Saturday 27 November 2021
I had a lunch engagement in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne at 1300 local time which I did not wish to miss. It would be an opportunity to catch up with several friends for the first time in months. I therefore planned my day for an activation in the morning en route to my gathering, with a plan for a second activation afterward on the way home.
I headed towards Melbourne and worked my way around to the first Park.
Churchill National Park VKFF-0621
I found a spot in one of the car parks and soon had a line over a tree branch and hauled the doublet into the air. The breeze made conditions cool, so I connected up to the radio in the car and sat in the vehicle.
As I configured the logging app, a spot came through. I quickly dialled up the frequency and soon had Marija VK5MAZ/p and Paul VK5PAS/p in the log. I checked the spots and soon had another two Activators in the log. I then moved to a clear frequency, spotted myself and started calling. By UTC midnight I had worked 11 stations. The Park was qualified for VKFF and I continued calling. I had set myself a close down time so that I would make my 1300 appointment and ended up extending that shut down time by a few minutes to work stations calling me. There was a bit of moving around to chase other Activators when Spots came up, plus some band changes. Last in the log was a CW contact on 20 m, after which I closed and packed up. I had a total of 44 contacts in the log, including a total of 23 Park to Park contacts.
I then headed off to my lunch engagement.
It was great to catch up face to face with my friends. Of course, as one might expect during a catch up after a long period because of the lockdowns, discussion went on and on…… So my loosely planned second activation started very late. Plus the long lunch meant that I am sure to have missed many Park activations. Such is life!
Bunyip State Park VKFF-0753
VK3/VC-037 (unnamed) 415 m 1 point
I chose to drive around to the Four Brothers Rocks car park in the Bunyip State Park and parked about 100 m from the locked gate. The entire car park area is well inside the AZ of the summit, being above the 400 m contour. I simply set up behind the vehicle using a folding table to support the gear. I tossed a line over a tree branch at about 18 m above ground, resulting in the doublet being raised so that the full length of the feedline was running vertically, with the coax tail just reaching the connector on the radio on the table.
I again started by hunting/chasing the Activators who were spotted and soon had four Park to Park contacts in the log. I then found a clear frequency and started calling. Forty minutes of operating saw a total of 22 in the log on 40 m, mostly SSB. I then dropped down to 80 m to again work Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5MAZ/p. I moved up the band and worked another nine stations. I then tried 20 m and managed only a single contact. 30 m SSB yield three contacts before I returned to 20 m where I worked Scott VK4MGL/p. I then returned to 40 m SSB and worked another 13 stations. I ended up with a total of 51 contacts, including 14 Park to Park contacts.
I packed up and descended back into the valley and made my way south to the Princes Highway and then east to home.
Sunday 28 November 2021
I decided on a different strategy for Sunday. Expecting that there would be many Activators, I decided to attempt to qualify for an award available under the Parks On The Air program (POTA). POTA is mainly US based, but is compatible with WWFF. Some work is required to transform logs for submission to POTA, but is relatively simple through the use of an ADIF editor program such as ADIF Master. I was aiming to qualify for one of the RaDAR awards. RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio, an idea developed by Eddie ZS6BNE. The idea is to set up your station and make at least five contacts, then pack up and move a minimum distance (dependent upon transport mode) before you again set up your station and again make at least five contacts, and so on. Each move is called a transition. RaDAR Awards under POTA are available for two, three, five, seven, ten and twelve transitions made within a 24-hour period. To maximise compatibility with VKFF/WWFF and POTA, the logical qualifying number of contacts is 10 contacts, unless you move the minimum distance within a single Park – for example you could set up in a Park, make five contacts, pack up and move say 1 km on foot and again set up and make another five contacts. So my plan for the day was to make at least 10 contacts in a Park, then move to the next Park and again set up the station. As I was using a vehicle, a minimum of six (6) kilometres must be travelled to qualify as a transition.
I was underway at around 0815 local and travelled towards Sale via Loy Yang and Rosedale, with a stop to grab some food at the Rosedale Bakery.
