Saturday, 10 March 2018

WWFF Activation Crace Nature Reserve VKFF-0838

With the 5th year anniversary VK5 National & Conservation Parks weekend there were heaps of portable stations out in parks, so decided to join them Saturday morning for some park to park contacts. I chose to return to VKFF-0838 Crace Grasslands Nature Reserve, which I had activated back in November last year but failed to get the 44 contacts needed for WWFF.

As per last time headed to Mitchell and headed down Hoskins St, to where it bends about to become Nirta Pl. Parked near the access gate to the Nature Reserve.

A map of the park on the gate

As per last time used a handy star picket someone had hammered in the ground near the entrance. Set up the 20/40m linked dipole, one end tied to the fence, the other to a rather spiky bush.

Looking back the other way towards the gate. The mountain in the background is Mount Majura.

Shack on the table. Got on 40 m, using about 30 W power.

Started with 3 park to park contacts before starting my own calls. VK3XV/5 Tony in VKFF-0885 Grass Tree Conservation Park.

Then VK5LA/p in VKFF-1040 Kapunda Island Conservation Park. This is an island in the Murray River near Loxton, Andy and some others were activating some small islands, so an unusual park.

VK5DW/p Danny in VKFF-1058 Media Island Conservation Park, another Murray River island near Loxton.

Found a frequency and spotted myself on ParksnPeaks, worked the following park hunters.

VK3ARH Allen
VK2IO Gerard
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2VW Brett

Another park to park with VK5WAT/3, actually Peter VK3YE using a CW QRP club call in VKFF-2031 Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve Conservation Park. He was a good 59 signal.

Then several more park hunters

VK2YK Adam
VK3PF Peter
VK3BBB Brian
VK3FADM/1 Wayne in nearby Harrison
VK7EV/m Eric
VK2USH Steve

Then some more park to park contacts

VK5KLV/p Les in VKFF-0812 Clements Gap Conservation Park
VK5PAS/p Paul in VKFF-0904 Little Dip Conservation Park
VK5FMAZ/p Marija in VKFF-0904 Little Dip Conservation Park
VK4AAC/2 Rob in VKFF-0478 Tarlo River National Park

VK4HL/3 Kerin

Another park to park with VK3ANL/p Nick in Gresswell Forest (part b) Nature Conservation Reserve

VK7QP Linda
VK3MRG/p Marshall.

As getting close to lunch time and had qualified the park headed home for lunch.

Monday, 5 March 2018

WWFF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 550 Award

Following a series of new VKFF park activations recently I managed to reach 550 park references confirmed on Logsearch, and applied for the VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 550 award

For interest tallied up the number of parks worked in each VK call area in Excel.

VK1 21
VK2 150
VK3 135
VK4 70
VK5 138
VK6 13
VK7 22
VK8 0
VK9 1
Total 550

So VK2 provides the most parks, not surprising as it now contains over 500 parks and is close by.
VK3 and VK5 parks are still quite well worked. VK4 has become a lot more active lately, the main challenge is distance from me, as per VK6. VK1 and VK7, not having a lot of parks and activators have lower numbers.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

WWFF Bimberi Nature Reserve VKFF-1890

With a warm Sunday of 35 c predicted for Canberra decided to head for the mountains to escape the heat, and activate a recently added WWFF park, Bimberi Nature Reserve VKFF-1890.

Drove up the Brindabella Road and turned off onto the Mount Franklin Road. A short drive a sign for Bimberi Nature Reserve on the right.

Bimberi Nature Reserve is on the Western side of the Brindabella Ranges in NSW, between Kosciuszko National Park and Namadgi National Park in the ACT. It is a large reserve of 10,868 ha. Map of the park from Protected Planet website.

I looked at Bulls Head picnic area on a map, but this is just outside the park, a pity as it would be a good spot to operate from. Continued South, looking for a place to park off the road and easy access to the park, also not too steep... Found a spot with a turnoff to a water tank used for fire fighting, very close to the park boundary of the ACT/NSW border. Parked here.

