Mount Brown Conservation Park 29th September 2013

Mount Brown Conservation Park and summit is about 13 kilometres from Quorn. I would have liked to tackle the 13k walk to the summit and back, but common sense prevailed. I was a bit sore after the Dutchmans Stern activation the day before.

I activated this park by calling on the VK5 call back after the WIA broadcast. I was hoping to stir some interest on 7.100 MHz, as it turned out not very successfully. I had contacts with VK5PX, Peter, VK5ATQ, Trevor; VK5WG, Nev; VK5KGP, Graham; VK5LY, Larry; VK5IS, Ian; VK5PAS, Paul; VK5CZ, Ian, VK5PAS, Paul a second time after a posting advice of my activity; VK3PF/p QRP, Peter 5, 0 to him and 4, 3, from Mount Tassie, VK3 T046 and finally with VK5NWE, Roger and a tough contact with VK5FMJC, John who had a high noise level: 12 contacts in all.

The approach to Mount Brown Conservation Park

The approach to Mount Brown Conservation Park

I did have other contacts: I joined the 7073 KHz net and received excellent reports from the mobile (FT857D) and I also had a QRP contact (FT817) on 20 metres QRP with VK4QC, Peter. I was in Arkaroola and the contact was at 0515.

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My first SOTA activation: Dutchmans Stern, VK5/NE-028

Today I climbed to the summit of the Dutchmans Stern (no apostrophe, woeful English grammar in my opinion) and activated VK5-NE-028 (six points). I am delighted to report I had 23 contacts. Thanks to all who took time out on AFL Grand Final Day to give me a contact and thanks to those who alerted others. This summit is located within the Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park and also counts for the SANPCPA award (1 point). It took a little over two hours to climb the 4.2K route to the summit and about one hour forty minutes to descend. I was feeling pretty tired by then. I used my new seven metre squid pole and a couple of trees to support my dipole and a 4.3 amp hour sealed lead acid battery for power.  My gear is too heavy! I will be working hard to reduce the weight. I am considering Li Po batteries and I have a SOTA linked dipole (which I haven’t tried yet) and continue to use my home made dipole which is so rugged.

The following contacts were made on 40 metres: VK5CZ, Ian, who was unwell and could not join me in the activation; VK5IS QRP, Ian; VK5HS, Ivan; VK5WG, Nev; VK5NQP, David, who with some encouragement and slow use of phonetics was able to made a successful contact; VK5LA, Andy; VK2YW, John; VK3FPSR, Peter; VK2UH, Andrew; VK3CAT, Tony; VK3ANL, Nick; VK3DET, Ernie; VK5LY, Larry; VK5PAS, Paul; VK5AV; Tim; VK3MCD, Brian; VK3HRA, Allen; VK5PAS, Paul, with the AFL scores; VK5AKH, Andrew; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5HCF QRP, Col; VK5AR/p, Allan portable at Eagle on the Hill and undertaking antenna experiments and VK3YY, Glenn. The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park is a great place for a hike. It is also very beautiful on the slopes and towards the summit. Unfortunately acres of Salvation Jane, a favourite with the bees, was not good for my lungs. You walk through this to get to the trail. We also noticed plenty of goats, four legged ones. However, the kangaroos were pretty quiet and did not rush away, but stopped and watched us make our way down the path. We saw lots, including plenty of juveniles. I commend to you the Walking Trails Support Group brochure if you are planning a trip. We spoke to a young woman training for her attempt at Mt Killimanjaro who left the car park at the same time as us and took the longer loop track to the top. We caught up with her again on her descent 100 metres from the summit. We also spoke with a couple, about our age, from NSW and a man, a bit younger than me, a Vietnam Vet, keeping fit. Otherwise the Park was ours! We left a note in the visitors’ book kept in a sealed container at the summit. It will tell future readers of the VK5 and SOTA awards.

On the Dutchmans Stern

On the Dutchmans Stern

The 'Shack' on board

The ‘Shack’ on board – the 7 m squid pole is in my right hand. Notice one of the locals on the path

Flinders Ranges National Park, 24th September 2013, VKFF – 176

You might be interested to know that the picture at the introduction to my blog is taken from the summit of Mount Ohlssen Bagge. The plaque on the right hand side of the picture (not clear to readers) states the name of the mountain and gives the height as 923 metres. My wife and I climbed Mt Ohlssen Bagge in September 2011 and had  a great day out. I should say that Mount Ohlssen Bagge does not meet the SOTA criteria, but it is still a great climb and we love this part of the world!

