Shallow Inlet Marine Coastal Park VKFF-0749

After a good night sleep at the home of Chris VK3QB at Foster, I was spoilt by Chris cooking me breakfast on Saturday morning (8th April 2017).  Although I did have to put up with his techicolour morning attire as you can see from the photo below.

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We had decided the night before to activate the Shallow Inlet Marine Coastal Park VKFF-0749 that morning.  Chris VK3PAT also organised to meet us out at the park.  The Shallow Inlet Marine Park is located about 190 km south east of Melbourne, and about 22 km south of Foster.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Shallow Inlet Marine Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

We decided to take two vehicles out to the park so that Chris could leave at any time required to head to the Antennapalooza event.  We drove south out of Foster along the Foster-Promontory Road and then took Soldiers Road and continued to the little town of Sandy Point.  We soon reached the park at the end of Sandy Point Road and drove onto the beach.

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The Shallow Inlet Marine Coastal Park which was established in April 1986 is 2,377 hectares in size.  The park is nestled between Warratah Bay and the peaks of Wilson Promontory.  Shallow Inlet is popular for a range of water based activities including fishing, swimming, boating and sail boating.  And as it was a glorious day, there were numerous people on the beach, swimming, and riding horses.

The Brataualung Aboriginal clan once occupied the area of Wilsons Promontory and Waratah Bay. A large number of coastal middens containing charcoal, stones and the remains of shellfish are located along the coast and around Shallow Inlet and are up to 6000 years old. Earlier sites have been covered by rising sea levels. The Aboriginal population of the area declined from the 1850s after European occupation of their tribal territory, leading to disease, forced evictions and murders.

Settlers established pastoral runs around Shallow Inlet in the 1850s. Land in the catchment of Shallow Inlet was then extensively cleared and drained from the turn of the century. The Shallow Inlet Marine and Coastal Park was declared in 1986 in recognition of the area’s habitat values for migratory wading birds and shorebirds.

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The park protects a diverse range of vegetation including foredunes of Spinifex, heathy woodlands of Messmate and Coastal Banksia, Paperbark swamps and saltmarsh communities. Extensive mudflats and intertidal areas are exposed at low tide. These areas provide important feeding grounds for a range of migratory wading birds. Below the waves are extensive seagrass meadows.

Shallow Inlet and the adjacent ocean beaches are significant areas for breeding shorebirds. Over 180 species of birds have been recorded in the park. Many wading birds make spectacular migrations, breeding in the arctic during the northern hemisphere summer and migrating southwards to arrive in Australia in late August and September. Pied Oystercatchers and Red Capped Plovers nest in the dunes and on the spit. A diverse range of mammals including the Koala, Common Ringtail Possum, Common Wombat, Swamp Wallaby and Echidna can be found in the woodlands and heathlands along the shoreline of Shallow Inlet.

Chris and I set up about 30 feet from the water’s edge and as it was quite a warm day we set up underneath the awning of my Toyota Hi Lux.  For this activation we ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts output, and the 80/40/20m linked dipole.

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Aerial shot showing our operating spot in the park.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

Our first contact was with John VK2YW, followed by Cliff VK2NP, Bill VK4FW, and then Peter VK5PE.  Chris and I swapped the mic to log the contacts.  Contact number 17 in the log was Grant VK4JAZ who was activating the Denmark Hill Conservation Park VKFF-1529.  Grant was a very difficult copy to us, but after a number of attempts, we were able to successfully exchange callsigns and signal reports.  Thanks to the patience of Grant.  For information on Grant’s activation, you can view his blog at….

https://vk4jaz.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/denmark-hill-conservation-reserve-vkff-1529/

Chris VK3PAT soon joined us and we continued our mic sharing experience, logging a total of 21 contacts on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.  We then headed to 3.610 on the 80m band where we logged 3 stations: Mike VK3NMK, Geoff VK3SQ, and Nick VK3ANL.

We then tried our luck on 14.310 on the 20m band, where our first caller was the ever reliable Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, followed by Neil VK4HNS, and then Rob VK4AAC.

With 28 stations in the log we headed back to 7.144 on the 40m band where our first contact was with Norm VK2FANT, followed by Owen VK2AEJ who was operating from the Cape Don lightship in Sydney.  We also logged Peter VK3PF/p and Sergio VK3SFG/p who were activating SOTA peak Mount Square Top VK3/ VT-071.  A number of the hams at Antennapalooza gave us a shout, including Joe VK3YSP/p, Julie VK3FOWL/p, Tony VK3XV/p, and Jamie VK3TZE/p.  We also logged Ian VK1DI who was activating SOTA peak Mount Tumanang VK2/ SM-049 which is located within the Tallaganda National Park VKFF-0474.

