National Wattle Day 2019

1 September 2019

In August, VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS announced a special certificate for those amateurs who activate a VKFF Reference area on National Wattle Day – 1 September 2019.

I considered my options in the days prior to the actual date, waiting until I saw what the weather might bring. I finally made the decision on the morning and decided to do another run through several local Parks to build another activation to count towards the Boomerang Award. The weather RADAR was showing showers coming towards the local area, but with strong rain expected in the afternoon.

I left home just before the start of the UTC day and made my way around to the first target Park.

Traralgon South Flora Reserve VKFF-2465

I parked the car and looked around for a suitable tree branch. I soon had a line over a branch at around 12 m up, a few metres inside the Park boundary. As I was setting up the antenna, I explained what I was doing to a gentleman walking along the nearby multi-use path. Once the antenna was up, I moved the car to a position and connected the feedline to the IC-7000 in the car. I could thus operate from inside the vehicle and be much more comfortable if any rain arrived and warmer than sitting outside – it was around 9 degrees and very humid and the sky to the west was a dark grey.

First in the log was Rob VK4AAC/3 in Cobram Regional Park VKFF-0961 on 80 m. I then moved down the band a little and spotted myself. I soon had Geoff VK3SQ in the log from Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620, followed by Mike VK6MB/3 in Mount Alexander Regional Park VKFF-0973 and then Steve VK3MPR. I changed to 40 m and soon worked Greg VK4VXX/p in Good Night Scrub National Park VKFF-0206. A few callers later I worked Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734 and then Walter VK2LM in Wollemi National Park VKFF-0544. Three callers later was Neil VK4HNS/2 Boronga Nature Reserve VKFF-2541. I worked a couple more Hunters before I gave up due to the low rate of callers. I had 18 in the log – plenty to qualify the activation for VKFF.

VKFF-2465_wattle

A wattle tree near the operating site in VKFF-2645

I packed up and returned to the bitumen and headed north to the Callignee South Road and drove around to North Boundary Track and climbed to the junction with East Boundary Track to find a spot just inside the Park boundary.

Traralgon South Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2464

I again tossed a line over a tree branch, set up the ZS6BKW antenna and connected up to the vehicle mounted radio. I soon spotted myself and had my first caller only 33 minutes after the last contact in the previous Park: Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734. I worked another 13 Hunters before I moved frequency to chase other spotted activators: Steve VK4JSS/p in Bayview Conservation Park VKFF-1469 followed by Neil VK4HNS/2 Boronga Nature Reserve VKFF-2541. I moved back to my previous frequency for two more Hunters before moving to 80 m to work Rob VK4AAC/3 in Cobram Regional Park VKFF-0961. I had 20 in the log, so I decided to move on to the next Park.

After packing up, I returned to Callignee South Road and drove to Gormandale – Callignee Road and then Tong Bong Road and then onto the track that runs just inside the northern Boundary of the Reserve.

Callignee Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2287

I parked only a short distance into the Park and soon had the line over a tree branch and the antenna was soon in the air. It was again connected to the car-based system. I continued to operate from in the car, but the day had now warmed up into the mid-teens, so operation was now with the windows down and the warm jacket removed.

My first contact was again Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734, about 42 minutes after the last contact in the previous Park. I moved to a clear frequency and soon worked four hunters before Neil VK4HNS/2 called from Boronga Nature Reserve VKFF-2541. Next were two ZL callers before John VK4TJ called, always welcome with his multiple callsigns. I moved down to 80 m to work Rob VK4AAC/3 in Cobram Regional Park VKFF-0961, Mike VK6MB/3 in Mount Alexander Regional Park VKFF-0973 and Les VK7OT in Burnie. With 16 in the log, it was again time to pack up and moved.

I retraced my entry route to Gormandale – Callignee Road and headed towards Gormandale before turning into Onleys Road to cut the corner to reach Hyland Highway north of Gormandale. I then headed north to Oakes Road and a short distance to my usual operating spot. I then had lunch before setting up the antenna system in the normal manner for the day – a line over a tree branch and connected to the car-based installation.

