Mount Elephant, VK3/ VS-047

After leaving Mount Leura, we travelled north out of Campberdown along the Campberdown-Lismore Road, passing through the little areas of Chocolyn, Kariah, and Larralea, Our destination was Mount Elephant, VK3/ VS-047, which lies at the foot of Derrinallum.  This was to be our second SOTA summit of the day.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 22.01.16

Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Elephant.  Image courtesy of Open Street Map.

Mount Elephant is a perfect breached scoria cone which last erupted appproximately 5,000 to 20,000 years ago.  As such it is amongst the youngest volcanoes in Australia.  The land on which the summit is located had been privately owned by the Eldridge family since European settlements.  It had been heavily grazed, and ravaged by bushfires in 1944 and 1977.  The summit was known as Swagman’s Lighthouse, a landmark for pioneers to navigate their way throughout western Victoria.  In December 2000, the Eldridge family offered the Mount for sale by auction.  The Derrinallum and Lismore communities rallied and the Mount was purchased by the community.

Screenshot 2015-12-11 08.14.03

Above:- Contour map of Mount Elephant.  Image courtesy of

As we drove along the Campberdown-Lismore Road, the summit was clearly visible in the distance.  This is quite flat country, but Mount Elephant dominates the 3rd largest Volcanic Basalt Plain on Earth and can be seen for 60 kilometres in all directions.


We then turned left onto the Camperdown-Derrinallum Road, and a few kms down the road, we entered the little town of Derrinallum, which only has a population or around 270 people.  There isn’t much here at all.  But I did see a quaint little pub which I had already earmarked for a quick drink after the activation.

An interesting fact about Derrinallum is that on 12 April 2014, the town became the centre of Australia’s biggest explosives clean up, after an explosion rocked the town. A local, Glenn Sanders, also known as ‘The Colonel’, who was an explosives expert and professional mechanic detonated his house which rocked the town and was heard over 15km away. The explosion left the town isolated for a number of weeks.

We then drove out along the Hamilton Highway for a short distance, until we found the turnoff to Mount Elephant.  But excitement quickly turned to disapointment, as we found a locked gate and a sign which read that the summit was only open on Sundays from 1.00 p.m. til 4.00 p.m.  Bugger!  I wondered how the hell I had missed that, as I had checked out the Mount Elephant website prior to leaving on the holiday.

Fortunately, there were some contact numbers on the sign for the Mount Elephant Committee of Management.  We telephoned one of the Commitee members, Lesley, who kindly drove out and met us at the gate.  She was extremely friendly and quite interested in what we were doing.  We followed her up in the 4WD to the carparking area, and then collected all of our radio gear, as she had offered to drive us up a little higher.  This sounded great, as it was a very warm day.  Lesley drove us up to the next gate and Lesley told us that this was as far as we could go by vehicle and we would need to walk the remainder of the way.

This is where all the fun started.  On a mild day, this would be quite a nice walk.  But it was hot!  And the grass on either side of the track was very high.  So Marija and I were very cognisant of making a lot of noise to try to scare off any potential unwanted visitors, in the way of snakes!

After quite a climb in the heat, and avoiding any snakes, and stopping regularly to remove the grass seeds from our shoes and socks, we made it to the top of Mount Elephant.  There, we were rewarded with some amazing views of the surrounding countryside.  In the distance you can see Mount Buninyong near Ballarat, and the Grampians between Dunkeld and Stawell.  We could also see our previous summit, Mount Leura near Campberdown.

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Unfortunately there was no shade on the summit.  There are no trees here on Mount Elephant.  All that is at the top is the trig point marking the 339 metre above sea level point, and a small old rainwater tank.  The tank afforded some shade, but not a lot.  There is a small satellite receiver on the trig point, which is used for local GPS tractor guidance systems.

I secured the 7 metre telescopic squid pole to the rainwater tank with the aid of an octopus strap while Marija ran out the legs of the dipole.  For this activation I had brought along the Yaesu FT-817nd and ran 5 watts.
Screenshot 2015-12-10 22.00.16Above:- Aerial view of the summit showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps.

