Day 16 and our final activation, the Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve No. 1 VKFF-2033

The final day of our trip had arrived, day 16 (Sunday 19th November 2017).  We had a 492 km drive ahead of us from Ararat in western Victoria to our home in the Adelaide Hills.

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Above:- Map showing the route between Ararat in western Victoria to our home in the Adelaide Hills.  Map courtesy of Plotaroute

Although we didn’t have anything official down on our itinerary for this final day, we decided to activate the Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve No. 1 VKF-2033, which is located about 241 km north west of Melbourne, and just 5 km out of the little town of Stawell.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve.  Map courtesy of google maps

We left Ararat after breakfast and headed west on the Western Highway.  We hadn’t got far out of Ararat and we encountered the scene below.  A B-Double truck had run off the road, fortunately to the left and had rolled into a ditch on the side of the road.  Luckily he had not drifted to the right and collided with an oncoming vehicle.  We waited for around 10 minutes until the police allowed us through.

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Marija and I then drove in to the little town of Stawell.  Whenever we are in this part of Victoria we stop off at the Stawell Bakery which has regularly won the award for the best vanilla slice in Australia.  We also were in time to have a look at the clock tower at the Town Hall.  The animated clock and bells chime every hour.

Just out of Stawell we stopped to have a look at the monument to commemorate the exploration of this part of Victoria by Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of the Colony of N.S.W., and his party, in 1836.

A little further down the road, not far from Deep Lead is the Doctors Hill Monument.  It commemorates the establishment and erection in 1859 of the first Pleasant Creek Hospital, which served the needs of the gold miners and the rural community of western Victoria.

We soon reached the area of Deep Lead.  It’s not a town, but rather a geographical area.  There isn’t much here, other than a small hall, a monument

Thousands of miners and their families headed to the Stawell are following the discovery of gold in 1853.

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Above:- Gold diggings at Ararat.  Courtesy of wikipedia

We turned down Cross Street off the Western Highway and crossed the Adelaide-Melbourne railway line and soon found the park sign.

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The Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve contains forest eucalypts which provides a habitat for a range of native birds and mammals.   The Reserve consists of two parts, number .1 and number .2 and is about 1,1823 hectares in size.

The Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve is the most western area of Victoria’s Box-Ironbark forest and woodland.  Once covering about 3 million hectares, today only 17% of the original forest remains.  It has been described by the Environment Conservation Council as ‘one of the most important sited for nature conservation in Victoria.   It supports at least 21 threatened species, including three plant species not found anywhere else in the world‘.  A total of 350 species of native plants has been recorded in the park.  Native flora found in the park includes Red Ironbark, Yellow Gum, Yellow Box, Longleaf Box, Red Stringybark, River Red Gum and Grey Box.  Wattles, particularly Golden Wattle, dominate the heathy shrubs, often in the company of small orchids.

A large amount of birdlife can be found in the park including Long-billed Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, honeyeaters, parrots and lorikeets.  During winter, the endangered Swift Parrot flies in to the area from Tasmania to feed on the flowering gums.  Various native mammals call the park home including Western Grey kangaroos, Swamp wallabies, Sugar Glider, and the endangered Squirrel Glider.

There was plenty of room here to string out the 80/40/20 m linked dipole.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the park showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps

Marija kicked off this activation and called CQ on 7.090.  We stayed clear of 7.144 due to the fact that it was a Sunday, and the higher portion of the 40m is always full on Sunday mornings with the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) broadcasts.  Marija’s first caller was John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills with a strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Les VK5KLV in Port Augusta who was also 5/9.  A few QSOs later Marija logged Al VK1RX/2 who was activating SOTA peak VK2/ ST-042.  Marija soon had 10 contacts in the log.  It only took Marija about 10 minutes, with contact number 10 being a QSO with Gerard VK2IO.

I then jumped on the mic and started calling CQ.  My first in the log was Al VK1RX/2 on his SOTA peak VK2/ ST-042, followed by Gerard BI2IO, Les VK5KLV, and then John VK5BJE.  All had strong signals.  My 10th contact came 16 minutes into the activation, that being a QSO with Rick VK4RF.  I logged a total of 38 stations on 40m including Chris VK5CP who was running QRP 1 watt.  I also spoke with Mas JA7FAS who was holidaying in South Australia, and using his Australian call of VK5FAS.

