Sunday, 29 November 2015

Molonglo Gorge Nature Reserve VKFF-0991

After activating Jerrabomberra Wetlands and lunch in Kingston set off for my final park activation for the VKFF Parks Activation weekend, Molonglo Gorge Nature Reserve VKFF-0991.

This park is located to the North of Queanbeyan, close to the ACT border, a popular picnic and swimming spot.


Drove down Pialligo Ave, turned left into Sutton Road and turned right into Kowen Road, and the sign to the park.


Another right up the hill and entered the park. For a change you can drive right into this park, no walking required :)


The road ends at a car park and picnic area, and the start of the walk through the gorge,

At the start of the walk were a couple of picnic tables. I used one for the shack. There was a tree branch above the table so the squid pole was not at full height, around 6 m.


The table wasn't quite the right shape for lashing the squid pole to, so improvised, using my pack as a spacer to support the pole at the base and make it roughly vertical.


Radio shack on the table.


Go on 40 m, started with a park to park contact with Gerard VK2IO/P in VKFF-0092. Went on to work 9 more parks in VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5, also a SOTA contact with Andrew VK1DA/2 on VK2/ST-042 Mt Bowning. Conditions not great, lots of QSB, managed 24 contacts before packing up for the day, got too warm.

A look at a sign at the start of the walk. This park needs new signs...


Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve VKFF-0847

For the VKFF Activation weekend on Sunday decided to activate a couple of previously unactivated parks, Jerrabomberra Wetlands and Molonglo Gorge Nature Park.

Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Park is near the suburb of Kingston, at the Eastern end of Lake Burley Griffin and only a few Km away from Parliament House. It is an important water bird sanctuary, and has its own website http://www.jerrabomberrawetlands.org/

Drove to the end of Newcastle Street in Kingston and parked.


There is a gate and cycling path here. I would not recommend operating near the cycle path, it is very busy with joggers and cyclists...


A sign nearby about the Jerrabomberra Wetlands


To the left of the gate was a grassy area, ideal for setting up the station. Found an old fence post in the grass that provided support for the squid pole. Ran one leg of the dipole to a nearby tree and tied the other end to a concrete block in the grass.


Initially set up the shack table near the squid pole.


Once the sun came out later found this spot a bit hot, moved the table into the shade of a nearby tree


Got on 40 m. Started with a park to park contact with Tony VK1VIC/P in VKFF-0865. As per yesterday lots of park activations on air. Worked lots of chasers and park activators in VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5.

Later tried 20 m, managed to work Paul VK5PAS/P in VKFF-0936 again with a good signal. Also worked VK4RF/VK4HA Rick and VK5YX Hans.

Returned to 40 m and worked VK5EE Tom in VKFF-0927. Packed up after 38 contacts and 12 parks. Before leaving visited one of the nearby bird hide buildings.


Looking out one of the windows at the Jerrabomberra Pond. A few pelicans in the distance on the far side of the pond. There are several of these hides in the park.


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve VKFF-0841

After activating Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve in the morning, had lunch in Forde and headed along Horse Park Drive to the Western entrance to Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve. This park is large and joins Mulligans Flat, so possible to do a long walk through both parks.


There is a car park and a slot in the fence to pass through to access the park. This proved a bit of a challenge getting my camping table and chair through... Note the really high fence, keeps kangaroos in and predators out.


Not far from the gate on the right was a log which provided support for the squid pole. Mt Majura is just over the hill on the right.


Looking back the other way. The track going into the reserve behind.


Set up the shack in the shade of the trees. Horse Park drive visible. It was busy all the time, but not too noisy to be distracting.


Got on 40 m. Plenty of other park activations on, some I had worked earlier, others like myself in new parks. Another 17 more parks from VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5.

After a while I got a "Low"warning sign on the TS-480 indicating the car battery was going flat, first time I have seen this as it usually runs off the power supply at home. Probably from running high power earlier. Not getting much power out, so swapped over to my FT-817 and LifePO4 battery. A bit harder to get through on QRP as conditions varied, but continued okay.

Got a bit warm so gave it away after 32 contacts, headed home.


Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve VKFF-0855

With a WWFF, VKFF activation weekend planned I chose to activate 2 Canberra Nature Parks on the Saturday, Mulligans Flat in the morning and Goorooyaroo in the afternoon.

Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve is a large park in the North East corner of the Australian Capital Territory, protecting box gum woodland. It even has its own website http://www.mulligansflat.org.au/ It is split by Mulligans Flat Road, with Northern and Southern areas. Map as follows.