My first activation was on 24th September 2013. I picked a creek bed almost at Sacred Canyon. At 06:10 I called on 7.100 and VK5LY/p answered my call. Larry was activating Cooltong Conservation Park. Then came VK5WG, Nev; VK5PET, Peter; VK5KGP, Graham; VK5PAS, Paul; VK3ANL, Nick; VK5HS/m, Ivan near Adelaide Airport; VK2BNN/p5, Brett at Rawnsley Park; VK5HCF, Col; VK3AMB, Bernard and VK5FCTC, John. As it turned out Brett was staying at Rawnsley Park and later that evening I arranged to meet Brett with the help of 146.500Mhz. Brett told me he was planning to activate Saint Mary Peak as his very first SOTA activation. I am waiting to hear whether he was successful or not?

Second Activation: 25th September 2013 Wood Duck Dam

I enjoyed contacts with: VK5KC, David; VK5LY, Larry; VK5PAS, Paul; VK3GT/p5, George camping in Parachilna Gorge; VK5HS, Ivan; VK5APC, Errol at the Port Adelaide Radio Club; VK5FEKH, Errol, 10 watts on his dipole; VK2IY, Angus and VK1MA/p2, Matt at VK2 ST 005.

Third Activation: 26th September 2013 Wilpena (near overflow car park).

I had contacts with VK5LY, Larry; VK3UBY, Col; VK5PAS, Paul; VK3LSC, Sandra at Mildura; VK3HRA, Allen; VK5HCF, Col; VK3ABM/2, Peter and VK3BJM/m2, Barry. Imagine my surprise when two workers stopped the utility near the park table I was using and one said, I recognise that voice! Richard, VK5UK, I knew was working at the Wilpena resort and it was great to catch up with him. I was a bit sorry he had to get back to work!

My fourth activation of the Flinders Ranges National Park occurred from the Trezona Camp Ground. I had contacts with VK5PAS, Paul; VK5LY, Larry; VK5HS, Ivan; VK5CZ, Ian and VK5HCF, Col, making a total of 33 contacts over the four activations.

On Friday 27th at the Wilpena Visitors’ Centre I saw Brett, VK2BNN, for a second time. I congratulated him on activating St Mary Peak and wished him well as he set out with his family for further adventures.

Brachina Gorge, Flinders Ranges National Park

Brachina Gorge, Flinders Ranges National Park

The Flinders Ranges area is known for its geological features which shed further light on the history of our planet. While at Trezona campground we set out to find the Golden Spike. This monument celebrates the Ediacaran period in geological time and a small plaque is embedded in rock in the creek bed to signify the importance of this area.

Standing near the Golden Spike

Standing near the Golden Spike

The Ediacaran Period

The Ediacaran Period

Edicaran plaque 'Golden Spike'

Ediacaran plaque ‘Golden Spike’

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Arid lands Conservation Parks 22 September 2013

I activated the Telowie Gorge Conservation Park this afternoon at 06:23. Telowie Conservation Park conserves a gorge which cuts through the lower Flinders Ranges and provides a habitat for the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby. This was an unplanned activation on my way to the Flinders Ranges National Park. The following contacts were made: VK5ZAI, Tony at home; VK5HCF, Col at Mt Gambier 5 & 9 and 3 & 3. Col has a vertical antenna and a huge noise problem. But he copied the essentials! VK5DK, Col also from Mount Gambier 5, 9 and 5, 7 and then VK3YE/p QRP, Peter, who was walking on the Chelsea Beach, bare footed with an FT817 and a vertical. Peter copied me 5, 4 and I gave him 5, 5. This is the second time I have had a contact with Peter, pedestrian mobile on a beach. I was delighted as he called me. I copied Brian, VK5FMID at Mount Gambier and VK3ANL, Nick, 5, 4 and 4, 6. A total of six contacts were made before moving on to the next unplanned activation at Winninowie Conservation Park.

