I woke to a hot, humid but dry day and very still. A mass of unstable, moist air, laden with storms and electrical activity stretched like a giant finger across the continent from the Kimberley in Western Australia towards Victoria. This tropical weather system impacted a swathe of country including bits of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and extending to Tasmania. It is called a La Ninia system. La Ninia in Australia is associated with increased rainfall and for a Hills dweller like me, reduces the fire risk in the Mount Lofty Ranges.
We have been in exile! Perhaps I mean in isolation? I really mean in self-imposed quarantine. My wife and I have taken responsibility for our own care during the pandemic. We are both triple vaccinated and we keep a low profile. I do walk everyday in one of our local conservation parks, dog and bike free, in theory. When I hear or see runners or bikes on the tracks and out of control dogs, I quickly step aside and give way. I wish the rangers were more prominent and issued more on-the-spot fines more often!
We decided to stay home for Australia Day. The word Australia derives from the Latin Terra Australis. Terra Australis was the name given to a possible great south land hypothesised by scientists and navigators. Matthew Flinders began using Australia in his writings from 1804 and popularised it. In 1824 the British Admiralty agreed to adopt the term Australia for the continent.
Australia as a nation was initially comprised of six self-governing colonies and Federation took place on 1st January 1901. Federation Day would make a less contentious day for Australia day than January 26th 1788, when New South Wales was established as a prison colony.
So for Australia Day I had the choice of entering into a new trial contest or getting on the bands and working a few stations. I chose getting on the bands and seeing how many stations I could work in just a few hours not as a block of time but in episodes that were convenient. No doubt the contesters have had a lot more contacts than me, but I am now in my ninth decade and am taking my life in a more leisurely way: playing radio, reading and writing and enjoying some music. I am vulnerable to Covid 19 because of my age and comorbidities. I prefer my real ham shack to the virtual ham shack in the sky!
So I decided I would work on the 20, 15 and 10 metre bands over a number of time slots but the most active period was late afternoon and early evening when the 10 metre band opened to Europe. I enjoyed 102 contacts (qsos) with 17 countries. The late afternoon and early evening 10 metre band opening into Europe enabled my to increase my country count on this band. All contacts were made using the data mode of FT8.
Image from Club Log: the sprint on 10 metres (click to expand)
This image from Logbook of the World shows my current totals for all bands I operate. Club Log, which includes all my call signs, shows I now have 142 DX entities/countries confirmed.
I had a fun radio day and thank all the operators from overseas who now have AX5BJE in their logs.
The Australian prefix for amateur radio stations is VK. The Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) sometimes allows the VI prefix to be used for special event stations. We are permitted to use AX on Australia Day and Anzac Day (25th April) and I chose to use the AX prefix for my station. I suspect it made a difference with more stations chasing me. The AX prefix is also permitted on World Telecommunications Day in May each year.