Belair National Park,VKFF-022 & 5NP-001, 11th September 2016

Yesterday, 11th September 2016 the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) held an Open Day at Belair National Park to celebrate 125 years since its proclamation as a Park. Belair National Park is the second oldest Park in the nation and was proclaimed in 1891. It is second to the Royal National Park in Sydney New South Wales (NSW). Royal National Park was the second such protected area in the world following the proclamation of Yellowstone National Park in the USA. NSW was established in 1788 and SA, a sister state of Texas in the USA, was proclaimed in 1836. So South Australia performed very well.

Below is the official invitation to the people of the State to attend the Open Day.


Belair Invitation 2016 p2.jpg

The Senior Ranger for the Mount Lofty Parklands was very keen that at amateur radio station was set up and operating in the Park as the SA Government wants people to get out into parks and enjoy them, especially for the health benefits. I agreed to do that and accordingly I invited VK5PAS, Paul, to join me. Paul also brought Marija, VK5FMAZ, to the Park as well, to a create a team of three. The Ranger suggested that we should set up near the Adventure Playground and my XYL, Jenny, and I took a trip to the park on Wednesday last week to check out the area. The photo below shows VK5FMAZ, Marija, at the microphone working many stations on 40 metres.


The suggested location looked really good and I resolved to arrive at the Park early on Sunday morning to stake our claim. I did arrive early, soon after 07:30 local time, and began to set up my station within a cleared area near the Gold Escort Well.


See previous posts with reference to the transport of gold from Victorian to South Australia both for export and to save the state from bankruptcy.

My station consisted of my Yaesu 857D, a linked dipole supported on a ten metre squid pole and a dual band two metre/70 centimetre antenna mounted on an aluminium mast attached to my tripod. I used a 33 amp hour battery to power the station and the sun kept the battery charged though the activation. As you can see the park looked magnificent and here are some pictures of the non-human visitors during the day.


This photo shows three sulphur-crested cockatoos perched on a branch in the centre of the Park. They made their presence known by speaking loudly in cockatoo language!

Paul and Marija arrived soon after and soon our stations were ready to perform. We were fortunate with the weather: there was no rain and the temperature was in the high teens with plenty of sun. I have activated Belair National Park many times and have well and truly qualified the Park for the WWFF award. Here is a link to my previous activations:

However, this was the first time I had set up in this part of the Park. Previously I have activated from a picnic area at Long Gully or near the Waverley Lodge pedestrian entry.

Not only did we have lots of contacts, but as well, we had lots of engagement with the public. Both Paul and I had youngsters on the radio speaking with other amateurs. Thanks to the operators for joining in the fun. We also met a group of Scouts (female) who were aware of the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society and asked that we facilitate a JOTA opportunity for them. I am but an ordinary member of the Society but I committed it to JOTA! I had a chance to demonstrate morse code to the young women and they asked really excellent questions about the difference between broadcasting and communication and engagement with the public. Later, I had two young children visit my station and both spoke with Chris, VK5CP/5 (who was operating in the field with WICEN and had HF with him for some fun on the side), and later returned with the Grandfather, a lapsed amateur from the mid North of the State.

I operated on four bands (80, 40, 20 and 2 metres) and here is a list of my contacts:

10th September 2016

22:33 3.594 ssb VK5KAA

22:34 3.594 VK5TW Trevor later visited our stations in the afternoon. It was good to have a few visitors from the amateur fraternity.

146.5 fm VK5TW

22:34 7.090 VK3PF/P VK3/VU-011 Mount Major

11th September 2016

00:20 7.090 VK3PF/3 VK3/VU-011 Mount Major I was pleased to have qsos with Peter before and after UTC roll-over.

00:29 146.5 fm VK5LDM , Dennis at Christies Beach. Christies Beach is a beach-side suburb south of Adelaide. I was amazed my signal found a way to VK5LDM. This was the longest haul on 2 metres FM. I was using ten watts to a vertical dual band antenna about three metres above the ground and the location was not good for line of sight communications as we were in a gully near a small creek.