I headed for 7.090 and called CQ and this was answered by Robin VK5TN in Mount Gambier with a very strong 5/9 signal.  Robin gave me a 5/7.  This was followed by a call from Ron VK3VBI (5/9 both ways), then Brian VK5FMID in Mount Gambier (5/9 sent and 5/8 received).  And my fourth qualifying contact was with Tony VK5FTVR at Strathalbyn (5/7 sent and 5/6 received).  The 40m band seemed to be in pretty good shape.

I worked a further 13 stations from VK2, VK3, and VK5, before I was called by Tony VK3VTH who was operating portable from the Lake Tyres State Park, VKFF-0761.  Tony was my last caller on 40m.  And I was pleased there was not a pile up as this was a very hot summit and I was looking forward to that drink in the hotel.

So we lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the 20m/40m linked dipole, and I called CQ on 14.310.  This was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, followed by Brett VK2VW, Gerard VK2IO, and finally John VK6NU.  I was very pleased to be able to get John in the log.  Although not strong (5/1), he was perfectly readable due to the non-existant man made noise on Mount Elephant.

We spent just 30 minutes on the summit.  I had a total of 23 stations in the log.

The following stations were worked:-

Screenshot 2015-12-10 21.42.10

We then commenced the climb down along the Borbidge walking track to the the carpark at the base of the Mount.

After about 25 minutes we reached the carpark and some welcome shade.  The quarry situated at the carpark provided scoria for the nearby rail line to Ararat from 1911 to 1916.

After getting back to the car and downing 2 litres of water each, we headed off to the Mount Elephant Hotel.  This was without a doubt, one of the hardest one point summits I have activated.  Mostly due to the heat, making it a challenging little walk.

After a few quiet ales at the hotel, we drove north out through Mingay and Skipton on the Lismore-Skipton Road, until we reached the Western Highway at Beaufort.  We then drove west and into Ararat and booked in to our motel.  Marija was a little exhausted as you can see from the photograph below.




Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 10th December 2015

Mount Leura VK3/ VS-050

We had three planned activations for Wednesday 18th November, 2015.  They were all hilltop activations for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  They being Mount Leura, and Mount Elephant whilst on our way to Ararat, and One Tree Hill, once we had reached Ararat. We had booked in to stay for two nights at Ararat.

Our start to the day on Wednesday morning was breakfast at one of the cafes on the foreshore at Lorne.  It was a beautiful warm morning, and it was very relaxing, enjoying the cooked breakfast, the freshly squeezed orange juice, and a hot coffee, whilst enjoying the view.

We left Lorne, and headed out along the Deans Marsh-Lorne Road, through the magnificent Great Otway National Park.  We had a 100 km drive ahead of us until we reached our first summit, Mount Leura.  We were rewarded with some nice views of the countryside as we exited the north western side of the Otway Ranges.

We continued north, on to the little town of Deans Marsh and then travelled on the Birregurra-Deans Marsh Road until reaching Birregurra.  We then travelled north west along the Warncoort-Birregurra Road until we reached Warncoort, where we turned left onto the Princes Highway.  This took us through Colac and on to Campberdown.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 20.40.14

Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Leura.  Image courtesy of google maps.

As we drove towards Campberdown we saw a little hill which we assumed to be the summit.  Wrong!  The summit came and went and looked way too close on the GPS to be Mount Leura.

We continued on towards Campberdown and saw another summit which again we assumed to be Mount Leura.  Wrong again!  This turned out to be another false alarm.


Mount Leura, VK3/ VS-050, and the adjacent Mount Sugarloaf are part of a large volcanic complex known as the Leura Maar, which was formed over 20,000 years ago, following a series of major volcanic eruptions.  Mount Leura is 310 metres above sea level, and is worth 1 SOTA point.  The summit is located in the third largest volcanic plain in the world.  Mount Leura is believed to have last erupted between 5,000 and 20,000 years ago.  The name Leura, means ‘big nose’ in local aboriginal dialect.

For more information on Mount Leura, please see the following website…..

We accessed the summit via Mount Leura Road which is on the south eastern side of Campberdown.  Prior to heading up the hill we reached a welcome sign for the Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf Reserves.

We drove to the carpark at the top of Mount Leura Road.  There are some great views from here of the surrounding countryside.  There are also some very good interpretive signs.

