2014 ‘Welcome to Amateur radio’ symposium

Yesterday (Sunday 24th November, 2014), a ‘Welcome to amateur radio’ symposium was held at the Blackwood Community Centre.  The event was sponsored by the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society (AHARS).  Eighty (80) people attended the event which commenced at 8.45 a.m. and concluded in the afternoon at around 4.00 p.m.

Those attending ranged from 9 Foundation calls all the way through to some very senior amateurs.  It was great to see a good blend of experience.

The cost of attendance on the day was just $5.00.  I chaired the day, which commenced with a welcome by Tony VK5KAT, the AHARS President, and then a short introduction by yours truly.  There were 16 presentations during the day on a variety of topics.  Below is the program…..

0830 – 0845                      Doors open

0845 – 0850                       Welcome – Tony VK5KAT

0850 – 0855                      Introduction – Paul VK5PAS

0855 – 0915                      History of ham radio – Trevor VK5ATQ

0915 – 0935                      Operating legally & the ‘model’ QSO – John VK5BJE

0935 – 0955                      DX Code of Conduct – David VK5LSB

0955 – 1015                      ham jargon – Nigel VK5NIG 

1015 – 1035                      QRZ.com – Stuart VK5STU

1035 – 1050                     Morning tea

1050 – 1110                     APRS – Larry VK5LY

1110 – 1130                     DX cluster – Brian VK5BC

 1130-1150                       Contesting & Chasing Awards – Andy VK5AKH

 1150-1210                       QSL cards – John VK5EMI

 1210 – 1300                    Lunch

 1300 – 1320                    Electronic logging programs – Stuart VK5STU

1320- 1340                       Antenna basics – John VK5BJE 

1340 – 1400                     Blogs/Wordpress/You Tube – Paul VK5PAS 

1400 – 1420                     Demystifying the learning of Morse Code – Doc VK5BUG

 1420 – 1440                    Afternoon tea

 1440 – 1500                    Summits on the Air (SOTA) – Ian VK5CZ

 1500 – 1520                    Operating QRP – David VK5KC

 1520- 1540                      VK5 Nat & Cons Parks Award & WWFF program – Larry VK5LY

 1540 – 1600                     General questions to the group

 1600 – 1605                     Closure – Paul VK5PAS

Morning and afternoon tea consisted of tea, coffee, biscuits, and various cakes.

Lunch consisted of sandwich platters provided by Subway at Blackwood, and pizzas from the Little Caesars pizza shop at Eden Hills.

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Thanks to the following people (not in any particular order):

  • all the guest speakers (particularly Larry VK5LY who travelled from The Riverland, and Ian VK5CZ who travelled from the Clare Valley)
  • David VK5KC (for helping to set up on the morning & organising the pizza)
  • Barry VK5BW (for helping set up on the morning)
  • Roy VK5NRG (for taking the $$$ at the door)
  • Kim VK5FJ (for helping set up)
  • John VK5BJE (for helping set up)
  • my wife Marija (for organsing the morning & afternoon tea)
  • and all the attendees

I plan to run another day in mid 2015, covering different topics including home brew, EMR, satellites, fox hunting, digital modes, Dxpeditions,etc.

Operating Practice

A few days ago I saw a few posts on the Summits on the Air (SOTA) Australian Yahoo group about “SOTA activators pile up process“.  I assume these comments were a spin off to last weekend’s SOTA Spring activation weekend.  Personally, I did note a few SOTA activators not listening for QRP and mobile portable, etc, and just working the big guns.  However the majority of activators are very good.

What was more noticeable over the weekend was that there was at times some poor operating practice by SOTA chasers and park hunters.  The good operators were fortunately by far in the main, but netherless the occasional poor operating practice by some was annoying.

Here are some of my thoughts.  I am not professing to be the world’s best operator.  Far from it.

A few stations have got into the habit of calling between overs.  In other words I am in contact with VK5AA and putting it back to them for their final over, and a cheeky station calls in between overs with their call sign.  Not wanting to wait for the QSO to finish and join the other paitently waiting chasers and hunters.  I have now decided to ignore those stations.  They are simply queue jumpers.  I was questioned by a senior ham over the weekend as to why I had not acknowledged him when he did exactly this.  So please, if you are reading this and are guilty of queue jumping, please cease this practice.  Please WAIT until the QSO is completely finished.

