Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, VKFF-0781, 3rd January 2023

I decided to return to Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park and try for a final activation of at least ten contacts for the Boomerang Award. The VKFF Boomerang Award recognises and rewards activators for multiple activations (at least five) to encourage ongoing visits to parks and generate activity.

I posted my intention to be on air at 00:01 UTC and I was a few minutes late. I was looking for a snake free location! Snakes have become active since the recent burst of warm/hot weather and I like to see what is around me (now more difficult because of the long grass). I get engrossed in my radio activity and it is too easy to not keep an eye open on the surrounds.

I made 11 contacts on HF: one on 80 metres and the remainder on 40. All these contacts were voice (ssb) and I used my VK5BJE call-sign.

Here is my log:

3.610 00:23 VK5KAA 59 58

7.144 00:48 VK5AYL 59 49

00:48 VK5KAA 59 49

00:51 VK2OAK/P p2p VKFF-2084 It was good to get a park to park contact with Malcolm 59 both ways.

00:52 VK3KYF 59 57

00:54 VK7QP 57 44

00:58 Vk3ZSC 56 57

01:00 VK3ACU/P qrp 53 51 Jordan was using an IC705 with power being drawn from the internal battery. I was using my IC705 with an external LiFePO4 battery.

01:04 VK3AHR 59 59 Ron at Wodonga

01:06 VK3PF 59 45

01:08 VK3SMW 59 56 Steve

I then posted on ParksPeaks that I would operate on 7.032 CW, as VK5PF. I called for 15 minutes without success. When I arrived home I checked my post and it was not on the list in ParksnPeaks. I am less surprised now about no CW contacts! I changed my radio for CW as I decided to use my stainless steel paddle which which is held in place by three strong magnets on the steel case of the radio, an FT857D. The IC705 is en-cased in a composite plastic material. Magnets do not work but I have Palm Key which also has magnets but is easier to use being held with the left hand and operated by the right. That is not an entirely satisfactory arrangement so the quest continues. the underlying parameter is to keep everything as simple and as light as possible.

The photos show, Chinese stainless steel paddle; the paddle attached to the FT857D by very strong magnets, the IC705 showing my operating frequency and finally my paper log. I can just decipher my writing!

The stainless steel paddle works well – but bear in mind it is not a precision instrument but with the internal electronic keyer in the radio the cw is quite acceptable.

Finally, I wish to thank all of the chasers and VK3OAK, Malcolm, for the park to park contact. Conditions on 40 metres are improving and I was delighted with my contact with VK3AHR at Wodonga, 5 and 9 both ways. VK2 and further north is conspicuous by absence from my log.

Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, VKFF-0971, Sunday 6th November 2022

I last visited this park on 2nd October 2022 as part of my quest to qualify for the first level of the Boomerang Award for activators. However, I should have read the rules more closely: for an activation to count for this award you need ten contacts on the one UTC day. I reached the required number of contacts but they were spread over two UTC days. Here is a link to that activation:

Sunday was a warm early summer day, almost clear sky and no wind and I chose to visit the park in the mid afternoon.

I commenced my activation at 03:59 on 7.155 Mhz on the 40 metre band.

03:59 VK3ZPF, Peter 59 57

04:17 VK2IO/P Gerard, 51 45, Park to park Gerard was at Cape Banks Aquatic Reserve, VKFF-3251

04:07 VK2VH Rob 59 55

04:08 VK4AAC/2

04:08 VK3GJG 59 54

04:17 VK2EXA 59 45

04:19 VK5HAA 59 55


04:23 VK5GA

04:29 VK3VJP 57 57

04:31 VK5YX 59 56

04:37 VK2MET. Alan, 53 52

04:37 VK1AO

04:39 VK5IS 59 59

04:40 VK5BJF

04:43 VK3BWS/P 57 41 Barry Park to park

Band conditions were better than the last few days despite QRN (mainly electrical storms in the north west and north east of the state) and atmospheric frying noise. Fading was slow and deep and I was most aware of this after calling CQ on 7.032. I called a few times and was answered by a station sending too fast for me to decode in my head. And his signal disappeared for seconds in the deep fades. I might have had a chance of a contact if the QSB was not so tough. So VK5PF didn’t get much of a run! Thanks to all who gave me a call.

Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, VKFF-0971, Sunday 2nd October 2022

On Sunday morning I decided I would visit Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, Wottons Scrub block, for a chance at completing five activations of this park with at least ten contacts per visit. Please check previous posts for details of this attractive park. As per usual with this park I had the place to myself. I enjoyed a slow, relaxed pathway to ten contacts, swapping antennas and I am fairly certain the the sun was responsible for a gap in the contacts mid to late morning: making contacts was hard going. Here is the link to my previous visit to this park.



23:23 7.135 Mhz VK5VC 59 57 Charlie. Charlie was conducting the call-back on 40m after the Sunday morning Wireless Institute of Australia broadcast. I listened to the broadcast on VK5RAD, two metre FM repeater, as I was driving to the park. He invited me to take the frequency after the call-back. Thank you Charlie.

23:38 VK5NPP 57 53

23:40 VK5AR/P 58 53

23:42 VK5PAS, Oceania DX station 59847, 59001. Paul went on to make over 1009 contacts in the Oceania DX contest. See Paul’s blog for a detailed report.

23:45 VK5YP, 59 53, Wayne at Kadina

23:48 VK5ZX/P in Riverland near SA/Vic border. Matt. 59 52


7.130 00:54 VK5KAA 59 59 Gordon

14.316 01:15 VK5KAA 56 51

14.300 01:20 VK4BAR 59081 59002

14.190 01:30 VK2R (operator, Gerard, VK2IO) 59167 59003, Gerard was in VKFF-3260, making a Park to Park contact.

14.290 02:00 VK2W, 59055 59003

14.300 02:15 VK4BAR, 59082, 59006

Total 12 contacts, one duplicate. Thanks to all who gave me a call.

For all contacts made on 40 metres I used a Buddipole Pro vertical antenna. I am not in a position to make a comparison with the 40/20 metre home brewed dipole but it seemed to work well. It is smaller and fairly easy to erect and get going. I experimented in trying to get it tuned in the first instance following the instructions. In the end I found that using my analyser confirmed my settings . My practice took place at home and on some park visits. I could get a really good match. On Sunday I decided I would rely on my practice to get it going on two bands. I did not use the analyser. The radio, an IC705, showed a vswr of about 1 to 7, on 40 metres, therefore usable. However the AH5 tuner quickly adjusted the tuning so that the radio was looking into a 50 ohm load. Finding the correct positions for the taps on the antenna coil (centre loaded) is foolproof. The most critical adjustment is that for the counterpoise. There are coloured indicators on the wind-out wire for each band and on 40, 20 and 15 no adjustment of the whip is required.

On 20 metres the first two contacts were made on the vertical and the remainder on the dipole. I had a tune around the bands and the DX was strong. Operating at ten watts I decided not to get amongst the DX stations. I worked a few Australians on 20 metres and all were easy contacts. I found to ensure a repeatable installation the counterpoise needs to be close to a metre above ground (three feet above the ground, US manufactured antenna) and I used a steel electric fence pole, just a bit over a metre long and with plastic insulators strategically placed along the pole and a place for your foot to drive it into the ground. Using the top insulator the counterpoise is at least three feet above ground. I had trouble with the tuning until I sorted out the counterpoise. The antenna is very well made and I mounted mine on an aluminium camera tripod. I will take some photos next time I use the antenna in a park.

I suspect theoretically the dipole will work better on close-in stations and the vertical, with a lower angle of radiation, may be better with DX stations.

I will try the vertical on DX soon.

Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, VKFF-0971 9th August 2022


On Monday evening I checked the weather forecast and the Bureau of Meteorology suggested a fine and sunny day for Adelaide.I decided that I would activate Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park at the Wottons Scrub Block. This park has four sections and a fuller description can be found at my earlier post on this park dating from April 2016.