Telowie Gorge Track

Telowie Gorge Track

Winninowie Conservation Park preserves coastal flat land fronting Spencer Gulf. There are no trees so I used my 10m squid pole to support the linked dipole in an inverted vee configuration. There were strong Indonesian signals on 7.100 MHz at around 08:12 and I checked the band above and below this frequency. This is the latest I have operated portable in the Spring and there were plenty of signals on the band and the US amateurs on 7.140 were 5 and 9. I did not give them a call, but instead came upon a net on 7.106. The net was winding up and I gave my call sign and was copied by VK4FVC, Vernon near Townsville. He was 5, 9 and he gave me a 5, 8. He then asked his net colleagues if they could copy my signal and I had excellent contacts with, VK2ARJ, Ian at Lismore;  VK4MIK, Mick on the Atherton Tablelands and finally, VK2JNG/p, Gerard. I am grateful for Vernon who with skill assumed the role of net controller and all operators were pleased to work a QRP (5 watt) station in a Conservation Park in South Australia. I then had contacts with the following SA amateurs, part of the regular Parks crew: VK5ATW, Trevor; VK5PAS/m, Paul returning from the Riverland and VK5KC, David, also returning from the Riverland. My final contact, the eighth, was with VK4VBU/m, Greg returning  from Winton where he and some friends had visited the Winton air crash site of an Ansett plane. VH-RMI crashed near Winton on 22 September 1966 http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/Vickers%20Viscount%20VH-RMI%20crash%20Winton.htm.

One of the wonders of amateur radio is that it is a ‘broad church’; there is room for us all to pursue our different interests and I am grateful to all of those amateurs who try and keep their ears in good condition be having contacts with QRP stations.

Winninowie Conservation Park

Winninowie Conservation Park

Homeward Bound

Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park 10th September

This small park just on the Adelaide side of Keith to the northern side of the Dukes Highway and next to the Adelaide to Melbourne railway line, commemorates the life of Kelvin Powrie, an agricultural scientist, who worked in the South East and was instrumental in determining what trace elements were needed to make the local farming land more fertile. The plaque detailing this information was dated 1969 and he died in 1968. Tony, VK5ZAI, remembers him and told me more about his life and work. The park is clearly visible from the highway because of the trees and understory vegetation compared with the farming properties around it. There is a short walk to a look out providing interesting views of the surrounding land.

I made the following contacts: VK5KGP, Graham at 01:07; VK5LY, Larry; VK5ZAI, Tony; VK5PAS/p, Paul, VK3PF/m, Peter; VK5KC, David; VK5HS, Ivan; VK5AO, Maitland; VK3FEAT/p, Michelle at Benalla; VK5FMID, Brian; VK3UBY, Col; VK5KBJ, Barry and VK3AMB, Bernard.

Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park

Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park

A view from the lookout in Kelvin Powrie CP, Dukes Highway in the background.

A view from the lookout in Kelvin Powrie CP, Dukes Highway in the background.

Mount Monster Conservation Park 10th September

Mount Monster Conservation Park is about 13 kilometres south of Keith just off the Highway. It is clearly visible as a small hill and rises about 500 metres above the otherwise flat country side. It is a beautiful park and the 19th century gold export route from the Victorian Gold fields to South Australia passed though this park.

I made the following contacts: 23:35, VK5LY, Larry; VK5UBY, Col; VK5HS, Ivan; VK5PAS/p, Paul; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5JW, Jim; VK3PF QRP, Peter; VK5SIX, John; VK3AFW/m, Ron and VK5PAS/p, Paul still on VK3 VS004.

Mount Monster Conservation Park

Mount Monster Conservation Park

In Mount Monster CP campground

In Mount Monster CP campground

‘Good strikes in the Victorian goldfields prompted many South Australian men to leave their families and cross the border in pursuit of fortunes. Police Commissioner Alexander Tolmer and a group of mounted troopers were sent to escort gold from the Mt Alexander fields, near what is now Castlemaine, back to Adelaide banks. They modified a route , used by gold seekers heading to central Victoria, and during 1852-53 made 18 trips carrying 328,509 ounces of gold’. source Northwestern Victoria, Poster and Map, Australian Geographic, 1996.

