Alpine National Park, 31st December 2013, VKFF – 619

Alpine National Park Accord Spur

Alpine National Park Accord Spur

After enjoying Mt Buffalo National Park I decided I would tackle something a little easier in the late afternoon. Thirteen contacts were all great and signals were so different to those I heard in the morning. They were loud!

My first contact was at 06:34 on 7090 with VK3VEK, Kevin; VK3ANP, David; VK3FBP, Len; VK5PAS, Paul; VK3SE, Steve; VK3SOG, Fred; VK5CZ, Ian; VK3ANP, David; VK5EE, Tom; VK5FBAC, Charles; VK2UH (VK1DA) a real rag chew, great contact; VK5KC, David and VK5FMID, Brian, making 13 contacts in all.

Alpine National Park

Alpine National Park

‘The Alpine National Park stretches from central Gippsland all the way to the New South Wales border where it adjoins Kosciusko National Park. Within the park are some of Australia’s most stunning alpine landscapes, including mountain peaks, escarpments and grassy high plains’ (Parks Victoria brochure). Bon Accord Spur was accessed from a track near the East Branch of the Ovens River. So our visit was at the Northern end of the park. We have previously visited the Alpine National Park on two occasions approaching from Gippsland and making our way to the Wonnangatta Station. It was not a National Park then: but Crown Land and Forrest Commission Land. In 1973 and 1977 when we visited, it was known to a much smaller group of 4 x 4 enthusiasts than it is now. The trip into Wonnangatta from Gippsland was regarded then as challenging, with quite a few river crossings and steep climbing on narrow tracks. It may be more challenging now dealing with the extra traffic and the chopped up tracks and damaged river crossings. Our approach to driving here was cautious: as it was our first real excursion to an out of the way location. We were self-taught 4 x 4 drivers. We did not join a club until late 1998 in South Australia. We walked every river crossing before venturing in! The picture shows that I walked this crossing (a baby one) but I will admit JCD walked more! Here are a few more pictures from the VK5BJE archives.

A great camping spot on the way to Wonnangatta Station March 1973

A great camping spot on the way to Wonnangatta Station March 1973

JCD driving our short wheel-base Toyota Land Cruiser across one of many river crossings, March 1973

JCD driving our short wheel-base Toyota Land Cruiser across one of many river crossings, March 1973

House ruins at Wonnangatta - accidently destroyed by fire in 1957

House ruins at Wonnangatta – accidently destroyed by fire in 1957

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Sota Summit ‘The Horn’ in Mt Buffalo National Park, 31st December 2013, VKFF – 339

Sota Summit VK3 VE 014 is a special point on the Mt Buffalo plateau: called ‘the Great Granite Plateau’ in the ‘Park Notes’ published by the Victorian Government. Its elevation is 1723 metres and is at the end of a 1.5k track, which the sign board says takes 45 minutes, is a lookout giving spectacular views for 360 degrees. After arriving there I did not think I could safely activate from that point and proceed to look for a suitable location within the activation zone. I eventually set up my gear and called CQ on 7095. I did not get a response and tuned around to find a pretty quiet band. I did hear VK3YSP/p, Joe and VK3FOWL/p, Julie calling from the Lower Goulburn River National Park. They were attracting considerable interest. I joined the queue and after a successful contact with both of them asked Joe to let people know that I would be operating on 7095. I migrated there and enjoyed contacts with VK3BHE, Phil; VK3FMPB/p, John in the Kinglake National Park, VK3MJB, Tim in the La Trobe Valley and VK3AMB, Bernard. Received signal reports ranged from 5 and 0 to 4 and 3. Six contacts means I have successfully activated this SOTA summit. But it was a difficult activation. While I enjoyed the reasonably difficult climb, the views and speaking to quite a number of people, I thought I might be louder! It was not to be.

Back on top! 'The Horn'

Back on top! ‘The Horn’

I did propose to activate ‘The Hump’. I found the walk challenging as have some previous SOTA activators. I got quite a way up the track but decided to quit: it was warm and I was tired. My wife Jenny got to the top and she said the last bit was quite tough. I was sorry that I was not able to activate this peak – maybe next time! Perhaps I was being too ambitious?

Cathedral - Hump Track

Cathedral – Hump Track

The Hump - Just a mere pile of rocks!

The Hump – Just a mere pile of rocks!