I then headed to 3.610 on the 80m band where I worked 7 stations from VK3 and VK5.  I then moved back to 40m and worked Peter VK3PF after the rollover, who told me that Marc VK3OHM was up the band working from a park.  So I went up to 7.125 where I logged Marc VK3OHM who was activating the Great Otway National Park VKFF-0405.  I then moved back to 7.090 where I logged 8 stations from VK2, VK4, VK5 and VK7, before I started to experience some interference from the VK6 WIA broadcast.

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During the activation I spoke with Kevin VK3VEK who lives at Stawell and we arranged on air for him to pop out to say hello.  It was great to catch up with Kevin.  We had spoken many times on air but have never met.  Other than having a good chat, I showed Kevin my portable station and he seemed keen to give parks operating a go in the near future.

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Above: with Kevin VK3VEK.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5KLV
  3. VK4RF
  4. VK4HA
  5. VK1RX/2 (SOTA VK2/ ST-042)
  6. VK5PL
  7. VK3SQ
  8. VK5HS
  9. VK4NHH
  10. VK2IO

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK1RX/2 (SOTA VK2/ ST-042)
  2. VK2IO
  3. VK5KLV
  4. VK5BjE
  5. VK3SQ
  6. VK5HS
  7. VK7NWT
  8. VK7FOLK/m
  9. VK2HHA
  10. VK4RF
  11. VK4HA
  12. VK2PKT
  13. VK2GAZ
  14. VK2YA
  15. VK1WAT
  16. VK5CP
  17. VK2XXM
  18. VK2JNG/p
  19. VK5NJ
  20. VK5PE/m
  21. VK5FMWW
  22. VK3VEK
  23. VK5WG
  24. VK5FANA
  25. VK2NEO
  26. VK5XD
  27. VK5FAS
  28. VK2LEE
  29. VK3PF
  30. VK3UH
  31. VK5NRG
  32. VK1DI
  33. VK2YW
  34. VK4NHH
  35. VK2HJG
  36. VK3BBB
  37. VK3PF
  38. VK3KAI
  39. VK3GV
  40. VK3OHM/p (Great Otway National Park VKFF-0405)
  41. VK7KT
  42. VK4RF
  43. VK4HA
  44. VK2TCL
  45. VK5PL
  46. VK2LEE
  47. VK7MPR
  48. VK7RM

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK3KAI
  4. VK3GV
  5. VK3MRH
  6. VK5HS
  7. VK3PF

After leaving the park we headed towards Horsham and caught up with my Uncle and Aunty, and some of my cousins and their families.  On the way I spoke with Ron VK3MRH, Peter VK7RN, and Robert VK7VZ/2 from the mobile.

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After a really enjoyable few hours visiting the rellies in Horsham, we hit the road again.  On the Western Highway between Nhill and Kaniva, Marija and I spoke with Glenn VK3YY/p who was activating SOTA summit VK3/ VN-005.

Marija and I then crossed over the South Australian border and stopped briefly to have a look at the early settlers cottage just out of Keith.  The cottage dates back to 1894 and was built by the Davis family.  The cottage features natural bush timber, railway iron, sleepers and local limestone.

Our next stop to stretch the legs was the little town of Ki Ki on the Dukes Highway.  Ki Ki is aboriginal for ‘food and water’.  The town’s history dates back to the late 1800’s, but it was not proclaimed a town until 1913.  Sadly there is not much here now, of what once once a vibrant town.  The Ki Ki school closed in 1960 and the shop closed in 2003.

It was approaching dinner time, and Marija and I stopped off at the Tailem Bend Hotel, but unfortunately it was not open for another 45 minutes.  We have enjoyed a great meal here previously, so we decided to fill in the time having a look around the town.  We had a look at the ‘Tailem Bend Uneek Animals’ exhibition which was only opened on the 10th November 2017.  We also took a trip over the ferry to Jervois and back.

We returned to the pub, and as we had experienced on a prior occasion, we enjoyed another excellent meal.  Marija and I cam highly recommend the Tailem Bend Riverside Hotel.  There are some great views here as well of the mighty Murray River.

About 45 minutes later and we were home.  It was the end of a great 2 weeks away.

  • 4,500 km travelled
  • 27 parks activated
  • 6 parks activated
  • We made a total of 1,680 QSOs
  • Included 138 x Park to Park contacts and 2 x Summit to Summit contacts.

 

References.

