Keith Roget Merit Award

This afternoon after work, I went to the Post Office and was pleasantly surprised to find a parcel waiting there for me to collect.  It was my Merit certificate and Merit plaque for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA).

IMGA0001

The Merit Award is issued for either Activating all 45 Victorian National Parks, or Working all 45 Victorian National Parks.  My awards were for Working all 45 parks, which sounds easy, but is a real challenge.

Many thanks to Tony VK3VTH, who is the KRMNPA Awards Manager.

Scan

 

Scan

Onkaparinga River National Park, VKFF-402

Yesterday afternoon (Monday 15th December 2014) I headed over to the Onkaparinga River National Park (NP), VKFF-402, which qualifies for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  I have activated the park a number of times previously, and it is a nice 40 minute drive from my home via Echunga, Meadows, and Kangarilla, through the southern Adelaide Hills.

Onkaparinga River NP is located about 35 km south of Adelaide, and is about 1,544 hectares in size.  It is a magnificent park in close proximity to Adelaide.  The park is disected by the Onkaparinga River, which is South Australia’s second longest river after the mighty Murray.  The river enters the park in a steep sided valley and flows into a spectacular gorge with cliffs up to 50 metres in height, with large permanent rock pools.

Screenshot 2014-12-16 17.50.27

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I set up on Chapel Hill Track which runs off the northern side of Chapel Hill Road.  I parked my vehicle at gate 21 and walked about 50 metres down the track.  This location is situated on the southern side of the park.  On the southern side of Chapel Hill Road was the beautiful valley containing the vineyards of McLaren Vale and McLaren Flat, and to the north was the park, leading down to the Onkaparinga River cutting its way through the gorge.

It was quite a warm day (about 28 deg C), so I found some nice shade under some large gum trees.  I kept an ever vigilent watch for some of the crawly inhabitants of the park, and fortunately did not encounter any.

I started off with the little Yaseu FT-817nd and just 5 watts.  I powered the radio with a 12 volt 4 ah sealed lead acid battery (SLAB).  My antenna was a 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre squid pole.

I had nominated 7.095 as my calling frequency, but the Kandos Net was still running on 7.093, so I held off for a little while until that finished, and I then called CQ on 7.095.  My CQ call was immediately responded to by Peter VK5NAQ in the Mid North of South Australia with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Les VK5KLV at Port Augusta who was also 5/9.  Park Hunter reliables John VK5BJE and Greg VK5GJ then called in.

After working 11 stations on 7.095, my SOTA Goat application on the i-phone bleated, so I tuned down to 7.090 where I worked Andrew VK1DA/2 who was portable on the top of Livingstone Hill VK2/ SM-093, for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  Andrew was a good solid 5/6 and he gave me a 5/7 signal report.  Livingstone Hill is 932 m above seal level (asl) and is located near the New South Wales and ACT border.

I then returned to 7.095 where I spoke with Amanda VK3FQSO and Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland.  But things slowed down from that point on, and despite a few more CQ calls, I had no takers.  The static crashes were also starting to pick up on 40m.  So I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole, so that I could operate on 20m.  I was to be disapointed on 20m, as there was no long path propagation into Europe and the United Kingdom.  I could hear John EA7BA on 14.156 but John was very weak.  I could not hear the G stations at all, that he was speaking to.  John was the only European signal I could hear.  The only other activity on 20m that I could hear were some weak Japanese signals.  The band was also covered in the Over the Horizon radar.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

So I returned back to 40m and due to the noise on the band, I started running 40 watts from the Yaesu FT-450.  I spoke with Andrew VK1NAM who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Taylor, VK1/ AC-037 (5/7 both ways).  I then went back to 7.095 and started calling CQ but the static crashes had become louder making it difficult to pick up a couple of weak stations that were calling me.  However, I did manage to speak with George VK4GSF near Toowoomba in Queensland, Matt VK1MA, and Lee VK2LEE.  I put a few more CQ calls out but had no takers, so I tuned across the band and found Simon VK1FAAS calling CQ from SOTA peak, Mount Ainslee VK1/ AC-040 (5/6 sent and 5/8 received).

I then started calling CQ on 7.090 and worked a further 14 stations from VK1, VK3, VK4, VK6, and VK7.  My first taker here was Peter VK6YV in Perth (5/9 sent and 5/7 received).  This was followed by Wayne VK4XG, south west of Brisbane (5/9 sent and 5/4 received).  I went on to work a further 2 stations in Western Australia.  They being Mark VK6BSA mobile, on his way home from work.  And Alek VK6APK in Perth, who is on the WIA Awards Committee with me.  From past experience and confirmation during this activation, this time of the evening is very good for propagation on 40m into Western Australia.  Adelaide to Perth is a distance of about 2,500 km.  A local QSO we call that here in Australia.  In other parts of the world, it is a DX contact, working across multiple countries.