On that occasion I made 51 contacts thus activating the park for the WWFF award. Here is a link to that activation –

I set up my station in the same location. But just about everything had changed – previously I used a second hand Yaesu 897D and a Sota beams linked dipole antenna. I no longer own the 897D – it was a good radio but a bit too big and I mainly used 10, sometimes 20 watts, so I purchased a Yaesu 857D, the same radio apparently in a smaller package. I had it with me yesterday but did not use it. My set up is now an IC705 and the matching AH5 tuner, a 12 amp hour LiFePO4 battery and two home made antennas. One is a linked dipole for 40 and 20 metres and the other is a linked dipole for 15, 17 and 10 metres.

I set up for 15 metres and did not get a contact. I did not try 17 but moved to 40 metres after changing the antenna. Propagation was strange. Signals came and went in seconds I could get a word, for example, a callsign and not hear the rest of the transmission. This happened with VK2IO on 20 metres. There was also echo on some signals. I was told by others who were activating parks on the east coast that they had similar experiences. At least it wasn’t a total black-out. I was told what we experienced was the end of solar storms and ejections and that conditions will probably stabilise in a day or two! A check of some of the sun weather internet sites confirmed what I was told and what I had suspected, that the earth was in a direct path from a storm on the sun; a second wave, on Monday.

I enjoyed the following contacts on 40 metres before transferring to 20 metres.

01:44 Z VK3BEZ/P in VKFF-0753 Brian

VK2RK Robert

VK2ACR Robert

VK5IS, 59 56 There was an interesting echo on Ian’s voice.

VK5GY Gordon

VK5LA Andy

VK3PF Peter

VK3MTT Therese

VK2IO Gerard

VK4JT John

VK5KAA Gordon

VK3BWS/P in VKFF-0747 Barry

20 metres 02:37 Z

ZL1BQD 51 52 Roly

VK3BWS/P in VKFF-0747 Barry


VK4EMP Mark Brisbane

VK4TJ John

ZL1TM 52 57Andrei

Thank you to the successful callers and to those who tried to make a two way contact.

Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, 3rd April 2016, VKFF-0781, 5CP-104

An Activation to commemorate the third anniversary of the South Australian National and Conservation Parks award program for radio amateurs.

Kenneth Stirling CP Wotton Scrub

I chose to activate the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park in the Wottons Scrub section. The Park is in four sections: Filsell Hill, Wottons Scrub, White Scrub and Burdett Scrub. Filsell Hill is the largest of the four sections and some time ago I set to activate this section. The Park is only accessible though private property and as I had made no arrangements I abandoned my plans. However, Wottons Scrub is easy to find and is well sign-posted. My wife and I checked out access about a week ago and have resolved to return to Wottons Scrub for a walk. Much of the land for this Park has been acquired for the people of  South Australia and the nation by the generosity of benefactors. The park is named in memory of Kenneth Stirling, one such benefactor and so was Wottons Scrub (a Mr Wotton).

I chose to set up in the park on the track which leaves the gate where I parked. I took my gear about 100 metres into the park within a small cleared area and set up my station there. I was probably invisible to motorists driving the road, but I could see back to the car park from my spot and I made sure I did not impede bushwalkers. However, there were no walkers: I had the Park to myself.

The Shack


FT897, log and LiFePO4 battery

The photo shows the Yaesu 897, my LiFePo4 battery (8.4 amp hours), clock in UTC, and my log (with writing showing the end result of being a note taker for too long!).

My station & ten metre squid pole mounted on tripod

This photo shows another view of my station. The ten metre squid pole is mounted on my tripod and the ends of the linked dipole are in trees at about two metres from the ground. It is a splendid location.

Looking down the track

This photo shows the view looking down the track away from the gate.

Looking towards Gate from track

This photo is taken from the track looking back to the Gate. My operating position was on the right hand side of the track heading away from the gate.

