Saturday, 31 December 2016

SOTA Unnamed peak VK2/SM-053

On the drive down to Thredbo for New Years Eve popped up to do VK2/SM-053. This is an unnamed high point easily reached via Wollondibby Road, off the Alpine Way. An easy 8 pointer :)

Approaching the summit area noticed some "For Sale"signs nearby, looks like this area is being carved up into smaller block for sale. There was a new house just down the road a bit from the summit, so the summit grounds may get sold off... Anyway for the moment its just vacant bushland.

Set up near the log I did a dual activation with Andrew, VK1AD, but this time used a small sapling and just set up on the grass nearby.

Looking back the other direction.

Shack in the grass. Note the blue tarp nearby. This was a real magnet for March flies, I left them to it, rather them annoy the tarp than me :) As only a short walk I used my normal TS480 to run a bit of power, set to 40w output.

Started on 40m. Usual chasers, mainly from VK2 and VK5 with good signals. One S2S contact with Mitch VK7XDM/P on VK7/WC-054.

Switched to 20m. A good signal from John ZL1BYZ, also his spouse Jacky ZL1TZW. Also usual contact with Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, and Ian VK5CZ called in.

As getting late in the day packed up and headed to Thredbo for the evening. Note the Kosciuzko National Park entrance fee is now up to $17 a car a day, which is valid for 24 hours from the time of issue.

SOTA Livingstone Hill VK2/SM-093

Decided to head down to Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains and do a SOTA summit over the UTC rollover period, the Cascades VK2/SM-014. This meant driving down on Saturday New Years Eve. While driving down via the Monaro Highway stopped to activate Livingstone Hill VK2/SM-093, near Michelago.

Parked near the gate. Note that this is private property, a sheep paddock, at the request of the farmer left a note on my dashboard with my name and mobile number. It's about a 500m walk to the summit.

Set up the squid pole on the trig cairn. Looking East to the Tinderies mountains.

Looking North to the communication tower.

Looking South towards Cooma. Eastern edge of the ACT is on the right.

While putting up the 40m dipole one of the wire legs snapped... fixed it by twisting the broken ends together tightly, managed to hold together okay for the weekends activations.

Got on 40m. Found there was an annoying on air white noise appearing from the tower nearby, sounded like an air conditioner as it would cut in and out. Managed to work stations when it was off. Probably best to move away from the trig next time

Started with an S2S with VK7XDM/p Mitch on VK7/WC-013. Then the regular chasers from VK2, VK3 and VK5. Another S2S with Peter VK3PF/p on VK3/VE-014 The Horn.

After 40 m contacts stopped switched to 20m for post UTC contacts. Some good signals from VK5WG, VK7CW, VK4RF/VK4HA, VK2YK and VK1MA.

As still had a long way to drive to Thredbo packed up and continued driving South to Cooma.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

SOTA Mt Ginini VK1/AC-008

Found I've missed adding this blog entry so a late entry.

A warm day in Canberra so decided to activate Mt Ginini, VK1/.AC-008. At 1760m ASL a good 10c or so cooler. Drove up the Brindabella Road turning off onto the Mount Franklin Road.

Stopped at Bulls Head for lunch. A pleasant picnic spot. Drove up to the Mt Ginini communications site. The water tank is a new addition here.

As wanted to be in the Bimberi Wilderness area for WWFF purposes set up on the New South Wales side of the border, on the other side of the copper log fence. Used a convenient dead tree for squid pole support. As only a short walk to the car used my WWF setup, table, chair and TS480 radio.
Mountain in the background is Mt Gingera VK1/AC-002.

 Radio on the table. A few march flies about so some repellant needed...

Got on 40m. A Park to park with VK2YK/3 Adam activating VKFF-0627 Organ Pipes National Park.

Also worked VK1MA/2 Matt activating VK2/SW-026 Yankee Ned Hill nearby.
Several of the usual chasers in VK2, VK3 and VK7.  Another S2S with VK1MBE/2 Andrew on VK2/ST-036 Spring Hill.

After 17 contacts had a low battery warning, so gave it away and headed home.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

2016 VKFF Activation Weekend Certificate

In the email received a certificate from Paul, VK5PAS the VKFF Awards Manager for participating in the 2016 VKFF Activation Weekend, on the 26th and 27th November.