Sadly, there was a display of poor operating practice again during this activation.  I won’t mention his call sign here, but I had a VK3 come up straight over the top of Alek VK6APK, without asking if the frequency was in use, and start calling one of his mates in VK3.  He did this a number of times until he was sternly told off by a number of stations listening on the side.  No apologies, he just quietly slipped away off the frequency.

Before packing up I decided to book into the 7.130 DX Net.  And I am very pleased I did.  I went on to work William FO5JV in French Polynesia in the Pacific, Joe CU2CE in the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal and north western Africa, Bill W1OW in Massachusetts in the USA, and four stations in New Zealand.  This included Noel ZL1DAI who was running just 5 watts from his Elecraft KX3 (4/6 sent and 5/6 received).

As the sun was setting, the kangaroos in the park had become very active.  Despite the noise from the radio, many of them came up quite close to my operating position.  The park was also alive with birds during my stay, including Yellow tailed Black Cockatoos, Blue Wrens, Eastern Rosellas, and Rainbow lorikeets.

So after a number of hours in the park, I had a total of 42 contacts in the log, to add to my other tally of contacts from previous activations from Onkaparinga River NP.  This is a great park to operate from.

For more information on the park, please have a look at…..

DEWNR website:

http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Fleurieu_Peninsula/Onkaparinga_River_National_Park_and_Recreation_Park

Friends of the Onkaparinga Park:

http://www.communitywebs.org/onkaparingaparks/

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Peter VK5NAQ (qrp)
  2. Les VK5KLV
  3. John VK5BJE
  4. Greg VK5GJ
  5. Tony VK5FTVR
  6. Nev VK5WG
  7. Peter VK3PF
  8. Brian VK5FMID
  9. Trevor VK5ATQ
  10. Larry VK5LY
  11. Nick VK3ANL
  12. Andrew VK1DA/p (SOTA)
  13. Amanda VK3FQSO
  14. Ivan VK5HS
  15. Andrew VK1NAM/p (SOTA)
  16. George VK4GSF
  17. Matt VK1MA
  18. Lee VK2LEE
  19. Simon VK1FAAS/p (SOTA)
  20. Peter VK6YV
  21. Wayne VK4XG
  22. Ian VK1DI
  23. Paul VK3KLE
  24. Graham VK7ZGK
  25. Ian VK3VIN
  26. Rob VK4FFAB
  27. Mark VK6BSA/m
  28. Jim VK5JW
  29. Alek VK6APK
  30. Ron VK3JP
  31. Peter VK5FLEX
  32. Kevin VK2VKB
  33. Daniel VK3FACC
  34. William FO5JV
  35. Joe CU2CE
  36. Brian ZL2ASH
  37. Lamont ZL2ALK
  38. Noel ZL1DAI (qrp)
  39. Bill W1OW
  40. Ray ZL4WRC
  41. Mike VK3GYH (qrp)
  42. Frank VK2HFS

The history of WWFF and some stats

Recently I was queried if it was possible to have the 4 missing Victorian National Parks placed on the list for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  Missing parks you say?  What am I referring to?

Well, first I need to fill you in on a bit of history on the WWFF program.  The following is direct from the WWFF global website…..

“The Flora and Fauna movement within ham radio was initiated in 2008 by the Russian Robinson Club (RRC) as World Flora and Fauna (WFF) program.  In 2012 the program relaunched as WWFF: WorldWide Flora and Fauna with a different organization using the strengths of the existing national programs that were already important pillars in WFF. WWFF uses the activity databases of the participating members (containing activities from as early as 1995) as collected in the WWFF logsearch and builds upon the rules and references of the previous program.  Note that WWFF has no ties to RW3GW who controlled the WFF organization” 

If you would like to read a full history on WFF and WWFF you can read more on the WWFF Australia website at…..

http://www.wwffaustralia.com/wff–wwff-history.html

4312296

Only parks established before 2008 are on the WWFF list throughout the world (they can be found in the WWFF Directory).

http://www.wwff.co/p/wwff-downloads.html

I became involved in WWFF in March 2013 and I established the Australian WWFF program (which is referred to as VKFF).  At that time I found that there were numerous Australian National Parks that were established and gazetted prior to 2008, which did not appear in the WWFF Directory.  I spent a number of months confirming details surrounding those parks, and I am pleased to say that in January, 2014, after extensive consultation with the WWFF Committee, I was successful in having over 100 Australian National Parks added to the WWFF Directory.

