Saturday, 27 June 2015

Percival Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0859

Time to activate another Canberra Nature Park for the World Wide Flora and Fauna Award, this one Percival Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-859.

The park is names after Percival Hill, a prominent hill close to the Barton Highway roundabout intersection with Gundaroo Drive and William Slim Drive, in the Gungahlin suburb of Nicholls.

Drove to the end of Schow Place in Nicholls and started walking. There is a gate to climb through into the reserve.

Walked up to the ridge top and turned right onto a track heading up the hill.

After a short walk reached Percival Hill trig

Good view to the South West looking towards Belconnen, Black Mountain visible. William Slim Drive and the Barton Highway roundabout below.

View to the South East of Crace, a fairly new suburb, I can remember this being grasslands not that long ago...Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie in the distance

View to the North West

Set up the squid pole on the trig

Set up the radio shack at the base on the tarp.

Got on 40 m. Started with a Park to Park contact with Paul VK5PAS/P in VKFF-826 Kyeema CP. Then usual chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 VK4 and VK5. A few more park contacts, VK5HCF/P Col in Penambol CP VKFF-802, VK3VTH/P Tony in VKFF-775 Werribee Gorge SP and VK4FFAB/P Rob in VKFF-507 Venman Bushland National Park

Switched to 20 m after contacts dried up on 40 m. Worked Paul VK5PAS/P again, we then both worked Fred VK4FE in Mowbray NP VKFF-367 in North Queensland near Cairns with a good signal.

Paul kindly let me stay on 14.310 Mhz. Spotted myself on the DX cluster then the EU pileup began...
Usual park chasers with good signals. S58AL, I5FLN, DK4RM, OK7WA, IK1GPG, DL2ND, S53KM. The band seemed to close to Europe after about a half hour so only a brief opening.

Went back to 40m to chase Brett VK4TWO/P in VKFF-070 Burrum Coast National Park. A few more contacts, then another park contact with Paul VK5PAS now in VKFF-824 Cox Scrub CP.

As around 4:30 pm the sun was setting and it was getting quite cold, there was a chilly wind blowing on the summit so packed up and headed down after around 40 contacts. Need to return to get the 44...

Sunset view looking down at Gungahlin Pond. Town of Gungahlin in the distance.

 Track log of walk. Map is out of date, note the blank space is now the suburb of Crace...

Sunday, 21 June 2015

OConnor Ridge VKFF-0857

OConnor Ridge is located West of the Canberra suburb of OConnor, bounded by Dryandra Street, Ginninderra Drive, Gungahlin Drive Extension and Bruce Ridge.

Parked off Dryandra Street near the cycle path. There is a large parking area here and the sign for the park visible.

Walked up the ridge using some of the many bush tracks. The area is popular with mountain bike riders and joggers.

The tracks joined a fire access road running along the ridge.

The road climbed up to the highest point on the ridge. Not too steep.

Reached the highest point in the park. Nothing much here, no trig, the view obscured by trees.

Just down from the hill from here was a large log suitable for a shack seat and table. Strapped the squid pole to the side and ran out the 20/40 m dipole legs to a couple of nearby trees.

Set up the radio shack on the stump and used it as a comfy seat.

Got on 40 m and started calling. Worked Gerard VK2IO/P on SOTA peak VK2/CT-001 Mt Canobolas with a good signal. A SOTA contact Karl VK2GKA/P on VK2/IL-005 Mt Alexandra.

Also John VK5BJE and Paul VK5PAS doing a rare activation of VKFF-278 Lake Torrens National Park. Another SOTA station Paul VK3HN on VK3/VN-030 Mt Strickland. Plus usual park hunters from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5.

After 40 m calls dried up changed the links to 20 m and found a quiet spot to call. As I have found before the best way to get a European pileup going was to spot myself on the DX cluster first with the VKFF reference in the comments. I'm sure there must be several EU stations that monitor this constantly, because the pileup started after just one call!... Usual park hunters, I5FLN, S58AL, IK1GPG, S52KM, DL2ND, ON5SWA, ON4VT and several others, 14 European contacts.

