Combined Marramarra NP and Canoelands SOTA Activation 26 Sep 2015

Canoelands VK2/SY-001 is a SOTA summit I’ve activated a couple of times, once in 2014 and earlier in 2015. It is my nearest summit though not exactly local. Turns out that while the summit is not actually in Marramarra National Park VKFF-0307, there are three regions within the activation zone that are. The map below shows the regions. The green line identifies the boundaries of the National Park (more-or-less). The non-bluish area containing the yellow VK2/SY-001 pin is the activation zone. The bluish areas are too low to be in the activation zone.

Canoelands activation zone showing Marramarra NP regions

Canoelands VK2/SY-001 SOTA activation zone showing three regions in Marramarra National Park VKFF-0307

Region 1 (-33.505524,151.056584) runs along Canoelands Rd and a thin strip of land is in the park and AZ. A powerline runs almost overhead and parallel with the road making it unwise to activate.

Region 2 (-33.497161,151.067346) lies northwest of the property containing the summit. Extra high tension lines run through the northwest side of the property adjacent to the park. There are no apparent clearings and a moderately steep gradient.

Region 3 (-33.510496,151.055315) has some tracks running through it and is reasonably flat. It is away from power lines. There is access via the Colo Spur Trail off Marra Avenue.

My goal was to activate the park and the summit. Of the 3 options, region 3 seemed the most attractive so this is the one I chose. Driving to the summit I made a right turn onto Marra Avenue rather than continue on to my usual spot a couple of hundred metres from the peak. An out of site car park was found at (-33.51044, 151.05754) by turning right down a track just before the gate to the property bordering the park. From there it is a short walk through the bush to reach the operating zone. I set up on the Colo Spur Trail within 100m of a house at a T-intersection of two trails. A short tree provided support for the squid pole and the antenna wire was run up and down the track roughly NW-SE. There was a slight drizzle and a forecast for showers.

Shack and antenna sited along the Colo Spur Trail

Shack and antenna sited along the Colo Spur Trail

It was 9:30am (2330z) when I made my first contact, pretty much on schedule. Before UTC rollover I made 7 CW contacts on 40m as well as 4 summit-to-summit contacts on various modes and bands. This included one with John VK6NU at Mt Dale VK6/SW-036 on 20m SSB who must have had an early start.

After rollover I worked John again and then a stream of summits. The third contact was with Andrew VK1NAM at Mt Gingera VK1/AC-002 chasing his Mountain Goat status. I’d counted Andrew’s contacts on 40m with me being the second and congratulated him in advance. Turned out that he had already achieved goat status during an unspotted activation on 2m in a contact with Andrew VK1DA. I was then able to congratulate Andrew as a real goat and then work Al VK1RX who was co-activating.

After the stream of S2S contacts, I returned to 40m CW to see if there were any remaining chasers. There were only two, and after a couple more S2S I did a run on 40m SSB notching up 17 contacts in 40 minutes. From then on I did a lot of chasing of S2Ss when not activating another band. I was staying all day on the summit so there was plenty of time to explore. I did 20m CW, 15m CW and 30m CW and worked John VK6NU on each band. 30m SSB was also worked. Attempts on 17m CW and 20m SSB met with no callers.

At around 0400z the QRM suddenly came up, a continuous electrical noise across all bands disrupting the relative calm that I’d enjoyed up ’til then. I put up with it for an hour before deciding that it would hamper chances of working summits in Europe. The noise seemed to be coming from the workshop about 50m away so I knew I had to move. I left the gear and took a walk along the trail to scope out potential new operating points. I also took the GPS with me to check the elevation on the map. I did not want to jump out of the activation zone. A location was found about 200m away and so I returned and closed down the station then moved it and set it up again. The whole process took nearly an hour and it was lucky that there were no new activations during that time.

Second location

New location to avoid local QRM

Second location to avoid local QRM

Setting up again was done in a hurry as a new spot had come up for Al VK1RX and Andrew VK1NAM. They had walked the 7km to Mt Ginger Ale VK1/AC-007 and were doing a quick activation before dropping back to their camp site further back. My antenna was lashed up in a hurry in order to make the S2S contact. Turned out that the antenna was oriented more east-west. The noise had reduced but was not completely eliminated – I was a lot further away from the workshop but closer to the EHT power lines.

