Scott Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-0788 & 5CP-207, 25th March 2016

A Good Friday activation

On Friday afternoon, Good Friday, VK5PAS, and I, visited Scott Creek Conservation Park for a joint activation. In addition to the usual HF station we wished to add to the number of bands used by adding some VHF and UHF capability. But more on that later.

I have activated this park many times and have qualified the park for the WWFF program. Here is a link to my last activation:

Our objectives were:

First, to field test a Spiderbeam asymmetrical dipole designed to work on five HF bands. This antenna is quite impressive and well-made, but like most, if not all, Off Centre Fed (OCF) antennas, presents a higher than desirable VSWR on some of the bands. Paul, who is the reviewer, will say more about this. If you use 100 watts and want an excellent antenna for camping, are prepared to use a coupler (antenna tuner) on occasions, this antenna is worthy of consideration.

Second, to conduct an HF activation. This task mainly fell to Paul (VK5PAS), who operated on the 40, 20 and 15 metre bands.

Finally, to try and sample antennas for six metres (a dipole), two metres, a Cushcraft three element beam and a six element log periodic style antenna (made by ATN antennas) for 70 centimetres.  I did not bring any 23 cm gear and nor did I operate on six metres and 70 centimetres. I will in the future. The beam antennas are supported by a three piece aluminium mast which is guyed. This mast can be erected by one person but it easier with two! Thanks to Paul for driving the tent pegs into the ground while I held the mast.  I use good quality semi-rigid coax fitted with N connectors for VHF and UHF. The antenna is rotated by the armstong method and an orienteering compass provides the bearings. My radio for this activation was a Yaesu 897 operating at 20 watts. Two LiFePO4 batteries were used: of 4.200 and 8.400 amp hours capacity.


This photo, courtesy of Paul, VK5PAS, shows my operating position, about 20 metres from where Paul’s station was located.

The weather was good, warm with the temperature in the low twenties, sunny and with just a gentle breeze.


This photo, also from Paul, VK5PAS, shows my two metre antenna, a simple three element beam fed with quality semi-rigid coaxial cable (unfortunately the identification markings have rubbed off with lots of use).


The final picture, also courtesy of Paul, is a close up of the beam showing the gamma match.


After field testing the OCF dipole I set up my two-metre station at 05:25z. I checked the Mount Gambier beacon, VK5RSE, on 144.550, at Mount Graham. This beacon is listed in the Wireless Institute of Australia call-book as having 25 watts transmit output. The beacon was showing 5 and 2 on my FT897 and climbed to 5 and 5 on the peak of the QSB cycle. The QSB cycles were even and thus predictable. At this point my confidence soared. The Mount Lofty beacon, VK5VF, 144.450, about ten kilometres from our operating location (as the wedge-tailed eagle flies) was really loud! I placed a post on Parksnpeaks and hoped for the best. I called on 144.110 for a few times without success, so I soon moved to the calling frequency of 144.100.

05:42 VK5KC, David, 5 and 9, both ways

05:44 VK5AKK, Phil, 5 and 9, both ways

05:54 VK5MC, Chris at Millicent in South Eastern South Australia 5 and 4 and 5 and 5

05:57 VK5GY, Gordon, operating at Bullock Hill Conservation Park, 5 and 5 both ways. Gordon was holding his beam in one hand! Gordon told me he is celebrating 40 years of being an amateur (in the UK and Australia) so I shared my 40 year story with Gordon and gave him a second call (06:01) as VK5PF, 5 and 5 both ways.

Paul told me there were operators on 40 metres who wished to contact me – so we swapped stations.

So on 7.150 I had the following contacts:

06:06 VK5FMID, Brian, 5 and 9 both ways

06:08 VK2IO, Gerard 5 and 7, 5 and 4

06:08 VK4AAC/P3, Rob 5 and 9 and 4 and 7. Rob was in a noisy caravan park.

06:11 VK5KHZ, Hans, 5 and 9 both ways

06:13 VK3ZMD, Mike 5 and 8, 5 and 7

06:17 VK5FANA, Adrian 5 and 9 both ways

06:18 VK4FW, Bill near Kingaroy, 5 and 9, 5 and 4

06:19 VK3CDR, Chris 5 and 9 both ways

06:22 VK4GSF, George, Toowoomba, 5 and 9 both ways

06:23 VK3GWS/P, Grant at Beechworth 5 and 9 both ways

While I was working away on 40 metres I could hear Paul on two metres. We decided to swap radios when it went a bit quiet on 40 metres. I called CQ on 144.100.

