Bullock Hill Conservation Park, VKFF-0783, March 2017: an addendum

I last activated Bullock Hill Conservation Park on the 7th August 2016 for the WWFF program. Here is a link to that activation: https://vk5bje.com/category/bullock-hill-conservation-park/

Forty six contacts were made but the duplicates reduced my to total to 43 not 44. So my visit on Friday 3rd March 2017 was to complete my activation for the WWFF program. I planned it to be short. We were travelling to Port Elliot for a wedding of a saxophonist friend of mine on Saturday afternoon and I was hoping to activate the Coorong National Park on Friday afternoon from the most Westerly part of the Park. I advised a friend of mine who lives at Strathalbyn, Tony, VK5MRT, that it would be interesting to try a 2 metre band contact from the Bullock Hill Conservation Park to his place using FM on 146.500. I had my 857D radio in the 4 x 4 monitoring 146.500 as we approached Meadows and at the top of the hill leaving Meadows and taking the road to Ashbourne, I could hear both Tony and Peter, VK3PET, communicating on 146.500 Mhz. I joined in indicating we were on our way to Bullock Hill Conservation Park and would be there in 15 to 20 minutes. I was hopeful as we drove down the winding road to Ashbourne, where signals were still breaking through, that I could complete my activation with a handful of 2 metre contacts. However, I drove past the parking lot as I was heading to the Park from Ashbourne. I had a sense that I had made a mistake but soon I was on a hill and speaking with both Garry, VK5ZK and Tony, VK5MRT, on 146.500 FM who were assisting with directions. After some discussion I reversed and re-traced our route and soon found the car park. Vegetation covered the view from Ashbourne but it is clearly visible approaching from Strathalbyn.

After setting up I soon had a contact with Garry, VK5ZK at Goolwa and I could hear Peter clearly but Tony’s signal was breaking up. Unfortunately I was unable to have contacts with Tony and Peter: they could not hear me! I should have taken a 2 metre hand held radio as a climb up the hill might have made communications possible. That can wait for another time and I have no doubt that using SSB or CW would have made the distance as well.

Here is a log of my contacts:

01:05 VK5ZK, Garry, 146.5oo Mhz s59 r54

01:19 VK5MRT, Tony, 3.594 Mhz s56 r55

01:23 VK5PET, Peter, 3.594 Mhz s56 r56

01:25 VK5ZK, Garry, 3.594 Mhz s59 r54

My operating conditions were my Yaesu 857D a short vertical, ten watts on FM and 20 watts on SSB. Thanks to Garry, Peter and Tony for their efforts and patience on the day. It was fun.

If you have a look at the photo of the Park identification notice for 7th August and compare it with the photo taken by my xyl, Jenny, you can clearly see how the Park has dried off, despite a wet year.

Bullock Hill showing how dry it is

JCD photo

The Park

Bullock Hill Conservation Park was proclaimed as a conservation park on the 30th January 2104. The Park has hills and gullies and is 200 hectares.

Bullock Hill Conservation Park, VKFF-0873 & 5CP-265, 7th August 2016

Bullock Hill CP my op pos7082016

Today, on a beautiful late Winter’s day, I was able to indulge in two of my passions: music and radio. Each year the Payneham City Concert Band plays a bracket of numbers at the Strathalbyn Band Festival: sufficient to fill a half hour time slot.  I have participated a number of times now and, in 2013, I also played radio after the event.

Payneham Band V2

The Festival is a great event, not a competition, but a chance to play to entertain the audience. The Festival extends over two Sundays and we were the first band for the first Sunday and completed our section by noon. Strathalbyn is 55.7 kilometres from Adelaide and is a pleasant drive through the Hills from my place. The town is on the plains below the Hills and overlooks the Coorong Lakes and the Southern Ocean. After our contribution I visited the coffee shop and ordered a sandwich for my lunch and set out to cover the 13 kilometres to the Bullock Hill Conservation Park, which is just off the Strathalbyn to Ashbourne Road. Bullock Hill Conservation Park is a fairly new Park and was gazetted on 30th January 2014. It has been activated a number of times previously but this was my first activation.

The photo above shows the Park notice board being pressed into service to support my ten metre squid pole. The land was too uneven to use the tripod. And the rear of the notice board provided a back stop for my table and gear.  I used my newly purchased, and second, Yaesu 857D, for the activation. I purchased my first from Wyong over a decade ago and it gives great service in our 4 x 4. These radios are old technology but they are great for portable use, tolerant of low battery voltage (11.73 volts), rugged, small and easy to use.

Bullock Hill CP 857D behind park notice

I spent a few sessions at home setting up the radio for my usage patterns, particularly the audio response to suit my voice, added some six and two metre beacons, a few for 70 centimetres, a handful of repeaters, WWVH for accurate time keeping and for an indication of propagation on the 20 metre band and 891 ABC Adelaide, for fire warnings in the Summer. I also installed the 500 Hz filter for CW. I had the power set for 10 watts.

I made my first contact at 03:25, with Ron, VK3AFW/P who was operating from Mount Strickland, VK3/VN-030 and my last was with Gordon, VK3EJ, at 06:20 making 46 contacts. It took over three hours to secure these contacts: perhaps everyone was ‘radioed out’ by Sunday afternoon? I tried 20 metres at 06:05 but I could not post myself which is always a handicap. Nevertheless it was a successful activation and,  as always, thanks to all who gave me a call.

The following stations were contacted on 40 metres:

VK3AFW/P SOTA VK3/VN-030

VK3KIM/P SOTA VK3/VN-030

VK5AFZ/P Coorong National Park

VK7EK

VK2TH

VK3PF/P SOTA VK3/VT-078 and Bunyip State Park

VK7CW

VK4AAC/P3 Croajingolong National Park

VK3FIRM

VK3SQ

VK4CFS

VK3UH

VK3TJC

VK3SFG

VK3FSTA

VK4RF

VK4HA

VK5PAS/M

VK3BWZ

VK2EXA

VK2KYO

VK3TJS

VK3BBB

VK3ELH

VK3BNJ

VK2HJW/QRP

VK5PAS/M

VK3BNJ

VK3CMR

VK3AJA

VK3FOTO/M

VK3IO

VK3KCD

VK2FJPR

VK5PAS/P Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve VKFF-1701

VK3CAT

VK4HNS

VK3XZ

VK2IO/P SOTA VK2/ST-009 & VKFF-1375

VK4FAAS

VK3MCX

VK2FAAA/M

VK3KRH

VK3FSPG

Tried 20m without success

VK4SOE/P (7113 xtal locked transmitter)

VK3EJ

Total 46 stations with two duplicates. A glance at the stations contacted shows that propagation to Queensland was quite good, but not for the Western area of Victoria or in South Australia.