Mount Remarkable National Park, 27th September 2016

I was keen to get back to Mount Remarkable National Park to complete 44 plus contacts for WWFF. I had been to this beautiful park many times, including camping at Mambray Creek and have operated my portable station from three locations within the Park. Here is a link to my previous activation:

https://vk5bje.com/category/mount-remarkable-national-park/

mount-remarkable-from-matthew-flinders-lookout-arid-gardens

Mount Remarkable from Matthew Flinders Lookout over Gulf

This time I wanted to operate from the Napperby Block. The Park is in two sections and my last three activations were in the Mount Remarkable section. I checked the DEWNR web page and found that the Department was conducting pest eradication in the Napperby Block  and the nearby Telowie Gorge Conservation Park. Now while some people might consider amateur radio operators ‘pests’, I did not want to be in their ‘sights’. The most common pests are goats, not Mountain Goats of the Summits On The Air type, but four legged ones! So I decided the the Mambray Creek camping and picnic area would be a good choice. Mount Remarkable National Park attracts fees for campers and vehicles. For day visitors the cost is $10 ($8 concession). I knew from my last visit to Mambray Creek that internet coverage is only available near the main entrance and soon disappears within the folds of the hills. I stopped and paid my fee using my Ipad and credit card and saved the receipt so I could show that I had paid the appropriate fee.

I was soon in the park and drove through to the day visitors area. There was only one other couple present although there were school buses parked suggesting that there were school children camping and or walking in the park.

I was soon set up and ready to go and after checking the frequency called CQ about 10 minutes before UTC rollover. But the new day dawned before I made my first contact! I was fortunate to obtain 21 contacts as band conditions on 40 and 20 metres were poor. Contacts were made with VK 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 stations. I also tried 20 metres without success. I was hoping to be heard in VK6. Thanks to all who gave me a call and to those who patiently waited until the band opened and gained a contact quickly. Signals were not loud and QSB (fading) was rapid. I now have 44 plus contacts for this park.

mambray-creek-in-flood

This photo shows the Mambray Creek in flood.

The weather was great, warm, sunshine and no wind. It was in fact the calm before the storm! The Mambray Creek which runs through the Park was flowing rapidly and just within its banks. The Rangers had posted warnings about taking care near the creek and this Park and many others in the State were closed the next day as a result of the very severe weather system.

mambray-creek-warning-notice

This photo shows the warning notice about the creek.

The activation was leisurely  and I had many visitors both human and animal (grey kangaroos, grey butcher birds, kookaburras and many little brown birds (LBBs). A number of visitors were interested in what I was doing and, in turn, I heard stories of knowing amateurs and having a grandfather who was an amateur.

About mid-afternoon it was time to drive to our accommodation in Port Augusta and to a later dinner engagement. Tuesday evening we had dinner with Les, VK5KLV and Kaye and Peter, VK5KPR and Kate. We had a splendid evening talking about many things, not just amateur radio. Peter and Kate are long-time and active members of the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society Inc. and early Wednesday morning I accompanied Kate on a special visit to  to the Memorial Operations Centre to see the Afghan Express and steam locomotive NM 25.

This train, entirely comprised of ex-Commonweath Railways rolling stock is stabled at Port Augusta. The train will make a return journey to Quorn over the long weekend ahead. One preserved carriage was used by General Douglas MacArthur to travel from Alice Springs south and eventually to Melbourne and later Brisbane to oversee the allied war effort against the Japanese. It was at the Telowie station that MacArthur made his famous speech, ‘I shall return’. Anyone who visits this part of South Australia should, if at all possible, take a trip on the Pichi Richi Railway. Here is a link to a previous post featuring the Pichi Richi Railway:

https://vk5bje.com/category/pichi-richi-railway/

nm21-ex-commonwealth-railways-ghan-steam-engine

NM 25 ex-Commonwealth Railways locomotive

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Builder’s plate NM 25: many steam locomotives were built at Thompson & Co

dedication-plaque

Memorial to Joy Baluch AM: Mayor of Port Augusta for 29 years

coat-of-arms

Australian Coat of Arms affixed to side of carriage

Unfortunately I could not continue with my proposed activations on Wednesday and Thursday as the wind was too strong and the heavy rains were just beginning. It was raining lightly when I arrived at the Memorial Operations Centre to see the train. I knew before I left home that rain was predicted but not the cyclonic conditions that impacted quite widely on the State. At about 4.00 pm the power supply to the state shut down. We spent the evening having dinner by candlelight. The motel staff were able to complete cooking by gas and when we returned to our room we listened to ABC local radio from Port Pirie and 891 Adelaide to keep up with the unfolding drama. We decided to remain in Port Augusta on Thursday to avoid being on the roads but travelled home early Friday morning to ensure we were not further delayed by road closures at Port Wakefield. CFS crews were placing sand bags around the Lower Light Hotel as we drove past and the highway was later closed at Port Wakefield as predicted. Water was lapping at the top of the culverts on the highway at Lower Light when we passed by.

