Brisbane Ranges National Park, VKFF-0055, 17th April 2016

My reason for going to the Brisbane Ranges National Park was to participate in Amateur Radio Victoria’s ‘Show and Tell’.  I had been reading the various emails on the groups to which I belong and thought I would attend. It would be very easy to tack on two or three extra days to our trip to the Grampians National Park. I did not publicly commit to going until the Saturday before the Show and Tell. I wanted to create a bit of a surprise.

I drove on the route from Ballarat to Brisbane Ranges National Park using the track suggested by the GPS in the 4 x 4. This approach has a few narrow roads and some gravel but it is a shorter way than driving to Ballan down the freeway and driving to Boar Gully Camp Ground (the approach I took on an earlier activation).

Boar Gully Camping ground

When we arrived at the camping ground, which is just inside the Park boundary, I spotted Tony’s vehicle. We shared a warm hello and he said that the interstate parking lot is the next one down the track. He had hired two camping spots for the day. We noticed a camper already in this area but there was plenty of room for our vehicle. The owner was John, VK2AWJ, from Gol Gol New South Wales. Gol Gol is not far from Mildura, more or less on the other side of the Murray River. So the two Johns shared a car park. I have had contacts with John of many occasions and it was great to meet him. I made a point of meeting all of the participants.  I was later to have a contact, with VK5PAS/P, using John’s KX3.

There were a number of intrepid SOTA and Parks operators present and I really enjoyed meeting them all and learning from their presentations.

We had met Tony, VK3VTH, previously when I was activating Barmah National Park. Everyone else was new to me: all I had to work with was memories of photos on blogs and various websites. It worked well. I met VK3ZPF, Peter; VK3ARH, Allen; Amanda, VK3FQSO; her husband, Bob, VK3FLAK (and their three children), Chris, VK3PAT and Peter, VK3TKK. All of the above amateurs are frequently on the bands activating or chasing and I have had many contacts with them.

I also caught up again with Marc, VK3OHM, whom I met at the WIA annual general meeting 2015 in Canberra. Finally, it was really good to meet Joe and Julie, VK3YSP and VK3FOWL. We have had lots of contacts over the last three years. I learned many new ideas from Joe: his adaptation of the Aboriginal Woomera is most impressive. Instead of launching a spear this very smart device launches a lead ball with a light weight rope into very high trees. He might have had the rockets at the Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia in mind when we were all advised to stand well back from the launching area! Joe and Julie demonstrated their portable sattelite station and had a contact (which I did not see as I was discussing antennas with Tony at that time). I was also very impressed with his ‘tree-grabbers’, which provide another way of getting an antenna into a tree.

The other folk I was introduced to were all new to me.

Allen, VK3ARH, showed me his trail friendly Mountaintopper three band CW transceiver. If one was disciplined enough to use one of these the reduction in weight carried on SOTA activations would be enormous. These radios are about the size of a deck of cards!

I had quite a discussion with Bob, VK3FLAK, on air one day about remote area power supplies. He has since that discussion increased their system with more panels and larger battery size to handle more demanding loads. We have replaced the battery once and we are now in our fifteenth year of being off-grid. Most of those present displayed some parts of their portable stations and many were on the air.

At one stage I hear Paul, VK5PAS/P calling and John VK2AWJ, offered his KX3 already set up to enable me to contact Paul.

This was my only contact from Brisbane Ranges National Park.

00:40 7.095 VK5PAS/P, Paul, Cooltong Conservation Park, VKFF-0823,  s53 r57.

Show and Tell reduced

This photo shows some of the displays at the Boar Gully Camping Ground and also Bob, VK3FLAK, deep in discussion with Peter, VK3ZPF. Tony’s set up, including his tent, in in the background of the picture.

Thanks Tony, VK3VTH  and Amateur Radio Victoria and those who attended making it a most enjoyable day.



