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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A trip to Sydney – Day 1

23 May 2019

My departure from home was a little later than planned. The trip eastwards towards Bairnsdale was uneventful, with some minor delays with road works between Stratford and Bairnsdale. After filling the fuel tank, the route took me via Bruthen, Nowa Nowa, past Orbost and towards Cann River.

Lind National Park VKFF-0287

Lind National Park is an easy choice, with the Princes Highway running along much of the southern boundary. I have previously qualified this Park, so I decided on a short activation to add a VKFF qualification towards the Boomerang Award. . I needed a break from driving, so pulled into Stars and Stripes Track and parked a short distance into the bush and beyond the Park boundary. I operated from inside the car with the mobile whip. I operated only on 40 m and had nine SSB contacts in the log in 11 minutes. I was calling CQ when I heard a CW call, so swapped to CW to work John VK4TJ plus his two extra callsigns, giving me 12 contacts in under 20 minutes. With no further callers, I headed back to the Princes Highway and continued east to Cann River, with a stop at the bakery for a late lunch. I then headed north on the Monaro Highway to Chandlers Creek and turned into WD Line, crossed the Cann River East Branch and entered the Park.

Coopracambra National Park VKFF-0113

After crossing the ford and passing the Park sign, the road swings north and there is a small clearing on the left, a reasonable spot to park within the boundary. I again operated from the car with the mobile whip. John VK4TJ was first in the log and kindly spotted me and gave me the reference number – there was zero phone coverage.

I worked 15 stations over 21 minutes. With no further responses to calls, I started the car and headed back to the Monaro Highway to head north towards Bombala.

Bondi Gulf Nature Reserve VKFF-2535

This Park was first activated in early January by Peter VK3TKK/2 during a trip through East Gippsland and southeast NSW. Peter made only brief activations in each Park, making sure to work at least 10 stations plus any extras who were calling. I anticipated that there would be many Hunters who had not yet worked this Park and was hoping to qualify the Park easily for VKFF.

The Park covers 1888 ha to the south of the Monaro Highway. Access is simple: travel south along Gulf Road from the Highway to the junction with Eastern Boundary Track. But you must be careful, as the road reserve for Gulf Road is excluded from the Park. I travelled along Gulf Road to a track intersection on the right – North Boundary Track IIRC. I drove in a short distance and parked on the edge of the track to set up the station with the ZS6BKW antenna connected to the IC-7000 in the car.



Operating site location. Image courtesy Protected Planet

I started calling at 0556Z and John VK4TJ was the first Hunter to call. Most of the contacts made were on 40 m SSB, with eight contacts on CW and three contacts on 80 m SSB. The last contact was made at 0724Z, making 46 in the log.


Looking west from the operating site

I traced my route back to the Highway and headed into Bomballa and headed north towards Cooma. My original plan was to spend the night with a friend, but I had a phone call in the morning advising me to not come, as my friend was suffering a dose of a severe cold – he wanted to be selfish and keep it to himself. I was happy to oblige! I headed north and ended up finding a hotel room in Queenbeyan for the night.

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Election Day – something to avoid?

It seems as if the electioneering has been going on for ages. Adverts on TV from Palmer since before Christmas, or at least it seems that way. Since the official dissolution of Parliament, the intensity of advertising has greatly intensified.

My original plan was to be assisting with a Foundation licence Training and Assessment event to be held at the local radio club. This would have taken up most of the day, leaving almost no time to attend a polling place. I saw it as an opportunity and a valid reason to vote early, like at least 3 million other Australians….. Therefore, I could ignore all of the “news” coverage and all the political advertising. But by Thursday evening, we had no one indicating that they would attend the event, so the decision was made to postpone the training event. That left the day free…..

18 May 2019

The day started crisp and cold, with some fog around. I headed off to South Gippsland once again, planning to activate at least one of the Parks that have not yet been activated. The route was straightforward: from home to Boolarra, then to Mirboo, Dumbalk, Meeniyan and Buffalo and then south.

Kings Flat Flora Reserve VKFF-2348 Not previously activated

Travel time was around 75 minutes, with the roads having little traffic. There were quite a few parked cars in Dumbalk, mainly at the Hall which was set up as a Polling Place. Destination was the end of Kings Flat Road Tarwin Lower. I had checked out access on the last trip to South Gippsland, but it was a little late in the day to start an activation. Park the car near the Parks Victoria sign for the Reserve without obstructing the track. The gate here has a heavy chain and large lock, but there is a stile making it easy to cross the fence.


