Friday, 25 September 2015

WWFF and VKFF Awards

Paul VK5PAS the Australian VKFF coordinator has added some new VKFF awards. Previously the top award for hunters was Platinum at 50 VKFF areas worked.

There is now the Sapphire award for 75 VKFF areas worked

After 75 worked there are the Honour roll Awards, starting at 100 VKFF areas worked

At 125 VKFF areas worked. Nice photo of the Blue Mountains National Park near Sydney.

Then awards at 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 275 VKFF areas. Can't show you these as I don't have enough reference areas worked yet!

Details at

Another award recently added is the OCCFF award, for working increments of 7 Oceania DXCC entities or Australian States or Territories.

More details at

I worked VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK7 and VK9N (Norfolk Island) references to obtain the 7 required.

Nice colourful award, photo of an Australian Rainbow Lorikeet.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Woodstock Nature Reserve VKFF-0988

Following the recent addition of 7 new WWFF award parks to the Australian Capital Territory decided to activate one of these on Sunday. I picked Woodstock Nature Reserve as its only about a 10 minute drive from home :) This is to a prominent point in the reserve, Shepherds Lookout.

Headed to Stockdill Drive in Holt and followed it down until reaching the car park to Shepherds Lookout

On the stone wall a map of the walk and the reserve. 250 m to the lookout.

Walked along the track. There is a junction so you can do a loop walk, can go either way. I went the shortest route to the right.

Reached Shepherds lookout. Great view to the North of the Murrumbidgee River.

A sign explaining some of the history of the area

A more detailed look of the view. A big bend in the river below.

Went looking for a comfortable operating spot for a park activation. Picked a large log near the lookout as a seat and radio shack and squid pole support.

Looking down hill at the shack. Good view to the West and Brindabella mountains

Shack on the log. Was in the sun but had a hat on.

Got on 40m. Apart from some strong VK7s the band seemed dead... Saw a SOTA spot for Adam VK3AGD/P on VK3/VC-029. Managed to work him, but he was a very weak signal.

Called CQ parks on the WWFF calling frequency and got Tony VK1VIC/P and Andrew VK1NAM/P on nearby Mt Majura VK1/AC-034 with a strong signal. This summit is also in a Canberra Nature Park Mt Majura Nature Reserve VKFF-851

Then worked my way through the regular parks chasers. VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7. The VK3s were very weak unless more than around 400-500 Km away such as Mick VK3PMG in Western Victoria. Nothing at all of close by VK2s in Sydney or VK3s in Melbourne, the skip zone seemed somewhere around the 400 Km range.

Got splashed by Adam VK2YK on 7.140 working Tony VK3VTH/P in a park near Wodonga. He was very, very weak...and he was running 100w. I tried a few calls with my puny 5w but unable to make it back.

Did manage to work Mark VK4MON in VKFF-187 Freshwater National Park with a weak but readable signal. Saw a SOTA spot for Peter VK3PF/P on VK3/VT-047, also in VKFF-942 Avon Wilderness Park. He was very weak, but at least we managed to work each other.

After a few hours with only 18 contacts gave it away struggling to hear weak signals and headed home for lunch. At least this is an easy park to return to and get the remaining contacts for the 44 required.

Track log of walk.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

New WWFF Parks added to the Australian Capital Territory

Thanks to Paul VK5PAS 7 new parks have been added to the WWFF Award scheme for the Australian Capital Territory

  1. Bimberi Wilderness Area, VKFF-983
  2. Bullen Range Nature Reserve VKFF-984
  3. Gigerline Nature Reserve VKFF-985
  4. Stony Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-986
  5. Swamp Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-987
  6. Woodstock Nature Reserve VKFF-988
  7. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve VKFF-989
Bimberi Wilderness Area, VKFF-983 contains SOTA peaks Mt Gingera VK1/AC-002, Mt Ginger Ale VK1/AC-007 and parts of Mt Ginini VK1/AC-008

Bullen Range Nature Reserve VKFF-984 contains SOTA peak VK1/AC-033

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve VKFF-989 contains SOTA peaks Tidbinbilla Peak VK1/AC-013 and Mt Domain VK1/AC-020

A bit of info on these parks
Bimberi Wilderness Area runs along the West of the ACT in the Brindabella Mountains. A very rugged walking area. Mt Ginini summit is accessable by road, the others are long walks...

Woodstock, Swamp Creek, Stony Creek, Bullen Range and Gigerline are a chain of reserves along the Murrumbidgee river corridor. See

Being close to Canberra all pretty easy to reach. If you want to climb the Bullen Range and do the SOTA peak you have a 5 Km walk though...

