Day 13, Tarra Bulga National Park VKFF-0480

We were now nearly 2 weeks into our trip and day 13 (Thursday 16th November 2017) had really crept up on us quickly.  Today we had a 157 km drive from Lakes Entrance to Traralgon.  I was a little sad to leave Lakes Entrance, as I had really enjoyed the stay there in the cabin.  Our trip would take us back down the Princes Highway into Bairnsdale, then Stratford, Rosedale, and on to Traralgon where we had arranged to stay for one night.

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Above:- Map showing our travels on day 13 from Lakes Entrance to Traralgon.  Map courtesy of google maps

We had two planned park activations for the day and then a dinner at night at one of the local pubs in Traralgon with some of the local amateurs.  Our first activation of the day was the Tarra Bulga National Park VKFF-0480, which is about 240 km east of Melbourne and about 33 km south of Traralgon.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Tarra Bulga National Park.  Map courtesy of google maps

Once we got to Stratford we took a bit of a break to stretch our legs.  We stopped to have a look at the memorial to commemorate the crossing of the Avon River at Stratford by the explorer Angus McMillan in 1840.

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We then drove into Sale and quickly drove out to the Royal Australian Air Force base, just outside of the town.  The base opened as a training base in April 1943 and was initially the home to No. 1 Operational Training Unit (1 OTU), equipped with Bristol Beaufort light bombers.  Following World War II, the RAAF Central Flying School was relocated from RAAF Base Point Cook to East Sale in 1947.  About 700 personnel work at the base.

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We then drove south on the Traralgon-Balook Road, enjoying some very nice views.  The weather was still warm and very humid.  But storms were brewing, and we were a bit worried that we may not be able to get our second park activation in.

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We soon reached the north western corner of the Tarra Bulga National Park, which was well signposted.

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Tarra Bulga National Park is quite a large park, comprising 1,522-hectares (3,760-acres) of the last remnants of indigenous eucalypt forest which once covered the region.  The undisturbed mountain ash forests, fern gully communities and associated Myrtle Beech stands within the park are of considerable biogeographical significance.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Tarra Bulga National Park.  Image courtesy of google maps

The area was first set aside as Bulga National Park in 1904, comprising 20 hectares (49 acres).  In 1909 Tarra Valley National Park was designated nearby, with 303 hectares (750 acres) reserved.  Over the years the two parks were gradually enlarged and then merged as the Tarra-Bulga National Park, and proclaimed on 17th June 1986.

The rainforest in the park is a haven for plants and native wildlife, and is particularly well known for its giant mountain ash trees and lush fern gullies.  There are a wide variety of birds residing in the park including the pilotbird, yellow tailed black cockatoo, eastern whipbird, and currawongs.  In the evening possums, owls and bats emerge to feed.  Lyrebirds, wombats, swamp wallabies, gliders and platypuses can also be found within the park.

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Above:- The Tarra Bulga National Park, showing our operating spot at the Visitor Centre.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Marija and I headed for the visitor centre.  We weren’t quite sure if this was going to be a viable place to operate from because of the throng of tourists we expected to be there.  But once we arrived we were surprised to see just 2 cars in the car park, and the lawned area in front of the visitor centre was completely free.  And there were a number of wooden tables and benches.

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The only other occupants on the lawn were a large number of Crimson Rosellas.  In fact dozens of them.  And they were very tame.

Once again, Marija and I swapped the microphone until Marija had logged 10 stations and qualifying the park for the VKFF program.  Marija started calling CQ and this was answered by Greg VK5GJ, followed by Peter VK3PF, and then Julie VK3FOWL who was using the School Amateur Radio Club Network call of VK3SRC.  Next was a Park to Park contact, with Garry VK2GAZ/p who was activating the Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371.  Just 3 QSOs later Marija had contact number 10 in the log, with a QSO with Michael VK3FCMC.

Whilst I continued to operate, Marija went for a walk along the Ash Track and through the forest to the suspension bridge.  And Marija was in for a treat.  She photographed a female Superb Lyrebird.  These birds are noted for their elaborate tail and excellent mimicry.  The Superb Lyrebird has an extraordinary ability to accurately mimic a huge variety of sounds. Lyrebirds are shy and difficult to approach, so Marija did particularly well in getting some photos.

During the activation I had a number of rosellas land on the table in front of me.  They appeared completely unphased by the radio and the noise.

Band conditions were good and it only took me about one hour to get 44 contacts in the log.  Contact number 44 was with Des VK3PEF.  Callers in the log were from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  I then tried putting out a few calls on 14.310, but had no takers.  So to finish off the activation I called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band and this was answered by Sergio VK3SFG.  But sadly, Sergio was my only taker on 80m.

