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.


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:

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.


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.


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.


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.


Operating site at Foster Beach. Image courtesy MapsShare Vic.

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


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.


Operating site VKFF-2267. Image courtesy MapShare Vic.


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.


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.


Approx. route courtesy

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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The trip home from Sydney – day 4

Thursday 30 May 2019

I was up at a reasonable time and packed the gear into the car. I then drove east and then into Curlip Drive. Here I found the track that looked on Street View as if it may provide vehicle access into my first target for the day (99 Curlip Drive).

William Hunter Flora Reserve VKFF-2486

The track quickly swung left and almost all of the Reserve had been burnt. The track runs inside the Park boundary along the entire northern boundary. I parked the car where the road does a right angle bend to the right and set up the ZS6BKW with a line over a tree branch. I again connected the antenna to the radio in the car.

I spotted and started calling on 80 m SSB and had my first station in the log at 2231Z – VK7MBP. I soon had two more Hunters in the log, but then nothing for several minutes. I moved down the band for 80 m CW and worked Ian VK5CZ and John VK2YW but no further stations despite calling. I moved up to 40 m SSB and soon had four VK4 stations logged, followed by three on CW. Back to SSB on the same frequency and I worked another eight stations. A dropped down the band for 40 m CW and worked Cliff VK2NP at 2319. With 21 contacts in the log, I closed down and packed up.

I returned to Marlon ad headed to Orbost and a stop at the Bakery for a late breakfast and to grab something for lunch later. I then headed out along the Bonang Road and swung east into South Boundary Road. This was a little rough in places and takes some twists and turns. I reached the T junction with Coulson Track with a Park sign in front of me. I swung to the right for 200 m and then turned onto an unnamed track that entered the Park.

Brodribb Flora Reserve VKFF-2278


The Brodbribb Flora Reserve Sign

Set up was the same as earlier – a line over a tree branch and the ZS6BKW connected to the IC-7000 in the car. Brett VK2VW was first in the log on 40 m SSB at 0031Z. Within 10 minutes I had 12 in the log. I then worked John VK4TJ et al. plus Gerard VK2IO on the same frequency on CW. I moved down to 80 m SSB for three more Hunters before returning to 40 m SSB for seven more Hunters. I had 26 contacts in 31 minutes.

I again closed and packed up before heading south on Coulson Track to reach the Princes Highway – a much easier route. I headed east and then took Tower Road until I reached the first knoll, with a track on the eastern side to a site which looks as if it has been used as a camp site.

Mount Raymond Regional Park VKFF-0975

I had activated this Park previously, so was planning on only a short activation. I again used the ZS6BKW with a line over a tree branch connected to the radio in the car. I spotted myself and started calling on 40 m SSB. First in the log at 0133Z was John VK4TJ. I worked 14 Hunters in less than 10 minutes, then nothing. I swapped to CW on the same frequency and worked six more Hunters. Back to SSB to work Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0549 and then nothing for a couple of minutes. I dropped down to 80 m SSB and worked three Hunters before I worked Mitch VK3XDM/2  and Duncan VK3XBC/2 on The Rock VK2/RI-026 in VKFF-2002. I returned to 40 m SSB to work another five Hunters, giving me a total of 31 contacts in just under an hour. I again packed up and returned to the Princes Highway to head west and turned into Lake Tyers House Road.

Lake Tyers State Park VKFF-0761

I parked near the Park sign, at a spot where there was an opening that allowed the car to off the road reserve. The purpose and setup here was the same as for Mount Raymond. First in the log was Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-0754 at 0328Z on 80 m SSB. I soon had another three Hunters in the log. With no more calls, I moved to 40 m SSB and worked 19 callers over the next 11 minutes. I stayed on the same frequency and switched to CW for six more Hunters, then back to SSB for another eight. The pattern continued, with some CW and mainly SSB contacts. I ended up with 47 in the log, including Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0549. Last in was Steve VK7CW on CW at 0416Z.


