2019-04-06 Columbey National Park (VKFF-0581)

Before I start on this one, it appears I was giving the wrong park out over the air today.

This was due to me posting an alert in a hurry before I left and then having folks re-spot based on that alert as I didn’t have internet access.

The actual park I was in was VKFF-0581, not VKFF-1303.



As you can see in both of these I didn’t get the track all the way to the park near Clarence Town. I use a phone application for APRS. What you see is where Vodafone coverage stops.

You also see that I didn’t go straight home; rather I headed down to Mount Elliot between Gosford and Erina to check in with the folks operating tere for the SOTA Summit to Summit QSO party (more on that later).


The National Park that I went to is in the green area above just west of Clarence Town.

Google Earth Maps

Normally I take these from my iPad when I get on site before I transmit ensure I am within the park boundaries. As I had no internet connection, I couldn’t do this. These maps are taken from my MacBook based on the Latitude/Longditude calculated from the GPS in the tablet that I use for log keeping.


It’s close to where I was but not quite. I was actually parked on the side of the road directly west of the pin. I was pretty sure I’d be in the park as I was well down the road from teh entrance and I’d looked at the boundaries before leaving.


Viewed in slightly larger context.


VKFF-1301 is to the west of the pin. The eastern side of this area is still VKFF-0581, but the western is VKFF-1301, which is Columbey State Conservation Area.


There are a lot of parks to the direct north of Newcastle.

The Setup


Again I remembered to snap a photo of the park sign as I entered.


It’s always great to find a convenient mounting point for the squid pole as it makes for a quicker set-up than having to set-up and guy the star picket. As I was driving up the road I saw slight break in the trees to the left and this stump right in the middle of that break. How very convenient.


I ran the northern end of the linked dipole to the trunk of this tree.


Looking back to the squid pole from the northern end. The downside of this spot is that I couldn’t raise the pole all the way due to overhead branches. The centre of the antenna sat at about 8m up.


I found a convenient tile fragment to tie around my marine cord to get the southern end over this branch about 4 metres up. A sign at the entry to the park stated that one was not permitted to remove firewood from the park but it didn’t say anything about broken tiles. This perfectly sized weight is now in my pack.


Looking back to the squid pole from the southern end.


As it really was rather warm I decided to throw a towel over the front windshield and operate from the car.  This was taken before I actually started as the Yaesu mike is still plugged directly in to the FT-818ND. While operating I plug in my small adapter that lets me use an electret mike in a headset but still have access to the mike buttons.

You can also see my small linear amplifier in the background.

I started the day on 50W but quickly noticed that I hadn’t charged the 12AH gel cell properly, so swapped in the 7AH one and dropped back to 25.

Even then, it’s only about an S point more power than the 6W that I normally run, but it was nice to get a lot more 59 signal reports.


This was an unfortunate surprise.

No Service.

It meant that I could not spot myself so I was reliant on

  1. Having people spot me
  2. Having someone let me know what the park number was that I had posted earlier (which turned out to be wrong anyway).

At this point let me say thank you to all of you who spotted me on parks and peaks.

While I did try other frequencies and bands, it ended up that I made all of my contacts on 7.144MHz. I tried CW lower in the band, phone and CW on 30 & 20m but to no avail as I couldn’t spot that I was going there.

I had a few folks telling me how dead 40m seemed to be, but I still managed to have 50 contacts in this park.

It’s a good distance from home but a pleasant and convenient place to set up.

The Statistics

 CW: 3
SSB: 47

 VKFF-0056: 1
 VKFF-2053: 2
3 park contacts - 2 unique

 40M: 50

50 unique contacts (0 duplicates)

50 log entries

When I hit 50 contacts I decided to pack up and go and get something to eat where I had internet; then I could decide if I wanted to hit another park today.

I ended up at Raymond Terrace McDonalds, where while I was looking at Google Earth I discovered that I’d been giving out an incorrect park number.

At that point I decided to call it a day.

Mount Elliot

I knew that the SOTA Summit to Summit QSO party was on between 5pm and 7pm local and that from the CCARC Net on Thursday night I knew that some folks from the club were going to work from Mount Elliot; so I headed down there to say hi.


We had Rod VK2ARJ there. Rod tried to call me earlier in the day, but his 3-1 deteriorated to nothing while we were talking so I couldn’t get him in the log.


Gerard VK2IO was also there a couple of hundred metres away looking very comfortable. He’d activated Brisbane Water National Park from the same spot I was for the John Moyle Memorial Field day a few weeks back, and I did manage to get him in a park to park contact earlier in the day, which surprised both of us.

Both Rod and Gerard got some nice DX from that location and I was a bit envious that I hadn’t gotten there earlier to set up and get in on some of the action.

dsc_0193The day wouldn’t have been complete without a picture of Gerard’s SOTA flag on his mast.

2 thoughts on “2019-04-06 Columbey National Park (VKFF-0581)

  1. Hey Alan,
    Went past that park on Friday arvo to drop daughter off to Guide camp up the road, nice easy access to park.
    You did drive straight passed Seaham Swamp Nature Reserve (VKFF-1994) on your drive to or from the park.
    Wondering if you have put the WWFF flag I send you as you got a photo of the SOTA flag in your write up.



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