Wow, what a day!
As I had some mowing to do at home today, I thought it was going to be a bit tough, but I was going to try anyway.
These two parks are pretty close to each other and I figured if I could knock over the first quickly, then I could get the second one in as well.
Just in case, I made sure that I threw in my lantern, which as you will see, I did need.
As I generally do, I stopped off at the local golden arches to pick up a cup of coffee and a toasted sandwich to get me going for the day. Today I left around 11:30am.
Headed out to the M1, through Hexam and Hetherbrae to Wallaroo National Park.
Wallaroo National Park (VKFF-0611)
As you can see above, I pulled in to the rest stop, then Grabbed my gear (which I had packed properly for today so I could do it in one trip) and went for a walk.
As you can see above, I ended up right on the park boundary. This is not where I meant to end up. Indeed, I had to relocate one end of the antenna to ensure I was fully in the park.
It looks even closer in the above google earth picture.
Where I meant to go was that marked road/track a little further to the north. It’s also worth pointing out that while I parked in the rest stop car park, it’s possible to get on to Nine Mile Creek Rd a bit earlier than the rest stop and the road is not bad.
In the above and below google earth pictures you can see the park in increasing context.
Thank you Paul (VK5PAS) for the flag.
This was my setup for the day. Adding the Tokyo Hy-Power Mobile Linear Amp to that little table makes things a tight fit. You can’t see it here, but I also brought along my newly built AF LC CW filter that plugs in to the headphone socket of the rig, and the headphones plug into it. It’s nowhere near as sharp as a crystal filter, but does give me some relief from the high and low frequency noise, helping to lift some stations out of the noise.
All of the gear laid out so very carefully and neatly (not) and looking up the track from my setup.
The black box with a switch on it is the filter. It’s switched to “in-use” in this picture.
Started transmitting at 1:51pm (3:51 UTC) with Ian, VK1DI/2 just on the edge of skip. By 3:00pm (5:00 UTC) I had 39 contacts, all on 40m with 25 watts.
At 3pm I bumped it up to 100 watts and picked up 11 more (two on 20m), taking the contacts to 50 for the park.
Of note, I had a chat with Peter (VK3YE), who pretty much inspired me to start doing portable with a rig like the FT818. He was running 5 watts into a 5m top loaded vertical and was a very decent 5-8.
Modes CW: 6 SSB: 44 Parks VKFF-0248: 1 VKFF-2110: 1 VKFF-0055: 1 3 park contacts - 3 unique Bands 40M: 48 20M: 2 50 unique contacts (0 duplicates) 50 log entries
Some Park Information
I took a few photos of the park information at the rest stop.
Karuah National Park (VKFF-0596)
Heading off to the next park.
Heading ENE on the Pacific Highway past The Buckets Way turn off, I had to take a U-turn bay to come back to the rest stop on the other side of the road,
I thought that I may have to go down the track to the south through a gate (that had no lock), but the track certainly didn’t look passable for a two wheel drive.
Fortunately, as you can see above, the left side of the rest stop was within the park boundaries. I parked about where the black car closest to that turn off is (this will be important later), and set up on a covered picnic table to the east.
Putting the park in increasingly more context.
As I said, I set up on a picnic table under a covered shelter.
It’s always easier to do things with a solid table. Having the tablet or key on my thigh is a little wobbly.
Set up the star picket and pole just to the left of the shelter. I got the flag a little further up the pole this time.
Looking back to the shelter from my car.
When an antenna end-point doesn’t present itself, you are left to improvise. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to anchor the antenna to the roof rack.
The other side ran down to a tree just to the right of the toilet block. The toilet block was about a metre too close to tie off to. The dead looking branch just above the shelter was problematic as the dipole actually ended up over the top of one part and under another. I feared that taking it down in the dark would be a problem, but it wasn’t too bad.
And here we are in full dark actually calling CQ (look a the pretty red lights on the rig and the green one on the linear).
Now the activation itself. Started transmitting at 4:56pm (6:56 UTC). Again I managed to catch Ian VK1DI/2 in a different park from earlier. I then moved up to 7.160, setting up for 100 watts, and finally managed to catch Ken VK4AKH (dad) while in a park. We had a decent chat and then I started calling CQ. Things got totally mad.
I was controlling a major dog-pile.
By 5:32 (7:32 UTC) I had 37 contacts in the log. All SSB on 7.160. I was about to go down to 80m and John VK4TJ called me CW on 7.160, so I got three more from him in the log using CW, taking me to 40 contacts by 5:36 (7:36 UTC). 40 contacts in 40 minutes!
Things slowed down considerably.
I picked up eight more SSB contacts on 80m, three on 30m and four more on 40m before closing down at 6:30pm (8:30 UTC) with 55 in the log for this park, including a contact with Glynn VK6PAW, who gave me his grid locator, but it looks like I didn’t save the edit I did to put it in.
Modes CW: 3 SSB: 52 Parks VKFF-2698: 1 1 park contacts - 1 unique Bands 40M: 44 30M: 3 80M: 8 55 unique contacts (0 duplicates) 55 log entries
I decided that tired as I was that I’d stop off at the golden arches in Hexam for a bite to eat and a drink. As I was leaving there I got a call to pick up something for everyone at home (a 50 minute drive away) so I stopped in at the Woollies near home.
I had a lovely chat with Bob VK2ZWZ while driving down the M1 until the 146.975 repeater started getting scratchy around Palmers Road, so I pulled over to finish the chat before it completely dropped out.
An exhausting, yet exhilarating day.