Australia Day, January 26th, 2014, Belair National Park, VKFF – 022

I decided I would join the activators today and identify as AX5BJE. This is the first time I have used the AX prefix. I chose Belair National Park, near Adelaide. This was my first activation of this park for this year. I first activated Belair NP on 1 August 2013: a winter activation (see earlier blog entry for more details of the park). On that occasion I had five contacts: but I did activate The Knoll CP later in the day where I had seven contacts.

I began the day early and was at the park at 08:05 local time, just five minutes after the gate was opened. I drove into the Park rather than walk as previously was the case. I travelled around to Long Gully where I found a small picnic area with no reservation sign in place. It became mine and a park table was used to support the squid pole. I have a GPS reading of the coordinates: S35 01 082 and E 138 39 242. My first contact, on the 40 m band was with Tom, VK5FTRG, at Millicent, 5 and 9 both ways. I thought that was a good omen!

I had contacts with VK7KO, Gerry at Devonport; VK5TD, John; VK5EE, Tom; VK5TD, John again; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5LY, Larry; VK5HCF, Col, QRP; VK3ZPF, Peter; VK3FQSO, Amanda, from Wedderburn; AX5PAS, Paul; AX5AV, Tim; VK3ZDY/m2; VK5WG, Nev; AX5ZAR, Arno, QRP at a holiday house, Yorketown, on Yorke Peninsular; VK5NX, John, conducting the WIA broadcast; AX5ZBD, Greg; VK5QI, Mark; VK3RV, Peter, QRP; AX5HS/m Ivan; VK5MJ, Mal; VK2FGJW/p1, Greg on SOTA summit, Mount Ginini, VK1 AC 008; VK2IY, Angus ; AX3SSB, Ash  from Horsham AX3BQ/p3; Andrew on SOTA summit, Mount Arapilies, VK3 VW 022; and finally, VK2PCW/p, Michael.

I then moved to 20 metres as promised. I was hoping to get a contact or two for those chasing the VK5 Parks, especially from VK6. I had a listen around the band: there were few workable signals. So I had a very enjoyable contact with VK6QL, Patricia, on 14.142. I last worked Pat from the Little Desert National Park in Victoria on the 8th September 2013.

I thank all of those operators who gave me a call: 27 contacts and none missed! A great Australia Day!

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Some Reflections on my visit to VK3, or is the grass always greener on the other side?

On our way to Sydney on 21st December via Victoria I was able to activate two SA Conservation Parks: Karte and Peebinga. These two parks are located in the Mallee not far from Pinnaroo and close to the Victorian border.

The real action started  on 22nd December when I activated Terrick Terrick National Park. Then followed:

Barmah National Park 23rd December

Chiltern-Mt Pilot 30th December

Warby-Ovens 30th December

Mt Buffalo and The Horn VK3 VE 014 31st December

Alpine National Park 31st December

Lower Goulburn 1st January 2014

Heathcote-Graytown 1st January

Greater Bendigo 1st January

Mount Moliagul SOTA summit VK3 VN 024 (not in a NP) 2nd January

Kara Kara 2nd January

Grampians National Park & Mount William SOTA summit VK3 VW 001 3rd January

Mount Arapilies SOTA summit VK3 VW 022 (not in a NP) 4th January

Mount Eccles National Park 5th January

Cobboboonee 5th January

Mount Richmond 5th January

Lower Glenelg National Park 6th January 2014

Total

2 SA Conservation Parks

15 Victorian National Parks

4 SOTA summits (2 in National Parks)

For anyone contemplating such a trip, especially from interstate, I recommend the Parks Victoria brochures. I have collected these for all of the Parks we visited and they provide useful maps and information about the Parks. These Victorian parks I have activated and the others we have visited over the years are all wonderful assets and a great resource for local communities as well as for visitors.  I kept thinking about Portland, which is situated in close proximity to four beautiful parks with excellent facilities for visitors. Once again thank you to all of those amateurs who took time out to give me a call: all contacts were with my FT817 and linked dipole – just a nominal five watts of RF.

This morning my wife and I went for a one and a half hour walk in the Scott Creek Conservation Park. The purpose of this was not only exercise but to check out points over 400 metres for a possible 2 metre activation (I have been inspired by the use of this band for SOTA by VK1, 2 and 3 amateurs). But additionally I enjoyed this beautiful Park. My wife and I are members of the Friends of Scott Creek Conservation Park Incorporated.  She does bush care work and bird-banding. I am the silent partner. The Park is splendid and even though we are moving into some hot weather it looks green and lush and the bush is great. I commend this Park and others in SA if you want a good holiday combined with amateur radio. I will, in due course, update my Scott Creek CP entry. And as for summits, VK1, VK2 and VK3 win hands down!