And there are still those out there, that come up on frequency, without asking if the frequency is in use, and take over a frequency.  This happened to me a few times over the weekend.  Clearly they couldn’t hear me.  I understand that.  But to come up on frequency without asking if the frequency is in use, is just rude.  And those operators were quickly told by the chasers and hunters that I was working.


As for activating, this is what I TRY to do:-

  • call for any SOTA/park activators first
  • THEN…..QRP stations
  • THEN…..portable or mobile stations
  • THEN…..DX
  • THEN…..stations who can hear me, but with difficulty
  • THEN…..anybody/everybody else (now the fun starts)

Now that doesn’t always work out in practice.  Because I often find that when I ask if a frequency is in use, there is already a large crowd waiting for me, and I invariably hear, ‘no the frequency is all yours Paul‘, and then it is ‘swing into action’ time.  However, I always break from the crowd, every 10 minutes or so and call for the S2S and park to park contacts, then QRP, then portable and mobile.  If you do, it is amazing who you get in the log.

When I activated Newland Head Conservation Park earlier in the year as part of the VK5 Parks anniversary weekend, I was operating right on the beachfront, with the Southern Ocean spray on my face.  When I returned home a day or two later, and was checking my emails, I read with interest that some of my mates in Europe had written that they could hear me on 40m ssb in Europe, but couldn’t get through the VK pile up.  What I learnt from this, is that you never know who is listening.  So call for DX, you might be surprised.  Certainly if you get onto 20m from a WWFF park, there won’t be any shortage of DX callers.

And when I mention above, ‘stations who can hear me, but with difficulty’, I am sure you have heard SOTA & park activators who drift in and out with the QSB.  It is incredibly frustrating as a chaser/hunter, when the signals of these stations come up out of the noise, but they are only listening for the big guns.  So if you are an activator, please try calling for these stations as well.  I am sure those chasers and hunters will be pleased if you do.

I also tell the callers to spread out their calls, rather than calling all at once, over the top of each other.  I jot down the calls I hear and acknowledge that I have received them, and then bring them in and work them in, in the order I hear them.  It seems to work well.

Suggestions for DX Pile-ups………… by Uncle DX

1. The DX station operators are in charge of any pile-up.

2. The DX station should make and adhere to their operating rules quietly and respectfully.

3. The DX station should use, when appropriate, call areas and areas of the world for better accuracy, rate and order.

4. The DX station should use split operation and spread stations out, keeping in mind others not in the pile-ups. A must.

5. The DX station should give their call sign at least every 10 minutes and maintain a pattern especially when ending a QSO.

6. The DX station should create a rhythm or timing which maintains a good rate and allows the pile-up to call at the right time.

7. The operators in the pile-up, if not sure of a QSO, should dupe and the DX operator continue not wasting time commenting.

8. The DX station should work those who will create the fastest rate, at least at first, then make an effort to work the weaker stations.

9. No one should lecture on the air.

10. Everyone should always require and give full calls.

11. Know and practice the gray line.

12. Know the equipment being operated such as the split button, audio levels, keying wave form, etc.

13. NEVER be a “KC Cop”….never.

14. Operators giving spots on a DX Cluster should insure their accuracy!

15. Keep away from personal, political, and religious comment any time on the air and/or the DX Cluster. Keep all comments in the true spirit of ham radio whereby ALL ARE EQUAL.

16. Don’t rush when giving your call when the DX station is standing by, especially on CW. Time will be lost trying to obtain ALL of the call sign.

17. Don’t call the DX station constantly. Get in the rhythm.

18. Let the last station complete his QSO.

19. Use only the power it takes and figure out what that is!

20. Figure out the DX operator’s operating practice for greater success.


Please refer to the DX Code of Conduct for some very good information…..


And finally, for a bit of a laugh…..




Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park

My second park for Friday 14th November, 2014 was the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park, which is located about 217 km south east of Adelaide and about 8 km north west of the town of Keith.

Screenshot 2014-11-20 19.00.33

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

The park consists of an area of about 17.66 hectares and was gazetted in 1971.  It is a narrow strip of scrub located between the busy Dukes Highway and the Adelaide-Melbourne rail line.

