The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484

Our second activation for day four was The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484, just a short distance down the road from the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.  The park is located about 271 km east of Melbourne and about 36 km by road from Golden Beach.  Again, this was to be a unique park for Marija and I as activators, for both the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, and the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award.

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Above:- Map showing the location of The Lakes National Park.  Map courtesy of google maps

The Lakes National Park is 2,390 hectares of low lying woodland and coastal heath, consisting of Sperm Whale Head peninsula, Rotamah and Little Rotamah Islands.

Eucalypt and Banksia woodland are widespread in the sandy soils of the park. Areas of coastal heath are interspersed with swampy, salt marsh vegetation. The park is most spectacular in spring, when wildflowers are on show. Several rare plant species feature, including Ribbed Thryptomene which, apart from this area, is found only in Tasmania and the York and Eyre Peninsulas in South Australia.

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More than 190 species of bird have been recorded in the park including the rare White Bellied Sea Eagle and endangered Little Tern.  Numerous native animals can also be found in the park including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Black Wallabies, Echidnas, Ring-tailed possums, Sugar Gliders, Pygmy Possums, Wombats, and the endangered New Holland Mouse.

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Above:- New Holland Mouse.  Image courtesy of wikipedia.

We  drove through the town of Loch Sport to the southern entrance of the park at the end of National Park Road.  This is the only way to get into the park, other than by boat.

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Above:- Entrance to The Lakes National Park.

We then followed the Lake Reeve Track, stopping occasionally for a few photographs.  The track is dirt, but is in good condition and is easily passable in a conventional vehicle.

We continued along Lake Reeve Track until we reached the Netting Boundary Picnic Area.  There was a wooden table and benches here and it looked like a terrific spot to set up.

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Additionally, there was plenty of room to string out the 80/40/20m linked dipole, and there were no other persons in the campground.

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Above:- An aerial view of the park, showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps.

This was a really pretty spot, and just across the road from where we were operating was Lake Reeve.  Lake Reeve provides important feeding and roosting habitat for a number of waterfowl species, and is one of Victoria’s most important areas for wading birds. The lake is a significant feature of the Gippsland Lakes system and is listed under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR).

The lake was alive with Black Swans and various other water birds.

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Marija and I decided on a change of tactics for this activation, with Marija planning on getting her 10 contacts and qualifying the park for VKFF, and then handing the mic for me.  Marija called CQ on 7.144 and this was soon answered by Gerard VK2IO with a strong 5/8 signal, followed by Greg VK5GJ in the Adelaide Hills, Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland region of South Australia, and then John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills.  Within 9 minutes, despite the band being in quite poor condition with lots of fading (QSB), Marija had contact number ten in the log, a QSO with Angela VK7FAMP in Tasmania.

I then took control of the mic, logging Angela VK7FAMP as contact number one.  Rod VK7FRJG then called in, followed by John VK5BJE, and then Garry VK2GAZ.  Contact number ten came 6 minutes into being on air, a QSO with Greg VK5GJ.  Marija and I had both qualified the park for VKFF and the Keith Roget parks award.   Now the quest was on for me to get my 44 to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.

I logged a total of 29 stations on 40m before the callers dried up.  Only a handful of Victorian stations were in the log on 40m, so I was hoping that the 80m band would prove to be a little better to log the local stations.  I called CQ on 3.610 and this was answered by Peter VK3PF, followed by Geoff VK3SQ, and then Peter VK3ZPF.  All had 5/9 signals.  I logged a further 7 stations on 80m, all from VK3.

I then headed over to the 20m band and started calling CQ on 14.310.  My call was answered, much to my surprise, by Igor UA5D in Russia who had a strong 5/8 signal (5/6 received).   Paul F2YT in France then called in, with a 5/7 signal (3/3 received).  But sadly, despite a good start on 20m, they were my only callers.  I was now sitting on 43 contacts, needing just one more QSO to qualify the park for WWFF.

It was now 5.30 p.m. and Marija and I really wanted to head off for tea, so I put out a quick call on 7.144 which was answered by David VK5LSB.  My 44th contact…thanks David.  I then logged Hans VK5YX, Peter VK2NEO, and finally John VK2IFT.

So, with the park qualified for VKFF, WWFF, and the KRMNPA it was time to pack up.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO
  2. VK5GJ
  3. VK5HS
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK2WWV
  6. VK2JNG/p
  7. VK7LTD
  8. VK7FRJG
  9. VK2GAZ
  10. VK7FAMP
  11. VK4NH
  12. VK4DXA

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7FMP
  2. VK7FRJG
  3. VK5BJE
  4. VK2GAZ
  5. VK2YA
  6. VK1WAT
  7. VK7LTD
  8. VK2AWJ
  9. VK3SX
  10. VK5GJ
  11. VK3GGG
  12. VK3PMG
  13. VK4NH
  14. VK4DXA
  15. VK2IO
  16. VK5IS
  17. VK7VDL
  18. VK4TJ
  19. VK4/AC8WN
  20. VK4/VE6XT
  21. VK7VAZ
  22. VK2TL
  23. VK5KLV
  24. VK2VW
  25. VK5FMWW
  26. VK5AK/m
  27. VK1TX
  28. VK5HS
  29. VK2VRC
  30. VK5LSB
  31. VK5YX
  32. VK2NEO
  33. VK2IFT