My part of this weekend was the activations of VK1 parks VKFF-0985 Gigerline Nature Reserve and VKFF-0992 Old Naas TSR on Saturday 26th November, and VK1 park VKFF-0989 Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on Sunday 27th November.

Thanks to Paul for the award. This was an enjoyable weekend.

Kooraban National Park VKFF-0267

After activating Yurammie State Conservation Area near Wolumla continued North on the Princes Highway. Stopped at Bega for lunch. Drove on through Cobargo, just before passing Mt Dromedary spotted a National Park sign on the left side of the highway, Kooraban National Park. Decided to turn off and activate it.

A short drive along the dirt road, which is Digmans Hill Firetrail, saw another park sign. Used this for squid pole support.

Set up the radio on the tarp.

Made 2 contacts on 40m, VK3SQ Geoff and VK2IO/p Gerard, before it started to rain again... The band seemed fairly dead anyway with only a couple of stations on. Gave it away and continued down to Batemans Bay, up Clyde Mountain and home to Canberra. Another park to return to.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Yurammie State Conservation Area VKFF-1403

For Christmas was driving down to my brothers place at Pambula Beach on the NSW South Coast. Looking at maps, saw a possible parks activation I could do on the way, Yurammie State Conservation Area, VKFF-1403. This park is located North of Merimbula near Yellow Pinch Dam, which I have driven past other times and knew had an access road in off the Prince Highway.

Drove from Canberra to Cooma, Nimmitabel, down Brown Mountain, turning off to Candelo and joining the Princes Highway at the small town of Wolumla. Once on the Princes Highway only a few Km to the turnoff to Yellow Pinch Dam, and the park.

Unfortunately there was now a locked gate on the road to the dam, so no easy drive in and activate :( I knew however that the park boundary was just off the road in the bush behind the sign, so wandered in on foot behind the sign to set up my station inside the park.

Map of the park from ProtectedPlanet website

 The park was fairly open forest. Used a tree stump to support the squid pole.

Newlands Creek at the bottom of the hill. The Princes Highway on the right.

Shack on the tarp, my TS-480 running off Lifepo4 8400maH battery. Set the power to 40w.

Conditions were not good on 40m, a storm front a bit to the North of me generating a heap of static, and there just didn't seem to be many signals on the band. Christmas Eve guess a lot doing other things... Only managed to work 6 stations in a half hour before the threat of rain forced me to pack up. Worked the following stations:

VK3SFG Sergio
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2IO Gerard
VK1WX Amanda
VK2FENG Helen.

Drove on to my brothers place at Pambula Beach for Christmas and Boxing Day.

27/12/2016 Yurammie State Conservation Area return

After Boxing day stopped by again on the way home to get some more contacts. Set up on the same stump.

The band was a bit better this time. Worked the following on 40m

VK5BJE/2 John park to park with VKFF-0444 Scheyville National Park
VK3ZPF Peter
VK3SQ Geoff
VK3MRG/p Marshall
VK2HHA Dennis
VK7CW Steve

There was a very light drizzle of rain, but it got heavier towards the end of the activation so gave it away and continued the drive home. At least had enough contacts for the basic VKFF point, which requires 10 contacts.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

OConnor Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0857

With a nice sunny Sunday afternoon and the bands sounding reasonable decided to do another WWFF park activation, this time  OConnor Ridge Nature Reserve. My last activation there was on the 21st June 2015, about the shortest day of the year, and despite a good opening into Europe had to give it away at sunset as it got freezing... no chance of it this time as a pleasant 25c.

As per last time drove to Dryandra St in the Canberra suburb of OƇonnor and parked. A short walk up the hill and I was on the road along the ridge. Noticed the traffic noise from nearby Gungahlin Drive, also the sounds of Cicadas in the trees, would make it unpleasant to operate from. I eventually settled on a lower track on the Eastern side of the ridge away from the noise. There was a track marker post suitable for squid pole support. Set up the 40 m dipole. View to the North East. Mt Majura on the right.

Looking back down the hill. Crane and other buildings are in Dickson. Dryandra St at the bottom of the hill.

Looking back South along the track. Black Mountain tower visible on the next ridge, heading up to Black Mountain.

