Mount Raymond Regional Park VKFF-0975, take two

After having tea on Wednesday night at the Orbost Hotel, I decided to head back out to the Mount Raymond Regional Park VKFF-0975 to see if I could pick up my remaining 16 contacts, to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.

It was just a short 15 minute drive down the Princes Highway from Orbost to the park.  I didn’t bother driving to the top this time.  I pulled into a little track just off Tower Road.  I also didn’t bother running out the dipole for this activation, but rather ran my mobile set up in the Toyota Hi Lux, which consisted of an Icom IC-7000, 100 watts output, and the Codan self tuning 9350 antenna.

I booked in to the 7130 DX Net and was very pleased to hear that conditions on the 40m band were quite good.  I logged a handful of VK’s and two New Zealand stations.   This included Gary ZL3SV, who had a huge signal.  Gary runs a 2,000 foot log, 640 metre centre feed sloper antenna on top of a hill.

I then moved up the band and called CQ and I soon had my 16 required contacts in the log, with a QSO with Lawrence KN7D in Utah, USA (5/5 both ways).


At the end of the net I headed back into Orbost, where I retired to the motel room for a well earnt rest.  It had been another very enjoyable, but long day.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7ROY
  2. VK5MJ
  3. ZL2ASH
  4. VK7FRJG
  5. VK2HJW
  6. VK7RN
  7. ZL3SV
  8. VK5JDS
  9. VK2SK
  10. VK7VAZ
  11. VK3FMKE
  12. VK2VE
  13. VK4ZD
  14. VK4DI
  15. VK2XXM
  16. KN7D
  17. VK2VOM
  18. VK2NEO
  19. VK5FTCT
  20. VK5VBR

Cape Conran Coastal Park VKFF-0744

After packing up at Mount Raymond, Marija and I headed to our second planned activation for the day, the Cape Conran Coastal Park VKFF-0744.  The park is located about 400 km east of Melbourne, and is not far from the Victoria/New South Wales State border.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Cape Conran Coastal Park.  Map courtesy of google maps

We travelled east along the Princes Highway and then turned right onto the Cabbage Tree-Conran Road and travelled south towards the park.  We soon passed the Cabbage Tree Nature Conservation Reserve and considered popping in there for a quick activation, as it also qualified for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  But we were running short of time, and there were that many parks that we couldn’t activate everything.

We soon reached the park which abuts the Cabbage Tree-Conran Road.  We turned left onto Cape Conran Road and then East Cape Road.


The Cape Conran Coastal Park is a coastal reserve and protects 11,700 hectares of East Gippland’s Wilderness Coast.  It was declared in 1997.  Much of the park is covered by heathland and banksia woodland.  Cape Conran Coastal Park, together with Croajinolong National Park and the Nadgee Nature Reserve in New South Wales, and other reserves, form a part of the largest contiguous protected area on the south-east Australia coast.  The park is a popular coastal holiday destination.

During May to October whales may be sighted off the coast and dolphins are often seen surfing the waves.  Over 40 native mammals have been recorded in the park including Long-nose Bandicoots, Long-nose Potoroos, Wombats and Sugar Gliders.  Over 1770 species of native bird can be found in the park including the White-bellied sea eagle, Powerful Owl, and Eastern Ground Parrot.  Below are some of the birds I observed during our activation.  The kookaburra were particularly tame.  I suspect because they are fed, despite the warning signs stating not to do so.

About 14 years ago Cape Conran was chosen as a site to trial a wildlife protection and monitoring program run by the Department of ENvironment Land Water & Planning, with the results being astounding.  By reducing the numbers of introduced foxes, to virtually none, a resurgance of small marsupials and other native naimals commenced.  The program has been so successful that it has been rolled out throughout all of East Gippsland, and is now the largest wildlife management program on the East Coast of Australia.

We set up in the picnic/camping area at East Cape.  It was very quiet, so we had the area almost entirely to ourselves.  There was a nice lawned area here, with wooden tables and benches, making it an ideal spot to operate from.

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

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Above:- Aerial shot of East Cape showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps

As we had done in previous activations, Marija and I decided to share the mic.  Marija was just keen to get her 10 contacts to qualify the park for VKFF.  I was very keen to get 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global WWFF program, but after the band conditions at Mount Raymond, we were not entirely sure that would happen.

First in the log was Owen VK4FADW with a strong 5/9 signal, followed by John VK5BJE, Mark VK7MPR, and then Gerard VK2IO.  John’s signal was fair (5/5), while Mark was moderately strong (5/7), and Gerard was weak (5/3).  This was not a great sign that we were going to have a rewarding activation.

The ever reliable Rick VK4RF/VK4HA was our tenth contact, after 25 minutes.  It was very slow going.


I kicked on, and slowly started filling up the log.  But the 40m band was in poor condition with lots of fading (QSB) on most signals.  I logged 17 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7, before QSYing to the 80m band where I put out a CQ call on 3.610.  That was answered by Paul VK3SS with a strong 5/9 signal, followed by Peter VK3PF (also 5/9) and then Ken VK3UH (again 5/9).  Despite conditions being good on 80m around Victoria, I logged just 2 more VK3 stations.