The Reserve sign, with the stile on the right. The hill in the background is part of the Reserve, but the foreground is not.

After crossing the fence, it is about 750 m to the gate on the real boundary of the Reserve. The gate here is not locked, so entry is easy. I decided to climb to the top of the hill inside the Reserve, adding about 500 m to the walk, with a climb of just over 20 m vertically, mostly in the last third. Once at the hilltop, I looked around for a spot to set up the station. The track headed west and I saw a mob of probably 15 kangaroos lazing in the sunshine.


Looking west from the operating site, with a mob of kangaroos disturbed by my arrival

I set up at a small banksia close to the track corner, lashing the squid pole to one of the branches. I tried a doublet antenna that I had built quite some time ago – the worst that could happen is  that I dropped the doublet and raised the link dipole normally used on SOTA trips. I was using a LiFePO4 battery and the KX2. On initial connection, the KX2 shut down due to over voltage, so I inserted a DC-DC converter into the DC line. The KX2 then only wanted to operate on 5 W, as the converter is set at about 11 V. I must consider if I should raise the voltage a little higher…. A while into the activation, I removed the converter as the voltage had dropped below 14 V, so jumped up to 10 W output.

I went to spot myself and saw that several amateurs were on Mount Moliagul for a SOTA activation. I could only hear the chasers on 40 m, but then there was a spot on 80 m, so I soon had David VK3FSDA/p in the log as the first contact. I then noticed that Mike VK6MB/3 was also activating WWFF Hepburn Regional Park VKFF-0968. I heard nothing on 40 m, so I changed to 80 m and hit the tune button for the tuner…. The best VSWR that could be achieved was about 2.5:1 – not good but usable. I spotted myself and started calling. A few minutes later Mike was in the log, but I had no other callers. I then moved up to 40 m to find a clear frequency and spotted myself. I worked nine stations over the next 15 minutes. During that time, I received an SMS request to return to 80 m, which I did when I had no more callers. The swap yielded two Peters: VK3TKK/p and VK3ZPF/p, both of whom were at a Scout event in the Clonbinane area. Several minutes of calling yielded no responses, so I returned to 40 m SSB for one more caller before another SMS arrived….. Back to 80 m to work Geoff VK3SQ. I called with no more responses, so returned to 40 m, but on CW on the lower end of the band. This move gave me another five callsigns in the log, including Wal VK2WP/p on VK2/CW-043 in Nangar National Park VKFF-0379. I returned to the SSB band and worked another four contacts in about 10 minutes: it was slow going!

I swapped to 30 m and had no responses to calls on CW. I moved up the band and only worked three callsigns. I called for several more minutes without any responses.

I moved up to 20 m CW and soon had a small pile up, with at least 2 stations calling at the same time. Once sorted, I had four contacts in the log. Further calls yield little but a weak US station calling a bit fast for me. I heard a W but missed the rest of the call and replied with QRZ? All I received after that was a report of 229 and no callsign… Comments on Facebook suggest that it was probably Jess W6LEN – sorry that we could not make the contact Jess!

20 m SSB yielded only a single contact. I gave up and return to 40 m CW, a move which yielded six contacts in 10 minutes. I returned to 40 m SSB, but it took almost 20 minutes to gain another seven contacts, so that I finally had 45 in the log after three hours and 20 minutes of calling.

I packed up and headed back to the car.

Once I had loaded the gear, I started to head south toward Walkerville. My target was the Promontory View lookout, listed on Google Maps as “cape liptrap lookout”. The part of the car park furthest from the road is inside the Park boundary, so if you are undertaking a mobile activation, you must park the vehicle right up against the bollards at the front of car park.

Cape Liptrap Coastal Park VKFF-0745

I have activated this Park a couple of time previously, so today’s aim was to work at least 10 contacts towards the Boomerang Award.

