Belair National Park,VKFF-022 & 5NP-001, 11th September 2016

Yesterday, 11th September 2016 the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) held an Open Day at Belair National Park to celebrate 125 years since its proclamation as a Park. Belair National Park is the second oldest Park in the nation and was proclaimed in 1891. It is second to the Royal National Park in Sydney New South Wales (NSW). Royal National Park was the second such protected area in the world following the proclamation of Yellowstone National Park in the USA. NSW was established in 1788 and SA, a sister state of Texas in the USA, was proclaimed in 1836. So South Australia performed very well.

Below is the official invitation to the people of the State to attend the Open Day.

belair-invitation-2016-p1

Belair Invitation 2016 p2.jpg

The Senior Ranger for the Mount Lofty Parklands was very keen that at amateur radio station was set up and operating in the Park as the SA Government wants people to get out into parks and enjoy them, especially for the health benefits. I agreed to do that and accordingly I invited VK5PAS, Paul, to join me. Paul also brought Marija, VK5FMAZ, to the Park as well, to a create a team of three. The Ranger suggested that we should set up near the Adventure Playground and my XYL, Jenny, and I took a trip to the park on Wednesday last week to check out the area. The photo below shows VK5FMAZ, Marija, at the microphone working many stations on 40 metres.

2016-09-11-00-02-56-p-m

The suggested location looked really good and I resolved to arrive at the Park early on Sunday morning to stake our claim. I did arrive early, soon after 07:30 local time, and began to set up my station within a cleared area near the Gold Escort Well.

2016-09-11-00-07-54-my-station-at-belair

See previous posts with reference to the transport of gold from Victorian to South Australia both for export and to save the state from bankruptcy.

https://vk5bje.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/in-search-of-gold/

https://vk5bje.wordpress.com/category/mount-monster-conservation-park/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

My station consisted of my Yaesu 857D, a linked dipole supported on a ten metre squid pole and a dual band two metre/70 centimetre antenna mounted on an aluminium mast attached to my tripod. I used a 33 amp hour battery to power the station and the sun kept the battery charged though the activation. As you can see the park looked magnificent and here are some pictures of the non-human visitors during the day.

2016-09-11-00-18-21-sulphur-crested-cockatoos

This photo shows three sulphur-crested cockatoos perched on a branch in the centre of the Park. They made their presence known by speaking loudly in cockatoo language!

Paul and Marija arrived soon after and soon our stations were ready to perform. We were fortunate with the weather: there was no rain and the temperature was in the high teens with plenty of sun. I have activated Belair National Park many times and have well and truly qualified the Park for the WWFF award. Here is a link to my previous activations:

https://vk5bje.wordpress.com/category/belair-national-park/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

However, this was the first time I had set up in this part of the Park. Previously I have activated from a picnic area at Long Gully or near the Waverley Lodge pedestrian entry.

Not only did we have lots of contacts, but as well, we had lots of engagement with the public. Both Paul and I had youngsters on the radio speaking with other amateurs. Thanks to the operators for joining in the fun. We also met a group of Scouts (female) who were aware of the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society and asked that we facilitate a JOTA opportunity for them. I am but an ordinary member of the Society but I committed it to JOTA! I had a chance to demonstrate morse code to the young women and they asked really excellent questions about the difference between broadcasting and communication and engagement with the public. Later, I had two young children visit my station and both spoke with Chris, VK5CP/5 (who was operating in the field with WICEN and had HF with him for some fun on the side), and later returned with the Grandfather, a lapsed amateur from the mid North of the State.

I operated on four bands (80, 40, 20 and 2 metres) and here is a list of my contacts:

10th September 2016

22:33 3.594 ssb VK5KAA

22:34 3.594 VK5TW Trevor later visited our stations in the afternoon. It was good to have a few visitors from the amateur fraternity.

146.5 fm VK5TW

22:34 7.090 VK3PF/P VK3/VU-011 Mount Major

11th September 2016

00:20 7.090 VK3PF/3 VK3/VU-011 Mount Major I was pleased to have qsos with Peter before and after UTC roll-over.

