On Friday 3rd February 2017, Marija, Olivia and I spent the entire day at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, and then the Gold Museum. We had a fantastic time and had not been here for around 10 years, when Olivia was just 7. Set in the Australian 1850s, Sovereign Hill is located on a 25 hectare site which comprises over 60 historically recreated buildings, with costumed staff and volunteers. We highly recommend a visit here. You can easily spend a full day or two at Sovereign Hill.
We had a bit of time to spare before attending the Light and Sound show ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ at Sovereign Hill at 9.00 p.m. local time, so Marija and I headed out to the Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964 for a quick park activation. This activation was totally spur of the moment and not originally planned.
Creswick Regional Park is situated about 14 km north of Ballarat near the little town of Creswick, and covers an area of about 930 hectares.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Creswick Regional Park, north of Ballarat. Map courtesy of Forest Explorer.
The Common Heath, which is Victoria’s floral emblem is one of the plants frequently found growing in the park under eucalypts. The park is home to numerous bird species including Grey Currawongs, Crimson Rosellas, White-throated Tree-creepers, Grey Fantails, thornbills, robins and honeyeaters. Two migratory species found in the gullies are the Rufous Fantail and Satin Flycatcher. Numerous native mammals call the park home including Koalas and Black wallabies.
During the 1850’s and 1860’s, much of thie forest in this are was heavily logged to supply timber to the gold mines in Ballarat and Creswick. Sadly, by the end of the 1890s, the forests had mostly been cleared to support the mining industry. Numerous gold mining sites can be found in the forest.
We soon reached the little town of Creswick, which was established during the Victorian gold rushes of the 1850’s. The town was named after the Creswick family who were the pioneers settlers of the region. Three brothers, Henry, Charles and John Creswick, started a large sheep station nearby in 1842. The population of Creswick reached a peak of 25,000 during the gold rush. Today the population is around 3,500 people.
Creswick was the site of the New Australasian Gold Mine disaster on 12 December 1882, Australia’s worst mining disaster in which 22 men drowned. More information can be found at….
Above: Article from The Telegraph Sat 16 Dec 1882 re the disaster, and the scene at the head of the shaft with the braceman announcind the death of the miners. Images courtesy of Trove.
On our way to the park Marija telephoned John VK5BJE who was kind enough to place some alerts for us. We headed through Creswick and then east into the park and found a nice little clearing in amongst the scrub to set up. We ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 80/40/20m linked dipole on the 7 m squid pole for this activation.
Above:- Map showing our operating spot in the Creswick Regional Park. Map courtesy of Forest Explorer.
As we were a little short on for time, Marija decided not to operate from the park, in the hope that I might be able to reach the 44 QSO threshold for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. The park was alive with cicadas, the loudest insect in the world. It is believed that the sound produced by some communal species of cicada can act as a defence against predatory birds and some are even loud enough (120 decibels) to be painful to the human ear. Cicadas also often sing in chorus, which makes it more difficult for a predator to locate an individual.
I headed to 7.144 but found this to be occupied by Bill W1ZY in Rhode Island USA, who was calling CQ. I gave Bill a call but unfortunately he was unable to hear me. So I moved up to 7.150 and called CQ and this was answered by John VK5BJE with a strong 5/9 signal from the Adelaide Hills. This was followed by Ian VK5ZGG, Charlie VK5KDK and then Herb VK5HK. The band was quite busy and I started to get a little bleed over from a European station just 2 kc below me. But fortunately all callers were very strong so I had no problems in receiving the callers.
I worked a total of 24 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK4, VK5, VK7, and New Zealand. In fact I logged three New Zealand stations: Owen ZL2GLG/ZL4 in Central Otago in his motorhome, Paul ZL2BEF in Masterton near the bottom of the North Island, and Bill ZL2ACA in Mapua near Nelson on the top of the South Island.
The close in propagation around Victoria was not working on 40m, so I lowered the squid pole and inserted the links in the linked dipole and headed to 3.610 on 80m. There I logged 6 stations from VK3 and VK7. But despite band conditions on 80m being quite good, I did not have any further callers, despite numerous CQ calls.
I had worked out that I was running out of time and would not accrue m 44 QSOs, so I headed to 14.310 on 20m where I worked Hans VK6XN and finally Yoshi JA3KKE.
It was time to pack up and head back to the motel for a freshen up and then back to Sovereign Hill. I had a total of 32 contacts in the log in just under 60 minutes. This is a park which I will need to return to, to pick up my 12 contacts to qualify the park for WWFF.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
Parks Victoria, ‘Creswick Regional Park Visitor Guide’
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creswick_Regional_Park>, viewed 6th February 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creswick,_Victoria>, viewed 6th February 2017