Sunday, 12 November 2017

WWFF Activation Dunlop Grasslands Nature Reserve VKFF-0839

With the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award activation weekend on there were lots of VK3 National Parks on the air, so decided to chase them from a local WWFF park for park to park contacts. I decided to return to Dunlop Grasslands Nature Reserve VKFF-0839. Needed to get 16 contacts to complete the 44 needed for a WWFF point, plus its a nice park to visit.

As per last time drove to the Canberra suburb of Fraser, parked next to the gate closing off Binns St, and walked to the reserve. As some distance to walk just took a carry bag with the radio, battery, antenna, and squid pole, no table and chair this time. Sign for Dunlop Grasslands Nature Reserve, a Canberra Nature Park.



 
Near the sign a gate for entrance to the park. Despite the sign didn't see any cattle, only kangaroos. As you can see the gate was locked, so just climbed over it.


Walked into the reserve until finding the log under the large gum tree I operated from last time.


Set up here. Map showing the location in the park, from protectedplanet.net website.


Set up the squid pole on the log. Dipole legs tied out to a couple of nearby trees.


Shack on the log. Made a good table/seat with some shade.


Got on 40m. On air just in time to hear Gerard VK2IO/p in a park, asking for last calls before going QRT. I quickly called him. He was in VKFF-2014 Wambina Nature Reserve.

Also worked Andrew VK2UH in Yass, for once I could hear him, NVIS has not been good lately for close by stations... Then chased another park activation on ParksnPeaks, Jonathon VK7JON/p in VKFF-1133 Bay of Fires Conservation Area.

Went on to work some of the regular park hunters. VK2NP Cliff, VK2HHA Dennis, VK2YK Adam,
VK4TJ John.

Got called for another park to park with VK3ANL/p Nick in VKFF-2104 Gresswell Hill Nature Conservation Reserve with a good signal.

Worked usual park hunter Rick VK4RF/VK4HA with a good signal, then a stream of park to park contacts.

VK3PF/p on Arthurs Seat SOTA summit VK3/VC-031, also VKFF-0750 Arthurs Seat State Park
VK3SRC/p Joe in VKFF-0621 Churchill National Park
VK4HNS/p Neil in VKFF-1574 Knapp Creek Conservation Park
VK5PAS/p Paul and VK5FMAZ/p Maria in VKFF-0113 Coopracambra National Park
VK3FLCS/p Brett in VKFF-0264 Kinglake National Park

Worked a few more park hunters. VK3SQ Geoff, VK2PKT Keith
Another SOTA summit, VK3IL/p on VK3/VE-036 Mt Winstanley

Another park to park with VK2JNG/p Gerard in VKFF-0491 Tooloom National Park with a good strong signal.

Worked VK3SFG Sergio, then VK3OAK/p Malcolm in VKFF-0728 Cobboboonee National Park

Had a very weak call from VK7BEN/p Ben, he was difficult to copy but think I got him in VKFF-0347 Mount Field National Park. 

Gave 20 m a try. Managed to contact VK6NI Nigel, VK7BEN/p again, a little bit stronger on 20 m and VK5QI Mark.

Went back to 40 m before packing up for a last listen. Heard VK3PF/p calling in another park, VKFF-0333 Mornington Peninsula National Park.

Well and truly qualified the park, headed home.




Sunday, 5 November 2017

WWFF Activation Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1918

Having stopped overnight at Batemans Bay on a bit of a weekend break with my partner decided to do a first time activation of a nearby WWFF park, Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1918.

The park is to the North of Batemans Bay and consists of two sections, one on the Western side of Cullendulla Creek, mainly mangroves, and another section on the Eastern side and to the South called Square Head. From Batemans Bay drove North on the Princes Highway, turning off onto Cullendulla Drive. Turned off this onto Blairs Road into Long Beach housing estate. Turned off and parked at the car park for the start of the walking tracks into Square Head.


Set up the WWFF station in the car park. Operating spot shown, map from protectedplanet.net


Used one of the bollards in the car park for the squid pole support, table and chairs set up nearby for the radio.


