National Tree Day 2nd August 2020

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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 And I have written a two volume Memoir, not for publication but it does include a chapter on amateur radio.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


VK3BH, 18th July 2020

Bert Hansen, then VK3BH, taught me morse code in 1974 at the WIA radio theory course which I refer to in my About page. He was a very good telegraphist. Recently Mike Flowers, K6MKF, Secretary of the Northern Califorian DX Club, sent me the following card for VK3BH. Mike had found my reference to VK3BH after ‘poking around on the web’.

The operator’s name was Charles Whitelaw and the card was sent to W6IKQ. This card and others were sent to Mike from the daughter of one of the Northern California DX Club’s founding members, Felix “Phil” Caldera, W6IKQ. The card was obviously an important confirmation and included the message on the rear side. Note that there is no VK country reference, although the call area number three (3) is included in the call-sign. Mike thought I would like a copy. The card is dated 7th April 1938 just before World War II and just before Australian amateurs were required to shut down their stations. I never met Charles Whitelaw but I suspect that there may still be a few amateurs alive who remember him.

The question that arises for me is, was Bert Hansen the next holder of the call sign after Charles Whitelaw? I cannot answer that as I did not own a call-book until 1976. Someone in VK3 may know the answer. Thanks for the card Mike and the history associated with it. I am sorry you have to postpone your visit to Australia because of Covid 19.

VKFF Hunter Award, 24th August 2019

I was pleased to cross the 800 threshold late in August 2019. Thanks to all of the activators who made this award possible. In more recent times CW (VK5PF) contacts are making nearly a quarter of my qsos. That has slowed down a bit with Gerard, VK2IO, overseas at the moment.

World Ranger Day 31st July 2019, Mylor Conservation Park, VKFF-0785.

World Ranger Certificate 31st July 2019
Dame Jane Goodall

Dr Dame Jane Goodall

”World Ranger Day both commemorates Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and celebrates the critical work Rangers do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures.

World Ranger Day is observed annually on the 31st of July and is celebrated by the International Ranger Federation’s (IRF’s) member Associations, The Thin Green Line Foundation, and by organisations, schools and individuals who support the work of Rangers and the IRF worldwide.

The first World Ranger Day was observed in 2007 on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the IRF.

Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on the sacrifice that these Rangers make; to honour the fallen Rangers and their colleagues who still bravely undertake their role in the field.”

The Photo and article comes from the This Green Line Organisation.

I chose to spend some of a bleak and cold winter’s day in Adelaide in the Mylor Conservation Park. This park is close to home: about six kilometers and is one of a number of the Greater Mount Lofty Parks nearby. I have activated the park a number of times and here is a link to my most recent activation:

My operating position is on the extension of Whitehead Road after it enters the Park. I setup about 100 metres inside the park. My XYL helped carry my gear.


I worked Peter, VK3PF/P, at 02:59 from The Tara Bulga National Park (VKFF-0480). I had just set up and the antenna was set for 40 metres. However, I knew I had locals waiting for me on 80 metres and the following stations were worked:



VK3TKK/p VKFF-2452 The Spit Wildlife Reserve


VK2IO/5 Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs National Park VKFF-1114


VK6MB/3 Wychitella Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2236

40 Meters

VK4SOE/P Sundown National Park VKFF-0471

VK5OQ/3 Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

VK6MB/3 Wychitella Nature Conservation Park VKFF-2236




VK2IO/5 Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs National Park VKFF-1114

VK3PI/P Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264 and VK3/VU-009



VK4HNS/P Tamborine National Park VKFF-0475



VK3PF/P Traralgon South Nature Reserve VKFF-2465

I made 21 contacts which included 11 park to park qsos. Soon after 04:12 I indicated that I would go QRT. It was cold!

I thank all of the chasers who gave me a contact and was delighted with my 80 metre results of seven stations which included two from VK3 and Gerard, VK2IO/5 at the Mound Springs in outback South Australia. I was pleased to participate in World Ranger Day from Mylor Conservation Park. I enjoyed the time out in the park especially the friendly, familiar voices and the chasing of other park operators.

Hunter Certificate 744 references, 25th July 2019

I sent off an application yesterday for this award for working 744 unique references. And the certificate was in my email this morning! I have had a bit of fun ever the last few weeks chasing VK2IO, VK6MB, VK3PF and VK1DI while they have been operating from parks in a variety of states. It has been really good to gain so many new parks. A big thank you to the activators.

VKFF Hunter Award 5th July 2019

My hunting activities tend to be in bursts, based on how I am traveling. This year has been challenging and I now have a TCXO (pacemaker) on board! I am hoping when this settles down I can get back to activating. I am pleased to log 700 different VK areas. Thanks to those intrepid activators who get outside, no matter what the weather, to keep us, the hunters busy.