Operating site at Lake Tyers State Park

I again packed up and returned to the Highway, where I crossed into Wairewa Road to head north and onto Mottle Range Road and then east into Mahogany Road, taking me to the next Park.

Wombat Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2234


Wombat Creek sign

After reaching the Park boundary, Mahogany Road traverses the Park for about 500 m before the land to the west is outside the Park. On the right, the Park continues for about 200 m before the boundary swings to the east and follows Wombat Road for some distance. I parked off the edge of the road about 200 m past the Park sign and again set up the ZS6BKW with a line over a tree branch, with the antenna connected to the radio in the car.

First in the log at 0456Z was Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-0754 on 40 m SSB. I moved a few kHz away and started calling. Next was Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0549. By 0509Z I had 17 in the log, all on 40 m SSB. I move d down to 80 m SSB to work Geoff VK3SQ for contact number 18. I again closed down and packed up, driving to the road junction with Wombat Road and Kirby Track.

I swung left into Kirby Track and drove NNW to re-join Mottle Range Road and continued for about 3 km to the junction with Monument Track.

Mottle Range Flora Reserve VKFF-2395

I parked and set up just around the corner on the edge of Monument Track, about 100 m in from the junction. Same set up as all the earlier activations today. Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-0754 was again first in the log at0540, this time on 80 m SSB. I worked three more on 80 m SSB before moving up to 40 m SSB. I worked 18 stations here on SSB and four on CW. I made a total of 26 contacts in 30 minutes. I again closed the station and packed up.

I returned to Mottle Range Road and continued in a northerly direction eventually coming out on the Bruthen-Buchan Road (C608). I had travelled close to Mount Tara VK3/VG-125, but decided against tackling the summit given the time of day. I then turned south on C608 until just beyond Rankins Road and just before the bridge over Tea Tree Creek and entered the track into the water point.

Kanni Flora Reserve VKFF-2345 Not previously activated

The water point is inside the Park boundary. I set up in the same manner as all the earlier Parks.

I switched on the radio at 0649Z on 7.144 MHz to find Greg VK4VXX/3 in VKFF-0373 for a Park to Park first up. I moved down the band a little and worked 17 contacts, including Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0549. I moved down to 80 m SSB and worked seven stations in 10 minutes for a total of 25 contacts in 32 minutes.

The sun had already set, so I quickly packed up and returned to the sealed road and headed southwest. Once back on the Princes Highway, it was a simple matter to navigate back home.

It had been a long day!

Thanks to all the Chasers/Hunters.

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The trip home from Sydney – Day 3

Wednesday 29 May 2019

The weather forecast was again for poor and cold conditions, so I abandoned any thoughts of visiting any summits. Instead, I decided to head back into Victoria and to activate some more Parks towards possible Boomerang Award status down the track.

After thanking Rod and Judy for their hospitality, I headed south to Bombala and towards Cann River. I again dropped into Coopracambra National Park.

Coopracambra National Park VKFF-0113

I parked at the same location used on Thursday and started calling at 0015Z. Deryck VK4FDJL was first in the log and agreed to spot me. I soon had another four in the log. I dropped down to 80 m briefly to work one station and returned to 40 m SSB. Going was slow…. Last in the log (contact number 10) was Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-0361 at 0123Z. I advised Mike that I was closing, so he could use the frequency.

I returned to the Highway and travelled to Cann River to buy some lunch and then headed to Lind National Park.

Lind National Park VKFF-0287

Once again I parked at the same location used on Thursday. I again operated using the mobile setup. Mike VK6MB/3 was first in the log. I moved down in frequency and started calling after spotting myself. I worked 12 stations (five on CW) before I moved to 80 m to work Mitch VK3XDM/p and Duncan VK3XBC/p, both on VK3/VE-098. I moved up slightly to work Geoff VK3SQ. With no further callers, I started the car and headed back onto the highway. I had 15 contacts in the log.