Gormandale Flora Reserve VKFF-2325

With the slightly longer drive plus a break for lunch, I was on air about 50 minutes after the last contact in the previous Park. I started on 80 m and first in the log was Mike VK6MB/3 in Mount Alexander Regional Park VKFF-0973. I had only one other caller on 80 m – Peter VK3GQ. I moved up to 40 m, spotted and soon had callers, including Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734 and Les VK5KLV/p in Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757, plus several other Hunters. Last in the log – number 12 – was Ade VK4SOE/p in Girraween National Park VKFF-0198. I decided to pack up and move on to a fifth Park.

The route was simple – return to Oakes Road and head in an easterly  then NE direction before navigating the grid of forest tracks through the plantation. The obvious fire watch tower is a good landmark before one starts to head east once you are about 800 m beyond the track to the tower.

Merrimans Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2384

Intending activators need to be careful with the boundaries for this Park: Google Maps has shading that suggests the Park extends much further north than is reality. The track on the eastern boundary is inside the boundary, so setting up on the eastern edge of the track once you reach the Park will result in you being inside the boundary.

I used the same set up as previously in the day.

First in the log was Ade VK4SOE/p in Girraween National Park VKFF-0198 on 40 m followed by John VK5FLEA on VK5/NE-041 in Mount Remarkable National Park VKFF-0360. Then I caused the logging app to crash…. A short delay until I was ready to log Scott VK4CZ – sorry Scott. Next was Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734 before John VK4TJ called. Next was Les VK5KLV/p in Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757, followed by six other Hunters.

I moved down to 80 m and worked Ross VK7ALH. And then nothing…. I was occasionally activating the Voice Memory and was checking ParksnPeak when I sensed an odd smell – burnt electronics – at about the time I saw a spot from Cliff VK2NP advising nil signal on 80 m and was 40 m possible. I checked the transceiver control head and could see that I had no power output. I tried a retune to activate the ATU, but nothing happened with zero RF out. There was no obvious smoke in the cabin. I jumped out and moved around the vehicle to remove the DC supply to the radio body, leaving doors open. I had 16 in the log, so the Park was qualified for VKFF. I decided to pull down the station and head for home. The first part of the trip until I returned to the bitumen-surface Hyland Highway was with all windows open.

As I prepare these notes, I am yet to remove the radio from the vehicle – it is not that easy to remove. I shall need to remove the radio and then investigate.

Despite the radio issue late in the day, it was a good day out. The day was overcast most of the time, and warmed up to the mid-teens but with high humidity. The rain started after I had returned home and became quite heavy for a time. The local official observations site at Latrobe Airport showed 9.2 mm falling between 1733 and 1900 local time, with most of that falling in the first hour.

Thanks to all the Hunters who called today. The day increased my tally of activations to four for the first four Parks and to three for the last Park. Thanks to the other Activators for all the Parke to Park contacts. The only issue is that they will not count for the international P2P award tally, as I did not reach the quota of 44 in any of the Parks.

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VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1600

The latest Hunter Honour Roll certificate has arrived arrived from Paul VK5PAS via Peter VK3ZPF: 1600 VKFF references worked.

Another great photo from Paul, this time one of his colourful feathered friends: a Rainbow Lorikeet  in Shepherds Hill Recreation Park – see Paul’s coment below. Thanks Paul!

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1600

The VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1600 certificate

The last 25 references qualifying for this level were from several activators:
Five from Marija VK5FMAZ  activating Parks in VK3,
Four from Mike VK6MB  activating Parks in VK3,
Four from Gerard VK2IO activating in VK5 and VK2,
Four from Ross VK3NRB activating parks on South Gippsland,
Two from Ian VK5CZ,
Two from Paul VK5PAS in VK3 and VK5, and one each from
Ian VK1DI in VK2, Helen VK7FOLK in VK7, Angela VK7FAMP in VK7 and Hans VK6XN in VK6.
Reference 1600 came from Ian VK5CZ on 11 August 2019.

Thank you to all the Activators in the log. It has taken a while: the first contact showing for me as a Hunter was VKFF-0577 Cocos Islands way back in Ocotber 2011, before I was really chasing WWFF references!

Thank you also to the entire WWFF admin team and the VKFF admin team!

 

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VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1575

The latest certificate for VKFF Hunter Honour Roll has arrived.

12 of the last 25 qualifying contacts were with Mike VK6MB/3
9 were with Gerard VK2IO/8
2 with Rob VK4HAT
and one each with Peter VK3TKK/p and Greg VK4VXX/p.

Thanks to all the Activators for getting out and activating new Parks.