00:38 146.5 fm VK5ZBD, Greg

01:24 14.310 VK4RF and VK4HA good signals from Rick and these and one more qso were my only 20 metre contacts for the day. I called for about half an hour hoping for propagation to WA.

01:48 7.144 VK5FR (VK4FR) Chris with his new VK5 call sign was at Woomera in the far north of the State.

02:40 14.310 VK5YX, Hans good signals, probably ground wave but we couldn’t create a path on two metres. I could hear Hans on two metres.

02:53 146.5 VK5FBJD/M Brenton. It was good to meet Brenton who responded to my invitation to try two metres. Brenton came along to visit in the afternoon and showed me his set up in his car: a very neat installation! My first contact with Brenton was on Saturday as I was driving to Stirling for fuel. He was mobile and called on the VK5RAD two metre repeater and I had a qso with him.

03:07 7.144 VK5KC/M David near Beaufort in Victoria returning home.

Then followed a series of contacts on 7.144 beginning at 03:07

VK2LAD, Steve in Woomargama National Park, VKFF-0547

VK3SFG, Sergio

VK5FANA, Adrian

VK5GJ, Greg

VK5MK, Mark

VK3HK, Steve with xyl Glenda in Bunyip State Park, VKFF-0753

VK5WP, Dave

VK7FRJG, Rod at New Norfolk in the Derwent Valley

VK5CP/P Chris WICEN exercise

VK5NU, Dave

VK3FRAB, Damien

VK7QP, Linda at New Norfolk in Derwent Valley

VK3GGG, Mick at Stawell

VK3PMG, Mick


VK7DW, Andrew near Launceston

VK1DI/P, Ian VKFF-0852, Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve

VK5KLV, Les VKFF-0812 5CP-043 Clements Gap Conservation Park

VK5FMID, Brian

VK3PF/3, Peter VKFF-0976, Shepparton Regional Park

VK4AAC/3, Rob at Lower Goulburn National Park, VKFF-0741. This was the contact I was aiming for during the activation. I now have all 45 Victorian National Parks confirmed and can apply for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks award. Thanks Rob for being there.

VK3TKK, Peter

VK5IS, Ian

VK7LTD, Tony VKFF-1144 Lime Bay State Reserve

VK3UH, Ken



VK5CP/P, Chris

I had 42 contacts overall with a few duplicates. Thanks to all who gave me a call and an especial thanks to those who tried two metres FM (and to those who tried and I didn’t hear).

Here is a link to Paul’s blog (VK5PAS) and write up of the day:

Celebrating Belair National Park’s 125th birthday


Belair National Park, VKFF-022, 5th May 2015

The Park

I have written about the Park on previous occasions. Here is a link to my last activation on Australia Day 2015.

It is sufficient to repeat that this Park was South Australia’s first and, as you can see from the maps on my blog, it is not far from the Adelaide city business district. Belair is a gated park: it is open for vehicles from 08:00 to 19:00 hours local. You must pay a fee for you vehicle, but if you walk entry is free.

Belair National Park Open Day invitation

Belair National Park Open Day invitation

I decided I would activate the Park for Open Day as I thought this would be a great chance to profile our wonderful hobby. I spoke with the Ranger and she knew my plans. I kept away from the popular areas as the noise level was likely to be higher and I didn’t want my signal relayed over the public address systems.

Belair Open Day reverse

Belair Open Day

I had contacts on 40 and 30 metres, I tried 17 and 10, and although I could hear signals, I didn’t think I could work them. Thirty metres was great with strong signals from interstate, including Mike, VK6MB, from Western Australia. Fifty-nine contacts were made over the activation and as well I conducted some antenna experiments. Contacts were had from VKs 1,2,3,5, 6, and 7.