I had one unexpected caller, another park activator in Europe! IQ6MW/P in IFF-228, a first for me a park from Italy.

Also worked a few VKs, VK6DW, VK6NU, and VK5LWR/P also running QRP.

As the shortest day of the year the sun was setting around 4:30 pm, and getting cold...Packed up and headed back. It was down to 8c when I got back to the car. A total of 34 contacts so another park to revisit for the 44 needed.

Track log of walk

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Bruce Ridge VKFF-0835

Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve is a Canberra Nature Park to the North of Black Mountain. You can park off Belconnen Way, although this can be tricky as fairly busy. I chose to park in Calvary Hospital car park and walk under the Gungahlin Drive Extension via a tunnel.

After parking at the far end of Calvary Hospital climbed through a gate and headed for an access tunnel under Gungahlin Drive Extension.

On the other side climbed over a gate into the park

The track, Calvary Access FT, takes you up the ridge, joining "Bruce One" track

This track takes you up to a large water reservoir close to the highest point in the park. The reservoir didn't look that interesting to operate from, so headed down an unnamed track near the junction with Reservoir Ridge FT.

Found a suitable stump for supporting the squid pole. Set up the 20/40 m dipole.

Radio shack on a nearby log

A fairly comfortable operating spot, although did get some traffic noise from busy Belconnen Way below.

Got on 40 m, a SOTA contact first with Julie VK3FOWL/P on VK3/VN-028. Then a park to park contact with Alan VK5FAJS/P and Col VK5HCF/P in VKFF-805 Telford Scrub Conservation Park. Set up on one frequency and worked through a crowd of chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7.

Worked another park, Rob VK4AAC/5 in VKFF-173 Flinders Chase NP on Kangaroo Island. Also Paul VK5PAS/P in Winninowie Conservation Park with a good strong signal.

After about an hour on 40 m the contacts dried up, so switched the links to 20 m. I spotted myself on the DX cluster, then the pileup began...

Many of the usual park hunters, DK4RM, ON5SWA, IK1GPG, I5FLN with good strong signals. The band was in terrific shape, even with my puny 5 w signal getting 55, 57 reports. Danny ON4VT called me a few times but failed to come back when called, probably due to QRM and QSB his end. We eventually worked. Made an impressive number of contacts, 18 into Europe, including RA3PCI, my first Russian hunter. Also worked one of the locals, VK1ANK Neil.

I caught up with Paul VK5PAS again, working his way through a massive EU pileup, he was S9+.

Returned to 40 m. Worked another park, Steve VK5SFA/P in VKFF-783 Morialta Conservation Park. A few more VKs on 40 m and I was done, 46 contacts, and had managed to get the 44 parks needed for WWFF for once...

Packed up around 4:30 pm as starting to get cold with the sun setting. Walked up to the reservoir to take a look at the views.

Looking East towards Mt Ainslie. City, Braddon and Dickson visible at the base. The road on the right is Belconnen Way

Monday, 8 June 2015

SOTA Bobbara Mountain VK2/ST-044

My last activation of Bobbara Mountain was in December 2014. It was hot and plagued by figured a better time to activate was today with the cold and no flies...

As before drove out to Yass via the Barton Highway, taking the Hume Highway to Bowning, on to Binalong and Bobbara Mountain Road. Arrived at the gate with the enter at own risk warning.

Walked along the road towards the mountain.

When level with the big tree straight ahead followed a sheep track running up the mountain. Fairly steep climb up but saves a fair distance compared to walking along the road all the way.

Rejoined the road at the top of the ridge.

Walked around the radar complex to the trig. Last time it was too hot in the sun to operate here, this time it was cold in the wind...Don't let the bright sunshine fool you, it was probably around 10c, less with the wind chill...

Looking back to the East at the radar complex

Set up the squid pole on the trig. Hard to find places to attach the ends of the dipole, ended up just tying the ends to rocks. Looking South West

Looking to the North East

Set up the radio at the base of the trig, to try and get some shelter from the cold wind. Not that effective though.

Got on 40 m, to hear Julie VK3FOWL/P on VK3/VC-014 saying she was about to go clear. Quickly worked her for a S2S.