This was another activation where we were able to promote the hobby, with Marija engaging with a few members of the public, explaining the hobby of amateur radio and the parks program.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5GJ
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK3KAI
  4. VK3GV
  5. VK3FOWL
  6. VK3SRC
  7. VK2GAZ/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371)
  8. VK2YA
  9. VK1WAT
  10. VK3FCMC
  11. VK3YSP

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5GJ
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK3KAI
  4. VK3GV
  5. VK3FOWL
  6. VK3SRC
  7. VK2GAZ/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371)
  8. VK2YA/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371)
  9. VK1WAT/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371)
  10. VK3FCMC
  11. VK3ANL
  12. VK3UH
  13. VK5GR
  14. VK7JON
  15. VK3SFG
  16. VK5BJE
  17. VK2XXM
  18. VK5KLV
  19. VK3YSP
  20. VK3CBP
  21. VK3GGG
  22. VK3PMG
  23. VK3KIX
  24. VK7FRJG
  25. VK7VZ/2
  26. VK2HHA
  27. VK3VBI
  28. VK3SQ
  29. VK5FANA
  30. VK3DET
  31. VK3MKM
  32. VK5KKT
  33. VK7LTD
  34. VK2FANT
  35. VK2SK
  36. VK7NWT
  37. VK5FAJH
  38. VK3PNG
  39. VK7FAMP
  40. VK4TJ
  41. VK4/AC8WN
  42. VK4/VE6XT
  43. VK2HPN
  44. VK3PEF

I worked the following station on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3SFG

Once we packed up Marija and I took a walk along the Ash Track to the Corrigan suspension bridge which stretches through the rainforest canopy.

Sadly I was not able to spot a Lyrebird like Marija.  But I did spot a number of other birds including Yellow-tailed Black cockatoos, Pied Currawongs, and Crescent Honeyeaters.

There are some huge Mountain Ash trees here in the park.  The Mountain Ash is the tallest flowering plant in the world.  The tree show below in the photograph is 75 metres tall, and is only two thirds the size of the largest recorded Mount Ash.  However, it still stands as one of Victoria’s oldest trees

We then made our way back to the vehicle and started making our way to our next activation, the Morwell National Park, admiring the amazing views of the countryside.  Our only issue was that the weather was starting to roll in, with some very black clouds in the sky.

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This is also an active forestry area and we encountered a number of log trucks on our way back to Traralgon.

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References.

Royal Australian Air Force, 2017, <https://airforce.gov.au/Bases/Victoria/RAAF-Base-East-Sale/?RAAF-QuvXzzhcggJm83SkNVAcH6pkA9k5dIb1>, viewed 1st December 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarra-Bulga_National_Park>, viewed 1st December 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superb_lyrebird>, viewed 1st December 2017

Colquhoun Regional Park VKFF-0962

Following our activation at Lake Tyers, Marija and I drove the short distance into Lakes Entrance, where we had booked in to stay for one night.  Lakes Entrance is a seaside resort and fishing port, situated about 320 km east of Melbourne.  It was originally known as Cunninghame after a family of squatters who settled in the area.  The town boasts Australia’s largest inland network of waterways.  There are a number of lookout areas, one at least which we took advantage of to enjoy some spectacular views.

The local Kurnai had a Dreamtime legend explaining the lakes: a frog swallowed all of the world’s water. The other animals tried to make the frog surrender the water by making it laugh. All deliberate attempts at humour failed but the sight of the eel standing upright on its tail caused the frog to laugh, the water was disgorged and the subsequent flood is said to have created the lakes.

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Marija and I visited the Visitor Information Centre and decided to take a drive out to the  Nyerimilang Homestead which is contained in Nyerimiland Park.  The old homestead is located amongst beautiful gardens on a cliff top overlooking the Gippsland Lakes.  The land that is now Nyerimilang Heritage Park was first owned by Alexander Murray in 1884.  He later transferred it to Frank Stuart of Melbourne who built a home as a base for fishing and shooting holidays at the Gippsland Lakes.

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We then headed back into Lakes Entrance and had a drive along The Esplanade, viewing many of the fishing boats and the floating restaurants.  We also stopped to have a look at the wood carvings which depict images of Australia at War, including the famous Simpson and his donkey.

We then headed out of town on the Colquhoun Road for a number of kms.  I joked with Marija that we were booked in so far out of town, it seemed that far.  And first impressions often lie.  When we pulled up to the Lakes Entrance Country Cottages, I thought to myself, ‘where the hell have we booked in?’  But once we got to the rear of the farmhouse where the cottages are located, I was very impressed.  The cottages are transportables and are set in a very picturesque environment.  And inside, the cottage was spotless and very spacious.

After offloading some of our gear Marija and I headed out to our second planned park activation of the day, the Colquhoun Regional Park VKFF-0962, which was located just a few kms away from where we were staying.

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

The Colquhoun Regional Park is 3,600 hecatres in size and borders the Colquhoun State Forest to its north and east.  The park has relatively gentle slops and consists of open forest, primarily Silvertop, White Stringybark and Mountain Grey Gum.

Within the current day boundaries of the park, a tramway was constructed during the early 1900s to move granite from the Mississippi Creek quarry to Lakes Entrance. The granite was used to build a new permanent entrance to the Gippsland Lakes, as the original timber pylons had been severely damaged by the marine toredo worm.  The tramway remained in use until the mid-1930s.