Shack on the tarp. There was a bit of a slope here, ended up lying down on the tarp as the most comfortable way to operate the radio.

Got on 40m. Started with a Park to Park contact with Bob, VK5AFZ/p in VKFF-0922 Newland Head Conservation Park with a good signal. Worked Peter VK3PF next who spotted me, then the pileup began...

Worked several of the regular park hunters in VK2, VK3, VK4 (VK4RF/HA Rick), VK5 and VK7. Quite a lot of hunters calling, band in good shape. Another park to park contact, with Andrew VK7DW/p in VKFF-1156 Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area.

After contacts dried up was going to go to 20m to give it a try, but then got called by Paul VK5PAS, VK3TJK and VK2YK. I tried 20m but no answers to my calls, propagation didn't sound good on 20, maybe why so many were active on 40m?

Another park to park with Tom VK5NFT/p in VKFF-0791 Beachport Conservation Park. A total of 36 contacts, well qualified so packed up and headed home to dinner.

Map from Openstreetmaps showing my operating location in the park.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

SOTA Booroomba Rocks VK1/AC-026

A nice sunny Saturday forecast with a top around 25c, decided to reactivate one of my favorite VK1 SOTA peaks, Booroomba Rocks VK1/AC-026.

Drove to the Booroomba Rocks car park, took about an hour from home, got there at 10 am. Quite a few cars in the car park, probably rock climbers and other walkers.

Sign at the start of the track. a 2.5 Km walk.

The track climbs slowly at first, then gets steeper. A large granite boulder along the way.

Once reaching the top of the track headed off into the scrub to try and break into the first rock slab. The bush was pretty thick but didn't last. There used to be little rock piles to guide you along the easier path through the scrub, I couldn't find any of these until getting to the top of the intermediate summit.

Looking towards the SOTA summit from the intermediate summit.

Descended into the treed gully, luckily the rock piles here made it easier.

Walking up the rock slabs towards the SOTA summit. There are rock piles that lead you around to the left and up the Eastern side of the summit, avoiding the worst of the scrub just before the top.

After over an hour reached the summit. Someone had scattered the summit cairn rocks apart :(... thankfully the single gum tree for my usual squid pole support was still going strong.

Always enjoy the fantastic views up here, at over 1300 m. Canberra visible to the North East.

Looking West to the Brindabella Range

I put the summit cairn back together :) It used to be quite large many years ago.

Set up the squid pole on the lone gum tree, legs of the dipole tied to the rocks one end and to a dead snow gum branch at the other end. Also set up the 2m Jpole ribbon antenna. This is a really good VHF site.

Shack on the tarp at the base of the tree. It afforded little shade... luckily not too warm a day. There were lots of small ants here, seemed to like running over the radio, hopefully none got inside.

Got on 40m. Started by working Peter VK3ZPF/p in VKFF-0480 Tarra Bulga National Park with a good signal.

Then spotted myself on ParksnPeaks. Went on to work VK3EQ Rick, VK3LED Col, VK7CW Steve, VK3PF Peter, VK3CAT Tony, VK4RF/VK4HA Rick. Took me a few attempts to get my report to Rick, not that strong. A big signal from local VK1NK Nick, VK2HHA Dennis, VK2KYO Ken.

After 40 m died down went to 2m on 146.500 Mhz the FM calling frequency. Worked VK1MT/m Matt, VK2KBB/m David and VK1MA Matt with a huge signal as usual.

VK1AD/2 Andrew and VK1DA/2 Andrew had come up on VK2/SM-024 Tantangara Mountain. This was on the other side of the Brindabella Range in the Kosciusko National Park, over 50 Km away, but they were up at 1700 m so an easy S9 copy on 2m FM for S2S contacts.

Returned to 40 m for another park contact with VK3ZPF/p Peter, this time in VKFF-0626 Morwell National Park.

There was a spot for Rob VK4AAC/5 in VKFF-0796 Ewens Ponds Conservation Park. Rob was fairly weak, I gave him a 53 report, and he was struggling to copy me at 22.

Worked Gerard VK2IO, Robert VK7VZ/2 portable at Braidwood and Chris VK2SR/m near the ACT border, running 400w in the mobile.