Thanks to Paul VK5PAS and the rest of the VKFF admin team for their work.

The latest certificate is another photo from Paul, this time the track heading towards Red Bluff Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2426 in remote Mallee country near the VIC/SA border.

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1575

VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1575 certificate

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World Ranger Day 2019

Thursday 31 July 2019

VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS had announced a special certificate for those amateurs who made the effort to activate a VKFF reference on World Ranger Day. In the days leading up to date, a number of operators indicated that they were planning to be out activating Parks. After checking the weather forecast, I decided to also head out to some local Parks with the aim of building up activation counts towards the Boomerang Award as an activator. I posted an Alert on ParksnPeaks for the first target Park.

I had a leisurely start. I managed to work Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-1114 and Rob VK4HAT/p in VKFF-1511 before I shut down the radio shack and headed out for the day. I made a visit to the local Bakery to grab something for lunch and then headed out to Tarra-Bulga National Park via Traralgon South.

When I reached the T intersection with the Grand Ridge Road, I headed east towards Carrajung.

Tarra-Bulga National Park VKFF-0480

There are several sites where one can operate in this Park. Many go to the Visitor Centre near Balook, but I ruled it out as mobile phone coverage is marginal at best in my experience. The Visitor Centre is also popular with visitors, so one needs to be careful when setting up your antenna.

TBNPsign

Main welcome sign for Tarra-Bulga National Park

There is an old picnic area about 1.4 km east of the junction of the Grand Ridge Road and the Traralgon-Balook Road, not far beyond the intersection with Cooks Road. There is a Park sign adjacent to the entrance. I parked in the picnic area, making sure to avoid the tree guards around the planted trees. There is plenty of room but no facilities.

TB_OpSite

The operating site

I managed to toss a throw bag over a tree branch at about 14 m up and soon had the ZS6BKW antenna set up, right at the limit of the feedline. It was a cold morning, so I connected the feedline to the tuner mounted in the car and operated from the driver’s seat.

On switching on the radio, I had good signals from Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-1114. I waited for a chance to work Gerard, who then offered me the frequency. I accepted the offer, but noted that I would first try to hunt the other stations that had been spotted. Next in the log was Ade VK4SOE/p in VKFF-0471, followed by Ken VK2KYO/p in VKFF-1785. I heard nothing from Mike VK6MB/3 on 40 m SSB. I returned to 7.144 MHz and soon worked Cliff VK2NP in Sydney. A few minutes later, a spot appeared for Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2032 on 80 m. I quickly changed bands – easy with the antenna in use – and soon had Mike in the log. I returned to 40 m and started working a string of hunters. Early amongst those worked was Alan VK2MG who was chasing my Park for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award. Glad that I could assist Alan! I soon had around 18 in the log, including Park to Park contacts with Grant VK4JAZ/p in VKFF-2878 and Ian VK1DI/2 in VKFF-0385.

I changed to CW and worked seven stations, then went to 20 m to chase Ian VK1DI/2 again, and then Gerard on CW on 20 m. I then swapped bands to 80 m for another six stations, most at closer range who could not hear me on 40 m. A change to 30 m yielded another eight contacts, all in VK4.

I then returned to 40 m, working Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-0475. I found a clear frequency and had a long chat with Sue VK5AYL regarding logging requirements when activating a SOTA summit. Sue is close to finalising the next version of her iOS logging app…..

I missed Mark VK3PI/p on Mt Ida VK3/VU-009 in VKFF-0624. I was in his skip zone and from the spots, it appears that he only operated on 40 m.

Next was John VK5BJE in VKFF-0785. John had just set up his station, so I was first in the log. After another hunter on 40 m SSB before swapping to CW mode on the same frequency to chase Gerard VK2IO/5 for another mode. Two stations came back on CW, but one did not respond after I worked the first station. I had 48 contacts in the log, so announced “Final calls” and then closed down and started to pack up the station.

Whilst in the middle of rolling up the antenna, I heard the Spotting sound from ParksnPeaks. I finished packing up and reconnected the mobile whip to the radio and soon had another Park-to-Park contact in the log: Angela VK7FAMP/p in VKFF-2929. I had only needed 10 contacts to qualify this Park for the Boomerang Award, but ended up with 49, with 12 Park to Park contacts: a profitable couple of hours of operating.

I exited the park and returned to Traralgon South.