Chris VK3PAT had headed off for lunch with his wife, and Chris VK3QB and I had 45 contacts in the log, and it was time to head off to Antennapalooza.  I think I may have inspired Chris VK3QB into activating.  He was very happy qualifying his first park with 44 contacts +.  It was a beaut morning.  Great weather, good propagation, and good company.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2YW
  2. VK2NP
  3. VK4FW
  4. VK5PE
  5. VK2NEO
  6. VK1AT
  7. VK5FANA
  8. CK2GKA
  9. VK2AN
  10. VK2ZK
  11. VK2JDC
  12. VK4TJ
  13. VK2FADV
  14. VK4RF
  15. VK4HA
  16. VK3KTO/p
  17. VK4JAZ/p (Denmark Hill Conservation Park VKFF-1529)
  18. VK4AAC/p
  19. VK4KX
  20. VK2IO
  21. VK3ARH
  22. VK2FANT
  23. VK2AEJ
  24. VK5FMAZ
  25. VK5HCF
  26. VK3PF/p (SOTAMount Square Top VK3/ VT-071)
  27. VK3CM
  28. VK3SFG/p (Mount Square Top SOTA VK3/ VT-071)
  29. VK3YSP/p
  30. VK3FOWL/p
  31. VK3XV/p
  32. VK3KYF
  33. VK1DI/p (SOTA Mount Tumanang VK2/ SM-049 &Tallaganda National Park VKFF-0474)
  34. VK5VBR
  35. VK7VDL
  36. VK3XMF
  37. VK3FCLK
  38. VK3TZE/p

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3NMK
  2. VK3SQ
  3. VK3ANL

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK4HNS/p
  4. VK4AAC/p

On the way back to Foster we came across a small tree which had fallen across the road.  Fortunately Chris had a chainsaw in the back of his vehicle.

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Once back at Antennapalooza I caught up with all those present.  It was terrific to meet Tony VK3XV for the very first time.  I had spoken with Tony many times previously both on air and on the telephone.  But this was the first time we had met in person.  The presentations commenced mid afternoon, with 3 presentations delivered by myself on 1.  General tips whilst operating portable; 2. WWFF; and 3. the VK5 Parks Award.  Tony VK3XV spoke about the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award, whilst Peter VK3PF spoke about the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  We settled in for the night, enjoying a nice meal and a few reds, and plenty of chat around the campfire.  A great night.

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References.

Parks Victoria, 2012, ‘Shallow Inlet Marine Coastal Park’.

Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-0539

After activating Mount Fatigue I drove down to the Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-0539 to activate the park.  This was to be a unique park for me for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA).  The park is situated about 240 km south east of Melbourne.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Wilsons Promontory National Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The drive took me down through Foster, where I would be staying for the next 2 nights, and then to the little town of Yanakie.  Along the way I stopped to have a look at the Foster Poison post.  It was erected in the late 1800’s to mark where poison was laid to eradicate wild dogs and dingoes.  On the original stock route linking Western Port with East Gippsland, it defined the corner of Wonga Wonga, Waratah and Yanakie Parishes.  Poison Post became quite a significant landmark to the early residents and was used until 1960.

I continued along the Meeniyan-Promontory Road until I reached the park entrance.

The Wilsons Promontory National Park is commonly known as Wilsons Prom or The Prom.  It is located at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia in the Gippsland region, and offers spectacular scenery of huge granite mountains, open forest, rainforest, sweeping beaches and coastlines.  The park is 50,500 hectares (125,000 acres) in size and was established in July 1898.

The park is home to a large amount of native wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and echidnas.  Marine creatures that can be sighted include Southern Right whales, Humpback whales, Killer whales, dolphins, seals, and Sea Lions.

The first Europeans to sight Wilsons Promontory are believed to be George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1798.  Prior to this the area was inhabited by aboriginals for at least 6,500 years.  During the 1800’s extensive sealing took place at Sealer’s Cove.  Such was the extent of the sealing, that seals are no longer found there.  During the late 1800’s extensive lobbying of the Government of Australia by the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria and the Royal Society of Victoria led to Government temporarily reserving the area in 1898 as a National Park.  This was made permanent in 1908.

In April 2015 a large section of the park was burnt out as a result of a bushfire which originally started as a controlled burn which breached containment lines.  And during the Black Saturday Bushfires of February 2009, numerous trees within the park were struck by lightning which led to the loss of up to 50% of the National Park through fire.

As I pulled in to the carpark at the end of Five Mile Road, the slippery creature below was crossing the carpark in front of me.  The carpark was full of cars and quite a few people, all about to head off on a bush walk.  And all oblivious to the snake’s presence.  Which was not such a band thing, because I suggest there would have been a lot of screaming by the women present.

