Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, VKFF-0782, 15th January 2016

Over the last two years VK5PAS, Paul, the originator of the SANCPA award program, has established a tradition of Friday late afternoon or early evening activations of South Australian National and Conservation Parks for the award. This award encourages portable amateur radio operations from South Australian Parks. It has become quite popular and a number of portable operators in the state make the effort to set up in a Park and lots of South Australian chasers and even more from interstate reward the activators with contacts. From the point of view of the portable operators, the activity develops planning skills, navigation techniques, introduces them to SA’s great parks as well as developing amateur radio skills associated with setting up a satisfactory low-power station and using battery power. Of course the activity develops operating skills, on-going learning of communication techniques, which not only benefit the individual, but perhaps may be useful to community organisations or help with developing a career.

For me, it is just fun. I have always enjoyed portable operations. So I decided to return to the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, VKFF-0782, for the fifth time. I was keen not only to assist chasers obtain this park but also to gain a score of 44 contacts to qualify this Park for the WWFF award. I always enjoy hearing from the operator at the other end say ‘this is a new Park for me’.  On Friday evening I secured 38 contacts, including three duplicates, my overall cumulative score more than reaching the required 44. Here is a link to my previous activation:

The Park

I was pleased to be able to briefly discuss the symbolism of operating from this Park, with one of my contacts. The Park is named after a very prominent Australian scientist, who was also a conservationist and a past Governor of South Australia. Of course Sir Mark was interested in radiation, from nuclear energy, slightly different to the electro-magnetic radiation we play with! He also invented the Magnetron.

In my post of 11th December 2015 I included a photo of the plaque with the citation to Sir Mark. The operator told me he had read my earlier post and had noted the detail about Sir Mark.

Mark Oliphant Conservation Park

This map, taken from a Park Guide shows the location of the Park in relation to Belair National Park, Cleland Conservation Park and Scott Creek Conservation Park. The brochure indicates that the ‘main function is to conserve an important example of the Adelaide Hills Forest Environment’. Messmate and Brown Stingybark trees dominate the forest canopy.

Map of Mark Oliphant CP

On this occasion I chose as my operating location an area just inside the Park near the point marked 6 on the map. Travel down Evans Drive (from the Heathfield end), a gravel track, until you reach the park boundary on your right hand side and you will come to a gate. When turning from Scott Creek Road into Evans Drive the Park begins on the corner and is thus on your left hand side at the turn.  Near point 6 is a better location for the amateur radio operator than just inside the main gate (where the dedication plaque can be found). Maps courtesy of the SA Government.


I operated on 40 metres. I did briefly listen on 20m and decided not to stay! I was on the air at 05:25 and enjoyed the following contacts:

05:31 VK2GAZ/P, Garry in VKFF-0544 (Park to Park contact) Woolemi National Park

05:35 VK3FLCS

05:43 VK5PET/P Peter in VKFF-0784 Mount George Conservation Park

05:47 VK3NBL

05:50 VK2VW

05:52 VK3AWG

05:53 VK3DQW

05:57 VK3EMI

05:57 VK5GJ/QRP

05:59 VK3PMG

06:00 VK3TKK/M

06:02 VK5FLEX

06:04 VK5PET/P Peter in VKFF-0784 (P2P) Mount George Conservation Park

06:07 VK5NRG

06:10 VK3YAR

06:14 VK5FANA

06:18 VK5GY/M

06:19 VK4RF

06:21 VK4HA

06:25 VK5AKK

06:30 VK3PF

06:31 VK3FPBI

06:38 VK7NWT

06:41 VK2FROD

06:44 VK3MCK

06:46 VK3YB

06:50 VK5PET/P5

06:57 VK2IO

07:00 VK3HRA

07:02 VK5YX

07:10 VK5KLV

07:12 VK5EE

07:13 VK5KPR

07:25 VK2FROD

07:16 VK5AW/P5 Adrian in VKFF-0372 Murray River National Park

07:19 VK3JK

VK5PAS/P5 Paul in VKFF-1029, Ettrick Conservation Park

Thanks to the operators in VK2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 who gave me a call. And a special thanks to those who spotted me: it makes a great difference to the activity!



Mount Ainslie, SOTA, VK1/AC-040, VKFF-0850, 24th December 2015

After discussions with Andrew, VK1AD, I decided to activate Mount Ainslie, VK1/AC-040 (also VKFF-0850), on the 24th December 2015. I had previously activated this summit courtesy of Andrew, then VK1NAM, in May 2015. Here is a link to that activation:

Andrew planned to visit Mount Stromlo, VK1/AC-043, hoping to work six and ten metre contacts via sporadic E propagation. Six metre contacts to VK5 have been achieved and early morning 10m contacts into the USA also have also been fairly regular occurrences. I was keeping my fingers crossed in relation to six metres. After my experiences of six metres in Canberra in May 2015 during the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) Annual General Meeting, I decided to make a six metre dipole. It was that antenna I planned to use from Mount Ainslie on this occasion. However, I began my activation on 40 metres and my log is reproduced below. I had an hour and a quarter playing on 40 metres before the six and ten metre activity began. I had a great time.