Warby-Ovens National Park, 30th December 2013

Warby Ranges Ryans Lookout JCD picture

Warby Ranges Ryans Lookout JCD picture

After travelling from Wangaratta to Beechworth I then checked the map and travelled about 14 kilometres out to the Warby-Ovens National Park. The location I chose was Ryan’s Lookout. I was on the air on 40 metres at 0601 and my first contact was with VK3SOG, Fred; then followed VK5EE/p QRP, Tom in Calectasia Conservation Park, in the South East of South Australia not far from Mount Gambier. As the band was very busy with established nets and lots of SOTA and Park activities by QRP portable stations it was not possible to find a clear frequency. So I became a portable chaser and used that wonderful facility available to us as amateurs: frequency agility! With five changes of frequency between 7080 and 7110 I had the following contacts: VK3MRG/p, QRP, Marshall on VK3 VE 007; VK5PAS, Paul; VK5GRW/p, Greg at Mount Buller (not in the Park sadly); VK5FMID, Brian; VK3AMB, Bernard; VK5FTRL, Tom; and those peripatetic folk, VK3YSP and VK3FOWL, Joe and Julie at Gunbower National Park; VK3HRA, Allen on VK3 VE  007; VK5TKK, Tim at Mount Gambier; VK3ANL, Nick and finally, VK3HCF, Col at Penola Conservation Park. Thanks to all those amateurs who gave me a call today, especially those 15 who helped make my visit to Warby-Ovens National Park so enjoyable.

Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, Victoria, 30th December 2013, VKFF – 620

After celebrating Christmas in Sydney with our family, we are, in the words sung by Willie Nelson, ‘On the road again’. Today after travelling from Gundagai, I was a able to visit the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park.

The place I chose to activate from was Woolshed Flat, only a short distance into the Park not far from Beechworth.

I was on the air at 01:38 UTC and my first contact was with Joe and Julie, VK3FOWL, on 7090 who were portable at Terrick Terrick National Park. Joe said he was operating from the location I chose at the day visit area. How great to start with a Park to Park contact and give me another Park as a chaser. The followed contacts with VK5PAS, Paul; and then on 7095, with VK3FMPB, John; VK3SOG, Fred; VK3ANL, Nick; VK3TKK, Peter; VK5NIG/p, Nigel in Belair National Park, South Australia; VK2BNN/p, Brett, on VK2 CT 014; VK3BL/p7, Bob at St Helens in Tasmania; VK3JY/p, QRP, Steve at Lake Eildon National Park; VK3BH, Phil at Bendigo; VK3ANP, David; VK3CM (VK5BM) Brenton; VK3PRF, Peter at Bairnsdale; VK3NCR, Craig; VK5LY, Larry; VK3YSP, Joe for a second contact and finally, again, VK3FMPB,John. I then shifted to 7100 and had a contact with VK5STU/p, Stu at Belair National Park. I then moved to 20 metres and had a tough, but successful contact with ZL2KE, Steve, near Wellington. I gave Steve 5 and 2 and he gave me 2 and 3. However, it was a legitimate contact: he copied my call sign and signal report. The followed VK4ZD, Bill and VK5EE/p, Tom in Furner Conservation Park. Deleting duplicate contacts I enjoyed qso’s with 21 stations.

Woolshed Falls: people enjoying the waterhole

Woolshed Falls: people enjoying the waterhole

Barmah National Park, Victoria, 23rd December 2013

Entry to Barmah NP from Barmah township: about eight kilometres

Entry to Barmah NP from Barmah township: about eight kilometres

Today I went on a Murray River cruise which motored up-stream though a very narrow part of the River called the ‘Barmah Choke’, on in another brochure ‘The Narrows’. The cruise, with Kingfisher Cruises, was great. It was a grey and rainy day when the boat left at 10:30 local time and the sun was beginning to burn off the cloud when the cruise finished at 12:30pm. The boat left about 100 metres outside the National Park, and upon return I could not but take the chance to activate the Barmah National Park!

The cruise boat moored in Broken Creek

The cruise boat moored in Broken Creek

The Murray at its narrow point

The Murray at its narrow point

I found the old cattle yards just inside the Park and set up my station there. I used my FT817 and a linked dipole for 40 and 20 metres. Sixteen contacts later I packed up as a drive to Wagga Wagga was before me. The 40 metre band was in much better condition than over the last few weeks and I was astounded by the signal reports although distances covered were not great.