Spotted myself on the mobile and got a good pileup going. Strong signals from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. Another S2S with Tony VK3CAT/P on VK3/VE-204.

After the chasers dried up on 40 m went to 6 m where Andrew VK2UH, Andrew VK1NAM and Al VK1RX advise would listen for me. When changing the dipole from the 20/40 m linked one to the 6/10 m dipole the rubber ball at the tip of the squid pole decided to work loose, crashing the whole antenna to the ground. The sistema container feed junction box got cracked up badly but still usable.

Hoisted the antenna back up. Called by Andrew VK2UH nearby in Yass, not getting much power out, he came back a weak S3 so something not quite right...No sign of Andrew VK1NAM or Al VK1RX, might have just heard them very weakly.

Took the antenna down again. Not seeing too much wrong, hoisted it back up, this time on 10 m. Seemed to load up better on 10m, able to work Andrew VK2UH a good S8 now. Still no contact with VK1NAM or VK1RX.

Tried 20 m briefly with no contacts apart from Andrew VK2UH again. He advised Andrew and Al still keen for a 6 m contact. Tried putting up the antenna again, this time orientated it around more to favour towards Canberra. It seemed to load up better this time, getting full output power. Just managed to work Andrew VK1NAM with a 41 signal, and Al VK1RX with a 51, Al was using a beam. A struggle for both of them to hear me though on my 5 w.

Around noon the cold wind was too much so packed up and headed home.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Dunlop Grasslands VKFF-0839

Dunlop Grasslands Nature Park lies North of the Canberra suburbs of Dunlop and Fraser in the far Northwest corner of the ACT, one side right along the NSW border.

Drove to Binns St in Fraser and parked. Note the loop at the end of the street is closed to traffic, so you need to walk past a road barrier.

Sign for the park. There is a locked gate nearby which I climbed over to enter the park.

Walked until finding a suitable large log for squid pole support and a radio shack bench.

Looking the other direction. Dipole legs tied to a couple of tree branches nearby. A bit windy but stayed up okay.

Radio shack on the log bench

Got on 40 m. The band busy with stations in the VK Shires contest, also some SOTA stations on air. Worked Paul VK3HN/P on VK3/VN-027, Rod VK2TWR on VK3/SM-085. Settled on 7.144 Mhz and worked several VKs in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5.

Switched to 20 m and spotted myself. Got a good pileup of EU callers, some of the regular hunters such as S58AL and ON4VT. Lots of German, Italian and Spanish stations, a good solid signal from M0HDX. Most up around S8 and were giving my puny 5 w signal up to S7. One local caller, Paul VK1ATP not that far away.

Band seemed to die around sunset, getting cold so packed up and headed home after 28 contacts.

Sunset over the grasslands

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Aranda Bushland VKFF-0833

Aranda Bushland Nature Park is located between Black Mountain and Mount Painter Nature Reserves, bounded by Bindubi Street, William Hovell Drive, Caswell Drive and the suburb of Aranda. It protects a rare collection of Snow Gum trees in the South and Eucalypt forest in the North.

I chose to park at Vargi Place and walk to Aranda Hill, the highest point in the park. I could have parked closer but wanted to do some walking :)

Aranda Bushland park sign

After a short walk along the summit track reached Aranda Hill. Marked by yellow concrete markers marked McKier. Black Mountain partially visible through the trees.

Set up the squid pole using one of the concrete posts for support

Radio shack at the base. I'd forgotten to pack the tarp so sat on my pack.

Got on 40 m. Good strong signals from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7. SOTA contacts with Tony VK3CAT/p on VK3/VE-033, and Peter VK3ZPF/P on VK3/VC-037.

Made 28 contacts on 40 m before the hunters dried up. Changed to 20 m, this time spotting myself on the DX cluster to help the EU stations find me.

They found me quite well...Several of the regular park hunters, S58AL, I5FLN, IK1GPG, DK4RM, EA4DTV and DL2ND.

The band died off around 4:30 pm and starting to get cold, so packed up and headed home.
A total of 35 contacts so a good activation.