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.
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.
Above:- 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.
Above:- Map showing our operating position within the park. Image courtesy of http://www.here.com
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.
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:-
- VK5HSX/p (Lincoln National Park)
- VK3VTH/p (Coopracamba National Park VKFF-0113)
- VK5LOL/3 (Wyperfeld National Park VKFF-0549)
- VK3WI/p (Brisbane Ranges National Park, VKFF-0055).
- VK3YSP/p (French Island National Park VKFF-0622)
- VK3FOWL/p (French Island National Park VKFF-0622)
- VK3PMG/p (Little Desert National Park, VKFF-0291)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
Parks Victoria, June 2014, Port Campbell National Park & Bay of Islands Costal Park