Drove down Mulligans Flat Road past Bonner, then turned left into Duke Road. A short distance along the road came to a gate and an entry point for horses into the park. Also used by mountain bike riders to access the Canberra Centenial Trail. Marked as Operating Spot on the map.


Parked and offloaded my gear for a park activation. I knew there was not much of a walk, so took the camping table, chair, car battery and my shack radio for a change, a TS-480. Set up the squid pole on the fence


Radio shack on the table. Just like being at home :)


For a change could actually run a bit of power, kept it to around 40 w output and wound it up to 100 w for difficult contacts, although needed to watch the battery use.

Got on 40 m. Initially found missing NVIS contacts, mainly VK5, VK7 and Northern VK2, nothing from nearby VK3 or even local VK1s...Did improve later in the morning. Remember one contact with VK3ZPF, Peter we could barely copy each other, even on high power, then the band picked up after a few overs to an strong easy copy using low power...

Many hunters and also many parks on air, 19 Park to Park contacts. Parks worked in VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5. Also a couple on SOTA activations, VK1AI/P on VK1/AC-033 and VK2HRX/P on VK2/CT-007.

Went through to 12:30 pm when I packed up and headed to the next park. 49 contacts so have qualified the park for a change.

Stopped at Forde briefly to see the Southern entrance to the park


From here it is about a 600 m walk to enter the park.


Went on the Forde for lunch, then on to Horse Park Drive to my next park, Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve,

Sunday, 22 November 2015

SOTA Mt Gillamatong VK2/ST-034

After activating Mt Budawang VK2/ST-015, drove back to Braidwood then on to Mt Gillamatong, VK2/ST-034. See my earlier activation reports for access.

Climbing up the side of the mountain. It is a lot steeper than it looks, tough going...


After around half an hour reached the trig at the top


Set up the squid pole on the trig, dipole legs out to nearby trees and bushes


Shack on the base of the trig


Got on 40 m. There was an activation by Allen VK3HRA but was unable to hear him, other chasers also had problems copying him. Usual chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7. Did make an S2S with Nick VK2AOH/P on VK2/CT-044.

After chasers dried up on 40 m put up my 10/6 m linked dipole and got on 10 m. Having worked sporadic e on 10 m earlier on Mt Budawang I had a listen for 10 m beacons, sure enough the Adelaide beacon VK5WI was a good S8 on 28.259 Mhz. It proved useful as I could rotate the dipole a little using different supports (bushes and trees) and get a better signal.

Made a weak contact with Andrew VK1AD first, heard Matt VK1MA calling but he was unable to hear me due to local noise. Then Paul VK5PAS came up and blew me away with an S9+ signal!

Went on to work Adrian VK5FANA with a fair signal and Nev VK5WG with a good S7 signal. No more answers to my calls, so packed up and headed home.



SOTA Mt Budawang VK2/ST-015

As per previous activations drove to the start of the walk via Braidwood, Mongarlowe then the Budawang Rd, stopping to open the 3 gates to cross private properties. Arrived at the start of the walk around 9:30 am. The summit is in Budawang National Park, WWFF reference VKFF-0061


Initially overcast, did get a bit of sunshine later travelling through the ferny part of the road. Nice cool temperate rainforest.


Another view along the road, nice little ferny glade here.


The track eventually starts to climb and doesn't let up until the top. About a 4.5 Km walk. Arrived at the summit over an hour later. Fairly cloudy with not much of a view due to cloud. Nice and cool though, as the summit is exposed with no shade glad of the cloud.


Set up the squid pole and antennas on the South East corner of the compound. Currockbilly Mountain VK2/ST-018 in the cloud on the far right, VK2/ST-026 unnamed mountain to the left of it.


Looking the other way. Set up 40/20 m and 10/6 m linked dipoles, plus 2m jpole ribbon


Set up the shack on the tarp at the base of the squid pole. Lots of small black ants, seemed to be all over the summit...They didn't bite, just a nuisance.



Started on 2 m FM. No replies. Tried 2 m SSB, got SMSed by Andrew VK1AD who advised not hearing me, could I try 6m. Gave this a try but could barely copy Andrew, too weak to work. Did work Roald VK1MTS okay though not strong.

Tried switching the links to 10 m. Tuning around I heard a couple of familiar voices on 28.500 Mhz, Paul VK5PAS chatting to Rick, VK4RF, both regular chasers...Broke in and worked them both, good S9+ signals, especially after Paul turned his beam on me! Obviously Sporadic e propagation.

Went on to work Yoshi JH8XBH, Mick VK3PMG in Western Victoria and Peter VK2FVG on ground wave from near Jervis Bay, around 80 Km up the coast.