06:36 VK5DK, 144.100, Col at Mount Gambier, 5 and 9, 5 and 8. I was delighted: a good haul on two metres with a modest station – 20 watts and a three element beam! Col, of course, has a great set up on two metres and most other higher bands.

06:40 VK5NC, Trevor at Mount Gambier, 5 and 3, 5 and 4

06:46 VK3LY, Bill from Nhill, 5 and 3, 5 and 1

I called a few more times and then decided I should set up on 146.500 FM. VK5FANA, Adrian, advised he would travel to the top of a nearby hill and give me a call. Unfortunately we did not make a contact. I suspect we could have made it but our efforts did not correspond in time.

Later using Paul’s hand-held radio I had contacts with:

07:20 VK5PET, Peter, Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, 5 and 9 both ways

07:21 Rick, VK5FGFK (and a second contact from me, VK5PF), Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, 5 and 9 both ways

and later, 07:40, with David, VK5KC on 52.200 ssb, 5 and 3 both ways. Twenty two contacts on three bands: 10 on 40m; 11 on two metres and one on six metres was my total for the day and 11 contacts on two metres were very satisfying.

Here is a link to Paul’s, VK5PAS, YouTube channel which captures some of the fun and excitement of this style of portable activation. Thanks to all of the operators who gave us a call.







Scott Creek Conservation Park: follow-up activation 15th March 2015

I promised to return to Scott Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-788 this morning but it was raining: the Bureau had predicted a 30% chance of showers. These slowly cleared through the morning and in anticipation I posted an alert on ParksnPeaks indicating that I would visit the park in the afternoon.

I returned to Gate 8 and set up in the usual spot. I was on the air at 04:11 and my first contact on 40 metres on 7.100 was with VK3MTB/P3, Tim who was in Mount Worth State Park, VKFF-771; 7.095, VK3FQSO/P3, Amanda, on VK3/VU-012; VK3FLAK/P3, Bob also on VK3/VU-012; VK5BW, Barry; VK5YX, Hans; VK3HRA, Allan; VK5XR, Allan at Tailem Bend; VK5WG, Nev; VK3PMG, Mick; VK5BW, Barry; VK3CRG, Craig in Brisbane Ranges National Park, VKFF-055;  VK5VL, 7.098, Frank; VK3YRA, Ray; VK3NSC, Steve; VK3FSTU, Stewart, VK3OHM, Marc; VK5TN, Robin; VK3EJ, Gordon on 7.135 and VK3MTB/P3, 7.095, Tim at 05:53 in Mount Worth State Park, VKFF-771, making 20 contacts in all. Taking account of duplicates, VK5BW and VK3MTB/P3 the number reduces to 18, which with 30 from the Friday afternoon/evening activation means I have qualified the park for the WWFF award. Thanks to all who gave me a call, and especially those who persevered with the less than ideal conditions during the afternoon.

Scott Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-788, 14th March 2015

The Park

This afternoon and early evening was my fifth activation of Scott Creek Conservation Park. You can read about the Park in earlier entries. It is a beautiful public space. I walk in the Park on a regular basis and here are some more pictures I took on my walk on Wednesday 11th March. I cannot explain the signal dropout on my Garmin 62S after I turned the corner and began a steep climb up Currawong Ridge Track. I have walked this track lots of times and all images have been intact. Perhaps as it is steep I held onto the backpack straps near the GPS62s in my left hand breast pocket on my shirt?

Scott Creek Walk 11th March 2015 showing photo locations

Scott Creek Walk 11th March 2015 showing photo locations

Mount Lofty from Scott Creek Conservation Park

Mount Lofty from Scott Creek Conservation Park

Approaching Gate 8 on Cup Gum Track

Approaching Gate 8 on Cup Gum Track

Closer to Gate 8 on Cup Gum Track

Closer to Gate 8 on Cup Gum Track

Gate 8 looking into the Park

Gate 8 looking into the Park

My operating position at Gate 8

My operating position at Gate 8

Turn right at Gate 9 onto Stringy Bark Track

Turn right at Gate 9 onto Stringybark Track

Walking sown Stringybark Track before it gets really steep!