00:29 146.5 fm VK5LDM , Dennis at Christies Beach. Christies Beach is a beach-side suburb south of Adelaide. I was amazed my signal found a way to VK5LDM. This was the longest haul on 2 metres FM. I was using ten watts to a vertical dual band antenna about three metres above the ground and the location was not good for line of sight communications as we were in a gully near a small creek.

00:38 146.5 fm VK5ZBD, Greg

01:24 14.310 VK4RF and VK4HA good signals from Rick and these and one more qso were my only 20 metre contacts for the day. I called for about half an hour hoping for propagation to WA.

01:48 7.144 VK5FR (VK4FR) Chris with his new VK5 call sign was at Woomera in the far north of the State.

02:40 14.310 VK5YX, Hans good signals, probably ground wave but we couldn’t create a path on two metres. I could hear Hans on two metres.

02:53 146.5 VK5FBJD/M Brenton. It was good to meet Brenton who responded to my invitation to try two metres. Brenton came along to visit in the afternoon and showed me his set up in his car: a very neat installation! My first contact with Brenton was on Saturday as I was driving to Stirling for fuel. He was mobile and called on the VK5RAD two metre repeater and I had a qso with him.

03:07 7.144 VK5KC/M David near Beaufort in Victoria returning home.

Then followed a series of contacts on 7.144 beginning at 03:07

VK2LAD, Steve in Woomargama National Park, VKFF-0547

VK3SFG, Sergio

VK5FANA, Adrian

VK5GJ, Greg

VK5MK, Mark

VK3HK, Steve with xyl Glenda in Bunyip State Park, VKFF-0753

VK5WP, Dave

VK7FRJG, Rod at New Norfolk in the Derwent Valley

VK5CP/P Chris WICEN exercise

VK5NU, Dave

VK3FRAB, Damien

VK7QP, Linda at New Norfolk in Derwent Valley

VK3GGG, Mick at Stawell

VK3PMG, Mick

VK5FUZZ, Paul

VK7DW, Andrew near Launceston

VK1DI/P, Ian VKFF-0852, Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve

VK5KLV, Les VKFF-0812 5CP-043 Clements Gap Conservation Park

VK5FMID, Brian

VK3PF/3, Peter VKFF-0976, Shepparton Regional Park

VK4AAC/3, Rob at Lower Goulburn National Park, VKFF-0741. This was the contact I was aiming for during the activation. I now have all 45 Victorian National Parks confirmed and can apply for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks award. Thanks Rob for being there.

VK3TKK, Peter

VK5IS, Ian

VK7LTD, Tony VKFF-1144 Lime Bay State Reserve

VK3UH, Ken

VK2KYO, Ken

and

VK5CP/P, Chris

I had 42 contacts overall with a few duplicates. Thanks to all who gave me a call and an especial thanks to those who tried two metres FM (and to those who tried and I didn’t hear).

Here is a link to Paul’s blog (VK5PAS) and write up of the day:

Celebrating Belair National Park’s 125th birthday

 

WIA Norfolk Island Award 2016

It was my intention to attend the Wireless Institute of Australia Annual General Meeting held on Norfolk Island over the weekend of 27th, 28th and 29th May. I indicated this while in Canberra attending the 2015 AGM. A change in health status made attending risky. So I could not join the considerable contingent from VK5 (over thirty persons). However, I shared in the event as best I could, vicariously, by chasing stations for the Norfolk Island Award and multiple contacts with VK5 stations on Norfolk Island and through enjoying posts on Facebook. I have reproduced my application log below.

Norfolk Island award blogNI award blog

As you can see there are a few issues noticeable to seasoned observers. My claimed contacts are highlighted. First, there is only one contact shown for 40 metres with VK9PAS/9. While I heard VK6FMON, Monique, and VK5FMAZ, Marija, operating QRP stations from Mount Bates, on 40 metres, conditions were just not able to support two-way contacts. Secondly, I was only able to secure one CW contact, with Ron, VK3AFW/P9 on the 20 metre band. I used my VK5PF call, reserved for CW. And finally, there are no contacts with the Australian DX station, VK9NT. This wasn’t for want on trying. I restricted myself to just two modes: ssb and CW and listened quite a bit for them. One evening I listened to the station on 80 metres: signals into the Adelaide Hills were excellent, over S9 and the band was quiet. I thought I had a chance, but I just couldn’t make it with 100 watts! And then they closed down the station!

