Kara Kara National Park, VKFF-0629, West of England Fire-tower, SOTA, VK3/VW-016, 15th April 2017

On Good Friday we set off on our road trip to Lakes Entrance in Victoria. For the last six years we have gone to various locations in Victoria and New South Wales to spend some time with our son and his family. Our two Grand-children have birthdays late April and we take advantage of the New South Wales school holidays (Victorian school children return to school after Easter) for a relatively quiet break together. Our first stop was at Naracoorte and the next day travelled to St Arnaud where we had booked accommodation.  We planned a bird-watching and radio day with sufficient time to explore the Park and activate the West of England Fire Tower summit for the SOTA program. This summit is worth two points to the activator and two points for the hunter.

I previously activated Kara Kara National Park on the second of January 2014 for the WWFF program and the Keith Roget National Park Award. Here is a link to that activation:


On that occasion I took a track off Boundary Road and then a fire track into the Park for about 500 metres. This time we stayed at St Arnaud, about ten kilometres from the Park and we had much more time to explore the Park. We took Centre Road from the end of the Park nearest St Arnaud and drove the track to the turn-off to the West of England Fire Tower track. The final drive to the summit is not a great distance but quite steep for the last few metres and with loose rocks and gravel on the track and some ‘wash-aways’. I think the track would be driveable in a two-wheel drive vehicle with reasonable clearance and careful navigation. I engaged high 4 wheel drive in the Patrol because of the loose stones and some wheel slip.

The Park

Kara Kara National Park, previously known as St Arnaud Range National Park, ‘contains one of the most intact large areas of Box-ironbark vegetation and landscapes in Victoria’ (Victorian Parks Visitors Guide). These Victorian Government publications are excellent and can be down-loaded and printed before you visit or obtained from local visitors centres. The Guide recommends the Centre Road Nature Drive which is approximately 50 kilometres long and takes in adjoining areas such as the State Forest. We took the shorter drive on Centre Road just before entering the National Park (taking Shed Road and the Border Track to join Centre Road).

VK5BJE West of England Fire Tower

This photo shows my operating position on the summit with a convenient picnic table in place (JCD photo).

West of England Lookout

Another view of the summit and Park sign (JCD photo).

Wof England summit

The summit has been cleared of trees to enable views of the surrounding country side for fire spotting purposes and the view are great (JCD photo).

Here is my log of stations for the activation. I managed 45 contacts including two park to park qsos.

Kara Kara 1

KK 2

I really enjoyed the activation. Thanks for all who gave me a call and special thanks for those who posted my activation on Parks and Peaks and on Facebook.


The case of the ‘stolen’ Park with an apology to Agatha Christie!

To make sense of this post you will need to read or re-read my post on Scott Conservation Park. Here is a link to that post:


My objective was originally to activate the Coorong National Park near to the most westerly boundary. Those of you who watch Michael Portillo’s show on SBS, Great Railway Journeys, will know he used a Victorian era Guide Book called Bradshaw’s. My guide, on this occasion, was a brochure entitled Alexandrina Bird Trails published by the Alexandrina Council. The fold out brochure is pictured below and it is excellent and certainly not from the Victorian era!

Alexandrina Bird Trails

The particular trigger for our expedition is reproduced below and is called GW1.

GW1 Denver Road

The map, also from the brochure shows a one (1) on Hindmarsh Island and  Randell, Semaschko and Denver Roads are all clearly visible. You will also see that 1 is not near the Murray River but back a bit. The aerial photograph, courtesy of Google Maps, shows the location of the creek and the verges as described in the text above.

Goolwa Bird Trails


Hindmarsh Island location referred to in Bird Brochure

If you proceed further down Denver Road you come to a gated farming property. There were many signs either side of the gate and one indicated there was no river access. I decided at this point to turn around and not pursue our quest any further but travel to Scott Conservation Park for an activation. Despite the text in the brochure suggesting that the is within the Coorong National Park, I was not convinced. I checked out the coordinates suggested in the brochure and Google Maps placed the spot at Sugars Beach at 2.

The first photo below shows a typical park sign in the River at Beacon 19 from the boat ramp. The land at Beacon 19 is on the Younghusband Peninsula and is not within the Park boundary. The second photo shows a view of Hindmarsh Island looking across the Coorong from the Younghusband Peninsula. There were no such signs on Denver Road near the wetlands.

Since our visit in early March I have undertaken further research on this matter. This link suggests that the ‘private property’ I came to is now owned by the State of South Australia.