Looking up the hill at the shack


Close up of the shack. My FT-857D running off a LifePO4 battery. Set the power to 30 W.


Got on 40 m. Disappointingly a lot of local electrical QRM, probably from the nearby houses on the edge of the reserve. Many had solar panel systems which can be quite noisy electrically.

I first worked Peter, VK3TKK/p in VKFF-0231 Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. He was about to go clear, so quickly called him, even though I had not even looked up the VKFF number of my park yet.

Made the mistake of spotting myself on 7.144 Mhz. It sounded quiet to me but was only 2 Khz below the VK2 WIA broadcast on 7.146 Mhz from Sydney. There was no short hop propagation there but they were affecting chasers, so moved to 7.140 Mhz. Must remember this for Sunday morning activations...

Went on the work VK2XXM Robert, VK3OHM Mark, VK6ZRW/7 Ray, VK3MRG/p Marshall and VK2VW Brett.

Got called again by Peter, VK3TKK/p, this time in another park, VKFF-0373 Murray-Sunset National Park. So another park to park contact.

Got called by Gerard VK2IO in Sydney, who advised I had come out of the noise to a good strong signal. So NVIS short hop was working again. Went on to work VK5BJE John, VK3BBB Brian, VK3FLCS Brett.

Spoke to VK2HEY/p Ross, in Sydney but using a remote station in Cowra. He was quite strong. VK7MPR Mark, VK2YW John in Wagga very strong, and VK2PKT Keith in Parkes, also strong.

Hunters seemed to dry up, so packed up for lunch after 16 contacts. Don't mind returning to this park for the remainder of the 44 contacts, very attractive with lots of Burrawang Palms and Spotted Gum Trees.

A photo from a walk I did earlier here.


View across to Batemans Bay from the Southern end of Square Head


Sunday, 29 October 2017

WWFF Activation Callum Brae Nature Reserve VKFF-0836

With a nice warm sunny Sunday afternoon decided to do another WWFF park activation. Returned to Callum Brae Nature Reserve VKFF-0836, to try and complete the 44 contacts needed for a WWFF point. Its a pleasant wooded Canberra Nature Park popular with bird watchers.

As per last time entered the park at the North East gate off Narrabundah Lane in Symonston. Sign for the park


Park gate. Gap next to the gate for walkers,


A map of the park on the gate


Set up the squid pole using a small gum tree sapling, and table and chairs nearby. Had my partner, Sarah along for a listen so 2 chairs set up.


FT857D radio on the table, plus afternoon tea stuff...


Started on 40 m, set the power output on the FT-857D to 30 W. Seems to be a good power output to use without draining the LifePO4 battery too much, and strong enough for chasers to copy easily.

Started with a park to park contact with VK3SMA/p, Mark in VKFF-0719 Lockyer National Park.
A bit low down but quite readable with the low noise floor in the park.

After working Mark got called by Brett VK2VW, who asked me to move down 5 to 7.130 Mhz.
Brett had a good 59 signal. After working Brett stayed on the same frequency and spotted myself on ParksnPeaks for more chasers.

Worked Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, VK3FMKE Keith and VK1FWBK Bill.

Got called for another park to park contact with Nick, VK3ANL/p in VKFF-2113 Ironbark Road Nature Conservation Reserve, near Melbourne. He had a good S8-S9 signal.

This was it for park to park contacts. Went on to work the following chasers

VK5FANA Adrian
VK2YK Adam
VK3FI Noel
VK4HNS Neil
VK3UH Ken
VK3YXC Ken
VK3BBB Brian
VK2IO Gerard
VK2FSAV Brett
VK2ZK Dave
VK3KYF Garry
VK5PAS Paul
VK2EMI Mark
VK5FMAZ Marija
VK5HS Ivan
VK2UH Andrew.

I briefly tried switching to 20 m and tried a few calls, but no answers. There was heavy Pacific, Asian and European QRM from a world wide contest on, probably being drowned out...