Lower Glenelg National Park, Victoria, 6th January 2014, VKFF – 296

Glenelg River - Moleside

Glenelg River – Moleside

The Lower Glenelg National Park preserves land on both sides of the Glenelg River upstream from Nelson and extends to the South Australian border. We drove into Pritchards: it was like Bourke Street Melbourne! There were people, vehicles, caravans and camps everywhere. I saw two National Parks personnel and discussed with them what I was intending to do and they suggested Moleside Picnic Ground. When we arrived there, just a few kilometres from Pritchards there was no one in sight. I set up my gear using a park Picnic table in a most beautiful spot. A 4 x 4 utility towing a trailer pulled into the area and fathers and two daughters, I think, proceeded to unload their canoes for a paddle down stream. They were only slightly interested in my activities.

I was on the air at 23:27 on my last Victorian activation for this trip. The band was quiet, I checked the frequency and then called CQ. VK5LY, Larry was my first contact, then VK3PF, Peter; VK3YY/p, Glenn at Tidal River, Wilsons Promontory National Park (a new Park for me); VK5PAS, Paul; VK1MA, Matt; VK5JDS/5, Darryl, at Port Lincoln; VK5NQP, David; VK5WG, Nev; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5FRCP, Rex; VK5HCF, Col; VK5EE, Tom; VK5TD, John; VK3BHR, Phil and VK1RX/p, Al, on SOTA summit VK2 SM 093. Fifteen contacts and it was time to go.

Three South Western Victorian National Parks, 5th January 2014

The Interpretive Centre: Mt Eccles National Park

The Interpretive Centre: Mt Eccles National Park

Budj Bim – Mt Eccles National Park  VKFF – 345

Mount Eccles through the back door

Mount Eccles through the back door

When I pulled back the curtains this morning before 7 o’clock the sun was shining and the day looked great. But how quickly that changed! The sky began to cloud over and the light breeze turned into a very strong wind. We set off for Mt Eccles National Park and aimed for the South Western section which I thought would be a bit quieter. I need not have worried! I travelled along Woolsthorpe Heywood Road, turned left into Millards Road and right at Shamrocks Road. It lead to a very narrow 4 x 4 track, pretty well overgrown, so we back-tracked to Dunsmore Road travelled about two kilometres to a small clearing where I set up my portable station. I was on the air at 23:03 and called CQ. I was immediately answered by VK2XJM/p5, Josh, who was on SOTA summit VK5 SE 013. I then had contacts with VK5KGP, Graham; VK5LY, Larry; VK3YSP, Joe; VK7NWT, Scott at Boat Harbour; VK3AMB, Bernard; VK3MTB, Tim; VK3FOWL, Julie; VK3NAD/QRP, Peter; VK3ZPF/p, Peter in Chiltern – Mount Pilot National Park; VK5PAS, Paul; VK5AV, Tim; VK2UH, Andrew, Yass; VK5DJ, John; VK5EE, Tom; VK5FTRG, Tom; VK5NRG, Roy; VK5FMIF, Brian; VK5NIG, Nigel; Vk3AFW, Ron; VK5HCF, Col; VK3TKK, Peter; VK3FB, VK3AMX, Alex and VK3SOG, Fred. I thought 25 contacts was a pretty good start for the day. As I was packing up down came the rain. And the wind picked up to gale force strength. We got in the car and thought well we might as well give it away for the day. We drove around to Lake Surprise but it was too wet to take photos. After lunch in one of excellent shelters we decided to take a different track back to Portland.

The Information Board at Mount Eccles NP

The Information Board at Mount Eccles NP

Cobboboonee National Park VKFF – 728

We took the Wood, Wine & Roses Forest Drive which crosses Victoria’s newest national park, Cobboboonee. Some of the roads were very slippery and four wheel drive was engaged on some of the secondary tracks. When we arrived at Surry Ridge Picnic & Camping area, the sun had emerged and I thought it was worth an activation of this most impressive park which preserves bushland.

I called CQ on 7090, after checking that the frequency was clear, and was answered by VK3YSP, Joe. Then followed VK3ZPF/p, QRP, Peter at Warby Ovens National Park; VK5CZ, Ian; VK3VTH, Tony; VK5FMID, Brian; VK3MTB, Tim; VK5PAS, Paul; VK5LY, Larry; VK5EE, Tom; VK3SOG, Fred; VK3FMPB, John; VK7ALB, Peter and VK2HRX/p, Compton on SOTA summit VK2 SC 012. Thirteen contacts and down came the rain!