The South Australian Government received a grant from the Commonwealth to purchase the property called Wyndgate, which will eventually will be added to the Coorong National Park.

12 volt battery, Redback 30, 30th March 2017

Front view showing voltmeter

The photo above shows a front view of my Redback 30 ‘thumper’. Andrew, VK1AD, requested a picture and description of this battery which can be seen on the ground in a photo (of me holding the squid pole) of my post about Scott Conservation Park. Here is a link to that activation:


I activated this Park on two days early in March while attending a wedding at Port Elliot. The battery pack is made at Mount Barker SA and contains two gel cell 12 volt batteries wired in parallel to provide a 33 amp hour battery. It is very well made as you can see from the photos. It is all held together by substantial screws and rivets. It has a handle on the top which makes carrying the battery quite easy, and as it is a mere 33 amp hour pack, it is not too heavy. Paul, VK5PAS, told me about the shop at Mount Barker and the business has a good range of 12 volt equipment. I use my battery to augment but not replace my LiFePO4 batteries. On our interstate holidays it is not always possible to charge batteries where we stay, particularly if I miss charging them for a day or two. The ‘thumper’ can be charged while in use using solar cells, providing of course that the sun is shining!

input end 75 amp hour Anderson connector

The photo above shows the input end or charging end. 75 amp Anderson Power pole connectors are used and I simply grip each connector with a cable equipped with alligator clips observing correct polarity. I use a five amp hour smart charger which is quite small and easily packed in my gear.

end view showing 50 amp hour Anderson connectors

The output end is equipped with double 50 amp hour Anderson Connectors. I have made up adapters which I add to the 30 amp hour connector when I use this battery rather than a LiFePo4 battery. I usually set my radios to 20 watts and this battery will last a full 44 contact activation for WWFF at a park. The other advantage of this battery is that I can, and occasionally do, operate at 40 watts on the 20 metre band and it does this well. Having a volt meter on the front of the battery is of great assistance. I never take the battery below 11 volts: hence my reminder on the front panel. 11 volts is slightly higher than the manufacturer recommends so I have a safety margin.

Scott Conservation Park, VKFF-0934 & 5CP-206, 3rd & 5th March 2017

A saxophonist friend of mine, to be married on Saturday afternoon 4th March 2017, provided an excuse for an extended long weekend on the South Coast of South Australia. We stayed in a cabin at Port Elliot where the ceremony was held. We travelled from Scott Creek to Port Elliot via Echunga, Meadows, Bullock Hill Conservation Park, Goolwa and then on to Port Elliot. We enjoyed our lunch at Goolwa before checking into our accommodation at Port Elliot. After settling in to our accommodation we set out for Hindmarsh Island with the intention of an activation from the Coorong National Park at its most Westerly end. It wasn’t to be. I will explain more later in a new post. Scott Conservation Park, about eight kilometres from Goolwa, provided an easily accessible alternative. This Park has been activated previously by Paul, VK5PAS. You should check out his excellent blog at https://vk5pas.org/

I have now activated all three South Australian Conservation Parks with Scott in their names: Scott Creek Conservation Park, Mount Scott Conservation Park and finally, Scott Conservation Park. If you would like to read about these activations then please click on the name of the Park on the index, which is just below the calendar on the front page.

Scott Conservation Park, comprising 210 hectares of land on the southern edge of the Mount Lofty Ranges is quite spectacular with magnificent trees (see below), deep creek lines and a walking trail of 2.7 kilometres which takes you through the park.

Warning about snakes

Creek in Scott CP

This photo shows the depth of the creek: the walking track crosses the creek bed at two locations (JCD photo)

We walked the trail plus another fire track for about an hour after my Sunday activation and enjoyed the scenery.

Scott CP Friday activation spot

A magnificent eucalypt at Scott Conservation Park, Friday 3rd March 2017, JCD photo

Scott CP Sunday afternoonScott Conservation Park, Sunday 5th March 2017, operating location. JCD photo

VK5BJE at Scott Conservation Park

My Sunday afternoon operating location on a fire trail. JCD photo

Saturday afternoon 3rd March 2017 – sunny warm day

On Saturday we found a clearing that had been used by campers. They had left rubbish behind. My wife cleared the rubbish, which we returned to Port Elliot and soon the spot was pristine. This location is about half way between the two car parks and is visible from the gravel road.