After 25 contacts packed up and headed back down. Took about an hour to get back to the car.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Yanunbeyan State Conservation Area VKFF-1400

A nice sunny Sunday morning, expected to warm up later, so decided to activate a park close by the the ACT, Yanunbeyan State Conservation Area. This is a little known park, I only knew about it as I had entered it before to activate SOTA summit Mt Foxlow VK2/ST-010 in June 2014. At that time the park was not part of the WWFF parks register, State Conservation Areas in NSW were added in July 2016.

Drove out to Queanbeyan, then the Kings Highway, turning off onto Captains Flat Road, then turning off onto Woolcara Lane. This road is unsealed but okay for 2WD cars. It is actually a fairly long road. The road goes past Woolcara station. Please note you pass through this property, don't leave the road and watch out for sheep!

I had a few close encounters with them on the road, they tended to lie down on it and I surprised them coming over the crests of hills. Just slow down and they will get out of the way.

Eventually reached the entrance to Yanunbeyan State Conservation Area. Sign on the left.

A few km past this reached Apple Box Flat picnic area. This is the only picnic area in the park, so stopped here.

A large sign telling the history of the park and Apple Box Flat. Named after an Apple Box Tree. I'm no botanist so unsure where this was...

Close by 3 picnic tables. The closest one and the one behind it had trees overhanging, not good for the squid pole, so picked the one on the right. Probably had the most shade too.

Set up the squid pole and radio shack on my chosen picnic table.

Another view of the shack.

Park radio shack on the table. Partial shade, still quite pleasant temperature mid morning.

Went to spot myself and found there was no mobile coverage here :( Hardly surprising as in a deep valley between Mt Foxlow and Corner hill. So needed to get a park hunter to spot me on parksnpeaks, and hope I would stumble across other park activators.

After a tune around on 40m came across Gerard, VK2IO/p in VKFF-1370 Parr State Conservation Area with a strong 59+ signal. Then found a spot and called CQ, hoping park hunters would spot me.

Worked the following hunters.

VK2ZGH Geoff
VK2HHA Dennis

Another tune around stumbled across Rob VK4AAC/5 activating VKFF-0905 Lower Glenelg River Conservation Park. Rob was low down, only a 53, he gave me a 32 report but we did make it.

Some more park hunters. The pace got better as someone had spotted me.

VK3SQ Geoff
VK2VW Brett
VK3ELH/p Simon
VK3ARH Allen
Vk7CW Steve
VK3OW Ewen
VK2FPRM Phillip

After working John called several times with no answer, spun the dial around and found the whole 40 m band empty... it had just died.

Gave 20m a try. Managed to stumble across Adam, VK2YK/4 on 14.244 Mhz activating SOTA peak VK4/NH-129 on Magnetic Island. This was also in VKFF-0299 Magnetic Island National Park. He had a good 58 signal.

Packed up after working Adam and headed home after 25 contacts. Need to return to get the 44.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 375 Award

Following a lot of park to park contacts on the VKFF Activation weekend I boosted my park tally over 375, and able to apply for another award.

Applied via Logsearch, Promptly received from Paul, VK5PAS VKFF Awards manager.

Monday, 28 November 2016

VK7RHF 10m FM Repeater

Noticed on a new 10m FM repeater was on air, VK7RHF near Hobart. It is on 29.680 Mhz Output and 29.580 Mhz input, with 91.5 Mhz tone access required.

Fiddled about with my TS480 radio, and after reading the manual on how to set the tone got it sorted in split mode and keyed it up :)

Coming back full scale, so good sporadic e opening to VK7.

Put a call out and worked Hayden VK7HH, the repeaters owner, also Bruce VK7MBD.
Should be good for use during the summer sporadic e season.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve VKFF-0989

For the Sunday of the VKFF Activation weekend, decided to activate a famous park in the ACT, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve VKFF-0989. This park is well known to Canberrans and to many visitors to the ACT. It is located off Paddys River Road to the SE of Canberra. or via Point Hut Rd then Tidbinbilla Road. Overseas readers may know of NASAs Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Complex. This is close by. The park has its own website

It has only been activated once before for a WWFF activation by VK5BJE/1, John. His blog is at

Went via the Tidbinbilla Road route. Entry to the park.