A great place for a camp

A great place for a camp

The Shack - supporting the Squid Pole on the fence post

The Shack – supporting the Squid Pole on the cattle yard post

I called first on 7090 at 01:55 and VK3VEK, Kevin, answered my call. Kevin is in Stawell and my signal report was 5 and 7.  I gave Kevin 5 and 9. I thought that conditions were going to be better than recently on 40m and I might have a bit of fun! But I had to go searching and I heard VK3XX, Gordon signing off from a contact on 7146 at 02:05. Signals were 5 and 9 both ways. I then had a contact with SOTA station, VK3XPT/p QRP on VK3 VT 052, Mount Fatique on 7090. Perrin gave me 5 and 1 and I gave him the same: I was really pleased to have a contact with another SOTA station. I then moved to 7100 and there I stayed contacting in turn, VK5PAS, Paul; VK3BWZ, Bob; VK5WG, Nev; VK3NJ, Ross; VK3ATT/QRP, Yuri who made a video of the contact; VK3TCX, Ian and VK3SOG, Fred who lives near the Toy Shop. Which Toy Shop? There is only one Toy Shop! How dangerous is that! I had more contacts, VK3CMG, Glenn; VK3JD, John; VK3VCE, Dave, VK3EE, Tom, VK3JP and finally Yuri to advise of the video.

Sleeper cutting in Barmah Forrest July 1972

Sleeper cutting in Barmah Forrest July 1972

On an earlier camping trip to the Barmah Forrest in July 1972 we saw sleeper cutters at work – probably cutting red gum sleepers for the still significant Victorian Railways.

Terrick Terrick National Park, Victoria, 22nd December 2013, VKFF – 630

Terrick Terrick National Park entrance

Terrick Terrick National Park entrance

After enjoying a number of contacts with activators in Terrick Terrick National Park over the past year or so, today it was my turn to become an activator. I drove into the day visitor area at the base of Mount Terrick Terrick, about one and a half kilometres into the Park from the Southern access point. It is a beautiful spot in a most interesting park. Terrick Terrick National Park was created by gazettal in 1998. Its first ten years was as a State Park. I am assuming that this means it had a lesser status then. This is the first National Park in Australia’s Riverina bioregion according to the Parks Victoria brochure. What is immediately obvious to visitors is the White Cypress Pine Forest.

White Cyprus Pines from the operating position

White Cyprus Pines from the operating position

It was a warm day with high humidity and not unpleasant. Every now and then during my activation there was a light sprinkling of rain, but not enough to be a nuisance. I set up my station on a Park picnic table and had the whole place to myself.

My first contact was with VK2TWR/p and QRP, Rod, on Mount Townsend, VK2/SM 002. Both our signals were 5 and 7 at 0330 UTC. I was delighted to have such an enjoyable contact and earn a few more points as a chaser. Then followed VK3SE, Steve; VK5PAS, Paul who kindly alerted all and sundry, thanks Paul; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5KC, David; VK5EE, Tom; VK3XPT/p and QRP, Perrin, near but not in the Wilson’s Promontory National Park. Watch out for Perrin over the next few days as he will be in the Park and activating two summits. I enjoyed quite a chat with Perrin before more contacts: VK5LY, Larry; VK5WG, Nev; VK3JP, Ron; VK5FMID, Brian again and finally VK3FAVE, Andrew from Nyah West, making 12 contacts for the day.

I have now activated four Victorian National Parks and am aiming for ten!

VK5BJE near canoe tree Terrick Terrick National Park

VK5BJE near canoe tree Terrick Terrick National Park

This tree has an identical scar on the opposite side from me indicating that it was perceived as valuable by the earlier inhabitants of this land and, perhaps, that such trees were not overly common in the area.

Peebinga Conservation Park, 21st December 2013

After my reasonably successful activation of Karte CP, I moved onto Peebinga Conservation Park. While I thought the band sounded in reasonable shape, there were few signals. Perhaps people were visiting their local shopping centres or engaging in sporting activities or perhaps contemplating Christmas?

Any way after tuning up and down the band and doing a fair bit of listening and then calling CQ on 7.100 I decided, out of desperation, to call into a group on 7055. There was a group at work. I apologised for calling in – but isn’t amateur radio about doing just that? Thanks to VK3OL, Jim at Bendigo, whose 5 and 9 signal was very enticing I gained a successful contact. Jim gave me a 5 and 1. I copied other members of his group, VK3YG, Pete from Lake Glenmaggie, where I have been camping in an earlier life; VK7RP/p2 5 and 7; and VK2ATY, from Albury, 5 and 7.

What is the lesson for the day? Post one’s intentions in advance  if at all possible.

Karte Conservation Park, 21st December 2013

On 21 December 2013 on my way to Sydney to see my son I thought I would activate Karte Conservation Park. This park is about 30k North West of Pinnaroo. I called CQ on 7100 for a while and there were no takers. There were quite good signals up and own the band. I apologise for not posting my intentions – but I wasn’t  sure what time I would get to Pinnaroo or whether I would be able to activate these Parks with Christmas looming! I was delighted to work VK5AV, Tim from Mount Gambier , at 04:29 UTC, who kindly posted on the parks and summits site that I was in Karte CP. He also gave a call over the South East Radio Group’s repeater system and I soon had contacts with VK5HCF, Col; VK5WG, Nev; VK3GFS, Frank; VK5EE, Tom and VK5BW, Barry. The 40m band seemed pretty good and my reports were encouraging, except from Col, who gave me a 3 by 3. I was able to congratulate Nev on his elevation to Sainthood, I mean Slothdom! I am envious with a long way to go!