The park was named after James Kelvin Powrie (1926-1968), who was an agricultural scientist.  Powrie undertook research into what minerals were required to improve the soil quality of the infertile sands of the region.  This entire region was once classified by farmers as ‘unproductive scrub’.  Powrie was one of those who helped transform the district into valueable grazing and farming land.  Not doubting this individual’s achievements, but surprising that a piece of scrub was named in honour of someone who played a hand in clearing the land.  I have not been able to find a photograph on the internet of Powrie.

I’m sure that many people that travel along the busy Dukes Highway, don’t even know that this park is here.  There are no signs indicating its presence.  Not until you get into the park itself.  That might not be such a bad thing I guess.  There is a carpark at the south eastern end of the park, and this is where I set up.

Screenshot 2014-11-20 19.00.45

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I already had the radio turned on to 40m and I quickly checked the VSWR and found it was a little high.  In fact 1.7:1.  A bit too high for my liking.  Normally the antenna is 1.1:1 or thereabouts.  I lowered the squid pole and checked the links, and then the coax, and everything appeared to be in order.  In hindsight, I believe it might have been due to the fact that my car was parked very close by and affected the VSWR, which has happened before.

I tuned to 7.095 and I asked if the frequency was in use and I was immediately greeted by Larry VK5LY and John VK5BJE, advising me that the frequency was clear.  Both had very strong 5/9 signals.  John has activated this park before and he gave me some information about the lookout on top of the sand dune and advised it was well worth the short walk for the views.  John’s post of his activation can be found at…..


Greg VK5GY from Meadows in the Adelaide Hills, then called me, running QRP 5 watts from his home brew transceiver.  Other QRP callers followed, including Damien VK5FDEC running 5 watts, Norm VK5GI running 5 watts from his home brew transceiver, and Brenton VK3CBV also running 5 watts from a home brew transceiver.  I also worked a few mobiles.  Winston VK7WH called in with a nice 5/8 signal, and later Ian VK5SRV mobile at Fullarton in Adelaide with a 5/8 signal.

As I was operating in the park, the Overland train whizzed through on its way to Melbourne.  And the serenity of the park was often disturbed by the ever present traffic, including the trucks, on the Dukes Highway, to and from Adelaide and Melbourne.  Still, this is a great little park, and well worth the visit.

I operated on 40m ssb for about 40 minutes and had 27 contacts in the log.  I then went up to 14.310 on 20m ssb and put out a number of calls, but had no takers.  I did not hear a solitary signal when I tuned across the 20m band.  It was dead quiet.

After concluding operations I went for a walk to lookout as suggested by John.  It is only a short walk to get there but gives you a very good overview of the park and its surroundings.  As I walked to and from the lookout, I noted that the park was absolutely alive with bird life: honeyeaters, lorikeets, wrens, & magpies, to mention a few.

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The following stations were worked:-

  1. Larry VK5LY
  2. John VK5BJE
  3. Greg VK5GJ
  4. Peter VK3TKK
  5. Les VK5KLV
  6. Tom VK5EE
  7. Peter VK3YSP
  8. Nev VK5WG
  9. Bernard VK3AV
  10. Damien VK5FDEC
  11. Brian VK5FMID
  12. Peter VK5NAQ
  13. Arno VK5ZAR
  14. Andrew VK2UH
  15. Peter VK3RV
  16. Gordon VK5KAA
  17. Norm VK5GI
  18. Jenny VK3WQ
  19. John VK5DJ
  20. Tom VK5FTRG
  21. John VK5FTCT
  22. Stan VK3BNJ
  23. Darren VK5DT
  24. Winston VK7WH/m
  25. Benton VK3CBV
  26. Mark VK7MK
  27. Ian VK5SRV/m



National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1992, Small Parks of the Upper South East Management Plans.

Reuter; D, 2007, Trace Element disorders in South Australian Agriculture.

Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park

Last weekend was the 2014 Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) activation weekend, and the 2014 Summits on the Air Spring activation weekend.  So it was off to Victoria on Friday morning for me.  On the way I had planned to activate four South Australian Conservation Parks: Poonthie Ruwe, Kelvin Powrie, Desert Camp, and then Lower Glenelg.  However, I had a change of plans and activated Poonthie Ruwe, then Kelvin Powrie, then Mount Monster, and finally Desert Camp.

My first activation was the Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park (CP), which is located about 100 km south east of Adelaide, and about 5 km south east of Tailem Bend on the Murray River.  Poonthie Ruwe means ‘Hopping Mouse Country’ in the local aboriginal language.

