Our last activation for day two, Mount Macedon VK3/ VC-007 and Macedon Regional Park VKFF-0972

After leaving Mount Moliagul, Marija and I continued south east on the Wimmera Highway towards New Gisborne where we had booked in to stay for one night.  Our next planned activation was the SOTA summit Mount Macedon VK3/ VC-007 which is located within the Macedon Regional Park VKFF-0972.  I will have to return to the Moliagul area some time soon as I’d love to have a beer at the Mount Moliagul Hotel and I’d like to visit the John Flynn memorial, which I wasn’t aware was there until after leaving the area.

A little further down the Highway we stopped off at the little town of Tarnagulla. We had a look at the monument to commemorate the Poverty Reef which yielded an incredible 13 ton of gold in just 13 months.  Just to the east of Tarnagulla is the Poseidon Lead which according to official records, yielded the greatest concentration of large gold nuggets ever taken from one small area anywhere in the world.  It is estimated that the Tarnagulla Goldfields yielded 420,000 oz. of gold in the 19th century.


Above:- the Poverty Mine monument.

Tarnagulla contains a number of very beautiful historic buildings including the Victoria Hotel and Theatre which dates back to 1861.

We continued along the Wimmera Highway and crossed the Loddon River, and were amazed at the number of people who were camping on the riverbank.  As it was a hot day, people were swimming in the river and fishing.

We then travelled south on the Bridgewater-Maldon Road, and a few kms down the road we couldn’t help but stop and get a photograph of Simmonds Road.


Our next stop was the little town of Maldon which is notable for its 19th century appearance, maintained since the 1850 gold rush days.  It really is a beaut town with a lot to explore.

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Above:- the main street of Maldon.

And during our visit to Maldon, the Maldon Folk Festival was in full swing.  I wasn’t aware that this was on until we arrived in town, otherwise we would have changed our itinerary.  Both Marija and I agreed that they will definitely being coming back to Maldon for perhaps next year’s Folk Festival.  There was a lot of activity in the town and we spent an hour or so wandering the streets taking in the atmosphere.

We passed through Castlemaine and were stopped at an RBT and had a poor encounter with an extremely rude Sergeant who took exception to my IC-7000 mounted on the windscreen claiming that it was obstructing my view.  After my blood pressure had calmed somewhat, we took the M79 Freeway and headed into New Gisborne, where we booked in to our accomodation.

After offloading our bags, Marija and I headed out of New Gisborne on the Mount Macedon Road heading for our SOTA/Park activation.  It was a short 15 km drive.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Macedon.  Map courtesy of google maps.

Mount Macedon VK3/ VC-007 is 1,005 metres above sea level and is worth 6 points for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  It is quite a popular summit, having been activated 86 times prior to our visit.

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Above:- Aerial view of Mount Macedon VK3/ VC-007.  Image courtesy of google maps

The summit is located in the Macedon Regional Park VKFF-0972 which is about 2,379 hectares in size.  The Macedon Ranges form the southern end of Victoria’s Great Dividing Range, with Mount Macedon being one of the highest peaks in the range.

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Above:- Map showing the Macedon Regional Park.  Map courtesy of google maps

In 1983, the Ash Wednesday bushfires swept through this area.  Most of Macedon and much of historic Mount Macedon to the north west of Melbourne was razed, including many heritage listed 19th century mansions and famed gardens.

The summit of Mount Macedon was originally sighted by explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell on their 1824 expedition to Port Phillip from New South Wales.  They named the mountain, Mount Wenworth.  It was renamed Mount Macedon by explorer Major Thomas Mitchell who ascended the mountain in 1836.  He named it after Philip of Macedon in honour of the fact that he was able to view Port Philip from the summit.

On the summit there is a historic trigonmetry survey cairn.  It is 8 metres in height and was built in the 1860’s as a reference point for land surveys.  It is one of only three mortared stone Geodetic Traingulation Cairns in Victoria.

We drove along Cameron Drive and parked near the Top of the Range Tea Rooms.  It was now 5.40 p.m. local time and the temperature had dramatically dropped.  We were quite high above sea level and the temperature was now a chilly 12 deg C.  As there were not too many people on Mount Macedon, we set up in the Harbison Picnic Ground area.  We had a choice of a few wooden tables and benches.