Karte Conservation Park

Karte Conservation Park

Karte Conservation Park: at work JCD picture

Karte Conservation Park: at work JCD picture

Publicising Amateur Radio

Yesterday, 11th December 2013, VK5KC, David, President of the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society Inc., (AHARS) and I, attended the Blackwood High School to present two awards to students in year nine. The awards are for achievement in the areas of science and technology. You can see more details in my 2012 report below. This is the second year that our Society has made these awards available. This year two young male students, Mr X and Mr Y won the awards. The Senior Leader for the School in this area stated, ‘…these two students have demonstrated excellence in both achievement and commitment within the areas of Science & Technology. In addition to outstanding achievements in these two learning areas in terms of their grades, they have also achieved the following: (they have) participated in two science competitions (ICAS  http://www.eaa.unsw.edu.au/icas/about and Big Science) achieving High distinctions and for the ICAS they completed the Yr 10 competition and achieved High Distinctions. They are both accelerated into Yr 10 science and achieving A’s at this level. (Both) students participated in the UNSW Science and Engineering challenge (and) were selected for and attended the Siemens Science experience at Flinders university. (They) both attended the Flinders University engineering expo. (Finally, they achieved) outstanding results (high A’S) in their yr 9 electronics courses’.

I had a chance to speak with both students after assembly and Mr Y told me he likes making kits and soldering. Except for the great results and the much improved opportunities for students now, I could see something of my past!

I attended Devonport High School. I was in year nine in 1956 – the year television transmissions began in Sydney and Melbourne. I watched flickering images of the Melbourne Olympics in Devonport. I did not know about tropospheric ducting then, except that signals in Devonport were better in North Easterly weather!  I was building crystal sets and one and two valve regenerative receivers. I also did not know that I would eventually begin on a path of formal life-long learning, something that has enriched my life beyond measure. It is very difficult to imagine what the world will be like when these young men are at my age! I wonder whether they will be chasing SOTA contacts and working QRP from National Parks?

Here is my report from the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society Inc March 2013  Newsletter, p. 4.

On a very hot Wednesday afternoon, December 12th, at 1.30 David Clegg (VK5KC) and I (VK5BJE) returned to school. No, it is not because we can’t spell! David originally attended High School between 1962 and 1965 and, for me, 1954 to 1957. But this time we went to Blackwood High School.  Our purpose was to represent our Society at the presentation day for year 8 and 9 students as they complete their work for the year. We were warmly greeted by the Principal of the School, Ms Marion Coady and then set off on a short walk to the Hall were the students were gathered.

The Society’s criteria for selection of students are:

In year 8 or 9 at Blackwood High School

Demonstrated interest in electronics

Commitment to their science and technology studies

Interest in pursuing science and technology as an area of interest.

The appropriate discipline teachers are responsible for making decisions about the successful students.

The formalities were quite informal but orderly. How different from my day! David was invited to present the inaugural awards to the recipients.

(Ms K) produced an excellent report on the history of radio, as part of her work in a Year 9 science class this year.

‘When I first heard we were going to be choosing a specific piece of technology and tracking its progress and evolution, the first thing that popped into my mind was the radio. I am fascinated by Nicola Tesla – one of the closest examples to pure genius this world has ever had the honour of knowing – and his struggles to be recognised as the inventor of the radio.’

The second recipient was (Mr I). ‘ (Mr I) represented the school at the Southern Science Expo during Science week  2012. He was selected to go because of his interest in electronics and commitment to studying Electro-technology and Science in the future’.

The awards are a framed certificate and a $50 voucher for use at one of three retailers including the Society’s sponsor, Aztronics, or the Wireless Institute of Australia book shop or a commercial retailer.

For these young students beginning the early adult life-long journey of learning, the Society hopes that its awards will recognise outstanding achievement among their peers as well as encourage them in their endeavours. The Society aims for its awards to highlight its work at the school, as well as bring a new awareness of our hobby as a potential learning ground for some young people aspiring for a scientific, technical or engineering career. The awards may also demonstrate that amateur radio can be a satisfying, enriching and life-long hobby pursuit for those who undertake employment in different arenas.  David and I represent both these pathways.

We enjoyed the afternoon, sharing with the students their triumphs and were proud to represent the AHARS at this important event.

John Dawes VK5BJE

13th December 2012