Screenshot 2014-11-20 15.59.13 Screenshot 2014-11-20 15.59.58

I had activated the Poonthie Ruwe CP in June, 2013.  For more information on that activation, and the history of the park, please have a look at my previous post…..


The ground is nice and sandy so I drove the squid pole holder into the ground, and secured the squid pole to it, with the use of an octopus straps.  I strung out the legs of the dipole and secured the links for the 40 m band.  I was running about 25 minutes behind schedule, by the time I had turned the radio on.  This was mostly due to my GPS taking me to a spot where the park was not.  It was 7.55 a.m. South Australian local time.  There were some other VK’s operating on 7.092 so I couldn’t operate on my promised frequency of 7.095.  So I moved just slightly up to 7.096 and put out a CQ call and was called back by Charles VK5FBAC at Strathalbyn with a good strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by David VK5NQP, John VK5BJE, and Amanda VK3FQSO.

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The band appeared to be in quite good shape, and I continued to get a good steady flow of callers from VK3, VK5, & VK7, with good signals in and good signals being reported back.  I was pleased to get Mick VK3FAFK, in the log.  Mick only obtained his Foundation call the week before, and had a lovely signal coming in from Stawell.  I would go on to work Mick many times over the next 4 days whilst I was either in a park or on a summit.

My second to last contact at Poonthie Ruwe was with John VK2AWJ who was operating portable in the Barmah National Park, north east of Echuca.  John was my first VK3 National Park contact for the 4 day period I was away.

After working a total of 26 stations on 40m ssb, I QSYd to 14.310 and put out numerous CQ calls with no takers.  So I tuned across the 20m band and could only hear one other station, that being a VK4 in QSO with a VK2 who I couldn’t even hear.  The VK4’s signal was well down, and sadly his signal was the only one I could hear on the entire 20m band.  So I slipped back up to 14.310 with the intention to call CQ again.  To my surprise when I got there, the frequency was occupied by a USA station, KZ8O, calling CQ.  I called him back, but received no response.

So, as 20m band conditions did not seem to be good, and I was behdind schedule, I packed up the gear, and continued on my journey east, and towards my next park, the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park.  In about 45 minutes of operating, I had a total of 26 contacts in the log.

Poonthie Ruwe is a small park, full of rabbits and hardly visited by humans I would suspect.  The Department for Environment and Heritage Management Plan for the park reports that reputedly the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat had at one time established burrows in Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park, prior to the initial rabbit invasion

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Charles VK5FBAC
  2. David VK5NQP
  3. John VK5BJE
  4. Amanda VK3FQSO
  5. Winston VK7WH
  6. Peter VK5NAQ
  7. Les VK5KLV
  8. Greg VK5LG
  9. Peter VK3TKK
  10. Mick VK3FAFK
  11. Dennis VK5LDM
  12. Tim VK5AV
  13. Ton VK3VBI/m
  14. Tom VK5EE
  15. Allen VK5FD
  16. Ken VK3MKM
  17. Larry VK5LY
  18. Bob VK3XP
  19. Mark VK7MK
  20. Peter VK3RV
  21. John VK5MG
  22. Jenny VK3WQ
  23. Col VK5HCF
  24. Brian VK5FMID
  25. John VK2AWJ/m
  26. Nev VK5WG

Results from the KRMNPA and SOTA weekend.

What a great 4 days I’ve just had.  My wife Marija and my Boss at work gave me some ‘leave passes’ and it was off to Victoria for me, for the 2014 Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) activation weekend, and the 2014 Summits on the Air (SOTA) Spring Activation weekend.

So I packed the car with my gear and headed off early on Friday morning, and returned Monday evening, covering over 1,500 km during my travels.  On Friday I activated 4 SA Conservation Parks on the way to Victoria, and then on Saturday, Sunday and Monday I activated 6 Victorian National Parks, and 4 SOTA peaks.  I based myself at Portland.  I stayed at the Whalers Rest, which I can highly recommend.

Screenshot 2014-11-19 19.15.58

I managed a total of 473 contacts whilst in a park or on a summit, and a further 13 QSOs whilst I was mobile.  Most of those contacts were VK’s but I did manage about 30 DX contacts into Europe, UK, Pacific.  I had just 8 summit to summit contacts, missing quite a few opportunities whilst either climbing or in transit.  