Parks Victoria, ‘Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve Visitor Guide’.

Mount Lonarch VK3/ VS-013

Our final activation for the penultimate day of our trip was to be Mount Lonarch VK3/ VS-013, located about 207 km north east of the city of Melbourne and about 29 km north of the town Beaufort.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Lonarch in western Victoria.  Map courtesy of google maps

Mount Lonarch is 788 metres above sea level and is worth 4 points for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.

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Above:- Aerial view showing Mount Lonarch, looking east.  Image courtesy of google maps

I have activated the summit twice before, back in 2013 and 2015.  Marija had been with me during the 2015 visit to this summit, but didn’t have her amateur licence, so this was to be a unique summit for Marija as an activator.

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After leaving Raglan we turned on to Amphithreatre Road and on to the little town/area of Chute.  There isn’t much here.  BUT, it is the birthplace of Cyril Callister, who is the inventor of ‘vegemite’.  Amazing the places we stumble across when we are out operating portable.

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For anyone reading this from overseas, you are probably asking ‘what is vegemite’.  It is as Australian as a meat pie, as a Holden car, as is a surf beach and Aussie Rules Footy.  Vegemite is a thick, black good spread made from leftover brewers yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives.  Watch the great video below when Hugh Jackman shows Jimmy Fallon how to eat vegemite.

The Mount Lonarch summit soon came into view.  Also visible to us in the near vicinity were SOTA summits, Ben Moore, Ben Major, Mount Buangor, and Mount Cole which we had just activated.

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The GPS then took us through the Raglan Pine plantation.  There was a bit if ducking wnd weaving along the way as there were many pine trees over the track.

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We enjoyed some magnificent views from the Avoca River Road.

Whilst admiring the view I spotted a paraglider.  Marija and I were to later learnt that they had launched from Mount Lonarch.

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We then turned on to Tower Road and followed the road up to the summit.   As we set up we noticed some vehicles parked in amongst the scrub about 100 feet away on the other side of the fire spotting tower.  At that stage we were not sure why they were there exactly, and assumed they may have been bushwalking.

Marija started off first at Mount Lonarch, calling CQ on 7.095.  This was answered by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, Aaron VK1LAJ, and the Col VK3LED.  Marija had now qualified the summit which was great news.  Marija logged 15 stations including Mark VK3MDH/p and Michael VK3FCMC who were activating the French Island National Park VKFF-0622.  I also logged Mark and Michael.

Marija then handed the mic over to me and headed over to where the vehicles were parked and soon came back to let me know that there were people hangliding off the top of Mount Lonarch.

I logged a further 25 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7.  Signals back to South Australia were very good, which I can’t say had been the case for a lot of our trip.  I worked Ian VK5CZ who was running QRP 5 watts, and he was 5/9 from the Clare Valley.  I also logged Peter VK3TKK/p in the Mount Martha Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2152.  Unfortunately Marija missed out on that contact as she was watching the hang gliding.

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I then took a break from the radio and went over to have a look myself.  One of the guys there was very friendly and explained to us some of the aspects of this exciting hobby.  We were lucky to see a couple of launches off the top of Mount Lonarch.  It was quite amazing.

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Also in the air that afternoon were a number of Wedge-tailed Eagles.

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I went back to the radio and logged 4 stations on 14.310 on the 20m band, all from Queensland.  I then called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band which was answered by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG who was a very strong 5/9.  I then logged Peter VK3TKK/p who was in another park, the Kangerong Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2122.  Peter was a beautiful strong 5/9 signal on 80m.  Whilst speaking with Peter, Marija started walking back towards me.  So I shouted out that I was working a park, which resulted in Marija running back to the radio to work Peter.

To complete the activation Marija put out a few more CQ calls on 80m, logging Allen VK3ARH and then Robert VK3KIX, whilst I took a little bit of vision of the hang gliders on my iphone.

Marija worked the following stations:-

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I worked the following stations:-

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We packed up and started our trip into the town of Ararat, stopping briefly to admire some of the magnificent views from Tower Road of the surrounding countryside.

We got back into Ararat and booked in to the motel, freshened up and headed off to a favourite restaurant of ours in Ararat, ‘Sicilians’, where we enjoyed a very nice meal and a few ales.

 

 

References.

