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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
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.
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.
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