Traralgon South Flora Reserve VKFF-2465

I entered the reserve via the track just north of the entrance to the township and parked within the Reserve. I again tossed a line over a branch and erected the ZS6BKW antenna and was soon on air from inside the car – it had warmed up a little, but was still only around 8 degrees.

The activation began with a series of Park to Park contacts:
Ade VK4SOE/p
John VK5BJE/p
Neil VK4HNS/p
Peter VK5PET/p in VKFF-1752
Angela VK7FAMP/p

Ade had been occupying 7.144 MHz for quite a while and wanted a break to grab some food and drink and offered me the frequency, so I spotted myself and started calling. I soon had six more in the log, including Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-1114. I dropped down to 80 to work Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2236 and then returned to 40 m to catch Ian VK1DI/2 in VKFF-0406 before returning to 7.144 MHz. I managed a few more on 40 m SSB before I dropped down to 80 m to start calling there, working six more stations, including Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0132. I returned briefly to 40 m to work Adrian VK5FANA in VKFF-1755 before I closed down and packed up.

The next Park is quite close – only about 750 m to the east. Rather than drive around via the sealed roads, I took a direct route to North Boundary Track and then headed east along it. At the Reserve boundary I saw a sign indicating no vehicle access at that point. I continued east and stopped briefly at a high point, only to find poor mobile coverage. I continued on until I reached Callignee South Road, and then retraced my route to the top of the hill I had just driven over. I check mobile reception and simply parked the car within the boundary of the Reserve. I spotted myself and started calling simply using the mobile whip antenna.

TSFFR_sign

Sign at the NW corner of the Reserve

Traralgon South Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2464

First in the log was Adrian VK5FANA in VKFF-1755, followed by Ade VK4SOE/p in VKFF-0471. The band was starting to be busy, with DX stations starting to appear. I found a clear frequency and started calling after spotting myself. I soon had 11 contacts in the log, so I choose to shut down and travel to the next Park.

I returned into Callignee South Road and headed south. The next Park was about 9 km away, so it did not take long to move to the next Park.

Callignee Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2287

I set up just inside the northern boundary and set up the ZS6BKW antenna with a line over a branch. Ade VK4SOE/p in VKFF-0471 was first in the log, followed by Paul VK5PAS/p in VKFF-0784, Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-0276 and Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2236. I found a clear frequency, spotted and started calling. I soon had another 10 contacts in the log, including Adrian VK5FANA in VKFF-1755. I dropped down to 80 m and soon had seven more contacts, including Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2236. I closed down and packed up the antenna. Another spot came through and I was able to work Steve VK4JSS/p in VKFF-1525 with the mobile whip. I then made a decision to try to squeeze in another Park on the way home. The activation time was a significant addition, but driving time was only 5 or 10 minutes extra.

I travelled towards Gormandale along Gormandale-Callignee Road and then swung into Onleys Road to emerge on Hyland Highway north of Gormandale. I then travelled north and then swung east onto Oakes Road and found a spot to drive into the target Park.

Gormandale Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2325

I decided to operate with the mobile whip, minimising set up time and was hoping for a quick activation. First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-0276 on 40 m CW. I moved up the band to then SSB segment, spotted and started calling. I worked 8 stations in the next 8 minutes before I changed to 40 m whip for its 80 m brother. On 80 m SSB, I worked Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF2236 and Paul VK5PAS/p in VKFF-0784, plus a couple of VK2 stations. I then swapped whips again and managed to work Hans VK6XN/p in VKFF-2940 for a final Park to Park contact.

My voice was rather hoarse after a long day – 120 contacts in the log. I closed down and started the drive home – around 30 minutes away.

Overall, a good day of Parks activity. Four Parks qualified at VKFF level and one at WWFF level. The last four Parks activated will need future visits to bring them up to 5 activations for the Boomerang Award, but the activation of Tarra-Bulga National Park was the fifth activation for me.

Many thanks go to all the Hunters out there and especially to all the operators who made the effort to activate a Park – I managed to work 18 unique Parks during the trip.

Special thanks to Paul VK5PAS for the terrific certificate!

VK3PF World Ranger Day 2019

The certificate from VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS

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Three new Parks certificates

The last few weeks have been busy for Hunters participating in the VKFF and WWFF award schemes here in Australia. A number of activators have been out and about, but most notable are Gerard VK2IO who has worked his way north through South Australia and into the southern Northern Territory, plus Mike VK6MB travelling through southwesternern NSW and northern Victoria. Mike has finally qualified for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award Grand Slam, awarded to those who have chased all 45 Victorian National Parks and has also activated all of the National Parks in Victoria. Well done Mike!

