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.
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.
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.
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.
I worked the following stations on the 40m band:-
- VK1AT/p (Namadgi National Park VKFF-0377)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
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.
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.
Parks Victoria, 2017, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/wilsons-promontory-national-park>, viewed 14th April 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-bellied_black_snake>, viewed 14th April 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilsons_Promontory_National_Park>, viewed 15th April 2017
Certainly a spot I’m looking forward to getting back to, as well as the antenna weekend.
I’m by no means an expert and welcome correction but I think yo may be looking at a brown snake there. A bit deadlier and found in a wide variety of colours (as we have discovered at home) from brown through black to green!
You prompted me into doing a bit more googling. It looks like that snake is actually a Lowland Copperhead snake which often gets confused for a Red bellied black. Apparently not at venomous as a Brown or a Tiger, but still regarded as dangerous.
Either way, I like to stay clear of snakes. I am no fan.