The weekend of 10 & 11 March was the designated weekend to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the South Australia National Parks and Conservation Parks Award. It also coincided with a long weekend in Victoria as well as a planned S2S activity planned for Saturday evening local time in eastern Australia.
I had considered if I might make a trip west and activate some SA Parks, but a number of commitments popped up which prevented the trip.
I chased from home on Friday and Saturday morning, but decided to head out early on Saturday afternoon to pick up some more contacts from a Park first activated last year.
Saturday 10 March 2018
I left home a little after 1300 and headed to Cowarr and then towards Seaton. I then headed east(ish) toward Heyfield to around 521 Heyfield-Seaton Rd Seaton and into the Reserve via a track leading to a Temporary Beekeeping Site just inside the Reserve.
Glenmaggie Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2094
The clearing where I set up the station is visible in the Google satellite views, clearly inside the boundary of the Reserve. Once I pulled up, I spotted a sign indicating it is a Temporary Beekeeping Site. I set up by tossing a line over a tree branch and had the dipole centre at about 8 m. I used the tray at the rear of the Ranger as an operating table and used a folding camp chair, making for comfortable operating. I already had around 20 contacts from this reference, so only needed another 24 plus a few for safety to get to the target of 44.
On switching on the radio, I heard a strong signal on 7.145 MHz – Tony VK3XV/5 in a Park! I waited for a chance to call and so started with a P2P contact. I then did a quick tune around the band to see who else was on and worked VI2WG50 celebrating 50 years for the Wagga Wagga ARC and then Lesley VK5LOL/2 in Kosciusko National Park. Lesley was ready for a break and offered the frequency to me. Thanks Lesley! Over the next 60 minutes I worked another 51 stations without need to move frequency. I then moved up to work Paul and Marija for P2P contacts, and then back to 7.150 for one final contact. 57 stations in the log after less than 90 minutes in the Reserve, including the time to set up and pack up.
Park to Park contacts:
VK3XV/5 in VKFF-1065
VK5LOL/p in VKFF-0269
VK2IO/p in VKFF-0232
VK5YX/2 in VKFF-0269
VK1DI/p in VKFF-0992
VK3DAC/p in VKFF-0763
VK5PAS/p & VK5FMAZ/p, both in VKFF-1047
I packed up and headed in to Heyfield and then out towards Glenmaggie. I was interested in check any signage associated with Glenmaggie Regional Park VKFF-1877. Whilst I did not check all sections of the Park, I saw very few signs – not helpful for future activators! The most obvious signs were associated with the Blores Hill Mountain Bike Park, which is part of the greater Regional Park.
I headed north and navigated around to the Ben Cruachan Natural Features and Scenic Reserve and then up to the end of Ben Cruachan Road. The section of the road beyond Avon Track is definitely 4WD only.
Ben Cruachan VK3/VT-042 827 m 6 points
This is a relatively rarely activated summit, with only 2 previous activations: Wayne VK3WAM in 2013 and myself in 2017. The location is very quiet from an RF noise perspective, yet has mobile phone coverage with Telstra. At the end of the access road there is a fence and a rustic picnic table, making for a good place to set up the RF gear. I again tossed a line over a tree branch, getting the dipole centre up at around 9 m. I strung the dipole out in a direction which should have favoured Europe for the S2S event that had already begun.
I looked at SOTAwatch and quickly worked Wade VK1MIC/p on VK1/AC-040., followed quickly by Bernard VK2IB/3 on VK3/VE-021. I then did some listening around on the bands and next in the log was Yuki JF1NDT/1 on JA/YN-065 on 17 m CW. I then set the antenna for 20 m and worked John VK6NU/p on VK6/SW-039. I was then busily listening around 20 m on both CW and SSB before I worked Wynne ZL1ATH on ZL1/WL-153. The summit was now qualified with only S2S contacts, so I was happy. Next were a couple of VK6 stations followed by Andrew ZL3CC on ZL3/CB-806. I dropped down the band and managed to work Jany LZ1IGT/p on LZ/RO-144 on CW. We had exchanged reports and I was attempting to send my reference when the iambic paddle started playing up – one of the mounting screws for a standoff had become so loose that the standoff was bending when a paddle was pressed, so I had no real control. Jany sent 73, so I gave up on CW and returned to the SSB end of the band.
Next was Warren ZL2AJ on ZL1/WK-195 followed by Csaba YO6PIB/p on YO/EC-426. After a few more Chasers, I worked Kyle ZL2KGF on ZL1/TN-002. I listened around the 20 m and tried calling several EU stations, but had no replies. Last in the log was Greg VK8GM. I considered calling on 40 m, but the sun was low in the sky and I decided to pack up and get down the worst of the track whilst there was still some daylight.
It was then about 80 minutes to drive home and to then organise a late dinner meal.
Overall, it was a great afternoon of activating. Thanks to all who chased me and to those that organised the S2S event – my tally was low (14 stations worked, with 10 S2S), but I had fun.