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3KAI
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK3ZPF
  5. VK3NLK
  6. VK3MRH
  7. VK3SFG
  8. VK3FPSR
  9. VK3UH
  10. VK3FJAE
  11. VK3LMJ

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. UA5D
  2. F2YT

After packing up Marija and I continued along Lake Reeve Track until we reached Point Wilson.  There are some nice views here across the water to Raymond Island and Paynesville.  The water’s edge was alive with Pelicans, Cormorants, Terns and various other birdlife.  There were also a number of yachties out on the water enjoying the later afternoon sunshine.

We then drove along Victoria Track, which is definitely 4WD only, and is marked as such.  This is a really fun 4WD track taking you through some great parts of the park.  We stopped briefly as Trouser Point to enjoy the views and say g’day to some of the local kangaroos.

It was now starting to get a bit late and we decided to stop off at the Marina Tavern at Loch Sport for a meal.  The pub is set on the banks of Lake Victoria.  And we were very pleased we did, as the meal was excellent.  I had a Neptune schnitzel, with fresh prawns and other seaford, and a seafood sauce.  Marija had a Thai Green Curry, which the waitress said had an Italian twist, as it had hot chips and salad as well.  And Marija says it was one of the nicest meals she has had.

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References.

Parks Victoria, 2017, ‘The Lakes National Park Visitor Guide’.

 

Day four and the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747

Day four (Tuesday 7th November 2017) commenced with a cup of coffee and some toast on the balcony of our accomodation at Golden Beach.  It was a warm day and thankfully the wind had dropped somewhat.  Whilst I enjoyed my coffee I enjoyed watching the birdlife (of the feathered kind), including Wattlebirds and Rosellas.

After breakfast Marija and I headed down Shoreline Drive and had a look at the wreck of the Trinculo.  The iron barque Trinculo, built in 1858 was travelling from Albany in Western Australia to Newcastle in New South Wales in May 1879.  On 30th May 1879, the vessel was struck by S/E force 11 winds off WIlsons Promontory and was forced on to a sandbar 15 metres offshore at Stockyard Hill on the 90 Mile Beach.   Fortunately no lives were lost as a result.

Today, very little remains of the wreck.  Looking at photos from even 3-4 years ago, the wreck has diminished significantly due to the elements.

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I then took some time out for a little bit of birdwatching in the scrub adjacent to the wreck.  This is all part of the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747.  Unfortunately my photographic skills were not good enough to catch many of the very small birds in the scrub.

We needed to refuel with diesel and we were warned about filling up at Golden Beach, so we chose to drove to Sale about 41 km away.  And I’m pleased we did.  Because we ended up going on a boat cruise out of Sale on the Rubeena, an old wooden boat first launched in 1912 at Lakes Entrance.

Here is a short video on the Rubeena Heritage cruise.

We took a 2 hour cruise along the Sale Canal and the Thomson River.  We were fortunate to see a number of Sacred Kingfishers on the cruise, along with a majestic Wedge Tailed Eagle sitting high atop one of the gum trees above the water, and a variety of other birds.

We also spotted a koala or two, enjoying a morning sleep, a number of people fishing (for carp), and a number of aboriginal canoe trees.

The trip took us to the Sale Swing Bridge, designed by John Grainger and built in 1883 by the Victorian Government.  It was the first moveable bridge built in Victoria.  Its wrought-iron structure, 45 metres long, pivots on cylindrical steel columns

At the conclusion of the cruise, which we highly recommend, we drove down to the Swing bridge for a closer look and take a walk across it.  The bridge is certainly very impressive.

After refuelling we headed back towards Golden Beach and took the Longford-Loch Sport Road towards the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747, our first activation for day 4.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.  Map courtesy of google maps

The park is a narrow coastal reserve covering 17,600 hectares along a portion of the Ninety Mile Beach, from Seaspray to Lakes Entrance.   The park consists of a system of coastal lagoons separated from the Tasman Sea by the coastal dunes.

On Friday 22 October 2010 both the Australian Federal and Victorian State governments formally recognised the Gunaikurnai people as the Traditional Owners of over 20 per cent of public land within Gippsland and Eastern Victoria.  The Victorian Government and the Gunaikurnai people formally signed Victoria’s first settlement agreement under the new Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.  This agreement involved the transfer of ten parks and reserves to the Gunaikurnai as “Aboriginal Title” which will be jointly managed in conjunction with Parks Victoria. Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park is one of the jointly managed parks within Gippsland.

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Above:- Aerial view of the park.  Image courtesy of google maps

The first European records of the Gippsland Lakes were by Angus McMillan in 1840 and of the seaward entrance to the lakes by John Reeve in 1842.   The entrance to the Gippsland Lakes was constructed in the 1880s.   Before that time, the lakes were generally closed to the sea, with the barrier being breached only on rare occasions.

