An Anniversary: six months of SANPCPA, 20th October 2013

Yesterday, while doing some other things around home and keeping a late afternoon appointment, I was able to be a chaser to help celebrate six months of the VK5 National and Conservation Park award program.

Today, I was able to activate three metropolitan conservation parks. I made a concession to the objective of responsible fuel use and, with the aim of successful navigation, I turned on the female voice in my GPS. She really sounds awful! But, I did find the Parks with a minimum of fuss.

I began early with the Hallett Cove Conservation Park. This is a small park is just 51 hectares. It conserves outstanding geological features including glacial pavements and folded rocks. It was proclaimed a conservation park in 1976. Aboriginal artefacts were discovered in the area in 1934 and more that 1700 pieces were collected. I set up my station just inside the main entrance near the information kiosk. I was able to sit near and under some melaleuca trees which provided great shade.

I had contacts with the following stations beginning before UTC rollover at 2240: VK3SAW, Ash, portable in the Grampians National Park with a scout group from Horsham. Ash called me. Then followed VK3YE, Peter as usual pedestrian mobile; VK5LY, Larry, QRP portable in Spring Gully Conservation Park. VK3GRW, Greg in North East Victoria, VK5AV, Tim; VK3BJM, Barry; VK5FAKV, Shawn from Renmark; VK3PF, Peter; VK3MMX, Darren at Harcourt; VK5KGP, Graham; VK5PAS/p, Paul at Minlacowie Conservation Park, my second Park to Park for the activation; VK5TN, Robin; VK5LY/p, Larry; VK3SAT, Lachlan in Central Victoria; VK5ATQ, Trevor and VK5AV, Tim. Sixteen contacts in just under an hour I thought was pretty good. The 40 Metre band seemed to be working well, although the noise floor was higher than I usually experience when in a rural park. All signals were either S8 or S9 with the exception of VK3YE, Peter who I received 5 and 1. I packed up and headed just a few kilometres closer to Adelaide to activate the Marino Conservation Park.

Hallett Cove Conservation Park Information Kiosk

Hallett Cove Conservation Park Information Kiosk

Marino Conservation Park

Marino Conservation Park was once a traditional resting and fishing place of the Kaurna Aboriginal people. However, in the early 20th century much of the area had been cleared and grazed. It also conserves coastal heath and provides a green buffer between two suburbs. I found operating from this park much more challenging than at Hallett Cove Conservation Park because of the higher noise floor. There were high tension power lines just across the road from where I set up my station.

I had contacts with the following stations beginning at 0031: VK5HCF/p, Col at Gower Conservation Park; VK5PAS/p, Paul at Barker Rocks Conservation Park; VK5AV, Tim; VK5WG, Nev, a very loud 5 and 9, best signal all day; VK5DJ, John and VK5WF, Wolfe, making  six contacts.

Marino Conservation Park

Marino Conservation Park

View looking North, Adelaide Coast and power lines

View looking North, Adelaide Coast and power lines, from the corner of the Park where I was set up.

Fort Glanville Conservation Park

I had the following contacts from Fort Glanville Conservation Park: VK5PAS/p, Paul at Ramsey Way Conservation Park on York Peninsular; VK3UBY, Col at Mildura and VK5ATQ, Trevor. These were all difficult contacts because of the very high noise floor.

Nevertheless, I am very pleased to have activated this park. This park conserves Fort Glanville which was constructed in 1880. It is an most complete example of a coastal artillery station built in Australia and dates from South Australia’s colonial past. The park is surrounded by a high mesh fence complete with trespassers prosecuted signs clearly displayed. I activated the Park from within the car park. The park is open on the third Sunday of the month, 20th October, and features a re-enactment of military drills, the sound of bugles, complete with the firing of the canon. I will suggest to the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society (I am a member) that we should activate the park during history week during May 2014. Actually setting up a station on the lawns or further away from the main roads and the power lines might make for a more successful activation. Using a radio with better noise reduction capability compared with the FT817 would assist. I knew I should have used the Ten-Tec Argonaut VI!

At the end on the day I had activated three parks and enjoyed 25 contacts. I was pretty happy with that.

The artillery battery at Fort Glanville

The artillery battery at Fort Glanville

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Cox Scrub Conservation Park 11th October 2013