We set up at a conveniently provided table and benches adjacent to the carpark.  We used a fencepost to secure the 7 metre telescopic squid pole, with the handy octopus strap.  It was quite a warm morning and unfortunately there was no shade.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 20.39.54

I was set up and ready to go by 2330 UTC (8.30 a.m. Victorian local time).  I commenced calling CQ on 7.090 and this was immediately answered by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula with a strong 5/8 signal.  This was followed by Peter VK3PF with a very strong 5/9 signal, and then Ivan VK5HS who was also 5/9 from the Riverland region of South Australia.  My fourth and qualifying QSO was with Tony VK5FTVR at Strathalbyn, south of Adelaide with a strong 5/8 signal.

It was a weekday so I didn’t expect to be swamped by callers.  But I was pleasantly surprised to have quite a good steady flower of SOTA chasers from VK1, VK3, VK5, and VK7.  Band conditions were very good with all signals between 5/7 to 5/9.

I worked 17 stations on 40m prior to the UTC rollover, and then a further 10 stations on 40m on the new UTC day.

I then took a break from the radio and went for a short walk up to the trig point on the summit and admired the views of Campberdown and the surrounding countryside.

We were able to see our next SOTA summit in the distance, Mount Elephant, VK3/ VS-047.


I returned to my operating spot and lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole so I could operate on 20m.  I headed to 14.310 and called CQ a number of times, but unfortunately I only had two takers.  They being Gerard VK2IO and Andrew VK2MWP.  Some QSB was noted on their signals.

We packed up the gear and headed in to Campberdown.  I was satisfied with a total of 29 contacts in the log, and a unique SOTA summit as an Activator.

The following stations were worked:-

Screenshot 2015-12-10 20.33.35

Once back in Campberdown we visited the Campberdown Visitor Centre which is located in the old courthouse.  This is an excellent tourist centre and the volunteer on duty was extremely helpful and friendly.  She clearly had a great love for her town.  We did not have a lot of time, but we did take a quick drive around the town to admire some of the heritage buildings, and we had also been encouraged to go for a drive out to the two volcanic lakes.

We then drove out to the deep volcanic crater lakes, Bullen-Merri and Gnotuk.  Bullem-Merri has a maximum depth of 66 metres and is clover leaf in shape, indicating that it was probably formed by two overlapping maar volcanos.

Below is a view of Mount Leura from the Campberdown-Cobden Road.


After leaving Campberdown, we headed off to our next SOTA activation, at Mount Elephant, near the little town of Derrinallum.



Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 10th December 2015.

Point Addis Marine National Park, VKFF-0952

Tuesday, the 17th November 20165, was day 11 of our trip away.  We had spent a quiet Monday night in the apartment, and all of this day was a planned tourist day.  So we had a little bit of a sleep in, but the quiet of the morning soon changed with the arrival of some Sulphur Crested cockatoos on our doorstep.  They were very tame and allowed us to hand feed them.  It wasn’t long before the magpies had joined in the party.

After breakfast we drove in to Lorne and had a quick look around.  This included a visit to Lorne’s historic swing bridge which spans the mouth of the Erskine River.  The bridge was constructed in 1937.  We also took a walk along Lorne’s main street on the foreshore.

We drove up to have a look at the very majestic, Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne, which can be located at the top end of Mountjoy Parade.  Whilst there we booked a table for a meal that evening.  The Grand Pacific was built in 1875 and features superb ocean views.

Marija was very keen to travel to Torquay, about 47 km north west of Lorne.  So that is where we headed.  We stopped a number of times along the way to enjoy the amazing views of the coastline along the Great Ocean Road.  Along the way I booked in to the morning net on 40m run by Ron VK3MRH, who himself has recently become a very avid park hunter.

No trip along the Great Ocean Road is complete until you have stopped at the Memorial Arch.  So of course, that’s what we did.  Along when 10,000 other tourists.  Well, okay, that might be a slight exaggeration.  But there were certainly a lot of tourists here.

The Memorial Arch is a tribute to the World War One servicemen who constructed the Great Ocean Road.  The current day arch is the third to be built.  It replaced the second arch which was destroyed in the February 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires.  The arch consists of a timber log archway with cement and stone supports on each side.