I know that I missed several Park activations over the weekend of 13 and 14 July, as I was Chairing the annual GippsTech conference. But such is life!

Qualification for the first certificate in this latest batch occurred on 12 July. The contact was with Mike VK6MB/3 in Yetmans Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2502.

VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1525

I think that the photo on this certificate is looking across to Perth from Matilda Bay Reserve VKFF-2825. Another great photo from Paul VK5PAS.

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1525

The VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1525 certificate

WWFF Hunter certificate 1544 Parks worked

Interestingly, the contact with Mike VK6MB/3 in Yetmans Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2502 also took my WWFF hunted tally to 1544. Thanks again Mike!

VK3PF H-01544#197s

Hunter certificate for 1544 Parks worked

VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1550

In the week following the GippsTech conference, several activators were out and about and I had the chance to chase them. Gerard VK2IO/5 was still travelling north. Mike VK6MB was still activating in northern Victoria, giving me several new Parks. Mark VK4SMA and Scott VK4MGL were out in Queensland. Ian VK5CZ has recently been activating some Parks, having finally achieved SOTA Mountain Goat. Plus I took a trip around some local Parks together with Ross VK3NRB. My goal was to build up some activations for the Boomerang Award, plus I had the chance to chase Ross in some Parks which only I had previously activated. This is simple to achieve using a handheld radio on 2 m or 70 cm FM, or my KX2 with only an unshielded dummy load as an antenna: I make sure that Ross is inside the Park boundary and that I am outside the boundary, making the contact valid according to the WWFF rules.

The contact which qualified me for the VKFF 1550 certificate was with Peter VK3TKK/p in Big Hill Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2046 on 22 July 2019 – one of four Parks activated by Peter on that day. He tried to access a fifth Park, but the track looked very poor – rough and slippery, not suitable for a standard road vehicle.

Another great photo from Paul VK5PAS, who usually spends some time walking around each Park he visits with his camera and long telephoto lens…..

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1550

VKFF Hunter Award 1550 certificate

So once again, I tender my thanks to all the Activators who get out and provide all the Hunters with some fun in attempting to work you. Thanks also go to the VKFF admin team members and the WWFF admin team members for all your efforts to keep the program running smoothly.

 

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The old Rover

GippsTech 2019 happened last weekend. During the weekend, I was discussing some of my previous radio activity with some of those attending, which prompted me to write this post….

For many years I drove a 1997 Subaru Forester. I ordered the car in late August 1997 and it was finally delivered just a few days before Christmas that year.

It was a terrific vehicle for its time. It had reasonable ground clearance in comparison to other vehicles, plus my model had a dual-range gear box driving the All Wheel Drive drive system. With careful pointing and care in gear and speed selection, it went to many places. I would receive comments such as “How did you get that up here?”……

I also participated in the Summer and Spring VHF/UHF Field Day Contests for many years. I would enter the “Rover” category. The idea was that you could rework any given station once every three (3) hours after your last contact on a given amateur band. However, if either station had moved to a new Maidenhead Grid Square, then you could rework each other again, even if the three hours had not yet elapsed.

I spent some time considering my options and assembling the Rover station, refining gear and antennas over several years. Below is a photo of the Rover from the Summer 2011 VHF/UHF Field Day Contest.

VK3PF_Rover_Jan2011s

The Rover station for the 2011 Summer Field Day

This photo was taken at an operating site in QF31 south east of Neerim South. There is a Grid Square junction near Neerim East, down in a gully system. But one can find reasonably elevated sites within a few kilometres, enabling one to work other stations.

I made an antenna holding “rack” which bolted between the two ski bars. Bolted to that rack were several antennas.

From left (rear of car end) to right attached to the rack:
Homebrewed Alford Slot antenna for 23 cm (1296 MHz) in a poly pipe radome
Three-slot slotted waveguide  antenna on 2.4 GHz
Eight-slot slotted waveguide  antenna on 3.4 GHz
Ten-slot slotted waveguide  antenna on 5.7 GHz.