I then headed to 14.310 on the 20m band, where 5 minutes of CQ calls went unanswered.  I had just 23 stations in the log, and was a long way off the required 44, so I headed back to 7.144 on the 40m band.  The band conditions slowly started to pick up and after a further 40 minutes I had contact number 44 in the log, a QSO with Bill VK5MBD in the Mid North of South Australia.  Tony VK5MRT was contact number 45 and my last for Cape Conran.

It was now 5.30 p.m. Victorian local time and we were getting a bit peckish and were keen to head off for some dinner.


After packing up we enjoyed a short walk along the beach at East Cape.  It was a beautiful warm late afternoon and the coastline was certainly very picturesque.

On the way back to Orbost we stopped for a little bit of sightseeing.  This included Salmon Rocks.

The photos below show the typical coastline and the park on the road into the town of Marlo.

Our next stop was just outside of Marlo, where we enjoyed a great view of the coast and the mouth of the famous Snowy River.

Marlo is a beautiful little town with a population of around 700 people.  The name “Marlo” is generally accepted to have roots in tribal aboriginal language. “Marloo” meaning white clay is suggestive of the Marlo Bluff, whilst “Murloo” meaning “muddy banks” was reportedly used by the local indigenous people.

After having a bit of a quick look around Marlo, we headed north out of town on the Marlo Road towards Orbost.  We stopped briefly for some photographs of water birds in a wetlands area north of Marlo.

We continued along the Marlo Road, which hugs the Snowy River all the way to Orbost.  There were some nice views of Mount Raymond to be had.  And all the way along the river were people camping and caravaning.


Once we got back into Orbost, Marija and I headed to the Orbost Club Hotel for a meal and a few ales.  After tea I decided to head back out to the Mount Raymond Regional Park VKFF-0975 to pick up my remaining 16 contacts to qualify the park.





Cape Conran Coastal Park, 2017, <>, viewed 27th November 2017

Parks Victoria, ‘Cape Conran Coastal Park Visitor Guide’.

Parks Victoria, 2013, ‘Cape Conran Coastal Park Master Plan’

Wikipedia, 2017, <>, viewed 27th November 2017.

Wikipedia, 2017, <,_Victoria>, viewed 27th November 2017

Day five and the Mount Raymond Regional Park VKFF-0975

Day five (Wednesday 8th November 2017) of our trip involved a 198 km drive from Golden Beach to Orbost.  This took us out through Sale and on to Stratford and then Bairnsdale.  And then through the beautiful hilly forested country to Orbost.

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Above:- Map showing our travels on day five.  Map courtesy of google maps

We had arranged the day before to meet Paul VK3SS in Stratford, which is exactly what we did.  We followed Paul out to his property and enjoyed a cup of coffee, some choccie biscuits and a good chat.  As you would expect I had a look at Paul’s shack and his antenna farm which is extremely impressive.  It was terrific to catch up with Paul in person.

Marija and I then continued our journey east along the Princes Highway and soon reached the town of Bairnsdale.  We then headed out of Bairnsdale along the Great Alpine Road.  This stretches for 339 km and is Australia’s highest year-round accessible road.  The road was given its current name because it was considered the mountain equivalent to Victoria’s world famous Great Ocean Road in the south-west of the state.


This is spectacular country through this part of Victoria, with forest either side of the road.  We drove into the little town of Bruthen, hoping to stop in at the Bullant Brewery, which turned out to be closed.  It was normally open on a Wednesday, but as the previous day had been the Melbourne Cup horse race, it had opened on Tuesday instead.


So a little disapointed, we continued along the Bruthen-Nowa Nowa Road until we reached the Boggy Creek Gorge lookout.  It is just a short 100m walk to the lookout, which has spectacular views of the gorge.

We then stopped off at Nowa Nowa for a coffee for Marija, and a milkshake for me.  Nowa Nowa means ‘place of mingling waters’ in the local Kurnai aboriginal language.  Gold was discovered in the area in 1887 which resulted in a rush to the area, however only small deposits were found.  Nowa Nowa was originally a coach stop between Lakes Entrnce and Orbost prior to the railway which commenced in 1912.

The Mingling Waters Cafe is worth a look.  It has a a collection of wood sculptures, a gem collection and a quirky toy collection.  There is also a 130 year old timber jinker with ironbark wheels which was pulled by bullocks, carrying timber to the mills.

We then drove out to the Stony Creek trestle bridge, just outside of Nowa Nowa.  This is truly an amazing sight.  It was built in 1916 by the Victorian Railways and spans the Stony Creek.  The bridge is 27 span, 276 metres long, 18.6 metres high and is constructed of timber.  It supported a single railway track over the creek.  It is one of the longest and highest remaining examples of a timber trestle bridge in Victoria.  The bridge actually remained in operation until a bushfire damaged the structure in 1980.  The railway closed in August 1987.