I decided to return to Long Gully, my third visit at this picnic area within the Park. I set up in the usual fashion taking advantage of the Park picnic table and my 20 and 40 metre well-used linked dipole. I soon noticed I was getting poor reports and after three contacts decided to change antennas. I am not sure what the problem was. I changed the coaxial feeder to no avail and made sure all of the connectors were tight. I did notice that some connectors do not screw onto the FT897 SO239 socket as well as they should. Perhaps the SO239 is worn?

Here are my first three contacts for 40 metres beginning at 2306: VK5PAS/P, Paul 59s 58r from Murray Sunset National Park, VKFF- 373; VK5FANA, Adrian, 57s 56r; and finally, Fred, VK3DAC, s57 r41. I then changed antennas to my new home brew three band antenna for 30, 17 and 10 metres. I have operated before on 30m QRP with an end fed half wave length antenna and had success from Spring Gully Conservation Park, near Clare. I was really pleased with the 30m contacts:

00:09 VK3PF/QRP, s57 r 54

00:13 VK5EE s59 r57

00:14 VK7CC s59 r58

00:16 VK2IO s57 r54

00:22 VK1DA/P1, s59 r57, Andrew was on VK1/AC- 034.  Andrew saw my spot on Parks and Peaks and made a special excursion to 30m to give me a call. This was greatly appreciated.

00:29 VK2YW 259 r59

00:31 VK6MB, s58 r46

00:34 VK3OF, s59 r59

I checked, in order, 17 metres and then 10 metres. I did hear signals but not strong on either band and I did call CQ on each band. I then decided to change antennas and I used my SOTA antenna (20 and 40m), which I have owned for two years, for the first time!

Beginning at 01:31, on 40m, VK5PAS/P, Murray Sunset National Park; VK5LY, Larry; VK5ZAR, Arno; VK5C/P on SOTA summit, VK5/SE-007; VK5PAS/M; VK5NAL; VK3FQSO; VK3OHM; VK5NQP; VK3HSR; VK5FLEX; VK5GT; VK5WG; VK5NAQ; VK5KLV; VK5FTRG/M; VK3TKK; VK100ANZAC from the Mentone RSL; VK5HSX/P5, Stef in Hallett Cove Conservation Park; VK5ZGY/M; VK5FCGM; VK3UP/P3; VK3PMG/P3, Mick in Kara Kara National Park, KFF-629; VK3ATC; VK3CRG; VK3YE/P, Peter at Chelsea Beach; VK5FTVR; VK3SFG/P; VK5KC; VK5VGC; VK5MJ; VK5PAS/P5, Paul in Murray River National Park, VKFF-372; VK5JK; VK5KFB; VK3BWZ; VK3YAR; VK3AWG; VK3MPM; VK5PAS/P5; and finally, to finish a great day, Larry, VK5LY/P in the Murray River National Park, VKFF-372. My original plan was to activate Mark Oliphant Conservation Park VKFF-782 to begin my campaign for 44 contacts. However, upon learning of the Open Day at Belair National Park, I changed my plans. I listened on the frequency I was using to work Larry and then suggested he should remain there. As soon as Larry called CQ he was greeted with a pile up. How great was that! My log has been uploaded to HRD.log and Log Book of the World. Thanks to all who gave me a call.

Belair National Park, VKFF-022, Australia Day

The Park

The SA brochure relating to this park is entitled Belair National Park: From Government Farm to National Park. The Park conserves both natural and built environments. It began life in 1840 when Governor Gawler established a farm for the purposes of grazing Government owned stock, for example, Police horses. In 1859 a cottage was built for the Governor, Sir Richard MacDonnell, and is now preserved as ‘Old Government House’. This building is open to the public on Sundays and public holidays, and as the brochure states, ‘provides an insight into the lifestyle of South Australia’s former gentry’. ‘In 1981, the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service was born, with the dedication of Belair National Park’.

A trap for a young or not so young player!