Wyperfeld National Park 9th September 2013, VKFF – 549

It was good to go back to Wyperfeld National Park. I have camped at the Park on two occasions back in 1971 and 1972, for work. There have been many changes, sealed roads, amenities blocks, walking paths and an information centre. It is looking great at the moment after all of the rain.

I had contacts with fourteen stations, pretty good for a Monday with all the workers back at toil!  At 00:03 my first contact was with Ron, VK3AFW and then Peter, VK3PF: for both of these operators their first contact with a Wyperfeld station. Then followed VK5PAS/p, Paul on VK3013; VK5FMID, Brian; VK3AMB, Bernard; VK5LI, Craig; VK5ZAI, Tony; VK5DJ, John; VK5HS, Ivan; VK3AHY/p, Geoff at Beechworth; VK5PAS/p, Paul who wound his power down to one watt for a difference of one S point; VK3FJAE, Doug; VK3UBY, Col and VK5LY, Larry.

Wonga campground, Wyperfeld National Park

Wonga campground, Wyperfeld National Park

Wyperfeld National Park

Little Desert National Park 7th September 2013, VKFF – 291

Thanks to all of those amateurs who made contact with me this morning while I operated in the Little Desert National Park at Horseshoe Bend picnic and camping ground. I had the place to myself. The sun was shining and it was warm. I had access to a park picnic table but I used my tripod to support the 10m squid pole. The dipole ends were up high in trees and I was happy with the antenna installation. The first two contacts were at 23:50 UTC. VK5MBD/p, Bill at Northfield and VK5ST, QRP, Steve (6th September) with really good signals both ways. I knew then, or at least I hoped, I was going to be in for a great morning! And it was: contacts were with VK3MRG, QRP, Marshall at home in Kew, 00:00; VK5LA, Andy; VK3CAT, Tony; VK3PF/p, QRP, Peter; VK3AFW, Ron; VK3DEE, Mark; VK5NJ, QRP, John; VK5NQP, David; VK3ZLD, Lou; VK5FTCT, John; VK3MCD\p, QRP, Brian in the Grampians on VK3 VW007; VK5PAS/p, Paul on VF046, Mt Napier; VK5LY, Larry; VK5IS, Ian; VK5LDM, Dennis, VK3AMB, Bernard; VK3TJC/m, Tim; VK3LP, John; VK3UBY, Col; VK3PI, Mark; VK2UH, Andrew; VK2EAR/p QRP, Michael in the Blue Mountains; VK3FMPB, John; VK5FWMA, Bill; VK5DJ, John and at 01:12, VK5AV, Tim at Mount Gambier, making 28 contacts in an hour and a quarter.

At the Little Desert National Park

At the Little Desert National Park

A great spot!

A great spot!

On Sunday 8th September I thought I would try 20m. I had two contacts from the Sanctuary Picnic Ground (within the Park) as I only had about half an hour before going to the Little Desert Lodge to visit the Mallee Fowl aviary. I was pleased to work, Pat, VK6QL, 5 and 8 and 5 and 7 to me, at 00:01 and Nigel, ZL1BY, 5 and 7 and I received 5 and 2. I thought that was pretty good!

Disputed Territory

Mullinger Swamp Conservation Park, 6th September 2013

If you look at a map of South Eastern Australia showing the boundaries between Victoria and New South Wales with South Australia you will see a kink in the line at the Murray River. The border South of the Murray, that is the border between Victoria and South Australia, is slightly west of the line above the river. The story of why this is so is too long to tell here but I found an interesting article on Wikipedia. The border was originally determined by the House of Commons in London and was defined as the 141st Longitude. The trouble is that even with three attempts at surveying this line, the equipment of the day was simply not good enough to get it right. Why did it matter? Well the Victorian Colonial Government sold land to settlers over which it did not have sovereignty, there were disputes around policing and South Australia was aggrieved. The dispute was still on going after the Federation of Australia and was not resolved by the High Court of Australia and South Australia took its case to the Privy Council. The Privy Council ruled unanimously in favour of Victoria. Well if the ruling had been determined in SA’s favour the present Mullinger Swamp Conservation Park and the Victorian Reserve would have been in SA.

