Great Otway National Park VKFF-0405

We had spent a quiet night in the motel room on Saturday night, and had a relatively early night.  We had enjoyed some fish and chips from the local take way.  So on Sunday morning, 15th November, 2015, both Marija and I awoke quite refreshed.  After breakfast we headed out to our one and only planned activation, the Great Otway National Park, VKFF-0405, as part of day 3 of the 2015 Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) Activation Weekend.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 21.49.44

Great Otway National Park is about 103, 185 hectares in size and protects extensive forest and much of the coastline between Torquay in the east and Princetown in the west, in south-west Victoria.  It was gazetted in 2005 and includes the former Otway National Park, and Melba Gully State Park, the majority of Angahook-Lorne State Park and Carlisle State Park, a number of former State Forest areas, many smaller reserves and other areas of public land.  The park encompasses a significant portion of the Otway Ranges and foothills, with its coastal boundary generally being the low water mark.  The park contains a huge diversity of life, with ecosystems ranging from ocean beaches to cool temperate rainforest.

We travelled west out of Apollo Bay, along the Great Ocean Road.  We proposed to activate the park off Lighthouse Road, on the way to the Cape Otway lighthouse.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 21.47.54

It wasn’t far out of Apollo Bay and we already had the park off to our left.  We passed the road to Shelly Beach, but after discussion in the car, we decided to stick to plan A, and we continued on towards Cape Otway.


This section of the Great Ocean Road is very scenic.  You soon reach a point when the park is on both your left and right.  Magnificent tall trees shelter the understorey below, allowing ferns to flourish.

We turned down Lighthouse Road, and travelled south down towards the lighthouse.  Someone had decided to put their artistic skills to work on one of the signs as you can see below.

We found a little dirt track off to the right of the road, breaking through the thick scrub.  So we drove down the track which broke immediately to the left and came to a small parking area and the commencement of a walking trail.  It was a nice secluded spot, away from the tourists, and an ideal place to call the shack for the morning.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 21.49.13

I was set up and ready to go by around 2200 UTC (9.00 a.m. Victorian local time).  Prior to calling CQ I thought I would have a tune across the 40m band to find any other park activators.  And it wasn’t long before I found my first activator.  It was Norm VK3XCI who was calling CQ on 7.100 from the Hattah Kulkyne National Park, VKFF-0231.  Norm had a very strong 5/9 signal and reciprocated with a 5/9 for me.  A nice start to the activation.

I then headed off to 7.144 and started calling CQ and it wasn’t long before I had a small pile up going.  First taker was Stef VK5HSX who was operating from the Lincoln National Park on the Eyre Peninsula (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).  This was followed by regular park hunter Brett VK2VW with a strong 5/8 signal, Ron VK3MRH who was 5/9, and then Mick VK3PMG, who was also 5/9 from Stawell.  The 40m band seemed to be in very good shape.

I worked a total of 24 stations on 7.144, until one of the WIA broadcasts started up on 7.146, so I decided to move.  Contacts were across Australia in VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7, and included Les VK5KLV and Peter VK5KPR, both in the Winninowie Conservation Park north of Adelaide, and Peter VK3TKK who was operating portable from his backyard with just 2.5 watts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).

I then moved down the band to 7.130 and called CQ and this was answered by Joe VK3YSP, who was operating portable from the French Island National Park VKFF-0622 (5/9 both ways).  But the quiet frequency didn’t last long, as another one of the WIA broadcasts kicked off on the same frequency.  So I made the move again, down to 7.120.

I called CQ on 7.120 and this was answered by Tony VK3VTH who was portable in the Croajingolong National Park, VKFF-0119.  Tony had a very nice 5/9 signal coming in from the East Gippsland region of Victoria.  Shortly after, Mick VK3PMG also called.  Mick was operating from Roses Gap in the Grampians National Park VKFF-0213  in western Victoria.  Signals were much better today than the day prior from the Victorian National Park activators.

When things became a little quiet again, I took the opportunity ot having a listen across the band, and I soon found Tim VK5AV on 7.155, operating from the Lower Glenelg National Park, VKFF-0296 (5/9 both ways).  This was my fourth Victorian National Park for the morning.