Walking down Stringybark Track before it gets really steep!

Vandals at work: or your taxes being wasted: Almanda Mine Scott Creek CP

Vandals at work: or your taxes being wasted: Almanda Mine Scott Creek CP

New growth following an (un)controlled burn.

New growth following an (un)controlled burn: Currawong Ridge Track

Contacts I thought I should activate Scott Creek Conservation Park to celebrate the adding to the VKFF list of a number of South Australian Conservation Parks. The occasion was the usual Friday evening South Australian Parks activity: so I could call this entry another ‘Twilight Park’ activation. I was aiming for 44 contacts. In the end I achieved 30 contacts. I could have achieved my goal of 44 if I had been able to stay longer but I had to pack up at about 18:45 hours local. At pack up time 20 metres was really firing! I will return to Scott Creek in the future to qualify the park for the WWFF award. I arrived at the Park at about 16:00 local and spent the first 45 minutes doing a final tune on a new three-band linked dipole for 10 metres, 17 and 30 metres. A few more finishing touches will give me a second very rugged antenna for portable use. My first contact, on 7.098 MHz, was at 06:40 with VK3FQSO, Amanda then followed, VK5ZAR/P, Arno in Ferguson Conservation Park VK3PMG, Mick VK5HEL, Geoff at Ettrick Conservation Park VK5GJ, Greg VK3OHM, Marc VK3DAC, Fred VK5FLEX, Pike River Conservation Park VK5ZGY, Greg VK3DBP, Paul VK5FANA, Peter at Bird Island Conservation Park VK3PF, Peter VK5PAS, Paul at Charleston Conservation Park, VKFF-777 VK5KLV, Les at Mount Remarkable National Park (Mambray Creek) VKFF-360 VK5KPR, Peter VK5WG, Nev VK3TKK/M, Peter VK5PEP, Peter at Ferries McDonald Conservation Park VK3AV, Bernard VK5NQP, David at Cromer Conservation Park, VKFF-779 VK3FPSR, Peter VK3ANL, Nick VK2FMIA, Doug at Horton Falls National Park, VKFF-594 VK2KBC/M3, Sheepyard Flat, Mansfield VK5NAQ, Peter VK5GY/P, Gordon at Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, VKFF-781 I thought 40 metres was getting a bit quiet and after having a look around the band I decided to migrate to 20 metres. However, when I checked the history page on ParksnPeaks I saw there were quite a few other stations active which I missed. My third last contact was on 14.275, 07:49z, VK4KUS, Steve, then VK2GJC. Greg from Ulladullah, whose excellent log-keeping enabled him to tell me we last had a qso on 80 metres in 1992 and finally on 14.205, EA8CCQ, Orlando in the Canary Islands. I gave Orlando 5 & 9 and I was 5 & 5.

VK2FMIA, Doug's splendid QSL card - proof beyond reasonable doubt!

VK2FMIA, Doug’s splendid QSL card – proof of a contact beyond reasonable doubt!

Another twilight activation at Scott Creek Conservation Park, 27th February 2015

The Park

I made my way to Scott Creek Conservation Park to my favourite activation spot at Gate 8. It was a warm afternoon with the peak temperature being 32 degrees but by the time I arrived at the Park, just before 1700 hours local it was in the high twenties, cloudy, humid and threatening to rain. A few spots occurred while I was operating and when packing up. This is my fourth activation at this Park but when the weather cools I will become more adventurous and travel further to some of the many other Parks in the Adelaide Hills. Oh, so many parks and so little time!