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The Colquhoun Regional Park and the adjacent State Forest support a variety of native fauna species, including Swamp Wallabies, Wombats, Brushtail Possums, and Common Ringtail Possums.  Various birds can be found in the park including the Crimson Rosella, Eastern Rosella, and the Superb Lyrebird.

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We turned down Blackfellows Road and soon entered the park.  Although not signposted, we ensured we were within the park boundaries by using the GPS.

We set up in a small clearing in the scrub, right alongside Blackfellows Road.  We ran the Yaesu FT-857d for this activation, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole on the 7m squid pole.  Power output was initially at 10 watts for Marija’s Foundation licence.  I then wound up the power to 40 watts.

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Once again Marija and I swapped the mic for this activation, until Marija had 10 contacts in the log.  First in the log was Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, followed by John VK4TJ, and then Gerard VK2IO.  Contact number 10 came quite quickly, just 9 minutes into the activation.  That being a QSO with Nick VK3ANL.

I then took control of the mic and logged a total of 40 stations on 40m, from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7.

I then moved to 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged 6 stations, all from Victoria (VK3).  All signals on 80m ranged from strength 7 to strength 9.  But despite the 80m band being quite good, they were my only stations logged on that band.

I then QSYd to 14.310 on the 20m band and started calling CQ.  Peter VK3PF had spotted me on parksnpeaks.  Unfortunately only one station was logged on 20m, that being Jonathan VK7JON who was a strong signal.  VK3AIC also called me and despite me copying him well due to no man made noise from the park, he was unable to hear me due to his noise floor.  It just highlighted one of the great reasons for operating portable…..NO man made noise.  Beautiful!

To finish off the activation I moved back to 7.144 where I logged a further 14 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.

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Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3GGG
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK4TJ
  4. VK4/AC8WN
  5. VK4/VE6XT
  6. VK2IO
  7. VK5GJ
  8. VK3FRC
  9. VK3GB/p
  10. VK3ANL

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3GGG
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK4TJ
  4. VK4/AC8WN
  5. VK4/VE6XT
  6. VK2IO
  7. VK5GJ
  8. VK3FRC
  9. VK3GB/p
  10. VK3ANL
  11. VK3IO
  12. VK5LSB
  13. VK3GER
  14. VK3FAHS
  15. VK3SFG
  16. VK3CWF
  17. VK2VKB
  18. VK3PF
  19. VK7DX
  20. VK3OB
  21. VK3NBL
  22. VK3PAT
  23. VK2VW
  24. VK5FANA
  25. VK3FCMC
  26. VK7FRJG
  27. VK2NP/p
  28. VK5BJE
  29. VK3VIN
  30. VK4SMA/p
  31. VK5KLV
  32. VK4RF
  33. VK4HA
  34. VK3UH
  35. VK3FMLE
  36. VK3NLK/m
  37. VK3KIX
  38. VK3KAI
  39. VK3GV
  40. VK4FARR
  41. VK3SQ
  42. VK7JON
  43. VK5TW
  44. VK5PL
  45. VK1DI
  46. VK3JP
  47. VK3CA
  48. VK7RM
  49. VK3FTRI/m
  50. VK3TKK/m
  51. VK2NED
  52. VK7FGRA
  53. VK4NH
  54. VK4DXA

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3KAI
  3. VK3GV
  4. VK3UH
  5. VK3SFG
  6. VK3SQ

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK7JON

After packing up Marija and I headed back into Lakes Entrance and took a short walk along the beach.  It was a beautiful warm evening.

We then returned to our accomodation and whilst Marija cooked up some sausages and patties, I did a bit of bird watching.

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References.

Aussie Towns, 2017, <http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/lakes-entrance-vic>, viewed 1st December 2017

Lands Conservation Council 1983, ‘Gippsland Lakes Hinterland Area Final Recommendations’.

Parks Victoria, 2017, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/nyerimilang-park-g.l.r.>, viewed 1st December 2017

State of Victoria, Departmenr of Sutainability and Environment,

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakes_Entrance,_Victoria>, viewed 1st December 2017

Day 12 and the Lake Tyers State Park VKFF-0761

Day 12 (Wednesday 15th November 2017) of our trip had rolled around and it was time to leave Mallacoota.  We had thoroughly enjoyed our time here.  Today we had a 202 km drive ahead of us, from Mallacoota to Lakes Entrance.  We had two planned park activations for the day, the first being the Lake Tyers State Park VKFF-0761.

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Above:- Map showing our travels on day 12.  Map courtesy of plotaroute.com

As we approached Orbost on the Princes Highway, we detoured off to have a look at the Cabbage Tree Creek Flora Reserve.  Thi is home to Australia’s most southerly palm, the Cabbage Fan-palm Livistona australis, known locally as the Cabbage Tree Palm.  It takes its name from the edible growing tip or ‘heart’, once used as a food source.