Today I went back to Belair National Park to try and reach the magic number of 44 contacts, so as to qualify the Park for the WWFF award. Belair National Park is a gated park and the gates are opened at 0830 and close at 1700 hours local time, that is, if you want to drive your car into the park. I was at the Park at 0700 hours local and walked into one of our usual operating spots about 300 metres from the boundary. There is a pedestrian gate at this point, near Waverley Lodge. This house is occupied by a ranger I know. I went quietly, not because what I was doing was wrong, but I simply did not want to wake up the household! It took me two trips to carry all of my gear, including a table, a chair and my FT897, two batteries, an antenna, log, clock and rain-coat to the activation spot. I anticipated a long activation period and I didn’t want to sit on the ground! Here is the link to that activation The weather forecast predicted a shower and it was raining very lightly while I was setting up. I turned on the radio only to be greeted by noise over strength nine. This noise was a loud pulsing racket! The audio DSP settings on the FT897 were useless! To operate in these conditions would be impossible. Why was there noise? Well there is a major transmission line nearby. But I and others have operated here before without any difficulties. My theory is as follows: in the past this spot has been used for winter activations and the insulators are probably washed clean. While Adelaide has had some rain recently it appears not enough to dampen down the noise! I was hoping to work some DX as I was set up ready to go at 2100 hours UTC! So I packed everything away, once again making two trips, and trying not to make too much noise. I then drove around to the main gates and travelled to Long Gully where I activated the Park last Australia Day. Here is the link to that activation: The light rain soon stopped and I succeeded in making 23 contacts. I could not spot myself as there was not enough signal on my phone at this point.

Here is my log and all contacts were on 40 metres and before UTC rollover. 2153 VK3CTM/P3 57 43, Tony 2201 AX3FDAP/P3 57 58, Dennis 2213 AX3ARR 58 59, Andrew 2222 VK5HCF 56 55, Col  and Tom at Piccaninnie Ponds CP 2231 VK3PF/P7 55 42, Peter at Narawntapu NP, VKFF-005 2238 VK3MAY 57 51, David 2254 AX3TKK 57 44, Peter 2257 AX3DAC, Fred 2300 VK3MRG/P3 51 51, Marshall at Lake Eildon NP, VKFF-625 2302 VK5FANA 51 51, Adrian 2305 VK3NCR/P2 51 58, Craig 2310 VK5GJ 51 58, Greg 2313 VK5FLEX 59 49, Peter 2315 AX5PAS/P5 59 58, Paul at VK5/SE-016 2319 VK3FQSO 59 54, Amanda 2323 VK5AA 59 57, Tom with Col at Piccaninnie Ponds CP 2330 VK7TW/P7 51 41, Justin at Mount Wellington, VK7/SC-001 2332, VK7FREU/P7 51 41, Reuben at Mount Wellington, VK7/SC-001 2342 VK1DI/P1, Ian at Mount Majura, VK1/SC-034, 2347, VK5LY 59 54, Larry, 2348 VK5NIG 59 55. Nigel, 2350 VK5KLV 59 58, Les, 2353 VK3BNJ 59 33, Stan. Thanks to all who gave me a call. Today’s efforts take my total of 55 contacts for this Park.


It was an interesting day for propagation. I thought for a while this might be my first VK5 activation without any VK5 contacts! It was only later in the morning that any near city stations were readable. For example, I knew that VK5HCF was active at Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, but it was half an hour into the activation before we successfully made contact. At the same time VK3 stations were loud and clear. VK3PF/P7 at Narawntapu National Park, VKFF-005, was worked at 22:31z and it was 23:15z before I had a contact with VK5PAS/P5 at VK5/SE – 016. While all this was happening I heard snippets of RTTY and two US SSB stations. The US voice stations were 5 and 8 to 9, but they were quickly gone! Other operators also made similar comments about the propagation.