A short walk and I was in NSW and inside the reserve. The ACT/NSW Western border is defined by the Brindabella mountains water catchment, so simply looked for where the ground started to slope down to the West.

Used a burnt out tree stump for squid pole mast support.

Operating spot, from Protected Planet website. I was between the Bendora Arboretum and Mount Franklin.

Looking back the other way. Think one leg of the dipole may have partly been in VK1!...

Shack on the table. It was quite pleasant here, around 25 c. My altitude was around 1,400 m.

Got on 40 m. Started by chasing another park activation on 7.139 Mhz, VK7QP/5 Linda in VKFF-0802 Penambol Conservation Park, near Mount Gambier. Took a while to get over the park hunters but got called in the end.

Worked the following park hunters. Thanks to Peter VK3ZPF for spotting me on ParksnPeaks, there was no mobile coverage here.

VK3ZPF Peter
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2IO Gerard
VK2HHA Dennis
VK2VW Brett
VK2BBB Brian
VK2AR Andrew
VK5FMWW Micheal
VK5FANA Adrian

Got called for another park to park, with VK2JNG/p in VKFF-1989 Queens Lake Nature Reserve near Port Macquarie.

VK3CM Brenton
VK3PF Peter
VK3HN Paul
VK3ARH Allen

When 40 m dried up switched to 20 m. Had a weak signal contact with VK6GLX, Garry, then a very strong signal from VK2HOT Bruce in Port Macquarie,

Packed up. Headed South to visit the Mount Franklin Ski Chalet memorial. This was lost in the Canberra January 2003 fires. An old photo I took of the chalet in July 2001. Scanned from a print.

The chalet memorial now. Only the wood shed stone foundation and tank stand remain...

The outdoor toilet also survived.

Sign nearby. The toilet and part of the Chalet are in Bimberi Nature Reserve, so could return here for the next activation of the park. There was mobile coverage here.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

WWFF Hunter 544 References Award

Noticed on the WWFF Logsearch website I'd managed to confirm working 544 park references, so eligible for the WWFF Hunter 544 references award. These are issued every 44 references confirmed.

Award received promptly from the awards manager, Pit YO3JW

Thursday, 1 February 2018

WWFF 33 References Activator Certificate

After reactivating some of the local WWFF parks and getting 44 contacts or more total managed to get 33 references activated, and claim the certificate. These are issued every 11 parks activated and completed, ie 11, 22, 33. The next one will be for 44. Thanks Pit YO3JW for the certificate.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

WWFF Activation Meroo National Park VKFF-0312

After spending a long weekend down the NSW South Coast at Mollymook it was time to head back to Canberra. Was going to return the same way I came, via the Nowra-Nerriga Road, but found traffic almost at a stand still going through Milton, as the end of a long weekend. Decided to head back via inland, through Yadbora and the Western Distributor road, so headed out from Milton on Woodstock Road. On the way saw a sign for Milton National Park, so stopped to activate it at the next turnoff. Found a locked gate, so set up the radio on the other side of the gate within the park.

Operating location off Woodstock Road. Park map from Protected Planet website

Looking back the other way

Shack on the tarp. A little bit of shade.

Got on 40 m. Sounded fairly quiet. Worked the following park hunters

VK4GSF George
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2USH Steve
VK2HHA Dennis
VK3MCD Brian.
Brian was on SOTA summit VK3/VC-002 Mt Donna Buang.

VK3PF Peter
Rod was just down the road from me, near Milton.

VK2IO Gerard
VK4TJ John

Packed up and headed to Pigeon House Mountain picnic area for lunch. The trip back via the Western Distributor Road was easy with hardly any cars, but got caught in the holiday traffic coming into Braidwood :(

Saturday, 27 January 2018

WWFF Activation Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1979

For the Australia Day long weekend 26-28th January headed down to the NSW South Coast to Mollymook for a few days with my partner, to swim and enjoy the warm weather.

After going for a swim at Narawallee Beach in the morning, had lunch at Mollymook shops, then set off to try activating a new WWFF park, VKFF-1979 Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve. This has not been activated previously.