Time had marched on. It was now after 4pm or 0600z so I decided to have another go on 40m SSB to take advantage of better band conditions than in the morning stint. I was rewarded with 16 more chaser contacts. and then a spot came up for Andrew VK1DA and Adan VK1FJAW on Baldy Range VK2/ST-008. Calling was disbanded in favour of chasing and they were soon logged. After that a spot for F/HB9BIN at F/VO-033 on 30m came up and I was able to work Juerg with my 10W. He thanked me on SOTAwatch indicating he was using 12W. Many thanks to Juerg! It was my only EU S2S.

Shack at the new location

Shack at the new location

I did a second stint on 20m CW for the DX stations. There were 8 contacts – all from EU except one from Japan. A spot from Peter VK3PF on Mt Useful VK3/VT-016 ended the run. I switched to 40m and found the band alive with RTTY signals all the way from the CW-only segment up to 7090 kHz. The CQ WW RTTY DX Contest was on and there was a lot of activity as 40m had opened to EU as well. I was just able to hear Peter on 7090 under the RTTY and he commented that he had “lost the Forester”. I wasn’t sure quite what that meant but there was too much QRM to enquire further. I went on to work Tony VK3CAT on the same summit. Later on I was shocked to learn that Peter’s car had burnt out in spectacular fashion.

It was 0720z so nearing close down time. I chased Phil OK/G4OBK on 30m but could not hear him very well at all. He was QRPp and there was too much local QRM. Also Sid ZS5AYC was on 20m SSB but nothing was heard there either. A quick pack-up and by 0740z I was walking back to the car, only 5 minutes away. There was still sufficient light to make an easy exit.

Detailed map of sites activated in region 3

Detailed map of sites activated in region 3

A great day out with a very successful activation of the Marramarra park and the Canoelands summit – and the first combined activation. The showers had stayed away and 99 contacts were logged over the 8 hours – 31 being CW. 39 summit-to-summit contacts and one park-to-park were made and the park was qualified for WWFF.
Many thanks to the chasers and other activators!


Date:25/Sep/2015 Summit:VK2/SY-001 (Canoelands) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 0 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
23:30z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB VK2/SM-070
23:36z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW VK3/VC-001
23:38z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-026
23:41z VK2YW 7MHz CW
23:43z VK3HRA 7MHz CW
23:45z VK2WG 7MHz CW
23:45z VK7CW 7MHz CW
23:51z VK2NP 7MHz CW
23:52z VK3MEG 7MHz CW
23:54z VK3WE 7MHz CW
23:57z VK6NU/P 14MHz SSB VK6/SW-036