I then returned back to 7.120 and called CQ which was answered by some of the regulars, Jim VK1AT, Tony VK3CAT, and Rob VK4AAC/5.  Lesley VK5LOL/3 then gave me a call from the Wyperfeld National Park, VKFF-0549.  Lesley and her husband Hans had made the journey over from South Australia to participate in the 2015 KRMNPA Activation Weekend.

I worked a handful of other stations on 40m and I then QSYd to 21.265.  With a little bit of prompting from Rob VK4FFAB, I  had brought along my 1/2 wave 15m dipole.  So I lowered the squid pole and disconnected the 20m/40m linked dipole and placed the 15m dipole up in its place.  I called CQ a number of times, but unfortunately my only taker on 15m was Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.  It was a shame really, because 15m, seemed to be in very good shape.  Rick was a very strong 5/9 plus.  I was also suffering some QRM from Japan, as there appeared to be some form of Contest going on.  I lowered the squid pole again and replaced the 20m/40m linked dipole and called CQ on 14.310.  But sadly, absolutely no takers.

So I headed back to 40m.  Prior to propping on a frequency and calling CQ, I again tuned across the band.  I found the special ANZAC call of VI3ANZAC calling CQ on 7.095 (5/9 both ways).  I then called CQ on 7.090 and this was answered by Tom VK5NFT in Millicent, followed by Greg VK5GJ who was operating portable in the Carribie Conservation Park on the Yorke Peninsula.  Next up was John VK2AWJ/3 operating portable from the Yarra Ranges National Park, VKFF-0556.  John’s signal was a little down from the other Victorian activators and we exchanged 5/4 signal reports.

About half a dozen calls later I was called by Andrew VK1DA operating portable from SOTA peak Mount Ginini VK1/ AC-009 within the Namadgi National Park, VKFF-0377.  This was followed by Johnno VK3FMPB who was in the Kinglake National Park, VKFF-0264.  And then Tom VK5EE and Col VK5HCF/3 who were in the Mount Richmond National Park, VKFF-0361.

It was getting around that time that we needed to pack up.  But I had one last listen and I worked Andrew VK1AD portable on SOTA peak Mount Stromlo VK1/ AC-043, and Andrew VK1MBE/2 and James VK1DR/2 on SOTA peak Mount Tumanang VK2/ SM-049.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3XCI/p (Hattah Kulyne National Park, VKFF-0231)
  2. VK5HSX/p (Lincoln National Park)
  3. VK2VW
  4. VK3MRH
  5. VK3PMG
  6. VK7KPC
  7. VK2NP
  8. VK3DAC
  9. VK2LCD
  10. VK5HCF
  11. VK5HEL
  12. VK2BA
  13. VK5FMID
  14. VK7LTD
  15. VK3MLU
  16. VK5EE
  17. VK5HS
  18. VK5KLV/p (Winninowie Conservation Park)
  19. VK2HHA
  20. VK5KPR/p (Winninowie Conservation Park)
  21. VK3TKK
  22. VK3ARR
  23. VK5FAKV
  24. VK5KC
  25. VK5ZGY
  26. VK3YSP/p (French Island National Park VKFF-0622)
  27. VK3VTH/p (Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119)
  28. VK3FQSO
  29. VK3YAR
  30. VK3PMG/p (Grampians National Park VKFF-0213)
  31. VK3OHM
  32. VK3AFW
  33. VK5FANA
  34. VK3VCE/p
  35. VK5JK
  36. VK5PL
  37. VK2YK
  38. VK5AV/3 (Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296)
  39. VK1AT
  40. VK3CAT
  41. VK4AAC/5
  42. VK5LOL/3 (Wyperfeld National Park VKFF-0549)
  43. VK5BJE
  44. VK5NRG
  45. VK5ZBD
  46. VI3ANZAC
  47. VK5NFT
  48. VK5GJ/p (Carribie Conservation Park)
  49. VK2AWJ/3 (Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-0556)
  50. VK3NBL
  51. VK5VGC
  52. VK3FLCS
  53. VK7NWQ
  54. VK5FTVR
  55. VK3CCG
  56. VK1DA/p (SOTA Mt Ginini VK1/ AC-008 and Namadgi National Park)
  57. VK3FMPB/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264)
  58. VK5EE/3 (Mount Richmond National Park VKFF-0361)
  59. VK2SR
  60. VK5HCF/3 (Mount Richmond National Park VKFF-0361)
  61. VK3LED
  62. VK5WG
  63. VK1AD/p (SOTA Mount Stromlo VK1/ AC-043)
  64. VK1MBE/2 (SOTA VK2/ SM-049)
  65. VK1DR/2 (SOTA VK2/ SM-049)
  66. VK5NJ