The Great Ocean Road was completed in 1932 and the arch was first erected in 1939.  It was replaced in 1973 and again in 1983.  There are a number of plaques here which tell all about the story of the construction of the Great Ocean Road.

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There were also some very impressive homes along the Great Ocean Road.  I gazed at a number of them in awe as we passed them, including the one below.  What great views.  And even better, from an amateur radio operator point of view….what a great take off!


We drove into the beautiful little town of Aireys Inlet, about 19 km north west of Lorne.  Aireys Inlet is a lovely little coastal town, and has a population of around 1,200 people.  The town was devastated during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, with a large number of homes completely destroyed.  The area experienced a brief lull, but interest in the area soon resumed and has been steadily increasing ever since.

We stopped briefly to have a look at the bark hut in Aireys Inlet.  In 1852, Geelong butchers, Thomas Pearse and Robert McConachy, purchased the Anglohawk cattle station which ran from the Aireys inlet side of Painkalac Creek back towards Anglesea.  Initially they built a slab house, a stone shed and 2 bark huts near there.  The bark hut in Aireys Inlet is a replica of one of the hunts, which survived until 1983, when it was destroyed by bushfire.

We then stopped off at the Split Point lighthouse at Aireys Inlet.  Construction on the lighthouse commenced in late 1890 and the lighthouse was first illuminated in September 1891.  Prior to this, there were about ten shipwrecks along the surrounding coastline.  It was these tragedies that prompted authorities to plan the lighthouse.  Originally called Eagles Nest Point, the lighthouse was renamed Split Point in 1913.

The lighthouse has featured on series 6 of Masterchef.  There is a cairn here which marks the burial site of Thomas Pearsse (mentioned above) and his wife, Martha.

For more information on the lighthouse, have a look at……

We continued along the Great Ocean Road towards Torquay, stopping briefly to enjoy the view at Urquart Bluff.  We then drove down to the beach and had lunch, whilst sitting back enjoying the magnificent views and the sensational sunshine.



After lunch we drove on to the little town of Anglesea and stopped at the Anglesea Lookout Reserve which is also known as Loveridge Lookout.  The lookout was built in 1938 as a memorial to James Loveridge by his widow Bertha.  It is located near the former Loveridge owned property, ‘Anglecrest’.  This site was chosen by Bertha, as it was James Loveridge’s favourite viewing location of Bass Strait.  Sadly, the Ash Wednesday bushfires were to take another victim, with the destruction of the original ‘Anglecrest’ homestead.  During the Second World War, Loveridge Lookout was used as an observation post for the Volunteer Air Observers Corps.

We continued on to Torquay, which is just 21 km from Geelong.  This popular tourist town is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne.  Torquay’s population is around 10,200 people.

Torquay is famous for its surf beaches, with Jan Juc and the world famous Bells Beach located on the town’s south-west outskirts.  As a result, there is a major complex in the town which features a number of surf shops.

It was a warm afternoon, so Marija and I took the time out to stop off at one of the cafes in Torquay and enjoy a smoothie each.  It was whilst we were sitting back relaxing, that I was going through some of the tourist brochures and learnt that we would be passing the Point Addis Marine National Park on the way back to Lorne.  A little bit of groveling to Marija, and it was agreed upon that I could do a quick activation of the park.


The park was just a 14 km drive from Torquay.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 17.23.32

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

We then headed back south west along the Great Ocean Road, and took the turn off to Bells Beach, travelling along Bones Road.  It wasn’t long before we reached the world famous Bells Beach.  It is named after John Cavert Bell, of the family who first took up a pastoral run in the area back in the 1840’s.  Bells Beach is the home to the world’s longest running surfing competition – the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival.  This was formerly known as the Bells Beach Surfing Classic and was first held in January 1961.

We continued along the Bells Beach Road and then Jarosite Road, until we reached the Great Ocean Road.  A short distance from there, we turned left into Point Addis Road.  We stopped off briefly at the lookout for Southside Beach.  As it turns out this is a nudist beach.  But my nudist days are well and truly passed me, so we didn’t venture down to the beach.  I am sure all of the nudists down on the beach would have appreciated my decision!