Thanks to the WIA awards team. It was fun chasing these stations and the Award certainly created some interest on the mainland.

 

 

Bullock Hill Conservation Park, VKFF-0873 & 5CP-265, 7th August 2016

Bullock Hill CP my op pos7082016

Today, on a beautiful late Winter’s day, I was able to indulge in two of my passions: music and radio. Each year the Payneham City Concert Band plays a bracket of numbers at the Strathalbyn Band Festival: sufficient to fill a half hour time slot.  I have participated a number of times now and, in 2013, I also played radio after the event.

Payneham Band V2

The Festival is a great event, not a competition, but a chance to play to entertain the audience. The Festival extends over two Sundays and we were the first band for the first Sunday and completed our section by noon. Strathalbyn is 55.7 kilometres from Adelaide and is a pleasant drive through the Hills from my place. The town is on the plains below the Hills and overlooks the Coorong Lakes and the Southern Ocean. After our contribution I visited the coffee shop and ordered a sandwich for my lunch and set out to cover the 13 kilometres to the Bullock Hill Conservation Park, which is just off the Strathalbyn to Ashbourne Road. Bullock Hill Conservation Park is a fairly new Park and was gazetted on 30th January 2014. It has been activated a number of times previously but this was my first activation.

The photo above shows the Park notice board being pressed into service to support my ten metre squid pole. The land was too uneven to use the tripod. And the rear of the notice board provided a back stop for my table and gear.  I used my newly purchased, and second, Yaesu 857D, for the activation. I purchased my first from Wyong over a decade ago and it gives great service in our 4 x 4. These radios are old technology but they are great for portable use, tolerant of low battery voltage (11.73 volts), rugged, small and easy to use.

Bullock Hill CP 857D behind park notice

I spent a few sessions at home setting up the radio for my usage patterns, particularly the audio response to suit my voice, added some six and two metre beacons, a few for 70 centimetres, a handful of repeaters, WWVH for accurate time keeping and for an indication of propagation on the 20 metre band and 891 ABC Adelaide, for fire warnings in the Summer. I also installed the 500 Hz filter for CW. I had the power set for 10 watts.

I made my first contact at 03:25, with Ron, VK3AFW/P who was operating from Mount Strickland, VK3/VN-030 and my last was with Gordon, VK3EJ, at 06:20 making 46 contacts. It took over three hours to secure these contacts: perhaps everyone was ‘radioed out’ by Sunday afternoon? I tried 20 metres at 06:05 but I could not post myself which is always a handicap. Nevertheless it was a successful activation and,  as always, thanks to all who gave me a call.

The following stations were contacted on 40 metres:

VK3AFW/P SOTA VK3/VN-030

VK3KIM/P SOTA VK3/VN-030

VK5AFZ/P Coorong National Park

VK7EK

VK2TH

VK3PF/P SOTA VK3/VT-078 and Bunyip State Park

VK7CW

VK4AAC/P3 Croajingolong National Park

VK3FIRM

VK3SQ

VK4CFS

VK3UH

VK3TJC

VK3SFG

VK3FSTA

VK4RF

VK4HA

VK5PAS/M

VK3BWZ

VK2EXA

VK2KYO

VK3TJS

VK3BBB

VK3ELH

VK3BNJ

VK2HJW/QRP

VK5PAS/M

VK3BNJ

VK3CMR

VK3AJA

VK3FOTO/M

VK3IO

VK3KCD

VK2FJPR

VK5PAS/P Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve VKFF-1701

VK3CAT

VK4HNS

VK3XZ

VK2IO/P SOTA VK2/ST-009 & VKFF-1375

VK4FAAS

VK3MCX

VK2FAAA/M

VK3KRH

VK3FSPG

Tried 20m without success

VK4SOE/P (7113 xtal locked transmitter)

VK3EJ

Total 46 stations with two duplicates. A glance at the stations contacted shows that propagation to Queensland was quite good, but not for the Western area of Victoria or in South Australia.