There is a very nice walk through the rainforest here.  The gentle 15 minute loop track winds through warm temperate rainforest on the banks of the Cabbage Tree Creek.  During our walk we heard what sounded like the Eastern Whipbird.  But who would know?  The forest is also home to the Lyrebird, who are excellent at mimicry of other bird calls.  I did spot a pair of Topknot pigeons.  They are a large grey pigeon with a red bill, and a swept back crest that is grey in front and rusty red behind.

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Above:- a pair of Topknot Pigeons

We continued on the Princes Highway through Orbost and then to Nowa Nowa.  We continued south on the highway until we reached Burnt Bridge Road and entered the park, Krowathunkooloong Country.  Lake Tyers is about 350 km east of Melbourne and 20 km north east of Lakes Entrance.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Lake Tyers State Park.  Map courtesy of google maps

Just after getting into the park there are a number of information signs which explain the very interesting history of the area.  The original name of Lake Tyers was ‘Bung Yarnda’ which means ‘Big Waters’.  The Wannagetti aboriginal people, a group of the Kurnai (Gunai), lived at Bung Yarnda prior to the arrival of the Europeans.

The Lake Tyers State Park is around 7,100 hectares in size and extends from Lake Tyers Beach to Mount Nowa Nowa.  The park is jointly managed between Parks Victoria and the Gunaikurnai people.

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

Marija and I initially went to the Burnt Bridge camping area, however there wasn’t enough room here to stretch out the dipole.  A little disappointing, as it was a beautiful spot alongside of the water.

We then drove to the Cherry Tree camping area at the end of the Cherry Tree Track.

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There was a fairly large car parking area here, and plenty of room to erect the dipole, without encroaching on the comfort of any other visitors to the area.

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Above:- the Cherry Tree picnic/camping area

This was also a beautiful spot, right on the water.  There was quite a bit of birdlife that we spotted, including Pelicans and White-faced Herons.  It was a warm day so we were ever vigiliant and kept an eye out for snakes.  Fortunately we did not encounter any.

Marija and I had no internet coverage from the park, so we were hoping that one of the park regulars would find us and spot us.  We started calling CQ on 7.144 and it wasn’t long before Sergio VK3SFG gave us a call with a very strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Ken VK3UH who was also 5/9, Ron VK5MRE who was 5/8, and then Gerard VK2IO who was 5/7.  Gerard VK2IO was kind enough to spot us on parksnpeaks.

The 40m band appeared to be in quite good condition.  Thirteen minutes into the activation we had our 10 required contacts in the log to qualify the park for the VKFF program.  That being a contact with Greg VK5GJ at Meadows in the Adelaide Hills.

As had occurred during previous activations on the trip, I continued on, hoping to get my 44 QSOs to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.  There was an initial rush of callers, but calls then started to slow down.  I logged a total of 35 stations on 40m in around 50 minutes.  I then headed to the 80m band.  Gerard VK2IO had spotted me again, so I had a few stations waiting for me on 3.610.  Nik VK3NLK mobile was first in the log on 80m, followed by Keith VK3FMKE, and then Peter VK3PF who kindly gave me his other 2 calls to help me towards my 44.

I then called CQ on 14.310 on the 20m band for around 5 minutes, but had no takers.  So I headed back to 7.144 where I logged Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.  But nobody else came back to me after 5 more minutes of CQ calls.  I was now sitting on 42 contacts and needed just 2 more to qualify the park, so I was forced to scan across the band hoping to find some stations.  I heard Rob VK7VZ/2 talking with Steve VK3NSC on 7.168, both of whom had strong signals.  I gave them a call, and as a result I got over the line with 44 QSOs.

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During the activation we had a visit from a number of the aboriginal rangers.  We explained the hobby of amateur radio and the parks program.  They were extremely friendly and were very interested in what we were doing, and were happy that we were promoting the park.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3SFG
  2. VK3UH
  3. VK5MRE
  4. VK2IO
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK7FRJG
  7. VK3GGG
  8. VK3PMG
  9. VK5BJE
  10. VK5GJ

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3SFG
  2. VK3UH
  3. VK5MRE
  4. VK2IO
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK7FRJG
  7. VK3GGG
  8. VK3PMG
  9. VK5BJE
  10. VK5GJ
  11. VK4TJ
  12. VK4/AC8WN
  13. VK4/VE6XT
  14. VK4SOE/p
  15. VK4SMA/p
  16. VK3JP
  17. VK3CA
  18. VK2FANT
  19. VK5KHZ
  20. VK3MRH
  21. VK2SK
  22. VK5KLV
  23. VK2ZGH
  24. VK3PYE
  25. VK5FD/p
  26. VK2HHA
  27. VK3ALA
  28. VK3VBI
  29. VK2GKA
  30. VK5GI
  31. VK2NP/p
  32. VK3FMKE
  33. VK7LTD/p
  34. VK7OTC
  35. VK2FADV
  36. VK4RF
  37. VK4HA
  38. VK7VZ/2
  39. VK3NSC

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3NLK/m
  2. VK3FMKE
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK3KAI
  5. VK3GV

 

References.

