Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, VKFF-0989, 1st January 2017

I visited Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on the 23rd of December 2016 and managed 22 contacts. One of the challenges at Tidbinbilla is that there is no mobile phone coverage and you call CQ and hope someone hears you. Nearly always that happens but you might have to wait a bit or change bands. Here is a link to that activation:


We were making our way home from Sydney back to Adelaide and we decided to return to Canberra to see the Versailles: Treasures from the Palace exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia on Saturday 31st of December. It was stunning and well worth the visit. We spent over four hours at the Gallery. France was bankrupt by 1788 and, if you are fortunate enough to visit the Palace of Verailles, you will probably understand why there was a revolution. The wealth and grandeur on display there was won at the expense of the people of France. The exhibition in Canberra displays some of the wealth in paintings, carpets, statues and other artifacts.  I have wondered in the past about how out of touch with the people were the absolute monarchies, the Sun King and his two successors in France and Ludwig in Bavaria and the splendid castles he left. These wonders are now of course held in the name of the people and attract tourist dollars. Of course I have visited Ludwig’s castles as a Wagnerian and simply marvelled at the scenes from his operas which adorn the walls.

So after Saturday I thought I should spend some of Sunday, New Year’s Day, in a Park. I decided to return to Tidbinbilla and complete the activation and gain enough contacts to give me the 44 required. I arrived at the Park and drove straight in: there was no way to pay the fee as the office was closed and there were no envelopes or card facilities! If you look at a map of the park you will see there is a loop road beginning about four kilometres past the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre. I drove the loop to see whether there were other good activation spots and there were (perhaps the most interesting area is where the road crossed the Tidbinbilla River) but I decided to return to Webbs where I activated on my last visit. It is a great spot and I once again had it to myself.


The photo shows Webbs at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve: there is plenty of room for a half wave dipole on 80 metres!

I checked 80 metres first of all and there were a few contacts underway up and down the band with good strong signals. I could even hear the South Australians on 3.594 Mhz, weak but perfectly readable. I give a few calls but they could not hear me. I was using my 857D set for 15 watts and they are all 100 watt stations. I called CQ on 3.612 Mhz for a few minutes hoping I would gain a contact or two but it was all in vain. I decided to move to 40 metres and checked 7.115 Mhz. It was clear and I called CQ at 21:57z. There were no responses. I decided to have a look around the band and heard VK1AD/P.

My first contact at 22:02 on 7.095 Mhz was with Andrew at, VK1AD/P, who was activating SOTA summit VK1/AC-023. We were both 5 and 5. Andrew kindly spotted me. There is no mobile phone coverage at Tidbinbilla.

22:04 VK1VIC/2, 51 43, Tony, VK2/ST-001. I thought I should quickly move back to 7.115 and checked the frequency once again and at 22:07 was called by Mick, VK3GGG/VK3PMG. His signal was 5 and 6 and I received a 5 and 3.

22:12 VK2FENG, Helen, 51 53

22:12 VK5IS, Ian, 59 57

22:13 VK1MA, Matt, 59 55, VK1/AC-008 and VKFF-0377

22:16 VK5KLV, Less at Port Augusta, 58 57

22:18 VK2IG, Mike, 55 51

22:22 VK5WG, Nev, 59 57

22:23 VK2HFA/P 57 53 near Port Macquarie

22:28 VK4AAC/5, Rob at Hahndorf 59 37. Rob was at Hahndorf (Australia’s oldest German town) where the WIA AGM for 2017 will be held.

22:30 VK5HYZ 57 53 David

22:32 VK7FAMP 53 43 Angela

22:35 VK2YES/P 52 57 Mario

22:37 VK7LTD 56 43

22:54 VK3ANL/P 55 45 VKFF-0750 & VK3/VC-031

22:57 VK3XV/P 59 57 Tony at Ham Hill

22:57 VK5RV 59 59 Ron

23:03 VK3FPSR 59 54 Peter

23:07 VK5PAS/M 59 58 Paul near Mount Bryan

23:09 VK7FRJG 55 55 Rod at New Norfolk

23:12 VK3SQ 59 58 Geoff

23:14 VK5ZAT/P 52 54 Nick

23:19 VK2YW 59 59 John

23:21 VK2IO/P 57 58 Gerard

23:24 VK3YSA/M 58 44 Anthony Melbourne

23:28 VK3XDM/3 53 52 Mitch VK3/VC-003

23:29 VK3EQ/3 53 57 with Mitch

23:38 VK1MA/1 53 53 Matt VK1/AC-008

23:45 VK5CZ/5 51 51 Ian VK5/NE-035 Ian

23:46 VK5NHG 51 51 Hugh with Ian

23:50 VK3ZPF, 57 57 Peter VK3/VC-005 in Yarra Ranges National Park

Thanks to all who gave me a call at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Thirty three contacts , together with those from my previous activation, means I have more than the 44 contacts required to qualify the park.


