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.
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.
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.
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:-
Visit Victoria, 2015, <http://www.visitmelbourne.com/>, viewed 9th December 2015
World of Waterfalls, 2015, <http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/>, viewed 10th December 2015
Only Melbourne, 2015, <http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/place-names-coast-of-victoria#.VmkXcuOGRBc>, viewed 10th December 2015
Coastal Stays, 2015, <http://www.coastalstays.com/mt-defiance/>, viewed 10th December 2015