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.
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.
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.
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:-
- VK3XCI/p (Hattah Kulyne National Park, VKFF-0231)
- VK5HSX/p (Lincoln National Park)
- VK5KLV/p (Winninowie Conservation Park)
- VK5KPR/p (Winninowie Conservation Park)
- VK3YSP/p (French Island National Park VKFF-0622)
- VK3VTH/p (Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119)
- VK3PMG/p (Grampians National Park VKFF-0213)
- VK5AV/3 (Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296)
- VK5LOL/3 (Wyperfeld National Park VKFF-0549)
- VK5GJ/p (Carribie Conservation Park)
- VK2AWJ/3 (Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-0556)
- VK1DA/p (SOTA Mt Ginini VK1/ AC-008 and Namadgi National Park)
- VK3FMPB/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264)
- VK5EE/3 (Mount Richmond National Park VKFF-0361)
- VK5HCF/3 (Mount Richmond National Park VKFF-0361)
- VK1AD/p (SOTA Mount Stromlo VK1/ AC-043)
- VK1MBE/2 (SOTA VK2/ SM-049)
- VK1DR/2 (SOTA VK2/ SM-049)
The following stations were worked on 15m SSB:-
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.
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, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/great-otway-national-park>, viewed 9th December 2015
Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Frederick_Valentich>, viewed 9th December 2015