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.
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.
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, <http://www.conran.net.au/>, viewed 27th November 2017
Parks Victoria, ‘Cape Conran Coastal Park Visitor Guide’.
Parks Victoria, 2013, ‘Cape Conran Coastal Park Master Plan’
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Conran_Coastal_Park>, viewed 27th November 2017.
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlo,_Victoria>, viewed 27th November 2017