We continued along Point Addis Road and along the way I spoke with Tony VK3VTH who was operating portable from the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747.  Tony had a good 5/9 signal into the mobile.  We continued on until we reached the carpark at the end of Point Sddis Road.  There weren’t any possibilities for activation positions along the way, so we decided to try to set up in the carpark in one of the corners away from any of the tourists.

A little bit of information about Point Addis Marine National Park…..the park features spectacular scenery with wide sandy beaches, limestone and sandstone cliffs and rocky platforms.  The park is 4,600 hectares in size and is part of a system of 13 Marine National Parks in Victoria.  The park is considered to be one of the most biodiverse and unique marine ecosystems in the world.  Bells Beach is just one of the features along the 9km of rugged coastline between Torquay and Anglesea.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 17.23.06

Above:- Map showing the park, just south west of Torquay.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.

There is a boardwalk here at the end of Point Addis Road, which allows you to view the magnificent coastline.  If you are here between May and September, you may also be fortunate enough to see a whale.

I secured the squid pole to a fencepost, with the assistance of an octopus strap, and stretched out the legs of the 20m/40m linked dipole, securing them to the fence.  I then sat back in my deck chair and turned on the Yaesu FT-857d.  Before calling CQ I had a look around the band in the hope of working Tony VK3VTH, and perhaps finding some other park activators. I found Tony still on 7.144, calling CQ, so I gave him a shout (5/9 both ways).

Screenshot 2015-12-10 17.22.26

Above:- Map showing the park.  Our operating spot was right at the tip of Point Addis.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.

I then headed up the band to 7.150 and started calling CQ.  It wasn’t long before the park hunters had found me.  My second contact for the activation was with avid park hunter, Brett VK2VW, followed by another park stalwart, Mick VK3PMG, and then Steve VK7CW, who is another park regular.

I went on to work a total of 49 stations on 40m SSB.  Band conditions were excellent, with some very strong signals from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  Well at least band conditions were good.  Because the weather conditions had deteriorated rapidly.  The afternoon had started out beautifully with bright sunshine and just a gentle sea breeze.  But after about an hour of operating, the wind had picked up dramatically, and I lost the squid pole on a couple of occasions.  This resulted in another octopus strap being required to keep it upright.

As we had booked to go out for tea that evening at Lorne, I was running a bit short of time.  So battling with the wind, I lowered the squid pole and with Marija’s assistance we removed the links and then raised the squid pole back into position.  I went to 14.310 and called CQ and this was answered by Mr. Reliable, Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.  Next up was Les VK5KLV from Port Augusta.  I was very surprised to hear Les with such an exceptionally good 5/8 signal.  I thought we might have been a little too close for 20m.  I worked a further seven stations on 20m from VK2, VK4, VK6, New Zealand and Russia.  Unfortunately it was way too early for Europe on the long path.

We also had some onlookers during the activation.  A busload of tourists arrived, and I took the time to explain to them what this idiot with a squid pole was doing in a carpark overlooking the ocean.  They seemed very interested.  We were also visited by some Paramedics.  Apparently someone had fallen down a cliff face.  I never actually found out if they were rescued.

So, after about 90 minutes in the park, I had a total of 59 QSOs in the log and a brand new park under my belt as an activator.  It was time to pack up and head back to Lorne and head out for tea.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3VTH/p (Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747)
  2. VK2VW
  3. VK3PMG
  4. VK7CW
  5. VK5FTVR
  6. VK3OHM
  7. VK3FALE
  8. VK5TN
  9. VK3MRH
  10. VK2HHA
  11. VK3PF
  12. VK3ZMD
  13. VK3DAC
  14. VK7LTD
  15. VK3FPBI
  16. VK2YW
  17. VK5EE
  18. VK2NP
  19. VK2IO
  20. VK4AAC/5
  21. VK5BJE
  22. VK5HCF
  23. VK2GKA
  24. VK5DJ
  25. VK5ZGY
  26. VK2FADV
  27. VK5FANA
  28. VK5NRG
  29. VK3KIS
  30. VK5FMID
  31. VK5ATQ
  32. VK3CFA
  33. VK4RF
  34. VK4HA
  35. VK7WN
  36. VK3DBP
  37. VK3VIN
  38. VK2PKT
  39. VK3GB
  40. VK1VIC/m
  41. VK3TKK
  42. VK2FVG
  43. VK3TJK
  44. VK3FQSO
  45. VK5KLB
  46. VK3PAT
  47. VK4ARW
  48. VK3UYS
  49. VK5HS/m

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK5KLV
  4. VK4ARW
  5. VK4HG
  6. RN3QN
  7. ZL4KD
  8. VK2HOT
  9. VK4BX
  10. VK6ADF/m

That night we enjoyed a very enjoyable evening at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne.