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is well known, it even has its own website
Note there is a park entry fee for this reserve. The 2 peaks Tidbinbilla Peak and Mt Domain are very hard walks, Tidbinbilla Peak has yet to be activated.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

SOTA 2500 Summit to Summit Points

During my recent SOTA trip I accumulated 2500 Summit to Summit Points, reaching "Gold" endorsement level

A breakdown of summit to summit contacts

By Band in Mhz

7 - 409
10 - 3
14 - 40
24 - 2
28 - 2
50 - 2
144 - 58

The bulk were on 40m as to be expected, although quite a few 2m and 20m S2S contacts too.

By Year

2013 - 164
2014 - 215
2015 - 137

A lot of these were in the end of years S2S frenzies, and SOTA S2S parties

Here is the award. 5000 points may take a while...

Saturday, 5 September 2015

SOTA Mount Macquarie VK2/CT-011

After stopping overnight in Orange left for the final summit on my trip, Mount Macquarie. From Orange drove to the turnoff to Blayney, getting on the Mid Western Highway, then turned off into the historic village of Carcoar. Followed the Mount Macquarie Road up the mountain.

The pine trees had been logged since here last October, the turnoff I took last time

At Gerard VK2IOs suggestion drove up to the top by travelling around to the Eastern side of the summit and then approaching it from the North. The road was a bit rough in places with remnants of pine trees over the road, however got up okay.

The trig was in the shade, decided a bit too cold to operate nearby like the last activation

Found a pine tree stump in the sunshine

Set up the tarp on the pine needles, quite comfy

Got on 40m. The band was quite good and worked several VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5 chasers, before and after UTC rollover, several with strong signals.

Still had a few more hours driving to go, packed up and headed home to Canberra via Cowra and Booroowa.

Friday, 4 September 2015

SOTA Mt Canobolas VK2/CT-001

After activating Caloma Trig in Goobang National Park drove to Orange, booked accommodation, then drove up Mt Canobolas for a late afternoon activation. A good 20 Km from Orange, it was getting close to sunset when I arrived on top. I had the place to myself, probably due to the cold wind and 6c temperature...

Set up just down from the summit on a small gum tree, a little lower than the small one I used last time here.

Shack on the tarp at the base of the tree.

Got on 40m. Due to the late evening time NVIS had dropped out, leaving only long distance stations audible. Really strong S7-S9+ signals from VK3s and VK5s. Just managed to work a very weak Gerard VK2IO in Sydney, too close... There was a spot for Andrew VK1NAM/p on VK1/AC-040 Mt Ainslie on 7.100, I listened for him but could only hear his chasers.

The surprise contact was EA2CKX, Pedro from Spain, EU DX on 40m! He was 5x1 and gave me a 3x1 report, as expected running only 5w...

Packed up and headed back down to Orange for the evening after 9 contacts. Wanted to get off the mountain before dark.

Sunset on Mt Canobolas

SOTA Caloma Trig VK2/CW-050

After staying overnight at Coonabarabran headed South to Gilgandra, then Dubbo, continuing on the Newell Highway towards Parkes. Just before Tomingley turned off onto Gundong Road on the left. There is a sign here for Goobang National Park. Drove along until coming to the East Boundary Trail Tanias Trail turnoff. Caloma Trig Lookout 9.5 Km ahead

Sign for Goobang National Park

Continued along East Boundary Trail until coming to more trail turnoffs. Continued straight ahead on Pipeclay Creek Trail.

The road got a bit rough after this, lots of large stones and quite rocky, although didn't need 4WD, just a bit of clearance. Got to the turnoff to Caloma Trig Lookout

The road signs in the park include map grid references, probably to aid fire fighting crews.

Got to the trig. Looking a bit battered...

Set up the squid pole on the trig, dipole wires strung out to a couple of trees.

Radio on the base of the trig

Got on 40m. Tried calling for Dave VK4DD for an S2S but he had gone to 20m. Worked some chasers, then Dave VK4DD/p came up from VK4/SE-039 for a S2S.

Worked several more chasers, VK2s, VK3s now reasonable signals this far South and some VK4s.

Tried 20m, contacted John VK6NU a weak 4x1 signal, then Rick VK4RF/VK4HA with a booming 5x9 signal.23 contacts all up.

I thought the road must go somewhere else other than to a lousy trig with no view, so continued to the end and found a car park and track to the proper lookout. Looking to the West.