My contacts

I was on the air at 23:45 UTC (2nd April 2016) and my first contact was with Peter, VK3PF/P in VKFF-0113, Coopracambra National Park, in East Gippsland. Signals were 5 and 7 both ways. A Park to Park contact over such a distance with two low power stations was a good omen. Thanks Peter for the excursion to East Gippsland.

23:17 VK4AAC/P3 Rob was in VKFF-0961 Cobram Regional Park. Signals were 5 and 9 both ways. A second Park to Park contact sequentially – this is really great. Thanks Rob, we appreciate your mammoth excursion. Then in succession I had contacts with: VK2BJP, VK3ZPF, VK3MCD, VK3FADM, VK4FW, VK2IO/p at 23:32. Gerard was in Belford National Park, VKFF-0023, 5 and 2 both ways. I had already worked Gerard in this park from home but it was great to have a Park to Park contact. Then followed VK3AFW, VK2XXM, VK3MRH and then VK6MB. I gave Mike 5 and 6 but he had noise and he gave me 3 and 2 However, it was great to have the contact on 40 metres. VK4RF and VK4HA were both 5 and 8 and I received 5 and 5. It was good to get Rick at such a good level.  Then followed VK1MA, VK3DPG, VK3VWS/P, VK2NP and on the 3rd of April just after UTC rollover, Peter, VK3TKK and  Tony, VK3AN, about to do a Foundation assessment for an aspiring amateur, Barry, with whom I had a discussion and wished him well and then VK7MBP near New Norfolk in Tasmania s5 and 8 and 4 and 5 received.  At 02:22 Mick, VK3PMG, 5 and 7 and 5 and 5. There were no South Australians in the log at this stage. Perhaps they were all worn out and were sleeping in? I knew they were out and about and had received reports from other stations commenting on the number of VK5s in the field. There was no short skip. I saw the contact with Mick, VK3PMG as a sign conditions were beginning to change. The came VK3MCK, VK3ZMD, VK3FQSO, VK3AWG, VK3FAHP/P and VK3AN a second time.

At 00:40 I had a slightly longer contact with Tony, VK5ZAI/P3 who was camped at Laanecoorie Weir, about 30 kilometres from Bendigo, Signals were 5 and 8 and 5 and 9 received.  At 00:50, VK3DBP, VK1AT/P3 at Raymond Island in Gippsland, VK5PAS/P, Paul, a Park to Park contact who was operating from VKFF-0940, Waitpinga Conservation Park. While we made a successful contact it was hard work for Paul, 5 and 7 and 5 and 1 received.

At 01:18  I had contacts with VK5GJ/P, Greg and VK5GI/P, Norm, who were operating from VKFF-0999, Bandon Conservation Park. At last a sure sign that propagation was beginning to open up locally. I then worked John, VK2YW, 5 and 9 both ways, VK3VTH/P5, Tony at VKFF-0792, Big Heath Conservation Park in the South East of South Australia and VK5ZGY/P, Greg in Billiatt Conservation Park, VKFF-0821. Then followed VK3EJS and VK5PL, David in the Marne Valley Conservation Park, VKFF-0906. Adrian, VK5FANA was in VKFF-0876,  Carribie Conservation Park. I then worked Peter, VK3PF/P at Mount Raymond, in Mount Raymond Regional Park, VKFF-0975.

Then followed VK3AIG, VK5HSX/P, Stef in Beachport Conservation Park, VKFF-0791, VK5TN, VK3SIM, VK5AAH, David in the Fort Glanville Conservation Park, VKFF-1031, VK5PAS/P, Paul in Waitpinga Conservation Park, VKFF-0940, VK7CW, Steve in Tasmania, VK3MEG, VK5AV and finally, VK1AD, Andrew. This was a rare contact for Andrew and I. He is either QRP and propagation is not working in our favour or noise is an issue at his end.

In summary, I enjoyed 51 contacts and thus qualified the Park, with contacts from VKs 1 through to 7. The highlight for me was working 14 other Park operators, or Park to Park contacts. Thanks to all of the operators: at home or in the field who helped make this morning activation so successful.