I quickly checked the maps and decided to use a backroads approach to my next target. I travelled a short distance back towards Cann River and headed south on Dinah Divide Track and then turned into Ghost Camp Road.  I reached Mount Bemm Road, which should have taken me to the base of Mount Cann, but within 100 metres the road had vegetation growing out of the surface. I retraced my route to Dinah Divide Track and travelled west until I reached Poddy Creek Road, and then headed southeast. This took me to the start of Bemm Tower Road. The southern end of Mount Bemm Road was also very scrubby. I was soon on the summit, with spectacular views for a low summit. There was a large solar panel array on the summit. I took some photos and retreated back about 100 m or so to close to some bush. The wind was strong!

Mount Cann VK3/VG-133  531 m 2 points

I quickly set up the SOTA station, with the car providing a small windbreak. I was close to the car, but completely independent of it. I could have set up in comfort on the summit, with a three-sided garage (carport with three sides covered) available to sit inside…..


Panorama from Mt Cann – W through N to NE


Panorama from Mt Cann – SW through S to  ESE

I spotted and started on 40 m CW and soon had five calls in the log. I moved up to 40 m SSB and worked seven stations. I waited around for Mitch and Duncan to finish setting up on their next summit and soon worked them on 80 m SSB for a S2S contact to VK3/VE-097. I closed down and packed up after working Mitch and Duncan. I retraced my route back down to Poddy Creek Road and followed it back out to the Princes Highway. That is probably the quickest and easiest route to access the summit – Poddy Creek Road to Bemm Tower Road. A new Activator Unique and Complete summit for me.

I travelled west along the highway and then turned south onto Marlo Cabbage Tree Road and then turned right to stay on the road – the sealed road continuing south is Cabbage Tree Conran Road. I then turned right onto Palm Track and drove around to the car park at the short walk.

Cabbage Tree Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2286

This is another Park activated by Peter VK3TKK earlier in the year.


Cabbage Tree Creek Flora Reserve sign

I set up the ZS6BKW and connected it to the IC-7000 in the car. Sitting in the car made things a little warmer and reduced the number of mosquitos. I started calling on 7.144 SSB and had a steady stream of Hunters – 31 contacts in 35 minutes. I moved to 40 m CW and worked six stations. 80 m CW yielded five station, and 80 m SSB another four Hunters. I worked a total of 46 contacts in 74 minutes – a pretty reasonable rate for a mid-week activation. I packed up and headed back to Marlo Cabbage Tree Road and headed southwest to Marlo Conran Road (C107) and the western end of the Cape Conran Coastal Park.


Cape Conran Coastal Park sign

Cape Conran Coastal Park VKFF-0744

I turned into Marlo Aerodrome Road, but I did not find a reasonable spot to set up. I returned to C107 and drove into a narrow track opposite the road I was on. This led into a small track network which was definitely inside the Park and close to the Snowy River Backwater. I simply operated using the mobile whip and the IC-7000.

I spotted myself and soon had 16 stations in the log on 40 m SSB in only 11 minutes. I then worked Allan VK2MG and Gerard VK2IO on CW on the same frequency as I had been operating SSB. Last in the log was Nick VK3ANL on SSB. I closed down and took a couple of photographs as the light started to fade.


Looking SW across Snowy River Backwater


Detail of  small banksia near operating site

I then drove back onto the sealed road and headed to Marlo. I stopped at the Marlo Caravan Park and paid for a cabin for the night. I had a very good meal at The Marlo Hotel before returning to the cabin.

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The trip home from Sydney

Monday 27 May 2019

I did not get away from my hosts’ home until around 1100. We spent some time chatting over coffee and time went quickly. As a result, I missed Andrew VK1DA/2’s activation of Mt Bindo. I looked at the weather forecast and decided to abandon any thoughts of any activations: a severe cold front was due to come through, with snow and gale force winds. I considered my options and decided on visit to a warehouse – Haverford. I found the venue okay and soon took possession of some squid poles and some hand casters. I then made my way towards the Hume Highway to head south.

