Our one and only planned portable activation for Thursday 12th November 2015, was the Bay of Islands Coastal Park, VKFF-0743. I had planned to activate this park in the morning, but we changed the activation to the afternoon. Instead of sitting in the park, on Thursday morning we went to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, which is set on 10 acres in Warrnambool and relects the pioneering atmosphere of an 1870’s coastal port. It features a number of buildings from that era. We highly recommend a visit here if you are in Warrnambool.
For more information on Flagstaff Hill, please have a look at…..
After spending all morning and a bit of the afternoon at Flagstaff Hill (including an excellent lunch), we then headed off to have a look at Thunder Beach, and Logans Beach just outside of Warrnambool. Logans Beach is a recognised whale nursery, although it was the wrong time of the year to view any whales. We also visited ‘Granny’s Grave’ which marks the burial site of Agnes Ruttleton, who died in December 1848. She was known as Granny, and was recorded as the first white woman to be buried in Warrnambool. An interesting fact indeed. But not what makes this grave and headstone unusual. So, what does? The headstone is marked with the name of Mrs James Raddleston. In fact for many years, it was believed that this was the resting place of a Mrs Raddleston. Not so! Ruttleton’s husband was incorrectly named as a James Raddleston, and therein lies the mistake.
For more information on this very interesting story, please have a look at……
We then headed out of Warrnambool to Allansford Cheese World, situated on the Great Ocean Road. It is owned and operated by the Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory, and is the cellar outlet for their cheese range. This is a great set up, with various products on sale and cheese tastings. There is also an excellent cafe here and a small museum. This is another place that we highly recommend a visit to if you are in the area.
After leaving Cheese World, we continued along the Great Ocean Road, through the little areas of Mepunga West, Meppunga East, Nullawarre, Nirranda, and Nirranda South, towards the town of Peterborough, and our ultimate destination, the Bay of Islands Coastal Park.
The Bay of Islands Coastal Park protects a total of 950 hectares of fragile coastal vegetation, unique wildlife, and off-shore islands and rock stacks. The rock stacks provide a colony of Silver Gulls safe nesting sites from predators such as foxes and cats. Other stacks are home to Victoria’s only marine cormorant, the rare Black-faced Cormorant.
I had checked out some maps prior to leaving Warrnambool and I figured the easiest way of accessing the park was off the Great Ocean Road.
Above:- Map of Victoria showing the location of the park. Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.
Subsequent checks on maps, show that you can access the park, closer to Warrnambool, via Childers Cove Road.
Prior to activating we stopped briefly at the Bay of Islands viewing plattforms, to admire the view of this amazing coastline. There are some easy paths here leading from the carpark, to a number of timber viewing platforms.
The area was very busy with tourists, so we wanted to find a location that was out of the way. After driving up and down the Great Ocean Road, we found a little dirt track running south off the Great Ocean Road. At the end of this was a small carpark. And there were no tourists! It was ideal. We parked the 4WD and walked a short distance up onto a small cliff face which overlooked Massacre and Crofts Bay. It was an idealic location.
After setting up I headed for 7.144, but found it was busy. Rob VK4AAC/5 was activating a park in the South East of South Australia. Although he was unreadable to me, I could clearly hear all of the park hunters. So I QSY’d down to 7.139 and started calling CQ. This was answered by Ian VK5KKT, north of Adelaide, with a strong 5/9 signal. This was followed by the ever keen Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who had a good 5/7 signal coming in to the Bay of Islands. Next up was Adrian VK5FANA at Arthurton on the Yorke Peninsula who had a strong 5/8 signal.
Signals were very good, but it was extremely noisy on the 40m band with S9+ static crashes. Amazing really as I was bathed in bright sunshine in the park. But clearly, the weather was unstable somewhere.
I had a steady flow of callers, but soon started to experience some QRM from VK2JE on 7.138 who was working into ZL. I battled with the QRN and the QRM, and then decided it was just too bad. So I QSY’d down to 7.130. But no before working Stef VK5HSX who was operating portable from the Yeldulknie Conservation Park on the Eyre Peninsula, west of Adelaide.
After QSYing to 7.130, my first contact there was with Brett VK2VW, who has become a regular park hunter. This was followed by Warren ZL2AJ in New Zealand with a very strong 5/9 signal. I went on to work a further 12 stations in VK2, VK5, and VK7. This included Gerard VK2IO who was mobile (5/8 sent and 4/7 received), and Steve VK2DDV who was running QRP 3 watts.
Whilst operating I saw a 4WD pull up into the carpark, and a gentleman started walking towards me. It turned out to be Bill VK3LY from Nhill in western Victoria. Bill was travelling down the Great Ocean Road and looking for a spot to camp for the night, and he had stumbled across me. Amazing who you bump into, in the middle of nowhere!
Bill and I had a good chat for about 10 minutes, and I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links and tried my luck on 20m. I called CQ on 14.310 and this was immediately answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA with a strong 5/9 signal. This was followed by Luc ON4BB in Belgium, followed by Luciano I5FLN in Italy, and then Sergey RA3PCI in Russia. However signals on the long path into Europe were well down.
I worked a further 4 stations on 20m, in New Zealand and Spain, before heading back for some final calls on 40m. After returning to 7.144 on 40m, I managed just 3 more contacts into VK2, VK4, and VK7. It was starting to get late, and we had booked tickets to attend the ‘Shipwrecked’ sound and laser show at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village that night.
I had qualified the park, and had a total of 46 contacts in the log.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK5HSX/p (Yeldulknie CP)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
After packing up we headed back into Warrnambool and to the motel where we freshened up and then headed off to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village for their sound and laser show, which was truly amazing.
Parks Victoria, 2015, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/bay-of-islands-coastal-park>, viewed 4th December 2015