Gave it away after 25 contacts. With my earlier activation 62 contacts, well over the 44 needed for the park point for WWFF.

For bird life saw some Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas, Magpies and heard some Gang Gang Cockatoos, which have a distinctive creaking door type call. A pleasant spot for an afternoon activation.



Thursday, 26 October 2017

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service 50 Years Hunter Award

The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service turns 50 this year

To celebrate, the VKFF awards manager created awards for hunting or activating 5 VKFF references in NSW parks during October.

http://www.wwffaustralia.com/special-awards.html

I made the following contacts:

Date Band Mode MyCall DXcall Operator Reference
22/10/2017 80m SSB VK1DI VK2IO/P VK2IO VKFF-2018
22/10/2017 40m SSB VK1DI/P VK4HNS/2 VK4HNS VKFF-1347
15/10/2017 80m SSB VK1DI VK2IO/P VK2IO VKFF-1905
7/10/2017 40m SSB VK1DI VK2JNG/P VK2JNG VKFF-0116
5/10/2017 40m SSB VK1DI VK2JNG/P VK2JNG VKFF-1958

References worked

VKFF-2018 - Wianamatta Nature Reserve
VKFF-1347 - Maroomba State Conservation Area
VKFF-1905 - Castlereagh Nature Reserve
VKFF-0116 - Cottan-Bimbang National Park
VKFF-1958 - Macquarie Nature Reserve

Here is the award










Wednesday, 25 October 2017

WWFF Activation Lower Molonglo River Corridor Nature Reserve VKFF-0990

With a nice warm Sunday afternoon decided to activate a local WWFF park,  Lower Molonglo River Corridor Nature Reserve VKFF-0990. The 2017 VKFF Team Championship was on, so even if not part of a team there was a chance to grab some park to park contacts.

I have activated this park before, and set up at the same place at the end of Stockdill Drive in Holt, just before the water treatment works. After passing through a pedestrian gate set up on the table at the start of the path leading down to the river, using a park sign for squid pole support. There are 2 chairs as my partner Sarah came along to listen in.


For the first time using a newly acquired radio, a Yaesu FT-857D. Finding my FT-817 with 5 W too low a power to be heard that well now days, and my IC-7300 a bit big and too good to knock about in the field, so the FT-857D fits the purpose well of a small, high powered radio for park activations.

After some fiddling found the menu setting to set the power to 20 W and got on 40 m. Started with a park to park with Marija VK5FMAZ/p and Paul VK5PAS/p in VKFF-1763 Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park. Both were good 59 signals.

Another park to park with VK4WIP/p Mark in VKFF-0300 Main Range National Park.

Spotted myself on ParksnPeaks and  worked the usual chasers. VK7JON John, VK5HS Ivan, VK3BBB Brian, VK4TJ Brian.

Had a faint call from another VKFF Team Championship pair, VK5KLV/p Les and VK5KPR/p Pete in VKFF-1757 Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park. They were using 5 W but could hear them okay.

Worked another chaser VK3KMH Mike, then another park to park with VK4HNS/2 Neil in VKFF-1347 Maroomba State Conservation Area

Went on to work more chasers. VK7ZGK Graham, VK3AW Laurie, VK5KSW Steve, VK3LO Colin and VK2YK Adam.

While chatting to Adam felt a few spots of rain. Looking to the West noticed a line of rain moving in, so figured a good time to pack up... You can see the rain approaching in the photo.


With 16 contacts and my previous activation had more than the 44 needed for a WWFF point.

When I got home, instead of emailing my log to Paul, VK5PAS, was able to upload it myself to Logsearch. I am now the VKFF representative for the Australian Capital Territory, VK1 call area, so will be uploading logs for all VK1 VKFF park activations from now on.



Tuesday, 3 October 2017

WWFF VKFF Hunter 475 Honour Roll Award

Noticed on the WWFF logsearch page I'd managed to get confirmed contacts with over 475 VKFF parks, so applied for the award.

