Sunday, 4 December 2016

Yanunbeyan State Conservation Area VKFF-1400

A nice sunny Sunday morning, expected to warm up later, so decided to activate a park close by the the ACT, Yanunbeyan State Conservation Area. This is a little known park, I only knew about it as I had entered it before to activate SOTA summit Mt Foxlow VK2/ST-010 in June 2014. At that time the park was not part of the WWFF parks register, State Conservation Areas in NSW were added in July 2016.

Drove out to Queanbeyan, then the Kings Highway, turning off onto Captains Flat Road, then turning off onto Woolcara Lane. This road is unsealed but okay for 2WD cars. It is actually a fairly long road. The road goes past Woolcara station. Please note you pass through this property, don't leave the road and watch out for sheep!

I had a few close encounters with them on the road, they tended to lie down on it and I surprised them coming over the crests of hills. Just slow down and they will get out of the way.

Eventually reached the entrance to Yanunbeyan State Conservation Area. Sign on the left.


A few km past this reached Apple Box Flat picnic area. This is the only picnic area in the park, so stopped here.



A large sign telling the history of the park and Apple Box Flat. Named after an Apple Box Tree. I'm no botanist so unsure where this was...


Close by 3 picnic tables. The closest one and the one behind it had trees overhanging, not good for the squid pole, so picked the one on the right. Probably had the most shade too.


Set up the squid pole and radio shack on my chosen picnic table.


Another view of the shack.


Park radio shack on the table. Partial shade, still quite pleasant temperature mid morning.


Went to spot myself and found there was no mobile coverage here :( Hardly surprising as in a deep valley between Mt Foxlow and Corner hill. So needed to get a park hunter to spot me on parksnpeaks, and hope I would stumble across other park activators.

After a tune around on 40m came across Gerard, VK2IO/p in VKFF-1370 Parr State Conservation Area with a strong 59+ signal. Then found a spot and called CQ, hoping park hunters would spot me.

Worked the following hunters.

VK2ZGH Geoff
VK5ZGY Greg
VK2HHA Dennis
VK3AFW Ron.

Another tune around stumbled across Rob VK4AAC/5 activating VKFF-0905 Lower Glenelg River Conservation Park. Rob was low down, only a 53, he gave me a 32 report but we did make it.

Some more park hunters. The pace got better as someone had spotted me.

VK3PMG Mick
VK3GGG Mick
VK3IRM Mike
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2GAZ Gary
VK2VW Brett
VK3ELH/p Simon
VK3ARH Allen
VK5PAS Paul
Vk7CW Steve
VK3BWZ Bob
VK3OW Ewen
VK2KYO Ken
VK2FPRM Phillip
VK3FLCS Brett
VK2FAD John

After working John called several times with no answer, spun the dial around and found the whole 40 m band empty... it had just died.

Gave 20m a try. Managed to stumble across Adam, VK2YK/4 on 14.244 Mhz activating SOTA peak VK4/NH-129 on Magnetic Island. This was also in VKFF-0299 Magnetic Island National Park. He had a good 58 signal.

Packed up after working Adam and headed home after 25 contacts. Need to return to get the 44.








Thursday, 1 December 2016

VKFF Hunter Award 375 Parks

Following a lot of park to park contacts on the VKFF Activation weekend I boosted my park tally over 375, and able to apply for another award.

Applied via Logsearch, Promptly received from Paul, VK5PAS VKFF Awards manager.


Monday, 28 November 2016

VK7RHF 10m FM Repeater

Noticed on vklogger.com a new 10m FM repeater was on air, VK7RHF near Hobart. It is on 29.680 Mhz Output and 29.580 Mhz input, with 91.5 Mhz tone access required.

Fiddled about with my TS480 radio, and after reading the manual on how to set the tone got it sorted in split mode and keyed it up :)


Coming back full scale, so good sporadic e opening to VK7.

Put a call out and worked Hayden VK7HH, the repeaters owner, also Bruce VK7MBD.
Should be good for use during the summer sporadic e season.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve VKFF-0989

For the Sunday of the VKFF Activation weekend, decided to activate a famous park in the ACT, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve VKFF-0989. This park is well known to Canberrans and to many visitors to the ACT. It is located off Paddys River Road to the SE of Canberra. or via Point Hut Rd then Tidbinbilla Road. Overseas readers may know of NASAs Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Complex. This is close by. The park has its own website http://www.tidbinbilla.act.gov.au/

It has only been activated once before for a WWFF activation by VK5BJE/1, John. His blog is at https://vk5bje.com/category/tidbinbilla-nature-reserve/

Went via the Tidbinbilla Road route. Entry to the park.



