Livingstone National Park, NSW, VKFF-292, 30th December 2014

The Park

Livingstone National Park Northern entrance

Livingstone National Park
Northern entrance

We have the New South Wales Government provided Pocket Guide to NSW Parks. We have the first edition and there may be a new edition now. Ours is dated August 2013. I thoroughly recommend the Pocket Guide, which, while free, still requires a large pocket as it contains 122 pages.

Livingstone National Park, is large at 1,910 hectares. The Pocket Guide states that ‘the Park is a relatively undisturbed area of habitat within an agricultural landscape…[T]he network of trails provide opportunities for 4WDs, trail bikes, mountain bikes and horse riders. All vehicles must be registered and off trail/road riding is not permitted’.

I must say, while I think all reasonable recreational activities must be allowed within a National Park, trying to secure a weak station qso on 40m with two trail bike riders revving their machines in the background is challenging QRM!


The Pocket Guide provides advice on how to access the Park, that is, travelling from Albury in the South or from Wagga Wagga in the North. My advice is that the best way to access the Livingstone National Park (for amateur radio purposes) is via the Holbrook Road either from Holbrook or from Wagga Wagga, and, if coming from Wagga Wagga, turn left into O’Briens Creek Road and travel six kilometres and then turn right onto Wrigley’s Road and travel three kilometres. I recommend the same if coming from Albury via Holbrook. You will take a right hand turn at O’Brien’s Creek Road. Coming from the South we found two other signposts for the Park. One of these is mentioned in the Pocket Guide. This requires taking Burrandana Road for about 10 kilometres and then taking a left hand turn at the Burandana Hall. We did this only to find that the Southern end of the Park is listed as Livingstone Conservation
Reserve and does not count as a Park for amateur radio purposes.

Livingstone Conservation Area JCD photo

Livingstone Conservation Area JCD photo

However, if you have a 4×4 you can take a track though the Park from South to North. This track is called Range Track, presumably after the rifle range next door to the Northern end of the Park. None of the maps we have mentioned the different Statutory basis for protection of the two areas. However, while waiting for my wife to take photographs of various features at the Southern end I had a contact from my car with VK3YSP/P3, Joe, who was portable in Coopracambra National Park (00:53 UTC). I also had a contact with Julie, VK3FOWL. I gave them both 5 and 7 and received 4 and 1 and 5 and 1 respectively. I indicated to Joe I would move to the Northern end of the Park and wait for him and Julie to activate Alfred National Park. I was using my Yaesu 857D in the car running 75 watts. Then to my delight I found Nick, VK3ANL/P3, on Mt Buller, VK3/VE-008 (00:59 UTC). I gave him 5 and 1 and received 5 and 9.


I was delighted to have 12 contacts. I used my Yeasu 897 set for 15 watts. I thought band conditions were reasonable for the time of day. Signals are usually attenuated of 40 metres for a period during the middle of the day, that is, when the sun is overhead.

7.095,  02:10 UTC, VK3PF/P3, Mt Glen Rowan VK3/VE-230 & Warby-Ovens National Park, Peter

7.095, 03:09, UTC, VK5IS, Ian

7.100, 03:11, UTC, VK5KLV, Les at Mount Brown Conservation Park, SA

7.100, 03:13, UTC, VK5KPR,

7.100, 03:15, UTC, VK3JP, Ron at Bendigo

7.100, 03:20, UTC, VK3YAR, Ray at Bendigo

7.100, 03:27, UTC, VK5AV, Tim at Mount Gambier

7.100, 03:31, UTC, VK5EE, Tom at Mount Gambier

7.100, 03:35, UTC, VK3YSP/P3, Joe at Alfred National Park

7.100, 03:40, UTC, VK3FOWl/P3, Julie at Alfred National Park

7.100, 03:40, UTC, VK3FQSO, Amanda

7.100, 03:43, UTC, VK3TKK, Peter

7.100, 03:20, UTC, VK3YAR, Ray

I was pleased to have 12 contacts and especially delighted to work Joe and Julie in Alfred National Park. While I have activated this Park I have never been able to secure a contact until today. I need just two more parks for a full hand (45) as a chaser.