Received promptly from the VKFF awards manager, Paul, VK5PAS.


Friday, 29 September 2017

SOTA Rileys Mountain VK2/SY-002

After doing some walking in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney, wanted to do one more SOTA activation on the way home to Canberra, so drove to the start of the walk to Rileys Mountain VK2/SY-002. This is only the 2nd summit of 2 in the SY - Sydney Region, a new region for me to activate.

This is reached via Mulgoa Road, then following Fairlight Rd to the end to a car park for the walk. The track and summit is in Blue Mountains National Park, which is also WWFF park VKFF-0041.



Sign for Rileys Mountain walk


Walked along the track for 2.4 Km. Fairly easy dirt track walk, if a little warm as the day was around 25 c. After about a 20 minute walk reached a track on the left to Rileys Mountain Lookout


A short walk later reached Rileys Mountain Lookout. Spectacular views over the Nepean River. View to the South.


View to the North. Think it is Penrith in the distance.


The Nepean River about 200 m below.


The dot is a small power boat. Zoomed in on my camera.


Quite rocky and scrubby at the lookout so would have been tricky to put up the dipole there. Returned to the lookout track turnoff and used the sign for squid pole support, strung out the dipole legs up and down the road.


Shack on the tarp.


Started with a S2S on 40 m SSB with Glen VK3YY/p on VK3/VC-016 Mt Beenak. Then worked Nick VK3ANL/p activating a WWFF park, VKFF-2103.

Went on to work some of the regular SOTA/park hunters. Tony, VK3CAT, Col VK3LED, Steve VK7CW. Peter VK3GQ, Nev VK5WG, Peter VK3PF, John VK4TJ, Adam VK2YK. Allen VK3ARH/m. Rick VK4RF/HA, Gerard VK2IO.

Finally before packing up another park to park with Gerard VK2JNG/p in VKFF-1947 Kattang Nature Reserve near Port Macquarie. He was a very strong signal and was receiving my 5W signal strong too.

Track log of walk.







Wednesday, 27 September 2017

SOTA Mt Tomah VK2/CT-043

After activating Mount Banks VK2/CT-032 continued along Bells Line of Road to Mt Tomah. Turned off onto Rainbow Ravine Rd and Charleys Rd, reaching the summit, a communications tower.


From reading other activators logs I didn't even try setting up here, there is apparently heavy QRM from the tower... just wanted to take a look.

Drove back to the picnic area at the junction of Bells Line of Road and Rainbow Ravine Road. Gerard VK2IO had operated here in his blog. This is still within the summit activation zone. I set up in the same spot and has S8 of noise all over 40 m :(

Packed up and drove a bit up Rainbow Ravine Rd. Just down from the rural fire station hall found a patch of scrub with a sapling suitable for squid pole support. The fire station hall can be seen. Apparently the hall is also another noisy site... Was still in the activation zone here.


Looking back down the hill.



SOTA shack on the tarp. Quite pleasant in the semi shade.


Got on 40 m. Still about an S1 of noise but considerably easier listening to the picnic ground nearby.

Worked the following stations. VK3PF Peter, VK2WRL/p Ben, VK3IQ , VK2IO Gerard.

Got called by VK3MCD/p Brian on VK3/VE-105 Mt Big Ben for a S2S.

Packed up and headed back to Katoomba.


SOTA Mount Banks VK2/CT-032

I'd taken a week off work to do some walking in the Blue Mountains National Park, to the West of Sydney. Booked into a Motel in Katoomba.

As part of my walks decided to try activating a SOTA summit, Mount Banks, VK2/CT-032. From Katoomba drove to Mount Victoria, turning off to a sign to the village of Bell, on Darling Causeway. Later at Bell turned off onto Bells Line of Road. Followed this until turning off onto Mount Banks Road. Followed this dirt road to the end, with a picnic ground and a sign for the start of the walks.


There are 2 ways to climb Mount Banks. The road on the left passes Mount Banks then you take a track back to the summit, the track on the right is steeper, but goes more directly to the top. I chose the shorter steeper route.

