Mount Arapiles, VK3/ VW-022 was my first activation for Wednesday 11th September, 2013. It was also to be my last SOTA activation on my 6 day trip. I had stayed overnight at the Victoria Hotel at Dimboola, so it was a 57 km drive out to Mt Arapiles, firstly along the Western Highway, and then across the Wimmera plain.
Mt Arapiles is 369 metres above sea level and is worth 1 SOTA point. The summit is known by the local aboriginals as Dyurrait. It is situated about 10 km west of the little town of Natimuk, and is located within the Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park, known by the aborigines as Dalkaiana warty Dyurrait. The Park consists of 7,475 hectares and was created in 1987. About 14 % of Victoria’s flora species are represented in the Mt Arapiles section of the Park. Mt Arapiles is one of Australia’s best rock climbing areas. In fact it is widely regarded as the top rock climbing area in Australia and is world renowned. Over 2,000 routes have been developed on the numerous cliffs, crags, and pinnacles. There are also numerous walking tracks throughout the park catering for all levels of fitness.
The area is known to be frequented by the endangered Peregrine Falcon. They return to the area each year during the spring nesting season. The birds are in low numbers and are under threat in Victoria. Numerous other bird species can be found including Crimson Rosellas, New Holand honeyeaters, Bronzewing Pigeons, Brown Treecreepers, and also the threatened Malleefowl. Mt Arapiles is also home to various other wildlife including Western Grey Kangaroos and echidnas.
I had viewed Mount Arapiles, dozens and dozens of times, as my father’s family comes from the Wimmera region, and my Nana spent her final years at nearby Natimuk, but I had never climbed the summit. As I drove south west from the Western Highway, you could clearly see the spectacular feature of Mt Arapiles rising sharply from the Wimmera Plains, west of Horsham.
I drove through historic little town of Natimuk, and admired all the historic buildings. Natimuk is a beautiful little town with a population of about 450 people. Natimuk has traditionally survived as a rural service centre for the surrounding grain and sheep farming community. In more recent times it has diversified into tourism and staved off the decline unfortunately common in some other Wimmera towns. There is a memorial cairn here for Major Thomas Mitchell, who discovered and climbed Mt Arapiles on the 22nd and 23rd July, 1836.
Fortunately there is a road all the way to the top of Mt Natimuk. From the carpark, it is a short 50 metre walk up some stairs to the lookout. Again, all of the native plants were out in spectacular flower. About 500 species of native plants occur in the park. Some of which such as the Rock Wattle and Skeleton Fork (a type of fern) are rare or endangered. The views from the top are also very good in all directions. Out to the east is Horsham; to the north east is Lake Wyn Wyn, Olivers Lake, and Lake Natimuk; to the north is Mitre Lake; out to the west is more of the State Park and a large number of small lakes; and to the south is Toolondo Reservoir.
I set up just to the north of the trig point and used a small shrub to secure the 7m squid pole, with the use of some octopus straps. Take care when setting up as there are some very low power lines running into the fire spotting tower. I secured the legs of the dipole to the branches of nearby trees.
After finishing setting up the gear, I had about 9 minutes to play with before the UTC rollover. So I quickly jumped onto 7.090 and put out a call and worked a total of 12 stations in VK2, VK3, & VK5 before the new UTC day. I then worked a further 21 stations in VK2, VK3, & VK5 after the UTC rollover.
There were a few of the regular QRP callers which was good to see. They included Col VK5HCF, Andrew VK2ONZ, and Andrew VK3ARR. I also managed a VK5 Parks contact with Johnny VK7ZJJ/5, who was portable at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges National Park.
After an hour on the summit is was time to pack up and head off to Little Desert National Park. I had planned to activate this park the day before, but unfortunately I had run out of time. But before I left I did go for a walk and look at Melville Cave. The Park contains significant Aboriginal cultural sites including rock shelters, rock art, and quarries. The traditional owners are the Wotjobaluk, Wergaia, Jadawadjali, Jaadwa and Jupagalk people. One can only image what significance this place must have had to the local Aboriginals. For thousands of years Mount Arapiles and its surrounding plains had provided the local aboriginal tribes with food, water, tools and shelter. By the 1800’s, they were surrounded by squatters who had selected runs on the surrounding fertile Wimmera plains to graze stock and grow grain.
The following stations were worked before the UTC rollover:-
Brian VK5FMID; Col VK5HCF; Bernard VK3AMB; Fred VK3JM; Peter VK3FPSR; Mitch VK3FMDV/qrp; Andrew VK3ARR/qrp; Brian VK3MCD; Ron VK3AFW; Ed VK2JI; Peter VK3PF/m; and Ivan VK5HS.
The following stations were worked after the UTC rollover:-
John VK5BJE; Fred VK3JM; Ron VK3AFW; Brian VK3MCD; Ed VK2JI; Tony VK3CAT/m; Peter VK3PF/m; Col VK5HCF/qrp; Andrew VK2ONZ/qrp; Bernard VK3AMB; Andrew VK3ARR; Mike VK5MCB/qrp; Brian VK5FMID; Peter VK3FPSR; Mitch VK3FMDV; Charles VK5FBAC; Larry VK5LY; Johnny VK7ZJJ/5; Ron VK5AKR; Colin VK3UBY; and Jerry VK5NMG.
I have posted a video on You Tube of the activation…..