WIA presentations in Melbourne

On Tuesday 15th November 2016 Andrew VK6AS and I had two scheduled Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) presentations to deliver in Melbourne.  So it was a fairly early start from Brenton VK3CM’s house at Tangambalanga where we had stayed overnight.

After breakfast we were on the road to Melbourne, a 350 km journey.  Along the way we dropped Brenton off in Benalla so that he could pick up his recently worked on Porsche.

Once in Melbourne Andrew and I headed to the clubrooms of the Frankston and Mornington Peninsula Amateur Radio Club (FAMPARC).  It was a well received presentation and it was nice to catch up with a few people I had spoke with on our but never met in person.

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At the end of this presentation we headed to the clubrooms of the Eastern and Mountain District Amateur Radio Club (EMDRC).  We enjoyed a sausage sizzle and mixing and chatting with the large number of attendees, before delivering our presentation.

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At the conclusion of evening at EMDRC we headed to the home of Lee VK3GK who had kindly offered his house to stay at overnight.  Many thanks Lee.

Mount Baranduda VK3/ VE-189 and Baranduda Regional Park VKFF-0959

After picking up Andrew VK6AS from the ALbury Airport we headed to SOTA summit Mount Baranduda VK3/ VE-189 which is located within the Baranduda Regional Park VKFF-0959.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Baranduda Regional Park in north eastern Victoria.  Map courtesy of google maps.

Mount Baranduda, a granite outcrop, is an isolated area of high country in the Baranduda Range.  The summit is designated as VK3/ VE-189 for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  It is 775m / 2543ft above sea level in height and is worth 4 SOTA points.

The park is home to a large amount of native wildlife.  This includes the rare Spot-tailed quoll.  Wild deer can also be found in the park.  Silky Swainson-pea Swainsona sericea is a prostrate or erect pennial which grows to around 10 cm tall.  The plant had not been recorded in the area for over 50 years and was re-discovered in 2007 on the north west slopes of the Baranduda Regional Park.

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Above: Silky Swainson-pea.  Image courtesy of Environment NSW.

Baranduda pastoral run was taken up in 1845 and it is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal expression relating to a swamp or a water rat.  Baranduda was a rural hamlet with numerous German farm selectors, who came from South Australia.  Beginning with the grazing of cattle, dairying and sawmilling were added, serving markets in Wodonga and providing timber sleepers for railway construction. A school was opened in 1880 and an inter-denominational church in 1912.  A memorial hall was built in 1955.

Andrew and I approached the park and the summit from the south, following the Beechworth-Wodonga Road until we reached Ewarts Road.

You immediately enter the park at this point, but we wanted to get to the summit itself, so we continued to follow Ewarts Road, admiring the view along the way.  We soon reached a gate which read ‘Road Closed.  Private property unauthorised persons prohibited.  Please shut gate’.  I had read on another activator’s blog that the gentleman who owned the property did not mind amateurs accessing the summit this way.  So Andrew and I entered the property and drove up the gentleman’s house and had a chat with him.  He was fine with us accessing the summit this way, so long as we shut gates.

We followed the track up to Mount Baranduda.

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Andrew and I decided to share the mic during this action and we headed to 7.090 where we commenced calling CQ.  Our first taker was Col VK3LED, but it wasn’t long and the Kandos Group started up on 7.093 and we were being wiped out.  So we headed up to 7.105 and again started calling CQ.  This was answered by Peter VK2NEO, Mick VK3PMG/VK3GGG and then Bill VK3LY.  Andrew and I were happy.  We had qualified the summit.

We were pushed a little for time so we did not expect to reach the required 44 QSOs for the global World Wide Flora Fauna program, but we were keen to get 10 QSOs and qualify the park for the VKFF program.  We were able to do that when Steve VK7CW called us, with a beautiful 5/9 signal.

Andrew and I worked a total of 21 stations on 40m until things started to really slow down.  We decided to give 80m a go, and after inserting the links in the dipole we headed to 3.610 on 80m and started calling CQ.  This was answered by Peter VK3ZPF and then Rob VK2QR.  We also spoke with Gerard VK2IO who was activating Bugong National Park VKFF-0063.

We then headed to 20m and called CQ but sadly there were no takers, so it was a quick look on 40m again where we logged a further 5 stations.  In all we ended up with a total of 30 contacts each, falling 14 short of the required 44.  It will need to be a return visit to this park.

I worked the following stations:-

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At the conclusion of the activation Andrew and I headed to the Tangambalanga Hall and there delivered a presentation on the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA).

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At the end of the evening we headed back to the home of Brenton VK3CM.  Brenton and his lovely wife Sam had kindly offered their home for us to stay overnight.

 

 

References.

ABC, 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2015/03/06/4192471.htm&gt;

Victorian Landcare, 2016, <https://www.landcarevic.org.au/groups/northeast/baranduda-landcare-group/copy-of-rare-swainsona-survey/&gt;

<http://www.victorianplaces.com.au/baranduda&gt;

Warby Range Bushwalkers, 2016, <http://warbybushwalkers.org.au/2016/09/29/mount-baranduda-3rd-september/&gt;

Huon Hill VK3/ VE-237 and Wodonga Regional Park VKFF-0980

It was now day four of my trip, Monday 14th November, 2016.  I had a 220 km drive ahead of me from Barmah to Tangambalanga.

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-7-16-09-pmAbove:- Map showing my travels on Monday 14th November 2016.  Map courtesy of plotaroute.com

I had planned on activating SOTA peak Huon Hill in the Wodonga Regional Park, and later Mount Baranduda in the Baranduda Regional Park.  But first I had arranged to call in at Cobram to see Peter VK3FPSR.  Peter and I headed next door to the coffee shop and had a good 90 minute chat, before I again hit the road.  It was great to meet Peter for the very first time.

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My first planned summit and park of the day was Huon Hill, VK3/ VE-237 which is 425m / 1394 feet above sea level in height and is worth 1 SOTA point.  The summit is named after the Huon family who gave the name ‘Wodonga’ to the stock run they rook up in the district in 1836.  The Huon homestead called ‘De Kerilleau’ was subsequently built in the 1870’s at the foot of Huon Hill.

Sadly just as I started driving in to Wodonga/Albury, it started to rain.  And it was quite heavy at times.  I was a bit concerned that the activation might be a washout.

The summit is located within the Wodonga Regional Park VKFF-0980, which was originally a cow paddock.   The summit was very easy to find and the GPS guided me there without any issues.  You will find a sign ‘Huons Hill Lookouts’ on the corner of Whytes Road and Murray Valley Highway.

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A short drive up Whytes Road I reached Kenneth Watson Drive and a clearly marked sign stating ‘Huon Hill Lookout’.

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I simply followed Kenneth Watson Drive and this took me to the entrance to the park.  As I drove up the dirt track towards the summit I was rewarded with some nice views of the surrounding countryside.   The track up is easily passable in a conventional vehicle.  There are a few cattle grids to negotiate.

Once you reach the top you will find two communication towers and a trig point.

You are also rewarded with some terrific views of Wodonga, Abury, Lake Hume, and the surrounding countryside.  And pleasing for me was that the rain appeared to be clearing, with some blue sky amongst the threatening clouds.

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I set up along the track leading to the tower on the east.  It is a little tricky to ensure that you are within the park boundary (see the maps and aerials below).  My operating spot was within the activation zone for the SOTA summit and also within the park boundary.

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Above:- Map showing the Wodonga Regional Park (in pink) and the summit indicated by the red arrow.  Image courtesy of Forest Explorer. 

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Above:- Aerial view of the summit showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps

I was hoping to get 44 contacts to qualify the park for World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) but I was cognisant of the time.  It was just after 1.00 p.m. local time and I had to pick up Andrew VK6AS from the Albury Airport at 3.00 p.m.  I started calling CQ on 7.090 and this was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who was a solid 5/9 and reciprocated with a 5/9 for me.  Next up was Nev VK5WG and then Geoff VK2HF/4.  First hurdle over, I had qualified the summit for SOTA.  The next target was 10 contacts to qualify the park for the VKFF program.