The trip was relatively uneventful, with a significant delay due to road works on the Hume Highway near Berrima. I stopped at the service centre near Marulan to fuel the car and grab some lunch. I should have fuelled the car in Sydney where prices were more than 15 cents per litre cheaper! When I got back on the Highway, traffic was extremely slow. If I had been aware of the magnitude of the delay, I would have turned south towards Bungonia and then worked my way towards Canberra. The delay was due to more road works, this time near the junction with Winfarthing Road. It took over an hour to travel the 10 km! The trip was uneventful once past the road works.

I was in contact with my friend at Nimmitabel and arranged to stay there. I coordinated with Rod on my progress and Rod ordered Chinese food from a restaurant in Cooma, with the food ready for me to pick up and pay for on my way past Cooma.  So dinner was ready to eat once I arrived at destination.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

My hosts Rod and Judy were due to make a run down to Bega on Tuesday morning. I discussed options for some summits with Rod and decided on two targets. I did not research the approach routes and simply headed towards Bega as a start. I then entered my first destination into the navigation system and started following the route instructions…..

Mumballa Mountain VK2/SC-025 4 points

Care is needed with this summit. Both Google Maps and the Ford GPS navigation suggest an approach via Clarkes Road…. NO GO! The road traverses Private Property and the western end has large signs telling you to turn around. I headed to Bega and made my way to Dr George Mountain Road and on to Mumballa Creek Road, only to find a Road Closed sign due to bridge work. The work was scheduled to finish on 21 May 2019, but is obviously not yet completed. The signs gave an alternate route via Whittles Road, Smiths Road and Lizard Road taking you back to Mumballa Creek Road and then to Mumballa Trig Road. All went okay apart from dodging some kangaroos and a variety of litter (bark and small branches) on the road blown out of the trees in the high wind conditions on the previous day. Progress stopped when I arrived at the junction with Clarkes Road, when I reached a very solid locked gate, plus a locked gate on Clarkes Road.

The signs indicated that authorised vehicles only may access the road to the summit, plus also indicated authorised person only may visit the summit. The signs were posted by the Park Board of Management. When I first saw the locked gate, I checked the maps. The climb is about 5 km horizontally, with a vertical climb of around 360 m. I decided against walking the route and then read the sign more carefully….. No go for this one!


Signs on the gate below Mumballa Mountain

I was aware that the boundary of the National Park ran alongside the road reserve, so I travelled back down Mumballa Trig Road and turned into Mumballa Creek Falls Road, which heads to the Biamanga Cultural Area. I parked about 100 m in along the road, thus ensuring that I was inside the Park.

Biamanga National Park VKFF-0031


Biamanga National Park sign

I tossed a line over a tree branch and soon had the ZS6BKW antenna erected. With cool temperatures, I again connected the antenna to the radio in the car. I managed to spot myself and soon had Hunters calling. First in the log was John VK4TJ at 0054Z. Next was Rob VK4HAT/p in VKFF-2876. Four Hunters later was Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-0728. After working 11 Hunters, I dropped down to CW and worked Steve VK7CW. With no more callers, I tried 80 m CW and worked Gerard VK2IO but had no other callers. I moved to SSB and worked five Hunters.  I returned to 40 m SSB for two Hunters, followed by John VK4TJ on CW on the same frequency. I returned to SSB and had no more callers. I swapped to 20 m SSB and again worked VK4HAT/p and VK6MB/3.

I returned to 40 m SSB and started calling. I worked 20 more Hunters, including five on CW. I now had 45 in the log – Park qualified. I packed up and head back down towards Dr George Mountain Road.

(Once I had returned home, I checked out the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service web page. Biamanga National Park has been returned to the traditional owners and is leased back to NSWNP&WS. The Management Plan for the Park has some very interesting information.)

Once down out of the hills, I headed back towards Bega. On the way in I had seen a sign for Mimosa Rocks National Park. I kept an eye open as I travelled and entered Quarry Road and travel a few hundred metres. On checking the maps, I could tell that I was inside the Park boundary. I parked and spotted myself.