The following stations were worked on 15m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA

After activating the park, we continued south on Lighthouse Road and down to the Cape Otway lighthouse.  Completed in 1848, the Cape Otway lighthouse was built in response to numerous shipwrecks and increased shipping in Bass Strait.  Stone to complete the lighthouse was quarried at Parker River and supplies were landed at Blanket Bay.  In 1859, a telegraph station was build, which played an important role in communicating shipping movements.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is an excellent dinosaur and fossil exhibit at the lighthouse.  It shows a selection of the finds discovered on a cliff face at Dinosaur Cove which overlooks the South Ocean.

As you walk across the lighthouse grounds, you will find an information sign relating to the disappearance of Frederick Valentich.  As a kid I watched the ‘In Search Of’ program which was hosted by Leonard Nimoy.  One of the shows during the series, featured this unique story.  Valentich was a 20 year old pilot who was flying a Cessna 182L light aircraft over Bass Strait on 21 October 1978.  He radioed Melbourne Air Traffic Control during the flight, informing them that he was being accompanied by another unknown aircraft.  Contact was subsequently lost.  An intensive sea and air search was undertaken but this failed to locate the aircraft.


We then climbed to the top of the lighthouse and enjoyed some amazing views of the surrounding coastline.

We were fortunate that when we reached the top, one of the guides was in the middle of a talk about the history of the lighthouse.

After a good look around Cape Otway, we then commenced our drive back along Lighthouse Road.  We soon encountered a group of people standing in the middle of the road.  It was soon evident that they were taking photographs of a koala who was on a branch, hanging precariously over the road.  However he seemed to be oblivious of everyone’s presence and was enjoying his lunch of eucalyptus leaves.


We then headed to the Cape Otway Fly, which I will talk about in my next post.



Parks Victoria, 2015, <;, viewed 9th December 2015

Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 9th December 2015

Crowsnest Lookout, VK3/ VS-049

After leaving Port Campbell National Park, Marija and I headed south east along the Great Ocean Road.  Our first stop was Loch Ard Gorge.  There are three easy walks here and we undertook two of these.  The walks give you the opportunity of discovering the areas natural features and also its very interesting history.  There are a number of interpretive signs to be viewed, including a number relating to the wreck of the Loch Ard.

The centrepiece of the Loch Ard Gorge precinct is Loch Ard Gorge itself.  This is the site of the shipwreck of the clipper ship, Loch Ard, which ran aground on 1 June 1878.  It had 54 passengers aboard, only two of which survived the disaster.  They being 15 year old Tom Pearce, and 17 year old Eva Carmichael, whom he rescued.  They both sheltered at nearby Thunder Cave on the night of shipwreck.

We had read a lot about the wreck of the Loch Ard whilst at Warnambool, and had viewed a large amount of memorabillia relating to the Loch Ard.  We had also attended the ‘Shipwrecked’ Sounds and Laser Show at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village.  I purchased an excellent book at Flagstaff Hill entitled ‘The Loch Ard Disaster’, written by Jack Loney.  It is an excellent read.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 20.47.42

The Razorback is one of the interesting rock formations at Loch Ard Gorge, and consists of a limestone stack that stands in a cove that is constantly subjected to the forces of wind and water erosion of the mighty Southern Ocean.  Wave energy channelled along the side of the stack carves the deep smooth grooves just above sea level.  With one wave every 14 seconds, there is a lot of erosion over a year, a century, or a thousand years.

There are also two limestone stacks called ‘Tom and Eva’, which are remnants of what was once the Island Arch.  They are named after the two survivors of the Loch Ard disaster.  The Arch collapsed in 2009 and occurred at dawn with just a handful of tourists nearby who heard the rumbling and the crash.

Another interesting formation is the so called Salt and Pepper shakers.


We then took the walk to Thunder Cave.  And this is very appropriately named.  As you walk along the path towards Thunder Cave, you can hear the distinct sound of what appears to be thunder.  Clearly it isn’t thunder, but in fact the powerful force of the waves crashing into the limestone.