Cattai National Park, 27th December 2014, VKFF-092

Cattai NP

Cattai National Park is in two sections. We went to the day use area on the Clarence Reach section on the Hawksbury River.

The Hawksbury River from Cattai NP

The Hawksbury River from Cattai NP

This section of the Park is not far from the historic Pitt Town. The camping ground, in the same general area, was very popular and busy. But I found a spot away from the crowds where they would not hear my voice and enjoyed a great time at this Park.

My fan club at Cattai NP JCD photo

My fan club at Cattai NP JCD photo click to expand

I did not have a great deal of time and I was fortunate to have 11 contacts, thus qualifying the park for the VKFF award.

I had contacts with the following stations: 03:47 UTC, VK3ANL/P3, Nick in Churchill NP; VK2UH, Andrew; VK3MRG, Marshall, VK3FQSO, Amanda; VK2AMF, Mike; VK2UNC, Owen; VK4GSF, George at Toowoomba; VK2IO/P, Gerard at Gosford; VK3YSP, Joe, at Burrowa-Pine Mountain NP 5 and 7 and 5 and 8, and Joe called me: VK3FOWL, Julie also at Burrowa-Pine Mountain NP: and VK1DI/P2, Ian on VK2/SM-090, Cathcart Trig, worth six points. Thanks to Andrew, VK2UH, for spotting me.

I reckon 11 contacts in just over 20 minutes salvaged the day! Thanks to all of the stations who gave me a call. It is always greatly appreciated.

Scheyville National Park, 27th December 2014, VKFF-444

Scheyville (pronounced Sky-ville) National Park is 920 hectares and located about five kilometres east of Windsor and North- West of Sydney.

It has both geological significance being the largest single remnant of Cumberland Plain vegetation on shale soil. It has grey box, forest red gums and narrow-leafed ironbark trees. It includes the Longneck Lagoon where we went for a walk. This was a great place for birds and bird-song.

Longneck Lagoon Scheyville National Park

Longneck Lagoon Scheyville National Park

Walk at Longneck Lagoon

Walk at Longneck Lagoon

Elevation - Longneck Lagoon - a small rise at the end was challenging for Grandchildren

Elevation – Longneck Lagoon – a small rise at the end was challenging for Grandchildren

On a historical view the Park includes relics of military buildings dating from the 1920s to the 1960s. And more recently Scheyville was used as a migrant hostel.

Historic Hut Scheyville National Park

Historic Hut Scheyville National Park

These few notes were take from the excellent NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service brochure. We obtained our brochure from the information centre at the Cumberland North Area Office of the service located near the 1929 Georgian Revival administration office within the Park.

I set up my station on an old building formation about 400 metres away from the administration building. I had great expectations of getting at least 10 contacts. After all is was Saturday! I checked out the noise levels on the car transceiver (Yaesu 857D).  It was noisy in an RF sense, and, later, I could even hear a nearby landowner at work with a lawn-mower. The noise peaked on 7.100 Mhz. Nevertheless I thought is was manageable and I decided to stay. I set the power level to 10 watts. I called (on 7.110 Mhz) VK3VTH/P3, Tony (01:50 UTC) who was in the Organ Pipes National Park. Signals varied but eventually we made a good contact after I wound my power up to 30 watts. I gave Tony 5 and 9 and he gave me 5 and 3. He was using a 100 watt transceiver. He was pleased with a new Park for the VKFF award.

I then heard Nick, VK3ANL/P3, on 7.105 Mhz in Churchill National Park. I first called Nick at 01:48 UTC and the finish time in my log is 01:56, but it was hard going. I gave Nick 5 and 2 and I received 4 and 6.

I heard no other stations well enough for a contact. I did hear Joe, VK3YSP/P3, but in and out of the noise. He was speaking with Peter, VK3PF/M who was on his way to a summit. My aim was to have a contact with Joe at Burrowa-Pine Mountain National Park. (I have four Parks remaining for the 45 needed for the KRMNPA, including Burrowa-Pine Mountain NP). But I heard Joe say he was two hours from his destination. I decided I would move to another Park – hopefully with less noise and in time to work Joe and Julie. Cattai National Park, VKFF-092 was set as the new destination in the GPS.