I initially tried to access the park via Narrawallee Creek Road off Lake Conjola Entrance Road, but came to a locked gate... So back tracked to Lake Conjola Entrance Road, drove to Lake Conjola village, took Thorne Street to the South, then turned off onto Conjola Beach Trail. This was a dirt track but okay for 2WDs. Passed Pattimores Lagoon and finally entered the park.

Got to Conjola Beach Carpark. Unfortunately very small with only a few picnic tables in the bush, really unsuitable for operating a radio from, and no room for antennas.

Wandered up the hill to the beach. There was a lookout platform above the beach which would have to do for an operating spot. 

Set up the squid pole on the railing of the lookout platform

One dipole leg had just enough room to run down to a nearby fence. The other leg was challenging...
Ended up throwing the wire over some bushes, then bush bashing to the end and tying it to a branch.

Operating spot, map from Protected Planet website

Radio on the lookout platform deck, hiding from the sun behind a grass bush...

Set the power to 40 W and got on 40m on 7.144 Mhz. Found my phone battery had died so unable to spot myself, so got my first contact, Geoff VK3SQ to spot me.

Went on to work the following park hunters

VK4TJ John
VK5FMPW Michael
VK3PF Peter
VK4GSF George
VK3MRG Marshall

I got another call from John VK4TJ, he also worked me with his US and Canadian calls to help my call count, thanks John.

Note mainly long distance contacts on 40 m, close by NVIS not working... Tried 20 m also but no luck. As had over 10 contacts for VKFF gave it away and headed back to Mollymook for dinner.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

10 m beacons on summer sporadic e

It has been a pretty good season for summer sporadic e, most evenings can hear several beacons coming in. Here is a screen capture from my IC-7300 taken last night, for 28.000 to 28.300 Mhz at 9:31 pm local time.

On the left is an unknown WSPR station on the standard frequency 28.124 Mhz.

On 28.187 Mhz is a beacon run by VK5KV in Port Augusta.

There are heaps on the right around 28.260-28.267 Mhz. They transmit a bit out of sync so hard to see them all going at once.

28.260 Mhz - VK5WI Adelaide
28.263 Mhz - VK3RRU Mildura
28.265 Mhz - VK4RRC Brisbane
28.266 Mhz - VK4RST St George
28.267 Mhz - VK7RAE Devonport

Despite all the beacon activity not many on SSB. I tried the 29.620 Mhz FM Adelaide beacon, it came back S9 but no-one replied.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

WWFF Coornatha Nature Reserve VKFF-1914

After stopping overnight at Jindabyne drove to Cooma for lunch. After lunch drove out to Coornatha Nature Reserve, to make a few more contacts as I still didn't have the 44 needed for WWFF.

Found the park gate not just unlocked but open. Left it as it was. Set up the radio near the car in the same spot as my last activation here.

Shack on the tarp. Used power from the car battery as per last activation.

Got on 40 m. Started with a park to park contact with Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-0495 Towarri National Park.

Then worked the following park hunters

VK2IO Gerard
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2NP Cliff
VK3PF Peter
VK3SFG Sergio
VK4TJ John
VK2VW Brett
VK2LKW Wolfgang.

Conditions were not that good, and starting to warm up in the sun, so packed up and headed home. Still need another 7 contacts to finish this park, at least not that far from home.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

SOTA Unnamed VK2/SM-053

After activating Mt Kosciuszko VK2/SM-001 decided to pop up to SOTA summit VK2/SM-053 as it was on the way back to Jindabyne, and is a nice easy drive up. Was a bit worried the summit land had been sold off, as there were nearby "For Sale"signs, last visit, but found it was still public land.

Parked and set as per previous activations on a large log, using a nearby sapling for squid pole support. Set out my blue tarp to attract march flies and keep them off me...

Looking back the other way

Radio and myself on the log.

Started on 40 m, running 40 W. Band fairly poor with not many signals, NVIS missing so not hearing close by VK1/VK2/VK3s.

Worked the following calls on 40 m.