We then walked to the nearby cemetery, where we viewed a memorial to the Loch Ard disaster victims, and also some of the original headstones, including that of the family of the Carmichaels who perished during the sinking of the ship.

We then stopped off at the Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre and took the underpass, underneath the Great Ocean Road, to the boardwalk for the Twelve Apostles.  Now this was a busy place.  It was absolutely packed with tourists from Asia, Europe, and North America.  At times it was very slow going along the boardwalk.  I wonder how many photographs are taken here each year.  I suspect it would be millions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the Twelve Apostles, we continued on towards Apollo Bay, where we had booked in to stay for two nights.  The Great Ocean Road soon leaves the coastline and heads inland, passing some fantastic rainforest areas including the Otway Forest Park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We continued on to Apollo Bay and booked in to our motel, the Beachcomber.  As was the case with all our accomodation up until this point, we were very impressed with the room, and the owners were very friendly.


After unpacking, we then headed for our intended activation for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) prorgam, at Crowsnest Lookout, VK3/ VS-049, which is located just a short drive from Apollo Bay.  Crowsnest Lookout is 345 metres above sea level and is worth 1 SOTA point.  This was to be a brand new summit for me.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 20.00.01

Above:- Map showing the location of Crowsnest Lookout.  Map courtesy of google maps.

To access the summit, we took Cawood Street which runs off the Great Ocean Road in Apollo Bay.  We headed west and then continued along Tuxion Road, passing the turn off to Claewen Retreat.  A little further up you will come to a T junction.  To your left you will see a small communications tower.  The summit is to your right.  Although many maps show that Tuxion Road continues on, it actually doesn’t.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 19.59.38

The drive up to the summit from Apollo Bay is very scenic.  You pass through some beautiful wooded areas and are rewarded with some amazing views of Apollo Bay.

We parked the 4WD and walked a short distance and started setting up the station.  We used a post and wire fence to secure the 7 metre squid pole, with the assistance of an octopus strap, and then tied off the ends to the fence.  I rested the Yaesu FT-857d up on the top of one of the fence posts, and alternated between kneeling and standing for this activation.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 19.59.18

Above:- Image showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps.

I started calling CQ on 7.090 and my first taker was Nev VK5WG who was an excellent 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Adam VK2YK, Gerard VK2IO, and then Compton VK2HRZ.  I had qualified the summit.  My seventh caller was Warren ZL2AJ from Dannevirke on the North Island of New Zealand, who had a very strong 5/9 signal (5/6 received).

About half a dozen QSOs later I was called by Rex VK3OF who was portable in the Murray Sunset National Park, VKFF-0373 (5/9 both ways).  And this was followed by a call from Norm VK3XCI who was operating portable from Hattah Kulyne National Park, VKFF-0231 (5/9 both ways).

Whilst operating Marija was approached by a couple out for a walk.  They turned out to be from the Netherlands and were staying at the nearby Claewen Retreat.

I went on to work a total of 21 stations on 40m and then QSYd to 20m where I commenced calling CQ on 14.310.  My first taker there was Fran OK7WA in the Czech Republic, followed by Luciano I5FLN, and then Max IK1GPG, both in Italy.  Sadly it started to drizzle with rain, and I was toying with the idea of going QRT.  Fortunately Marija ran over with some cover for me which I hid under with the transceiver.

I continued to work into Europe, but sadly we had to make a very hasty retreat off the summit as it started raining quite heavily.  I am sorry to those that were still calling.

This was a real shame as band conditions on 20m seemed to be pretty good.  I had a total of 34 QSOs in the log from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia, Germany, Thailand, and Spain.

The following stations were worked:-

Screenshot 2015-12-08 19.54.37




Explore Great Ocean Road, 2015, <;, viewed 8th December 2015

Port Campbell National Park VKFF-0420

Day eight of our Great Ocean Road trip was Saturday 14th November 2015.  This was the day two of the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA)  Activation Weekend.  We had planned on activating the Port Campbell National Park, VKFF-0420.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 18.42.22 (1)

Above:- Map showing the location of the Port Campbell National Park.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.