Red Bellied black snakes are one of Australia’s best known snakes and are found throughout eastern Australia.  Its venom is capabale of causing significant morbidity, however a bite from a Red Belly is not generally fatal, and is less venomous than many other Australian venomous snakes.

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Red-bellied black snake

I set up in the carpark, trying to make as much noise as possible to scare away any other snakes.  I am not a snake fan by any stretch.  However, I have never killed any of the snakes I have sighted.  Snakes are generally a protected species and hefty fines can be imposed on those found killing them.  In South Australia, the maximum penalty is a $10,000 fine and 2 years imprisonment.  The only exception is if a venomous snake is posing a genuine threat to life and safety.

I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, at 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80 m linked dipole, on the top of the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  There was just enough room to stretch out the dipole.

It was quite a warm day, around 29 deg C, so I tried to find a little bit of shade.

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Above:- Map of the park showing my operating spot.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet  

The 40m band was quite busy, and I found 7.130 and asked if the frequency was in use.  Brenton VK3CM came back to me and was number one in the log from Wilsons Prom.  This was followed by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula with a good 5/6 signal, then Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland region with a strong 5/8 signal.  Contact number ten, qualifying the park for VKFF, was Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG.

I was very pleased with the steady flow of callers, as I was keen to leave the park as soon as possible and head off to Antennapalooza at Foster.  In just a little over an hour I had contact number 44 in the log, VK3ER portable at Antennapalooza.

I logged a total of 46 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  This included a Park to Park contact with Jim VK1AT who was activating the Namadgi National Park VKFF-0377.  I also logged a number of amateurs who were portable at Antennapalooza, including Julie VK3FOWL, Chris VK3QB, and Ian VK3BUF.  Another good contact was with Rick VE3MM/VK5 who was holidaying on Kangaroo Island OC-139.  Rick had a good signal with his KX3, 10 watts and end fed 1/2 wave antenna.

I then headed to 14.310 on the 20m band where I logged a total of 10 stations.  Australian stations logged there were Rob VK4AAC/p, Steve VK4KUS, Sergio VK3SFG, and Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.  There was a small opening into Europe on the long path, with five Italian stations logged.

I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the 80m links and called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band.  First caller was Peter VK3PF with a strong 5/9 signal, followed by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG who was 5/8.  But despite 5 minutes of CQ calls, they were my only takers on 80m.

I had a total of 59 contacts in the log and another unique park activated.  It was approaching 5.00 p.m. local time and I wanted to have a quick look around the park before heading off to Foster.

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I worked the following stations on the 40m band:-

  1. VK3CM
  2. VK5FANA
  3. VK5HS
  4. VK3AXH
  5. VK3SQ
  6. VK7DD
  7. VK3DMD
  8. VK5TR
  9. VK3GGG
  10. VK3PMG
  11. VK3YSP
  12. VK4RF
  13. VK4HA
  14. VK2LX
  15. VK5KX
  16. VK3VIN
  17. VK5EMI
  18. VK3LSD
  19. VK2NP
  20. VK5NFB
  21. VK2EXA
  22. VK7VDL
  23. VK4AAC/p
  24. VK3VBI
  25. VK2STO
  26. VK5KLV
  27. VK5FRSM
  28. VK1AT/p (Namadgi National Park VKFF-0377)
  29. VK4VXX/2
  30. VK2FOUZ
  31. VK4HNS/p
  32. VK2SMS/p
  33. VK2FADV
  34. VK5YX
  35. VE3MM/VK5
  36. VK2GQR
  37. VK2IO/m
  38. VK4CPS
  39. VK3FOWL/p
  40. VK1FWBK
  41. VK3QB/p
  42. VK3BJA/p
  43. VK3BUF/p
  44. VK3ER/p
  45. VK2QA
  46. VK5WG

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4AAC/p
  2. IK2ZJN
  3. IK8FIQ
  4. VK4KUS
  5. VK3SFG
  6. I5FLN
  7. IW2NXI
  8. VK4RF
  9. VK4HA
  10. IU5HIV

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3GGG
  3. VK3PMG

I drove down to Tidal River, the main campground in the park, enjoying some of the amazing coastline views along the way.  The campground was extremely busy as it was school holidays.  There were hundreds of people enjoying the park.  The campground even has a general store and take away food shop.

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I then headed off to Foster and caught up with Chris VK3QB on the road.  We dropped off my bags at his home and then drove to the campsite next door, where I enjoyed a few ales and good company with those present.

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 2017, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/wilsons-promontory-national-park&gt;, viewed 14th April 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-bellied_black_snake&gt;, viewed 14th April 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilsons_Promontory_National_Park&gt;, viewed 15th April 2017