A short drive up the road you will come to the visitors centre. If you don't have a pass you will need to park here and go inside to purchase a ticket. I paid $11.50 for a car day pass. This gets you a pass ticket with a bar code that opens a boom gate, to let you into the park.

As per John's activation first drove to the picnic areas near the entrance, but as a bit lower down the hill found no mobile phone coverage, so gave this a miss. Needed to be able to access ParksnPeaks...
Drove on a bit further. Found some spotty coverage on the road, but this vanished as I got further into the park, it is surrounded by high mountains. Returned along the road to an area known as Dalsetta. This is a car park with some picnic tables and the start of several walks, eg Gibraltar Peak. For those who have lived in Canberra for a while this is the site of the old visitors centre. A good sign here shows the location.


Toilets nearby, handy for a long park activation.


Found a picnic table close by with shade from a couple of large gum trees, even an old post nearby for squid pole support, and good mobile phone coverage. Perfect :) Set up the shack.


After getting the radio going found I had a furry visitor watching me.


He seemed more interested in the radio than myself. Perhaps keen to work some DX?


Quite a lot of Kangaroos nearby in the shade of the trees, one of the attractions of the park. There are also Emus, Koalas and water birds to look at further on.

Got on 40m. Started with several park to park contacts:

VK3XV/p Tony in VKFF-0775 Werribee Gorge
VK5PL/p David in VKFF-1739 Para Wirra Conservation Park
VK5ZGY/p Greg in VKFF-1025 Dingley Dell Conservation Park
VK5FANA/p Adrian in VKFF-1706 Eastern Spencer Gulf Coastal Park
VK2QR/p Rob in VKFF-0054 Brindabella National Park

Then spotted myself and works some park hunters. VK7CW Steve, VK5NFT Tom, VK3SQ Geoff.
Gerard VK2IO/p came up in VKFF-1386 Upper Nepean State Conservation Area

A few more hunters Mick VK3PMG/VK3GGG, VK3SFG Sergio, VK1MT mobile VK2 Matt.
Some more parks

VK5KLV/p Les in VKFF-1757 Upper Spencer Gulf Marine National Park
VK3NBI/p Bryce in VKFF-0796 Ewens Ponds CP
VK5GJ/p Greg and VK5GI/p Norm in VKFF-1061 Moana Sands Conservation Park.
A fairly weak contact with VK3SG/p Leigh in VKFF-0264 Kinglake National Park
VK5PAS/p Paul in VKFF-0906 Marne Valley Conservation Park
VK7DW/p Andrew in VKFF-1145 Notley Gorge State Reserve

A few more hunters, VK3KMH Mike, VK2ZK Dave, VK2JDC Dave, VK2XXM Robert, VK2XSE/m Liz.

As usual worked Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0728 Cobboboonee National Park.
Grabbed Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-0326 Moogerah Peaks National Park

Some more hunters, VK7PLR Peter, Vk4GJC Geoff, Vk2GPT Glen and VK2LDN Glen.

Later saw a spot for VK3PF/p Peter in VKFF-0962 Colquhoun Regional Park. After working him Allen VK3ARH/p in VKFF-0757 Enfield SP grabbed me for a contact.

Gerard VK2IO/p had moved on to a new park, VKFF-1292 Burragorang State Conservation Area.

There was a spot for a SOTA activation, VK3LED/p Col on VK3/VC-017 The Jim Jim, so worked Col on this rarely activated summit.

Some more park hunters, VK3YE Peter, VK1AD/VK1NAM Andrew.

Worked Paul VK5PAS/p in another park, VKFF-0832 Swan Reach Conservation Reserve

A few more hunters. Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, VK3MRH Ron, VK3ELH Simon and VK2VU Gary.

After all this radio activity got the LO signal on my TS480, so the battery was about flat... Packed up after lunch. Luckily got 45 contacts so just managed to qualify the park activation for WWFF.

A few more photos in the park. The nearby walk to Gibraltar Peak. This is the rocky peak in the centre. Quite a nice walk, but left it today.


A view looking up Tidbinbilla valley. Mt Domain on the left and Tidbinbilla Mountain on the right, both SOTA peaks, hard walks.


Further into the park, the wetlands walk.


Koala Sanctuary


Tidbinbilla Mountain from a lookout in the park.

Looking down from the lookout back towards the visitors centre.







Saturday, 26 November 2016

Old Naas Travelling Stock Reserve VKFF-0992

After activating Gigerline Nature Reserve VKFF-0985 headed for my next park, Old Naas TSR (Travelling Stock Reserve) VKFF-0992. This park has never been activated before for WWFF. Headed back to Naas Road and drove South until reaching the bridge crossing the Gudgenby River. Pulled up off the road here on the left and parked.