 

 

 

A Review of the Heil Sound Pro-Set Elite, 7th June 2016

This article, called A Review of the Heil Sound Pro-Set Elite Head-set and AD-1-YM adapter, first appeared in the June 2016 edition of Out and About Issue 20. Out and About is published by VK5PAS.

Head-sets, incorporating, either one or two head-phones and a microphone are de jure for DXpeditions. Have a look at the photos of DXpeditions. Operators sitting along-side of one and another all wearing head-sets are commonly pictured in QST, CQ and Amateur Radio Magazine.

They have many advantages: perhaps the most important is that they reduce extraneous noise, allowing the operator to concentrate on the voice or morse code content in what is being received.  And amateur hand-books recommend head-sets for morse operations!

Another considerable advantage, not only for the home station operator, but also for portable and DX field operators is that the use of head-sets frees both hands for log-keeping and/or operating an electronic key or hand key.

Perusing the blogs of SOTA and Park operators (see Parksnpeaks for a list of active blogs) will show pictures of amateurs using computer head-sets, the Yamaha (CM-500) head-set not sold in Australia, but which receives very good reviews from the amateur community overseas and professional head-sets as advertised in QST. Perhaps the head-sets from Heil Sound are the best known?

Bob Heil, K9EID, is a very active US amateur. His business is Heil Sound. There is plenty of information about Bob Heil on the internet. And those of you who have listened to the Eagles will have heard of Joe Walsh, WB6AU, guitarist with the band. Joe Walsh endorses Heil products, reflecting the origins of Heil Sound as a sound equipment company for musicians. However, this does not make the products good. It is just great adverting!

I have never owned a head set until recently. I do own a venerable pair of low impedance (8 ohms) head phones labelled with the Archer brand. This was one of the brands owned and sold Tandy electronics, no longer active in the Australian market and now down-sizing in the US. I purchased these circa 1974 to use with my Tandy DX160 receiver. They made my head feel like it was being squeezed in a vice! I tried them on while writing this review. Actually I might have been a bit unfair with my comment. They are not too bad – reasonably comfortable and well cushioned and, more importantly, built like the proverbial tank! As a sign of earlier times the connecting plug is an old-fashioned ¼, yes, one quarter inch phono connector.

So what did I buy? Having studied the manufacturers’ specifications, discussed options with other active amateurs who enjoy the outdoors and read the popular review sites, I decided to buy the popular Heil Sound Pro-Set Elite. The first thing a prospective buyer needs to do is to consider what transceiver you are going to use. Each manufacturer uses different wiring configurations and, in the case of ICOM, a lower level microphone pre-amplifier. Heil makes a special insert just for ICOM users. So make sure you read about different microphone levels and ensure you make the correct purchase. If you buy a head set from a US manufacturer, or the Yamaha CM500 you will need to consider the interface and connections to your transceiver. If you buy a Heil head set this is all taken care of: all you do is read the chart and make your selection. You select your head set then the appropriate adapter or adapters for your transceiver/s. This makes it easy. I want to use my head set with the Yaesu FT 817, 857 and 897 family of transceivers. Heil also provides suggested settings for the audio equaliser settings in your transceiver. This provides a great starting point in achieving an excellent transmitted audio for your specific purposes for example, DX or rag-chewing.

If you are going to get the best ergonomic results from your head set you will also need a foot-switch. I have two. The first is from Jaycar and was used as a hand operated push to talk set up on another transceiver where I use a studio condenser microphone. It works well but takes a bit of holding closed during a long over. The cable is really too short for me: it might work for a shorter person. I decided to buy the single channel Heil foot switch. It is very easy to operate.

Heil head set connections

This photo shows the head set connected to the foot switch and the Yaesu adapter terminating in the yellow modular plug. The unconnected ¼ inch phono plug, which incorporates a 3.5 mm plug as well, connects to the phono socket on your radio.