8048595

However, that left many Australian National Parks that were established and gazetted after 2008.

Section 5.2.1 of the WWFF global rules state that consideration of expanding the national list of references will be considered by the WWFF Council, only if the following conditions exist:

  • 50%, 75% , 90% activated rule

a)  When 50% of National WWFF areas have been activated, it is possible to assign up to a maximum of 50 new FF references.

b)  When 75% of National WWFF areas have been activated, it is possible to assign up to a maximum of 75 new FF references.

c)  When 90% of National WWFF areas have been activated, it is possible to assign up to a maximum of 90 new FF references.

In other words, for me to get permission to have additional National Parks added to the WWFF Directory (those parks created after 2008), we as Australian amateurs need to fulfil the activation rules mentioned above.  Not an easy task I know, considering the vast size of Australia and the number of amateurs we have down here.

But WWFF is not the only program which faces adversity for Australian hams.  The SOTA program also has its inequities.  We have to remember that these programs were created in European countries, primarily (or at least at the beginning), aimed at Europeans and based on European conditions.  But we as Aussies are all up for the challenge, aren’t we?

This is where it is extremely important that if you activate an Australian National Park, that you send me your activator log, as either an ADIF file, or by using the cvs file which you can find in the Files section of the WWFF Australia Yahoo group.

https://au.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/wwffaustralia/info

Why send me your log?  Because 1/ as you can see, I, as the Australian WWFF co-ordinator need to prove to the WWFF Committee that we are active to get new parks added; 2/ as an activator you can apply for awards on line and follow your progress; and 3/ park hunters are attributed with working you whilst you were in a National Park.

I have posted previously about the WWFF program, and discussed LogSearch.  Here is a link to that post with a lot of information…..

https://vk5pas.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/3912/

The WWFF LogSearch now has 4,625,333 QSOs in the database, from 6,891 different references, in 92 DXCC entities.

http://logsearch.wwff.co/index.php

Out of interest, I checked the WWFF LogSearch facility tonight and found that 134 different VKFF references have been activated around Australia as follows…..

New South Wales – 55

Queensland – 7

Northern Territory – 1

Western Australia – 4

Tasmania – 3

South Australia – 15

Victoria – 40

Australian Territories – 8

blank

graph courtesy of http://www.onlinecharttool.com

As you would expect, with the largest number of parks, New South Wales is out in front, as far as the number of different VKFF references worked.  This is followed by Victoria on 41, and then South Australia on 15.  Of note for Victoria, is that 41 of their existing 45 National Parks qualify for WWFF, and all 41 have been activated.  I think this is a good indication of the very strong following of the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks program in Victoria.  And South Australia needs to be mentioned as well.  South Australia only has 21 National Parks, and yet 15 of those have been activated.  And some of those are in very remote locations, thousands of km away from a major capital city.

Due to the high park activity in Victoria I am going to attempt to have the other 4 Victorian National Parks added to the list.  One of my arguments is going to be focussed on the size of Australia…..

201101310820494d46c5413d107

image courtesy of http://www.celsius1414.com

The most activated VKFF references were as follows…..

Willis Island

  • 17 activations
  • Total QSOs 95,171

Norfolk Island

  • 21 activations
  • Total QSOs 61,928

Christmas Island

  • 24 activations,
  • Total QSOs 41, 958

Willis, Norfolk and Christmas Islands are rare DXCC entities and IOTA’s as well as being VKFF reference areas, so it is not surprising that they lead the way.  However, it should be noted, that the DX pedition operators did submit their logs for upload to the WWFF LogSearch, and they are to be applauded for that.

The other popular parks around Australia are as follows…..

In the Australian Capital Territory:

Namadgi National Park

  • 42 activations
  • 1,145 QSOs

In Queensland:

Magnetic Island

  • 6 activations
  • Total QSO’s 2,657

Turtle Group

  • 2 activations
  • Total QSOs 1,158

Great Barrier Reef

  • 4 activations
  • Total QSOs 1,480.

Great Sandy National Park

  • 21 activations
  • Total QSOs 1,650.

In Victoria:

Alpine National Park

  • 29 activations
  • Total QSOs 1,054

Yarra Ranges National Park

  • 32 activations
  • Total QSOs 708

Grampians

  • 43 activations
  • Total QSOs 570

In South Australia:

Canunda National Park

  • 7 activations
  • Total QSOs 408

Coorong National Park

  • 4 activations
  • Total QSOs 403.

