up from Europe.  I gave half a dozen calls but soon realised that it was going to be very very difficult to break through.  So I headed up to 14.315 and started calling CQ.  Sadly I had no takers there, so I decided to head down a little lower and started calling CQ on 14.299.

This was answed by Mike VK6MB in Perth in Western Australia with a good 5/5 signal to New South Wales.  Not bad considering that is a distance of about 3,000 km.  We call that a local contact down here in Australia.  There are many other parts of the world where that would be DX, with multiple countries in between.  My next caller was Jozsef HA6NF in Hungary, followed by Luciano I5FLN in Italy, and then Max IK1GPG in Italy.

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The 20m band on the long path into Europe seemed to be in reasonable condition, and I had a good steady flow of callers from Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Germany, Russia, Israel, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Pol;and, and Estonia.  Many of the callers were the regular European WWFF park hunters, but there was a scattering of new callers.  But the European run did not last for long and after working 19 stations on 14.299, things went very quiet.  So I took the opportunity of having a look across the band.  I found special event station LZ130SAK in Bulgaria calling CQ on 14.213 with a good 5/9 signal.  After a few calls I got through.  I then found FM/VE8DX with a massive pile up on 14.188.  It would have been a real thrill to get Martinique Island in the log, but the pile up was huge from Europe and it just wasn’t worth a shot.  I also heard PJ2/IK7YTT on 14.216 in Curacao, but again the pile up was enormous.

I then found a clear frequency on 14.275 and called CQ and this was answered by WWFF parks activator and hunter, Swa ON5SWA with a 5/7 signal from Belgium.  Two more Belgium stations followed, Gilbert ON4GI and then Luk ON4BB.  I worked a further 43 stations from Belgium, Russia, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain, Ukraine, Austria, Sweden, Germany, France, Poland, England, Luxembourg, and Estonia.

After things had slowed down on 20m I headed back to 40m to see if I could get some of the park desperados in the log.  Unfortunately I could not get back onto 7.144 as the frequency was occupied by some European stations.  And I did find it hard to get a clear frequency as there were some very good signals coming in from Europe.  I called CQ about 7 or 8 times on 7.150, but unfortunately had no takers.  It was 6.30 p.m. local time and I was starting to get hungry.  So I packed up the gear and headed in to Balranald to the local pub for a few cans of Bundy rum and coke, and a nice feed.  I was very happy with this activation, with a total of 94 contacts in the log.

But there was a hitch with this activation.  John VK5BJE and a few others pointed out that they believed Yanga National Park was in fact now known as Murrumbidgee Valley National Park.  It was also pointed out that on the WWFF Australia website, both Yanga and Murrumbidgee Valley had the same VKFF reference number.  I now vaguely remember reading about these 2 parks when I become the VKFF co-ordinator.  However, all of the park signs referred to Yanga National Park.  The NSW National Parks website states ‘…Also known as Murrumbidgee Valley National Park….”.  I am now awaiting official word back from NSW National Parks and Wildlife and hope to sort out this issue.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK4AAC/5 (Kelvin Powrie CP, VKFF-0899)
  4. VK2VW
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK5FANA
  7. VK2IO
  8. VK3NBL
  9. VK4RF
  10. VK4HA
  11. VK3FQSO
  12. VK3TKK
  13. VK3MEG
  14. VK3FINE
  15. VK2HHA
  16. VK2HEW
  17. VK5EE
  18. VK5HCF
  19. VK3DBP
  20. VK7MK
  21. VK2PKT
  22. VK5PET
  23. VK5MAS
  24. VK7LTD
  25. VK3DPG
  26. VK3MCK
  27. VK2WLS
  28. VK3VT
  29. VK7CW
  30. VK5KLV
  31. VK3CWM

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6MB
  2. HA6NF
  3. I5FLN
  4. IK1GPG
  5. S52KM
  6. HA6OB
  7. DK4RM
  8. RV3LO
  9. IZ2GTO
  10. RK9DM
  11. DL3HXX
  12. 4X4JU
  13. OM4AB
  14. HB9RDE
  15. IZ2SDK
  16. S58MU
  17. SP6GF
  18. ES5GP
  19. IK2AHU
  20. LZ130SAK
  21. ON5SWA
  22. ON4GI
  23. ON4BB
  24. RN3QN
  25. IW2NXI
  26. OK1EP
  27. EA3GHZ
  28. UT5PI
  29. OE3WMA
  30. EA4DTV
  31. SM6CNX
  32. IZ5YHD
  33. DL5EBG
  34. SM4CTT
  35. F8DRA
  36. SQ5Q
  37. OE8TLK
  38. DL2ND
  39. ON4VT
  40. OK2TS
  41. SP5UUD
  42. F6CXJ
  43. IK2VUC
  44. IZ8FFA
  45. IK8FIQ
  46. ON8DNY
  47. ON1JU
  48. G0RPA
  49. SP1MVG
  50. DJ1SD
  51. DF1YQ
  52. UY0MM
  53. G0RQL
  54. DL3KZA
  55. IZ5JNO
  56. DL3BUA
  57. IZ8EFD
  58. M0YMM/m
  59. LX1KF
  60. EA8TL
  61. ES1IP
  62. SP2ORL
  63. F6HIA

References.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2015, <http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/historic-buildings-places/Yanga-Woolshed&gt;, viewed 3rd November 2015.

Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooleybuc&gt;, viewed 3rd November 2015.

Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanga_National_Park&gt;, viewed 3rd November 2015

Ferries McDonald Conservation Park VKFF-881

I had to work today (Sunday 2nd August 2015) but at lunch time I did sneak outside to my vehicle to work Rob VK4AAC who was activating the Lashmar Conservation Park, VKFF-902.  This is one of the newly added South Australian Conservation Parks to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  It triggered my enthusiasm, to activate a park after work.  But the weather was not looking good.  There were quite heavy showers in the Adelaide CBD, broken up by period of bright sunshine.

So when work concluded, I headed back home to the Adelaide Hills.  On the way I worked Brett VK4FTWO in the mobile.  Brett was activating the WooWoonga National Park VKFF-712, west of Maryborough.

When I got home, my wife Marija had already kindly prepared all my radio gear for me, so it was just a matter of getting changed out of the suit, and loading the 4WD.  I decided to head for the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park, VKFF-881, which is about 35 kms by road, east of my home.  The park has also just recently been added to the WWFF program.  So although I have activated the park previously as part of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, this was to be a new WWFF park for me.

Screenshot 2015-08-02 20.56.06

Above:- Map showing the location of Ferries McDonald CP.  Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

As I was driving along Chaunceys Line Road towards the park I worked Gerard VK2IO who was operating portable from Wollemei National Park, VKFF-544 (5/9 sent and 5/8 received).

I set up in my normal spot, which is in the south eastern corner of the park, off Chaunceys Line Road.  There is a carpark there and a nice cleared area where you can set up.  I used my normal operating gear….the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre squid pole.  But as I was setting up the antenna, I noticed that I was missing one of the crocodile clips.  So I had to improvise and use my teeth to strip back some of the insulation on the wire and join the wire together that way.  The test was going to be the VSWR.  But I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was very low when I turned on the tx.

Screenshot 2015-08-02 20.56.37

Above:- Map showing my operating location.  Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

After setting up I headed to 7.090 hoping to work Gerard VK2IO again.  Sure enough, Gerard was still there, with a lovely 5/9 plus signal.  He was stronger on the linked dipole than the Codan 9350.

I then moved up to 7.095 and asked if the frequency was in use, and in reply I heard Matt VK1MA telling me that it was all clear.  So Matt was my second contact for the activation, with a beautiful 5/9 signal coming in from Canberra (5/7 received).  A pile up followed, with numerous callers from all across Australia.  The 40m band appeared to be in quite good condition.  Although it was evident that the ‘close in’ stuff was not working.  I only worked 4 VK5’s during this activation.  The first was Greg VK5LG at Cudlee Creek, a distance of about 50 km from where I was.  Greg was 5/8 and I received a 5/3.  The next VK5 was Peter VK5KPR at Port Augusta, a distance of around 375 km (5/9 both ways).  In fact Peter was very strong.  Next up was Andrew VK5KET down at Mount Gambier, a distance of about 385 km (5/9 both ways).  Again, Andrew was very strong.  And finally, Adrian VK5FANA at Arthurton on the Yorke Peninsula, about 140 km across the water over the Gulf of St Vincent.  Adrian was running QRP and was just 5/3 at best, and I received a 5/1.  So it appeared that anything within 150km was not going to work.

I had some very nice QRP contacts during this activation.  They included Brooke VK4RZ running just 2 watts from near Toowoomba in Queensland (5/9 both ways).  Also Mike VK3XL running 2 watts from Melbourne (5/6 sent and 5/9 received).  Next up was Adrian VK5FANA running his 5 watts (this was a little bit of a struggle).  Alan VK2AJG who was running 4 watts from near Newcastle.   There were no problems at all with Alan’s signal (5/8 sent and 5/7 received).  And finally Mark VK4MON north of Brisbane, running 5 watts (5/7 both ways).

I was also very pleased to be able to work Ken ZL4KD in Christchurch in New Zealand (5/9 both ways) and Owen ZL2OPB in New Plymouth on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand (5/9 both ways).  And Doug VK4FAID (I was his first ever VK5 contact).

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VK3FILB was kind enough to send me this quick video clip of my signal as it sounded in Melbourne.

I worked a total of 57 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and New Zealand.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. VK2IO/p (VKFF-544)
  2. VK1MA
  3. VK3BBB
  4. VK3PI
  5. VK3ANL
  6. VK3MEG
  7. VK5LG
  8. VK3ZPF
  9. VK3PF
  10. VK4QQ
  11. VK4FFAB
  12. VK2PKT
  13. VK3CM/m
  14. VK4RF
  15. VK4HA
  16. VK3AY
  17. VK3ANP
  18. VK3HRA
  19. VK4RZ
  20. VK4FBMW
  21. VK5KPR
  22. VK3TKK
  23. VK3CC
  24. VK3NBV
  25. VK7DX
  26. VK3FQSO
  27. VK3KKP
  28. VK2ST
  29. VK2NP
  30. VK3JK
  31. ZL4KD
  32. VK4HNS
  33. VK4FSCC
  34. VK2YK
  35. VK5KET
  36. VK3XL
  37. VK5FANA
  38. VK3AWG
  39. VK3TJK
  40. VK2FA/m
  41. VK2AJG
  42. VK1HW
  43. VK3FILB
  44. VK2XRC/p
  45. VK3ZZS/4
  46. VK3YSP
  47. ZL2OPB
  48. VK3GYH
  49. VK4MON
  50. VK4FAID
  51. VK7NXX
  52. VK2WDD
  53. VK6NU
  54. VK3UH
  55. VK2RM
  56. VK2MZZ
  57. VK4ICE/m