Marija and I had a relatively early start on Monday morning 9th November 2015. We had two planned park activations that day. The first activation was to be the Discovery Bay Coastal Park VKFF-0746, which is about 490 km south east of Adelaide and about 420 km north west of Melbourne. Our destination that day was Portland in Victoria, about a 200 km drive from Narracoorte. We were planning on staying in Portland for 2 nights.
Above:- Map showing the location of the park. Image courtesy of http://www.here.com
After breakfast we left Peter and Aine’s house at Narracoorte. Thanks to Peter and Aine for their hospitality. It was great to catch up. And no hangover, which was terrific. We headed south on the Riddoch Highway, passing a number of parks including Hacks Lagoon Conservation Park and Glen Roy Conservation Park. We made a short stop at the Father Woods Park about 21 km north of Penola. The park is the home to a series of seven sculptures depicting the life of Father Julian Tenison Woods and Saint Mary of the Cross Mackillop. There is also a large red gum tree here. It was under this tree that Father Woods often meditated and prepared sermons.
The sculptures are really quite amazing and are well worth stopping to have a look at. In 2010, chainsaw sculptor Kevin Gilders transformed pine tree trunks into a series of sculptures depicting Woods as a bush priest, good citizen, scientist and explorer, found and educator.
We continued on to Nangwarry where we took a short toilet break. Nangwarry is a little town in the South East which is in the heart of logging and forestry country. We both wished we had more time because there is a Foresty and Logging Museum here which includes a collection of old logging machinery, including the first ever log harvester in the south-east of South Australia. There is however an old timber jinker on display out the front. It was first used to haul large logs from forest areas in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the early days it was pulled by a large team of bullocks. A team of horses superseded the bullocks as they could move the logs much quicker.
After leaving we continued down the Riddoch Highway until we reached Mount Gambier, which is the second most populous city in South Australia. Marija had never been here before so we headed for the amazing Blue Lake, which is a large monomictic crater lake which often displays amazing colours. During December to March the lake turns to a vibrant cobalt blue colour, returning to a colder steel grey colour for April to November. After a bit of touristy duties, we headed to the home of Col VK5HCF and his wife for a cup of coffee. It was great to catch up with Col who is a very active ham down in the South East, and loves his park activating and hunting.
After leaving Col’s house we drove south east on the Glenelg River Road, through Caveton, and then Wye, before reaching the South Australian/Victorian border. There is an interpretive sign here which explains all about the survey of the South Australian/Victoria border. The border has a very interesting history. It was marked from the shores of the nearby Southern Ocean to the south bank of the River Murray between 1857 and 1850. Due to human error by numerous explorers and surveyors, it took more than 75 years and a protracted legal battle, before the precise placement of the border was settled. This resulted in the forfeiture of more than 1,300 km2 of land from South Australia to Victoria. In 1914, after a successfuly appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, a sum of 215,000 pounds was awarded to the State of South Australia. A tidy some of money, and the legal dispute was concluded.
After crossing over the Victorian/South Australian border we soon reached the little town of Nelson which is situated on the Glenelg River, just 2 kms from the River mouth. The town is only tiny, with a population of around 250 people. In January 1852, the town took its name from the ship, the Lady Nelson, which was used by Lieutenant James GRANT in explorations of the area during the early 19th century.
We then took Beach Road and headed towards Discovery Bay Coastal Park. This road is bitumen and takes you along the southern shore of Oxbow Lake and down to the mouth of the Glenelg River.
The park takes its name from the adjacent Discovery Bay which was named by Lieutenant GRANT in 1800 during a voyage along the unknown south western Victorian coast. The park is 10,615 hectares in size and protects 55 km of ocean beach in the South West of Victoria between Portland and Nelson adjoining the South Australian border. Inland, the park encompasses high coastal cliffs, large rolling sand dunes and a number of freshwater lakes and swamps. Some of the popular areas in the park are the seal colony viewing platform, Swan Lake, Tarragal Caves, and Lake Monibeong.
Above:- Map showing the park, stretching along the south western Victoria coastline. Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.
Since the arrival of Lieutenant GRANT, the coastal plants of Discovery Bay have altered significantly. Many of the dunes in the park no longer support any vegetation. Plants typical of coastal heathlands include Coast Wattle, Coast Beard-heath and Correa. Away from the dune areas, the plant and animal communities are quite complex. At Long Swamp there are several plant species of high conservation value, including heaths, dense paperbark thickets and both a pink and yellow flowering form of a variety of Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon var. macrocarpa) that occurs nowhere else in the State.