Old Naas Travelling Stock Reserve is a rather unique nature reserve in the ACT, it is the only protected Travelling Stock Reserve. Wikipedia definition:

A Travelling Stock Reserve is a fenced paddock set aside at strategic distances to allow overnight watering and camping of stock.

It is a small section of land running along part of the Gudgenby River. No real signs here to indicate it, apart from one nearby for Remnant Vegetation Conservation Area.


There was a track running down to the river, which didn't look that good for operating from as in the full sun. The rest of the reserve was just grassland.


I decided to use about the only bit of shade in the reserve, behind the trees in the remnant vegetation area. used the sign for squid pole support.


Operating position. Map from Protected Planet website. The reserve is small, .019 sq km.


Managed to tuck the operating table in a shady corner behind the trees.


Radio shack on the table in the shade.


Got on 40m. Started with a couple of park to park contacts with VK3FLCS/p Brett in VKFF-0979 Wandong Regional Park, and VK2QR/p Rob in VKFF-1392 Wereboldera State Conservation Area.

A hunter contact with VK2FVIN, Vini, then park to park contacts with Mick VK3PMG/p /VK3GGG/p in VKFF-0958 Ararat Hills Regional Park, VK3XV/p Tony in VKFF-0968 Hepburn Regional Park, and Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1271 Bargo State Conservation Area.

Some more hunters, VK3SQ Geoff, VK3PF Peter, VK2KYO Ken, VK3SFG Sergio with good signals.

A couple more park to parks with  Les VK5KLV/p in VKFF-0360 Mount Remarkable National Park and Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0361 Mount Richmond National Park.

Saw a spot for Adam VK2YK/4 on 20m so switched to this band. He was weak around S3 and had problems copying me, made contact eventually. He was in VKFF-1666 Townsville Town Common Conservation Park so a good distance away.

Tried spotting and calling on 20m but no callers, so returned to 40m. Some more parks to parks:

VK5ZGY/p Greg in VKFF-0796 Ewens Ponds CP
VK7DW/p Andrew in VKFF-1156 Waterhouse Conservation Area
VK5FMAZ/p Marija in VKFF-0919 Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park
VK3MTB/p Tim in VKFF-0747 Gippland Lakes Coastal Park

Worked VK3BSG Erik, before a final contact with VK5PL/p David in VKFF-1159 Wiljani Conservation Park.

My TS480 was displaying LO for low battery for a while, and finally decided to stop transmitting anymore, so packed up and went home. 20 contacts from this park so need to return to sometime to complete the 44 needed for a WWFF point.


Gigerline Nature Reserve VKFF-0989

For the VKFF Activation Weekend thought I would activate the last few remaining parks in the ACT yet to be activated by anyone, Gigerline Nature Reserve VKFF-0985 and Old Naas Travelling Stock Reserve VKFF-0992. The 2 parks are close to each other and ideal for a days trip.

Gigerline Nature Reserve is located South of the rural town of Tharwa which is South of Canberra. It protects the Murrumbidgee River Corridor flora and Fauna as it enters the the Eastern edge of the ACT at Angle Crossing.It is one of the nature parks along the river as it flows through the ACT.

I decided to activate at Tharwa Sandwash, a picnic area on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

Drove through Tharwa, heading South and turned off onto Smiths Road on the left. Followed this down to a crossing over the Gudgenby River, where you enter the park.


Crossed the bridge. Looking back you can see Mount Tennent, SOTA summit VK1/AC-025. The scar on the side is from a rock fall some years ago.


There was a side road off Smiths Road leading to Tharwa Sandwash.


The side road follows the Murrumbidgee river for a while, dropping down to the river and ending at a picnic/swimming area.


Looking upstream from the picnic area


Looking downstream.


A few tables at the picnic area, this one had a good view of the river but trees above made it unsuitable for the squid pole.


Another table nearby had space above, plus some shade from a nearby tree. Decided to set up here. The table wasn't good for strapping the squid pole to, so used my own camping table instead.


My operating location, map from Protected Planet website.


Radio set up on the picnic table. A bit of shade, but did get warm later as the sun got overhead.


Got on 40m. To my disappointment the band was noisy, there was some electrical interference from nearby power lines. Put on the noise blanker on the TS-480 which removed most of it, however adjacent frequency interference increased. Splatter or noise... Decided to just put up with it as keen to get on air.

Started by working all the parks currently on air. First were Joe VK3YSP/p and Julie VK3FOWL/p in VKFF-0957 Yaringa Marine National Park. Then Marija VK5FMAZ/p in VKFF-1082 Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park.

Found a clear spot and called CQ parks. Contacts with VK2QA Jim, VK1AD/VK1NAM Andrew, VK3PF Peter, VK3SQ Geoff and VK3PMG/VK3GGG Mick, VK2VW, Brett.

