Early on Tuesday evening (29th March 2016), after booking in to my motel, I decided to head out to Mount Arapiles for an activation for both the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. The Mount Arapiles summit, VK3/ VW-022 is located within the Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park VKFF-0765.
Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Arapiles in western Victoria. Map courtesy of Forest Explorer.
The summit and park is just a short 25 km drive west of Horsham, out along the Wimmera Highway. It is located about 10 km west of the little town of Natimuk, which is where my Nana spent her final years before passing away aged 96 years.
Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Arapiles in western Victoria, to the west of Natimuk. Map courtesy of Forest Explorer.
Mount Arapiles summit is 369 metres above sea level and is worth just 1 SOTA point. The summit has been activated a total of 11 times (including by myself back in September 2013).
The Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park has been activated a total of 4 times. The last time I activated the SOTA peak, the park was not part of the WWFF program, so this was to be a unique park activation for me.
Mount Arapiles, known as Djurite for the local Dhurid Balud aboriginal people, is one of Australia’s best rock climbing areas and rises very sharply from the Wimmera plains. It is world renowned and has more than 2,000 developed routes on the many cliffs, crags and pinnacles. The park, which is 7,475 hectares in size, was created in 1987.
The first recorded ascent of Mount Arapiles was on the 23rd day of July 1836, by Major Thomas Mitchell, who was the European who discovered the summit. He named the summit after the Arapiles hills near Salamanca in Spain, where the Battle of Salamanca took place, and where Mitchell had seen action.
Mitchell said the following in his diary on the 22nd July 1836…..
“This certainly was a remarkable portion of the earth’s surface, and rather resembled that of the moon as seen through a telescope.”
A total of 14% of Victoria’s flora species are represented in the park. The Peregrine Falcon, which can reach speeds of up to 389 kmh, can be found at Mount Arapiles.
Above:- Peregrine Falcon. Image courtesy of wikipedia.
As I drove to west, it looked very gloomy and I could see some shower activity around Mount Arapiles. Fortunately as I got closer, the rain band had moved away from the area of the summit/park.
The park is well sign posted off the Wimmera Highway, and a bitumised road leads to a carparking area at the top of the summit.
I parked the 4WD in the carpark and then lugged the gear up the flight of steps to the trig point (a distance of around 50 metres).
Once at the top I set up just to the north of the trig point and fire tower.
Above:- Map showing the road leading up to the summit. Courtesy of OpenStreetMap.
After setting up I took the opportunity of taking some photographs prior to it getting dark. There are terrific views in all directions from the top of the summit.
At 7.20 p.m. Victorian local time I commenced calling CQ on 7.090 and it wasn’t long for a mini pile up to commence. The first caller of the activation was Peter VK3PF, followed by Brian VK3BBB, Col VK3LED, and then Mike VK5FVSV. The 40m band was in excellent condition, with strong signals from all across Australia: VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK6. I also received three calls from New Zealand: Andrew ZL3CC in Christchurch, Ken ZL4KD in Christchurch, and ZL3NF in Timaru.
I was thrown a bit by one call, and that was VK5/HF9ZZ. It was Jack from Poland who is on holidays in South Australia.
I also managed a park to park contact with Rob VK4AAC/3 who was in the Echuca Regional Park VKFF-0966. Sadly there were no summit to summit contacts to be had.
After 50 minutes on the summit/in the park, it was dark, and I had a total of 50 contacts in the log. I had qualified the SOTA peak and also the park for both the VKFF and WWFF programs.
The following stations were worked:-
Parks Victoria, June 2014, Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Arapiles>, viewed 5th April 2016