On my quest to 10 contacts I worked Greg VK5GJ running just 4 watts from Meadows in the Adelaide Hills.  Greg was 5/1 with his QRP.  I also logged Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Black Range State Park VKFF-0751.

Contact number ten was Jonathan VK7JON.  Hurdle number two over.  Next was the elusive 44.  Sadly I didn’t make it, falling short at 32 contacts in around 50 minutes on the hill.  But not before I made a few more Park to Park contacts:

  • Mick VK3PMG/p, Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620
  • VK3GGG/p, Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620
  • Gerard VK2IO/p, Bugong National Park VKFF-0063
  • Peter VK2TKK/p, Kurth Kiln Regional Park VKFF-0971

I only made one contact on 20m and that was with John ZL1BYZ in New Zealand.  And all my CQ calls on 3.610 on 80m went unanswered.

I worked the following stations :-

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References.

Australian Government, 2016, <http://www.anzaccentenary.gov.au/news/norman-huon-wodonga-boy-who-never-made-it-home&gt;, viewed 21st November 2016

Murray Valley National Park VKFF-1178

I had driven passed the Murray Valley National Park VKFF-1178 on my way in to Barmah on Saturday evening, and had decided to active this park on the afternoon of Sunday 13th November 2016.  Murray Valley National Park is located just outside of Barmah, over the Murray River in New South Wales.  This was to be another unique park for me as an activator for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Murray Valley National Park along the New South Wales and Victoria border.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

So after packing up at Barmah National Park I drove back into the little town of Barmah, and over the Barmah bridge on the Murray River and into New South Wales.  A few hundred metres over the bridge on the northern side of the road is an entry point to the Murray Valley National Park.  It is well signposted.

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I drove in to the park on Barmah River Road which is a little dirt track.   Dutring dryer conditions this track could be passed in a conventional vehicle, but certainly not on this occasion.  It was very wet and slippery and was only negotiable via 4WD.  A short distance along the track, Barmah River Road ventures off to the right towards the Murray River.  Ferry Road continues on further into the park and was not passable due to all the rain.

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Murray Valley National Park is 41,601 hectares in size (102,800 acres).  It was established to protect the majestic River Red Gum forests of the Riverina region of New South Wales.  The park is part of the largest continuous Red Gum forest in the world and contains over 60 threatened native animal species and 40 threatened plant species.

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I headed down close to the Murray River itself which was flowing exceedingly well after all the rain.

As it was still drizzling with rain and the mosquitos were out in force, I decided to operate from the vehicle again.  I set up the 80/40/20m linked dipole, getting very wet in the process and then ran the Yaseu Ft-857d from the passenger seat of my Toyota Hi Lux.

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Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the Murray Valley National Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

I headed to 7.144 and started calling CQ and this was answered by David VK5PL with a lovely 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Tim VK3MTB who was operating portable in the Morwell National Park VKFF-0626.  I went on to work a total of 57 stations on 7.144 including the following Park to Park contacts:

  • Adam VK2YK/p, Tillgerry State Conservation Area VKFF-1377
  • Joe VK3SRC/p, Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333
  • Bernard VK3AV/p, Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-0556
  • Tony VK3XV/p, Greater Bendigo National Park VKFF-0623
  • Neil VK4HNS/p, Moggill Conservation Park VKFF-1594
  • Peter VK3TKK/p, Organ Pipes National Park VKFF-0627
  • Peter VK3ZPF/p, Morwell National Park VKFF-0626

I also spoke with Peter VK3PF who was activating Mount Taylor VK3/ VG-142 for the Summits on the Air program, and Gerald VK2HBG who was operating the special call of VI2HQ40 for the 40th anniversary of the Mid South Coast Amateur Radio Club.

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When callers slowed I took the opportunity of looking across the 40m band and found Gerard VK2IO on 7.140 activating the Jervis Bay National Park VKFF-0249.  I then headed to 20m and called VQ on 14.310.  This was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA and then Mike VK6MB.  But despite conditions being quite good on 20m, they were my only callers.  My only other company on the 20m band was the Over the Horizon Radar.

So I headed back to 40m and found a clear spot on 7.120 and called CQ again.  This was answered by Allen VK3ARH who was portable in the Errinundra Nationa Park VKFF-0158.  I worked a further 20 stations from VK2, VK5, and VK7 before calling it a day.

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After 2 and 1/2 hours in the Murray Valley National Park I had a total of72 contacts in the log, including 10 Park to Park contacts.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5PL
  2. VK3MTB/p (Morwell National Park VKFF-0626)
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK7CW
  5. VK2PKT
  6. VK5BJE
  7. VK2YK/p (Tillgerry State Conservation Area VKFF-1377)
  8. VK5WG
  9. VK2NEO
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK7ALH
  12. VK2KYO
  13. VK3FPSR
  14. VK2VW
  15. VK5GJ
  16. VK5KHZ
  17. VK2KDP
  18. VK3SRC/p (Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333)
  19. VK5FAKV
  20. VK3AV/p (Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-0556)
  21. VK4FDJL/2
  22. VK5NFT
  23. VK3SX
  24. VI2HQ40
  25. VK2HBG
  26. VK2MGA
  27. VK3XV/p (Greater Bendigo National Park VKFF-0623)
  28. VK3NXT
  29. VK4HNS/p (Moggill Conservation Park VKFF-1594)
  30. VK7DW
  31. VK3PF/p (SOTA VK3/ VG-142)
  32. VK7DIK
  33. VK3FSPG
  34. VK5HYZ
  35. VK5KDK
  36. VK3PMG/m
  37. VK3GGG/m
  38. VK5TW
  39. VK5FD
  40. VK3AN
  41. VK1AT
  42. VK3BBB
  43. VK7FRJG
  44. VK5MRT
  45. VK3FOTO/m
  46. VK7JON
  47. VK5LSB
  48. VK2FOUZ
  49. VK3TKK/p (Organ Pipes National Park VKFF-0627)
  50. VK5JK
  51. VK5FMID
  52. VK5ZGY
  53. VK3ZPF/p (Morwell National Park VKFF-0626)
  54. VK3UH
  55. VK1AD
  56. VK5WF
  57. VK4RF
  58. VK4HA
  59. VK2IO/p (Jervis Bay National Park VKFF-0249)
  60. VK3ARH/p (Errinundra Nationa Park VKFF-0158)
  61. VK5CGM
  62. VK2JDR
  63. VK5KKT
  64. VK7FPLT
  65. VK5KLV
  66. VK7EV
  67. VK2YW
  68. VK2GRA
  69. VK5TD
  70. VK2FSVN

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK6MB

At the end of the activation I headed for the Barmah Hotel, hoping to enjoy a nice steak as I had the night before.  But sadly they did not serve meals on a Sunday evening, so that meant a 60 km round trip to Echuca for a meal.  On the way back from Echuca I spoke with Gerard VK2IO who was portable in the Jervis Bay Marine National Park VKFF-1408.

 

References.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2016, <http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/murray-valley-national-park&gt;, viewed 21st November 2016

Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Valley_National_Park&gt;, viewed 21st November 2016

Barmah National Park VKFF-0739

I had one planned park activation for Sunday 13th November 2016 and that was the Barmah National Park VKFF-0739, which is located about 250 km north of Melbourne.  This was to be another unique park for me as an activator for both the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Barmah National Park in Victoria, near the New South Wales border.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

There were some concerns prior to leaving home for my VK3 trip that I may not be able to get into Barmah National Park due to the recent heavy rain and flooding.  But after speaking with Parks Victoria staff and locals in Barmah it became evident that I could get out to the park via Moira Lakes Road.  In fact on Saturday night after activating Terrick Terrick and getting back in to Barmah, I went for a drive out on Moira Lakes Road and confirmed this.