Another park to park contact with Rob, VK2QR/p in VKFF-1392 Wereboldera State Conservation Area. This is just outside Tumut and on the other side of the Brindabella Ranges to me, Rob had a good strong signal.

Another park to park, Tony VK3XV/p in VKFF-0772 Paddys Ranges State Park. A couple more hunters, VK2NTJ Jerry and VK2AFY Chris. Another park to park with VK3ZPF/p Peter in VKFF-0750 Arthurs Seat State Park.

Briefly chased a SOTA station, Andrew VK1MBE/2 on VK2/SC-042 Wandera Mountain on the South Coast NSW near Moruya, a summit I have done.

Another park to park with VK5PL/p David in  VKFF-1159 Wiljani Conservation Park.

Switched to 20m to work VK5PAS/p Paul in VKFF-1082 Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park. He had a strong signal and 20m was less noisy then 40m. A surprising contact with VK3ZPF/p Peter in VKFF-0750 Arthurs Seat State Park. This would be only about 600 Km away so short sporadic e skip was in on 20m. Some more contacts on 20m with VK4RF/VK4HA Rick, and VK4HNS/p Neil in VKFF-0300 Main Range National Park.

My next park to park was a real surprise for 20m, VK2IO/p Gerard in VKFF-1271 Bargo State Conservation Area. This is South of Sydney and only a few hundred Km away!? Also Adam VK2YK/4 a lot further away in VKFF-1504 Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park near Townsville.

Some more hunters on 20m, VK3SFG Sergio, VK2KYO Ken and VK3XV/p Tony again, this time on 20m, still in VKFF-0772.

Since sporadic e was in decided to try 15m. Didn't have an antenna for this band, but found the TS480s inbuilt antenna tuner would let me load up the 40m dipole okay on it. Worked VK4FFAB/p Rob in VKFF-0734 Lockyer (Recovery) National Park, also VK3ARH Allen and VK3UH Ken, all strong signals.

Ended up working VK5FMAZ/p Marija and VK5PAS/p Paul again in VKFF-1082, just to get them on 15m for a change.

While at the park I had a visit from the local park ranger, based at Namadgi Visitors Centre nearby. Wanted to know what I was doing. Gave him my email address and later on sent him an email with details on both WWFF parks awards and SOTA. He will pass this on to the other rangers so they are aware of it.

Packed up after lunch and headed off to my next park, VKFF-0992 Old Naas TSR for the afternoon.



Sunday, 20 November 2016

West Jerrabomberra Nature Reserve VKFF-0993

Following a review of WWFF areas on the Australian Capital Territory by Paul, VK5PAS, there was some confusion about the name of the Grasslands area near Jerrabomberra. Google Maps has West Jerrabomberra park just to the West of the Monaro Highway, and Jerrabomberra East off nearby Lanyon Drive. These parks may possibly be known collectively as Jerrabomberra Grasslands Nature Reserve? Figured the only way to find out was to visit and have a look, and do an activation while there...

First drove to Jerrabomberra East Grasslands off Lanyon Drive. Definitely a grasslands area, but no signs to indicate a nature reserve. Noted there was what looked like the remains of a Canberra Nature Park sign nearby, usual big metal frame but no sign in it now. There is a trig on the summit of the hill.


Drove back to the Monaro Highway and found an access gate into what is shown on Google Maps as West Jerrabomberra Reserve. Just near the RFS Helicopter pad at the far Southern end of the park.


 Although the sign on the gate had "Jerrabomberra Grasslands Nature Reserve...


Climbed over the gate and set up on the wooden park sign.


Looking back towards the Monaro Highway. It was close by and noisy with traffic...Used the fence for the dipole leg support.


Tied the other end of the dipole to a fence. There is a road leading to a private farm on the other side.


Set up the radio on the table. Hot in the full sun...The insect spray proved handy...


Got on 40m. Started with a park to park contact with Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1319 Glenrock State Conservation Area, very strong.

A few more huntes, then another park to park with Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0345 Mount Eccles National Park.

Continued on working hunters in VK2, VK3 and VK7. Usual contact with Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who usually manages to work me...

Saw a spot for a SOTA activation, Mark VK3PI on VK3/VC-007 Mt Macedon, also in VKFF-0972 Macedon Regional Park, managed to work him okay.

After 40 m went quiet went to 20 m. One call from Paul, VK5PAS with a strong 59 signal. After some more calls no takers so returned to 40 m.

Heard some splatter, tuned around and picked up a massive full scale 60+ over 9 signal from Chris VK2SR/mobile VK1. I called him and found he had just driven past me on the Monaro Highway, running 400 Watts! No wonder he was so strong...

At midday had enough of the heat and packed up after 15 contacts. Need to return on a cooler day...