Summits on the Air, 2017, <http://www.sota.org.uk/Summit/VK3/VS-013>, viewed 2nd December 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegemite>, viewed 2nd December 2017

Day 15, Mount Cole VK3/ VS-008

We now had just 2 days of the trip left.  It was day 15 (Saturday 18th November 2017) and we we had two planned activations for the day, both summits for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  We had a 205 km journey ahead of us to our next stop for one night, the town of Ararat.

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Above:0 Our journey for day 15, Melbourne to Ararat.  Map courtesy of plotaroute.

After breakfast at Jacqui and Des’ s house in Melbourne we hit the road at about 10.00 a.m. Victorian local time.  We headed out of Melbourne on the Western Highway and to Rockbank where we had arranged to meet Peter VK3TKK at a local servo/McDonalds outlet.  It was great to catch up with Peter and we spent about half an hour chatting and sharing a few laughs.

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Above:- with Peter VK3TKK.

Marija and I then hit the road and continued our journey west on the Western Highway towards our first activation of the day, Mount Cole VK3/ VS-008. which is located in western Victoria, about 179 km west of Melbourne and about 19 km north west of Beaufort.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Cole in western Victoria.  Map courtesy of google maps

Mount Cole is 886 metres above sea level and is worth 4 SOTA points.  It had been activated seven times previously, most recently by Allen VK3ARH.  Mount Cole was created about 390 million years ago when hot magma pushing up from deep beneath the earth, but failing to break though, crystallised to form granite rock.  Mount Cole is known as ‘Bereep-bereep’ in the local Beeripmo balug aboriginal language meaning ‘wild’.

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Above:- Aerial shot of Mount Cole, VK3/ VS-008.  Image courtesy of google maps

Explorer, Major Mitchell was the first European to explore the area during his 1836 expedition.  Settlers soon moved in to the area with timber harvesting commencing during the mid 1840’s by using axe and cross cut saw.  The use of steam powered mills commenced in 1856.  By 1889, demand from the goldfield towns for building materials, firewood and railway sleepers led to thirty mills operating within the region until 1904. In 1918 the Forests Commission was established and it was soon after that the Mount Cole State Forest was closed for timber harvesting.   In 1947 timber harvesting was reopened by the Forests Commission.  In the 2000’s timber harvesting was significantly scaled back and is largely a by-product of land management activities.

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Large native trees including Messmate, Manna Gum, and Blue Gums can be seen on the wetter southern half, while woodland species such as Yellow box and Red Stringybark grow to the north.  Plants such as the rare Mt Cole Grevillea can be found in a few locations, as can native orchids and a plethora of wild flowers.

More than 130 species of birds can be found in the Mount Cole State Forest.  Native animals include kangaroos, wallabies, echidna, koalas and possums.

Marija and I headed out of Beaufort on the Main Lead Road, then the Raglan-Elmhurst Road, and then Mount Cole Road.  The summit soon came into view.

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Above:- View of Mount Cole.

We had to pull right off the road at one stage as an oversize truck was coming in the opposite direction, loaded with a very large excavator.

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We soon entered the Mount Cole State Forest, and started making our way up towards the summit.

We turned on to Frees Point Road and then the Mount Cole Track.  The track here was very steep and very rocky.  At one stage Marija got out of the Toyota Hi Lux and did a reccy to make sure we could get up the track.  Our big concern was that if we struck any difficulties there would be no room to turn the vehicle around.  Anyway, much to Marija’s horror I suspect, we continued up the track, very slowly, in low 4WD in the HiLux.

We soon made it to the top and the GPS told us we were within metres of the actual summit point.  There weren’t many options here to set up as the scrub is so thick.  So we decided to set up on the track itself, as we didn’t expect too many visitors on the summit.  In any event we would be able to hear them coming.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the summit showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps

Once again Marija and I shared the mic for this activation, and left the power output at 10 watts PEP, as it was just too hard going in and out of the menu.  We called CQ on 7.095 and this was answered by Geoff VK3SQ with a strong 5/9 signal, followed by Peter VK3PF, Tony VK3CAT who also used the club call sign of VK3APC.  We had qualified the summit.

Marija then decided that she would take a break for a while and explore the summit. I took charge of the mic and logged a further 21 stations on 40m from VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7.  This included two park activators, Michael VK3FCMC/p and Mark VK3MDH/p who were activating the French Island National Park VKFF-0622.  Marija also logged Michael and Mark.  I had a number of VK5 stations calling, but my apologies, signals from South Australia were so low, that I had real difficulty picking out the calls.  The only VK5’s logged were Ian VK5IS in the Mid North, and David VK5PL in the Barossa Valley.