Herb Guyatt Flora Reserve VKFF-2329
This small reserve sits beside the Thomson River at Warruk. There is no vehicle access. I looked at the main access point but decided to examine a gate on the northern edge beside Riverview Road. The gate was locked, but a pedestrian access gate is provided. I parked the car and grabbed the SOTA pack and a folding chair. A walked a short distance into the Park and set up beside the foot path. I soon had a line over a tree branch at about 9 m and the doublet in the air. I positioned the chair so that the feedline was not on the ground. I set up the station on the arm of the chair.
Once operational, I followed the standard (for me) procedure: check the Spots and try to work those spotted, then find a clear frequency, spot myself and start calling. I worked two Park Activators before find a clear frequency and spotting. I worked callers before dropping to 80 m to work a local operator, and then returned briefly to 40 m to work another Park to Park contact. 20 minutes of operating had yielded 18 contacts, including six Park to Park contacts.
With no further callers, I packed up and returned to the vehicle and then headed to my selected site at the next Park. The exit from the site required a short back track to access the Princes Highway, then east into Sale and then south towards Longford before turning onto Swing Bridge Drive. The Sale Common was full of water after recent rain events.
Sale Common Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2431
I drove down to the Swing Bridge (closed to vehicles) and onto the track which continues east. There is a small area to the east of the bridge beside the track which is inside the Park boundary, where I set up the station. As I was getting the gear organised, I saw a large black snake on the other side of the fence – probably around 2 m long! It turned around and disappeared into the long grass. Perhaps it is not surprising that I decided to operate from inside the vehicle!
Once set up, I quickly worked three other Activators. I moved to a clear frequency and spotted. Gerard VK2IO/p and John VK5BJE/p called soon after I spotted, giving me two more Parks hunted. About 10 minutes later, I worked Scott VK4MGL/p for another Park. A short jump to 80 m yielded a couple of local stations. I worked 18 stations in just over 20 minutes, including six Park to Park contacts. I quickly packed up and retraced my route to the South Gippsland Highway, then headed south.
The morasses beside the Latrobe and Thomson Rivers were all full, with lots of waterfowl visible.
I drove to about 500 m north of Bradleys Road and pulled into a small track just inside the southern boundary of the next Park to find a spot to set up.
Holey Plains State Park VKFF-0758
I was soon set up and worked Compton VK2HRX in a Park and on a summit on 40 m SSB. Next I worked Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5MAZ/p in a Park. I found a clear frequency and spotted, working four more stations, including Gerard VK2IO/p in a Park. Only seven contacts were made before UTC midnight. I continued calling, working a total of 18 stations over the next 20 minutes. I ended the activation with a total of 25 contacts and 11 Park to Park contacts. I packed up and returned to the Highway and headed south to Lyndons Road and then east a couple of hundred metres to a spot where I could drive into the Park to a spot where I could set up.
Giffard Flora Reserve VKFF-2321
I had planned to operate from an area which is more open, perhaps part of the old Rifle Range. But I found a spot where other vehicles had entered the edge of the reserve which saved me a few hundred metres, so I pulled in there and set up.
I soon had four Park to Park contacts in the log. I found a clear frequency and spotted. I then worked 10 more stations. I then jumped down to 80 m briefly to work a couple of locals before I moved back to 40 m to work another Park to Park. A total of 17 contacts including seven Park to Park. I then packed up and headed back to the Highway and turned south. I turned west onto Boundary Road and drove up to a track that enters the next Park.
Mullungdung Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2406
I was soon set up beside the track. I worked eight Park to Park contacts in the first 15 minutes before I found a clear frequency and spotted. I worked 10 more stations, including three more Park to Park contacts. A total of 18 contacts including 11 Park to Park.
I packed up and retraced my route back to the Highway, then headed north to reach Joyces Road, then North South Road to Kangaroo Swamp Road to the junction with Harrops Highway. Just south of the intersection is a short track into the NW corner of the Park, where I found a spot to park and set up.
Kangaroo Swamp Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2121
Mobile phone coverage is marginal here, so I made sure I picked a spot to set up which had signal – not much, but enough.