Parks Victoria, 2015, <;, viewed 10th December 2015.

Monument Australia, 2015, <;, viewed 10th December 2015.

Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 10th December 2015

Split Point Lighthouse, 2015, <;, viewed 10th December 2015

Wikipedia, 2015, <,_Victoria&gt;, viewed 10th December 2015


Mount Cowley VK3/ VC-022 and Great Otway National Park

On Monday morning, 16th November 2015, after breakfast, Marija and I headed west out of Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road.  Our first stop of the day was Maits Rest which is about a 15 minute drive west of Apollo Bay.  We had passed Maits Rest on the way in to Apollo Bay on Saturday, but didn’t have enough time to stop.  And we had passed it again on Sunday on our way out to the Great Otway National Park.  So this was third time lucky for us.

Maits Rest has an easy self guided circuit walk through magnificent rainforest in the Great Otway National Park.  A wooden boardwalk has been built over the tree-fern gullies and moss covered roots.  The walk is 800 metres in length and starts and finishes at the carpark just off the Great Ocean Road.  It is well signposted.  Many of the trees here are up to 300 years old and this is something not to be missed if you are driving along the Great Ocean Road.  The area was named after former forestry patrol officer Maitland Bryant who used to rest his horses here during patrols of the area.

We then travelled back along the Great Ocean Road and back into Apollo Bay. Along the way we were rewarded with some great views out to the east of Apollo Bay


We then went to Marriners Lookout, which is located atop a hill on the northern outskirts of Apollo Bay.  Access is via Marriners Hill Road which runs off the Great Ocean Road.  There is an easy 10 minute walk from the carpark to the lookout area.  The lookout is actually on private property and has been kindly opened up by the land owners.  The lookout is also a popular take off point for hang gliders.

We then continued north west along the Great Ocean Road and soon came across the rather unusual collection of stones on the beach.  Obviously strategically placed there by passers by over the years.  So we couldn’t help ourselves.  We stopped and each carefully placed a rock on the top of an existing pile.

Our next stop was the Carisbrook Waterfalls near Sugarloaf, about 16 km east of Apollo Bay.  It is just a short 15 minute (300 metre) walk to the waterfalls from the carpark just off the Great Ocean Road.  At the end of the walk there is a viewing platform set across the valley from the falls.  Carisbrook Falls are one of the highest falls in the Otway Ranges, but they do not fall vertically.  Rather, they rush 50 metres down a diagonal rock face.  Unfortunately the lookout is a long way from the waterfall itself and you cannot see all 7 tiers of the waterfall.

We then stopped briefly at the Cape Patton lookout, which is about 5km on the Apollo Bay side of Kennet River.  The lookout offers spectacular views of the coastline.  The cliffs here are some of the highest along the Victorian coastline.  Cape Patton was named after Vice Admiral Phillip PATTON by Lieutenant James GRANT on the Lady Nelson in 1800.

We then stopped off to have a look at the memorial to the Godfrey, just north of Separation Creek.  The Godfrey was a barque which was built in Greenock Scotland in 1861.  It was sailing from San Fransisco and was bound for Melbourne when it was wrecked at this site in March 1891.  Fortunately there was no loss of life.  However, in three separate boating accidents, five men drowned during salvage operations.

We stopped a number of times along the way for some photo opportunities and to view the amazing coastline.  This included Artillery Rocks, which was named after the cannon-ball concretions in the Cretaceous sandstone outcrops here.  We also stopped at Mount Defiance Lookout.  There is also an information board here re William Buckley, who was an English convict who was sentenced to 14 years and transported in 1803 to Australia.  Soon after arriving Buckley escaped, and made his way along the coast.  He was given up for dead and lived in an Aboriginal community for around 32 years.  It is believed that due to Buckley’s amazing survival, the term ‘you’ve got Buckley’s chance’ originated.