I then moved down to the 80m band and called CQ on 3.610.  This was answered by Mick VK3GGG who was a strong 5/9, followed by Geoff VK3SQ.  And to finish off the activation I called CQ on 14.310 on the 20m band where I logged 4 stations from VK2 and VK7.

Marija worked the following stations:-

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I worked the following stations:-

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Marija and I packed up and headed back down the bumpy and rocky track.  Based on info from Nick VK3ANL, we did not do the loop, as apparently the other side is even worse.  So we did a 7 point turn and went back down the way we came up

We headed off towards our next activation, Mount Lonarch, enjoying the view as we headed down off Mount Cole.

We stopped off briefly to have a look at the old Raglan school building, which is now a private residence.

 

References.

State of Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 2012, ‘Forest Notes, Mount Cole State Forest’.

Summits on the Air, 2017, <http://www.sota.org.uk/Summit/VK3/VS-008>, viewed 2nd December 2017

An impromptu, quick activation of the Churchill National Park VKFF-0621

We left Moe by mid afternoon and still had a bit of time on our side.  We were to stay in Melbourne that night with some very good friends of ours Jacqui and Des at Kensington, but they were not going to be home from work until around 5.00 p.m. Victorian local time.  So we travelled towards Melbourne along the Princes Highway and decided to duck in to the Churchill National Park VKFF-0621 for an impromptu, quick activation.  This was to be another new park for Marija and I as activators for both the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

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

The Churchill National Park is 271-hectares (670-acres) in size and was established 12th February 1941, so it is quite an old park.  It is  situated about 31 kilometres south east of the city of Melbourne, adjacent to the suburb of Lysterfield South.  It is located adjacent to Lysterfield Park.  When combined the two parks comprise 1,668 hectares (4,120 acres).  The park is an example of the original landscape found in the region.

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The area that is now Churchill National Park was once the police corps headquarters for blacktrackers and provided grazing land for the police horses.  It subsequently became known as the Dandenong Police Paddocks.  Between 1912-1915, the Scoresby Tramway carried crushed rock for the Dandenong Shire Council.  In 1939 the area was set aside as the Dandenong National Park, and was gazetted as such in February 1941.  In 1944, the park was renamed Churchill National Park in honour of Sir Winston Churchill.

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Above:- Sir Winston Churchill, who the park was named in honour of.  Courtesy of wikipedia.

Around 173 different species of birds can be found in the park including the various parrots, honeyeaters, wrens, thornbills, grebes, cockatoos, Australian wood duck and the Pacific black duck.  The migratory Japanese Snipe also visits the park.  Many native mammals are also found in the park, including echidnas, wallabies and kangaroos.

The main entrance to the park is located off Churchill Park Drive.  The park is open from 10.30 a.m. to 4.00  p.m. all year.  And make sure you are out in time, because they lock the gate to get in and there are spikes which prevent entry.   Don’t try crossing the spike the wrong way, because as warned at the gate, they will cause significant damage to your tyres.

Sadly, we came across what you can see below.  It never ceases to amaze Marija and I the grubs that are in this world.

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We set up in the picnic are within the park.  And we pretty much had the area all to ourselves, except for 2 other people.

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After setting up we headed to 7.144 and found Angela VK7FAMP there, calling CQ from the Three Thumbs State Reserve VKFF-1834.  Angela had quite a good signal in amongst the loud static crashes.  After logging Angela we moved down to 7.139 where Marija called CQ.  This was answered by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, followed by Gerard VK2IO, and then Chris VK3PAT.  Sixteen minutes into the activation we had 10 contacts in the log, with a contact with Tony VK7LTD who was with Angela, activating the Three Thumbs State Reserve.