If you are going to use your footswitch to operate your transceiver in parks and on summits, you can easily destroy a perfectly good switch by using it in sand and mud. You will need a base: a small board or a mat or the tent floor or camper trailer.

The Bottom Line

The Pro-Set Elite is a most comfortable head-set: it sits firmly in place and does not exert too much pressure on your ears. I would even go so far to describe the head-set as comfortable. It is very important to adjust the head band so that the head-set does not slide down from your ears. I have field tested the Pro-Set Elite and have received very favourable audio reports about my transmitted signal. It is very important that you at least use the Heil suggested audio settings as a starting point. Move up to the two metre band to adjust your audio, wind down the power and enlist the assistance of friendly amateur nearby if you want to fine tune the settings. Keep a record of your microphone settings so you can quickly re-establish yourself if you want to revert to using your microphone.

I am delighted with this excellent addition to my portable kit and recommend this head-set to you for your consideration.

I purchased mine from friendly Ross (Strictly Ham Pty Ltd). Here is a link to Heil Sound http://www.heilsound.com/amateur/products/headsets/pro-set-elite

If you would like to read this edition of Out and About, or earlier editions, they are available on the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society web site at the following address: http://www.ahars.com.au/

 

Park to Park – 10

I am pleased to display my latest certificate for ten park to park contacts. VK2IO/P was chased three times: thanks Gerard but also thanks to the other intrepid park operators.

Count Reference DXCC Activator Chaser Date Band Mode
WWFF P2P References (Mixed/Mixed)
1 VKFF-0023 (from VKFF-0781) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK2IO/P 2016-04-02 40m SSB
2 VKFF-0055 (from VKFF-0766) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK3XV/P 2016-04-16 40m SSB
3 VKFF-0069 (from VKFF-0967) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK4AAC/P3 2016-04-17 40m SSB
4 VKFF-0113 (from VKFF-0781) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK3PF/P 2016-04-02 40m SSB
5 VKFF-0195 (from VKFF-0751) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK2YK/P 2016-04-15 40m SSB
6 VKFF-0528 (from VKFF-0766) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK2IO/P 2016-04-16 40m SSB
7 VKFF-0595 (from VKFF-0967) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK2IO/P 2016-04-17 40m SSB
8 VKFF-0781 (from VKFF-0793) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK5FMAZ/P 2016-04-10 40m SSB
9 VKFF-0792 (from VKFF-0781) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK3VTH/P 2016-04-03 40m SSB
10 VKFF-0821 (from VKFF-0781) OC / VK VK5BJE/P (VK5BJE) VK5ZGY/P 2016-04-03 40m SSB

p2p10

Worked all eAustralia award, 26th April 2016

eqsl v2 worked all VK

I received this award late April. It was unexpected. I was checking my eqsl accounts and saw that I had qualified for this award. A simple click of the mouse and the next day it was in my inbox. I have actually worked more than eight (8) Australian call areas but not every amateur uses the eqsl system and therefore I am unable to claim a higher score. I should point out that the Wireless Institute of Australia recognises confirmations of contacts via eqsl. I am a bit disappointed in the wording which leaves women amateurs out of the picture: ‘Know all men by these presents…’  Nevertheless I am pleased to gain this award. I wish to encourage those who do not use the eqsl system to consider adding to your QSL program.

Brisbane Ranges National Park, VKFF-0055, 17th April 2016

My reason for going to the Brisbane Ranges National Park was to participate in Amateur Radio Victoria’s ‘Show and Tell’.  I had been reading the various emails on the groups to which I belong and thought I would attend. It would be very easy to tack on two or three extra days to our trip to the Grampians National Park. I did not publicly commit to going until the Saturday before the Show and Tell. I wanted to create a bit of a surprise.

I drove on the route from Ballarat to Brisbane Ranges National Park using the track suggested by the GPS in the 4 x 4. This approach has a few narrow roads and some gravel but it is a shorter way than driving to Ballan down the freeway and driving to Boar Gully Camp Ground (the approach I took on an earlier activation).