Birds in Backyards, 2017, <http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Lopholaimus-antarcticus>, viewed 1st December 2017

Parks Victoria, 2017, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/lake-tyers>, viewed 1st December 2017

Day 11, plenty of sightseeing and a quick activation of Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119

We had no planned park or SOTA activations for day eleven (Tuesday 14th November 2017).  We had booked a cruise out of Gipsy Point to view the White-bellied Sea Eagles which we were really looking forward to.

After breakfast we headed off to the Mallacoota Bunker Museum which is operated by the Mallacoota and District Historical Society.  The museum is housed in a bunker which was  major Advanced Operations Base used by the Royal Australian Air Force during World War Two for Communications.

The Bunker housed wireless equipment and trained operators who were listening to coastal shipping and gathering intelligence – surveillance which was further collated and sent to Melbourne.

Today the bunker acts as a museum and contains a large amount of Mallacoota’s unique WW2 history and the local history of the district.  We were fortunate enough that during our visit, a large number of people were visiting the museum, and as a result some of the museum staff conducted a talk which was absolutely fascinating.  Entry to the museum is only $5.00 which we thought was very low.  Marija and I highly recommend a visit to the museum if you are visiting Mallacoota.

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As we were leaving the museum, we pulled over in the vehicle to work David VK2NU/p who was activating SOTA peak VK2/ HU-074.

We then headed out of Mallacoota and visited the little town of Genoa.  Today it is little more than an historic pub, a small general store and the historic Genoa Heritage bridge.  Genoa is the last township on the Princes Highway before New South Wales, or the first town in Victoria.

The bridge is the second parallel truss girder bridge to have been built over the Genoa River.  The first, opened in 1916 by Mrs. Alexander, was constructed entirely of wooden piles.  The structure failed to withstand the 1919 floods and collapsed.  However by 1928, the present bridge had been opened, but this time reinfoced concrete piers, founded on concrete cylinders were used to support the structure.  Genoa also had two other river crossing points.  The first was 100 m upstream and was used prior to any bridge construction.  The other was a lower level structure which served between 1919-1928 whilst the now Heritage bridge was built.

Another interesting thing to have a look at whilst in Genoa is the memorial which commemorates the discovery by Norman Wakefield of Tetrapod footprints.  In 1971, Norman Wakefield discovered the footprints laid down on sandstone of the upper Genoa River Gorge in the Coopracambra National Park, in mid Devonian times, around 380 million years ago.  This was verified by paleontologist James Warren.

The Tetrapod, an animal with four feet, were the first animals to evolve on the land from water.  Their predecessors were fish.  The Tetrapd resembles a very large salamander.

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Above:- A prehistoric Tetrapod.  Courtesy of pininterest.

We then drove back along the Genoa-Mallacoota Road and in to Gipsy Point.  WHilst waiting for the cruise we both worked John VK2AWJ/3 who was activating the Alfred National Park VKFF-0618.  John was quite low down, as Alfred was pretty close to were we were parked, but we comfortably made it.

Our cruise with Captain John Gerard’s Wilderness Cruises was scheduled for 1.30 p.m.  This was certainly one of the highlights of our trip.  The cruise was 2 & 1/2 hours long and included afternoon tea.  The cruise got you up close and personal with the very impressive, White-Bellied Sea Eagle.  John, the captain, was a very friendly guy and clearly knew his stuff.

The White-bellied Sea Eagle is about the same size and shape as a Wedge Tailed Eagle.  It is readily distinguishable by its contrasting crisp white and ashy grey plumage.  Their wingspan is about 1.8 – 2 metres.

John fed the Sea Eagles during the cruise.  Unfortunately my zoom was to close to pick up good photos during the feeding process, but Marija snapped the great shots below using the i-phone.

We also saw a number of Whistling Kites.

We were also fortunate enough to see a number of juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagles on the cruise.  At one stage, one of the juveniles landed in the water and was ‘attacked’ by its parents, apparently in an attempt to get the juvenile to be dependent and leave the area.

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A number of other birds were sighted, including a Kingfisher, which was a little too quick for me to catch on camera.  It flew into its hole on the bank of the river and didn’t come back out, despite us waiting for a few minutes in the hope that it did.

We also saw a number of Gippsland Water Dragons, which according to John are declining in the area due to illegal hunting and the black market.

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Here is some short video that Marija took using the iphone…..

At the end of the cruise we headed back into Mallacoota and drove out along the Betka Road, south of the town.  There were plenty of kangaroos out here enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

DSC_0560

We drove out to Quarry Beach where we viewed the spectacular marine sandstone sedimentary rocks.  These date back to the Ordovician period, around 500 million years ago.  This is from a time when Australia was part of Gondwanaland, prior to when Antarctica split away from Australia.

We continued on to Secret Beach.  A path and a set of steps leads down to the beach.  The walk down is well worth it.  During our visit we were the only ones on the beach, other than a pair of Australian Pied Oystercatchers.