The caravan park where I was staying still had left over sandbags on its permiter from the heavy rain and floods a few weeks prior.

Moira Lakes Road is bitumen and takes you to the south western corner of the park.  The road was in good condition but there were still the tell tale signs of flooding present with the sandbags on the side of the road.  On my way out to the park I spoke with Peter VK3ZPF who was portable in the Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158.

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About 7 km out of Barmah I reached the entry to the Barmah National Park.  The road leading in to the park normally takes you out to Barmah Lake, howver this was blocked off due tof the flooding.

As there was still a lot of water lying around, many of the tracks in the park were closed.  However the up side was that there was a huge amount of birdlife including White Faced Herons, Spoonbills, and Egrets.

There was also an abudance of Western Grey kangaroos.  Other native wildlife in the park includes Koalas and Emus.

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Barmah National Park was created in April 2010 to protect and enhance the River Red Gum forets in Victoria.  It is a large park and comprises 28,521 hectares.  Together with the adjoining Murray Valley Regional and National Parks in New South Wales, Barmah forms the largest River Red Dum forest in the world.  The forest provides important habitat, particularly for waterbirds, with over 200 species of bird recorded in the park.  Barmah is one of Victoria’s largest waterbird breeding areas.

River Red Gums, some which reach 45 metres in height and are 500 years old, line the Murray River for most of its length.  Barmah protected about 38 rare or threatened plants including Fruit Saltbush and Winged Peppergrass.  Yellow and Black Box grow on the ridges.  The River Red gums require periods of flooding and can survive water inundation for months.  Their seeds are washed onto higher ground during a flood and germinate and grow before the next flood reaches them.

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Prior to European settlement the aboriginal Yorta Yorta people occupied this land.  Scarred trees, mounds, stone artefact scatters, middens and burial sites can be found throughout Barmah National Park.

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The park also has a rich European history.  The Barmah Muster yards site has been used continuosly from the 1880’s as an essential component of cattle grazing activity by local farmers in River Red Gum forests along the Murray River.  The large timber post and rail yards were designed for management of cattle grazed in the surrounding River Red Gum forests.

The Barmah Muster is an annual three day weekend event set in and around the yards at the edge of the Barmah National Park.

http://www.barmahmuster.org/

There are various interpretive signs in the park.  One that I did find was for a fallen log from a River Red Gum.  It once grew near the island lagoon in the park, but unforunately it fell down in 1999.  It is recorded in the Significant Trees section of the 1992 Barmah State Park and Barmah State Forest Management plan as ‘Assessors Pile’ with a height of 42.2 metres and a girth of 2.9 metres.  It was subsequently placed in its current position by the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment Forests Service.

I set up alongside of the Barmah Muster yards.  It was quite a miserable morning with continual drizzle and rain and just 12 degrees C.  So despite my best attempts to operate from outside of the vehicle it was not possible.  I ended up like a drenched rat as it was whilst putting up the 80/40/20m linked dipole.  So I propped the Yaesu FT-857d on the passenger seat and ran the coax from the antenna through the passenger side window.

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Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the south western section of the Barmah National Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Prior to calling CQ I had a tune around the band and found Peter VK3ZPF on 7.090 operating portable from the Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158.  I logged Peter (5/9 both ways) and then headed up the band to find a clear frequency.  I commenced calling CQ on 7.110 and this was answered by Brian VK5FMID in Mount Gambier and then Les VK2FLEZ who was portable in the Wyrrabalong National Park VKFF-0550.  I went on to work a total of 44 stations on 7.110 from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7, thus qualifying the park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WFF) program.  This included the following further Park to Park contacts:

  • Malcolm VK3MEL/p, Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055
  • Julie VK3SRC/p, Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333
  • Allen VK3ARH/p, Alfred National Park VKFF-0618
  • Rex VK3OF/p, Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291
  • Warren VK3BYD/p, Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069
  • Gerard VK2IO/p, Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447
  • Peter VK3PF/p, Mitchell River National Park VKFF-0321 and SOTA VK3/ VG-134
  • Bernard VK3AV/p, Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264
  • Tony VK3XV/p, Lower Goulburn National Park VKFF-0741

Conditions on the 40m band were quite good, however as the morning went on, the static crashes increased in strength.

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When callers slowed down I took the opportunity of tuning across the band, hoping to get some more Park to Park contacts in the log.  It didn’t take long and I found Mick on 7.105 calling CQ from the Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742.  Mick was quite low down, 4/1, but as there was no man made noise on the band from Barmah, I was able to work Mick very comfortably with a 4/1 received from Mick.  I then found Jim VK1AT on 7.130 operating portable from the Lower Molonglo River Corridor Nature Reserve VKFF-0990, with a very strong 5/9 signal.

After speaking with Jim I headed back to 7.110 and started calling CQ again.  This was answered by Peter VK3FPSR, followed by Tom VK5NFT and then David VK5PL, all with good signals.  I worked a further 12 stations from VK2, VK3, VK5, and Vk7, including two further Park to Park contacts:

  • Johnno VK3FMPB/p, Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333
  • Tim VK3MTB/p, Morwell National Park VKFF-0626

Another interesting contact was with Dave VK2WQ who was using a home brew 2 watt double side band transceiver (5/7 both ways).

I then headed off to 20m and called CQ on 14.310 for around 5 minutes.  My only taker was Mike VK6MB who was very low down.  I was able to hear Mike but sadly he was unable to copy me.

Time was marching on, and I had hoped to activate the Murray Valley National Park in New South Wales, so I had one final tune around the 40m band before going QRT.  I found Allen VK3ARH on 7.100 who was operating portable from the Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119 with a nice strong 58 signal.  As I was signing with Allen, Paul VK3ZT called, and Allen kindly allowed me to log Paul before I hit the switch from Barmah.

So despite the rather dismal weather I had enjoyed my visit to Barmah and the activation.  I had a total of 64 contacts in the log, including 16 Park to Park contacts.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3ZPF/p (Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158)
  2. VK5FMID (Wyrrabalong National Park VKFF-0550)
  3. VK2FLEZ/p
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK5GJ
  6. VK3MEL/p (Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055)
  7. VK3PMG/m
  8. VK3GGG/m
  9. VK3SRC/p (Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333)
  10. VK1AD
  11. VK5WG
  12. VK5JK
  13. VK3SQ
  14. VK4RF
  15. VK4HA
  16. VK1DI
  17. VK2XXM
  18. VK3ELH
  19. VK3ARH/p (Alfred National Park VKFF-0618)
  20. VK5FAKV
  21. VK5KLV
  22. VK3OF/p (Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291)
  23. VK3BYD/p (Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069)
  24. VK2VW
  25. VK2YK
  26. VK2IO/p (Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447)
  27. VK3PF/p (Mitchell River National Park VKFF-0321 and SOTA VK3/ VG-134)
  28. VK5FANA
  29. VK5HOS
  30. VK5FFAB
  31. VK5AAR
  32. VK3SFG
  33. VK3AV/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264)
  34. VK5MBD
  35. VK5TW
  36. VK5NAQ
  37. VK5RM
  38. VK3XV/p (Lower Goulburn National Park VKFF-0741)
  39. VK7KJL
  40. VK2FOUZ
  41. VK7JON
  42. VK2STO
  43. VK7FMPR
  44. VK2MTC
  45. VK3PMG/p (Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742)
  46. VK3GGG/p (Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742)
  47. VK1AT/p
  48. VK3FPSR
  49. VK5NFT
  50. VK5PL
  51. VK7FRJG
  52. VK2SK
  53. VK3QB
  54. VK7DW
  55. VK2ALF/p
  56. VK2FPRM
  57. VK2VU
  58. VK5JP
  59. VK3FMPB/p (Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333)
  60. VK2FSVN
  61. VK2WQ
  62. VK3MTB/p (Morwell National Park VKFF-0626)
  63. VK3ARH/p (Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119)
  64. VK3ZT

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 2014, ‘Barmah National Park Visitor Guide’.