Port Campbell National Park was first reserved in 1964, and now covers an area of 1,830 hectares of coastal land between Princetown and Peterborough in south western Victoria.  The park provides habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

The park takes its name after Captain Alexander Campbell, who was known as the ‘last of the buccaneers’.  He was in charge of the whaling station at Port Fairy, and he traded between Victoria and Tasmania, using Port Campbell Bay as shelter during the 1840’s.  The English colony of Australia grew rapidly during the 1800’s and Bass Strait became a major shipping route.  Pastoralists also moved into the area.  However, it was not until the 1870’s that the town of Port Campbell was established.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 18.41.57Above:- Map showing the Port Campbell National Park.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.

As Marija and I did not see any favourable operating spots on the eastern side of Port Campbell, we decided to head to the west along the Great Ocean Road.  We soon found Two Mile Bay Road, a dirt track leading down to Two Mile Bay.  At the end of the road is a small carpark, and this was away from the throng of tourists and made an ideal operating position.


We parked the 4WD and set up my fold up table and deck chair and the operating gear just adjacent to the carpark.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 18.58.20

Above:- Map showing our operating position within the park.  Image courtesy of

After setting up, Marija went for a walk down along a track from the carpark to admire the coast.  I took the same walk at the end of the activation.  You are rewarded with some very nice views of the coastline.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was set up and ready to go by 9.30 a.m. Victorian local time  I tuned across the 40m band prior to putting out any CQ calls, but I was saddened to hear the band very quiet.  I was worried again that propagation was not going to be favourable.  After a few CQ calls on 7.144, Ivan VK5HS mobile came up and gave me a call and was number one in the log.   Ivan had a good strong 5/8 signal, which gave me some hope that propagation may be quite good.  Next up was Brett VK2VW (5/9 sent and 5/5 received), followed by Keith VK2PKT (5/9 both ways), and then Stef VK5HSX who was operating portable in the Lincoln National Park.

Soon after I worked John VK5BJE from the Adelaide Hills.  I was hoping to get John in the log as he desperately wanted Port Campbell to complete having worked all 45 Victorian National Parks for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA).  Congratulations John.

A few calls later I had my first Victorian National Park in the log.  It was Tony VK3VTH who was operating from the Coopracamba National Park, VKFF-0113.  Tony had a strong 5/8 signal and gave me a 5/9.  I was Tony’s first contact for the day.  About half a dozen calls later I was called by Ian VK1DI, and was able to give him a brand new park as well.  The band was performing quite well, with a couple of Western Australian stations calling in: Mike VK6MB and Rich VK6HRC.

I worked a total of 21 stations until things started to quieten down.  So I took the opportunity of tuning across the band.  I booked in briefly to the Riverland Radio Group Net on 7.115 and it was during this time that I heard of the terrible news of the terrorist attacks in Paris.  As I sat on my deck chair, in the sunshine, admiring the view, I thought to myself how lucky I was.  Marija and I had holidayed last year in Europe for 2 months and had spent a week in Paris.

I left the Riverland Net and found Lesley VK5LOL/3 on 7.100, calling CQ from Wyperfeld National Park, VKFF-0549.  Although Lesley was quite low down, I was very confident that she would be able to hear me.  It took a few calls, as Lesley was quite busy, but we eventually made it (5/3 sent and 5/5 received).

I then headed back up to 7.144 and started calling CQ again.  This was answered by Adrian VK5AJR in the Riverland region of South Australia, followed by Nev VK5WG in the Mid North, and then Tony VK5FTVR in Strathalbyn on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  Three stations in very different areas across South Australia, and all with good signals.  I worked a further 6 stations before it slowed down again, so I again tuned across the 40m band and heard Terry VK3WI (VK3UP) calling CQ on 7.110 from the Brisbane Ranges National Park, VKFF-0055.  Again the signal from VK3 was well down, but again I was confident that Terry would be able to hear me.  We made contact after a few calls (5/3 sent and 4/1 received).

I then made contact with husband and wife team, Joe VK3YSP and Julie VK3FOWL, who were operating portable from French Island National Park, VKFF-0622.  Again signals around VK3 were well down, but because all of the park activators were experiencing no man made noise, contacts were completed with relative ease.

Following my contact with Joe and Julie I again went back to 7.144 and worked 7 stations in VK2, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  But it again went quiet quickly again.  This afforded me another opportunity of looking across the band for park activators.  It wasn’t long before I found Mick VK3MPG calling CQ from the Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291.  This time, Mick’s signal was even lower (4/1 at best).  But we successfully made a contact even though I only received a 3/2 signal report.