Boar Gully Camping ground

When we arrived at the camping ground, which is just inside the Park boundary, I spotted Tony’s vehicle. We shared a warm hello and he said that the interstate parking lot is the next one down the track. He had hired two camping spots for the day. We noticed a camper already in this area but there was plenty of room for our vehicle. The owner was John, VK2AWJ, from Gol Gol New South Wales. Gol Gol is not far from Mildura, more or less on the other side of the Murray River. So the two Johns shared a car park. I have had contacts with John of many occasions and it was great to meet him. I made a point of meeting all of the participants.  I was later to have a contact, with VK5PAS/P, using John’s KX3.

There were a number of intrepid SOTA and Parks operators present and I really enjoyed meeting them all and learning from their presentations.

We had met Tony, VK3VTH, previously when I was activating Barmah National Park. Everyone else was new to me: all I had to work with was memories of photos on blogs and various websites. It worked well. I met VK3ZPF, Peter; VK3ARH, Allen; Amanda, VK3FQSO; her husband, Bob, VK3FLAK (and their three children), Chris, VK3PAT and Peter, VK3TKK. All of the above amateurs are frequently on the bands activating or chasing and I have had many contacts with them.

I also caught up again with Marc, VK3OHM, whom I met at the WIA annual general meeting 2015 in Canberra. Finally, it was really good to meet Joe and Julie, VK3YSP and VK3FOWL. We have had lots of contacts over the last three years. I learned many new ideas from Joe: his adaptation of the Aboriginal Woomera is most impressive. Instead of launching a spear this very smart device launches a lead ball with a light weight rope into very high trees. He might have had the rockets at the Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia in mind when we were all advised to stand well back from the launching area! Joe and Julie demonstrated their portable sattelite station and had a contact (which I did not see as I was discussing antennas with Tony at that time). I was also very impressed with his ‘tree-grabbers’, which provide another way of getting an antenna into a tree.

The other folk I was introduced to were all new to me.

Allen, VK3ARH, showed me his trail friendly Mountaintopper three band CW transceiver. If one was disciplined enough to use one of these the reduction in weight carried on SOTA activations would be enormous. These radios are about the size of a deck of cards!

I had quite a discussion with Bob, VK3FLAK, on air one day about remote area power supplies. He has since that discussion increased their system with more panels and larger battery size to handle more demanding loads. We have replaced the battery once and we are now in our fifteenth year of being off-grid. Most of those present displayed some parts of their portable stations and many were on the air.

At one stage I hear Paul, VK5PAS/P calling and John VK2AWJ, offered his KX3 already set up to enable me to contact Paul.

This was my only contact from Brisbane Ranges National Park.

00:40 7.095 VK5PAS/P, Paul, Cooltong Conservation Park, VKFF-0823,  s53 r57.

Show and Tell reduced

This photo shows some of the displays at the Boar Gully Camping Ground and also Bob, VK3FLAK, deep in discussion with Peter, VK3ZPF. Tony’s set up, including his tent, in in the background of the picture.

Thanks Tony, VK3VTH  and Amateur Radio Victoria and those who attended making it a most enjoyable day.

 

 

Mount Buangor State Park, VKFF-0766, 16th April 2016

After leaving Halls Gap in the Grampians we travelled along the Western Highway towards Ballarat. On leaving Ararat, Mount Langi Ghiran looms high on the left horizon above the plains. I thought an activation of Langi Ghiran State Park would be feasible. We turned off the Western Highway near the park boundary, stopped at the railway line which is right on the Park boundary to check for trains and, as it was clear, we drove into the Park along Kartuk Road to the Langi Ghiran Picnic and Camping area. There were a number of campers at the ground and I thought my activity would be too intrusive so we drove the Langi Ghiran track though the park to exit onto the Western Highway a little closer to Ballarat. The Victorian Parks Visitors Guide has an excellent map of this Park. We did not find any safe parking areas along this track suitable for an activation. I did see an excellent spot soon after driving into the Park just off Kartuk Road, but that can wait for another time.