As it was getting late, Marija and I again decided to swap the mic, until Marija had her 10 QSOs to qualify the park for the VKFF program.  We started calling CQ on 7.090 and this was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, followed by Gerard VK2IO, and then Nev VK5WG.  We had both qualified the summit and had cleared the first hurdle for the activation.  Contact number 10, qualifying the park for us for VKFF, was Paul VK3HN.

I then took control of the mic while Marija went for a walk and taking a few photographs.  Sadly, conditions were very poor and I only logged a further 7 stations on 40m.  Within 30 minutes of setting up the temperature had dropped from 12 deg C to 10 deg C.  Numerous CQ calls on 7.090 went unanswered, so I headed to 3.610 on the 80m band, hoping to pick up some more VK3 stations.  First in the log on 80m was Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG who was an excellent 5/9 from western Victoria, followed by Tony VK3CAT, and then John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills.  I logged just 2 more stations on 80m and after spending about 10 minutes on 80m, the temperature had dropped to a very chilly 8 deg C.

I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed to the 20m band, where I called CQ on 14.310.  This was answered by Richard VK3KVK who had followed me from 40m.  Soren ZL1SKL then called from New Zealand, followed by Jorge EA2LU in Spain, Wynne ZL2ATH in New Zealand, Marko OH9XX in Finland, and finally Ian VK6EA.

Marija and I then wandered up to the War Memorial Cross and made 5 contacts on 2m FM using our Yaesu VX-6R handheld.  Contacts were with Richard VK3VKV, Tony VK3CAT/VK3APC, Robert VK3KRD, and Frank VK3OP.

It was now very very cold, with the temperature down to about 5 deg C, so we had a quick look around the summit before heading back to the vehicle.

One of the major attractions of Mount Macedon is the 21-metre (69 ft) high memorial cross which was established by early resident William Cameron in 1935 as a memorial to those who died in World War I.  After the Shrine of Remembrance, Mount Macedon Memorial Cross is considered to be the most significant war memorial in Victoria.

There is also a small memorial garden and a number of interpretive boards with respect to the memorial cross.

There is also a small memorial plaque to honour Major Thomas Mitchell who was the first European to ascend Mount Macedon.  Additionally there is the Kurana Memorial.  The Kurana, a DC-3, VH-UZK, took off from the Essendon Airport on the 8th November 1948 on its way to Deniliquin in New South Wales.  The aircraft clipped trees in misty conditions and light rain, and crashed into a firebreak in a pine plantation on the southern slopes of Mount Macedon.  The Captain and First Officer were fatally injured in the crash.

There are some nice views to be enjoyed from some of the lookouts at Mount Macedon.

Marija worked the following stations:-

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I worked the following stations:-

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That night we drove into Gisborne and got a take away pizza from the local pizza shop and enjoyed a quiet night in at the bed and breakfast accomodation.



Macedon and Mount Macedon Region, 2017, <http://www.mountmacedon.org.au/places/kurana-memorial>, viewed 21st November 2017

Parks Victoria, 2017, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/macedon-r.p.>, viewed 21st November 2017

Tarnagulla and Surrounds, 2017, <http://www.tarnagulla.com.au/>, viewed 21st November 2017

Top of the Range, 2017, <http://topoftherange.net/macedon-regional-park-survey-cairn.asp>, viewed 21st November 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Wednesday_bushfires>, viewed 21st November 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Macedon,_Victoria>, viewed 21st November 2017

Mount Moliagul VK3/ VN-024

After leaving St Arnaud after lunch, Marija I commenced our journey to New Gisborne, to the north west of Melbourne.  We had booked in to stay at an apartment in New Gisborne for one night with the intention of activating Mount Macedon in the Macedon Regional Park.  It was a drive of around 187 km from St Arnaud to New Gisborne.

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Above:- Map showing our travels on day two, from St Arnaud to New Gisborne.  Map courtesy of Plotaroute.

We drove out of St Arnaud along the Wimmera Highway.  About 4 km out of St Arnaud I stopped briefly to have a look at a monument to commemorate the first prospectors for gold who camped at Orr Creek on 25th December 1854.


We continued on to the historic Logan Pub, which dates back to the late 1800’s, and was previously known as The Avoca Forest Hotel.  There were three hotels in Logan, but sadly 2 of the historic pubs have been demolished.  There were a large number of ‘social’ bike riders at the pub during our visit.