After leaving Secret Beach, we soon entered the Croajingolong National Park.  Our intention was to travel to Shipwreck Creek, but when we saw a sign advising that it was a very long, bumpy and rocky journey, we decided against the trip as it was approaching 6.00 p.m. Victorian local time.

Instead, we decided on a very quick park activation from the vehicle, running the Icom IC-7000, 100 watts, and the Codan 9350 self tuning antenna mounted on the rear of the Toyota Hi Lux.   I called CQ on 7.134 and this was answered by Glen VK4FARR, followed by Rod VK7FRJG, and the Greg VK5LG.  Tony VK5MRT then called, followed by Peter VK5KX, with my last contact being with Steve VK4QQ.

Stations worked:-

  1. VK4FARR
  2. VK7FRJG
  3. VK5LG
  4. VK5MRT
  5. VK5KX
  6. VK4QQ

We headed back into Mallacoota, where the rainbow lorikeets were very active in the flowering native shurbs.  Marija and I went out for dinner at Lucy’s, a chinese restaurant in Mallacoota.  We enjoyed a very nice meal there and then headed back to the Bed and Breakfast.

DSC_0616

 

References.

Aussie Towns, 2017, <http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/genoa-vic>, viewed 1st December 2017

Birdlife Australia, 2017, <http://www.birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/white-bellied-sea-eagle>, viewed 1st December 2017

Mallacoota WWII Bunker Museum, 2017, <http://www.mallacootabunker.com.au/about-the-bunker>, viewed 1st December 2017

A quick night activation of Croajingolong National Park VKFF

After dinner at the Mallacoota Hotel, Marija and I headed back to the Bed and Breakfast.  As it was a Monday night (13th November 2017) I decided to go for a quick drive down to the Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119 and book in to the 7130 DX Net.

I decided not to worry about rolling out the linked dipole, but rather, operated from the vehicle using the Icom IC-7000, 100 watts, and the Codan 9350 self tuning antenna.

The 40m band was in great shape and I logged a total of 14 stations on the net from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK7, and Canada.  I was very pleased to log Terry VE6POH who was 5/9 to me.  He reciprocated with a 5/7 for me.

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Above:- Robert VK7VZ/2’s signal.  Peaking nearly 40/9 into the mobile.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7VAZ
  2. VK3IDX
  3. VK2FOUZ
  4. VK2EMI
  5. VK2NED
  6. VK7FRJG
  7. VK2STO
  8. VK3FLES
  9. VK7VZ/2
  10. VK7CC
  11. VK7KEV
  12. VK7RN
  13. VK4ATH
  14. VE6POH.

Nadgee Nature Reserve VKFF-1977

Following our activation at Wingan River West Nature Conservation Reserve, we continued east on the Princes Highway towards Mallacoota.  Wingan River West was our only planned activation for Monday, as we were hoping to do a cruise when we arrived in Mallacoota.

The drive towards Mallacoota along the Princes Highway took us through beautiful forested countryside and also part of the Croajingolong National Park.  Once we reached the Genoa-Mallacoota Road, we turned right and started heading towards Mallacoota on the coast.  Along the way I spotted a couple of Whistling Kites soaring in the the breeze above the road.  I stopped to take a few photos.  Unfortunately the kites were up quite high, so the pictures were a little blurred.

Whistling Kites are a medium size raptor and are widespread over mainland Australia.  They have a wingspan of around 120 cm to 145 cm and are often seen soaring around in a lazy circling flight pattern.

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Above:- Whistling Kite

The drive on the Genoa-Mallacoota Road takes you through lush green farming land and also the Croajingolong National Park.  The drive is very picturesque, but is very slow as the road is quite windy.

We soon reached the beautiful little town of Mallacoota in the East Gippsland region of Victoria, about 523 km east of Melbourne.  Mallacoota is a popular holiday spot for boating, fishing, walking the wilderness coast, swimming, birdwatching, and surfing.  And no surprise, because Malacoota is certainly very picturesque situated on the coast and the Wallagaraugh River.

In 1854 a small timber lighthouse was erected on nearby Gabo Island, with the existing granite lighthouse being completed in 1862.  The lighthouse is clearly visible from Mallacoota.  Commercial fishing in the area was well established by the 1880’s.  In 1894 gold was discovered, with the Spotted Dog Mine operating for about 3 years.  In May 1894 the Mallacoota Post Office opened.

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Above:- The Gabo Island lighthouse

The birdlife here in Mallacoota is certainly abundant.  The flowering native plants in the main street of Mallacoota were alive with Rainbow Lorikeets.  These Lorikeets are unmistakable with their bright red beak and very colourful plumage.  They are also a noisy bird, often seen in flocks, and feeding on the flowers of native shrubs and trees to harvest the nectar and pollen.