Mount Ainslie 23122015

Mount Ainslie Log 23/12/2015

Mount Ainslie Log 24/12/2015

Mount Ainslie Log 24/12/2015

As can be seen from the log I had a number of contacts on 6 metres: all were with Canberra stations except one, VK2UH, Andrew at Yass. My radio was set for ten watts and I was using a half wave dipole. I was delighted with all of the six metre contacts, but especially the contacts with VK2UH. I also had a contact with Andrew, VK1AD, on two metres FM on 146.500. This was a first for me in the SOTA program. I used an ICOM 80AD set for 500 milliwatts. Signals were 5 and 9 both ways both before and after UTC roll-over. All contacts with VK1AD were, of course, summit to summit (s2s). I have resolved when I return home to add ten metres to my six metre dipole by turning it into a two band linked dipole. While there was no sporadic E on this occasion I had a great time and wish to thank Andrew, VK1AD, for being on Mount Stromlo and making the VHF s2s contacts possible. I also wish to acknowledge VK2HRX/P, Compton, who called me on 7.090 Mhz from VK2/MN-132 also a s2s contact.

The Park

Mount Ainslie rises 843 metres above sea level (or 2,766 feet). It is a hill in the City of Canberra and is visible behind the Australian War Memorial. The views from the top are great. There is a photo in my account of the previous activation in the archives for May 2015. Mount Ainslie is a summit in the Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve which now counts for the World Wide Flora and Fauna Award and has the VKFF-0850 number.


Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, VKFF-0989, 23rd December 2015

I planned three radio excursions while we stayed in Canberra. In the end I achieved two.  My attempt to activate Mount Stromlo, VK1/AC-043 was abandoned. While I did read a number of blogs about this SOTA summit which suggested that the second hump, about 500 metres away from the Australian National University’s new building and the telescopes was suitable, on the day I decided it was too warm and too humid for the walk. I tried two locations and the noise level was about S8. I wanted to activate this summit because it was one I was not able to visit during May when I attended the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) Annual General Meeting. So I then decided to travel to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, VKFF-0989, about 37 kilometres from Canberra. This is a gated Park. On arrival I purchased an entry ticket ($7.50). This was a concession for Seniors. I didn’t ask for the concession. My hair colour probably did the trick! I didn’t regard this as ageist or reverse discrimination and I told the Rangers why I was visiting the Park and asked could they suggest any good locations. They were very interested in my radio activities. I took the liberty of giving them Andrew’s (VK1AD) blog URL and also mine. They produced a map, marked two spots, and suggested that I have a look. I checked out both locations and settled on the second away from any visitors. I had the area to myself for the whole time. I was impressed!

My spot at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

My spot at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

I enjoyed 22 contacts beginning at 01:25z on 7.095 Mhz and concluding on 14.310 Mhz.

01:25 VK2HPN 57s 51r, Phil

01:37 VK2FDAV 57s 55r, David Grafton

01:39 VK2IO 59s 46r

01:50 VK4RF 55s 55r

01:53 VK4HA 55s 55r

0152 VK3FQSO 53s 52r

01:54 VK2VW 59s 55r Brett

01:57 VK5FANA 54s 33r Adrian

02:02 VK3PMG 59s 43r

02:09 VK2NNN 59s 55r

02:07 VK1AD 52s 52r Andrew

02:08 VK2IO  59s 56r

02:10 VK2ZPF 59s 54r Peter

02:11 VK2YK/P 59s 55r Adam South West Rocks

02:17 VK3FLCS 52s 55r Brett Macedon Ranges

02:20 VK2EIR 59s 59r Joe Castle Hill

02:24 VK2VKB 57s 57r Kevin

02:26 VK3UH 55s 55r

02:28 VK6HSB/P2 59s 57r Steve at the Mystery Bay Caravan Park

02:32 VK2LKW 59s 59r Wolfgang Blue Mountains

02:47 VK2NBL 59s 58r Ray Melton

02:55 14.310 VK4ABJ 59s 58r  Jeff Rockhampton

Operating conditions at Tinbinbilla Nature Reserve

Operating conditions at Tinbinbilla Nature Reserve

On this activation I used the FT897 set for ten watts and LiFePO4 batteries. The battery just visible under my lunch bag (insulated), which was used to keep the direct sunlight off the battery. This photo was taken in a quiet spot between my contacts with VK2LKW at 02:32 and VK3NBL 02:47. The FT 897 travels in the black plastic case protected by an foam inner lining. The picnic table was about 75 metres from the car park. The drive from Canberra to the Park is well sign-posted and I recommend this Park to any visitors to the ACT.

Again I would like to thank all of the chasers who helped make this activation so enjoyable.

tID 2

The map shows a portion of the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (Map courtesy of the ACT Government). The two areas coloured in red are the suggestions made to me by the staff. I chose Webbs which is near the turning circle in the top shaded area.