Mimosa Rocks National Park VKFF-0317


Mimosa Rocks National Park sign

I started on 40 m SSB and soon had three Hunters in the log, including another Park to Park with Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-0728. I moved down the band for CW and soon had three calls in the log. I returned to 40 m SSB and worked seven more Hunters. I had 13 in the log, so a shut down and returned to Bega with 13 contacts in 20 minutes. I had used the IC-7000 and the mobile whip.

I explored a couple of possible access routes to another summit, without carefully checking the mapping. One route ended at a locked gate and another at a very overgrown fire trail. I have subsequently looked at the maps carefully and now know how to reach the summit (I think) when I am next in that area.

I travelled back to Nimmitabel for the night.

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A visit to ARNSW

Sunday 26 May 2019

The WIA Conference sessions continued on Sunday at AR NSW in Dural. I drove up myself, arriving a little after 0900K. I grabbed my SOTA back pack and walked across to the SOTA stand – a shelter plus two tables and a couple of chairs. Also in attendance were the key organisers Andrew VK1DA and Compton VK2HRX, plus Gerard VK2IO and a little later John VK2YW and Adam VK2YK. Liz VK2XSE was also in attendance and there were plenty of interested visitors.

You can find a collection of photos from Gerard VK2IO and Andrew VK1DA at:

Lunch was provided courtesy ARNSW and a caterer – three courses for lunch.

There were a couple of technical talks scheduled for the afternoon, mainly relating to digital modes on VHF & UHF and repeater linking. I decided to leave to activate the closest SOTA summit. John VK2YW decided to join me. I topped up my water bottles and we drove our own vehicles up to the summit, a trip of about 35 minutes.

Canoelands VK2/SY-001
Marramarra National Park VKFF-0307

There are areas of the Activation Zone (AZ) of the summit that intersect with the Marramarra National Park. I had checked the areas before leaving home by using Google Earth and the flooding technique. There is an area that is inside the AZ and inside the Park opposite 27-29 Canoelands Road, which is where we headed and set up the station.

We set up the ZS6 BKW antenna and used two folding camp chairs facing each other. With John’s assistance in stringing out the antenna legs, we were quickly up and connected to the radio. I saw that Adam VK2YK was on 40 m in VKFF-1162, so dialled up his frequency and waited for a chance to call. A Park to Park contact was the first in the log. We started handing the microphone & KX2 between each other, so that John could also work most of the Hunters who called. After 23 minutes, I had 15 in the log and John was happy to simply listen – un less another Park or summit station popped up. Compton reported that he had lost the signal on 40 m. I had heard him call and had replied, but had no response. We had a pause in callers on 40 m SSB, so I quickly hanged to 80 m SSB and soon had Compton in the log, plus three more, including Adam VK2YK/p now in VKFF-0272.

I swapped to 80 m CW and soon had five calls in the log – summit qualified for CW. I then moved up to 40 m CW and worked six stations. I moved back to 40 m SSB. It was about this time that John decided to depart. A few minutes later I worked John VK2YW/m: I had just worked Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-0420 and John called. John was a little confused, as he was not aware that I had called Mike on his frequency. John worked Mike and I gave John a quick report and received a reply – a very quick contact, and I thanked Mike before moving to a clear frequency. I continued calling and soon had 44+ contacts in the log. I continued to just before 0600Z, when I started to pack up. I saw that Andrew VK1DA/2 was on air from VK2/CT-043, so worked Andrew for a S2S and took a few more calls before packing up. I ended up with 55 contacts in the log in just less than two hours of operating. This was another SOTA Unique and a Complete, plus a first activation of the Park for me.

I packed up and drove back to my hosts’ home. After some discussion, we walked to the local Bowling Club for dinner of Chinese food. Overall, it had been an interesting weekend with some radio therapy included.

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A trip to Sydney – Day 2

Friday 24 May 2019

The bed in the hotel was comfortable, but there was plenty of noise from around 0530 local. I gave up at around 0630 and started getting organised and was on the road reasonably early. After grabbing some breakfast, I headed for the Federal Highway via Sutton Road and then northwards to the Hume Highway and on past Goulburn. There was some fog around early on, with temperatures in the low single digits – around 2 if I remember correctly.