I found 7.150 Mhz to be clear and I called CQ at 06:05 UTC and was answered by Peter, VK3PF. His signal was 5 and 9 and mine was 4 and 4, noise was obviously a factor at Peter’s home. Then followed VK3GGG, VK4FW, VK3PMG, VK4AAC/4 (park to park contact with Rob who was in VKFF-1219,  Tuchekoi National Park, Queensland) VK3FSPG, VK3MRP, VK3MQ, VK3YSP/M, VK3FOWL/M, VK3ZPQ, VK7JON, VK3TKK/M, VK3SS,  VK3ELH,  VK3OW, VK2HHA, VK3VIN and VK1DI. Conditions on 40 metres were quite good although I was unable to work any South Australian signals. The closest station to me was probably Mick in Stawell, VK3GGG/VK3PMG. The band went quiet despite many CQ calls. I then moved to the 80 metre band and enjoyed contacts with the following stations on 3.610 Mhz: 07:28 VK5YX, VK5MRT, VK5FMWW, VK5FVSV, and at 07:18 VK5PAS/M, Paul, who was driving to Spring Mount Conservation Park for a Friday evening activation. At 07:38 I enjoyed my final contact for the afternoon, with Paul, VK5PAS/P, operating from Spring Mount Conservation Park, VKFF-0739, making my second Park to Park contact for the day.  We had to leave to go and buy some food for our evening meal.

Sunday afternoon 5th March 2017 – warm overcast day

I planned to become a digital station on Sunday afternoon using my VK5PF call sign and set up on 15 metres hoping to work some Asian stations using JT-65. What I had left out of the equation, however, is how do you see a computer screen in the great outdoors even on an overcast day? Oh well I will try again. So I decided to set up again for 4o metres ssb on 7.135 Mhz, which was clear. At 04:20 my first contact was with Allen, VK3ARH, s 56 r 53 and then in quick succession, VK3PF, VK3FPSR, VK3YXC, VK3QA, VK3BBB, VK3LX,  VK3GGG, VK3PMG, VK3SQ, 04:39 VK3DAC/3, Fred was in VKFF-0762, Leaghur State Park, my first Park to Park contact for the day,  VK1DI, VK3FEVT, VK1AT, at 04:49,VK3CWF, Bill at the Organ Pipes National Park, VKFF-0627 and at 04:55, VK3PAT/3, Chris at Alpine National Park, VKFF-0619, my third Park to Park contact for the day. Still on 40m I worked VK4HNS/4 and VK5KAI before migrating to 80 metres where I enjoyed contacts with VK5TW, VK5YX, VK5BB, and VK3GGG/VK3PMG. A big thank you to all of the operators who gave me a call at Scott Conservation Park. I made 48 contacts. I thought band conditions were reasonable and as usual there was no short skip into South Australia, at least not for stations within about 200 kilometres from Adelaide. However, tuning across the 40 metre band I thought activity was down for a Sunday afternoon. All contacts have been up-loaded to Log Book of the World and eqsls are available from VK5BJE/P.

Cockle Train entering Goolwa station

There is a lot to see and do around Goolwa (and I have not mentioned the wineries!). This photo shows the Cockle Train entering Goolwa Station on return from Victor Harbor.

Oscar W

The Oscar W in her home Port of Goolwa.

Beach at Port Elliot

Port Elliot from the headland.

Indigenous perspective on early European contact at park at Port Elliot

An Indigenous perspective on the coming of the Europeans and a creation myth.

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.

Coorong National Park, VKFF-0115 and 5NP-005 9th January 2017

After leaving Bendigo we drove to Ballarat. We decided to go back to that city and see our University friends for a second time on this trip. We had another really splendid evening discussing the past and the future. But before visiting our friends we travelled to the Ballarat Botanic Gardens. We used to visit the gardens back in 1970 to 1972 when we lived near Ballarat.


The photo above shows Lake Wendouree and Mt Warrenheip (SOTA summit VK3/VC-019) in the distance. I have previously activated Mt Warrenheip and I aim to go back there one day.


The Botantic Gardens are well worth a visit and the displays were excellent.

On the 10th we left Ballarat and took a new route via Skipton, Hamilton and Colleraine to Kingston SE for our last night away. We had an early night at Kingston SE and we thought we could reach the Coorong National Park in time for the local net at 08:00 hours SA time.

I was keen to have one final radio experience before travelling home and as we managed to get away from Kingston SE reasonably early I thought we could get to the southern end of the park before 08:00 South Australian time so I could join the net on 3.594 Mhz. I could not get all the way to Salt Creek and found a clearing just off the road not far past the southern boundary of the Park.It was just a mini activation as we wanted to do a walk at Salt Creek. I set up and tuned on 3.594 Mhz and called in at 21:38.