Terrick Terrick National Park VKFF-0630

My second planned activation of Saturday 12th November 2016 was the Terrick Terrick National Park VKFF-0630, which is located about 230 km north of Melbourne.  It is about 40 km by road from Bob VK3SX’s home at Gunbower.  This was to be another unique park for me as an activator for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA).

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Terrick Terrick National Park.  Map courtesy of protected planet.

I headed back out along the Murray Valley Highway and then along the Kow Swamp Road and onto the Leitchville-Pyramid Road.  As I travelled south the Mount Hope Nature Conservation Reserve came into view.  Currently this does not qualify for WWFF.  Mount Hope is a granite outcrop located within the 126 hectare Nature Conservation Reserve.  The mountain was first sighted in 1836 by Scottish born explorer Major Sir Thomas Mitchell who climbed Mount Hope 4 days later.  A sign of how far we have come with regards to conservation in this country are the comments of Joseph Hawdon in 1838.  Hawdon was droving cattle between Howlong in New South Wales and Adelaide when he decided to climb Mount Hope.  Hawdon stated:

“This hill appears to be inhabited by a small kangaroo of fawn colour, with a most beautiful head, and about the size of an English hare.  I shot one, and preserved its skin”.

The kangaroo he was referring to was an eastern hare-wallaby, which sadly became extinct a few years after the arrival of the European settlers.

DSC_3748.jpg

Pyramid Hill then came into view.  This is located near the town of Pyramid Hill which was named after the summit which rises to a height of 180 metres above sea level.  Not enough prominence for a peak for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  It was around this time that I made contact in the mobile with Lesley VK5LOL/3 who was portable in the Murray Sunset National Park, VKFF-0373.

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The GPS in the vehicle had its own idea on how it wanted to take me into the park, but I saw a park sign and followed that road which took me into the north western section of the park via Sylvaterre-Timms Lake Road.

DSC_3751.jpg

It wasn’t long before I reached a sign for the park and a 4WD track leading into the park (Squire Track).

Terrick Terrick National Park is 5,925 hectares in size and was gazetted as a National Park in November 1998 after celebrating 10 years as a State Park.  This was a direct result of the acquisition of the 1,277 hectare Davies sheep grazing property.  The park was further expanded in 2009 as a result of the River Red Gums Forests Investigation to include all of the nearby 12 Grassland Conservation Reserves.  The highest point in the park is Mount Terrick Terrick, also known as Mitiamo Rock.

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Above:- Map showing the Terrick Terrick National Park, including the former 12 Grassland Conservation Reserves.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Tree species located within the park include Grey Box, Yellow Box and White Cypress Pine.  In fact Victoria’s most significant stand of White Cypress Pine can be found within Terrick Terrick, with many of the trees being over 100 years old.  On and around the granite outcrops within the forest, various shrubs such as Deane’s Wattle, Snowy Mint-bush and Nodding Blue-lily can be found.  A total of 26 rare or threatened plants species can be found in the park.  Annual Buttons and Pepper Grass are endangered species that are only found in Terrick Terrick.  The park also contains the largest Victorian population of the threatened species of Bottle Bluebush, Fragrant Leek-orchid and Murray Swainson-pea.

The wooden and open grasslands of Terrick Terrick are home to over 100 species of birds, including the nationally vulnerable Plains-wanderer, Grey-crowned Babbler, Bush Stone-curlew, Mallee Ringneck Parrot, Barking Owl, and Brolga.

Various native mammals and reptiles call the park home, including the Black Wallaby,  Fait-tailed Dunnart, Striped Legless Lizard, Hooded Scaly-foot, and Tree Goanna.  The Hooded Scaly-foot, a legless lizard is considered critically endangered in Victoria, and Terrick Terrick is one of only three conservation reserves where it is known to occur in Victoria.

Major Sir Thomas Mitchell climbed nearby Pyramid Hill in 1836 and was suitably impressed by the surrounding countryside.  His favourable reports encouraged squatters with large numbers of sheep to the area.  Sadly, farming practices dramatically changed the dynamics of the pre European grassland community.

For years the area had been inhabitated by the Dja Dja Wurrung aboriginal people.  The cool granite outcrops had provided them with shelter and the plants and animals of the area had provided food.  The rock wells in the low granitic outcrops increased the water supply during the dry summers in the area.  Curving scars can be located on a number of the old Grey Box trees where they were cut to make canoes, shields, carrying bowls and material to provide shelter.  During gravel extraction operations in the park, an aboriginal skeleton was located which has been dated at 5,500 years old.

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Above:- Dja Dja Wurrung men around the time of Australian colonisation.  Image courtesy of Today Media Network.

Here is a link to an excellent site with a large amount of information about Terrick Terrick National Park.

http://users.mcmedia.com.au/~stocky/terrick_terrick.html

I set up just off Squire Track.  There was a nice clearing here which allowed me to pull just off the track and stretch out the 80/40/20m linked dipole.  The ground cover here was also quite low, and as it was a warm day (26 degrees C) this suited me fine as it gave me a little warning of snakes.  As it turns out I was to later have a close encounter with a goanna.

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Above:- Aerial showing my operating spot in the north western section of the park.  Image courtesy of Google maps.

The mosquitos were also vicious in this park and they, along with the very strong winds and heat, prevented me from operating outside of the vehicle.  I ran the coax from the linked dipole in through the passenger side window

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The 40m band was very busy with all the KRMNPA activity and it took me a little while to find a clear spot to start calling CQ.  My first contact was a Park to Park (P2P) contact with Peter VK3PF who was portable in the Baw Baw National Park VKFF-0020.  A nice way to start the activation with a Park to Park.  This was followed by another P2P contact, this time with Bernard VK3AV who was activating the Organ Pipes National Park VKFF-0627.  About five QSOs later I made a few more P2P contacts.

Band conditions on 40m were quite good, despite the rather loud static crashes from the electrical storm activity around Australia.  I went on to work a total of 46 stations on 40m which included the following further P2P contacts:

  • Joe VK3SRC/p, Point Nepean National Park VKFF-0628
  • Tim VK3MTB/p, The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484
  • Gerard VK2IO/p, Budderoo National Park VKFF-0062
  • Norm VK3XCI/p, Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291
  • Peter VK3ZPF/p, Snowy River National Park VKFF-0455
  • Lesley VK2FLEZ/p, Brisbane Water National Park VKFF-0056
  • John VK2AWJ/3, Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-0539
  • David VK3III/p, Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291
  • Rob VK4AAC/3, Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park VKFF-0765
  • Mike VK6MB/p, Walpole-Normalup Inlets Marine Park VKFF-1456
  • Allen VK3ARH/p, Lind National Park VKFF-0287

I was very pleased to work Lesley VK2FLEZ on his very first park activation.  Well done Lesley and welcome to the world of park activating.

I also worked a number of QRP stations (all running 5 watts) including Roy VK3FRC (5/9 both ways), David VK2JDR (5/7 sent & 5/6 received), Nev VK5WG (5/8 sent and 5/9 received), Ian VK3AXF (5/7 both ways), and Greg VK5GJ (5/7 both ways).

I had just finished working Allen VK3ARH when I heard a crack and proceeded to see my squid pole fall to the ground.  It had snapped in the high winds.  Not surprising really, because this was one of my original squid poles and was around 4 years old.  I apologise to the VK2 that was calling as this happened.  By the time I had retrieved my spare squid pole and returned to 7.135, they were gone.