I am sure it would be possible to find an RF quieter location. Maybe the locals know the best spot. But given this was ‘taking’ a few hours off from family time I am pleased to have had two contacts.

Greater Bendigo National Park, VKFF-623, 21st December 2014

I first visited the Greater Bendigo National Park, VKFF-623, on 2nd January 2014. On that occasion I visited Shadbolt which is in the North-Westerly corner of the Park. I made 13 contacts. Here is the link to my first activation of this Park.

After promising an activation of this park I decided to visit the One Tree Hill Lookout on Sunday evening 2st December. I enjoyed six great contacts all on 40 metres.

And on Monday morning, before UTC rollover I went back to the park for a third visit, this time taking a track into the Park from the corner of Wards and Wallanjoe Roads. I worked hard for nine contacts! I guess most amateurs are back to work for a few days? I also tried 20 metres un-successfully although I did try to make contact with W1AW/KH6, which was loud. I couldn’t quite make it. I am sure he knew I was there! I now have 28 contacts from this Park, not the 44 I was hoping for more. Oh well! I will come back, I hope!

As usual we had with us our copy of the Parks Victoria Visitor Guide. This is an excellent  four A4 page document with a map on the middle double page. On the front page there is a section entitled Enjoying the Park: this is then followed by five headings (in bold); Picnicking, Camping, Walking, riding and driving, Dog-walking (in One Tree Hill Section of the Park) and Horse Riding (in two designated sections). Other recreational activities are then summarised in the last paragraph: nature study, photography, orienteering and prospecting.

I wonder when we might see amateur radio added to the last section?

Mt Moliagul, SOTA summit VK3/VN-024, 21st December 2014

After moving on from the Little Desert National Park, lunch in Horsham and a stop in St Arnaud we decided to re-visit Mt Moliagul. I last activated this summit on January 2014 on a cooler day (11 contacts).

Here is the link to my first visit to Mt Moliagul.

This time it was warm and cloud was starting to form. On the summit it was hot with barely a breath of wind. My xyl drove the 4×4 to the summit to finish her shift at the wheel.

I then followed the same procedure as I did on my first activation of the summit: I went for a walk down to the tree line, well outside the activation zone while looking around and checking whether a spot in the shade might be possible. I could find no shade in the activation zone. I carried my gear to an old notice board describing what bush-land volunteers had achieved. It was in poor shape but good enough to support my squid pole.

It didn’t take long for people to find me and VK5PAS, Paul, kindly spotted me.

I enjoyed 16 contacts including two s2s qso’s. I thought this was pretty good for an unplanned activation! I was delighted to have contacts with VK3YY, Glenn and VK3KAB, Kevin, who were at Mount Samaria. There are no activator points for me as this is my second activation within a year, but I am glad to give those listed below a chance for Mount Moliagul.

Activator Log

Time Call Band Mode Notes
04:21z VK3YY/P3 7MHz SSB VK3 VE 157
04:23z VK3KAB/P3 7MHz SSB VK3 VE-157
04:30z VK5GY 7MHz SSB Messent CP
04:35z VK3ARR 7MHz SSB Andrew
04:36z VK5PAS 7MHz SSB Paul
04:37z VK3ANL 7MHz SSB Nick
04:38z VK3FPSR 7MHz SSB Peter
04:41z VK3TCX 7MHz SSB Ian
04:42z VK3AV 7MHz SSB Bernard
04:44z VK2EXA 7MHz SSB Peter
04:45z VK3PF 7MHz SSB Peter
04:47z VK3EK 7MHz SSB Rob
04:48z VK3LED 7MHz SSB Col, Maiden Gully
04:50z VK2UH 7MHz SSB Andrew
04:53z VK5WG 7MHz SSB Nev
04:54z VK3DAC 7MHz SSB Fred

Little Desert National Park, VKFF-291, 21st December 2014

On my way from Adelaide to Bendigo I couldn’t resist the temptation to re-visit the Little Desert National Park in the Wimmera Region of Victoria. I last visited this Park in September 2013 and logged 30 contacts over the visit from two activations in two different parts of the Park.

Here is the link to my first activation of this Park.