We decided to move onto Mount Buangor State Park, VKFF-0766. From late 1970 to the end of 1972 I worked at Langi Kal Kal Youth Training Centre. When I first went there on a work experience placement for three months at the end on 1967, I was told in very clear terms to stop at railway crossings and check carefully for trains. I was told that a staff member’s wife was killed at the crossing on Langi Kal Kal Road just a few years earlier. I used to think that the goods trains on the broad gauge were impressive – but the trains on the standard gauge are even more so and they travel faster! However, the broad gauge line from Ballarat to Ararat remains just that, a broad gauge line.

We have fond memories of Mt Buangor and Mount Cole State Forest. We purchased the first of our 4 x 4 vehicles, a short wheel based Toyota Landcruiser, while we lived at Langi Kal Kal and we honed our driving skills on the often wet and slippery forest tracks.

On this visit we drove in on the Ferntree Gully Road to the Bailes Visitor Area.

Bailes visitor area

JCD photo

There was no one there. I decided to activate the Park and saw a Park bench and table that would suit my purposes admirably. I was hoping the rain would hold off: and it did! Soon after I had set up a 4 x 4 and trailer arrived with three males on board. The trailer had off-road and dirt bikes on board. I thought that would be the end of my peace and quiet. I met the Father of one of the younger men and he said that they would set up camp, the two boys would go riding and he would go back to work on a nearby property. The lads set off on the reasonably quiet bikes, the father left, I completed my activation and we had left before they returned. You can be lucky!

I set up the FT897, linked dipole on a squid pole tied to a Park post and I was on the air at 02:14z.

Radio at Mount Buangor State Park

This photo shows my squid pole affixed to a car park boundary marker with the pole protected with a PVC pipe sleeve. JCD photo

Bailes Picnic & camping ground.png

JCD photo

This photo gives a view of the Visitors Area. There are picnic tables in place and toilets. The surrounding bush land gives a good idea of what it might have been like before logging.

Bush scene at Mt Buangor

JCD photo

I had a great time. Paul, VK5PAS/P, at the Overland Corner meeting in SA, had organised the attendees to give me a call on the portable radio (a Codan) setup  by Ivan, VK5HS. I had a steady stream of contacts from Overland Corner interspersed by other stations, probably enhanced by my activation of a lesser activated Park?

Signals were really good.

VK5KBB/P5 VKFF-0783 P2P

VK3BNJ

VK5KC/P

VK5ZAI/P

VK5FMAZ/P Marija s59 r59

VK5PAS/P

VK5FLEX/P

VK3VIN

VK3FQSO, Amanda told me she planned to attend the ‘Show and Tell’ at the Brisbane Ranges National Park. I said not to tell any VK3s and that I hoped none were listening because I would be attending as well. I want my attendance to be a surprise!

VK3FIRM

VK3SQ

VK3GGG/M

VK5ZK

VK3ZPF

VK5TRM/P

VK2SK

VK5MJ/P

VK3DAC

VK5HS/P

VK3FAPH

VK3FCLK

VK3FMRC

VK5GJ/QRP

VK3VBC

VK5TT

VK3VEK

VK3TJK

VK2PKT

VK5MRE

VK5FTVR/P

VK3VEF/P5 Frank at Overland Corner

VK3SIM

VK2HHA/P5, Dennis at Overland Corner

VK3XV/P, Brisbane Ranges National Park, VKFF-0055

VK3ELH

VK5MBD/P5

VK5PL

VK3MCK

VK5FCDL

VK2IO/P2 VKFF-0528 P2P

VK4AAC/P3

VK7AN

VK3SQ

VK5ZGY/M

VK7FMPR, Mark, near Cradle Mountain

Thanks to all who gave me a call.

It was time to pack up and drive to our accommodation at Ballarat.

At 06:12, I had a contact from the motel parking lot with Paul, VK5PAS/P5 at Pooginook Conservation Park. Signals were 5 and 9 both ways. I have an 857D in the car and I mounted my Hustler vertical antenna for 40 metres on the base on the bull bar. The Hustler whips are great. They are centre-loaded and work really well: but they are tall!