Date:26/Sep/2015 Summit:VK2/SY-001 (Canoelands) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 0 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:05z VK6NU/P 14MHz SSB VK6/SW-036
00:06z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-093
00:11z VK1NAM/P 7MHz SSB VK1/AC-002 Andrew now a MG!
00:14z VK1RX/P 7MHz SSB VK1/AC-002
00:15z VK1DA/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-005
00:17z VK1FJAW/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-005
00:19z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-026
00:22z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB
00:28z VK2HV 7MHz CW
00:30z VK1EM 7MHz CW
00:33z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-067
00:40z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB VK2/SM-066
00:51z VK2LEE 7MHz SSB
01:01z VK2YK 7MHz SSB
01:02z VK2KTT 7MHz SSB
01:02z VK2NP 7MHz SSB
01:03z VK2JDL 7MHz SSB
01:04z VK3FJOS/P 7MHz SSB
01:05z VK1MA 7MHz SSB
01:06z VK3DAC 7MHz SSB
01:06z VK3YAR 7MHz SSB
01:07z VK3LED 7MHz SSB
01:10z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW VK3/VN-004
01:11z VK2XXM 7MHz SSB
01:14z VK4FFAB 7MHz SSB
01:15z VK3AV 7MHz SSB
01:18z VK7CW 7MHz SSB
01:19z VK2AJG 7MHz SSB
01:24z VK2FADV 7MHz SSB
01:27z VK1AT 7MHz SSB
01:32z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW VK3/VT-013
01:42z VK6NU/P 14MHz CW VK6/SW-036
01:55z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VC-001
02:23z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-134
02:36z VK3IL/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-006
02:53z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-138
02:53z 3D2YJ 21MHz SSB
03:09z VK6NU/P 21MHz CW VK6/SW-036
03:16z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW VK3/VT-022
03:28z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW VK3/VN-005
03:34z VK2HRX/P 7MHz SSB VK2/CT-032
03:43z VK3FMPB/P 7MHz SSB VKFF-982
03:48z VK5PAS/P 7MHz SSB
03:52z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-013
03:56z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-137
04:00z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB VK2/SM-071
04:00z VK1DA/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-004
04:01z VK1FJAW/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-004
04:07z VK4AAC/5 7MHz SSB VKFF-784
04:21z VK7CW 10MHz CW
04:24z VK6NU/P 10MHz CW VK6/SW-036
04:27z ZL2IFB 10MHz CW
04:31z VK1DA/2 7MHz CW VK2/ST-004
04:38z VK5WG 10MHz SSB
04:40z VK4RF 10MHz SSB
04:41z VK4HA 10MHz SSB
05:55z VK1RX/P 7MHz SSB VK1/AC-007
05:56z VK1NAM/P 7MHz SSB VK1/AC-007
06:08z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW VK3/VN-002
06:20z VK1EM 7MHz SSB
06:22z VK1DI 7MHz SSB
06:25z VK2KT 7MHz SSB
06:26z VK5FANA 7MHz SSB
06:27z VK4RF 7MHz SSB
06:27z VK4HA 7MHz SSB
06:28z VK3ZPF 7MHz SSB
06:29z VK3HRA 7MHz SSB
06:29z VK3AGD 7MHz SSB
06:30z VK3TKK 7MHz SSB
06:31z VK3XCO 7MHz SSB
06:33z VK3XL/QRP 7MHz SSB 2W DSB
06:34z VK3PMG 7MHz SSB
06:35z VK5FMID 7MHz SSB
06:36z VK2ETW 7MHz SSB
06:36z VK1ATP 7MHz SSB
06:37z VK1DA/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-008
06:38z VK1FJAW/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-008
06:49z F/HB9BIN/P 10MHz CW F/VO-033
06:55z EA2IF 14MHz CW
06:56z DK4RM 14MHz CW
06:58z PA1BR 14MHz CW
07:01z DL1ASF 14MHz CW
07:02z S58AL 14MHz CW
07:03z DM5EE 14MHz CW
07:05z JR0QWW 14MHz CW
07:13z G3NKQ 14MHz CW
07:18z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-016
07:19z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW VK3/VT-016

3 thoughts on “Combined Marramarra NP and Canoelands SOTA Activation 26 Sep 2015

  1. Hi Gerard,
    I enjoy reading your blogs and, in this case, congratulations on the detective work in finding the conjunction of Park boundary and the summit activation zone. There is just a chance I might be able to activate Canoelands at the end of the year during our annual trip to Sydney. I will make sure I swot up on the details before going to the Park. I wonder whether you have any knowledge of the how the word ‘Canoelands’ came to be applied to the summit area? I have looked at the area on a map and thought it was a ‘strange’ place name. I wonder whether it has a link to Aboriginal work in the area harvesting bark for canoes?
    Many thanks for your efforts.
    John D’


    • Hi John,
      It certainly makes it more interesting to be able to activate the park and the peak together. I hope you get a chance to do so at Canoelands. As for the place name, it was assigned on 1 Dec 1995 and so named because the local Dharug Aboriginal people obtained bark suitable for building canoes from around this area. I’ve always thought the name a little unusual too. For more info see: JP Powell, Placenames of the Greater Hawkesbury Region, Hawkesbury River Enterprises, Berowra, 1994, p 20.
      Gerard – VK2IO


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