After leaving the Livingstone National Park, I headed back into Wagga Wagga and then travelled west out along the Sturt Highway towards Narrandera. As I was leaving the park I spoke with Ian VK1DI on 7.095 who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Coree VK1/ AC-023 and Brindabella National Park (5/3 both ways). And then as I was about to turn on to the Holbrook Road, I spoke with Peter VK3PF who was portable on Mount Flakney VK2/ RI-025 (5/9 both ways).
Once I had reached the Sturt Highway I tuned across the 40m band and found Andrew VK1MBE calling CQ on 7.105 from SOTA peak, Mount Gillamatong, VK2/ ST-034 (5/7 sent and 5/6 received).
After reaching Narrandera I headed north on Irrigation Way through Yanco and Leeton, and then headed out on the Griffith Road to Peter VK2NEO’s property. It was great to meet Peter for the first time. I had spoken with Peter many times on 40m and he always has an exceptionally good signal. I had a bite to eat at Peter’s and a cool drink. We discussed the possibility of me activating the Cocoparra National Park, VKFF-0104, to the north of Peter’s property. Out came Peter’s atlas and we did our sums to see if I could fit in an activation at Cocoparra.
After leaving Peter’s place I made a last minute decision to head north to activate the Cocoparra National Park. I headed to the little town of Whitton and then travelled north along the road towards Yenda. This appears on maps as Griffith Road and then becomes Stock Route Road.
Cocoparra National Park is 8,357 hectares (20,650 acres) in size and was established back in December 1969. The park is 457 km southwest of Sydney and about 25 km northeast of Griffith. The park contains a prominent range of hils, including Bingar Mountain at 455 metres and Mount Brogden at 390 metres, which is one of two SOTA summits located in the park.
The park adjoins the Binya State Forest and the Cocoparra Nature Reserve. Make sure you are in the National Park and not in the State Forest or the Nature Reserve. Cocoparra consists of wattles, orchids, ironbark, and blue-tinged cypress pines. Over 140 species of birds can be found in the park, which has been classified by Bird Life International as an Important Bird Area due its relatively large population (up to 50 individuals) of the near threatened Painted Honeyeater, and also the Diamond Firetail finch. Over 450 plants have been recorded in the park.
Above:- Diamond Firetail finch, and Painted honeyeater. Images courtesy of wikipedia.
The park is part of the traditional lands of the Wiraduri aboriginal people. The word Cocoparra is allied to the aboriginal word ‘cocupara’ describing the kookaburra. Nearly 60 aboriginal sites have been found in the park. The first Europeans to visit the Cocoparra Range were John Oxley and members of his 1817 expedition exploring the Lachlan Country.
Unfortunately I did not get time to explore this park, but I will be back, as it appears to contains some great scenery and a number of walking trails to various waterfalls located in the park.
I accessed the park via Whitton Stock Route Road and then followed the dirt track to the Spring Hill Picnic area. The road is easily passable in a conventional vehicle. There was a nice picnic area here with plenty of room to stretch out the linked dipole and lots of shade, which was definitely required as it was a very hot afternoon.
I was set up and ready to go by 0415 UTC (3.15 p.m. NSW local time). I still had a 300 km drive to get to Balaranald, so this was going to be a quick activation. Prior to calling CQ I had a tune across the 40m band to see what the conditions were like and how active the band was. I found Brendon VK5FSCC operating portable from the Deep Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-0780, with a nice 5/6 signal.
I then headed up the band to 7.085 and started calling CQ. This was immediately answered by Peter VK2NEO with a booming 5/9 plus signal. Peter and I had a bit of a chuckle with each other about me being in the park. Six QSOs into the activation I was called by Heath VK3TWO who was activating SOTA peak Mount Buninyong, VK3/ VC-018 (5/7 both ways). I was then called by Sergio VK3SFG who was operating portable from the Pykes Creek Reservoir Park, about 72 km north west of Melbourne. Another portable station then called in. This time it was Rob VK2MT who was operating portable from Hill End Historic Site in New South Wales. And the portable trend continued, with the next calls being from John VK3TUL and then John VK3JO, who were both with VK3SFG at the Pykes Creek Reservoir Park.
Next up was Hans VK5YX who was operating from the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Club shack with the special call of VK100ANZAC.
A steady flow of callers followed from all across Australia. I worked a further two SOTA activators before going QRT. They being Allen VK3HRA/2 who was portable on Mount Flakney VK2/ RI-025, and Monique VK6FMON/3 who was with Heath, operating from Mount Buninyong.
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to give 20m a go, as I still had along drive to Balranald, and the kangaroos are unforgiving when you hit them. This was a spur of the moment activation, but I was more than happy with the 50 QSOs, as this meant it was another unique and successful activation for the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program.
And on the way back to Balranald I worked a number European stations from the mobile, as part of the CQ World Wide Contest.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK5FSSC/p (Deep Creek Conservation Park)
- VK3TWO/p (SOTA VK3/ VC-018)
- VK3HRA/2 (SOTA VK2/ RI-025)
- VK6FMON (SOTA VK3/ VG-018)
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, March 1996, ‘Cocoparra National Park and Cocoparra Nature Reserve Plan of Management’.
Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoparra_National_Park>, viewed 5th November 2015