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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:-
Explore Great Ocean Road, 2015, <http://exploregreatoceanroad.com.au/>, viewed 8th December 2015