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Above:- Angus McMillan, c/o wikipedia

Various native animals can be found in the park including Eastern Grey kangaroos, Black Wallabies, Common Brush-tailed Possums, Echidnas, and Ring-tailed Possums.  Numerous native birds call the park home including Fairy Terms, Little Terns, Bar-tailed Godwit, Yellow-tailed Black cockatoo, Eastern Yellow Robin, and Wedge-tailed eagle.

The plants growing in the park can be divided into three main types: coastal, swamp and heathy woodland. These grow mostly on leached sand of low fertility. Coastal vegetation growing along the seaward side of the dunes is adapted to grow in harsh conditions of wind, salt, sun, shifting sand, little water and few nutrients. These plants include Hairy Spinifex, Marram Grass, Cushion Bush, Coast Saltbush, Sea Rocket and Coastal Everlasting.

Behind the dunes conditions are less severe allowing Coastal Tea-tree thickets and Coast Banksia woodlands to grow. Swamp vegetation grows around the lakes and includes rushes, sedges and Swamp Paperbark.

Heath vegetation is also adapted to grow in poor soils. Major species include Shining Peppermint, Yertchuk, Coastal Tea-tree and Saw Banksia.  The more common understorey plants consist of Bracken, Silky Tea-tree, Sweet Wattle and Common Heath.

As we had done in previous activations Marija and I chose to swap the mic until Marija had qualified the park with 10 QSOs.  We started calling CQ on 7.144 and this was soon answered by Greg VK5GJ in the Adelaide Hills, followed by Jonathan VK7JON, Gerard VK2IO and then Brett VK2WWV.  We immediately noted that there was a large amount of QSB (fading) on all signals.  Within around 20 minutes we had contact number ten in the log, with a QSO with Mike VK5FMWW.

It was a very warm morning and the mosquitos were out in force, and despite repeated applications of Aeogard, they kept attacking relentlessly.  So once Marija had 13 contacts in the log she retreated to the safety of the vehicle.

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Despite the band conditions on 40m being average, within 90 minutes I had contact number 44 in the log, a QSO with Mark VK7MPR.  I went on to make a total of 50 QSOs on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  This included a contact with Daryl VK3AWA at nearby Paradise Beach, and Paul VK3SS who lives at Stratford.  Paul and I made arrangements to catch up the following day on our way through to Orbost.

I then headed to the 80m band and called CQ on 3.610.  This was answered by Paul VK3SS who had followed me down from 40m, followed by Peter VK3ZPF, and then Peter VK3PF.  A further 3 stations from VK3 & VK7 were logged on 80m.

It was now approaching 3.00 p.m. local time, and Marija and I had one more planned activation for the day, The Lakes National Park.  So we packed up and headed off with a total of 69 contacts in the log between the two of us.

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Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5GJ
  2. VK7JON
  3. VK2IO
  4. VK2WWV
  5. VK7FAMP
  6. VK4TJ
  7. VK4/AC8WN
  8. VK4/VE6XT
  9. VK7LTD
  10. VK5FMWW
  11. VK4RF
  12. VK4HA
  13. VK7FRJG

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5GJ
  2. VK7JON
  3. VK2IO
  4. VK2WWV
  5. VK7FAMP
  6. VK4TJ
  7. VK4/AC8WN
  8. VK4/VE6XT
  9. VK7LTD
  10. VK5FMWW
  11. VK4RF
  12. VK4HA
  13. VK7FRJG
  14. VK2GAZ
  15. VK3IRS
  16. VK2AWJ
  17. VK5BJE
  18. VK7KT
  19. VK7MD/m
  20. VK5HS
  21. VK3JP
  22. VK3CA
  23. VK5KSW
  24. VK2YA
  25. VK1WAT
  26. VK3MDH
  27. VK5TW
  28. VK2ZGH
  29. VK2IPK
  30. VK3FJAE
  31. VK2VV
  32. VK3AXK
  33. VK2QH
  34. VK7GG
  35. VK2TM
  36. VK7FGRA
  37. VK3ARH
  38. VK4VXX/2
  39. VK2VW
  40. VK3AWA
  41. VK2GJC
  42. VK7HCK
  43. VK3SS
  44. VK7MPR
  45. VK3GGG
  46. VK3PMG
  47. VK2FANT
  48. VK3OHM
  49. VK3ZPF
  50. VK5KLV

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3SS
  2. VK3ZPF
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK7MPR
  5. VK3UH
  6. VK3SQ

 

References.

Central Gippsland, 2017, <http://www.centralgippsland.com.au/golden-beach/attractions/item/90-mile-beach-trinculo-shipwreck>, viewed 23rd November 2017

Lakes Entrance, 2017, <https://www.lakesentrance.com/explore/national-parks/item/gippsland-lakes-coastal-park>, viewed 23rd November 2017

Parks Victoria, 2014, ‘Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park Visitor Guide’.