I worked the following stations:

VK5ZK, Garry 59 56

21:40 VK3LY, 59 59 Bill

21:43 VK5FD/5, Allan portable at Morgan 59 52

21:44 VK5KGP, Graham 59 55

21:45 VK5TW, Trevor 59 41

21:48 VK5KAA, Gordon 59 Gordon is plagued by noise and could not copy my signal.

21:48 VK5AWP, Peter 59 56

22:03 VK5ST, Steve 59 56


This photo shows the sun setting over the ocean at Kingston SE.


Looking over the Coorong from the walk at Salt Creek.


Memorial to Colin Thiele.


Salt Creek joining the Coorong Lagoon.


Crested Tern fishing.

I watched the Crested Tern fish. She made three runs over the water just on the seaward side of the bridge and on each occasion dived almost vertically on the up-stream side into the water and on the three occasions emerged with a small fish. As you can see from my photo the upstream water was clearer and calmer.


Half way point on the walk.

The name of the walk is Ngrugie Ngoppun meaning Good Walk. It leaves on the northern side of Salt Creek and proceeds to the Lagoon and returns on the southern side of the Creek. I estimate that the walk is about two kilometres is clearly marked and easy but very enjoyable. The memorial to Colin Thiele can be found on this walk. Thiele was an author and educator and wrote many books. Perhaps his best remembered is Storm Boy also made into a great film.


Salt Creek and the replica oil well in the distance.

We set off from Salt Creek where we had lunch and then home after some routine shopping at Stirling. We were away for 26 days and travelled 4,400 kilometres in our Patrol. While the prime purpose of the trip was to see our family in Sydney, we also saw friends, a relative in Bendigo, went bird-watching and played radio from nine different portable locations – all great locations. Unfortunately I was unable to access the two pre-programmed DMR repeaters in Sydney. That will have to wait until next time. Once again thanks to all of the chasers.

Barmah National Park, VKFF-0739, 5th January 2017

Our final Victorian Park was the Barmah National Park. This activation was number three. The first was for the Keith Roget Memorial National Park award and my last activation was for the WWFF program. Here is a link to my last activation: https://vk5bje.com/category/barmah-national-park/

On each of the my three activations I have set up in slightly different locations. But they are all just a few hundred metres to a kilometre or so within the Park boundary. As you enter the Park from Barmah and cross the creek (the location of my last activation) you drive on past the mustering yards (the site of my first activation) and then take a left had turn to the camp ground (site number three). The road was closed just past the turnoff to the camp because of recent rains and floods.


The photo above shows the camp ground. It appears that most of the campers like to be near the lake which meant that I could set up in the area furthest away from the lake (about 400 metres) and I had the place to myself.


The next photo shows a log on rollers near the camp ground. The diameter of the red gum log exceeds my height.


Here is a photo of the end of the log. It is very large. We also saw many old red gums that had been ring-barked in days gone by. You can read more about the cutting of railway sleepers in my first post on this park.



The final picture shows the Barmah Lake at the camp ground. It is a great spot and I spoke with a young camper from Germany. She spoke so enthusiastically about the space in Australia.

My aim with this activation was to complete 44 plus contacts to qualify the Park for the WWFF award.

I checked 7.144 Mhz at 22:38 and then called CQ. I was answered by VK3CWB/5, Maurie.

Then I had contacts with the following stations in quick succession:














and at 22:36 VK5IS.

I then tried 20 metres looking for the VK6s and VK4s. I did not have any success.

I then went back to 7.144 and had qsos with:


00:00 VK7FAMP/7, Angela in VKFF-1135










VK5TT, 59 57 Tony at Sellicks Beach but operating a remote station in the Adelaide Hills. We arranged to try 14.310 without success and then tried 30 metres.

00:27 10.120 VK7BC, 59 58 Frank in Launceston

00:36 VK5TT, Tony 59 57. We had a three way qso on 30 metres with VK7BC.

All signals were good during the activation. Thanks to all of the callers and those who posted spots. I gained enough contacts to qualify the Park. After spending some time walking and taking photos we set off for Nathalia where we had some lunch and a break before driving to Bendigo to our accommodation.


Murray Valley National Park, VKFF-1178, 4th January 2017

We drove from Narrandera to Moama on the 4th January, not a long drive and with plenty of time to activate the Murray Valley National Park in NSW just out of Moama. This was a new park for me.