Once you climb out of the car park valley Mount Banks is visible ahead.


Some good views here. Looking back to the right.


Another small rise before the final ascent.


Approaching the summit. The track continues to the left and once you enter the treeline there is not much of a view.


Just before the top you reach the junction with the track coming in from the road walk.


Mount Banks trig. Quite impressive with a large concrete base.


Name plate on the trig, King George.



Strung out the 20m/40m linked dipole, also as there was plenty of room my full size 80m dipole in a fan configuration.


Set up the shack on the trig concrete base. My FT817. Mobile reception good here on Telstra, able to spot myself okay.


Started on 80 m. Only 1 contact, Gerard VK2IO in nearby Sydney. He had problems with a local noise. I did get Phil VK2JPL/p on Mt Canobolas call me but he couldn't hear me.

Went to 40 m. Conditions a lot better, made a S2S with Phil VK2JPL/p on VK2/CT-001 Mt Canobolas, not that far away.

Went on to work VK3PF Peter, VK2FADV Jim, VK4RF/VK4HA Rick, and Gerard VK2IO again with a good signal.

VK4HNS Neil called me, VK2YK Adam with a strong signal, VK4YJ John and VK3MRH Ron. As conditions poor in the afternoon packed up and headed down.

Note the summit was in the Blue Mountains National Park, WWFF reference VKFF-0041.


Track log of walk


Graph of walk. About a 1.2 Km walk with a 200 m climb





Saturday, 9 September 2017

WWFF Queanbeyan Nature Reserve VKFF-1988

Following the publishing of CAPAD 2016 a whole lot of new WWFF Nature parks were added to New South Wales, including several close to the ACT by the VKFF manager Paul, VK5PAS. Decided to try activating one of these, VKFF-1988 Queanbeyan Nature Reserve. This has not been activated before.

After studying the park in Google Maps and Street View there seemed to be just one public entrance, a gate off Hoover Road in Queanbeyan. Drove there and parked nearby. The gate is locked but there was a gap on the left for walkers.


Headed through the gap into the park. A sign for the park, access for walkers only.


After the sign the road continued into the nature reserve. As mainly open grassland no suitable trees to use for the squid pole, so used the sign as a squid pole support and set up next to it. Dipole legs tied to the nearby fence.


Operating spot on a map of the park. Map from the Protected Planet website. The park is against the Eastern edge of the ACT border.


Operating shack on my camping table. Used my IC-7300 powered by a LifePO4 4300 maH battery. Kept the power to around 20w, but did use around 40w later as conditions were not good today.


Started by trying a park to park contact with Bill, VK4FW/p in VKFF-0485 The Palms National Park. I could hear him okay but he couldn't hear me, even using higher power. He was struggling to work other chasers, including some park activators in VK3, who I couldn't hear at all.

There was a solar disturbance which had knocked out all the close by NVIS propagation on 40m. Anyway tried spotting and calling, got Brett VK2VW in Northern NSW. He had trouble coping me but made it with a 35 report.

Continued working some of the regular chasers. VK3GGG/VK3PMG, VK2YK, VK7DW, VK5PAS/VK5FMAZ and VK5PL.

Saw a spot for John VK7JON/p in VKFF-1804 Forth Falls State Reserve. Got him on a 52 report, he usually booms in, so conditions were well down.

Went on to work VK5KLV, VK2FSAV, and my regular chaser Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.

Got a mobile call from Peter, VK3PF activating a park in VK3, who said he couldn't hear me on 40m and could I try 80m. I agreed to give it a go and strung out the 80m dipole, but no luck hearing him, and no calls to my CQs on 80m.

After my poor results on 40m and 80m switched to 20m. I could hear some VK4s and ZL stations chatting away but no replies to my spotting and calling.

As obviously a poor day for playing portable radio gave it away after 13 contacts. At least this park is not too far from home so can return to try and get the remaining contacts for the 44 required for WWFF.