Sunday morning (9th April 2017) I was awoken by a huge clap of thunder. And I mean huge. It shook the house. It was also pouring with rain. As I lay in the warm bed in the spare room at the home of Chris VK3QB, I thought of the poor souls who were camping out at Antennapalooza on the property next door. Particularly Marshall VK3MRG who I knew was sleeping in a swag.
After a shower and some breakfast Chris and I headed down to the campsite. The rain had cleared a little and we were surprised to see a lot of activity under the marquee and the campfire was still burning with a few brave souls standing around it.
After everyone had arisen from their slumber, Joe VK3YSP gave a very interesting presentation on operating portable. This was followed by a presentation by Ian VK3BUF on auxillary power for your vehicle.
Just after midday local time I left Foster and headed for Ballarat. I had enjoyed two terrific nights at Foster and I will certainly be doing my best to return to Antennapalooza next year. I had one planned park activation for the day, the Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964. I had activated the park back in February 2017 during outr trip to Ballarat, but I hadn’t reached the required 44 QSOs to qualify the park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. I had fallen short with 32 contacts.
After leaving Foster I stopped briefly at the Foster North lookout on the South Gippsland Highway and enjoyed some terrific views of the surrounding countryside, all the way down to Wilsons Promontory.
I then negotiated my way through Melbourne. Even though it was a Sunday, it was incredibly slow going on the M1 Highway. I finally got out of Melbourne and continued west through Melton, Bachus Marsh and on to Ballarat. I arrived in Ballarat at around 4.00 p.m. local time and it was raining consistently and was 7 deg C. A miserable afternoon. After booking in to the motel I pondered on whether I should head out to Creswick. In the end I decided I had come a long way and after all I only needed 12 contacts.
The little town of Creswick is about 18 km north of Ballarat. It has a population of around 3,500 people. The pioneer European settlers in this area were brothers Henry, Charles, and John Creswick, who established a large sheep station in 1842. The town itself, was established in the 1850’s due to the gold rush in the area. It was originally known as Creswick Creek until about 1857. At the peak of the gold rush, the population was around 25,000. The town has a number of historic buildings.
Creswick was the site of the New Australasian Mine disaster on the 12th day of December 1882. This was Australia’s worst mining disaster in which 22 men drowned. It was 4.45 a.m. when 29 miners became trapped underground by flood waters which came from the flooded parallel sunk Number 1 mine shaft. Of those, only 5 survived and made it to the surface. Many of the trapped mens crawled last notes to their loved ones on billy cans before they perished.
The school of Foresstry was established in 1910 by the Department of Forestry to train and acredit young foresters. It is now part of the University of Melbourne.
I made my way out to St Georges Lake in the park, with the rain not easing at all. It was a very cold, bleak, and wet day.
Creswick Regional Park was established in November 1983 and comprises 1,275 hectares of native scrub including Messmate, Manna Gum, Scent-bark, Broad-leaved Peppermint and Narrow-leaved Peppermint. Candlebarks also grow in the gullies in the park. The Common Heath, Victoria’s floral emblem is frequently found growing under eucalpyts.
Numerous birds can be seen in the park including Grey Currawongs, Crimson Rosellas, White-throated Tree-creepers, Grey Fantails, Thornbills, Robins, and honeyeaters. Two migratory species found in the park ar the Rufous Fantail and Satin Flycatcher. The only birds I saw during the activation were ducks. Not surprising!
Various native mammals call the park home, including Koals, kangaroos and Black Wallabies.
I found a spot on the southern side of St Georges Lake and as it was too wet, I was forced to operate from the vehicle. I braved the elements and erected the 7 metre squid pole, attaching it to a fence post with an octopus strap, and ran out the 80/40/20m linked dipole. Getting very very wet in the process.
The static crashes on the band were S9 plus. This along with the miserable weather conditions, made this activation one of the less memorable ones IO have undertaken. I called CQ on 7.144 and this was answered by Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland with a strong 5/9 signal. I then spoke with Peter VK5PE with his newly upgraded call, followed by my good wife Marija VK5FMAZ, and then Adrian VK5FANA. I soon reached 10 contacts with Jim VK2LC in the log. The required 12th contact was Jason VK2FAVL/p.
I had a steady flow of callers, and as most were aware of the weather conditions, most stations kept their contacts short. I worked a total of 39 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. This included a Park to Park contact with Jarrad VK6FFAR who was portable in Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park VKFF-1430.
Bill VK4FW came up to let me know that I was being heard in Europe, but sadly due to the extremely strong static crashes, I was unable to pull any Europeans out of the noise.
I jumped out of the vehicle and removed the links for 20m and then called CQ on 14.310. This was answered by Ted VK6NTE/m who had followed me up from 40m. Ted was quite low down compared to the signal he normally puts in. I made about 5 minutes of CQ calls, however Ted was my only caller.
I then braved the weather again, and inserted the links for 80m. I called CQ on 3.610 and was called by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, followed by Peter VK3PF. I worked a further 5 stations on 80m from VK4, VK5, and VK7.
After a little over one hour in the park I had a total of 48 stations in the log and I had well and truly qualified the park for WWFF. It was time to head back into Ballarat. I ordered a pizza and made my way back to the motel room.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK6FFAR/p (Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park VKFF-1430)
I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creswick,_Victoria>, viewed 16th April 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Australasian_Gold_Mine_disaster>, viewed 16th April 2017