Band conditions were excellent on Friday & Saturday, bu t then took a dive on Sunday & Monday, with lots of QSB.  And absoultely no local (VK3) propagation on Sunday morning when I was on the top of Mount Rouse.  But I did manage a contact into the Azores on 20m.  Go figure!

Many thanks to Peter VK3PF, who I managed to work for my 3 remaining Victorian National Parks: Errinundra, Lind, & Snowy River.  I’ve now managed to work all 45 Victorian National Parks and qualify for the Worked all 45 Victorian Parks  KRMNPA certificate and the KRMNPA Merit plaque.

I worked the following activators in Victorian National Parks (a few a couple of times, when I had moved parks, or on different days, etc)…..

  • John VK2AWJ/3, Barmah National Park
  • Peter VK3TKK/p, Organ Pipes National Park
  • John VK2AWJ/3, Lower Goulburn National Park
  • Tim VK3MTB/p, Tarra Bulga National Park
  • Terry VK3UP/p, Brisbane Ranges National Park
  • Johnno VK3FMPB/p, Grampians National Park
  • John VK2AWJ/3, Warby Ovens National Park
  • Mike VK3XL/p, Churchill National Park
  • Nick VK3ANL/p, Mornington Peninsula National Park
  • Hiro VK3EHG/p , Yarra Ranges National Park
  • Tim VK3MTB/p, Baw Baw National Park
  • Nick VK3ANL/p, Point Nepean National Park
  • Peter VK3ZPF/p, Yarra Ranges National Park
  • Peter VK3PF/p, Alfred National Park
  • Peter VK3PF/p, Coopracamba National Park
  • Julie VK3FOWL/p, Wilsons Promontory National Park
  • John VK2AWJ/3, Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park
  • Joe VK3YSP/p, Wilsons Promontory National Park
  • Peter VK3PF/p, Lind National Park
  • Peter VK3ZPF/p, Churchill National Park
  • Amanda VK3FQSO/p, Terrick Terrick National Park
  • Allen VK3HRA/p, Morwell National Park
  • John VK2AWJ/3, Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park

Thankyou to all of the activators.  I really appreciate your efforts, as I know the weather conditions were less than ideal, and band conditions were very challenging at times.

And I worked the following SOTA activators (a few a couple of times with the UTC rollover and when I had moved parks, etc)…..

  • Rob VK2QR/3, Mount Hotham VK3/ VE-006 
  • Andrew VK1NAM/p, VK2/ SM-036 and Kosciuszko National Park
  • Rob VK3EK/p, Mount Cann VK3/ VG-133
  • Peter VK3FALA/p, Mount Elizabeth VK3/ VG-074
  • Nick VK3ANL/p, Arthurs Seat VK3/ VC-031 
  • Ian VK3TCX/p, Mount Elizabeth VK3/ VG-074
  • Fred VK3DAC/p, Mount Toolebewong VK3/ VC-033
  • Ron VK3AFW/p, Arthurs Seat VK3/ VC-031
  • Andrew VK1NAM/2, Blackfellows Hill VK2/ SM-033
  • Phil VK3BHR/p, Mount Alexander VK3/ VN-016
  • Rob VK2QR/p, Mount Lock VK3/ VE-005 & Alpine National Park
  • Amanda VK3FQSO/p, West of England Fire Tower VK3/ VW-016 & Kara Kara National Park
  • Bernard VK2IB, VK2/
  • Peter VK3PF/p, Mount Ellery VK3/ VG-153 & Errinundra National Park
  • VK3FCAT, Mount Vinegar VK3/ VC-005
  • Rob VK3EK/p, Mount Cann VK3/ VG-133
  • Tony VK3CAT/p, Mount Strickland VK3/ VN-030
  • John VK2YW/p, Granite Mountain VK2/ SW-015
  • Rob VK2QR/p, The Twins VK3/ VE-017  
  • Andrew VK1NAM/2, VK2/ SM-053
  • Peter VK3PF/p, Mokeytop VK3/ VG-041 & Snowy River National Park
  • Allen VK3HRA/p, Mount Seldom Seen VK3/ VG-029 & Alpine National Park
  • Nigel VK5NIG/p, Mount Gawler VK5/ SE-013
  • Tony VK3CAT/p, Sugarloaf Peak VK3/ VN-011
  • Nick VK3ANL/p, Mt Dandenong VK3/ VC-025 & Dandenong Ranges National Park
  • Reuben VK7FREU/p, Mount WellingtonVK7/ SC-001
  • Rob VK2QR/3, Sam Hill VK3/ VG-049
  • Glen VK3YY/p, Mount Terrbile VK3/ VE-134
  • Kev VK3KAB/p, Mount Terrible VK3/ VE-134
  • Rob VK2QR/p, VK3/ VG-016
  • Rob VK2QR/p, VK3/ VE-023
  • Rick VK3EQ/p, Mccarthy Spur VK3/ VT-039
  • Rob VK2QR/3, Mount Murray VK3/ VE-025
  • Rick VK3EQ/p, Mount Beenak VK3/ VC-016