Marija and I continued along the Wimmera Highway and soon passed the Moliagul Nature Conservation Reserve which qualifies for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  Sadly, Marija and I realised that we could just not activate all the parks we drove passed as there were just too many.  But Marija did check the parksnpeaks app on her phone and it showed we were about to drive passed SOTA peak Mount Moliagul VK3/ VN-024 which had a road to the very top.

So we decided to venture off the Highway and head to the top of Mount Moliagul which is located about 37 km south east of St Arnaud.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Moliagul VK3/ VN-024.  Map courtesy of google maps.

Mount Moliagul is 525 metres above sea level and is worth 2 points for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  The summit was last activated by Mick VK3GGG back in June 2017.

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Above:- Mount Moliagul VK3/ VN-024.  Image courtesy of OpenStreetMap.

The summit is located near the small township of Moliagul.  The town’s name is believed to be a derivation of the aboriginal word “moliagulk”, meaning “wooded hill”.  The area is notable for the discovery of a number of gold nuggests including the world’s largest, the ‘Welcome Stranger’ which was discovered in 1869 by John Deason and Richard Oates.


Above:- Miners and their wives posing with the finders of the nugget, Richard Oates, John Deason and his wife.   Image courtesy of wikipedia

The Welcome Stranger had a calculated refined weight of 3,123 oz (214.1 lbs) 6 dwts 9 gr (97.14 kg). It measured 61 by 31 cm (24 by 12 in).


Above:- A replica of the Welcome Stranger nugget.  c/o theage.com.au

Moliagul was once a thriving goldfields town, but today is literally a ghost town.  It is estimated that in 1855 there were about 16,000 people living in the immediate Moliagul area during the peak of the Victorian gold rush period. 

The road to the top of Mount Moliagul is dirt and is a bit rough in parts but I think a conventional vehicle would get up there just fine.  There are fantastic views to be enjoyed from the top of the summit.

There is a trig point on the summit along with some communications equipment, but this did not cause any interference on the bands.  It was a hot day and there were no real shade opportunities on the summit.

As this was a quick impromptu activation, we quickly strung out the 20/40/80m linked dipole and I started calling CQ on 7.090.  This was answered by John VK5BJE who we had phoned as we were driving up to the summit.  This was followed by Mark VK7MPR, Nev VK5WG and then Adam VK2YK.  I had qualified the summit with my 4 QSOs and I handed the mic over to Marija who logged John VK5BJE, Gerard VK2IO, Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, Garry VK2GAZ, Mark VK4SMA/p who was in the Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427 (I also logged Mark), Steve VK7CW, and finally Andrew VK2UH.

To complete the activation I lowered the squid pole and inserted the 80m links and started calling CQ on 3.610.  This was answered by Ian VK5IS, and then Marc VK3OHM.

This had been a quick but enjoyable activation, and a new summit for Marija and I as SOTA activators.

Marija worked the following stations:-

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I worked the following stations:-

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Summits on the Air, 2017, <http://www.sota.org.uk/>, viewed 21st November 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moliagul>, viewed 21st November 2017

Day two and the St Arnaud Regional Park VKFF-0977

Day two (Sunday 5th November 2017) involved an early start from the motel at St Arnaud.  We were up and going by 7.00 a.m. and headed out to our first activation of the day which was the St Arnaud Regional Park VKFF-0977.  This was to be another new park for both Marija and I as activators for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the St Arnaud Regional Park.  Map courtesy of google maps.

Marija and I headed out of St Arnaud along the Wimmera Highway and turned onto a dirt track into the park and headed to View Point.


There were some nice views from View Point of nearby St Arnaud and the surrounding countryside.

There was also a wooden table and benches at the lookout, however we did have to put up with a bit of a smell in the area and there was a lot of litter strewn about the lookout.  It never ceases to amaze Marija and I how grubby some people can be, with total disregard for the environment.

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Above:- Map showing our operating spot in the park.  Map courtesy of google maps.

The St Arnaud Regional Park is about 957 hectares in size and contains distinctive Box-Ironbark Forest.  The park supports one threatened fauna species, the Swift Parrot, and one threatened plant species, Cane Spear Grass.

Despite the smell, Marija and I decided to set up at the lookout.  We again decided to swap the mic during this activation, until Marija had reached her 10 QSOs to qualify the park for VKFF.  So we set the Yaesu FT-857d at 10 watts and headed to our nominated operating frequency of 7.090.  We normally operate higher in the band, on 7.144, but that part of the 40m band is very busy on Sunday mornings with the WIA broadcasts.