The Murray Valley National Park is opposite the Barmah National Park in Victoria. The two parks, on either side of the Murray River, create a magnificent wet land and both parks appear to be popular. There were campers in the NSW park and we had time to look at a few areas but in the end decided to return to the spot pictured above in the two photos. There is plenty of parking and for most of our time there we had the place to ourselves. Jenny took the path to the bird watching area and I set up my station to the right of the sign above.

I checked 7.144 at 05:35 and was answered by Trevor, VK5TW. I was encouraged and signals were pretty good for the activation. Then followed:

05:38 VK3PF

05:41 VK2IO


06:46 VK1MA

05:48 VK4RF/VK4HA

05:49 VK2QR

05:52 VK5FANA

05:51 VK2SWL

05:53 VK5PAS

05:56 VK7FAMP

05:58 VK1DI

06:01 VK5PAS

06:04 VK5KLV

06:05 VK5YX

06:10 VK5KDK

06:13 VK3UH

06:14 VK2GKA/M


06:21 VK2HOT

06:23 VK4HNS

06:26 VK5FMLO

06:27 VK2UH

06:28 VK5FMLO

06:29 VK3SQ

06:31 VK3ARH

06:32 VK7LTD

06:34 VK3TKK

06:37 VK4FFAB

06:39 VK1MTF

06:44 VK5KC

06:45 VK7JON

06:48 ZL4KD


06:59 VK5PAS

07:08 VK1HW

7.115 ssb

07:27 VK5FMAZ

07:31 VK5FMWW

07:32 VK5FVSV

3.610 ssb

07:59 VK2YK

08:04 VK3PF/VK3KAI

08:07 VK1MA/VK8GA/1

08:23 VK1DI

08:73 VK5TW

08:23 VK3ANL

08:23 VK3OHM

08:28 VK5FANA

08:28 VK3ZBX

08:29 VK3SQ

08:32 VK2FENG

08:35 VK3ZPF

08:34 VK3NL

08:38 VK2IG

Thank you to the hunters and I now have sufficient qsos to qualify the park.

Murrumbidgee Valley National Park, VKFF-0554, 3rd January 2017

Our four day stay in Canberra came to an end on Tuesday morning 3rd January when we left to travel to Narrandera in New South Wales. Narrandera is one gateway into the Riverina area of NSW. We have stayed at Narrandera before and, on one occasion, spent time at the local cemetery looking for a memorial for one of Jenny’s ancestors. This time we were planning to visit the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park. This was a new park for me.

But more on the park in a moment. We planned to have lunch at Wagga Wagga and it was suggested by a volunteer at the local Information Centre that the Cafe at the Art Gallery would be a good choice. We were also told that the Archibald Portrait Finalists were on display at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery. Here is a link to the portraits:


I made two choices, first, the portrait of actor Gary McDonald and second, the portrait of retired Victorian Supreme Court Justice Bernard Teague. Neither of my choices were successful but it will be interesting to see which portrait wins the People’s Choice Award.

After arriving in Narrandera we set out for the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park for some bird watching and radio. We took the Irrigation Way from Narrandera to Yanco and then took Euroley Road before taking the marked track to Turkey Flat. The first few hundred metres of the track into Turkey flat is quite badly rutted and, if wet, would be impassable. It presented no difficulty to our Patrol but a small car would bottom out. I would recommend seeking advice if using a two-wheeled drive vehicle. Turkey Flat was the third marked entry to the Park along Irrigation Way.


The notice board at Turkey Flat Wetland


My operating position


New growth along the river


This photo shows the bird hide at Turkey Flat.

Despite the water on the ground and a wet year our visit was entirely mosquito free!

I checked 7.144 at 05:00 UTC and found it free.I gained 17 contacts which I was pretty pleased about given it was holiday time.

05:04 VK4FRAL

05:14 VK4XI

05:21 VK2YK

05:38 VK5KLV

05:40 VK5PAS

05:43 VK2FSAV

05:53 VK4FFAB

05:56 VK4HNS/4

05:58 VK4NH

06:01 VK4RF

06:01 VK4HA

06:04 VK7LTD

06:07 VK7FAMP

06:09 VK5KGP

06:12 VK5TW

06:13 VK5KPR

06:18 VK5MJ

I enjoyed this unplanned activation. Signals were good and it was a pleasant way to spend a late afternoon. I appreciated all of the stations who gave me a call.

Next morning we set out from Narrandera to Moama. But before leaving Narrandera we decided to visit the Narrandera Wet Lands within the town and near the road bridge. The aim was to see some birds and take some photos.




Stumps are popular photographic subjects but how much better when the stump is a dragon!

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.