Contacts

VK7FMPR Mark

VK2CIM P2P  Hattah Kulyne National Park

VK3NCC/P

VK3FQSO

VK3FLAK

VK4FW

VK2PDH

VK3GGG

VK3PMG

VK3OHM

VK4AAC/P3

VK2PKT

VK3SQ

VK3PF

VK5EE

VK4RF

VK4HA

VK2MTC

VK3SFG

VK1AT

VK3SQ

 

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Clements Gap Conservation Park, 26th September 2016

My wife, Jenny and I decided to take a few days off and we originally planned to re-visit the Riverland for a birdwatching and amateur radio experience. We like the Riverland and have visited many times. However, after checking the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) web pages to consider some of the newly listed parks on the WWFF list, I saw that they were closed because of flooding. I was particularly interested in two parks that have not been activated as yet. Oh well, someone else might be able to have the pleasure!

Our replacement location was Port Augusta and environs. We like this part of the state and Port Augusta has been the launching pad for many of our 4×4 adventures in the past. We left home on Monday 26th September just before lunch and Clements Gap Conservation Park, VKFF-0812 was in our sights. We arranged accommodation at Port Pirie before we departed home. Clements Gap is just south of Port Pirie. In preparing for my visit I read Paul’s blog (VK5PAS).  He has previously activated this park and, as usual, it was very helpful. Les, VK5KLV, from Port Augusta, responded to my post on the Yahoo group advising of my intention to visit the area. He activated this park very recently and warned of the flies and mosquitos. He suggested lots of repellant and a fly net as well if I did not want to supplement my diet with flies!  I plastered my clothes with repellent but the little ‘nasties’ still found me!

Gap Road dissects the park. The park is a bush land oasis in an agricultural area. I found a spot on the left hand side of the road in a clearing.

clements-gap-conservation-park-map

The clearing is accessible by 4×4 and is visible on the Mapcarta map (under the nts in Clements Post Office, the left hand side of the road travelling right to left on the map).

Clements Gap CP.png

JCD photo

cumquat

Cumquat tree: native to Asia and Pacific area. There were many in the Park JCD photo

As we were to travel to Port Pirie for the evening and I only had about two hours to play I decided to erect my two band antenna for 40 and 20 metres.

I was on the air at 06:21 UTC and enjoyed 21 contact with VK 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 stations all on 40 metres. I tried 20 metres without success. Thanks to all who gave me a call and a special thanks to those who spotted me on parks and peaks. I did not have internet coverage at this point.  My station comprised my Yaesu 857D set for 20 watts,  powered from my 33 amp hour battery ‘thumper’, which was kept charged from the sun using my solar panels.

mjd-at-clements-gap-cp

JCD photo

Contacts

While I did advertise that I would call CQ on 7.144 and did for a few minutes without success I then had a listen on the bands. I finished on 7.115 and worked the following stations:

VK2NEO

VK3VC

VK3GGG

VK3PMG

VK2IO

VK1AT

VK3SQ

VK3PAT

VK5PAS

VK5KLV

VK5FANA

VK2PKT

VK5RM

VK5KC

VK3MCK

VK3FLCS

VK4AAC/P3

VK6KRC

VK3SFG

VK5KPR

VK4RF

VK4HA

VK4FW

VK3TKK/M

 

Solar Panels

At my activation of Belair National Park, on the 10th September 2016,  with Paul, VK5PAS and Marija, VK5FMAZ, I noticed that the regulator for my panels had came away from the back of the panel on which it was mounted. During manufacture the regulator, in a small plastic box, was glued to the inside of one of the panels, that is, on the back of the panel. The glue had failed. The regulator is not a flat box, but has four small feet, one on each corner moulded into the plastic. Glue had been applied to each of the four feet. These feet were about three (3) millimetres above the level of the back of the regulator. My challenge was to re-fix the regulator to the back of the panel. I used a hot melt glue and ‘secured’ the regulator. My first outing with the repaired solar panels was at Clements Gap Conservation Park. It was not long before the glue failed!

It was suggested to me by one of my amateur friends that double-sided tape would probably work. On the way into Port Augusta I purchased a roll of quality double-sided tape from a local motor spares shop. I thought I would cover the back of the plastic box with three or four strips of tape and a fix the regulator in the same spot used by the manufacturer. It was at this point I noticed the raised feet described above. So I had to think of another method using the costly tape! I covered the front of the regulator with strips of tape and then, using the ends of the tape, applied them to the back of the panel hoping that this will suffice.

Another amateur friend suggested screwing the regular box to the aluminium extrusions that form the frames of the panels. In my view the aluminium is too thin for this purpose and would require countersinking the screw heads to enable to two panels to come together to form something like a ‘book’.  I will welcome suggestions from anyone else who has experienced this problem. I have not been able to try out my repair as the weather has deteriorated and the parks have been closed.