The slotted waveguide antennas were purchased from Des Clift in SA, who used the name “Microwave Developments” to market these antennas. Unfortunately, Des became SK several years ago. I also have a similar antenna for 10 GHz, but it has so much gain that it must be perfectly vertical to be usable for distant stations, so I gave up using it and had a dish antenna in the back of the vehicle plus a tripod.

Also on the roof rack are the following antennas for the lower bands:
A homebewed Square Halo antenna for 6 m (50 MHz), guyed with rope to the front of the side rails.
A homebewed Big Wheel for 2 m (144 MHz)
A homebewed Big Wheel for 70 cm (432 MHz).

So the station had omnidirectional horizontally polarised antennas for all bands 6 m to 6 cm, plus the dish for 3 cm took only a few minutes to set up.

Equipment used was an Icom IC-910 for 2m, 70 cm and 23 cm, plus 2 x Yaesu FT-817 transceivers as drivers for the microwave transverters, one used for a 2 m IF driver and the other on 70 cm. The transverters were mounted in a rack unit which sat behind the driver’s seat. The IC-910 sat on the front passenger seat, strapped in with the seat belt.

In that year, I easily won the Rover Station, 24 hour section (Section F), even though I did not operate for full 24 hours – most activity was  done on Saturday afternoon, plus a few contacts on Saturday evening.

My score was 5029 points, with the winner of the Section A: Single Operator 24 hour section Ralph VK3WRE scoring 5014 points. The only stations with higher scores than me were the VK3ER and VK3UHF Multi Operator stations in Section C (Multi Operator 24 hours). Running in conjunction was a Microwave Challenge, where I comfortably won Section F with a score of 3828, not far behind Ralph VK3WRE. The best distance on 23 cm was my contact with VK5BC – see below.

I had a pleasant surprise later in the evening from Mount Tassie – a contact on 23 cm SSB with Brian VK5BC at Corny Point in SA, 933.7 km away. That contact used the station as pictured above: the IC-910 at 10 W to the Alford Slot antenna and still holds the National Mobile distance record.

The Forester eventually died in a rather spectacular fashion. See the story elsewhere on this site: An unpleasant surprise during a day of SOTA.

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Four more VKFF certificates

Despite being winter, weather conditions in SE Australia have been relatively mild. Rainfall continues to be sparse, with much of the country experiencing drought. Mornings have been cold but there have been many sunny days with afternoon temperatures into the mid-teens.

These mild weather conditions have suited many activators. Plus we have Mike VK6MB continuing his travels around Victoria and southern NSW, plus Gerard VK2IO on an extended trip in South Australia. There have been many hunting opportunities, with more expected over coming weeks as their trips continue……

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1475

This Award finally showed up on LogSearch in the middle of June.

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1475

Hunter Honour Roll 1475 certificate

In late June I travelled to Wodonga to undertake some family duties. I was able to perform a couple of short activations on the trip up to Wodonga, qualifying two previously unactivated Parks for VKFF level. Both Parks are only a short detour, so it will be easy to revisit them to build the contact count up to WWFF level and also towards the Boomerang Award. I also managed to complete several more Parks whilst based in Wodonga plus I made an effort on the trip home, activating six Parks with some short and one longer detour during a long day with about 575 km travelled. If I feel enthused, I may write up the various activations later.

VKFF Activator Honour Roll  200

I qualified for this award  in late June.

VK3PF -VKFF Activator Honour Roll 200

VKFF Activator Honour Roll 200 certificate

Gondwana Rainforests 25th Anniverary Award 10 Parks hunted

In early July I manually checked my hunted Parks to find that I had qualified for the second level – 10 Parks hunted – of this Award.

VK3PF Gondwana Hunter 10

Gondwana Rainforests Award 10 Parks worked certificate

On the same day, I found that I had qualified for the next level as a Hunter for VKFF.

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1500

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1500

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1500 certificate

That makes the tally at just over half of all VKFF Parks. I know that I have missed some Parks which have been activated, but life gets in the way sometimes, as does propagation conditions.

Thanks to all the Activators for providing the opportunities to hunt. Thanks also to the Hunters who make contact when I am out activating. Special thanks go to VKFF Coordinator Paul VK5PAS and his team of helpers around the country for all your efforts to keep the VKFF program running and vibrant.

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WIA sacks the Editor

Hello all,

I had a good day out in VKFF Parks in southern NSW today, with 2 Parks activated. More on that later….. The day was interrupted with several phone calls and some “interesting” reading in email when I made it back to base. I am still working my way through it all.

