National Tree Day 2nd August 2020

About National Tree Day - National Tree Day

Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, VKFF-0782 & 5CP 127

Mark Oliphant Conservation Park

Yes, it has been a long time since my call has been heard from a National Park. My last activation was on 31st July 2019 and on the 31st August 2019 I was admitted to hospital for major surgery.

…tell me my fate
Put me upright, make me walk straight

These reflective words from Bob Dylan’s wonderful song ‘Mother of Muses’ from his recent album (Rough and Rowdy Ways, Columbia) touched me and I could identify with them immediately. I can walk straight but the upright stance still needs a bit of work! My muse is a local physiotherapist.

The last 12 months have gone by fast but I did do some other things. In amateur radio I have become active in DMR which has quite a steep learning curve to master the basics (more so than DStar or C4FM). I have a hot spot operational as I am a little too far from the repeater for hand held radio access. If I had a shack radio (mobile, not high on my priority list) I would be able to access the repeater direct. I once tried DMR portable but did not have my radio programmed properly (see my blog post I put DMR aside from that time until a few months ago when I decided to re-kindle my interest.

I have kept up my cw although not at the same pace as when Gerard, VK2IO was portable through winter of 2019 in VK2, VK3 , VK5 and VK8 and we, on some days, had two or three cw contacts. And I have written a two volume Memoir, not for publication but it does include a chapter on amateur radio.

So Sunday 2nd August, National Tree Day, was a beautiful, warm mid-winter day. I had posted my intention to activate the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, which is about two kilometres from home. As I look out my family room window to see Mount Lofty, the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park is in the foreground. Gerard, VK2IO/5 activated this park while in Adelaide. I have activated this park four times for WWFF and SANCPA. My most recent activation was in 2016. I have also walked the various trails through the park on many occasions over the last year. I have a goal of one half hour walk per day and most days my walk is between 50 minutes and one hour. It has helped me to get reasonably fit again and aid in my recovery. I never thought much of this park, especially when comparing it with Scott Creek Conservation Park which is also nearby and where I walk most frequently. However, I have revised my opinion and the walks are quite excellent, steep approaches and very picturesque, especially in the higher parts of the park. On Sunday with the dappled light filtering through the trees it was beautiful.

Walking Trail

This park was re-named to honour Sir Mark Oliphant (born 8th October 1901 and died 14th July 2000) academic, nuclear physicist and former Governor of South Australia (1971 – 1976). While Governor he spoke up about the conservation values in the Adelaide Hills (for more information about Sir Marc see Wikipedia and Obituaries Australia).

My walk approx 3.5k 2nd August 2020
The downward slope


My station comprised my FT857D set for ten watts, a linked dipole and 33 amp hour gel cell battery. I used my Ipad to access the internet, but I should have read the SA National Parks and Wildlife information on this park where it is stated that mobile coverage is patchy in places. My location was one such place and a new spot for me – perfect in every way except for patchy mobile coverage. I could see Parksnpeaks and spent my time chasing other stations. The one attempt to put up a spot did not work and re-located me (at the speed of light) to another park some kilometres away!

I have previously activated this park on four occasions, most recently 15th January 2016 and have it qualified for wwff. I will now be able to count the five activations for the boomerang award! Click on Mark Oliphant Conservation Park in the Index on the right hand side of my blog page if you wish to see more photos including the naming plaque for Sir Mark Oliphant (see post on 1st December 2015).

What I did fail to do was to take the manual for the 857D. It is just over 12 months since I used the radio and I could not remember which of the three rear sockets was the correct one for the CW key. John, VK5HAA, kindly checked the on-line manual, and I was rewarded with working John twice (CW): once as VK5PF and the second time with VK5BJE. I always struggled with the orphan ‘e’ on the end of my call for CW but the practice I have done over the last three or so years found me rattling off the ‘e’ like a real ‘old-timer’! Well, I should be honest. I am an ‘old-timer’!


40m ssb

  1. I was on the air at 01:17 and my first contact was with Gerard, VK2IO/P. Gerard was in VK2/ST-039 also VKFF-1195

2. 01:23 VK2YK/5 Adam at VKFF-1023 Cuddlee Creek Conservation Park

3. VK5PAS/P Paul, Bullock Hill Conservation Park, VKFF-0873

80m ssb

4. VK5CZ/P Ian, VKFF-0871 Bird Island Conservation Park

5. VK5PAS/P Paul, VKFF-0873

6. VK5IS Ian

7. VK5GY Gordon

8. VK5HAA John


10, VK2YK/P 59 57 VKFF-1023 Cudlee Creek Conservation Park

11. VK5AYL Sue

40m ssb

12. VK3SG Leith

13. VK3ZPF/QRP Peter

14. VK3VDX Ian’

15. VK2VH Rob

16. VK4AAC/2 Rob

17, 40m CW as VK5PF

18. VK5HAA, John 599 599

40m CW as VK5BJE

19. VK5HAA 599 599 John

40m ssb

20. VK5HAA John

21. VK5PI Mark

22. VK3PF Peter VKFF-0619 Alpine National Park

23. VK2HHA Dennis

24.VK2VH Rob

25. VK4FDJL Deryk VKFF-0315 Millstream Falls National Park

26. VK5FMAZ Marija VKFF-0873 Bullock Hill Conservation Park

26 contacts with some duplicates, that is same call, same band, same mode.

My certificate of participation – thanks Paul