DSC_3756.jpg

I then headed to 14.310 and started calling CQ.  This was answered by John VK6NU who was on SOTA peak Mount Randall VK6/ SW-039, which is located within the Monadnocks Conservation Park VKFF-1459.  This was followed by Mike VK6MB in the Walpole-Normalup Inlets Marine Park VKFF-1456 and also Hans VK6XN who was in the Kalamunda National Park VKFF-0253.  Mike VK6MB had the strongest signal of the three, with a very nice 5/7.  Both John and Hans were 5/3 and perfectly readable as there was no man made noise on the bands.  Despite a number of further CQ calls, my only other taker on 20m was Kio JA8RJE.

I had a quick tune around the 20m band and the only activity I found was the ANZA DX Net, which I decided to book in to.  I there worked Maurice ZL1ANF in New Zealand, and Jim E51JD in the Cook Islands.  At the conclusion of the net I tuned across the band again and found Phil VK6ADF on 14.310 in the Alexander Morrison National Park VKFF-0002.

I then headed back to 40m where I spoke with Jarrad VK6FFAR in the Tuart Forest National Park VKFF-0498, followed by Neil VK4HNS who was activating the Crowsnest National Park VKFF-0121.

I then decided to try 80m.  So it was down with the squid pole and in with the links for the 80 m section of the linked dipole.  I headed to 3.610 and started calling CQ and this was answered by Len VK3DCF in Wodonga with a good 5/8 signal.  Len gave me 5/9.  It was 5.20 p.m. local time and still bright daylight and the 80m band was performing beautifully.  Sadly I had no phone coverage so I was unable to spot myself on parksnpeaks, and as a result despite numerous CQ calls, Len was my only taker on 80m.

To complete the activation I went back to 14.310 and put out a number of CQ calls.  However my only taker was Alan VK6XL.

It was time to pack up and head off to Barmah.  I still had about one hour drive ahead of me.  I was very happy as I had qualified the park for WWFF, with a total of 58 contacts in the log, including  18 Park to Park contacts.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF/p (Baw Baw National Park VKFF-0020)
  2. VK3AV/p (Organ Pipes National Park VKFF-0627)
  3. VK3BL
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK2KYO
  6. VK3SFG
  7. VK3SRC/p (Point Nepean National Park VKFF-0628)
  8. VK3MTB/p (The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484)
  9. VK2IO/p (Budderoo National Park VKFF-0062)
  10. VK3FRC
  11. VK2JDR
  12. VK5WG
  13. VK3SX
  14. VK5FANA
  15. VK3SQ
  16. VK1AT
  17. VK3AXF
  18. VK7DW
  19. VK2YW
  20. VK3XCI/p (Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291)
  21. VK5CP
  22. VK3ZPF/p (Snowy River National Park VKFF-0455)
  23. VK5GK
  24. VK2FLEZ/p (Brisbane Water National Park VKFF-0056)
  25. VK3GGG
  26. VK3PMG
  27. VK2QH
  28. VK2AWJ/3 (Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-0539)
  29. VK3III/p (Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291)
  30. VK4AAC/3 (Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park VKFF-0765)
  31. VK3FPSR
  32. VK5TW
  33. VK5FGRY
  34. VK7JON/m
  35. VK5CM
  36. VK6MB/p (Walpole-Normalup Inlets Marine Park VKFF-1456)
  37. VK5TR
  38. VK5FCLK
  39. VK5PL
  40. VK2SX
  41. VK3FJCQ
  42. VK5PCM
  43. VK3ARH/p (Lind National Park VKFF-0287)
  44. VK5KLV
  45. VK5LSB
  46. VK6FFAR/p (Tuart Forest National Park VKFF-0498)
  47. VK4HNS/p (Crowsnest National Park VKFF-0121)
  48. VK6FGGT

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6NU/p (Monadnocks Conservation Park VKFF-1459)
  2. VK6MB/p (Walpole-Normalup Inlets Marine Park VKFF-1456)
  3. JA8RJE
  4. VK6XN/p (Kalamunda National Park VKFF-0253)
  5. ZL1ANF
  6. E51JD
  7. VK6XL

The following stations were worked on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3DCF

At the conclusion of the activation I had a quick 15 minute exploratory drive through the park on Squire Track.  I intend to come back here to Terrick Terrick to do some further exploring in the 4WD, including a look at Mount Terrick Terrick.

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Below shows a map of my travels on Saturday.

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After booking in to the Barmah caravan park, I made the short walk down to the Barmah Hotel where I enjoyed a few Bundy and Cokes and a nice steak.

DSC_3772.jpg

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-7-37-14-pm

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 2013, “Terrick Terrick Visitor Guide’.

Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hope_(Victoria)&gt;, viewed 20th November 2016

Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_Hill&gt;, viewed 20th November 2016

Gunbower National Park VKFF-0740

My first planned activation for the 2016 activation weekend for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award was Saturday morning, 12th November, 2016, at the Gunbower National Park VKFF-0740.  The park is located on the banks of the Murray River and is around 250 km north of Melbourne.

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After leaving Kerang I headed out along the Murray Valley Highway to the little town of Gunbower.  Along the way I spoke with Gerard VK2IO who was portable in Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298.  It was here in Gunbower, that I met up with Bob VK3SX, a Gunbower resident, who I had spoken to the day prior and who had promised me access to the park, as many sections of Gunbower and various other parks along the Murray were closed due to recent flooding.  We drove out from Gunbower to Masters Landing where we accessed the park via a wet and boggy 4WD track.  Access was definitely only via 4WD.

As we approached the park I spoke with Jonathan VK7JON and Rod VK7FRJG on 40m.  Both had great signals into my mobile.

Our operating spot was a great location, right alongside of the Murray River.  There was even a wooden table and bench in place as a ready made shack.  It was quite a mild morning with a rather strong breeze.

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Above:- Map showing our operating spot in the southern section of the park at Masters Landing.  Map courtesy of Parks Victoria.

Gunbower National Park is 8,892 hectares in size and was established in June 2010.   Gunbower Forest, including the Gunbower National Park and Gunbower State Forest, is an internationally significant floodplain system and is the second largest River Red Gum forest in Victoria.  Gunbower has around 200 plant species.  The two main forest types are River Red Gum in the wetter north-west and Black Box and Grey Box in the higher south-east sections.

We were set up in very close proximity to Masters Hut.  In 1860 Frederick Masters left Echuca in a rowing boat for Swan Hill.  He made camp at the site now known as Masters Landing, where he subsequently built a permanent shelter from the bark of Grey-box trees.  The house is still standing more than 150 years later.

During the period of the Echuca river trade between the late 1850’s and the late 1880’s, a riverboat landing stage was located at Master’s house.  Goods were off loaded at Masters Landing and taken to Gunbower by horse drawn dray or wagon.  Produce was brought to the site for the return trip to Echuca of loaded on to boards headed up the Darling River.

Frederick Masters was a commercial fisherman and worked along the length of Gunbower Island.  He is also said to have built his own boatds and took his catch to market in Echuca and surrounding towns by horse and cart.  He was married to Emma and they had 12 children.  Ancestors of Frederick lived in the house until 2010, when the Victorian Government evicted them due to a sweeping ban on private homes on crown land.

Over 190 species of native fauna have been recorded at Gunbower.  A total of 30 of those are threatened species and include the Inland Carpet Python, Silver Perch, Giant Bullfrog, Broad-shelled Turtle and Squirrel Gliders.  Kangaroos, emus and koalas can be found in the park.  Over 200 species of birds have been recorded in the park, which is one of the largest breeding grounds for waterbirds in Victoria.  This includes some of the 100 breeding pairs of White-Bellied Sea Eagles remaining in Victoria.  Other birds found in the park include the Great Egret, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, White necked Heron, Spoonbills, Darters, Australian White Ibis, and Australian Grebe.