I tuned up on 40 m SSB and first in the log was Greg VK4VXX/5 possibly in Great Australian Bight Marine Park VKFF-0214. The mapping here is confusing, as the appropriate Park may have been the Far West Coast Marine Park VKFF-1708. I discussed the conundrum briefly with Greg and he decided to stick with VKFF-0214. (nb: I chased out some maps on Sunday and emailed the boundaries to Greg so that he can decide. If he needs to change his reference, I will need to ask for my logs to be deleted, update them and resubmit them….). Next was Mark VK6BSA/5 mobile a little further west than Greg. Greg changed to 20 m, so I stayed on the frequency and started calling. I soon had a total of 16 contacts in 18 minutes. With no further callers, I declared the activation closed and started to drive to the next destination.


The sign at the operating site, with Wilsons Promontory hidden by the fog/haze

I travelled around to Walkerville and then on to Sandy Point and the end of Sandy Point Road. This allows you to drive onto the sand on the edge of the Shallow Inlet, inside the boundary of the target Park. Sandy Point Road is excluded from the Park.

Shallow Inlet Coastal Marine Park VKFF-0749


The Park sign just before you drive onto the sand

First in the log was Greg VK4VXX/5 in VKFF-0214. I moved down the band and soon had eleven more contacts in the log in less than 15 minutes. I saw a spot for Ian VK1DI/2 in a Park, so moved down to 80 m as I had not been able to hear him a little earlier when he was on 40 m. Ian was in Cuumbeun Nature Reserve VKFF-1920. I moved up the band and soon had three more contacts, including Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-0968. I returned to 40 m SSB to work another seven stations before I closed. I had a dinner appointment in Traralgon at 1830 local and it was almost 1700, with a 95 minute drive anticipated. I had a total of 23 contacts in 33 minutes.

The drive back to Traralgon was uneventful and there was quite a crowd at the 60th birthday party for a friend.

It ended up being quite a long day.

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Gondwana Rainforests Award

VK coordinator for VKFF Paul VK5PAS recently announced a new award to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Gondwana Rainforest, all of which are World Heritage listed. Parks on the list must be worked in the 2019 year. Details of the Award can be found on the WWFF Australia website.

Neil VK4HNS and Mark VK4SMA have been out activating some of the Parks for the award. Others are sure to follow. I have missed a couple of the activations, but will attempt to work other Parks as they are activated. So thanks go to Neil and Mark for enabling me to reach the first step of the Hunter Award – five (5) Parks hunted. Thanks to Paul VK5PAS for all of his work for VKFF and WWFF.

VK3PF Gondwana Hunter 5

The Gondwana Rainforests Award certificate

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Another detour after a hamfest

11 May 2019

I had committed to attend the Moorabbin & District Radio Club Hamfest. My task was to attempt to sell the 2019 Callbook and some other WIA merchandise. I had booked the table and would be manning the table by myself on this occasion.

It was an early start from home and an uneventful drive to the venue in Mulgrave, apart from some light showers for part of the trip. I arrived just after 0900 local and was soon inside the venue and had the table set up. There were plenty of people to talk with prior to the doors opening to the public at 1000, plus a chance for a quick look at the goods on offer on the other traders’ tables.

I spent most of my time talking with people just looking and/or wanting to discuss various issues, or just catching up with amateurs whom I had not seen for some time. The crowd was thinning out after about 1130 but the hall filled up in the 10 minutes prior to the time allocated to the raffle draw: 1230. I had no luck in the draw, as expected.

After the draw, I packed up and headed to the car, exchanging a few more greetings as I did so. I then made my way roughly north to the Monash Gallery of Art. An exhibition of photographs by Peter Dombrvskis “Dombrovskis: journeys into the wild” was in its second last day….. Being so close, it would be a shame not to make the small detour and spend some time viewing the superb images.

After leaving the Gallery, I travelled back to the Monash Freeway and headed to Beaconsfield and on to Beaconsfield – Emerald Road. I had a quick look at the grounds of the Beaconsfield Cricket Club but possible access to close to the target Park was blocked by a locked gate. I travelled north to the northern end of the Park to assess possible access site before settling on parking at a spot opposite the junction with Holm Park Road.

During the drive, I had been listening to traffic working some other activators, but I could not hear the activators. I stopped at one point and parked, switching off the vehicle and thus lowering the noise levels in the radio. I worked Mark VK4SMA/p in Mount Barney National Park VKFF-0338 and advised I would be in a Park in about 30 minutes.