When we got to 7.090 we found Rob VK4NHH calling CQ from SOTA peak North of Mount Byron VK4/ SE-043 in the D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129.  Rob had a beautiful strong 5/8 signal and he reciprocated with a 5/7 for us.  It was a great way to start the activation with a SOTA summit and a Park to Park.

We then headed to 7.115 and started calling CQ.  John VK5BJE was first in the log on that frequency with a very strong 5/9 signal.  It was at this time that a gentleman arrived at the lookout in his car looking for his 2 dogs which had run off.  Marija continued on, logging stations, whilst I had a chat explaining what we were doing.

Within 20 minutes, Marija had her 10 contacts in the log.  Contact number 10 was with Gerard VK2JNG/mobile.  Once Marija had 16 contacts in the log, she was happy to hand the mic over to me, with a view to me boxing on to hopefully get my 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.

Conditions on the 40m band were quite good, and within 90 minutes I had contact number 44 in the log.  Brett VK2FADV was QSO number 44.  It was clear that close in propagation on 40m was not good, with just two Victorian (VK3) stations in the log on 40m.  So I lowered the squid pole and inserted the 80m links and started calling CQ on 3.610.  Peter VK3PF answered my call, followed by Ian VK3VIN, and then Allen VK3ARH.

I then called CQ on 14.310 but had no takers.  I also tried 5 minutes of CQ calls on 21.250 on the 15m band, but did not have any callers there either.  To complete the activation we headed back to the 40m band for one last quick tune across the band.  We found Peter VK3TKK/p on 7.170 in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park VKFF-0231.

We packed up and headed back into St Arnaud for a good look around and some lunch.  Marija had 17 contacts in the log, whilst I had 48 contacts.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4NHH (SOTA North of Mt Byron VK4/ SE-043 & D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129)
  2. VK5BJE
  3. VK2IO
  4. VK2AKA
  5. VK2YK
  6. VK7KW
  7. VK4NH
  8. VK4DXA
  9. VK2PKT
  10. VK2JNG/m
  11. VK7JON
  12. VK2EIR/m
  13. VK5IS
  14. VK7FOLK
  15. VK5KBJ
  16. VK2VW
  17. VK3TKK/p (Hattah-Kulkyne National Park VKFF-0231)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4NHH/p(SOTA North of Mt Byron VK4/ SE-043 & D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129)
  2. VK5BJE
  3. VK2AKA
  4. VK2YK
  5. VK7KW
  6. VK4NH
  7. VK4DXA
  8. VK2PKT
  9. VK2JNG/m
  10. VK7JON
  11. VK2EIR/m
  12. VK5IS
  13. VK7FOLK
  14. VK5KBJ
  15. VK2VW
  16. VK2NP
  17. VK2ZK
  18. VK2JDC
  19. VK5ZEA
  20. VK2LEE
  21. VK7DX
  22. VK4RF
  23. VK4HA
  24. VK5WG
  25. VK2GAZ
  26. VK5KLV
  27. VK5FUZZ
  28. VK2ESG
  29. VK5KC
  30. VK7DW
  31. VK7FRJG
  32. VK2XXM
  33. VK3HQZ/p
  34. VK7VKV
  35. VK7ABY
  36. VK7DIK
  37. VK2HHA
  38. VK7FGRA
  39. VK1BUB
  40. VK3PF
  41. VK4FBGR
  42. VK2DDZ
  43. VK7RN
  44. VK2FADV
  45. VK3TKK/p (Hattah-Kulkyne National Park VKFF-0231)

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3VIN
  3. VK3ARH

After packing up we ventured back to St Arnaud and paid a visit to the Information Centre.  We then took a walk around St Arnaud viewing some of the historic buildings.  The town is named after French marshal Jacques Leroy de Saint Arnaud, commander-in-chief of the army of the East.  There is a statue in the town of Saint Arnaud.  There is also a statue of William John Wills, whon in 1858 assisted in the surveying of the original streets of the town before embarking on the ill fated Burke and Wills expedition to the Gulf of Carpenteria.

Marija and I enjoyed a great $10.00 lunch at the Botanical Hotel.



Environment Conservation Council, ‘Box-Ironbark Forests and Woodlands Investigation’.