My first park for the day was Mullinger Conservation Park and what an interesting place it is! The swamp straddles the border between South Australia and Victoria. The survey marker showing the current border is clearly marked. The greater part is in Victoria.

Twelve contacts were made: VK5PAS/p QRP, Paul on a peak, I think 019; VK5ATW, Trevor; VK3AFW, Ron; VK3UBY, Col; VK5LY, Larry; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5PAS/p QRP, Paul; VK5LY/p QRP, Larry (park to park); VK5CZ/p QRZ, Ian, Lagoon Hill VK5 SE 008; VK3PF QRP, Peter; VK3HRA, Allen and VK3MCD, Brian.

Largest living Red Gum near Mullinger Swamp CP

Largest living Red Gum near Mullinger Swamp CP

The Tree's history

The Tree’s history

Mullinger Swamp on a wet day

Mullinger Swamp on a wet day

Bangham Conservation Park, 6th September 2013

Bangham Conservation Park protects native vegetation and various species of birds and other wildlife. There are no visitor facilities.

Three contacts were made: VK5LY/p, QRP, Larry at Danggali Conservation Park – a park to park contact was a great start for the this park! Also worked were VK5DJ, John and VK5CZ/p, QRP, Ian on Lagoon Hill. It was raining steadily and I decided to close down and move on to Padthaway where we had lunch.

My 'shack' at Bangham CP

My ‘shack’ at Bangham CP

Padthaway Conservation Park, 6th September 2013

Fourteen contacts were made: VK5LY/p, QRP, Larry at Danggali Conservation Park; VK5KGP, Graham; VK5JK, Jeff; VK5LI, Craig; VK5NZ, Bob; VK3AMB, Bernard; VK3AFW, Ron; VK5HOS, Owen; VK5FUZZ, Paul; VK5ZK, Garry; VK5WK, Graham; VK3KRH, Roscoe; VK5WF, Wolf and VK5DJ, John. I was very happy with 14 contacts, huddled under an umbrella and trying to keep the rain from my log.

At work in Padthaway CP

At work in Padthaway CP

In Search of Gold?

Coorong National Park, 4th September 2013

On 3rd September we travelled to the South East to visit some parks, activate some, but not all and make our way to Victoria. On the way we stopped in the Coorong National Park and took the loop road leaving the highway at Salt Creek and found a spot overlooking a large basin and within hearing distance of the sea breaking on to the shore on the other side of the sand dunes.

The Coorong National Park protects a magnificent strip of coastal scenery, a large salt water lagoon, in two large basins and significant wildlife, including migratory birds. As well there are monuments to Chinese immigrants, an earlier wave of boat people, who landed in South Australia at Robe before making their way overland to the Victorian goldfields and avoid Melbourne and the authorities. The reason for this was the ineffective head tax imposed in Victoria to try and stop such immigration. The Victorian Government eventually repealed the tax. The Chinese men became a labour force in the Victorian gold ‘diggings’. The Victorian gold was largely exported through South Australia.

I set up my portable station and soon discovered a ‘technical problem’. One of my coaxial feeders had developed a fault. The wind had taken its toll on the connector at the end where the dipole centre is located. When I get home I will replace the soldered PL259 with a crimped one. I reckon that holding the coax against the squid pole with some Velcro might also be good preventive medicine! The 40 metre band was very quiet! I struggled to make a few contacts and decided to bring down the squid pole and replace the feeder.

The following contacts were made:VK5HCF, Col; VK5ZAI, Tony; VK5PAS, Paul; VK5LY, Larry; VK5UG, David; VK5CZ, Ian and Tony, VK5ZAI.

In the Coorong National Park

In the Coorong National Park

While in the park VK5ZAI, Tony called me on the local repeater, and my planned visit to Butcher Gap Conservation Park was replaced by afternoon tea and a relaxing hour or so. I did promise to activate it the next day so Col could add this park to his list and I was really pleased that this eventuated.

Butcher Gap Conservation Park, 5th September 2013

Tony inspecting my gear.