We then drove back into Nowa Nowa and on to Orbost, crossing the famous Snowy River as we entered town.  The Snowy originates on the slops os Australia’s highest mainland peak, Mount Kosciuszko, draining the eastern slops of the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, before flowing through the Alpine National Park and the Snowy River National Park in Victoria, and emptying in Bass Strait.  The river has been immortalised in cultural folklore through the poem The Man from Snowy River, written by ‘Banjo’ Paterson in 1890, which formed the basis of many subsequent works in film, TV and music theatre.

Orbost is located about 375 km east of Melbourne and is the service centre for the primary industries of beef, dairy cattle, and sawmilling in the region.  Peter Imlay established the Snowy River Station for grazing in 1842, and his brother the Newmerella run nearby.  In 1845 the land was sold to Norman McLeod, who named the area after Orbost farm in the northwest of Isle of Skye, in Scotland.  Our accomodation in Orbost was the Orbost Motel, which was can highly recommend.

After booking in to the motel, Marija and I headed to our first activation of the day, the Mount Raymond Regional Park, VKFF-0975, which is located about 16 km to the east of Orbost.  The park is about 750 hectares in size.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Mount Raymond Regional Park.  Map courtesy of google maps.

We drove east along the Princes Highway and soon reached the northern boundary of the park.  We then turned right onto Tower Road.


We followed Tower Road right up to the top.  The road is dirt and quite steep, but is generally in good condition and is easily passable in a conventional vehicle.

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We started setting up alongside of the communication towers.  It was a little cramped, but we strung out the 80/40/20m linked dipole.


There are some terrific views to be enjoyed from the top of Mount Raymond, which surprisingly is not listed as a summit for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  We were a little surprised about that, but clearly it does not have the required prominence for SOTA.

Despite there being communication towers on the top of Mount Raymond, they didn’t provide any interference to us on the bands.

Marija and I decided again to share the mic, until Marija had obtained her 10 contacts, and qualified the park for the VKFF program.  I started calling CQ on 7.144 and this was answered by John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills with a strong 5/8 signal.  Gerard VK2IO then came up on the frequency to let us know that Gerard VK2JNG/p was also calling CQ on the same frequency from another park.  Unfortunately we could not hear a peep out of Gerard and nobody had come back to our calls when asking if the frequency was in use.  So Marija and I headed down to 7.139 where we started calling CQ again.

Gerard VK2IO had followed us down and he was logged with a 5/5 signal, followed by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, and then Adrian VK5FANA who was a very low signal (3/1 both ways).  Sadly, the 40m band appeared to be in very poor shape, with huge amounts of fading (QSB).  So much so, that I thought initially it may have been our antenna.

We boxed on under very very trying conditions, and after 20 minutes, Marija had contact number ten in the log, a QSO with Ron VK3VBI.  Marija’s patience with the band had worn thin, and she sat back and enjoyed the view, whilst I continued on, hoping to get 44 contacts in the log for the global WWFF program.  But this was not going to be easy work on this cocasion.

I logged 16 stations on 40m and then headed to 3.610 on the 80m band where the only station logged was Peter VK3PF.  I then headed to 14.310 on the 20m band where I logged John VK4TJ and his other 2 calls of VK4/AC8WN and VK4/VE6XT, and then Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.  But that was the end of that.  No further callers on 20m.  This was not looking good.

I lowered the squid pole and we were inserting the links to go back to 40m, when we saw a spot for Peter VK3TKK/p on 80m from a park.  So the links were changed again, and it was back to 80m and 3.615.  I logged Peter who was in the Gresswell Hill Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2104.

I then moved back to 40m where I logged just 5 further stations, from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7.  I now had 28 contacts in the log, and was well short of the required 44.  But it was time to pack up and head off to the next park.  We will have to revisit Mount Raymond.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK2IO
  3. VK3GGG
  4. VK3PMG
  5. VK5FANA
  6. VK4TJ
  7. VK4/AC8WN
  8. VK4/VE6XT
  9. VK2IPK
  10. VK3VBI

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK2IO
  3. VK3GGG
  4. VK3PMG
  5. VK5FANA
  6. VK4TJ
  7. VK4/AC8WN
  8. VK4/VE6XT
  9. VK3VBI
  10. VK7FGRA
  11. VK4RF
  12. VK4HA
  13. VK7LTD/p
  14. VK7OTC
  15. VK7WH
  16. VK2IPK
  17. VK5LSB
  18. VK7FAMP
  19. VK7JON
  20. VK2XXM
  21. VK5KBJ

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3TKK/p (Gresswell Hill Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2104)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4TJ
  2. VK4/AC8WN
  3. VK4/VE6XT
  4. VK4RF
  5. VK4HA




Bonzle, 2017, <>, viewed 27th November 2017

Coastal Stays, 2017, <>, viewed 27th November 2017

Victorian Heritage Council, 2004, ‘Stony Creek Rail Treastle Bridge’

Visit Victoria, 2017, <>, viewed 27th November 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <>, viewed 27th November 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <>, viewed 27th November 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <;, viewed 27th November 2017