It was a beautiful mild morning with just a few people camping around 200 metres away from where Bob and I set up.  We were all set up and ready to go by around 2240 UTC (around 9.40 a.m. local time).  I headed to 7.144 on 40m and started calling CQ and this was answered by Neil VK4HNS who was portable in the Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427.  A nice way to start the activation with a Park to Park contact.  Next up was Karl VK2GKA, followed by John VK5BJE, and then Mike VK6MB who was portable in the Walpole-Normalup Inlets Costal Park VKFF-1456.

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I went on to qualify the park for the global WWFF program, with 47 contacts in the log.  This included the following further seven Park to Park contacts:

  • Gerard VK2IO/p, Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298
  • Tim VK3MTB/p, The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484
  • David VK3TUN/p, Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296
  • Hiro VK3EHG/p, Dandenong Ranges National Park VKFF-0132
  • Joe VK3SRC/p, Point Nepean National Park VKFF-0268
  • Mick VK3PMG/p & VK3GGG/p, Kara Kara National Park VKFF-0629
  • Bernard VK3AV/p, Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055

Bob then jumped on the radio for a short time making a total of 7 contacts into VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK7.  Bob then left but not before we arranged for me to head to Bob’s place at the end of the activation.

It had now clicked over to be a new UTC day and I resumed calling CQ on 7.144.  This was answered by Lesley VK5LOL/3 who was portable in the Murray Sunset National Park VKFF-0373.  I worked a further 9 stations from VK2, VK3, and VK5 before things started to slow down a little with callers.  So I took the opportunity of looking across the 40m band.  I found Gerald VK2HBG using the special call of VI2HQ40 on 7.088 and gave Gerald a shout.

I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole and headed up to 14.310 on 20m.  Sadly the Over the Horizon Radar was very strong and made it particularly difficult.  Only two stations were logged on 20m.  They being John VK6NU and Hans VK6XN.

I then headed back to 40m and called CQ on 7.150 and this was answered by Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Next was Greg VK2QE mobile, followed by two more Park to Park contacts: Gerard VK2IO in the Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298 and Tim VK3MTB in The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484.  Despite a number of CQ calls I only logged one further station and that was Karl VK2GKA.

So I had one last tune around the 40m band before going QRT and logged three further Park to Park contacts.  The first being with Tony VK3XV who was portable in the Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620.  Next up was Rob VK2QR who as activating the Wollemi National Park VKFF-0544.  And my final contact from Gunbower was with Peter VK3PF who was portable in the Baw Baw National Park VKFF-0020.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4HNS/p (Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427)
  2. VK2GKA
  3. VK5BJE
  4. VK6MB/p (Walpole-Normalup Inlets Costal Park VKFF-0514)
  5. VK1DI
  6. VK3PF
  7. VK2IO/p (Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298)
  8. VK2VW
  9. VK3MTB/p
  10. VK3SFG
  11. VK8GM
  12. VK3TUN/p (Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296)
  13. VK5WG
  14. VK3KMH
  15. VK3SQ
  16. VK7DW
  17. VK2KYO
  18. VK5FMWW/m
  19. VK5FVSV/m
  20. VK3EHG/p (Dandenong Ranges National Park VKFF-0132)
  21. VK2LX
  22. VK5FMID
  23. VK3UH
  24. VK3SRC/p (Point Nepean National Park VKFF-0268
  25. VK5ZEA/m
  26. VK3GGG/m
  27. VK3PMG/m
  28. VK5EE
  29. VK1AD
  30. VK5GR
  31. VK2MOR
  32. VK3ZT
  33. VK5KLV
  34. VK3XV/m
  35. VK2XXM
  36. VK3FOTO/m
  37. VK5FDEC
  38. VK3FCMC
  39. VK2HL
  40. VK3MLU
  41. VK3PMG/p (Kara Kara National Park VKFF-0629)
  42. VK3GGG/p (Kara Kara National Park VKFF-0629)
  43. VK5FANA
  44. VK1AT
  45. VK3XPT
  46. VK3BKT
  47. VK3AV/p (Birsbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055)
  48. VK5LOL/3 (Murray Sunset National Park VKFF-0373)
  49. VK3FRAB
  50. VK4FDJL/2
  51. VK3HBG
  52. VK5JK
  53. VK3ZMD
  54. VK2FJCQ
  55. VK5KKT
  56. VK5TW
  57. VK5IS
  58. VI2HQ40
  59. VK5HS
  60. VK2QE/m
  61. VK2IO/p (Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298)
  62. VK3MTB/p (The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484)
  63. VK2GKA
  64. VK3XV/p (Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620)
  65. VK2QR/p (Wollemi National Park VKFF-0544)
  66. VK3PF/p (Baw Baw National Park VKFF-0020)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6NU
  2. VK6XN

So after 3 hours in the park I had a total of 68 contacts in the log including 15 Park to Park contacts.  This was another unique park for me for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and a unique park as an activator for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award.

At the end of the activation I headed around to Bob VK3SX’s place, or ‘The Ranch’ as he calls it.  A very nice DXing spot.  After a coffee and a chat, it was time to hit the road and head to the Terrick Terrick National Park.

 

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 2014, ‘Gunbower National Park Visitor Guide’.

Herald Sun, 2016, <http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/kicked-out-after-147-years/story-e6frf7jo-1225713919447&gt;, viewed 19th November 2016

Australian e-Heritage Portal, 2016, <http://eheritage.metadata.net/record/VIC-112676&gt;, viewed 19th November 2016

Kerang Regional Park VKFF-0970

My second planned activation for Friday 11th November 2016 was the Kerang Regional Park VKFF-0970, which is located on the edge of the town of Kerang itself.

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-47-56-am

Above:- Map showing the location of the Kerang Regional Park.  Map courtesy of whereis.

Kerang Regional Park was established in June 2010 and is 1,138 hectares in size.  The Loddon River flows through the park.  Kerang is believed to an aboriginal word for Cockatoo.

The park was alive with birds during my visit.  The Eastern Rosella below sat on a branch just above the vehicle for a good 30 minutes.  He/she seemed totally unphased by my activity.

I accessed the park via a 4WD track on the eastern side of the Loddon River.  This took me right down alongside of the Loddon.

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Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the park.  Image courtesy of http://www.bing.com

It was physically impossible to operate from outside of the vehicle as the mosquitoes were so vicious.  It didn’t matter how much mosquito repellant I applied, they would not desist.  So rather reluctantly I operated from the drivers seat of the HiLux with the coax running in through the passenger window to the Yaesu FT-857d sitting on the passenger seat.

After setting up I headed to 7.144 and found Gerard VK2IO was there calling CQ from the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area VKFF-1329 with a very nice 5/9 signal.  After logging Gerard I then headed down the band to 7.139 and started calling CQ.  Rick VK4RF/VK4HA came back to my CQ call, followed by John VK5BJE and then Neil VK4HNS who was portable in the Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427.  This was a good start to the activation, with a few Park to Park contacts in the log.

The 40m band was in very good condition however the static crashes were S9 plus due to a large amount of electrical storms in South Australia and Victoria.  My wife had phoned me just prior to the activation to advise that many of the vehicles in her work car park had their windscreens smashed due to very heavy hail.

I was pleased to be able to log stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and New Zealand.  Sadly I know there were some other stations calling who I was just unable to pull out underneath the static crashes.  I logged a total of 19 sttaions on 40m before heading to the 80m band.  My last station on 40m before QSYing was Andrew VK1AD who was portable on SOTA peak Isaacs Ridge VK1/ AC-041 located within the Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0845.

dsc_3699

After inserting the links in the 80m section of the 80/40/20m linked dipole I headed to 3.610 and commenced calling CQ.  My call was answered by Mick VK3PMG/VK3GGG with a good 5/7 signal.  This was followed by Chris VK3SOT, Ron VK3VBI, and finally Paul VK3IH.  Unfortunately it was incredibly noisy on 80m with very loud static crashes and despite numerous further CQ calls I had no more takers.