Coobboboonee National Park

Coobboboonee National Park

Mount Richmond National Park VKFF – 361

We travelled to Mount Richmond National Parkwith two major objectives: the first to have a contact with VK5PAS, Paul, who was activating Mt Lofty and Cleland Conservation Park and, hopefully, to give VK3ZPF/p, Peter, a 40 meter contact with me in this park. As it turned out it was too late for VK3ZPF, Peter but I had a contact with Paul on his birthday.

The first contact was at 05:12, VK3MRG/p, Marshall on Mount Dandenong, VK3 VC 025; VK3YSP, Joe; VK3FOWL, Julie; VK3FTRG, Tom; VK5HCF, Col; VK3HRA, Allen; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5PAS/p, Paul on SOTA summit VK5 SE 005 and Cleland Conservation Park; VK2FGJW/p, Greg on SOTA summit VK1 AC 035; VK3NAD, Peter; VK2NEO, Peter and, finally, VK5EE, Tom, making 12 contacts. And down came the rain!

A picnic table shack at Mount Richmond National Park

A picnic table shack at Mount Richmond National Park

Sota peak Mount Arapilies, VK3 VN 022, 4th January 2014

Mt Arapilies - summit

Mt Arapilies – summit

I decided to activate Mount Arapalies today, 4th January 2014.  The temperature was in the low twenties, there was no rain but the wind was blowing a gale. I drove up the single lane sealed track to the top: an easy drive and from the car park, walked to the summit where the trig point is located and also the site of the CFA fire-watch tower. The tower was occupied and I could hear radio chatter through the door of the building. I resisted the urge to knock and make myself known!  And I resisted the urge to call on the Mount Arapilies two metre repeater on 146.850 and try and stir up some business. As it turned out I made the right decision. There was no shortage of contacts. My first contact was at 01:02 and my last, 34 (33 successful) was at 02:42. The discrepancy was because of my obsessiveness over my signal report to a NSW mobile station. He just couldn’t understand his report.  He was 5 and 0 with me and the zero proved the problem.

I decided not to set up on the summit as the wind was ferocious. I tucked myself away in a secluded spot and it wasn’t so bad. There are plenty of activation spots for the less adventurous, like me, if it is really windy. The place was busy: mainly walkers and rock climbers.

My first contact was with VK3CAT/p, Tony, in the Alpine National Park. Then followed VK5WG, Nev; VK5LY, Larry; VK3FB/p, Len; VK3FPSR, Peter; VK5CZ, Ian; VK5PAS, Paul; VK3YSP, Joe, at home; VK3FD, QRP 2.5 watts, Ian; VK3AMB, Bernard; VK5STU, Stu; VK5FUZZ, Paul; VK3IL/p, David; VK3ARR, Andrew; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5JDS/p, Darryl at Port Lincoln; VK3VBI, Ron; VK2DAG; VK3ANL, QRP, Delta Loop, Nick; VK5FRCP, Rex; VK3SOL, Fred; VK2YW/m, John; VK3YN, Mark; VK3BYD, Warren; VK3UT QRP, Greg; VK5HCF, Col; VK5IS, Ian; VK3MEG, Steve; VK1NAM, Andrew; VK3YDN, John, VK2PDW, Wayne; VK3VEK, Kevin and VK3JP, Ron.

The dedication plaque for Fire Service lookout

The dedication plaque for Fire Service lookout

Sota Peak, Mt William, VK3 VS 001, Grampians National Park, 3rd January 2014, VKFF – 213

The start on the walking trail to the Mount William summit

The start on the walking trail to the Mount William summit

The climb to the  summit was quite strenuous and after checking out the Major Mitchell monument and the commercial radio installations I found a place  just four or five metres from the top where I could set up my station. Thanks to the 22 amateurs who made contact with me this morning on Mt William.

My first contact was with VK3HRA/P3, Allen who was on SOTA summit VK3/VS-001; VK3FPSR, Peter;  VK5WG, Nev;  VK3AMB, Bernard; VK3DET, Ernie; VK5STU/P5, Stu on Mount Gawler, VK5/SE-013; Vk5PAS, Paul;  VK5LY, Larry; VK2DAG, Matt; VK5WG, Nev; VK5NIG/P5, Nigel on SOTA summit VK5/SE-013; VK5CZ, Ian; VK3ANP, David; VK3FPSR, Peter; VK3IL/P3, David; VK3HRA, Allen; VK3AMB, Bernard; VK5MBD, Bill; VK1NAM, Andrew; VK3BHR, Phil; VK3BQ/P2, Andrew in Mount Kosciusko National Park and VK3XPT/P7, Perren at Devonport.