Tony, VK5ZAI, lives next door to Butcher Park Conservation Park. Only two contacts were had: VK5LY, Larry in Bakara Conservation Park and with VK5HCF, Col at Mount Gambier. Tony assisted my in sorting out a dry joint and I am greatly appreciative of his efforts. It was as a result of doing some tests and repairs that only two contacts were made. Tony has previously activated the park: it is a great park.

Mount Scott Conservation Park, 5th September 2013

Thirteen contacts were made: VK5PAS/p QRP, Paul in Messent Conservation Park; VK5KC, David; VK5ZAI, David; VK5DJ, John; VK5HCF, Col; VK5LY/m, Larry; VK3FTTK, Peter; VK3AFW, Ron; VK3JP, Ron; VK5FMID, Brian; VK3PF, QRP, Peter at home; VK3UBY, Col and VK5HCF, Col.

Mount Scott Conservation Park

Mount Scott Conservation Park

Fairview Conservation Park, 5th September 2013

Ten contacts were made: VK5LY/p QRP, Larry at Hogwash Bend Conservation Park; VK5PAS/p QRP, Paul at Reedy Creek Conservation Park; VK5HCF QRP, Col; VK3UBY, Col; VK5FBAC, Charles; VK3AFW, Ron; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5FMMC, Mick; VK5HOS, Owen and VK5PAS/p QRP, Paul at Reedy Creek advising me that he was setting off for Ferner Conservation Park.

Fairview CP boundary track and wild flowers.

Fairview CP boundary track and wild flowers.

Fairview CP wild flowers

Fairview CP wild flowers

Naracoorte Caves National Park, 5th September 2013

My last stop on the 5th was the Naracoorte Caves National Park, a World Heritage Area which contains a number of limestone caves, one of many such cave systems in the South East of the State. It was getting late and was my fourth activation of the day. There were plenty of chasers about: 07:08 VK5LY, Larry; VK5PAS/p, Paul at Furner CP; VK5FMMC, Mick; VK3UBY, Col; VK1MA, Matt; VK5KGP, Graham; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5ZAI, Tony; VK3MQ, Rob; VK3PF QRP, Peter; VK5NRG, Roy; VK5FBAC, Charles; VK5ZAI, Tony and VK3AFW, Ron.

AT Naracoorte Caves National Park

At Naracoorte Caves National Park

Father’s day at Horsnell Gully and Cleland Conservation Parks

Spring arrived today magnificently! Twenty seven degrees C was predicted and the Bureau got it right! I decided I would activate a couple of parks in the Adelaide Hills. My choices were Horsnell Gully CP and Giles CP, adjoining parks and situated in the foothills  near Adelaide, so near to Adelaide in fact, that fingers of suburban development knock at the front door. I arrived and set up at Horsnell Gully a little before my projected time and enjoyed contacts with VK3MRG/p, Marshall at 03:49, 5 and 1 both ways and VK3UBY, Colin at Mildura at 03:53, 5 and 9 both ways. Then there was a break despite me calling CQ. I suspect too many of the regular chasers were involving themselves with their families: perhaps a more appropriate thing to do, especially for those with families nearby. At 04:22 I had a contact with VK5KC, David; VK3FLAG/p at Altona Park, barely satisfactory as Richard’s antenna was too low. Then followed, VK3YY/QRP, Glen; VK5PAS, QRP, Paul at home; VK3FLAG/p, Richard, better this time; VK3EJ, Gordon at Cobram and finally, one of the regular chasers, VK5FMID, Brian from Mt Gambier. Thanks to all who helped me lock this park away for 2013. It is greatly appreciated. It was time to move and I decided that more of the same, sitting in the sun  and getting burnt was not good: I gave Giles a miss and decided to move to a higher place: Cleland CP and under the tall gums and not far from Mt Lofty.

My set up at Horsnell Gully CP

My set up at Horsnell Gully CP

Aboriginal Heritage

Aboriginal Heritage

I was at Cleland for an hour and at 05:56 had a contact with VK5LY, Larry; VK5PAS, QRP, Paul at home; VK5ZLT, Alan at Keith; VK3NML, Ray at Melton, VK2NMO, Chris at Gunnedah; VK2FKYM, Jeff and VK3AFW/m, Ron at 06:56. Thanks to all for the contacts and Ron, VK3AFW/m, was very happy to get another park.