So I headed back to 7.139 on 40m.  It didn’t take long for a mini pile up to form.  Third contact was another Park to Park, with Rex VK3OF who was portable in the Hattah Kulyne National Park VKFF-0231.  About half a dozen contacts later I spoke with Marcus VK2SK who advised that there were some USA stations calling me.  So I had a listen and called for ‘stations outside of VK’ and logged Gordie W5AZ in Louisiana (5/9 sent and 5/5 received).  I put a few more calls outside of VK and spoke with John ZL1JRE in Whangarei in New Zealand.  A few QSOs later I also logged Rick WA7ND in Oregon, and Steve ZL1PWR in Auckland in New Zealand.

I also managed to bag my fifth Park to Park contact from Kerang, and this was with Tim VK3MTB who was portable in the Tarra Bulga National Park VKFF-0480.

I logged a total of 36 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, VK7, New Zealand and USA, before heading off to the 7.130 DX Net.  Sadly I was only to stay around for a short period on the net, logging Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington and Peter VK2STO in Lightning Ridge, before the electrical storm was on top of me.  It was time to go QRT and head back to the caravan park.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO/p (Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area VKFF-1329)
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK4HNS/p (Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427)
  6. VK3FCMC
  7. VK4CGW
  8. VK2YK
  9. VK2VW
  10. VK3MHY
  11. VK3STU
  12. VK7DW
  13. VK5KLV
  14. VK4VW
  15. ZL4KD
  16. VK5GJ
  17. VK2NEO
  18. VK1AD/p (SOTA Isaacs Ridge VK1/ AC-041 & Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0845)
  19. VK2GKA
  20. VK3SFG
  21. VK3OF/p (Hattah Kulyne National Park VKFF-0231)
  22. VK6MB
  23. VK4FFAB
  24. VK3MVP
  25. VK7FRJG
  26. VK3TKK/m
  27. VK2KDP
  28. VK2SK
  29. W5AZ
  30. ZL1JRE
  31. VK5WG
  32. VK5ZGY/m
  33. VK4SMA
  34. VK5FANA
  35. VK3LSD
  36. VK2FJCQ
  37. VK2DX
  38. WA7ND
  39. VK2QA
  40. VK5EE
  41. VK3ARH
  42. VK2QK
  43. VK2JMW
  44. VK3MTB/p (Tarra Bulga National Park VKFF-0480)
  45. ZL1PWR
  46. VK7VEK
  47. VK3FLCS
  48. VK3ZMD
  49. VK5FMID
  50. VK2QH
  51. VK3FSPG
  52. VK2PF
  53. VK2XRC/p
  54. VK3AAT
  55. ZL2ASH
  56. VK2STO

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PMG
  2. VK3GGG
  3. VK3SOT
  4. VK3VBI
  5. VK3IH

References.

Parks Victoria, 2016, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/kerang-regional-park&gt;, viewed 19th November 2016

Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerang&gt;

Leaghur State Park VKFF-0762

It was a bright and early start for me on Friday morning (11th November 2016).  I was up at 6.00 a.m. and after breakfast and loading of the Toyota HiLux, I was on the road, heading towards Victoria.  My first planned overnight stop was the little town of Kerang in Victoria, and this was a journey of about 550 km through the Mallee region of South Australia and into North East Victoria.

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Above:- Map showing my travelling route from Mount Barker in South Australia to Kerang in Victoria.  Map courtesy of plotaroute

I travelled south east along the South Eastern Freeway until I reached the intersection of the Mallee Highway and the Dukes Highway just outside of Tailem Bend.  It was here that I turned off to travel east along the Mallee Highway through the little towns of Jabuk, Parrakie, Lameroo and Pinnaroo until I reached the State border of South Australia and Victoria.

Along the way I booked in to the Mid South Coast Amateur Radio Club Net on 40m being run by John VK2NJP.

DSC_3631.jpg

I then stopped briefly for a coffee at Murrayville, a little town about 22 km east of the border.  The town is located in an agricultural corridor which is bounded on the north by the Murray Sunset National Park and to the south by the Big Desert Wilderness Park.  The little Cobb and Co Cafe dates back to 1911 when it was first used as the local Fruit and Veg shop.

The shop takes its name from the Cobb & Co coaches which passed through the area back in the mid 1850’s.  Gold was discovered in Victoria during the 1850’s and as a result people from all over the world rushed to the diggings in Victoria.  Four young Americans, Freeman Cobb, John Murray Peck, James Swanton and John Lambert commenced a stagecoach company to fulfil the need for transport.  On the 30th January 1854 the very first Cobb & Co coach ran from Melbourne to the Forest Creek diggings at Castlemaine.

I continued east heading towards Ouyen, passing through the little towns of Cowangie, Boinka, Linga, Underbool and Walpeup.  Along the way I spoke with John VK2AWJ/3 who was activating the French Island National Park VKFF-0622.  I then booked in to the 7105 Net being run by Ron VK3MRH.

Google maps at home had indicated that after leaving Ouyen I would then travel through Mittyack and Gerahmim and on to Nyah.  But the GPS in the vehicle had some different ideas.  At Walpeup the GPS guided me down to Patchewollock and then on to Sea Lake.  Along the way I stopped off briefly to have a look at Lake Tyrell which is Victoria’s largest salt lake covering 20,860 hectares.

I then continued on to Culgoa and Lalbert until I reached Kerang.  Along the way  had a chat to Julie VK3SRC who was operating portable at a school in Melbourne, and also spoke with some of her students.  I have since spoken with Julie and she has told me that the students were amazed that they were speaking with someone driving along in their car.  I also spoke with Peter VK3TKK who was portable in the Reef Hills State Park VKFF-0773, and Brett VK3FLCS who was portable in the Heathcote-Graytown National Park VKFF-0624.  A little while later I spoke again with VK3TKK who was this time operating portable from the Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742.

I booked in to the caravan park and then had a quick look around the town.  Kerang is a rural town situated on the Loddon River, with a population of about 4,000 people.  The word Kerang is aboriginal for cockatoo.  Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to visit the area in 1836.  In 1860 the Burke and Wills expedition also passed through Kerang on their journey to cross Australia from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

I then headed out to Leaghur State Park VKFF-0762 which is located about 32 km south of Kerang on the Boort-Kerang Road.  The park is about 280 km from Melbourne.  This was to be a unique park for me as an activator in the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-02-36-pm

Above:- Map showing the location of the Leaghur State Park.  Map courtesy of Forest Explorer

There were no issues in locating the park as it was very well signposted on the Boort-Kerang Road.  Just inside the park entrance is an information board with a map of the park and various other information.  However it was only a very quick read of the board for me, as the minute I jumped out of the vehicle, the mosquitos were all over me.  They were absolutely relentless.

Leaghur State Park which is 2,022 hectares in size, is located on the Loddon River floodplain in Victoria;s north west.  Leaghur protects some of the most significant Black Box wetland and woodland communities in Victoria.  Flooding can occur in winter and spring, replenishing the park with rich, stunning wetlands and vigorous growth.  This flooding is essential for the health of Black Box communities.

The park was originally managed by the Forests Commission of Victoria as Leaghur Forest Reserve and, from 1970, as Leaghur Forest Park.  The Land Conservation Council in its Final Recommendations for the Mallee Area Review in 1989, proposed the park be renamed as Leaghur State Park.  The park was proclaimed as a State Park on the 23rd September 1992.  The Victorian Government increased the size of the Leaghur State Park by including the Appin State Forest and Leaghur Wildlife Reserve into the State Park, in June 2010 to protect and enhance the River Red Gum forests in Victoria.

The park supports a large variety of birdlife including Whistling Kites, Brown Falcons, and Superb Fairy-wrens.  The Grey-crowned Babbler which is listed as being of State significance can also be found in the park.  Other threatened birds include the Great Egret which breeds within Leaghur.  In fact a total of almost 100 species of bird have been recorded in Leaghur.

