A quick activation from the mobile of Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747

After enjoying some very nice fish and chips from one of the local take aways in Golden Beach, I decided to venture out to the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747 as it was a Monday night (6th November 2017) and the 7130 DX Net was on.

Our plans were to activate the park on Tuesday morning, but I thought I might be able to sneak in a few contacts to go towards the 44 that are required to qualify the park for the global World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

The Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park is just a short drive from Golden Beach.

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Above:- Map showing the shot distance from Golden Beach to the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.  Map courtesy of Plotaroute

On my way to the park I spoke with Mal VK5MJ who was booming in at 5/9 plus.  However the static crashes were very loud and it didn’t look too promising for the net.

I found a dirt track off the Longford-Loch Sport Road and operated from the vehicle with the Icom IC-7000 and the Codan 9350 self tuning antenna on the back of the Toyota Hi Lux.  But my prediction of the noise getting in the way of a good net came true.  I logged just 4 stations, with many others struggling to hear me through the static crashes.  So after 30 minutes I ‘pulled stumps’ and headed back into Golden Beach.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5MJ
  2. VK7FRJG
  3. VK2FOUZ
  4. VK7VAZ

Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park VKFF-0951

After packing up at Holey Plains State Park, Marija and I headed to Golden Beach on the coast.  We had booked in to stay for two nights at Whale Cottage at Golden Beach.  As we drove along the Longford-Loch Sport Road we came across the emu below, feeding in a paddock very close to the roadside.

We soon arrived in Golden Beach and booked in to Whale Cottage.  We were in the upstairs section and had our own little balcony.  Sadly there was not much of a view of the ocean as there are coastal plants running all the way along the coastline, which form part of the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.

It was an incredibly windy afternoon, but Marija and I decided to stick to our plan of activating the Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park VKFF-0951.  Prior to heading there were enjoyed some great views of the coastline and the beach at Golden Beach and Paradise Beach.

We travelled south west out of Golden Beach along Shoreline Drive, towards Seaspray.  It was now about 5.15 p.m. local Victorian time, and it was slow going as there was a lot of wildlife on the road, including kangaroos and echidnas.


Above:- an echidna crossing the road.

We soon reached the little town of Seaspray.  We stopped to have a look at the carving of dolphins made from a 80 year old Cyprus pine at the Seaspray Caravan Park.  It is the work of John Brady.

We also checked out the beach at Seaspray, with a handful of guys taking advantage of the wind and para sailing.

The Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park covers about 5 km of coastline which runs alongside the slender strip of sand dunes that protect the Gippsland Lakes.  The park which is 2,750 hectares in size, harbours more animals per square metre than most other marine habitats in the world.  A scientific survey of 10 square metres, revealed some 803 species of life.

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The park extends along 5 km of the coastline and offshore approximately for three nauticala miles to the limit of Victorian waters.

One of the more interesting marine life to find in the park is the Common Stargazer, one of the largest fish found near reefs on the underwater sandy plains.  It can be found lying almost buried, motionless, with only it’s eyes and mouth peering out of the sand.  Its cavernous mouth consumes unsuspecting fish and crustaceans in one gulp.

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We parked the Toyota Hi Lux in the carpark at the end of Todd Street in Seapsray and started packing the backpacks.  The only way to access the park is to cross the Merriman Creek and then walk about 500 metres down the beach.

Fortunately the mouth of the Merriman Creek was not totally open to the sea, which meant we did not have to wade through the creek.

Despite it being very windy, the beach was very impressive.  Not surprising, we were the only ones on the beach braving the conditions.

This was going to be a very quick activation as conditions on the beach were less than idea.  We stretched out the 20/40/80m linked dipole and it did not take long for a very big flex to develop in the 7m squid pole due to the high winds.

Marija and I called CQ on 7.144 which was answered by Gerard VK2IO with a beautiful 5/9 signal, followed by Les VK5KLV and then Barry VK5KBJ.  Despite band conditions being quite good, we struggled to get out 10 contacts, requiring the help of John VK5BJE and his second call of VK5PF.

Once we had our 10 contacts in the log, and had qualified the park for VKFF, we lowered the squid pole and inserted the 80m legs and headed off to 3.610.  Only one station was logged on 80, that being Peter VK3PF.  I am sure there would have been a lot more, but the wind was really stirring up the sand and it was a struggle to keep the squid pole up, and a struggle to keep the fine sand out of the transceiver.

Thanks to everyone who called us during this quick activation.  The park has only been activated a handful of times previously, so next time were are in the area we will definitely return for another activation.  Hopefully under better weather conditions!

Marija and I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO
  2. VK5KLV
  3. VK5KBJ
  4. VK2FOUZ
  5. VK5BJE
  6. VK5FAKV
  7. VK5LDM
  8. VK5QI
  9. VK5FANA
  10. VK5PF

We worked the following station on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF



ABC Gippsland, 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/05/17/3761620.htm>, viewed 22nd November 2017

Parks Victoria, 2013, ‘Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park Visitor Guide’.