7.100 ssb

06:30 VK5GJ,  Greg, 59s, 59r

06:32 VK5ZAR, Arno, 59, 46

06:34 VK3DAC, Fred, 58, 55

06:35 VK3TKK/M, Peter, 58, 43

06:37 VK3PMG, Mick, 59 59

06:39 VK5KPR, Peter, 58, 57

06:42 VK5HCF/P5, Col, 59, 59, Gower Conservation Park

06:43 VK5EE/P5, Tom, 59, 59, Gower Conservation Park

06:44 VK5FAJS/P5, Alan, 59, 59, Gower Conservation Park

06:45 VK5PAS/P5, Paul, 59, 59, Paul, Onkaparinga National Park

06:48 VK3OHM, Marc, 59, 59, Marc

06:49 VK5TN/M5, Robin, 59, 59

06:51 VK3YDN, John, 58, 58

06:53 VK3BHR, Phil, 59, 59

06:56 VK3PF, Peter, 59, 47

06:57 VK5WG, Nev, 59, 58

06:58 VK5KLV/P5, Les, 59, 58, Les, Winninowie Conservation Park

07:01 VK5ZRY/P5, Richard, 58, 59, Ramsay Gate Conservation Park

07:05 VK4FR/P5, Chris, 59, 59, Morialta Conservation Park

07:07  VK5UV, Rod, 57, 57

07:11  VK5FANA, Adrian, 59, 59, Clinton Conservation Park

07:15  VK5NQP, David, 59, 55

07:17 VK5FMJC, John, 59, 57

07:20 VK3FQSO, Amanda, 59, 57


07:30 EA6ALW, Javia, 59, 57, Spain


07:39 EA3AKP, John, Catalonia, Spain


07:53 GW3UZS, Geoff, Cardiff, Wales, 58, 45

08:02 GW4XSX, Mike, West Coast Wales, 59, 54


08:09 VK5PAS/P5, Paul, 59, 59, Onkaparinga National Park 

I enjoyed a total of 29 contacts. On 7.100 I used the Yaesu 897 set for 10 watts with a linked dipole and my 4800 MAH LiFePO4 battery. On 20 metres I set the power to 20 watts for the contacts to Spain and 40 watts for the contacts to the UK. It was a great time and thanks to all who gave me a call. I always appreciate the chasers. I used my home made linked dipole. It performed well after a recent service. See my blog dated 1st February to read about the antenna failure on the last activation. Soldered joints, even though not load bearing seem to create the weak spots. All the links, made from 30 amp Anderson Power Poles, are crimped. I am unable to avoid soldered joints at the dipole centre. These are well covered by clear silicon which seems to help.  Portable antennas get quite a work out and I am surely impressed with the wire I purchased from Mark at Tet-Emtron.

A Twilight Activation at Scott Creek Conservation Park, 30th January 2015

On Friday afternoon at about 4.00pm local time I travelled to Scott Creek Conservation Park in the Mount Lofty Ranges to join with other park activators in a late afternoon/early evening activation. Scott Creek Conservation Park is ‘our’ Park.  We are members of the Friends Group for this Park. I also do quite a bit of walking in the park to try and enhance my general level of fitness, or more likely keep what I have already! It is about four kilometres from our place to the Park. It is not the closest park to us: that park is Mark Oliphant Conservation Park which I can see from our family room right now. But Scott Creek Conservation Park, is in my opinion, the more interesting location. I set up at my usual operating point near Gate 8. I managed to find a little shade and established my station there. I was pleased with the set up and took the extra precaution of guying my squid pole at 45 degrees to the linked dipole as there were a few gusts on wind, but nothing too severe. I have activated this park two times previously.

I also packed only lithium chemistry batteries. I decided to leave the ‘slabs’ at home. I switched on my radio and tuned across the middle portion of the 40 metre band. On 7.100 I heard VK5ZAR/P5, Arno, at 06:25z, in Black Hill Conservation Park working another station. Arno’s signal was quite strong, 5 and 7, but I did notice that the signal was fading. I called him a few times without success and then wondered about whether everything was working at me end.

My operating position: FT897, LiPo 4000 mah, diode voltage drop in Altoid tin

My operating position: FT897, LiPo 4000 mah, diode voltage drop in Altoid tin

I noticed the VSWR was reading high on my transceiver. I checked the antenna with my analyser and changed the coaxial feeder. I was still not satisfied with my setup. I persisted with the activation and worked the following stations:

0628 VK5PAS/P5, Paul at Monarto Conservation Park, S5 & 7, R5 & 7

0631 VK5HCF/P5, Col at Naracoorte Caves National Park, 5 & 7, 5 & 8

0634 VK5KLV/P5, Les at Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park, 5 & 8, 5 & 8

0638 VK5ZAR/P5, Arno at Black Hill Conservation Park, 5 & 7, 4 & 3


0640 VK5NQP/P5, David at Sandy Creek Conservation Park, 5 & 7, 5 & 5

It was the contact with VK5ZAR/P5, or rather the variation is signal strengths between us, which persuaded me to close down. I decided I would quit the 40 metre band and change antennas and go to 30 metres as VK5LY, Larry had posted that he would try this band. I posted my intention to QSY on ParksnPeaks. I have a home brew half-wave end fed antenna for this band. I had checked it out previously at Spring Gully Conservation Park near Clare and was pleased with its performance. Tuning across the band I noticed a fairly strong CW signal (too fast for me) and a RTTY signal which was very strong. I called on 10.130 MHz a few times without success.

I have subsequently checked my antenna at home for continuity (it is fine although it has been used over 120 times in the field) and when the weather improves will do some careful checks outside to try and establish the reason for the high VSWR.

It was a beautiful afternoon and I enjoyed my time in the park despite the equipment failure.

A view of the Mount Lofty Ranges looking North

A view of the Mount Lofty Ranges looking North

This photo shows Mount Lofty in the distance. Expand the photo and two peaks emerge. Mount Lofty is the second and smaller of the two in the centre of the picture.

Mum and teenager

Mum and teenager

My walking track in Scott Creek CP

My walking track in Scott Creek CP

Track profile: Scott Creek CP walk

Track profile: Scott Creek CP walk

Upgraded fire trail: on my walk

Upgraded fire trail: on my walk

The last image shows the walking track I use. The photo does not do justice to the steepness! The track here is between three and five kilometres from the start: see profile image above! The loop starts at the at the car park at gate three: in the picture just under the name of the park. Take the Bandicoot Track, then Currawong Ridge Track then Cup Gum Track to Gate 8. At this point take the Mount Bold Track (in the Park near the boundary), then Stringbark Track to Neville Road, turn North (right) and take the Currawong Ridge Track to Bandicoot Track and down the hill to the car-park. I take the clockwise walk of just six kilometres and it takes me about one hour 20 minutes to complete the loop. There are some very steep hills! Gate 8, my activation spot is on Mount Bold Road in the right hand corner of the image. I have completed this walk quite a few times now and will provide more information in due course. The track is taken from a Garmin Forerunner 910 XT. This GPS is designed for monitoring fitness programs and is worn on the wrist. Coordinates are only available after the data is transferred from the unit to Garmin Connect. I used the same unit for my walk in Scheyville National Park, VKFF-444, on 21st December 2014 and also at Mt Bryan, VK5/SE-001 on 29th September 2014.

I have also walked the track with my old Kenwood TH-D7 set at five watts with an extended antenna. The highest point on the track is approaching Mount Bold Road, over 400 metres, and my signal was received at the VK5RSC-1, the South Coast Amateur Radio Club’s digipeater on 145.175.  I could only access the digipeater at one spot. The upshot of this is that to have a APRS station at Gate 8 is feasible with a more powerful radio and a gain antenna on a mast. Something for the future with a more extended activation!

First year anniversary SANPCPA, 5th & 6th April 2014, Scott Creek Conservation Park

The 4th, 5th and 6th of April were set aside to celebrate the first anniversary of the SANPCPA award. It was a week end of exceptional activity especially on the 40 metre band. There were lots of activators, including some for the first time, and many chasers. My first contact was with VK5PAS/P5, Paul, who activated the Cox Scrub Conservation Park. I worked Paul from home. My last contact, from my home station, was on Sunday afternoon at 05:21 with VK5ARG/P5 (Amateur Radio Experimenters Group Inc.) Andrew at Belair National Park, 59 contacts later. These contacts included a number of new parks for me.

On Sunday morning local time, UTC 22:48 5th April 2014, I went back to Scott Creek Conservation Park, which I last activated on the 19th May 2013. I returned to Gate 8 on Mount Bold Road (See map on Friends of Scott Creek web page – link below). My equipment this time was a home made linked dipole for 20 and 40 metres and the Ten Tec Argonaut V1 (model 539).  Power was drawn from a 8.4 amp hour LIfePO4 battery, which was more than adequate for this activation. About one hundred metres inside the park there is a plateau which makes a fine activation spot. I enjoyed 52 contacts, including a number of new Parks and also with VK3PF/P3, Peter, on VK3 VC 001, Mount Matlock.