I also noticed that I had missed some other activations during the morning and early afternoon – such is life.

Once parked, I attempted to download the kmz file for the Park boundary from ParksnPeaks to my ‘phone, but the outline was not showing. There are power lines running along the eastern side of Beaconsfield – Emerald Road, so I decided to ensure that I was inside the boundary by walking into the reserve to find a spot to set up, giving a little distance from any possible noise from the power lines and some attenuation of vehicle noise from the traffic on the road.

Cardinia Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2065

The Reserve extends for about 1.6 km between the Cardinia Creek and Beaconsfield – Emerald Road. The official area according to the CAPAD database is 25.34 ha. It is remnant riparian vegetation typical of what would have existed along creek lines in the area prior to European settlement. There is a network of walking tracks through and on the boundary of the Reserve.

From the parking spot, I walked in about 70 m where I found an opening with a park bench beside an open shelter. I had carried in a folding chair, which I decided to use as the bench seat was wet from earlier rain. The shelter offered some protection if more showers arrived (none arrived whilst I was operating). The bench did provide a convenient anchor to support my small squid pole. I soon had the lightweight SOTA link dipole strung out and erected without the 80 m extensions.


Google Earth view of the Park boundary and my operating site

Once set up, I checked ParksnPeaks and saw that Mark VK4SMA and Mike VK6MB/3 were both on 20 m. I could not hear either of them. I also listed for a JA SOTA station on 15 m, but the signal level was very low, so I decided not to attempt to make a contact. I spotted on 40 m SSB and soon had Hunters calling. Mark VK4SMA/p was number 9 in the log from Mount Barney National Park VKFF-0338, followed immediately by Mike VK6MB/3 in Heathcote-Graytown National Park VKFF-0624. After another 10 minutes of calling, there were no more Hunters chasing. I was about to change the antenna for 20 m when I spotted that another Park was on air, so quickly tuned up to their frequency. I soon had Helen VK7FOLK/p and Jon VK7JON/p in Doctors Rocks Conservation Area VKFF-2902 in the log.

I moved down the band and spotted for 40 m CW. I had 2 callers together, making it difficult to decode either of them. That was soon resolved and I worked Andrei ZL1TM, followed by Cliff VK2NP. I had four more callers on CW, then nothing. I started to change the antenna configuration and then saw a spot for another Park, so quickly changed back to 40 m. Whilst doing so, I found an open link on one side of the antenna, one of the 12 m links!  That would have made the radio’s tuner work harder! Signals were not strong, but I worked Nick VK3ANL/p in Point Cook Coastal Park VKFF-1875. I worked another five stations on 40 m SSB before trying 30 m, working Peter VK3ZPF only – Peter was less than 3 km away. I had no further callers. I saw that Nick was now on 80 m, so quickly ran out the 80 m extensions for the antenna. I worked Nick on both SSB and CW and Nick announced that he would close his station. A VK7 amateur called Nick, who then passed the VK7 to me for another contact. Nick closed down and I took over the frequency and spotted myself, working another three stations before again there were no responses to calls. I reconfigured the antenna to 40 m and soon had another four contacts in the log before receiving a message from northern Tasmania that I was not audible on 40 m. I quickly changed the antenna back to 80 m and worked VK7CW on CW for contact number 44. I returned to 40 m SSB and worked Andy VK5LA, but had no further responses to calls. It was starting to become dimmer as it was now 1647, so I decided to close down.

There had been lots of foot traffic along the walking tracks, so had some short exchanges with the people, including what I was doing. A few of their dogs also approached to say “hello”. The photos were taken as I was packing up, so are not as sharp or bright as they might be otherwise.

Operating position VKFF-2065

Operating position

The sign at the entrance I used says “Beaconsfield Flora and Fauna Reserve”, but the official VKFF name matches the name on the official databases and GIS files. From the photo of the sign, you can see that the scrub is quite thick, but the walking tracks allow easy access.


The Park sign and walking track

Thanks to the other Activators who were out and also to all the Hunters who called me.

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WWFF Park to Park Award 544

Another step in the WWFF Park to Park Award – 544 Park to Park QSOs.

Thanks to all the Activators and the WWFF administration team members.


P2P 544 certificate

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