Our next stop was the Sheoak Falls.  It is a quick easy 10 minute walk to the falls.  Although the water across the falls does not fall a great distance, the water passes over a dark rock face into a deep waterpool, within a natural amphitheatre.  It is a very pretty location.

We continued on to Lorne and booked in to our accomodation which was the Chatby Lane Luxury Apartments.  These are very nice apartments in a quiet and scenic part of Lorne.

We unpacked and freshened up and made sure all the radio equipment was ready for out intended activation at Mount Cowley for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.

After leaving the motel we headed out to Teddy’s Lookout, which is at the end of George Street, Lorne.  It is just a short walk to the lookout which offers spectacular views of the St. George River and the Great Ocean Road coastline.  We could see our intended destination, Mount Cowley, off in the distance.

On the way out to Mount Cowley we called in to Erskine Falls, about 10 km out of Lorne.  There is a walking trail and steps down to the falls which cascade over one of the highest drops in the Otways.  These are very beautiful falls.  But beware!  It is easy going down, but the steps down are very very steep and coming back up is a real calf burner.  There are warnings at Erskine Falls about the walk back up.

Mount Cowley, was to be our third SOTA activation for the trip.  Mount Cowley, VK3/ VC-022 is  660 metres above sea level and is worth 2 SOTA points.  There is a very large fire and communications tower on the summit, so Mount Cowley is quite distinguishable in the Otway Ranges.  This is one of three fire spotting towers in the Otways.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the summit, south west of Geelong.  Image courtesy of google maps.

The summit is located about 18 km by road, west of Lorne.  But remember, these are windy roads through very dense rainforest, so there is a lot of wildlife, which further slows down travel time.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the summit, west of Lorne.  Image courtesy of google maps.

After leaving the Erskine Falls we travelled out west along Erskine Falls Road until we reached the Benwerrin-Mount Sabine Road.  We turned left here and drove south until we reached Garvey Track.  This track does appear on some maps as the Mount Cowley Track.  In any event, the track is well signposted and also is signed ‘Mount Cowley’.


The track is fine for conventional vehicles and is well maintained.  It was slow going, but that was only due to the amount of wildlife that was out and about.  There were a lot of kangaroos.


We drove up the track about 1.5 km until we found a small dirt road leading to the summit.  You cannot miss this because of the large telecommunication tower at the summit.  If you were looking for great views from the summit, forget it.  The summit is densely wooded and there are very few views of the surrounding countryside.

I set up on the south eastern side of the tower.  There was plenty of room to stretch out the 20m/40m linked dipole.

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I was on air and ready to go by 0615 UTC (4.15 p.m. Victorian local time).  I could not get on to 7.090 as the Kandos Net was still operating on 7.093, so I went down a little lower to 7.088 and started calling CQ.  My first taker was Andrew VK2UH with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Mark VK7FMPR, then Col VK3LED, and my fourth and qualifying contact was with Brett VK3FLCS.

It wasn’t long before I had a mini pile up going, with callers from all over eastern Australia in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7, all with very good signals.

After working a total of 35 stations on 40m I lowered the squid pole and removed the links and then re-erected the squiddie and headed off to 20m.  I called CQ on 14.310 and it wasn’t long before I had my first taker on 20.  And it was my good mate Peter VK4AAV from Caloundra.  This was followed by a handful of callers from Europe: F1BLL in France, I5FLN in Italy, and DK0EE in Germany.  But despite many CQ calls, I had no further takers.  It was still a little early for long path 20m propagation into Europe.

I headed back to 40m for one last listen before going QRT.  This time I called CQ on 7.144 and this was answered by Dennis VK2HHA (5/9 both ways), followed by Rod VK3OB (5/9 both ways), and then Ron VK3MRH (5/9 both ways).  The 40m band was certainly working well. I worked a further 6 stations before deciding it was time to pack up and head back in to Lorne.

Whilst on the summit I had a few noisy visitors.  But they weren’t tourists, nor were they maintenance people.  They were kookaburras and Sulphur crested cockatoos.

So after about 90 minutes on Mount Cowley, I had a total of 48 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked:-

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

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Coastal Stays, 2015, <;, viewed 10th December 2015