 

Black Range State Park, VKFF-0751, 15th April 2016

On Tuesday 12th April we had a family day. In the morning we walked to MacKenzie Falls. I recommend this splendid walk if you are able to visit the Grampians. The Falls are not far from Halls Gap and there are various turn-around points if you don’t think the walk to the bottom is for you!

The path to the base of the Falls

This photo shows the track down to the base of the Falls.

MacKenzie Falls 1

This photo shows MacKenzie Falls from the base and the bridge to the other side of the stream composed of five large rocks.

Regulations 1

Three homo sapiens and a canis lupus

This photo shows three homo sapiens and a canis lupus sharing a bench.

Which living being cannot read? See the tail hanging below bench second from the left!

Thursday the 14th of April was the last day together with our Sydney family. They began the return journey on Friday morning. On Thursday we enjoyed some non-radio activities in and near the Grampians.

We travelled to Great Western to visit the Seppelt Winery where we had lunch and tasted a few wines. After lunch the family, including my xyl, left to do some more walking while I took the tour of the underground cellars. This facility is to close mid year. I had never visited it before and I am sure pleased I did. After the tour we (three visitors) were invited to try three sparking wines, two whites and a shiraz. They were excellent.

MJD underground

Various bottles

This photo shows the various bottle sizes used to package sparking wines. Most of them have names from the Old Testament (Jewish Scriptures).

My last activity on Thursday afternoon was to visit Mick, VK3PMG and VK3GGG. Mick is an active amateur who has risen through the ranks from F call, intermediate call and now full call, is a park activator and a very successful chaser/hunter. We arranged this meeting earlier and after an hour and a half it was time to go. It was great to see Mick’s shack and antennas and talk about our love of the hobby.

On Friday morning our Sydney family began the journey home. We decided to visit the Black Range State Park, VKFF-0751. Black Range State Park is located West of the Grampians National Park. We accessed the Park near the corner of Cherrypool and Black Range Roads. While the Park has recently suffered the ravages of a wild fire, where we entered the Park was untouched by fire. We found an excellent clearing and only had two visitors while we were there. We had a number of maps including the Black Range Self Drive Tour map which was quite helpful.

MJD at Black Range 2

I enjoyed this activation a great deal. While chasers were a bit slow to find me initially I was soon working a steady stream of amateurs. Here are the call-signs of the chasers.

I began the activation at 00:48 on 7.095 with:

VK7AX

VK3CM Thanks to Brenton for inviting me to take the frequency.

VK5PAS

VK3CAT/P3 This was a dual mode contact: VK3BYD/P transmitted CW and I replied in SSB. Warren was activating VK3/VC-020 in VKFF-0264.

VK5FANA

VK5MBD/M

VK3PF

VK5MLB

VK1DI

VK2XXM

VK4RF  s55 r52 & VK4HA

VK5FMID

VK5KLV

VK5JK

VK2YK/P2  in VKFF-0195

VK2IO/M

VK2MTC

VK5ALZ

VK3ARR/P7 on VK7/SC-001

VK2NP

VK3PRF/M

VK5PAS

VK2DLG

VK7LTD

VK5HSX/M

VK3VIN

VK5AW/M

VK3TKK/M

VK3GGG, Mick with his new call-sign

VK3MCK

VK3TJC/M

VK3PMG

VK5WG

VK3VBI

VK3SQ

VK3FAPH

VK5CM

VK3NXT

VK2CRF

VK5FD

VK5HS/M

VK5ATN

VK3FQSO

VK3MEG

VK3ANP

VK6MB 51s r35

I then moved to 14.310

VK6MB 59s 58r

VK6NU s55 r55

I spent about half an hour listening around on 20 metres. There were some strong stations around 14.150 to 14.250, but I would not be competitive with 10 watts and a dipole. I did not work work any further stations on 20 metres and moved back to 40 metres and had a further two contacts:

VK5KC/P s59 r59 David was portable at the Overland Corner ready for the Riverland Group’s meeting on Saturday and Sunday as was VK5IS (04:40z) , Ian was also s59 r59. I enjoyed a total of 51 contacts. My equipment on the day was an FT897, set for 10 watts and linked dipole.

Thanks to all the chasers who helped make this such an enjoyable activation.