Day three and Holey Plains State Park VKFF-0758

Day three (Monday 6th November 2017) of our trip involved a 306 km drive from New Gisborne on the north western side of Melbourne, to Golden Beach on the coast.  This would take us through the Gippsland region of Victoria.  The region was so named by Polish explorer Pawel Edmund Strzelecki, in honour of the New South Wales Governor, George Gipps, his sponsor.

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Above:- Map showing our route on day three from New Gisborne to Golden Beach.  Map courtesy of Plotaroute.

We left New Gisborne quite early, very pleased with the accomodation, Lavender Cottage, The Mews.  We can highly recommend it.  Marija and I got onto the M79 Freeway and drove into the hustle and bustle of Melbourne.


Above:- View of the city of Melbourne from the passenger seat of our vehicle.

After passing through the Melbourne CBD, we headed to Strictly Ham at Bayswater in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  We were at Strictly Ham just as the shop opened up, and dropped off my Yaesu FT-857d to Ross.  A few weeks earlier it had stopped working during an activation at the Coorong National Park.  I have my fingers crossed that it is nothing too sinister.


On the eastern side of Melbourne, once we had got out into the country, Marija and I stopped briefly at a fruit and veg shop and purchased some apples and cherries.  We also phoned Peter VK3PF and arranged to meet him at a coffee shop in Morwell.  It was great to catch up with Peter and get some advice from him about some of our intended activations.


Above:- with Peter VK3PF.

After leaving Peter, Marija and I briefly stopped to have a look at Dredger No. 21 in Morwell.  It was originally built for the Morwell open cut in the 1950’s and was the first bucket-wheel excavator used on site to remove the overburden waste.  It service the mine for almost 40 years between 1955 to 1992, and is certainly an impressive sight.  We then travelled out to the Loy Yang Power Station and open cut area.  The Loy Yang Power Station is a brown coal fired thermal power station which was originally constructed in the 1980’s.  Four giant bucket-wheel excavators operate 24 hours a day in the Loy Yang open cut mine.

Marija and I then continued east on the Princes Highway until we reached the little town of Rosedale, where we stopped briefly to have a look at a monument to commemorate the racehorse, Patrobas, who won the 1915 running of the Melbourne Cup.  Patrobas is the only Gippsland horse to win the cup, who also in the same year, won the Caufield Guineas and the Derby.  This feat has not been repeated since.


We then left Rosedale, travelling south on the Willung Road and then east on the Rosedale-Stradbroke Road, heading to our first intended activation of the day, the Holey Plains State Park VKFF-0758, about 190 km east of Melbourne.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Holey Plains State Park.  Map courtesy of google maps.

The Holey Plains State Park was proclaimed in 1977 and covers an area of 10,460 hectares of mostly Banksia-Eucalpyt open forest and woodlands.  The banksias are certainly very big in size and would be a very impressive sight when in flower.

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The park was formerly part of a squatting run taken up in the 1840’s by the Crooke family.  The family homestead, called ‘Holey Plains’ is to the north of the park.  The homestead earnt its name because the alluvial land along the Latrobe River has many crab holes, unlike the sandy country which makes up the park.   Holey Plains was first reserved as a site for a State Park under the Land Act 1958 (Vic.) in May 1977, following earlier recommendations by the Land Conservation Council (LCC 1972).


Above:- Holey Plains Homestead.  Courtesy of pininterst.com.au

Graziers frequently burnt the area which is now the park, to promote grass for sheep and cattle.  Bush grazing continued and minor timber cutting occurred until the 1960’s, when large sections of the Holey Plains bushland were converted to pine plantations or agricultural land.  The park is now a remnant of what was once an extensive area of native vegetation.

The park contains over 530 species of native plants and has one of the widest ranges of vegetation types in the Victorian parks system.  About one-fifth of the total number of species of Victorian native flora recorded in the State can be found in the park.  Common Eucalypts include Stringybarks, Peppermints, and Apple Box.  Other common plants include Saw Banksias, Tea-trees, Bush Peas, Wattles, Heaths and about 25 species of native orchids.

A total of 126 bird species, 18 mammal species and 16 species of reptiles and amphibians call the park home, including several threatened species.  Numerous species of frogs can be heard in the many swamps within the park.  Swamp Wallabies, Emus, Koalas, and Echidnas can often be seen, especially on the edge of tracks and firebreaks.  Night life includes Ringtail Possums, Wombats, Owlet-nightjars and Bats.


Above:- An echidna we found in the park

We soon reached the north western corner of the park which was well sign posted.