Cox Scrub Conservation Park

Cox Scrub Conservation Park

Cox Scrub CP showing burn off

Cox Scrub CP showing burn off

Cox Scrub CP 'green' shoots appearing

Cox Scrub CP ‘green’ shoots appearing

On Friday morning while driving to Middleton I decided I would activate Cox Scrub Conservation Park which I drive past on my journey. Last time I came back from the south coast, about three months ago after lunching with South coast amateurs, and with VK5KC, David and VKATW, Trevor on board, and on passing the park I was disappointed to see how badly burnt it was as a result of a ‘controlled’ burn that quickly got out of control! The Friends of Cox Scrub Conservation Park web page indicates that the park is 544 hectares in area and all but five hectares in the South Western corner were burnt out. The park protects the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. I thought while the park was on my to do list I would not be in a hurry to visit. Any way Friday, a warm and sunny day, was the day I chose! I pulled into a parking bay within the park and set up my gear. Before UTC roll over I checked 7.100, found it was clear,  and called CQ. At 2310 in answer to my CQ call, VK5LY, Larry replied. He said my signal was 5 and 9 in Renmark and so was his at my end. I had contacts with VK5MBD, Bill; VK5HS, Ivan and VK5LI/m, Craig. All received signals were 5, 9 and my worst report was 5 and 5 from Craig. Then the band went quiet. I called CQ a few more times and checked up and down the band: nothing heard. I took three photos and packed up my gear and continued to Middleton. My photos do not adequately show the destruction.

Mount Remarkable National Park 3rd October 2013, VKFF – 360

Mount Remarkable National Park is rugged, hilly and a magnificent place. This time we approached the Park from Wilmington, that is, from the East and drove the sealed road to the Alligator Gorge car park. We have also camped at Mambray Creek where the camp ground is very popular. Mambray Creek is approached from the West and is a short drive from Highway One.

Allligator Gorge

I was starting to think that the trip during the last two days was all in vain, because of poor propagation, and this was reinforced again this afternoon. I managed to send a text to VK5PAS, Paul, advising him I was on 7.100. I heard him : 5 and 0. Obviously Paul could not hear me.  May be starting to activate the park at 06:37 was a bit late! VK2ARK, Tom at Kandos could not hear me and nor could VK1CJ. There was no propagation to Adelaide. I could barely hear VK5BW, Barry in the noise – static crashes!

My day was made when I caught up with VK3AXH, Ian, in Ballarat, with whom I have had many weak signal contacts on 144.1 + from home. Ian was 5 and 9++ and I received a 5 and 5/6. Not a satisfactory outcome from Mount Remarkable National Park, but Ian was left in no doubt about how pleased I was with the contact.

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park, VKFF – 189

Entry to Vulkathuna-Gammon Ranges National Park

Entry to Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park

We have visited the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park on previous occasions and have camped in the park using our camper trailer. But this time we made our base the Arkaroola Private Wilderness Sanctuary, which is next door to the National Park. If you have not visited Arkaroola you should. It is a great place and you can see the results of careful conservation work over a number of decades, especially in the care of the local flora. It is a large property. There are plenty of 4 x 4 tracks and lots of interesting places to see. We saw two Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies at the Arkaroola waterhole. There are also two astronomical observatories each beautifully equipped with 14 inch telescopes: see their web site for further details http://www.arkaroola.com.au/. And the Ridge Top Tour leaves people with enduring memories!

It was also great to catch up with VK5HS, Ivan, who with his wife, were taking advantage of their one hour gift flight on the Bell helicopter.

Bell Helicopter ready for VK5HS, Ivan & XYL

Bell Helicopter ready for VK5HS, Ivan & XYL

Six cylinder boxer engine: one side visible

Six cylinder boxer engine: one side visible

Weetootla Gorge 30th September 2013

My first activation in the very extensive park was at Weetootla Gorge Camping Ground. It was blowing a gale and dusty and I thought I had found a relatively protected spot. I managed seven contacts before everything blew down or away: log sheets going in all directions! I had contacts with: VK5LY, Larry; VK5HS/m, Ivan; VK1NAM/p QRP, Andrew, on VK3 VN005; VK5PAS, Paul; VK2FALL, John; VK5NQP and VK5WG, Nev.

V-GR NP Weetootla Gorge camping ground

V-GR NP Weetootla Gorge camping ground

Bolla Bollana 1st October 2013

Tuesday was a great contrast with Monday: a warm and sunny day arrived and we drove the 4 x 4 track from Arkaroola to the park at Bolla Bollana, where the old copper smelter remains are just inside the park boundary. I enjoyed contacts with VK5PAS, Paul; VK5ATW, Trevor; VK5HS/m, Ivan on his way to Arkaroola for a helicopter ride; VK5KGP, Graham; VK5MBD, Bill and VK5HCF, Col: six contacts in all before the other vehicles arrived with their sightseeing passengers and the ignitions and refrigerators making a racket.

I did promise three activations, the third planned for Wednesday and here is the reason why I didn’t keep my promise. A bus load of passengers arrived at Arkaroola including a 24 hour gastro bug. I succumbed! I was not happy.  Twenty four hours may be a reasonable time for a younger person to overcome a 24 hour bug, but it took me more like 30!

Crossing Creek bed from Arkaroola into Vulkathunha

Crossing Creek bed from Arkaroola into Vulkathunha

Bolla Bollana Smelter and portable operation

Bolla Bollana Smelter and portable operation