I repeated the morning’s pattern and headed back to 7.144 and called CQ, and I was pleasantly surprised to be called by Cliff VK2NP who was operating with the special call of VI90IARU.  Next up was Peter VK2NEO with his normal massive signal.  I visited Peter last month during my trip to Wagga Wagga and operated from his shack and enjoyed a bite to eat and a chat.

But it soon slowed down again, with just a further 3 stations worked on 40m.  So I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the antenna and headed to 14.310.  I worked a total of 4 stations here in Queensland and Western Australia.  Even though it was only 4 contacts, it is always pleasing to get the VK4’s and VK6’s in the log on 20m, as it can often be quite a challenge on 40m depending on the conditions and the time of the day.

The morning was getting on, and we had a few planned tourist stops before our SOTA activation later in the day.  I packed up feeling quite contented with a total of 53 contacts in the log.  And even more pleased that I was able to give a few park hunters a new park.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS/m
  2. VK2VW
  3. VK2PKT
  4. VK5HSX/p (Lincoln National Park)
  5. VK5TW
  6. VK5BJE
  7. VK5KC
  8. VK2NP
  9. VK3VTH/p (Coopracamba National Park VKFF-0113)
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK2YK
  12. VK4RF
  13. VK4HA
  14. VK1DI
  15. VK3MRH
  16. BK2IO
  17. VK6MB
  18. VK5AKH
  19. VK6HRC
  20. VK7SA
  21. VK4GSF
  22. VK5BRL
  23. VK5MRE
  24. VK5LOL/3 (Wyperfeld National Park VKFF-0549)
  25. VK5AJR
  26. VK5WG
  27. VK5FTVR
  28. VK2HHA
  29. VK2EJW
  30. VK7LTD
  31. VK3SQ
  32. VK2RI
  33. VK2TG/m
  34. VK3WI/p (Brisbane Ranges National Park, VKFF-0055).
  35. VK3YSP/p (French Island National Park VKFF-0622)
  36. VK3FOWL/p (French Island National Park VKFF-0622)
  37. VK5JDS
  38. VK7FGGT/m
  39. VK5IS
  40. VK2MCB
  41. VK7VW
  42. VK4ARW
  43. VK2FABE
  44. VK3PMG/p (Little Desert National Park, VKFF-0291)
  45. VI90IARU
  46. VK2NEO
  47. VK7PAK
  48. VK5CZ
  49. VK1AT

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6GLX
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK4LS



Parks Victoria, June 2014, Port Campbell National Park & Bay of Islands Costal Park

Twelve Apostles Marine National Park VKFF-0420

We had spent two very enjoyable nights in Warrnambool, and it was now time to head a little further east, to Port Campbell, where we had planned to stay for one night.  It was now day seven of our trip, and it was Friday the 13th November 2015.  Fortunately neither I, nor Marija are superstitious.  Our one and only activation planned for the day was the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park, VKFF-0955, which is situated just to the south east of Port Campbell.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 17.00.27

Above:- Map showing the location of the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.

We departed Warrnambool and headed out east along the Princes Highway towards Allansford.  We were to take the same route as we did the day prior when we activated the Bay of Islands Coastal Park near Peterborough.  The previous day, on the way to the Bay of Islands we had seen a sign for Hopkins Fall and that night we had read that they were worth detouring for a look.  So that’s exactly what we did.

Hopkins Falls are located just to the north east of Warrnambool.  Take Staffords Road off Princes Highway, and then travel east along St Marys Road.  As we drove along the country roads in this area, we noted that it was very flat and we certainly didn’t picture any waterfalls to be in the area.  But we were pleasantly surprised to find Hopkins Falls.  And there was even some water flowing over the falls which are about 90 metres wide and about 11 metres in height.  A number of species of fish are found in the Hopkins River, including River Blackfish and eels.

