On Monday morning (10th April 2017) I left a very cold Ballarat….6 degrees C and drizzle…..and headed west on the Western Highway. I had one planned activation for the day, that being the Mount Buangor State Park, VKFF-0766, which is located about 192 km west of Melbourne, and 30 km east of the town of Ararat.
On the way I stopped off at the historic town of Beaufort for a sausage roll and a nice hot cup of coffee from the bakery. Beaufort has a rich history, as gold was discovered here in 1852, and again in 1854 at nearby Fiery Creek. The population of the gold fields reportedly reached about 100,000 people at its height in the late 1850’s and produced about 450,000 ounces of gold over a 2 year period. Today, Beaufort’s population is around 1,1100 people. There are many historic buildings in the town.
I continued on westward bound, until I reached the turn off for the Mount Buangor State Park, which is well signposted on the Western Highway. The summit itself was shrouded in cloud. I have climbed the summit back in 2013. For information on that activation, please see my previous post at…..
Although I have activated the summit, this was before the park came onto the list for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, so this was to be a unique park for me. I was hoping to get 44 contacts to qualify the park.
I travelled out along Ferntree Gully Road and stopped to have a look at a memorial plaque in a paddock on the western side of the road. It commemorates the Jess family from Ireland who settled in the area in the 1860’s.
I soon reached the entrance to the park and continued on until I reached the Middle Creek camp ground area.
Mount Buangor State Park was established in October 1989 and covers an area of 2,400 hectares. The local Beeripmo balug (Aboriginal people) belonged to the larger Djab Wurrung language speaking community and they knew the forest as ‘Beereep-Beereep’ meaning ‘wild mount’.
The park and nearby forest protect diverse ecosystems alive with more than 130 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Of the 324 known plant species there are 119 species that are of significance. Spring wildflowers abound.
A range of animals and birds can be found during daylight such as Eastern Grek kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, Swamp wallabies, Red-necked wallabies, gliders, bats, Wedge-tailed Eagles, Crimson Rosellas and kookaburra’s.
The Middle Creek camping area is set in a eucalyptus forest with creek flats, waterfalls and spectacular views of the surrounding countryside including the summit, Mount Buangor which rises to 987 metres above sea level. The summit was formally known as Flagstaff Hill which originated from a rock cairn and flagpole that is reported to have been erected by Major Thomas Mitchell during his exploration of the area in the 1830’s.
As it was a bleak morning I set up in ‘Charlie’s Hut’ which is dedicated to Charles ‘Charlie’ Whittaker. He was born in Warnambool in 1921 and grew up in the Ararat district. He passed away in 2008. His love of the Middle Creek area is honoured, with the shelter named after him.
I was set up and ready to go just after 2355 UTC (10.00 a.m. Victorian local time). It was a chilly morning, with the temperature being 8 deg C. There was an open fireplace in the shelter, which I was very tempted to light. I called CQ on 7.144 and this was answered by Rod VK7FRJG who had a terrific signal with his home brew Moxon beam. I was pleasantly surprised to log Greg VK5ZGY next, who was portable in the Mount Remarkable National Park VKFF-0360. Greg also had a strong 5/9 signal. Next up was Ivan VK5HS who has become quite a regular park hunter, followed by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula.
Contact number 10, qualifying the park for VKFF, was with VK4WID in Queensland, being operated by John VK4TJ. During contact number 13, with Rick VK4RF, KA1PM from the USA came onto the frequency and started calling CQ. He was about 5/5 to me, but sadly he could not hear my signal, and I suspect could not hear the VK’s calling me, who were running much higher power than me.
After a relatively slow start, callers started to pick up and I reached contact number 44, wit Paul VK5FUZZ, just under 90 minutes into the activation. I went on to work a total of 59 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7. This included Damien VK5FDEC who was running QRP 2.5 watts (5/5 sent and 5/8 received), and Lou VK3AQZ who was running QRP 5 watts with a home brew transceiver (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).
I then moved off to 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged a total of 8 stations. All VK3’s bar Greg VK5GJ: VK3SQ, VK3GGG, VK3PMG, VK3FLAK, VK5GJ, VK3KAI, & VK3FSLG. Despite it being late morning, Greg VK5GJ was coming in very well, 5/7, from the Adelaide Hills.
I then tried my luck on 14.310 on the 20m band, calling CQ. This was answered by John ZL1BYZ in New Zealand who was a good 5/9 signal. Mike VK4MY and Alex VK4TE followed.
I was freezing, I had a total of 70 contacts in the log, and another park qualified. Mick VK3GGG had dinner in the oven for me and a hot cup of coffee waiting at Stawell.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5ZGY/p (Mount Remarkable National Park VKFF-0360)
- VK4/ AC8WN
Parks Victoria, 2017, ‘Mount Buangor State Park’ brochure.
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort,_Victoria>, viewed 17th April 2017