Thanks to all of the SOTA activators, who also braved the weather.

And I also worked Col VK5HCF in the Canunda National Park in the South East of South Australia.

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Here’s a quick breakdown on my activations…..

  • Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park
    • 26 QSOs
  • Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park
    • 27 QSOs
  • Mount Monster Conservation Park
    • 24 QSOs
  • Desert Camp Conservation Park
    • 20 QSOs
  • Lower Glenelg National Park
    • 50 QSOs
  • Cobbobonee National Park
    • 53 QSOs
  • Mount Clay summit, VK3/ VS-051
    • 34 QSOs
  • Mount Napier summit, VK3/ VS-046
    • 29 QSOs
  • Mount Eccles National Park
    • 49 QSOs
  • Mount Richmond National Park
    • 64 QSOs
  • Mount Rouse summit, VK3/ VS-048
    • 7 QSOs
  • Mount Dundas summit, VK3/ VS-045
    • 26 QSOs
  • Grampians National Park
    • 32 QSOs
  • Little Desert National Park
    • 32 QSOs

It was really pleasing to get my 44 + contacts from 5 of the 6 National Parks that I activated for the World Wide Flora Fauna program (WWFF).  I fell a few short from Little Desert NP.  I’ll have to revisit that park.

I will post some more details here in the next few weeks re each of the activations.

Many thanks to Tony VK3VTH and Andrew VK1NAM for their great efforts in the KRMNPA & SOTA activation weekend.  It was a terrific weekend, and I will certainly be back over the border again next year.

And finally thanks to everyone that called.  Without the Hunters and Chasers, these programs do not exist.

2014 Keith Roget Memorial National Parks activation weekend

This weekend is the annual activation weekend for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA).  As it turns out there is also a VK Spring Summits on the Air (SOTA) Party being held this weekend as well.



So this is a fantastic opportunity to work a stack of parks that qualify for KRMNPA and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, and SOTA summits.

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I will be heading off to Victoria tomorrow morning and here is my itinerary…..

Friday 14th November, 2014

4 x South Australian Conservation Parks.

  • Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park (2100 UTC Thursday, 7.30 a.m. SA local time Friday morning)
  • Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park (2330 UTC Thursday, 10.00 a.m. local time)
  • Desert Camp Conservation Park (0100 UTC)
  • Lower Glenelg River Conservation Park (0430 UTC)

Saturday 15th November 2014

2 x Victorian National Parks (qualify for both KRMNPA & WWFF) & 1 x VK3 SOTA peak

  • Lower Glenelg National Park, VKFF-296 (2200 UTC Sunday, 9.00 a.m. Victorian local time Saturday morning)
  • Cobbobonee National Park, VKFF-728 (0200 UTC)
  • Mount Clay, VK3/ VS-051(0700 UTC).  Concides with the proposed VK/Europe SOTA activation day

Sunday 16th November 2014

1 x VK3 SOTA peak, & 2 x Victorian National Parks (qualify for both KRMNPA & WWFF)

  • Mount Napier, VK3/ VS-046 (2300 hrs UTC Saturday, 10.00 a.m. Victorian local time)
  • Mount Eccles National Park, VKFF-345 (0200 UTC)
  • Mount Richmond National Park, VKFF-361 (0700 UTC)

Monday 17th November 2014

2 x VK3 SOTA peaks & 2 x Victorian National Parks (both qualify for KRMNPA & WWFF)

  • Mount Rouse, VK3/ VS-048 (2100 UTC Sunday, 8.00 a.m. Victorian local time Monday morning)
  • Mount Dundas, VK3/ VS-045 (0000 UTC)
  • Grampians National Park, VKFF-213 (0200 UTC)
  • Little Desert National Park, VKFF-291 (0400 UTC)

Hope to get you in the log.