Marija and I then visited the Mallacoota Visitor Centre and unfortunately we became aware that the cruise on the MV Loch-Ard was not running, and ‘may be’ running the next day.  We were very disappointed.  We also made contact with the Wilderness Cruise company which runs out of nearby Gipsy Point and booked in for a cruise the next day on Tuesday.  This left us with the question, ‘What to do this afternoon?’  We had planned to activate the Nadgee Nature Reserve and the Ben Boyd National Park on Tuesday, including a drive to the town of Eden.  But we decided the cruise and viewing the Sea Eagles sounded to good, so we arranged a change of plans.  We decided to put Eden and the Ben Boyd National Park off for another trip, and that we would head out to activate the Nadgee Nature Reserve VKFF-1977 this afternoon instead.

Whilst we were in town I saw a vehicle pull up ahead of us, with an array of antennas on it, and a gentleman get out.  I recognised John VK2AWJ straight away.  So Marija and I turned around and headed back to say g’day to John who was also in the area activating parks for the 2017 Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award Weekend.

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Above:- With John VK2AWJ.

Marija and I then booked in to our accomodation, The Wave Oasis Bed and Breakfast at Mallacoota, which was extremely nice.  We met with the owner who was extremely polite and helpful, and explained to us the local sights, including a number of walks which we might be interested in.

We then headed out of Mallacoota heading for Nadgee, a drive of around 70 km along the Princes Highway.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Nadgee Nature Reserve in New South Wales.  Map courtesy of google maps.

The Nadgee Nature Reserve is a large park, about 20,671-hectare (51,080-acre) in size.  It was established in December 1957 and is located in the far south coast region of New South Wales.  It is located to the immediate south of the Ben Boyd National Park, with its southern border being bounded by the Black-Allan Line which marks the straight line border between the States of New South Wales and Victoria, where it abuts the Croajingolong National Park.  About 18,800 hectares (46,000 acres) of the reserve is declared a wilderness area.

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Above:- The Nadgee Nature Reserve near the New South Wales/Victorian State border.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Vegetation types within the park include dry eucalyptus forest, heathland and saltwater wetlands.  A large number of native mammals can be found in the park including the Swamp Wallaby, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Common Wombat, Agile Antechinus, Dusky Antechinus, and the Sugar Glider.  A huge variety of birds have been recorded in the park.  Species of note include the Sooty Owl, Eastern Ground Parrot, Little Tern and the endangered Eastern Bristlebird.  Nadgee lies within the Nadgee to Mallacoota Inlet Important Bird Area, so identified by BirdLife International because it supports populations of eastern bristlebirds and pilotbirds as well as other significant fauna.

The area which is now Nadgee was first inhabited by the Bidawal indigenous people.  The first Europeans to visit the area were survivors of Sydney Cove, who in 1797 whilst enroute to Sydney, encountered members of the Bidawal tribe.  Since that time the Nadgee area has been impacted very little by European settlement, with only two farms and surrounding acreage cultivated.

In 1954, Allen Strom, Allan Fox and Charles Witheford investigated Nadgee’s potential as a reserve after Witheford had brought the area to the attention of Strom as a member of the Fauna Panel of New South Wales (NSW).  They proposed that the area should be gazetted as a Fauna Reserve, as it was believed this would give better protection than a National Park because National Parks at the time were managed by Trustees.  They made a submission in 1954, and three years later the NSW State Government responded by naming it the Nadgee Faunal Reserve in 1957.  During the 1970’s the reserve was enlarged with the addition of the (recently logged) upper catchment of the Nadgee River.

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Above:- Aerial shot showing the Nadgee Nature Reserve.  Image courtesy of google maps

Before heading to Nadgee, Marija and I took a short walk at The Narrows, just to the north of Mallacoota.  We had been advised that there was the potential to see White-Bellied Sea Eagles there.  There are some excellent views here across the Mallacoota Inlet to the Croajingolong National Park.

Unfortunately we did not see any Sea Eagles, but it was a nice walk and I did get the opportunity of snapping a few photographs of various birds, including Pelicans, Superb Fairy Wrens and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.

The drive to Nadgee took us back out along the Genoa-Mallacoota Road through the Croajingolong National Park and then onto the Princes Highway  We soon reached the New South Wales/Victoria State border.  We travelled to the Wonbyn Road where we turned right and then turned onto the Old Bridge Forest Road.  It was here that we were greeted by a park sign for Nadgee.

Whilst in the park we logged Mark VK4SMA/p and Ade VK4SOE/p who were in the Maroomba State Conservation Area VKFF-1347.  Mark and Ade were a good 5/7 signal.

Marija and I continued for around 5.6 km until we reached Newtons Road and travelled south.  This was a dirt track and I would not recommend travelling on it in a conventional vehicle.  It took us through spectacular country.

We then crossed the Merrica River and continued on to the campground area.

We had the very secluded area all to ourselves, and there was plenty of room in the clearing in amongst the scrub to set up, and string out the 80/40/20 m linked dipole.  It was an overcast, but warm day, so we chose a spot underneath the shade of some trees.

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This is the start of the Nadgee Wilderness Walk which is for experienced bushwalkers only.  It is a rough track, with many obstacles, and is 55 km one way, taking 3-4 days.