We then headed back to the Highway and then took another detour to the south, and headed down the Childers Cove Road to Childers Cove, Sandy Cove, and Murnanes Bay.  There are a number of ships which have come unstuck along this coast, and one of those is the Children, which was a 255 ton wooden barque, built in Liverpool England in 1824.  During her 1839 voyage, the Children was caught in hurricane force north westerly winds.  Upon the winds surviving, the Captain, went below to sleep and left the Second Mate in charge, as the First Mate had become unwell.  The Captain himself, had not slept for four days.  Sadly, there was a misjudgement of distance from the mainland, and during the night, the Children struck a single rock, known as Needle Rock, that stood in the eastern part of Childers Cove.  The Children soon broke apart and those on board were washed away.  A number of the crew and passengers drowned, however a number did survive.  By daylight of the next day, the survivors were huddled together on the beach, amid the bodies of the deceased and the carcasses of animals washed ashore that had been on the ship.  One of the survivors, whose foor had been smashed by an anchor when the deck gave way, had a toe amputated with a knife as he lay on the beach.  Surprisingly, Childers Cove is not named after the ship, but is in fact named after H.C.E. Childers, the founder of the University of Melbourne.

We then drove back to the Highway again and continued east, stopping briefly for a photo at Nullawarre.  This is the first, or last, town on the Great Ocean Road, depending upon which way you are travelling of course.  Nullawarre is located in prime dairying and grazing country, and consists of a public hall, a post office, a store and a school which services the wider district.


We had also seen the day before, the sign for the historic Boggy Creek Hotel, so we again ventured off the Highway and headed into Boggy Creek.  Unfortunately the pub was shut, but there appeared to be a nice little area out the back, which would be nice to sit in on a warn day under the shade.  At the front of the hotel is a small plaque which states that it was here that Customs Detective Inspector John Christie, often in the disguise of a tinsmith, took refuge when on his many walks seeking information about whiskey stills in the area.  Christie has a very interesting past and more about him can be found here…..

It was back to the Highway and on to the Bay of Martyrs which is part of the Bay of Islands Coastal Park.  We then drove through the little town of Peterborough.  We took a brief stop to have a look at the memorial plaque and anchor for the Falls of Halladale, which was a barque which was wrecked in thick fog off the coast in 1908.

We then headed inland again, toward the little town of Timboon.  We stopped off at the Timboon Cheesery to try some of the local wares.  This is part of the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail.  You can collect a brochure of the trail from most of the local tourist outlets.  The staff here were very friendl, and Marija and I, and two English tourists enjoyed some cheese tasting.  This is well worth a visit, and we walked away with quite a few dairy products.

We continued on to Timboon and had lunch at the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery.  There is a licenced restaurant here, and of course, they distill their own whisky and spirits, including Coffee Crea, Strawberry Schnapps and a premium Vodka.  I could have stayed here all day!

We headed back to the coast and stopped off at London Bridge and The Grotto.

The Grotto is a sinkhole geological formation.  Wooden steps wind down the cliff face to the bottom.  It is a very easy walk down and well worth a look.

London Bridge, also known as London Arch is an offshore natural arch formation.  It previously formed a complete double span natural bridge.  On the evening of 15 January 1990, the main arch connecting London Bridge to the mainland cracked and fell into the sea.  Fortunately no-one was injured.  However, two people were marooned on the new island and needed to be rescued a number of hours later by helicopter.

Our next brief stop was the lookout on the Great Ocean Road, just above Port Campbell.  It affords nice views of this quaint little tourist town and the surroundying countryside and coast.

After arriving in Port Campbell, we booked in to our accomodation, which was the Port Campbell Parkview Motel and Apartments.  Again, very friendly staff, and very nice clean rooms.

After some debate in the motel room, we decided to head out to 12 apostles Helicopters and take a scenic flight along the coastline.  The place was packed!  There were hundreds, probably thousands of tourists, as this is also the area where you take the tunnel under the Great Ocean Road, leading to the Twelve Apostles.  And the line up for the helicopter flights was certainly very large.  We were told we would only have to wait 20 minutes, but this blew out to about 90 minutes.  But it was well worth the wait.  The flight was amazing and puts the area into a totally unique perspective.  We flew from just the other side of the Twelve Apostles, all the way down to the Bay of Islands, and return.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After our helicopter flight we drove south east on the Great Ocean Road, seeking a suitable spot for the park activation.  This is a very very busy part of the Great Ocean Road, and suitable places to operate from where very limited.  We chose a little carpark off the Great Ocean Road, a little to the north west of Princetown Road.

For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 20m/40m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  Upon turning on the radio, I was very disappointed to hear extremely strong static crashes.  But I headed to 7.144 which was my nominated operating frequency, and commenced calling CQ.  It wasn’t long before I was called by John VK5BJE with a beautiful 5/9 signal from the Adelaide Hills.  This was followed by Dennis Vk2HHA, who has become a regular park hunter, followed by Ron VK3MRH.  Ron too, has become a regular WWFF park hunter of late.  A good steady flow of callers followed, from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.

