Another great year at Barrenjoey, with the traditional start at the coffee shop for a perk up. Starters Dom VK2JNA, Geoff VK2TGO, Mike VK2UCT, Clint (VK2SOON!!) and Geoff VK2AVR met at the traditional rally point (coffee shop). This year we augmented coffee with bacon and egg rolls, but our NPWS escort was waiting for us at Palm Beach so we tucked brekky into our backpacks and headed up the hill carrying our equipment.
The weather proved much more agreeable than last year and our antennas were quickly erected. This year we used an end fed half wave antenna (EFHW) that worked on 40m, 20m and 10m. It was supported vertically using a 12 metre squid pole. Additionally, we had a centre-fed dipole on 80m that was strung between the lighthouse and a distant tree branch. Our bacon and egg rolls provided a welcome boost after the steep climb to the headland.
Radio used was the same as last year, an FT-897D with added voice keyer. As is tradition we were on air for the 10am start of the event, with an immediate contact with Gerald VK2HBG operating from Warden Head Lighthouse. The morning proved fruitful on 40m with VK 2’s 3’s and 4’s. At lunchtime we switched to 20m and caught a VK6 lighthouse as well as our first ZL station (home station). Richard VK2NRA joined us for the afternoon shift, as did Roger VK2GHB.
Saturday was interrupted on a couple of occasions by Rapid Unplanned Disassembly (RUD) of our squid pole. Clearly a case of operator error, once the technique was adjusted the squid pole stayed standing until event close on Sunday afternoon. As the day slipped into night, overnighter Mo arrived (another VK2SOON) and we fired up the 80m dipole and worked a string of stations, at one point teaming up with Andy VK7TCE/P and Scott VK7LH/P (both lighthouse stations) on a single frequency taking turns to call CQ and passing any responders around the group. This was great fun and the cooperation is an example of why ILLW is such a great event. The ‘non-contest’ style of operation is an obvious contrast to the RD contest stations operating concurrently, with ILLW activators and chasers taking time for each contact and sharing details about their locations and setups. However, we happily gave the RD call-ins a valid number to bolster their scores.
Eventually, our eyes started to close and we called it a night just after midnight.
Sunday morning greeted the overnight stayers with a crisp, sunny day. We were up in time to catch sunrise, and after a leisurely antenna check we got back on air. We were joined by Jeff VK2MZZ and also Ian Wright from the World Lighthouse Society. Ian goes by ZL1MVL / GW0VML and gave our FT-897D a solid thrashing to bolster the log. Bob VK2RL came up to put a few calls out, and Nick VK2FS and daughter Zara also joined us.
The final contact was some DX (at last!) with Ian working WH6EEY from Hawaii.
Teardown crew was Dom VK2JNA, Nick VK2FS and Zara, and Geoff VK2AVR. Packing up was finished efficiently due to the nature of the antennas and we were soon elbowing our way politely (if such a thing is possible!) past the throng of walkers using the Smuggler’s track to access the lighthouse.
Contact numbers were down on last year, due in part to a geomagnetic storm but mostly due to a leisurely operating approach!!
Total Contacts: 81
G3 class Geomagnetic Storm (I guess having the troposphere AND ionosphere cooperating is too much to ask for!)