Today I finally received a response from the Board of the WIA regarding some questions which have been up in the air for several months, with little information coming to me from the Board. If you have not seen it yet, have a look at:
https://www.wia.org.au/newsevents/news/2019/20190627-1/index.php

Basically, the Board has sacked me as Editor. So be it.

Please note that the public statement from the Board and Secretary Clee has been selective with the “facts” and this may not be the end of discussion. I shall be seeking legal advice. The Board has made statements concerning the Editor’s honorarium and expenses which ignore my claim to the Board that a Common Law contract exists….

They have made statements of “fact” which are incorrect and have misquoted what I recall saying. They make statements about policy and their actions which are at least misleading….

At least I will have more time free to spend how I wish, without the anchor of the Editor’s role!

I hope to catch some of you on air soon.

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More certificates arrive

Whilst recently checking my statistics on Logsearch, I found that I had qualified for a couple more award certificates.

WWFF Activator 132

This one was qualified on 2 June 2019 for activating 132 different WWFF References with at least 44 contacts from each Reference.

vk3pf_A-132s

WWFF Activator 132 certificate

VKFF  Hunter Honour Roll 1450

This certificate for the Australian awards is for having worked 1450 different references in Australia, for which I qualified on 5 June 2019.

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1450

The VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1450 certificate

Thanks to the Activators and Hunters out there that have made these outcomes possible. Special thanks to the WWFF and VKFF administration team members for their work.

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A day out near Foster

Saturday 8 June 2019

At the local radio club meeting on Thursday evening, I had asked Ross VK3NRB if was interested in a day out activating Parks on Saturday. The weather forecast was looking to be a fine day after a foggy early morning. Ross arrived at my home at around 0800, and we were soon underway. We travelled to Boolarra, Mirboo, Dumbalk, Stoney Creek and then on to Foster via the South Gippsland Highway. We arrived early and had a slow drive around a couple of the roads near the boundaries, before heading into the centre of town to grab a coffee.

With coffees on board, we headed back along another road and stopped briefly to grab a photo of a sign marking the start of one of the walking tracks.

NZHillSign

The sign at the start of one of the walking tracks

New Zealand Hill Flora Reserve VKFF-2411
Not previously activated

Given its location, it is a little surprising that this reserve had not previously been activated. The Reserve sits on the northern edge of the township of Foster. The Park is divided by the South Gippsland Highway. The northern section has a water storage facility, based on the maps and satellite imagery. It therefore has the possibility of electrical noise generating systems, so I choose to set up in the southern section.

I then drove around to Simpson Street to its junction with McDonald Street and saw a vehicle track heading into the Reserve. We headed up the track to a high point close to a bench seat and some signage. I parked about 50 m SE of the seat and set up with a line over a tree branch. Ross went for a short walk up to Collis Street with a handheld to work me on 2 m and 70 cm FM. Collis Street has a large gate just NE of Winchester Street and the road reserve is excluded from the Park boundary. Ross returned and assisted with running out the legs of the ZS6BKW antenna.

NewZealandHillFR

Operating site in VKFF-2411. Image courtesy MapShare Vic.

I soon had six contacts in the log on 40 m SSB, followed by five on CW. I called for at least 15 minutes on CW with no further responses. I saw a spot for but was unable to hear Glenn VK3YY/p on VK3/VC-006 in VKFF-0556 on 40 m, so sent him an SMS asking if he had 80 m. Glenn replied in the affirmative and around 10 minutes later we worked on 80 m CW. The first hour was slow ‘yielding only 14 contacts.

After calling a few times on CW on 80 m, I moved up to 80 m SSB and worked several more stations, including Peter VK3ZPF/p in VKFF-0132.  I returned to 40 m SSB to work several more stations before a spell on 20 m SSB. A quick change back to 40 m yielded Hugh VK5NHG/p and Ian VK5CZ/p, both on VK5/NE-102 together with Angela VK7FAMP/p in VKFF-2918. I finished with a short stint on 20 m CW and finished up with 46 in the log. Ross was happy with just qualifying for VKFF with 11 in the log.

We packed up and headed back to the main street to visit the Bakery to grab some lunch prior to heading out to our next target.