Kara Kara National Park, 2nd January 2014, VKFF – 629

In Kara Kara National Park

In Kara Kara National Park

Kara Kara National Park was accessed via the Sunraysia Highway, Boundary Road and then a track, probably originally a fire break along the side of the Park. We drove into the Park about 500 metres. A convenient tree provide a point for mounting the centre of the dipole and it wasn’t long before I was in business!

Eleven contacts were had from Kara Kara NP beginning at UTC 04:17: VK5LY, Larry; VK5GJ, Greg; VK3MCD/p, Brian in Mount Kosciuszko National Park on Granite Mountain, VK2 SW 015; VK5AS, Paul; VK3DET, Ernie; VK5JW, Jim; VK3AFW, Ron; VK5FDEC, Damien; VK3XPT/p, Perren portable in Devonport with his FT817; VK3MEG, Steve; VK5MBD, Bill from Red Hill.

SOTA Mt Moliagul, VK3/VN-024

VK2YW, John's S9 signal

VK2YW, John’s S9 signal

Dead stumps come in handy: near the summit of Mount Moliagul

Dead stumps come in handy: near the summit of Mount Moliagul

I have driven past Mt Moliagul many times as we travel to and from Bendigo. I have also used the 70cm repeater located there. A good signal can be received around most places in Bendigo. But today was my first visit to the summit. The gravel road, while a bit rough in places and with a steep bend near the top, could easily accommodate two-wheel drive vehicles. I parked the car a little away from the summit and walked down to the artificial tree line below the activation zone (the summit has been cleared) to inspect a tree before collecting my gear and making use of a handy stump.

Eleven contacts were made on 7090 beginning at 02:01, VK5HCF, Col; VK3VT, Greg (I used to belong to the same radio club as Greg in the late 1970’s at Greensborough and it was great to catch up with him on the air); VK5WG, Nev; VK5AK, Bob; VK2YW, John at Wagga Wagga; VK5NIG, Nigel; VK5PAS, Paul; VK5LY, Larry; VK5EE, Tom; VK2UH, Andrew and VK1VAM/p.

Greater Bendigo National Park, 2nd January 2014

Shadbolts Picnic Area Greater Bendigo NP

Shadbolts Picnic Area Greater Bendigo NP

Water Channel in GB NP

Water Channel in GB NP

Greater Bendigo National Park is comprised of a number of sections: two large ones, north and south of the city, with the southern portion divided into two smaller sections. I chose to activate a section of the park just north of Eaglehawk. Shadbolt Picnic Ground is an interesting place with a water channel winding its way through the park with plenty of spots for a picnic. I chose one of the park picnic tables to affix my squid pole and soon got down to business with my first contact at 22:34, VK3MRG, Marshall; VK3YSP, Joe on Mount Donna Buang, VK3 VC 002 in the Yarra Ranges National Park and VK3FOWL, Julie from the same spot. Then followed VK5LY, Larry; VK5KGP, Graham; VK5EE, Tom; VK3NCC/m, Colin; VK5BZ, Bob; VK5KC, David; VK3FQ, Ray; VK5LDM, Dennis; VK5NRG, Roy; and VK3ANP, David, a total of 13 contacts.

Heathcote-Graytown National Park, 1st January 2014, VKFF – 624

Private Rubbish Dump in Heathcote-Graytown NP

Private Rubbish Dump in Heathcote-Graytown NP

I activated Heathcote-Graytown National Park on route from Wangaratta to Bendigo. We found a small track leading off the main road from Nagambie  to Heathcote, where the Park borders the road and decided to explore that. The GPS reading is S36 48 700 and E145 00 090. It was here that I found the rubbish dumped in a small clearing. If we had travelled on a further two kilometres we would have found a picnic ground. Six contacts were made beginning at 02:34: VK3YSP/p at Mount Sugarloaf in the Kinglake National Park, then VK3FOWL, Julie; VK2TWR/p3, Rod on SOTA summit VK3 SW 007; VK3ARM, Robert; VK2AFA, Sam on SOTA summit VK2 NT 004 and VK5TW, Trevor.