I went back to Horseshoe Bend. I was on the air at 21:30 hours (20/12/2014) well before UTC rollover. After 31 contacts on 40 metres I moved to 20 metres (14.315) but could not get a contact. I had a listen around the band and there were a few strong signals and a WIA broadcast signal from NSW. I now have 61 contacts from this Park qualifying it for the WWFF award system. This is my first Park with over 44 contacts. Thank you to all the amateurs who made this possible.

All contacts for this Park can be seen at my log page at HRD.log and have been up-loaded to LOTW as well.

Mentoring In Amateur Radio

I have been reflecting on this topic for some time. Recently I gave two papers at the ‘Welcome To Amateur Radio Symposium’ held on the 3rd November 2014. This event was sponsored by the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society Inc., and was organised by VK5PAS, Paul, and has been described elsewhere.

Mentoring has been part of amateur radio since its beginning. The Macquarie Dictionary (Australian) provides two definitions on the word mentor. The first is a ‘wise and trusted counsellor’ and Mentor (capitalised M) ‘the friend to whom Odysseus, when departing for Troy, gave the charge of his household’. Both of these definitions suggest that a mentor is a very special person, with whom the person being mentored, has a unique and trusting relationship’. The only aspect of the Dictionary definition which encompasses the idea of training, is an addition to the first definition where a mentor is ‘someone who trains dogs for racing’.

A common sense view of mentoring

It is clear that the word ‘mentor’ has a wider meaning in every day language. It occurs not infrequently in management literature, in the press and as a synonym for a special type of supervision, usually in one-to-one relationships designed to encourage  reflective behaviour in trainee and newly graduated human service professionals amongst others. Amateurs mentioned in my blog, now deceased, were some of my early mentors, see About.

This chap needs a mentor!

This chap needs a mentor!

Picture taken from George Grammer, 1971, Understanding Amateur Radio, ARRL, Newington, CT. My caption.

The US word ‘Elmer’, used in amateur radio, captures some of this special quality. I first came across the word Elmer in ARRL publications from the late 1970s, aimed at beginners and novices. ‘The term ‘Elmer’ , meaning someone who provides guidance and assistance to would-be-hams first appeared in QST in March 1971 ‘How’s DX’ column by Rod Newkirk, W9BRD (now also VA3ZBB).  Newkirk called them the ‘unsung fathers of Amateur Radio’… ‘To frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: “Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest”‘. See ARRL (accessed 19th December 2014). Another mention of the word ‘elmer’ can be found at the Straight Key Century Club (accessed 19th December 2014).

I am not  recommending the use of the US term in Australia even though it was mentioned by one of the presenters at the Symposium. I think we should develop our own traditions! Perhaps we can all be mentors? Of course you can be a mentor and be mentored.

None of us should be too proud to acknowledge out debt to other amateurs. Barry, VK5BW, assisted me with my oscillosope images used in my first presentation and more recently with some repairs to my HF Linear. While I diagnosed the problem I wasn’t prepared to take the soldering iron to the job! Over the last few years some amateurs in the AHARS and elsewhere have approached me to assist in programming their 2m/70cm FM/Dstar radios. I am always pleased to assist. As I was preparing some notes for this post last evening my mobile rang and a member of AHARS was seeking advice on his mobile installation and DStar programming. I am not too sure how I developed this reputation but I have talked a few few though the ‘mysteries’ of Dstar on air and in person.

So getting back to the Symposium, what did I speak about? The first paper was called Making a Successful (and legal) QSO.  Here I dealt with call signs, speaking clearly and the use of phonetics, frequency of identification, on-air manners and the nature and content of a QSO. My second paper was called Simple and Effective Antennas for Amateur Radio Operators.  After providing a definition of an antenna I covered resonant and non-resonant antennas, balanced versus unbalanced antennas, directivity, polarisation, antenna couplers and basic constructional techniques. Both discussions were aimed at newcomers. Finally, it was interesting to note that the Symposium was attended by a number of new amateurs, at least one aspiring future amateur I spoke with, and surprisingly quite a few ‘senior’ amateurs, which perhaps illustrates my point that we can be both mentors and be mentored.