Here are my contacts: VK5NQP/P5, David at Cromer CP; VK5KET/P5, Andrew at Telford Scrub CP; VK5KC, David; VK5WG, Nev; VK3FQSO, Amanda; VK5GJ, Greg; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5LY/P5, Larry at Lowan CP; VK5PAS/P5, at Deep Creek CP; VK5AV, Tim; VK2AWJ, John; VK5IS, Ian; VK3AMB, Bernard; VK3UBY, Col; VK3CAT, Tony; VK3VIN, Ian; VK4FR/P5, Chris; VK5JP, Peter; VK5KRF/P5, Peter at Winninowie CP; VK5KGP, Graham; VK5KLV/P5, Winninowie CP; VK5DT, Darren;  and VK5FTRG/P5, Tom at Furner CP.  Then after UTC rollover, VK3VTH/P5, Tony at Carpenters Rocks CP; VK5FTRG/P5, Tom at Furner CP; VK5PAS/P5, Paul at Deep Creek CP; VK5ARG/P5, Andy at Horsenell Gully CP; VK5KLV/P5, Les at Winninowie CP; VK3CAT, Tony; VK5VCO/P5. Paul at Clinton CP; VK5KX/P5, Peter; VK5AV, Tom; VK5DJ, John; VK5LY/P5, Larry at Ridley CP; VK5TRM, Rob; VK2UH, Andy; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5NRG, Roy; VK5KET/P5, Andrew at Nene Valley CP; VK5LY/p5, Larry at Ridley CP; VK5NQP/P5, David at Charleston CP; VK5MJP, Patrick; VK5NE, Paul; VK5ZGY/P5, Greg at Naracoorte Caves NP; VK5ZAR/P5, Arno at Black Hill CP; VK3LY/M3, Bill at Yannack; VK3PF/P3, Peter at VK3 VC001, Mt Matlock; VK5MR/P5 Andrew at Tandappa CP; VK5HCF/P5, Col at Hacks Lagoon CP; VK5FTRG/P5, Tom at Reedy Creek CP; VK5PAS/P5, Paul at Eric Bonython CP and VK5STU/P5, Stu at Port Gawler CP.

Thanks to all those amateurs who gave me a call. It is greatly appreciated and I didn’t think Scott Creek Conservation Park would be so popular as the park has been activated three times: twice by me and once by VK5PAS, Paul.

Scott Creek History

Scott Creek History

Marie Steiner’s excellent book, published in 2000,  contains a wealth of research about the various sections of land which were incorporated into  Scott Creek Conservation Park, gazetted in 1985. ‘The Land Acquisition Act, passed in 1969′ (Steiner, 2000, p. 7), provided the basis for the State Government to pursue the long-term water needs of the community by purchasing the private land in the area now included in the Park. Not all of the land was in private hands but clearly the majority. Steiner’s (2000) book traces the challenges and hardships of trying to make a living on rocky, steep and, in places, infertile land.

The land was acquired to extend the catchment for the Mount Bold Reservoir, including the size of the dam. The plan was later modified because of unstable geological features which could lead to failure of a larger water holding.

The Crooked Chimney, Scott Creek CP

The Twisted Chimney, Scott Creek CP

The Twisted Chimney, for example, was on a holding of 17 and a quarter acres, Section 1190.  Steiner (2000, p. 53) sketches the history of the occupation of this section and others.  Such a long history, of 150 years of human occupation and endeavour, is reflected in the challenges of living in the area and the gaps in knowledge. She asks how could such a large parcel of land with this history, come to be created a conservation park (Steiner, 2000, p. 55)? Her answer is that ‘Scott Creek Conservation Park contains some of the most diverse and interesting areas of indigenous vegetation left within the Mount Lofty Ranges’ and that much of it ‘survived the impact of settlement’.

Remains of a tractor

Remains of a tractor

The picture shows the remains of a tractor, ‘discovered’ following a spraying of blackberries by the Friends of Scott Creek Conservation Park.

SA Water land (left) and Scott Creek CP (right)

SA Water land (left) and Scott Creek CP (right)

This picture shows the two fire breaks, one each side of the fence, separating the Park from SA Water land.