Onkaparinga River National Park

  • 3 activations
  • Total QSOs 256

And here is a list of the top activators in the VKFF program.  Tony VK3VTH is the top activator with 44 different VKFF references, closely followed by Peter VK3PF on 43, and then Peter VK3ZPF on 41.

Screenshot 2014-12-09 21.27.59

And a list of the top park hunters in the VKFF program.  Yours truly is at the top on 83 different VKFF references, but being closely followed by Peter VK3PF on 80, and then Ron VK3AFW on 68.

Screenshot 2014-12-09 21.28.04

And finally, here are the top activators in the VKFF program (with reference to the number of QSOs)…..

Screenshot 2014-12-09 21.34.36

Many park activators are sending me their logs.  Sadly, many are not.

So, PLEASE, if you have activated an Australian National Park, send me your log.  Even if you are not chasing the WWFF awards, your log will benefit other amateurs.

And despite my best efforts to promote WWFF around Australia, it seems that the only active States are New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia (the same three active States in SOTA).  So, if you are reading this from outside of those three States, why not give a park activation a go.  It is a lot of fun and very addictive, and yes, you escape from that terrible noise floor at home.  You can hear a pin drop.

NEW SOTA Challenge for 2015/2016

A few days ago the latest Summits on the Air (SOTA) Challenge was announced.  The previous challenge period 2013/2014 was the 12 m band.  In 2015/2016, the official SOTA challenge will be to make contacts on 6m and 10m.

SOTA_logo

See below for the rules which are similar for chasers and activators……

Chasers:
For every unique summit you chase on 10m or 6m you get a multiplier.
For every unique activator chased you get 1 chaser challenge point.
Your final score is chaser challenge points * multipliers.

Activators:
For every unique summit you activate on 10m or 6m you get a multiplier.
For every unique chaser worked you get 1 activator challenge point.
Your final score is activator challenge points * multipliers.

Duration: The challenge runs for 6months in total split into two separate 3 month periods. Each period coincides with the Sporadic E season in either the Northern or Southern Hemispheres. The first period runs from 15th May 2015 to 14th August 2015. The second period runs from 15th November 2015 to 14th February 2016. No matter where you live, you can operate in both periods but during 1 period your chances of make contacts are massively improved.

Certificates:  There will be certificates for the top chaser and activator.  There will be certificates for best chaser and activator on an association by association basis as well.  The final number of certificates awarded will be based on the activity levels.

Note:

1. The dates for the Southern SpE window are subject to adjustment.  It will be 3 months but the start and stop date may move to ensure we align with the peak SpE period.
2. We are aware that 6m may not be generally available in some countries. In that case you only need activate on 10m and your score will only be compared against other’s10m scores.

More information can be found on the SOTA reflector at…..

http://reflector.sota.org.uk/t/the-2015-2016-official-sota-challenge/9822

WWFF Activator certificate & DXFF Activator certificate

Thanks to Pit, YO3JW, I received the following World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program certificates yesterday via e-mail…..

WWFF Activator certificate

This certificate verifies that I have activated at least 11 x WWFF reference areas (and obtained the required 44 contacts in each).

WWFF DXFF Activator certificate

This certificate verifies that I have activated 3 x references in 3 x different DXCC countries: Australia, Germany, & Belgium (from my recent trip to Europe).  When I go overseas again, I will try to activate some more WWFF parks in some different countries.

A 11 VK5PAS 2014 055

DXFF A3 VK5PAS 2014 025

birdlife AUSTRALIA and BIRDS IN BACKYARDS

I love getting out to the parks as most know.  I enjoy the fresh air, and the bushwalking aspect, as well as the radio.  One of my other interests whilst in the parks is birdwatching.  Of the feathered kind!  In any event, most of the parks I visit, aren’t frequented by the other type of ‘bird’.  Other than my wife occasionally.

When I was a little fella, my father bred finches and parrots, and that is where my interest started.  My first ever bird book was called Australian Birds, written by Robin Hill, that was released in 1967.  Mum and Dad bought me this book when I was about 5 years old, and I still have it to this day.

BMImg_13289_13289_Hill_Abirds_web

Anyway, back on track.  I joined the birdlife AUSTRALIA supporter network, and I now receive an electronic newsletter from birdlife AUSTRALIA.  It is well worth subscribing to.

logo

The birdlife AUSTRALIA wesbite can be found at…..

http://birdlife.org.au/

There is some fantastic information there and it is well worth a look.

