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.
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.
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.
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:-
- VK5HSX/p (Lincoln National Park)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
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, <http://www.flagstaffhill.com/media/uploads/Wrecks-Children.pdf>, viewed 8th December 2015
Victorian Places, 2015, <http://www.victorianplaces.com.au/nullawarre>, viewed 8th December 2015
Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Arch>, viewed 8th December 2015