The SA brochure relating to this park is entitled Belair National Park: From Government Farm to National Park. The Park conserves both natural and built environments. It began life in 1840 when Governor Gawler established a farm for the purposes of grazing Government owned stock, for example, Police horses. In 1859 a cottage was built for the Governor, Sir Richard MacDonnell, and is now preserved as ‘Old Government House’. This building is open to the public on Sundays and public holidays, and as the brochure states, ‘provides an insight into the lifestyle of South Australia’s former gentry’. ‘In 1981, the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service was born, with the dedication of Belair National Park’.
A trap for a young or not so young player!
Today I went back to Belair National Park to try and reach the magic number of 44 contacts, so as to qualify the Park for the WWFF award. Belair National Park is a gated park and the gates are opened at 0830 and close at 1700 hours local time, that is, if you want to drive your car into the park. I was at the Park at 0700 hours local and walked into one of our usual operating spots about 300 metres from the boundary. There is a pedestrian gate at this point, near Waverley Lodge. This house is occupied by a ranger I know. I went quietly, not because what I was doing was wrong, but I simply did not want to wake up the household! It took me two trips to carry all of my gear, including a table, a chair and my FT897, two batteries, an antenna, log, clock and rain-coat to the activation spot. I anticipated a long activation period and I didn’t want to sit on the ground! Here is the link to that activation https://vk5bje.com/2014/06/01/mount-lofty-vk5-se-005-cleland-conservation-park/ The weather forecast predicted a shower and it was raining very lightly while I was setting up. I turned on the radio only to be greeted by noise over strength nine. This noise was a loud pulsing racket! The audio DSP settings on the FT897 were useless! To operate in these conditions would be impossible. Why was there noise? Well there is a major transmission line nearby. But I and others have operated here before without any difficulties. My theory is as follows: in the past this spot has been used for winter activations and the insulators are probably washed clean. While Adelaide has had some rain recently it appears not enough to dampen down the noise! I was hoping to work some DX as I was set up ready to go at 2100 hours UTC! So I packed everything away, once again making two trips, and trying not to make too much noise. I then drove around to the main gates and travelled to Long Gully where I activated the Park last Australia Day. Here is the link to that activation: https://vk5bje.com/2014/01/26/australia-day-january-26th-2014-belair-national-park/ The light rain soon stopped and I succeeded in making 23 contacts. I could not spot myself as there was not enough signal on my phone at this point.
Here is my log and all contacts were on 40 metres and before UTC rollover. 2153 VK3CTM/P3 57 43, Tony 2201 AX3FDAP/P3 57 58, Dennis 2213 AX3ARR 58 59, Andrew 2222 VK5HCF 56 55, Col and Tom at Piccaninnie Ponds CP 2231 VK3PF/P7 55 42, Peter at Narawntapu NP, VKFF-005 2238 VK3MAY 57 51, David 2254 AX3TKK 57 44, Peter 2257 AX3DAC, Fred 2300 VK3MRG/P3 51 51, Marshall at Lake Eildon NP, VKFF-625 2302 VK5FANA 51 51, Adrian 2305 VK3NCR/P2 51 58, Craig 2310 VK5GJ 51 58, Greg 2313 VK5FLEX 59 49, Peter 2315 AX5PAS/P5 59 58, Paul at VK5/SE-016 2319 VK3FQSO 59 54, Amanda 2323 VK5AA 59 57, Tom with Col at Piccaninnie Ponds CP 2330 VK7TW/P7 51 41, Justin at Mount Wellington, VK7/SC-001 2332, VK7FREU/P7 51 41, Reuben at Mount Wellington, VK7/SC-001 2342 VK1DI/P1, Ian at Mount Majura, VK1/SC-034, 2347, VK5LY 59 54, Larry, 2348 VK5NIG 59 55. Nigel, 2350 VK5KLV 59 58, Les, 2353 VK3BNJ 59 33, Stan. Thanks to all who gave me a call. Today’s efforts take my total of 55 contacts for this Park.
It was an interesting day for propagation. I thought for a while this might be my first VK5 activation without any VK5 contacts! It was only later in the morning that any near city stations were readable. For example, I knew that VK5HCF was active at Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, but it was half an hour into the activation before we successfully made contact. At the same time VK3 stations were loud and clear. VK3PF/P7 at Narawntapu National Park, VKFF-005, was worked at 22:31z and it was 23:15z before I had a contact with VK5PAS/P5 at VK5/SE – 016. While all this was happening I heard snippets of RTTY and two US SSB stations. The US voice stations were 5 and 8 to 9, but they were quickly gone! Other operators also made similar comments about the propagation.