I continued toward Sydney and took the Mittagong turnoff and worked my way around to the first target for the day.

Mount Gibraltor VK2/IL-001  866 m 4 points

I drove up Oxley Drive and completed a circuit of the road loop at the summit. Looking at the topo maps, I picked a spot to park near one of the lookouts to the north of the summit, judging it to be inside (just) the Activation Zone, confirmed later on Google Earth. I tossed a line over a tree branch and set up the ZS6BKW parallel to the edge of the road. I set up the rest of the station using the folding camp chair and started calling after posting a spot, enjoying the warming sun.

First in the log on 80 m CW was Gerard VK2IO, but I could not raise any other callers. I moved up the band and started calling on SSB, working Gerard again, plus Geoff VK3SQ. I then moved up to 40 m CW and worked seven stations – summit qualified! I then moved up to 40 m SSB and worked another six stations. I had plans for another summit, so I closed down the station, packed up and headed for the next target, less than four kilometres away in a straight line. A new Activator Unique summit and Complete.


The view north from a lookout at Mount Gibraltar

Mount Alexandra VK2/IL-005  803 m 4 points

I worked my way down to Mittagong and then drove up Victoria St and on to the road to the parking area. I checked the mapping and the time and decided that I had time for the climb and activation.

I loaded up the pack and started the walk up to the summit – around 600 m horizontally with about 80 metres vertically. I found a spot to set up away from others on the summit and strung out the antenna. Whilst I was attempting to set the antenna, I heard a crack – the squid pole had leaned over and actually snapped above the bottom section. I managed to fix the pole at a reasonable angle and soon had the antenna at a usable height.

I assembled the rest of the gear and was about to spot myself and saw that Andrew VK1DA/2 was on Mt Gibraltar. An easy 599 both ways contact on 40 m CW was soon in the log. I moved off Andrew’s frequency, spotted myself and soon had another four CW contacts in the log. I then moved up the band and soon had four SSB contacts before I closed down and started to pack up.

The hardest part of packing was collapsing the squid pole, with the second bottom section shattered. Care was required to avoid puncturing myself on the carbon fibre shards….. Another new Activator Unique summit and Complete.

I quickly walked back down to the car, loaded up and set the navigation system for my destination. I worked my way across Sydney’s suburbs to my hosts for weekend, arriving at around the planned time.

Friday evening saw us travel by train into Town Hall station and work our way around to the Marconi Room for the opening function of the WIA AGM and Conference weekend, including a Welcome and Waverley Amateur Radio Society (WARS) centenary. John Buckley VK2LWB welcomed all to the event. John Harper VK2LJ took the audience through the early years of the Waverley club. John then introduced Dr David Dufty, author of the book “The Secret Code-Breakers if Central Bureau – How Australia’s signals-intelligence network helped win the Pacific War“.

David introduced the audience to some key figures who set up radio listening posts in the Mediterranean to collect signals intelligence. These men became key figures in Central Bureau upon their return to Australia when the Pacific conflict began. The decryption of intelligence information from the Japanese signals led to key victories in the Pacific theatre during World War 2. David then outlined the part that Florence Mackenzie – “Mrs Mac” played by training the Morse code operators that received and transmitted those encrypted signals.

Saturday  25 May 2019

Saturday saw those attending gather at the Park Royal Hotel Darling Harbour, with the running of the WIA AGM and Open Forum in the morning. The afternoon saw two streams of technical talks, including one on SOTA by VK2 Association Manager Andrew Davis VK1DA/VK2UH. Andrew gave an overview of SOTA and outlined the synergy with Parks activations for the various award schemes. After a break, the Conference Dinner was held in the evening, with the guest speaker Professor Fred Watson, Astronomer at Large for the Australian Government, speaking on the Apollo program and the information gained from the flights and the results from the measuring instruments left in place on the moon. One lucky Dinner attendee went home with a new IC-7300 transceiver, the prize in a raffle draw conducted at the dinner.

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