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.
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.
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.
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:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
- VK3TKK/p (Gresswell Hill Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2104)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
Bonzle, 2017, <http://bonzle.com.au/c/a?a=p&p=59244&cmd=sp>, viewed 27th November 2017
Coastal Stays, 2017, <http://www.coastalstays.com/eastgippsland/nowanowa/>, viewed 27th November 2017
Victorian Heritage Council, 2004, ‘Stony Creek Rail Treastle Bridge’
Visit Victoria, 2017, <http://www.visitvictoria.com/Things-to-do/Touring-routes/The-Great-Alpine-Road>, viewed 27th November 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Alpine_Road>, viewed 27th November 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy_River>, viewed 27th November 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbost>, viewed 27th November 2017