On Monday morning (23rd May 2016) Marija and I flew out of Sydney to Norfolk Island. We had a very enjoyable flight over to Norfolk aboard an Air New Zealand aircraft. The flight time is around 2 hours and 30 minutes. We arrived on Norfolk and headed off to the Paradise Hotel.
After booking in and enjoying a complimentary cocktail, we picked up our hire car and headed in to town to collect the 6m telescopic squid pole that David VK5KC had ordered for us. After picking up the squid pole, Marija and I headed up to Mount Bates summit VK9/ NO-001 which is located within the Norfolk Island National Park VKFF-0392.
Above:- Map showing the location of Norfolk Island in the Pacific. Map courtesy of Open Street Map.
Mount Bates is 319 metres above sea level and is the highest point on Norfolk Island. It is just 1 metre higher than Mount Pitt. The summit is worth 2 points for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.
The summit is located in the Norfolk Island National Park VKFF-0392. The park currently forms about 14% of the total land area of Norfolk Island. The Mount Pitt Section of the park and the Botanic Garden were first established by the Norfolk Island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Garden Act 1984 (NI) when it came into force on 12 February 1985. These areas were subsequently declared a national park and botanic garden under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 (Cwlth) by proclamation under that Act on 31 January 1986 following a request of the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly. Prior to this, both areas had been public reserves declared under the Commons and Public Reserves Ordinance 1936.
Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Bates in the northern area of Norfolk Island. Map courtesy of Open Street Map.
We soon reached the entrance to the Norfolk Island National Park and then continued on to Mount Pitt where we enjoyed some amazing views of Norfolk Island and across to Phillip Island and Jacky Jacky summit.
We parked the car in the Mount Pitt carpark, and took the Summit Track which leads to Mount Bates. This is an easy 500 metre walk to Mount Bates. It does look deceiving, as you walk down a set of stairs from the Mount Pitt carpark, but you do slowly start to walk up hill to Mount Bates.
Above:-Map showing the walking tracks in the Norfolk Island National Park, including the summit track to Mount Bates, c/o http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/norfolk
The walk to the summit is quite spectacular and takes you through forest with ferns and pines. Much of this area was once infested with introduced trees and shurbs. These have gradually been removed and replaced with native species as part of a rehabilitation process.
As we approached the summit I could hear some other voices and then heard ‘we are on the top of SOTA peak, Mount Bates’. As we got closer to the summit we found that Heath VK3TWO and his wife Monique VK6FMON were activating. After saying g’day, I set up just below Heath and used some steps to a lookout to sit on. For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 20 watts and the 20m/40m linked dipole supported on the 6m telescopic squid pole.
I headed to 14.310 and Heath kindly handed the frequency over to me, and I commenced calling CQ. My first contact from Mount Bates was with Chris VK5SA who was an excellent 5/9 and he reciprocated with a 5/9 for me. This was followed by Neil VK4HNS, Thomas W7RV in Arizona, and then Doug VK4ADC. I had qualified the summit and I was very happy.
During the activation we were joined by Peter VK3PF, Ron VK3AFW, and his wife Ruth.
I went on to work a total of 25 stations in Australia (VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5), USA (Arizona, California, & Washington), Japan, and New Zealand.
I then handed the reigns over to Peter VK3PF and Ron VK3AFW, and headed up to Heath’s set up. My wife Marija VK5FMAZ/9 was working on 40m. Marija made a total of 9 contacts into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.
Monique VK6FMON/9 also got on air on 40m and qualified the summit.
Above:- Peter VK3PF/9 on air.
Some relics of the old World War Two radar station, established by the Royal New Zealand Air Forece, can be found on the top of Mount Bates. The radar station offered uninterupted 360 degree views of the horizon and warned of any aircraft in the area.
Interpretive signs tell you of the interesting history of the radar installation and the famous ‘Norfolk Island effect’. During the Second World War, radar operators at the RNZAF Mt Bates Station on Norfolk Island noticed strange bursts of “radio noise” at sunset and sunrise. The Officer in Charge of the station, Les Hepburn, reported these to his superiors in New Zealand. Dr Elizabeth Alexander, who was in charge of radar research in the Radio Development Laboratory in Wellington, set about investigating this. Five radar stations investigated the phenomenon over a period of months in 1945, with the outcome of this research being that at times of sunspot activity the sun was emitting radio waves, and this discovery was one of the most important in the beginnings of the science of radio astronomy. This became known as the ‘Norfolk Island effect’.
The summit was also awash with some very large spiders who had woven their webs between the vegetation. The spiders are Gold Orb Web Spiders. They are diurnal, meaning that they are active during the day. Their venom is potent but is not lethal to humans. There is even a cafe on the island named after these spiders.
As the afternoon went on we were blessed with the commencement of an amazing sunset.
After watching the sun commence to set, it was time to head down off the summit.
The following stations were worked:-
Here is a short video of the activation……
Australian Government, 2016,<http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/national-parks/norfolk-island-national-park/culture-and-history/national-park-history>, viewed 1st June 2016