My first contact was Andy VK3VKT activating the Camperdown Silo – I think the first activation. I then worked four Park to Park contacts before finding a clear frequency to spot myself. I worked 18 more stations, with nine Park to Park contacts, before I closed and packed up. A total of 23 contacts with 13 Park to Park.
I returned to Harrops Highway and headed north to 13 Mile Road, then west to reach Old Rosedale Road, then north to the NW corner of the next Park to set up just off a track within the boundary. Nearby is the Basslink DC transmission line.
Stradbroke Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2443
I was quickly set up and worked seven Park to Park contacts in a few minutes. I found a clear frequency and spotted and started working callers. I soon had six more in the log, including another two Park to Park contacts. I then heard a vehicle approaching from the east – an unusual direction. I spoke with the driver and was soon out of the car and chatting about my activities. The chatting went on and on, so I was significantly delayed. Rather than resuming calling, I quickly packed up and started the trip to the next Park. I had a total of 15 contacts, including eight Park to Park.
I exited north to Gormandale-Stradbroke Road, then headed west to Gormandale, then towards Traralgon. I then headed east on Oakes Road and worked my way around to the next Park.
Merrimans Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2384
I parked the vehicle in the NW corner of the Reserve, which has a track running inside the western boundary. I was soon set up and worked six Park to Park contacts. I found a clear frequency and spotted, working another 10 stations, including four more Park to Park. I packed up and retraced my route back towards the Hyland Highway and found a spot to park inside the boundary of the next Park.
Gormandale Flora Reserve VKFF-2325
I was soon set up and worked three Park to Park contacts. I found that the VKFF focus frequency was clear, so spotted and started calling. I worked 11 more stations, including another seven Park to Park contacts. With a total of 14 in the log, including 10 Park to Park, I closed down and headed out to the Highway.
The route was not as planned, as I reached a section of road with several trees down across the road – there have been several storm events with very strong winds from unusual directions in recent weeks, resulting in a significant number of trees being brought down. I worked my way back to Onleys Road and around to Gormandale – Callignee Road, which I followed around to where it travels through the next Park. I parked in a spot with a track inside the Park and set up the station.
Callignee Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2287
Shortly after setting up, I had worked three Park to Park contacts. I then spotted and immediately work two more Activators. I then worked another seven stations, including another Park Activator. I had 13 in the log including six Park to Park, so elected to close and pack up.
I returned to the main road and headed towards Traralgon South and worked my way around to the next Park.
Traralgon South Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2464
I parked off Centre Track and was soon set up. I soon had two Activators logged before finding a clear frequency and spotted myself. I worked nine more callers, including two more Activators. I was advised that a VK6 was on 20 m, so quickly changed antennas, but I could not hear the VK6. I packed up and returned to the main road.
I headed north and then around to Traralgon South Road, much quicker than the rough tracks within the Park. I was soon parked within the next Park and quickly set up.
Traralgon South Flora Reserve VKFF-2465
I called for several minutes after spotting before my first contact – Gerard VK2IO/p for another Park to Park. It was late afternoon, so perhaps some were organising their evening meal. Next was Ian VK5CZ in a Park. I then worked another seven contacts, including Paul VK5PAS and Marija VK5MAZ, mobile but still inside the Park. I then reconfigured the antenna and worked Peter VK3ZPF/p in a Park. Peter had not been audible on 40 m. I soon had another two in the log, bringing the total to 12, including five Park to Park contacts. I closed and packed up the station and headed for home.
It had been a long but worthwhile day: 12 Parks activated and each with at least 10 contacts. The 12 Parks activated in a 24 hour period means that I should qualify for the RaDAR Lion Award once the logs are processed with POTA. The time from the first contact in the morning to the last in the afternoon was just over nine hours.
Over the weekend I made 294 contacts, with 133 Park to Park contacts.
As I was rather focussed on the activities at hand, I was very slack about taking photos….
Thanks to all who participated in the Activation Weekend. Special thanks to VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS and the rest of the VKFF administration team.