A short drive up the road you will come to the visitors centre. If you don't have a pass you will need to park here and go inside to purchase a ticket. I paid $11.50 for a car day pass. This gets you a pass ticket with a bar code that opens a boom gate, to let you into the park.

As per John's activation first drove to the picnic areas near the entrance, but as a bit lower down the hill found no mobile phone coverage, so gave this a miss. Needed to be able to access ParksnPeaks...
Drove on a bit further. Found some spotty coverage on the road, but this vanished as I got further into the park, it is surrounded by high mountains. Returned along the road to an area known as Dalsetta. This is a car park with some picnic tables and the start of several walks, eg Gibraltar Peak. For those who have lived in Canberra for a while this is the site of the old visitors centre. A good sign here shows the location.

Toilets nearby, handy for a long park activation.

Found a picnic table close by with shade from a couple of large gum trees, even an old post nearby for squid pole support, and good mobile phone coverage. Perfect :) Set up the shack.

After getting the radio going found I had a furry visitor watching me.

He seemed more interested in the radio than myself. Perhaps keen to work some DX?

Quite a lot of Kangaroos nearby in the shade of the trees, one of the attractions of the park. There are also Emus, Koalas and water birds to look at further on.

Got on 40m. Started with several park to park contacts:

VK3XV/p Tony in VKFF-0775 Werribee Gorge
VK5PL/p David in VKFF-1739 Para Wirra Conservation Park
VK5ZGY/p Greg in VKFF-1025 Dingley Dell Conservation Park
VK5FANA/p Adrian in VKFF-1706 Eastern Spencer Gulf Coastal Park
VK2QR/p Rob in VKFF-0054 Brindabella National Park

Then spotted myself and works some park hunters. VK7CW Steve, VK5NFT Tom, VK3SQ Geoff.
Gerard VK2IO/p came up in VKFF-1386 Upper Nepean State Conservation Area

A few more hunters Mick VK3PMG/VK3GGG, VK3SFG Sergio, VK1MT mobile VK2 Matt.
Some more parks

VK5KLV/p Les in VKFF-1757 Upper Spencer Gulf Marine National Park
VK3NBI/p Bryce in VKFF-0796 Ewens Ponds CP
VK5GJ/p Greg and VK5GI/p Norm in VKFF-1061 Moana Sands Conservation Park.
A fairly weak contact with VK3SG/p Leigh in VKFF-0264 Kinglake National Park
VK5PAS/p Paul in VKFF-0906 Marne Valley Conservation Park
VK7DW/p Andrew in VKFF-1145 Notley Gorge State Reserve

A few more hunters, VK3KMH Mike, VK2ZK Dave, VK2JDC Dave, VK2XXM Robert, VK2XSE/m Liz.

As usual worked Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0728 Cobboboonee National Park.
Grabbed Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-0326 Moogerah Peaks National Park

Some more hunters, VK7PLR Peter, Vk4GJC Geoff, Vk2GPT Glen and VK2LDN Glen.

Later saw a spot for VK3PF/p Peter in VKFF-0962 Colquhoun Regional Park. After working him Allen VK3ARH/p in VKFF-0757 Enfield SP grabbed me for a contact.

Gerard VK2IO/p had moved on to a new park, VKFF-1292 Burragorang State Conservation Area.

There was a spot for a SOTA activation, VK3LED/p Col on VK3/VC-017 The Jim Jim, so worked Col on this rarely activated summit.

Some more park hunters, VK3YE Peter, VK1AD/VK1NAM Andrew.

Worked Paul VK5PAS/p in another park, VKFF-0832 Swan Reach Conservation Reserve

A few more hunters. Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, VK3MRH Ron, VK3ELH Simon and VK2VU Gary.

After all this radio activity got the LO signal on my TS480, so the battery was about flat... Packed up after lunch. Luckily got 45 contacts so just managed to qualify the park activation for WWFF.

A few more photos in the park. The nearby walk to Gibraltar Peak. This is the rocky peak in the centre. Quite a nice walk, but left it today.

A view looking up Tidbinbilla valley. Mt Domain on the left and Tidbinbilla Mountain on the right, both SOTA peaks, hard walks.

Further into the park, the wetlands walk.

Koala Sanctuary

Tidbinbilla Mountain from a lookout in the park.

Looking down from the lookout back towards the visitors centre.