The park is also home to wallabies and kangaroos which can often be seen grazing on the open plains at dawn and dusk.

Nearly 140 native flora species have been recorded within the park.  Of those, 14 species are listed as rare or threatened.  A further 24 species are considered to be of regional significance.

Early settlers found the Black Box had limited value as sawn timber and harvesting was limited.  Today, fine old trees survive, with much of the habitat still intact.   Scar trees and oven mounds, reminders of the Aboriginal people who hunted in the area, and of settlers seeking materials for shelter.  Dairy Track is a reminder of the farmers who travelled this track to deliver fresh cream to the Appin dairies, while wild oats and other weeds suggest that the Red Plain was once used for cropping.  The park has a rich history of stock grazing and scattered settlement, although little evidence remains of three early homesteads built in the park.

After entering the park I drove down Chamberlain Track which joins Lake Merran Track.  I was hoping to get down to the picnic area at Lake Merran.  But despite the dry appearance of the park there was a huge amount of water lying around.  Chamberlain Track was passable but even in 4WD I found Lake Merran Track far to wet and boggy.  I didn’t fancy on getting myself bogged in the first park for the trip.

So I turned back around and headed to the picnic area I had seen when I first entered the park off Main Track.  Fortunately there was a wooden bench and table at this spot so there was no need for my deck chair and fold up table.  I used the Yaesu FT-857d set at 40 watts output for this activation, along with my 80/40/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre squid pole.

Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 7.20.05 pm.png

Above:- Map of the Leaghur State Park showing my operating spot in the park.  Map courtesy of Parks Victoria

First in the log was John VK5BJE with a great 5/9 signal, followed by park regular Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, and then Brett VK3FLCS who was portable in the Heathcote-Graytown National Park VKFF-0624.  Two more Park to Park contacts immediately followed.  The first being with Norm VK3XCI who was portable in the Wyperfeld National Park VKFF-0549, and then Joe VK3SRC who was portable at Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750.  A handful of contacts later I then logged Rob VK4AAC/3 who was activating the Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291.

The 40m band was working nicely other than the very loud static crashes at times.  Signals were very good from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7.   Contact number 30 during this activation was quite special in that it was with Terry VK2/G4UUQ who was on his second to last day of holidays in Australia.  Terry was a retired National Parks Ranger in the United Kingdom and was interested to hear about the various parks programs, particularly the upcoming Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award weekend.

I logged three further Park to Park contacts during this activation, making seven P2P QSOs in total.  Those were with Peter VK3TKK/p in the Mount Buffalo National Park VKFF-0287, Neil VK4HNS/p in the Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427, and Gerard VK2IO/p in the Illawarra State Conservation Area VKFF-1329.

Other interesting contacts including logging Gerald VK2IO who was using the special call of VI2HQ40 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Mid South Coast Amateur Radio Club.  Greg VK5GJ who often runs QRP was logged using just 500 milliwatts (5/3 from the Adelaide Hills).  And it was also very pleasing to be able to log Colin VK4PDX who has just upgraded from VK4FAAS.  I was Colin’s first ever contact with his brand new call.

So after 1 and 3/4 hours in the park I had qualified Leaghur State Park for WWFF with a total of 55 contacts.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK3GGG
  3. VK3PMG
  4. VK3FLCS/p (Heathcote-Graytown National Park VKFF-0624)
  5. VK3XCI/p (Wyperfeld National Park VKFF-0549)
  6. VK3SRC/p (Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750)
  7. VK3SQ
  8. VK3SFG
  9. VK2KYO
  10. VK4AAC/3 (Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291)
  11. VK7DW
  12. VK5RM
  13. VK5GJ
  14. VK5EE
  15. VK3PF
  16. VK5FD/p
  17. VK3ZPF
  18. VK4FDJL/2
  19. VK7FRJG
  20. VK3MCX
  21. VK2VW
  22. VK2HHA
  23. VK2EJW
  24. VK7DON
  25. VK3JP
  26. VK7CC
  27. VK5GI
  28. VK2JAZ
  29. VK2FDAV
  30. VK2/G4UUQ
  31. VK2QK
  32. VK5FANA
  33. VK1AT
  34. VI2HQ40
  35. VK5WG
  36. VK5KLV
  37. VK3TKK/p (Mount Buffalo National Park VKFF-0287)
  38. VK4HNS/p (Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427)
  39. VK5IS
  40. VK2YW
  41. VK5FMJC
  42. VK5CZ
  43. VK5NEX
  44. VK5VRB
  45. VK5GJ (QRP 500 milliwatts)
  46. VK2IO/p (Illawarra State Conservation Area VKFF-1329)
  47. VK4PDX
  48. VK7JON

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6XN
  2. VK6NU
  3. VK6EA
  4. VK5MBD
  5. VK4KUS
  6. VK3SX
  7. VK6MB

 

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 2010, ‘Leaghur State Park Visitor Guide’

Parks Victoria, 1998, ‘Leaghur State Park Management Plan’.

Sea Lake Tourism, 2016, <http://sealake.vic.au/about/lake-tyrrell/&gt;, viewed 19th November 2016

Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerang&gt;, viewed 19th November 2016

Cobb & Co Museum, 2016, <http://www.cobbandco.qm.qld.gov.au/About+Us/History/Legend+of+Cobb+Co#.WC-MpeF97u4&gt;, viewed 19th November 2016

Trip to Victoria

On Friday 11th November 2016 I headed to Victoria for the annual parks activation weekend for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award.  And whilst interstate I had arranged to team up with fellow Director of the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA), Andrew VK6AS to deliver some presentations.  I returned home last night (Thursday 17th Nov 2016) after delivering 4 WIA presentations and activating a total of nine parks and five summits of the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.

WIA PRESENTATIONS

  • Four (4)
    • Tangambalanga VICTORIA
    • Frankston & Mornington Peninsula Amateur Radio Club, Melbourne VICTORIA
    • Eastern & Mountain District Amateur Radio Club (EMDRC), Melbourne VICTORIA
    • Geelong Amateur Radio Club, Geelong VICTORIA

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-12-43-38-pm

PARKS

  • Nine (9)

SOTA SUMMITS

  • Five (5)

Details of the SOTA and Parks activations are as follows…..

Friday 11th November 2016

Leaghur State Park VKFF-0762

  • 55 contacts
  • 7 Park to Park (P2P) contacts

Kerang Regional Park VKFF-0970

  • 61 contacts
  • 5 P2P contacts
  • 1 SOTA contact

Saturday 12th November 2016

Gunbower National Park VKFF-0740

  • 68 contacts
  • 16 Park to Park contacts

Terrick Terrick National Park VKFF-0630

  • 59 contacts
  • 19 P2P
  • 1 SOTA contact

Sunday 13th November 2016

Barmah National Park VKFF-0739

  • 64 contacts
  • 16 Park to Park
  • 1 SOTA contact

Murray Valley National Park VKFF-1178

  • 72 contacts
  • 10 P2P contacts
  • 1 SOTA contact

Monday 14th November 2016

SOTA  Huon Hill VK3/ VE-237 and Wodonga Regional Park VKFF-0980

  • 32 contacts
  • 4 P2P contacts

SOTA Mount Baranduda VK3/ VE-189 and Baranduda Regional Park VKFF-0959

  • 30 contacts
  • 1 P2P contact

Tuesday 15th November 2016

Wednesday 16th November 2016

SOTA One Tree Hill VK3/ VS-036 and Ararat Hills Regional Park VKFF-0958

  • 74 contacts
  • 2 P2P contact
  • 2 SOTA contacts

Thursday 17th November 2016

SOTA Blue Mountain VK3/ VS-015

  • 22 contacts

SOTA Point 756 Pyrenees VK3/ VS-018

  • 33 contacts
  • 3 Park contacts