After about 20 minutes in the park, another vehicle pulled in to the carpark and out hopped the car’s occupants.  As I looked up to see who it was, I thought to myself that the driver looked very familiar.  But I was in the middle of a mini pile up so I was trying to concentrate on the callers.  It turned out that it was Nick VK3ANL and his lovely wife, and Nick’s parents from Queensland.  What a surprise.  My second unexpected amateur visitor during the trip.  We had a good chat and arranged to have dinner together later that night at the Port Campbell Hotel.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After Nick had left I headed back to 7.144 where there was quite a large pile up of park hunters waiting to get the Twelve Apostles in their logbook.

After Nick left I went back to 7.144 and there was a string of patient park hunters waiting there for me.  I went on to work a further 26 stations in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7.  All signals were very good, and the band was completely devoid of man made noise.  The only noise which I did have to put up with was the static crashes and the sound of a number of Hells Angels roaring passed me on the Great Ocean Road.  I also picked up another South Australian National Park, after working Stef VK5HSX who was operating portable from the Lincoln National Park near Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula.

After working a total of 49 stations on 40m, and having qualified the park, I decided to have a listen on 20m.  It was just 4.00 p.m. Victorian Local time (0700 UTC), and I was hoping that there might be a little bit of Long Path Europe activity on 20m.  I immediately headed to 14.310 and started calling CQ and this was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA with a strong 5/9 plus signal.  Rick was kind enough to post me on the DX cluster, which resulted in a handful of calls from Europe, New Zealand, and Australia.  But it was still a little early, and the band had not yet opened up.  I did manage to work Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Estonia, and France.

As it was getting a little late, and we planned to go out for tea that night, I headed back to 40m to see if I caould pick up any last desperados.  Unfortunately there was a lot of activity around 7.144, so I headed down the band a little and called CQ on 7.135.  My first taker was Andrew VK5PZ, followed by Alan VK7AN, and then Geoff VK5HEL in Murray Bridge.  I worked just a further 4 stations in VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7, before going QRT.

This was a very successful activation, with a total of 69 contacts in the log on 40m SSB and 20m SSB.  And a brand new VKFF park for me towards my VKFF activation tally.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK2HHA
  3. VK3MRH
  4. VK3PMG
  5. VK5FTVR
  6. VK5FANA
  7. VK3TKK/m
  8. VK4RF
  9. VK4HA
  10. VK5TN
  11. VK3YAR
  12. VK3VBI
  13. VK3FTAD
  14. VK5KC
  15. VK5HYZ
  16. VK3FQSO
  17. VK3BY
  18. VK3VTH/m
  19. VK5HCF
  20. VVK5FLEX
  21. VK5KLV
  22. VK2IO/m
  23. VK2VW
  24. VK2NP
  25. VK5FMID
  26. VK5ZGY
  27. VK5NRG
  28. VK4AAC/5
  29. VK3VLY
  30. VK3PF
  31. VK5DJ
  32. VK5WG
  33. VK1DI
  34. VK3KRH
  35. VK3HRA
  36. VK1AT
  37. VK5HS
  38. VK7LTD
  39. VK3FSPG
  40. VK2PKT
  41. VK5EE
  42. VK3VT
  43. VK3FEUG
  44. VK3PAT
  45. VK3DBP
  46. VK5HSX/p (Lincoln National Park)
  47. VK5PL
  48. VK7PSJ
  49. VK3OHM
  50. VK5PZ
  51. VK7AN
  52. VK5HEL
  53. VK5JK
  54. VK3XPT/m
  55. VK6FGGT
  56. VK2XXM

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. IZ8EFD
  4. I5FLN
  5. DL2ND
  6. ZL4KD
  7. VK4EDD
  8. IZ2SDK
  9. ES5QD
  10. DK0EE
  11. IK2VUC
  12. F1BLL
  13. IW2NXI

We headed back to the hotel and freshened up a bit and then went to the Port Cambell Hotel, where we met up with Nick and his family, and enjoyed a good meal and good company.




Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, 2015, <;, viewed 8th December 2015

Victorian Places, 2015, <;, viewed 8th December 2015

Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 8th December 2015