Marija was keen to just get her 10 contacts again, to qualify the park for VKFF.  Unfortunately we were in a very remote area and had no mobile phone coverage so we were unable to self spot on parksnpeaks and Facebook.  We started calling CQ on 7.144 and this was answered by regular park hunter Gerard VK2IO with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  Following Gerard we were called by John VK4TJ who kindly supplied us with his other 2 calls from VE6 and AC8, then Ray VK4NH/VK4DXA, and then Les VK5KLV.  We were already just 3 short of qualifying the park for VKFF.  Contact number 10 was a QSO with another park regular, Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG.  Mick also kindly spotted us on paksnpeaks.

We both now had our 10 required contacts for VKFF, and Marija handed me the mic with the hope that I could push on to get my 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.

I continued to call CQ on 7.144, with the 40m band appearing to be in quite good shape, with calls from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  I logged a total of 26 stations on 40m before callers started to slow down.  I took the opportunity of heading to the 20m band hoping to get a little bit of DX in the log.  Nick VK3ANL and John VK5BJE, who I had worked on 40m had both placed a spot on parksnpeaks to advise that I was QSYing to 20m.

I called CQ on 14.310 and this was answered by Ron VK3VBI in western Victoria with a great 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, Brooke VK4RZ, and then John VK5BJE.  I logged a further 3 calls on 20m and despite 5 minutes more of CQ calls, I had no further takers.

I then called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band and this was answered by Geoff VK3SQ, and Peter VK3PF who kindly gave me his other 2 calls in my quest for 44 QSOs.  I then logged Greg VK4VXX/2 and Ken VK3UH.  I now had 40 contacts in the log, with just 4 more contacts required.  So I moved back to 7.144 and called CQ.  This was answered by Mark VK4SMA and Ade VK4SOE.  But I soon started to experience very severe interference (QRM) from a USA station on 7.145, so I moved down the band to 7.135 and started calling CQ again.  This was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, and I had my 44th QSO in the log.  I logged a further 2 stations and as it was starting to get a bit late (just after 5.00 p.m. Victorian local time), we decided to pack up and head back to Mallacoota for some dinner.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO
  2. VK4TJ
  3. VK4/VE6XT
  4. VK4/AC8WN
  5. VK4NH
  6. VK4DXA
  7. VK5KLV
  8. VK7FRJG
  9. VK2VK
  10. VK3GGG
  11. VK3PMG

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO
  2. VK4TJ
  3. VK4/VE6XT
  4. VK4/AC8WN
  5. VK4NH
  6. VK4DXA
  7. VK5KLV
  8. VK7FRJG
  9. VK2VK
  10. VK3GGG
  11. VK3PMG
  12. VK7KT
  13. VK7LTD
  14. VK7JON
  15. VK7FAMP
  16. VK3VGB
  17. VK5BJE
  18. VK2VW
  19. VK2JNG/m
  20. VK3ANL
  21. VK3VBI
  22. VK3STU
  23. VK3YSP
  24. VK3OHM
  25. VK5PL
  26. VK4FARR
  27. VK4SMA/p
  28. VK4SOE/p
  29. VK4RF
  30. VK4HA
  31. VK2XXM
  32. VK3SFG

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK3VBI
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK4RZ
  5. VK5BJE
  6. VK3GGG
  7. VK3PMG
  8. VK5TH

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3SQ
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK3KAI
  4. VK3GV
  5. VK4VXX/2
  6. VK3UH

As we were about to cross back over the Merrica River we saw an East Gippsland Water Dragon, which is Australia’s largest Dragon lizard.  He/she was sitting right on the water’s edge.  I managed to snap some nice photos of it before it scurried off into the scrub as I got a bit closer.

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As we drove back along the Wonbyn Road we observed a number of wild Samba deer.  There are six species of deer that are established in the Australian bush, including the Samba, which are the largest of Australia’s introduced wild dear, and the third largest of all deer species behind the Moose and Wapiti.  They are a pest and cause damage to the natural environment of the Australia bush.

Once we got back into Mallacoota we went out for dinner at the Mallacoota Hotel.  I ordered a Seafood Platter, which consisted of two plates brimming with Fish, oysters, calamari, mussels, and prawns.  Very nice indeed.

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References.

Australian Deer Asociation, 2017, <https://www.austdeer.com.au/deer-in-australia/sambar-deer-rusa-unicolor/>, viewed 1st December 2017

Australian Deer Research Foundation Litd, 2017, <http://adrf.com.au/content/view/35/79/>, viewed 1st December 2017

Birds in Backyards, 2017, <http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Haliastur-sphenurus>, viewed 1st December 2017

Birds in Bakcyards, 2017, <http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Trichoglossus-haematodus>, viewed 1st December 2017

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2017, <https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/nadgee-wilderness-walk/visitor-info#Track-difficulty>, viewed 1st December 2017

Prineas; P, 1983, ‘Wild Places’

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallacoota,_Victoria>, viewed 30th November 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadgee_Nature_Reserve>, viewed 1st December 2017