Belair National Park, VKFF – 022, 1st June 2014

After most, but not all, of the new-comers had successfully activated Mount Lofty Summit within Cleland Conservation Park, we moved to Belair National Park. I guided the little group of hopefuls to one of my favourite spots in the park where there is plenty of room for a squid pole and wire antennas and not too many people going by. This was my third activation of Belair National Park. I had previously activated the Park on the 26th January 2014 and on 1st  August 2013 making a total of 33 contacts.

There was some interest in alternative power technology so I set up my FT897 and a LiFePO4 battery to show the participants the power and weight advantages of Lithium chemistry batteries compared with Lead Acid batteries. I had just one contact, with VI50CONV, operator John, VK5DJ, the special event station for the South East Radio Group for their forthcoming convention to be held during the June long weekend. So I was pretty pleased with that but then it was time to encourage the newcomers.

Map showing Mount Lofty Summit, Belair NP & other CPs. (Adelaide & Environs free map)

Map showing Mount Lofty Summit, Belair NP & other CPs. (Adelaide & Environs free map)

We also compared the recovered audio from the FT897 with Paul’s FT450. I thought the two radios sounded good with audio that was easily copied in an outside environment, but to my ears the FT450 had the edge. Paul’s view was he thought that the FT897 was better. Not a scientific experiment but an interesting subjective experience.

After VK5PAS, Paul, VK5GW, Graham, VK4FR/P5, Chris and I had lunch (high quality and low calories!) then Chris and I adjourned to my QTH to explore and try out our new ten amp chargers on our LiFePO4 larger capacity batteries.

Paul, VK5PAS, has a much more detailed account of the day on his blog at

Australia Day, January 26th, 2014, Belair National Park, VKFF – 022

I decided I would join the activators today and identify as AX5BJE. This is the first time I have used the AX prefix. I chose Belair National Park, near Adelaide. This was my first activation of this park for this year. I first activated Belair NP on 1 August 2013: a winter activation (see earlier blog entry for more details of the park). On that occasion I had five contacts: but I did activate The Knoll CP later in the day where I had seven contacts.

I began the day early and was at the park at 08:05 local time, just five minutes after the gate was opened. I drove into the Park rather than walk as previously was the case. I travelled around to Long Gully where I found a small picnic area with no reservation sign in place. It became mine and a park table was used to support the squid pole. I have a GPS reading of the coordinates: S35 01 082 and E 138 39 242. My first contact, on the 40 m band was with Tom, VK5FTRG, at Millicent, 5 and 9 both ways. I thought that was a good omen!

I had contacts with VK7KO, Gerry at Devonport; VK5TD, John; VK5EE, Tom; VK5TD, John again; VK5FMID, Brian; VK5LY, Larry; VK5HCF, Col, QRP; VK3ZPF, Peter; VK3FQSO, Amanda, from Wedderburn; AX5PAS, Paul; AX5AV, Tim; VK3ZDY/m2; VK5WG, Nev; AX5ZAR, Arno, QRP at a holiday house, Yorketown, on Yorke Peninsular; VK5NX, John, conducting the WIA broadcast; AX5ZBD, Greg; VK5QI, Mark; VK3RV, Peter, QRP; AX5HS/m Ivan; VK5MJ, Mal; VK2FGJW/p1, Greg on SOTA summit, Mount Ginini, VK1 AC 008; VK2IY, Angus ; AX3SSB, Ash  from Horsham AX3BQ/p3; Andrew on SOTA summit, Mount Arapilies, VK3 VW 022; and finally, VK2PCW/p, Michael.

I then moved to 20 metres as promised. I was hoping to get a contact or two for those chasing the VK5 Parks, especially from VK6. I had a listen around the band: there were few workable signals. So I had a very enjoyable contact with VK6QL, Patricia, on 14.142. I last worked Pat from the Little Desert National Park in Victoria on the 8th September 2013.

I thank all of those operators who gave me a call: 27 contacts and none missed! A great Australia Day!