Went to 40 m to get Tony VK1VIC/P  S2S to VK1/AC-048, Mt McDonald. Also worked him on 6 m. Returned to 40 m and worked the regular chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK7. Another S2S with Paul VK3HN/P on VK3/VT-040.

Returned to 10 m, the Adelaide beacon VK5WI and Tasmanian beacon VK7RAE both strong but no-one else on. Packed up and headed back down.





Saturday, 21 November 2015

Stony Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-0986

With a nice mild sunny Saturday, decided to activate another local WWFF park, Stony Creek Nature Reserve. This is one of 5 parks protecting the Murrumbidgee River Corridor as it flows through the ACT. See http://www.tams.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/explore/murrumbidgee-river-corridor/murrumbidgee-river-corridor-map

This is not an easy park to access...I eventually worked out an access point off the Brindabella Road, not far from the car park to SOTA summit Mt McDonald. As per Kama Nature Reserve Google maps proved useless for displaying the park boundaries, the following screenshot from Protectedplanet.net shows the southern end of the reserve. Parked at the park corner marked "Gate"on the map.



Here there is a locked gate, access to the park for park rangers. Entered on foot to the left of the gate.


As only a short walking distance set up my camping table and chair for a comfortable operating shack :)


Park activation shack on the table. Note I powered the radio using an old car battery, but kept the LifePO4 battery just in case. Wouldn't want to lug it too far though...Testing it for using with a larger radio on park activations near roads in the future.


Got on 7.144 Mhz, park calling frequency, to find it occupied by VK5HSX/P Stef in VKFF-0192 Gawler Ranges National Park . He was very weak but with my noise free location managed to work him. He kindly let me have the frequency. Once spotted on ParksnPeaks got a good list of VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK7 calls in the log. The VK4s were quite good signals, working up as far as Rockhampton. No VK5s though.

When the hunters stopped calling tried going to 20 m. Even with spotting no takers, gave it away and packed up. 20 contacts all up, so another park to revisit for the 44 needed for the WWFF credit.

On the way home stopped at Casuarina Sands, a local swimming and picnic spot. This would be another entry point to the park, but would need a bit of a walk in and probably have problems getting the signal out of the river gorge. Nice spot though.




Sunday, 1 November 2015

Kama Nature Reserve VKFF-0848

With unsettled weather decided to do a WWFF parks activation that didn't need a long walk to enter, so could quickly pack up if it started raining. Kama Nature Reserve nearby was good as only a short walk from the car park to enter the park.

The park is off William Hovell Drive, running down to the Molonglo River, close to Coppins Crossing. A map of the park is hard to find, it is missing from Google Maps and other Canberra suburban maps, even from Oztopo which is fairly detailed. Here is a screenshot of the park from Protected Planet website, http://www.protectedplanet.net/kama-nature-reserve


Drove to the car park off William Hovell Drive, on the opposite side to the park. There is a sign to the park and an underpass, originally to move stock under the road when the land was farmland.


On the other side of the underpass a locked gate, with a gap for walkers, and some signs for the park. Interested to see it is now signposted as South Kama, might be a North Kama planned?


A sign about Kama Nature Reserve, and a map of the walks. Sign indicates declared in 2009 to protect Yellow Box-Blakelys Red Gum Grassy Woodland, an endangered ecological community.


Followed the path up the hill for a short distance before spotting a suitable log for squid pole support. Didn't want to walk far due to the threat of rain, plus I was carrying a fairly heavy camping table and chair :)


One dipole leg tied to a nearby tree. The other end onto a log in the grass.


Radio set up on the camping table. A luxury as I usually sit on rocks and logs :)


Got on 40 m. Started by chasing a couple of SOTA activations, VK3XDM/7 Mitch on VK7/NE-024 on Flinders Island, and VK1VIC/P Tony on 2m FM on VK1/AC-023 Mt Coree. I also worked Grant VK4JAZ/1 on 40 m on Mt Coree. Could see Mt Coree, shrouded in low cloud. Worked them again after post UTC day, also Andrew VK1NAM/P on Mt Stromlo VK1/AC-043.

Went up to the WWFF calling frequency 7.144 Mhz and started calling. Discovered afterwards had come up only 2 Khz away from the VK2 WIA broadcast callback on 7.146 Mhz so moved after a few contacts. Worked VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK7.

Around midday the rain started, so quickly packed up and headed back to the car. Only 14 contacts so got the park for VKFF award purposes, need to return and get the remaining contacts for the WWFF award.