I also registered at BIRDS in BACKYARDS, and I receive an electronic newsletter from them also.  Their website can be found at…..

http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/

Screenshot 2014-12-07 22.47.04

There is some terrific information on their website also.

So there you go.  If you are interested in bird watching like me, you may want to have a look at birdlife AUSTRALIA and BIRDS in BACKYARDS.

 

 

 

Ridley Conservation Park

Following my activation at the Swan Reach Conservation Park, I headed towards Swan Reach township, and then travelled down to the Ridley Conservation Park (CP), which is located about 124 km north east of Adelaide, and about 13 km south of the town of Swan Reach on the River Murray.

Screenshot 2014-12-07 13.38.22

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

The Ridley CP is located on the western side of the Mannum-Swan Reach Road (Murraylands Road).  It is a long narrow park, 10 km x 0.4 km, and covers an area of about 414.3 hectares.  The southern boundary of the park is on the edge of the valley of the River Marne.  This is the location of Hayward’s Hill, which is the highest point in the park.  About 35 % of the park comprises an open scrub of Red Mallee and Yorrell.  There are also some stands of Murray Pine and associated areas of shrubland dominated by Hop Bush and Cassias.  The remaining 65 % of the park comprises low open woodland of Native Apricot and False Sandalwood.  The understorey consists of Spear-grass and ephemeral herbs.

The park was originally set aside to conserve native vegetation and bird habitats.  Also, the open areas of the park include a number of warrens of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat.  Other native animals found in the park include echidnas, and Western Grey kangaroos.

Southern_Hairy-nosed_Wombat

Southern Hairy-nosed wombat.   Image courtesy of wikipedia.

I last activated this park in May, 2013.  For more information on that activation, please have a look at my previous post at…..

http://vk5pas.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/ridley-conservation-park/

Screenshot 2014-12-07 13.38.13

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I set up just off the eastern side of Murraylands Road.  I had arrived at the park a little later than planned.  I was meant to be on air at 0700 UTC (5.30 p.m.), but it wasn’t until 0750 UTC that I was set up and ready to go.  It was still warm (I was in a t-shirt), but it was very dark and very windy.

As often happens, I asked if the frequency was in (I was on 7.095) and I was answered by the ever reliable John VK5BJE who advised the frequency was all mine.  This was followed by a call from John VK5FTCT in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, with a beautiful 5/9 signal.

Again, for this activation, I worked a handful of QRP operators.  The first of those was Nev VK5WG, at Crustal Brook running 5 watts from his X1M, and then Greg VK5GJ at Meadows, also running 5 watts.  And then Peter VK5NAQ at Balaklava in the Mid North, who was also running just 5 watts.

The strongest station worked was Paul VK7CC on the north coast of Tasmania, who had a great 5/9 plus signal (nearly 30/9).  Paul’s signal report for me was 10/9.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had been on 7.095 for 35 minutes, chatting to stations in VK2, VK3, and VK5, when a couple of VK2 fellas decided they would come up on 7.093.  So that was pretty much the end of that.  They were causing just too much splatter and I was forced to wrap up my activity on 7.095.  I think it was a planned ‘sked’ frequency and they were not going to move for anyone, despite me hearing a station I had worked, asking them to QSY.  I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the 40m/20m linked dipole, and had a listen on 20m.  I worked just 2 stations there.  They being JD1BOX on Ogaswara, and then Rich G0OWU at Wrens Nest in England.

It was starting to get a bit cool, and the wind was certainly not abating.  This combined with the fact that the sun was starting to set, meant that the wombats and kangaroos would now be getting active.  So I packed up the gear and headed home.  I had a total of 20 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. John VK5BJE
  2. John VK5FTCT
  3. Nev VK5WG
  4. Greg VK5GJ
  5. Terry VK3UP
  6. Brian VK5FMID
  7. Arno VK5ZAR
  8. Ian VK5CZ
  9. John VK2AWJ
  10. Jeff VK5HEL
  11. Greg VK2QE
  12. Tom VK5FTRG
  13. Bruce VK2FBJM
  14. Ron VK2NZL
  15. Rob VK2DRB/m
  16. Damien VK5FDEC
  17. Paul VK7CC
  18. Peter VK5NAQ

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. JD1BOX
  2. Rich G0OWU

 

References.

National Pakrs and Wildlife Service, 1984, ‘Conservation Parks of the Murraylands (Western Plains) Management Plans’