VK7CW Steve
VK4TJ John

Tried 20 m. Worked


Heard later from other stations they couldn't hear me at all.

As conditions not good and had enough contacts to qualify the summit, packed up and headed to Jindabyne for the evening.

SOTA Mt Kosciuszko VK2/SM-001 Australias Highest Mountain

With a few days off work decided to do something probably a lot of SOTA activators plan to do at some stage, activate Australia's highest summit, VK2/SM-001 Mt Kosciuszko. At 2228 m its hardly an epic climb but still a challenging 13 Km return walk.

I drove to Jindabyne and stopped there overnight, leaving after breakfast to drive to Thredbo. Note when entering Kosciuzko National Park there is a park entry fee of $17 for 24 hours stay.

Got to Thredbo around 8:15 and purchased a 1 day chair lift ticket to take me up to the Eagles Nest Restaurant and the start of the walk across the Kosciuszko plateau, this cost me $37. Then waited for the chair lift to start up at 8:30 am.

Got on the chair lift, a little tricky with a pack and squid pole but managed it. Ascended the mountain in the lift. Could see cloud at the top.

Reaching the top is was quite foggy, and cold, temperature around 10 c.

Fortunately the fog seemed to be only around the edge of the plateau, once I moved away from the lift terminus it cleared up. Still cold but felt warm in the sun.

Start of the Dead Horse Gap walking track. 6 Km to the summit.

The walk is fairly easy, on cobbled stones and raised metal walkways. It is a very popular walk with both Australian and overseas visitors, and is well maintained for the large number of walkers who use it. Reached Kosciuszko Lookout after 1.5 Km. Mt Kosciuszko is the one in the middle, with a long narrow patch of snow below it.

After 4.5 Km reached Rawsons Pass. There are public toilets near here. Mt Kosciuzsko now only 1.67 Km away.

A sign and map at Rawsons Pass on Mt Kosciuszko.

Continued along the track to the summit. Sign at the junction with the main range walk. You can also do this walk from Charlotte Pass but its quite long.

There was a bit of cloud around the summit. The track curves around it.

Reached the summit. As is usual for this popular walk crowded with people. It got a lot worse later...

Another sign near the trig explaining some of the history of the summit.

With so many people around the trig there was no way I was going to operate there... plus the park rangers had advised me to move away from the top to avoid problems with the public. After wandering around for a while I decided to operate from behind a rocky outcrop, hidden away from most of the crowd at the trig. Even so still got groups on the nearby rocks taking selfies...Put up both the linked dipole and 2 m ribbon antenna.

Squid pole jammed into a gap in between 2 large rocks and secured by ocky straps. I had a little hidey hole to operate from out of the wind :)

FT-817 on my lunch box. Had a mini log book, trying to keep weight down :)

Got on 40 m. Not surprisingly phone coverage good here, able to spot myself on parksnpeaks.
The wind decided to bring down my squid pole just after spotting, could hear several callers so quickly hoisted it back up...

Worked the following chasers

VK2YW John
VK7CW Steve

A park to park with VK3ZPF/p Peter in VKFF-2200 Sweetwater Creek NR. I was in VKFF-0269 Kosciuszko NP.

VK3ARH Allen
VK2DO Chris
VK2NP Cliff

A summit to summit with VK3ANL/p Nick on VK3/VC-007 Mt Macedon. Also a park to park as this is in VKFF-0972

VK2IO Gerard
VK2VW Brett.

While operating on 40 m my phone was also being sent text messages from both VK1AD/p Andrew on Mt Ainslie, and VK1RX Al at home. They were looking for contacts on 2 m. I tried both 2 m FM and SSB with no luck. I could hear a few beacons on SSB but no luck hearing you guys, sorry. I suspect might be a problem with my 2 m antenna as thought would have been a good path back to Canberra.

Had lunch. After lunch a large group of school children arrived and sat close by to me to have their lunch, figured a good time to pack up...

Walked back the same way. The fog had cleared for the chair lift ride back down to Thredbo

Track log of walk from the chairlift to the summit.

Profile of the walk, a 6.5 Km walk with a 400 m climb.