A fascinating story of some courageous ‘Aussies’

At 2.55 a.m. on the 18th June, 1940, an amphibious Walrus aircraft, took to the sky from Mount Batten, near Plymouth in England.  There were four men aboard the plane: a crew of three and a special passenger, British Intelligence officer Captain Norman Hope.  The crew consisted of an Australian pilot, Flight Lieutenant John Napier Bell, an Australian navigator, Sergeant Charles William Harris, and a British wireless electrical mechanic, Corporal Bernard Nowell.

As they left Plymouth in the early hours of the morning, the crew were totally unaware of their mission and destination.  It was the role of Captain Hope to brief the crew following their take off.

What was their mission?

To fly to the French coast and rescue the family of General Charles De Gaulle.  Following the invasion of France by the Germans in May 1940, De Gaulle instructed his wife to take their three children and leave their home near Rheims, and travel to Brittany.   There, safe passage to England would be arranged.  It is reported that De Gaulle flew to London and met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and asked him to assist in the rescue of his family from Carantec on the coast of the English Channel, where they had sought refuge with an Aunt.


Image courtesy of wikipedia.

However, there are no known official records to confirm this meeting.  What is known is that at 9.00 p.m. on the 17th  June, 1940 a ‘green form’ (authority for a flight) was received at Mount Batten Station at Plymouth.  It originated from Admiral Dunbar-Nasmith the Commander in Chief Western Approaches.  It stated:

“One Walrus to proceed with Admiralty passenger from Plymouth sound to north coast Brittany at earliest 18/6. Passenger will give details of destination on arrival about 2359/17.  Aircraft to be fully armed and to keep defence watch at all time especially water borne. Return to base upon completion.” 

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Image courtesy of http://www.aircrewremembered.com

At about 4.30 a.m. on the 18th June, locals in the small village of Ploudaniel were awoken by the sound of a low flying aircraft.  It was the Walrus.  There is speculation that the plane may have been shot at.  But what is known is that the plane subsequently crashed at Kerbiquet adjacent to Ploudaniel, and all 4 on board were killed.  They were buried at the Ploudaniel churchyard, Ploudaniel, Brittany, France.

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Since 1940, each year the people from Ploudaniel honour the crew with a special service at the crash site and the local church grave site.

So who were the crew and specifically the Captain?

John Napier Bell was born on the 25th day of April, 1916 at Largs Bay South, South Australia, to parents John ‘Jack’ Henry Bell and Eva Annie Bell.  Coincidentally, this was the same day that the Australian Government declared that day to be called Anzac Day.  On leaving school, Bell helped his father to run Mansfield’s Store (later renamed as Bell’s Store) at Farina in the Far North of South Australia.  Bell became an Air Force Cadet in July 1935 and in July 1936 at age 20, he was appointed Pilot Officer.  In April 1937 he was promoted to Flying Officer.

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Image courtesy of www.awm.gov.au

Where in the world is Farina?

Farina is located about 617 km north of Adelaide and about 64 km north of the coal mining town of Leigh Creek.  It is a ghost town located on the edge of the desert.  Farina was first settled in 1878

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Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

More information on Farina can be found at…..



In mid June, 2015, myself, Larry VK5LY, and John VK5BJE, will be travelling to Farina.  The Farina Restoration Group has organised a special event at Farina.  It is the 75th anniversary of the secret mission to rescue the De Gaulles.  A flyover has been organised.  We will be operating some amateur radio stations from Farina, and we hope to use the special call sign of VK100ANZAC.  We have applied for use of this special call sign and are awaiting the decision of the WIA Board.

Alan Hall (VK3AJH) has written excellent book entitled ‘Three Men and the Walrus‘.  It is well worth a read.

For more information on this fascinating story, please have a look at the following websites…..



Larry and I plan on activating a number of National and Conservation Parks in the Far North of South Australia during this trip.  Many of those will have never been activated previously.  So please keep an eye on my WordPress site for further details.



Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 2014, viewed 7th November 2014, <http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2814005/BELL,%20JOHN%20NAPIER&gt;

Farina Resoration Group, 2014, viewed 7th November 2014, <http://www.farinarestoration.com/page4/page7/&gt;

Hall; A, 2014, viewed 8th November 2014, <http://www.walrus2014.com/john-bell.html&gt;