VK1MA/1, Matt was in the Brindabella Ranges (see photo above) at Mount Ginini and had a very strong signal, 5 & 9 but he was running more power than me and was elevated. I was operating at 15 watts and received 5 and 5.

On the way back to Canberra I decided a coffee at the Cafe at the Space Tracking Station would be in order. I also wanted to see some dishes that the microwave enthusiasts would love!



This photo shows a lunar rover in the Tidbinbilla Museum at the Space Tracking Centre. I recommend this as a splendid place to visit and the volunteer guide was very helpful and knowledgeable. another-dish

Finally, I would like to say how much I enjoy visiting the ACT. It is a beautiful place.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, VKFF-0989, 23rd December 2015

I planned three radio excursions while we stayed in Canberra. In the end I achieved two.  My attempt to activate Mount Stromlo, VK1/AC-043 was abandoned. While I did read a number of blogs about this SOTA summit which suggested that the second hump, about 500 metres away from the Australian National University’s new building and the telescopes was suitable, on the day I decided it was too warm and too humid for the walk. I tried two locations and the noise level was about S8. I wanted to activate this summit because it was one I was not able to visit during May when I attended the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) Annual General Meeting. So I then decided to travel to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, VKFF-0989, about 37 kilometres from Canberra. This is a gated Park. On arrival I purchased an entry ticket ($7.50). This was a concession for Seniors. I didn’t ask for the concession. My hair colour probably did the trick! I didn’t regard this as ageist or reverse discrimination and I told the Rangers why I was visiting the Park and asked could they suggest any good locations. They were very interested in my radio activities. I took the liberty of giving them Andrew’s (VK1AD) blog URL and also mine. They produced a map, marked two spots, and suggested that I have a look. I checked out both locations and settled on the second away from any visitors. I had the area to myself for the whole time. I was impressed!

My spot at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

My spot at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

I enjoyed 22 contacts beginning at 01:25z on 7.095 Mhz and concluding on 14.310 Mhz.

01:25 VK2HPN 57s 51r, Phil

01:37 VK2FDAV 57s 55r, David Grafton

01:39 VK2IO 59s 46r

01:50 VK4RF 55s 55r

01:53 VK4HA 55s 55r

0152 VK3FQSO 53s 52r

01:54 VK2VW 59s 55r Brett

01:57 VK5FANA 54s 33r Adrian

02:02 VK3PMG 59s 43r

02:09 VK2NNN 59s 55r

02:07 VK1AD 52s 52r Andrew

02:08 VK2IO  59s 56r

02:10 VK2ZPF 59s 54r Peter

02:11 VK2YK/P 59s 55r Adam South West Rocks

02:17 VK3FLCS 52s 55r Brett Macedon Ranges

02:20 VK2EIR 59s 59r Joe Castle Hill

02:24 VK2VKB 57s 57r Kevin

02:26 VK3UH 55s 55r

02:28 VK6HSB/P2 59s 57r Steve at the Mystery Bay Caravan Park

02:32 VK2LKW 59s 59r Wolfgang Blue Mountains

02:47 VK2NBL 59s 58r Ray Melton

02:55 14.310 VK4ABJ 59s 58r  Jeff Rockhampton

Operating conditions at Tinbinbilla Nature Reserve

Operating conditions at Tinbinbilla Nature Reserve

On this activation I used the FT897 set for ten watts and LiFePO4 batteries. The battery just visible under my lunch bag (insulated), which was used to keep the direct sunlight off the battery. This photo was taken in a quiet spot between my contacts with VK2LKW at 02:32 and VK3NBL 02:47. The FT 897 travels in the black plastic case protected by an foam inner lining. The picnic table was about 75 metres from the car park. The drive from Canberra to the Park is well sign-posted and I recommend this Park to any visitors to the ACT.

Again I would like to thank all of the chasers who helped make this activation so enjoyable.

tID 2

The map shows a portion of the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (Map courtesy of the ACT Government). The two areas coloured in red are the suggestions made to me by the staff. I chose Webbs which is near the turning circle in the top shaded area.