The park contains a large amount of native animals including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Red-necked wallabies, Brush-tailed possums, koalas, and echidnas. The park provides important habitat for the endangered Hooded Plover and numerous other wading migratory birds from overseas. Other birds in the park include Spoonbills, various ducks, Herons, pelicans, and swans.
There are a few interpretive signs to view here. One commemorates the fact that Major Mitchell landed here on 20th August 1836, having explored the Glenelg River by boat from Dartmoor. He was hoping to find a deep sea port, but was disapointed by the very shallow estuary, and returned to Dartmoor by river to continue his expediton through Victoria.
There is also some information on the Perseverance and the Triumph. The SS Perseverance (1890-1898) was wrecked on the sandbar at the mouth of the Glenelg River whilst attempting a voyage from Nelson to the River Murray in South Australia. The Triumph (1840-1863) was a Western Australian built schooner which disappeared whilst on a voyage from Port MacDonnell to Port Adelaide. The remains of the vessel were later found cast ashore at Discovery Bay. There were no survivors.
The Great South West Walk also passes through the park. The walk has been developed as a bushwalking trail suitable for most ages and abilities, and comprises short 2 hour loop walks, full day walks, or for the very keen, an entire 250 km loop which commences and concluded at the Maritime Discovery and Visitor Information Centre in Portland, Victoria.
We drove to the carpark towards the end of Beach Road and as it was a warm day I sheltered behind a sign near the commencement of the Livingstone Island Nature Walk. For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 20m/30m linked dipole, supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole. As it was a nice warn sunny day, out came the solar panels to charge up the battery.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot. Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.
I started calling CQ on 7.144 and was rather cautious after propagation on the band the day before whilst at Peebinga Conservation Park. Conditions then were very very difficult and I did not reach the 44 QSO threshold for WWFF. So I was sincerely hoping that the conditions had improved for this activation.
It wasn’t long before I had my first contact in the log. It was Brett VK3FLCS who was very low down (4/1) but quite readable. Brett gave me a 3/3. Oh no. Band conditions seemed poor again. This was not a good start. Next up was Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninusla with a fair signal (5/5 both ways). But at least Adrian was able to hear me, and with the completely noise free environment of the park, Adrian was an ‘armchair’ copy. My third caller nearly lifted the radio off the table. It was Peter VK2NEO neer Leeton in New South Wales with a very strong 5/9 signal. After a chat with Peter, Andy VK5AKH called in, running his remote station whilst at Barmera in the Riverland region of South Australia. Andy had a terrific 5/9 signal as well.
It was quite a windy morning, and whilst having a chat to Dennis VK2HHA, my seventh contact, the suid pole de-telescoped on me. This doesn’t happen all that often. I think I was pretty keen to get on air and had not secured the squid pole sufficiently. I made some running repairs and came back to Dennis, apologising profusely, assuring him I hadn’t stopped talking to him by choice.
I went on to work a further 7 stations in VK2, VK3, and VK5. But it was very slow going. The 40m band was still not in great shape, and a weekday ensured that there was not going to be any pileup. Rick VK4RF tried a number of times to get through to me on 40m but we just couldn’t quite make it. So I decided to try 20m and see if the conditions there were any better.
I headed to 14.310 and asked if the frequency was in use and this was immediately answered by Rick VK4RF. Although not his normal booming 5/9 signal, Rick still had a good 5/5 signal into Discovery Bay. He reciprocated with a 5/5-7 signal report for me. Next up was my mate Gerald Vk2HBG who was a good strong 5/8 from Newcastle, followed by Gerard VK2IO mobile with a good 5/7 copy. My fith and final taker on 20m was Robert VK2XXM (5/3 both ways). Despite a number of CQ calls there were no more takers. It appeared that this was another park where I was not going to get 44 contacts. Although I had qualified the park for the Australian (VKFF) program, as I now had 19 QSOs in the log.
I headed back to 7.144 and called CQ and this was answered by Col VK5HCF who was mobile at the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier. This was followed by Mick VK3PMG from Stawell whose signal was well down compared to normal. I worked a further 5 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, and VK5. But despite many CQ calls, there were no more takers. I had a total of 26 contacts in the log.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
Heritage Victoria, 2015, Shipwreck Trail on Victoria’s West Coast.
Parks Victoria, 2015,
Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, 2015, <http://www.marymackilloppenola.org.au/memorialpark/dsp-default.cfm?loadref=147>, viewed 26th November 2015.
Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson,_Victoria>, viewed 26th November 2015
Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Australia%E2%80%93Victoria_border_dispute>, viewed 26th November 2015.