After activating the Discovery Bay Coastal Park, Marija and I headed for the Cape Nelson State Park, VKFF-0754. We travelled back into Portland and then headed south along the Norman Wade Scenic Drive, which follows the coastline.
Above:- Map showing the location of the park. Courtesy of Forest Explorer.
It wasn’t long before we had reached the park, and our first encounter with some of the local wildlife. The speed limit is marked as low as you enter the park, and for good reason. As we were travelling along, a koala crossed the road directly in front of us and then made a mad dash up a nearby tree. We stopped for a quick photo opportunity.
There are a number of points along Norman Wade Scenic Drive where you can stop and admire the views of the coastline.
We also came across this rather amazing sight (see below) of a paddock absolutey full to to the brim with cattle amongst the wind farm. I don’t think I’ve seen so many cows in the one paddock!
The imposing figure of the Cape Nelson lighthouse soon came into view as we travelled south. We headed for the lighthouse prior to the park activation.
The Cape Nelson lighthouse was constructed between 1882-1884. Its height is 32 metres and it is constructed of bluestone. There was a delay in the lighthouse being finally lit, and this was due to a delay in construction as a result of difficulty in obtaining suitable bluestone for the project. Bluestone had originally been quarried from nearby, but this soon ran out. Eventually, suitable stone was located at a site about 11 km away. However there was no direct road and the stone had to be carted via Portland, a distance of around 21 km. A total of 20 hands and 25 cutters were employed at the quarry, and 15 teams were employed to cart the dressed stone to the lighthouse.
For more information on this fascinating structure, please see…..
We then drove back along the Cape Nelson Road and onto Norman Wade Scenic Drive. We found a little dirt track running off from there, which took you to a parking area.
Above:- Our operating spot. Courtesy of Forest Explorer.
From here it was a very short walk through the scrub to a nice little picnic area, which had a wooden table and benches. A great shack!
Cape Nelson State Park is situated about 12 km south of Portland. The park is about 243 hectares (600 acres) in size, with the main vegetation within the park being Soap Mallee, Heath and Wet Heath. A number of native animals call the park home. We had already encountered a koala, but it wasn’t long before we had another visitor in the picnic area, an echidna.
This was a very pretty spot, but sadly it was not going to be an entirely successful activation. I started calling CQ on 7.144 and this was eventually answered by Peter VK3PF with an excellent 5/9 signal. This was followed by Brett VK2VW (5/6 sent and 5/3 received), followed by John VK5BJE (5/3 sent and 5/1 received), and then Gerard VK2IO 95/7 both ways). Band conditions on 40m were very poor, with lots of very deep QSB.
I persevered and kept calling CQ, and worked a further 10 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, until all the callers dried up. Despite numerous CQ calls I had no more takers, so I tuned across the band. Plus I was experiencing a bit of QRM from UX2IO in the Ukraine, who was calling CQ on 7.143. The only signals I heard coming in were on the Kandos Net, so I decided to book in there to say hi. The only problem with this net, is that it takes a long, long time for your turn to come around. And with band conditions as they were, I noted a dramatic change in signal strengths by the time I was called in.
I then headed back to 7.144 where I asked if the frequency was in use. This was answered by Peter VK2NEO with his normal thumping signal from New South Wales. But it wasn’t long before UX2IO had returned on 7.143 and was causing me some grief. Next up was Ian VK2DI, and then Geoff VK2ZGH portable at Bourke in northern New South Wales.
My next caller was Stef VK5HSX who was operating portable in the Whyalla Conservation Park, in the Iron Triangle region of South Australia. Although Stef was very weak (5/1), he was perfectly readable due to the very low noise floor in the park.
I worked just three more stations on 40m. They being Nev VK5WG, Andy VK5AKH, and Chris VK2SR. I then headed to 14.310 where I put out numerous CQ calls which went unanswered. Unfortunately, Marija and I had no mobile phone coverage with either Telstra or Optus, so were were unable to spot.
I tuned across the 20m band and the only signal I heard was a station in Malta, and even he was very weak. Far too weak to work. I returned back to 40m and called CQ a number of times on 7.105 but again no takers. So I tuned across the 40m band and heard my mate Brian ZL2ASH on 7.138, talking to F5VBY in France. I called a number of times but wasn’t able to make it.
So feeling rather frustrated, with just 24 contacts in the log, I headed back to 7.105 and called CQ again. The silence was deafening! My final tune across the band revealed F6CTT calling CQ on 7.143. Although he was not strong, I tried by luck. Alas, it was in vain.
So after about an hour and twenty minutes in the park, I had just 24 contacts in the log. Well short of the required 44 for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. This is a park which I will have to return back to.
The following stations were worked:-
- VK5HSX/p (Whyalla Conservation Park)
Thanks to Gerard VK2IO who spotted me on the VKFF & SOTA Facebook page. This was one of those parks, where spots were definitely greatly appreciated.
After the activation, Marija and I headed back into Portland and went to the Gordon Hotel for a meal. The Gordon Hotel holds the longest running liquor licence in Victoria.
Lighthouses of Australia Inc, 2015, <http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/Vic/Cape%20Nelson/Cape%20Nelson%20Lighthouse.htm>, viewed 4th December 2015