Mount Buangor State Park, VKFF-0766, 16th April 2016

After leaving Halls Gap in the Grampians we travelled along the Western Highway towards Ballarat. On leaving Ararat, Mount Langi Ghiran looms high on the left horizon above the plains. I thought an activation of Langi Ghiran State Park would be feasible. We turned off the Western Highway near the park boundary, stopped at the railway line which is right on the Park boundary to check for trains and, as it was clear, we drove into the Park along Kartuk Road to the Langi Ghiran Picnic and Camping area. There were a number of campers at the ground and I thought my activity would be too intrusive so we drove the Langi Ghiran track though the park to exit onto the Western Highway a little closer to Ballarat. The Victorian Parks Visitors Guide has an excellent map of this Park. We did not find any safe parking areas along this track suitable for an activation. I did see an excellent spot soon after driving into the Park just off Kartuk Road, but that can wait for another time.

We decided to move onto Mount Buangor State Park, VKFF-0766. From late 1970 to the end of 1972 I worked at Langi Kal Kal Youth Training Centre. When I first went there on a work experience placement for three months at the end on 1967, I was told in very clear terms to stop at railway crossings and check carefully for trains. I was told that a staff member’s wife was killed at the crossing on Langi Kal Kal Road just a few years earlier. I used to think that the goods trains on the broad gauge were impressive – but the trains on the standard gauge are even more so and they travel faster! However, the broad gauge line from Ballarat to Ararat remains just that, a broad gauge line.

We have fond memories of Mt Buangor and Mount Cole State Forest. We purchased the first of our 4 x 4 vehicles, a short wheel based Toyota Landcruiser, while we lived at Langi Kal Kal and we honed our driving skills on the often wet and slippery forest tracks.

On this visit we drove in on the Ferntree Gully Road to the Bailes Visitor Area.

Bailes visitor area

JCD photo

There was no one there. I decided to activate the Park and saw a Park bench and table that would suit my purposes admirably. I was hoping the rain would hold off: and it did! Soon after I had set up a 4 x 4 and trailer arrived with three males on board. The trailer had off-road and dirt bikes on board. I thought that would be the end of my peace and quiet. I met the Father of one of the younger men and he said that they would set up camp, the two boys would go riding and he would go back to work on a nearby property. The lads set off on the reasonably quiet bikes, the father left, I completed my activation and we had left before they returned. You can be lucky!

I set up the FT897, linked dipole on a squid pole tied to a Park post and I was on the air at 02:14z.

Radio at Mount Buangor State Park

This photo shows my squid pole affixed to a car park boundary marker with the pole protected with a PVC pipe sleeve. JCD photo

Bailes Picnic & camping ground.png

JCD photo

This photo gives a view of the Visitors Area. There are picnic tables in place and toilets. The surrounding bush land gives a good idea of what it might have been like before logging.

Bush scene at Mt Buangor

JCD photo

I had a great time. Paul, VK5PAS/P, at the Overland Corner meeting in SA, had organised the attendees to give me a call on the portable radio (a Codan) setup  by Ivan, VK5HS. I had a steady stream of contacts from Overland Corner interspersed by other stations, probably enhanced by my activation of a lesser activated Park?

Signals were really good.





VK5FMAZ/P Marija s59 r59




VK3FQSO, Amanda told me she planned to attend the ‘Show and Tell’ at the Brisbane Ranges National Park. I said not to tell any VK3s and that I hoped none were listening because I would be attending as well. I want my attendance to be a surprise!






















VK3VEF/P5 Frank at Overland Corner


VK2HHA/P5, Dennis at Overland Corner

VK3XV/P, Brisbane Ranges National Park, VKFF-0055






VK2IO/P2 VKFF-0528 P2P





VK7FMPR, Mark, near Cradle Mountain

Thanks to all who gave me a call.

It was time to pack up and drive to our accommodation at Ballarat.

At 06:12, I had a contact from the motel parking lot with Paul, VK5PAS/P5 at Pooginook Conservation Park. Signals were 5 and 9 both ways. I have an 857D in the car and I mounted my Hustler vertical antenna for 40 metres on the base on the bull bar. The Hustler whips are great. They are centre-loaded and work really well: but they are tall!