There are a series of sandy tracks within the park. We travelled along Holey Hill Track which was a bit rough in parts.  But generally passable in a conventional vehicle.


Above:- Holey Hill Track.

We operated from Holey Point, which at 218 metres, is the highest point in the park.

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Above:- Map of the park showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of Parks Victoria

There was a wooden table and benches at Holey Hill, but it was so windy that Marija and I decided to choose a slightly more sheltered location.  It was quite a warm day, but there were some very dark clouds in the sky, and there was the threat of rain.

There is a trig point at this location, along with a fire spotting tower.  Vandals had cut the padlock on the fire spotting tower, to no doubt climb to the top.  I decided against climbing the tower as it was clearly marked that climbing the tower was prohibited.

As we had done in previous activations, Marija and I decided to swap the mic until Marija had her 10 QSOs in the log, thus qualifying the park for the VKFF program.  We headed to 7.144 and found Peter VK3TKK/p there, calling CQ from the Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296, with a good 5/7 signal.  Both Marija and I logged Peter, Park to Park, and then headed down to 7.139 where Marija called CQ.  This was answered by Robert VK7VZ/2, followed by Gerard VK2IO, and then John VKJ5BJE.

Next up we were called by Peter VK3TKK/p and both Marija and I were a little confused, as we had already worked Peter.  But as it turned out, Peter had crossed from one side of a track to the other, to now be in the Cobboboonee National Park VKFF-0728.

Within about 20 minutes, Marija and I had 10 contacts in the log.  Our tenth contact being with Les VK5KLV at Port Augusta, about 310 km north of Adelaide.  We had both successfully qualified the park for VKFF.

The 40m band was in quite poor condition, with signals being significantly lower than normal.  I logged a total of 25 stations on 40m before things dried up.  I lowered the squid pole and inserted the 80m links and headed to 3.610 on the 80m band.  I called CQ and this was answered by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, followed by Peter VK3PF, and then Geoff VK3SQ.  I logged a further 3 stations on 80m from Victoria and Tasmania, and then started to experience some small drops of rain.

I then moved to 14.310 on the 20m band where I put out about 5 minutes of CQ calls with no takers at all.  I had 32 contacts in the log, and needed a further 12 to qualify the park for the global WWFF program, so I headed back to 7.139.  I called CQ and this was answered by Karl VK2GKA, followed by Greg VK7FGRA, and then Ron VK3VBI.

Band conditions on 40m were quite poor, but I boxed on and soon had my 44th contact in the log, a QSO with Wayne VK2VRC.  I also spoke with Allen VK3ARH who was activating SOTA peak (un-named summit) VK3/ VT-034.

After 90 minutes in the park it was time to pack up and head off to Golden Beach.  I had 47 contacts in the log, while Marija had 11 contacts logged.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3TKK/p (Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296)
  2. VK7VZ/2
  3. VK2IO
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK3TKK/p (Cobboboonee National Park VKFF-0728)
  6. VK5PL
  7. VK3FSMT
  8. VK2XXM
  9. VK2GAZ
  10. VK5KLV
  11. VK3ARH (SOTA VK3/ VT-034)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3TKK/p (Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296)
  2. VK7VZ/2
  3. VK2IO
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK3TKK/p (Cobboboonee National Park VKFF-0728)
  6. VK5PL
  7. VK3FSMT
  8. VK2XXM
  9. VK2GAZ
  10. VK5KLV
  11. VK7LTD
  12. VK7WH
  13. VK4TJ
  14. VK4/AC8WN
  15. VK4/VE6XT
  16. VK7FAMP
  17. VK4RF
  18. VK4HA
  19. VK3PF
  20. VK2TL
  21. VK2VW
  22. VK3GGG
  23. VK3PMG
  24. VK4NH
  25. VK4DXA
  26. VK2GKA
  27. VK7FGRA
  28. VK3VBI
  29. VK5LSB
  30. VK5HS
  31. VK2AWJ
  32. VK2NEO
  33. VK7MPR
  34. VK1NK
  35. VK3ARH/p (SOTA VK3/ VT-034)
  36. VK3ARL
  37. VK2VRC
  38. VK2TPM
  39. VK3QD
  40. VK2FANT

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3GGG
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK3SQ
  5. VK7MPR
  6. VK7WH
  7. VK3UH



Latrobe Valley Express, 2017, <http://www.latrobevalleyexpress.com.au/story/4875911/dredger-needs-helping-hand/>, viewed 22nd November 2017

Monument Australia, 2017, <http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/culture/animals/display/106227-patrobas>, viewed 22nd November 2017

Parks Victoria, 2000, ‘Holey Plains State Park Visitor Guide’.

Parks Victoria, 1998, ‘Holey Plains State Park Management Plan’.

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loy_Yang_Power_Station>, viewed 22nd November 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gippsland>, viewed 22nd November 2017