Corner Inlet Marine & Coastal Park VKFF-1768

I drove to the end of Foster Beach Road and parked at the eastern end of the car park.

CornerInletMCP

Operating site at Foster Beach. Image courtesy MapsShare Vic.

The tide was out, but the view south to Wilsons Promontory was excellent.

PromViewFosterBeach

Looking south to Wilsons Promontory

I again set up the ZS6BKW and soon had Peter VK3ZPF/p in the log from VKFF-2244. Next was Angela VK7FAMP/p in VFF-2918. I found a clear spot on 40 m SSB and worked 19 stations in 22 minutes, with the last being Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2370. I then swapped to 80 m SSB to again work Angela VK7FAMP/p in VFF-2918 and Tony VK7LTD/p, plus another contact with Mike VK6MB/3. Thirty seven minutes of operating yielded 27 contacts – plenty for a VKFF activation toward the Boomerang Award. Ross also worked 10 stations.

We packed up and returned Lower Franklin Road and then into Port Franklin Road.

Bennison Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2267
Not previously activated

As we approached the Reserve, we could see someone raking leaf litter and adding it to a fire out the front of 310 Port Franklin Road. The Reserve surrounds this property on three sides. I saw a driveway and pulled in to the start of it, parked and jumped out of the car. The man approached, as did a very friendly young dog. I explained my amateur radio interest and my desire to activate the Reserve. The landowner explained that he held a grazing licence over much of the Reserve. He was clearly not willing to allow us access to the portion of the Reserve which he leased. He pointed us to Durston Road, suggesting that we would be safe to walk through one of the properties to reach the Reserve. We thanked him for his assistance and drove back to look at the suggested access point. I recalled that the southern boundary of the Reserve had private property along its length. We exited back to Port Franklin Road and drove north and then west examining the boundary.

With no obvious track into the Reserve, I headed back to the corner where we had seen a sign near the corner in Port Franklin Road. I pulled off the road and parked adjacent to the edge of the scrub. We could see the fence line of the leased area about 20 m or so from us, and some relatively low density scrub. We grabbed the gear and set up just inside the boundary.

BennisonFFR_sat

Operating site VKFF-2267. Image courtesy MapShare Vic.

BennisonFR

Sign on the Park boundary

I spotted myself and started calling. First in the log was Andrei ZL1TM. Twelve contacts later I worked Angela VK7FAMP/p now in VKFF-2899. When I returned to my previous frequency, someone had started using it, so I dropped down the band to a clear area and again spotted myself. I worked another 12 contacts in 11 minutes. I then moved down to 80 m SSB and worked seven contacts. I moved up to 15 m to quickly search the band, but it sounded dead.  I did work Ross who had wondered out of the Park with the KX2 and a small wire antenna…. I quickly jumped back to 80 m SSB to work Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2397 before moving down for some 80 m CW. This yielded contacts with John VK4TJ with his extra callsigns – a little surprising that propagation was working to Toowoomba this early in the afternoon. 40 m CW yielded seven contacts. The summary page on VK-port-a-log showed 45 in the log, so we closed down and packed up.

We headed NW to return to the South Gippsland Highway, then east to Yarram and around to the next target.

Won Wron Flora Reserve VKFF-2488

After passing Yarram, we headed north on Holmans Road to reach the Park boundary. We headed along the southern boundary until just past a track heading south and set up on the edge of the track, inside the park boundary. I again tossed a line over a tree branch to haul up the centre of the antenna.

WonWronFR

Operating site VKFF-2488. Image courtesy MapShare Vic.

I had previously activated this Park, so this was another Boomerang activation. I spotted and saw a spot for Paul VK5PAS/p. I changed to Paul’s frequency and heard nothing…. I realised that I had not connected the antenna to the radio – the efforts of the day were starting to show their effects! Once connected, Paul was quickly worked from VKFF-1159. I dropped down to 80 m and soon had another 11 contacts in the log. The sun had set and light was fading rapidly, so we called it quits and packed up. Ross had 11 in the log, so we had both qualified the Park for VKFF.

I headed out to the west on the sandy track, after having engaged 4WD. The track was a little rough in places, but we were soon on the sealed road when we reached the Hyland Highway and started the one hour journey back to home.

Foster_Route

Approx. route courtesy plotaroute.com

Thanks to all the Hunters who worked us during the day. Two new Parks for the Hunters plus another two brief activations.

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