Drove back to Gundong Road and on to Molong and Orange. Track log of drive

Thursday, 3 September 2015

SOTA Flagstaff Mountain VK2/NW-097

Flagstaff Mountain overlooks Tamworth and is a reasonably easy 2 Km walk. After stopping overnight in Tamworth drove to the start of the walk at the end of Endeavor Drive.

After walking along the road took a track on the right up to a saddle, then along the ridge to Flagstaff Mountain. A trig here, also a new addition since doing this walk last October, a communications tower...

Close to the tower was another new addition, a seat! No sitting on the ground like last time :)

The railing provided a good squid pole support. Got on the air on 40m in no time.

Had just missed an S2S with Al VK1RX/3, however plenty of chasers, mainly VK2s and VK4s with good signals. A couple of VK3s made the distance, VK3PF and VK3LED. VK5EE Tom the only VK5 I worked.

Made the mistake of getting on before UTC changeover...Got mobbed again after 0000z...

The weather, which was nice and sunny earlier started to cloud over so packed up after 17 contacts and headed back to the car. Drove on to Gunnedah. On the way it bucketed down with rain, had planned to try Mt Kaputar near Narrabri, gave it away and headed for Coonabarabran instead for the night. Was too wet to do any of the Warrumbungle summits.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

SOTA Point Lookout VK2/NT-002

Left Coffs Harbour and headed South on the Pacific Highway before turning West onto the Waterfall Way road running up to Armidale.

Turned off onto the Point Lookout Road. Entered New England National Park

Drove through the park, just before the end of the road turned off to the left and parked near a locked access gate to the Point Lookout Air Navigation site

About a Km walk to the summit. Road covered in moss near the top of the mountain

Air Services Australia site. Last time I was here it was in fog, finally got to see it in the clear...

In front of the site was a large grassy area. Used a stump to support the squid pole

Radio shack on a nearby log.

Got on 40m. A little interference from the nearby VLF beacon but nothing too bad. Worked a heap of VK2s and VK4s, a couple of VK3s, VK5IS, and a surprise S2S with Andrew VK1MBE/p on VK1/AC-040 Mt Ainslie. He mentioned he was waiting for Gerard VK2IO to come up on VK2/ST-001 later. Also worked Andrew VK1NAM/p on the same summit.

Later on worked Gerard VK2IO/p for another S2S with VK2/ST-001.

No luck on 20m. Packed up and headed back to the car after 18 contacts. Drove to the tourist lookout for lunch. Some good views from the lookout.

Continued on to Armidale, then Tamworth for the evening.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

SOTA End Peak VK2/MN-098

After activating VK2/MN-176 returned to Coffs Harbour for lunch, then headed up to Sealy Lookout to the start of the walk to End Peak. See my last activation  End Peak for how to get there.

Sealy Lookout Forest Sky Pier.

Great views, the weather was perfect, no wind and around 20c. Looking towards Coffs Harbour

Looking South. Several SOTA peaks visible.

There are signs to help identify peaks. Several are SOTA peaks that have yet to be activated, and would require serious 4WDing to access..

Just past the lookout car park a picnic area, with the track to End Peak

Walked along the track. Steep in places. There are 2 minor peaks that must be climbed first prior to reaching End Peak... so down, up, down, up, down and up to the summit... About a 1.5 Km walk taking around 30 minutes to get to the End Peak summit.

No trig here, really just a high point in the track. Spotted a small sapling in a good spot for squid pole support, but too small to support the weight of the pole on its own. Found a branch with a bend at the end of it, by lashing this to the sapling with compression cords was able to get the squid pole and dipole up in the middle of a clearing. Would have fallen over if any wind but luckily there was none today...

Shack on the tarp. My dodgy squid pole support arrangement shown...

Got on 40m. Worked VK2JDS/m and VK2YW with good signals. Worked S2S with Gerard VK2IO/1 on VK1/AC-044, also Andrew VK1MBE/2 on VK2/ST-006. Went on to work local Paul VK2KTT in Coffs Harbour with a strong signal, VK4RF/VK4HA, VK3LED.

Changed the links to 20m and tried calling CQ. Got Allen VK3HRA plus a Russian station, who kept talking over the top of Allen, anyway worked Allen okay.

Packed up and headed back to the car, and the picnic area for afternoon tea.

In the evening walked to the end of the Coffs Harbour Jetty and climbed Muttonbird Island to see the sunset. End Peak above the harbour and the 2 minor peaks to the right of it visible.