With 10 contacts in the log, I boxed on, hoping to get as many contacts in the log as possible.  I didn’t expect to get 44 as we were running a little short of time and I didn’t want to get locked inside the park.  There was also the ever present fear of rain, as it was very black and stormy.  I logged a further 3 stations on 40m from VK3 and VK5, before trying 3.610 on the 80m band.  On 80m I logged Peter VK3ZPF and Michael VK3FCMC.  To complete the activation I put out a few CQ calls on 14.310 on the 20m band, but only one station was logged there, a local, Peter VK3ZPF.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7FAMP/p (Three Thumbs State Reserve VKFF-1834)
  2. VK3GGG
  3. VK3PMG
  4. VK2IO
  5. VK3PAT
  6. VK5XD
  7. VK3OHM
  8. VK2HHA
  9. VK2VRC
  10. VK7LTD/p (Three Thumbs State Reserve VKFF-1834)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7FAMP/p (Three Thumbs State Reserve VKFF-1834)
  2. VK3GGG
  3. VK3PMG
  4. VK2IO
  5. VK3PAT
  6. VK5XD
  7. VK3OHM
  8. VK2HHA
  9. VK2VRC
  10. VK7LTD/p (Three Thumbs State Reserve VKFF-1834)
  11. VK5WG
  12. VK3FCMC
  13. VK5FMWW

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3ZPF
  2. VK3FCMC

I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK3ZPF

After packing up we headed into Melbourne, battling the Melbourne traffic, before reaching Jacqui and De’s home.  That night we enjoyed a very enjoyable meal at one of the local pizza bars and of course a few ciders and a few beers.

 

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 2017, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/churchill-national-park>, viewed 2nd December 2017

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

Day 14, take two Morwell National Park VKFF-0626

It was now day 14 (Friday 17th November 2017) and time to leave Traralgon.  Marija and I had really enjoyed the night before, catching up with the guys from the Gippsland area for dinner.  We had no ‘planned’ activations for the day, but due to the thunderstorm at the Morwell National Park the day before, we decided to head back there for another crack and to see if I could pick up my 44 contacts.  I need 24 more.

After breakfast we headed back to the Billy Creek carpark area of the park.  Marija spotted me on parksnpeaks and I started calling CQ on 7.144.  But 5 minutes of calls went unanswered.  This was not looking good.  I headed down to 3.610 on the 80m band, where Marija again spotted me, and I started calling CQ.  This was answered by Peter VK3PF, who knew I was in need of more calls, so he gave me his two additional call signs of VK3KAI and VK3GV.  We also arranged to try to make a contact on 2m using my little Yaesu handheld.

Next was Sergio VK3SFG, followed by Brian VK3BBB, Chris VK2SR and finally Allen VK3ARH.  All had good 5/7-5/9 signals on the 80m band which was a little bit noisy, with a frying pan type noise.

I then put out a call on 146.500 on the handheld and this was answered by Peter VK3PF who had a great signal from nearby Churchill.  Brian VK3BBB tried calling but we were unable to make it.

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I then headed to the 40m band and called CQ which was answered by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula.  This was followed by Trevor VK5TW in Adelaide, Cleeve VK2MOR, and then Ivan in the Riverland region.  I had a slow, but steady flow of callers, and I soon had contact number 24 in the log, and as a result I had qualified the park.  This was a QSO with Peter VK2NN who was mobile.  I then spoke with Wayne VK2VRC before calling it quits from Morwell.  Thanks to everyone who called and got me over the line.

Before leaving Morwell National Park we did a little bird of bird watching and I managed to snap a few photographs (se below).

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I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3KAI
  3. VK3GV
  4. VK3SFG
  5. VK3ZPF
  6. VK3BBB
  7. VK2ST
  8. VK3ARH

I worked the following stations on 2m FM:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3KAI
  3. VK3GV

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA
  2. VK5TW
  3. VK2MOR
  4. BK5HS
  5. VK5WG
  6. VK2SB
  7. VK4RF
  8. VK4HA
  9. VK5ATN
  10. VK5MRT
  11. VK7FRJG
  12. VK2JNG/p
  13. VK2NN/m
  14. VK2VRC

After packing up Marija and I headed to Old Gippstown, Gippsland Heritage Park at Moe, which contains a collection of authentic buildings dating back from the 1840’s to the 1930’s.  The site covers about 8 acres and we spent a number of hours here wandering around.  We also had lunch here.  And it was timed well, as the heavens absolutely opened up with torrential rain, thunder and lightning, as we were having lunch.

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Morwell National Park VKFF-0626

After packing up at the Tarra Bulga National Park, Marija and I headed for our second park of the day, the Morwell National Park VKFF-0626.  The park is located about 170 km east of the city of Melbourne and about 16 km south of the town of Morwell in the Latrobe Valley area of the Gippsland region of Victoria.

After receiving some local info from Peter VK3PF (thank Peter), Marija and I drove back into the town of Morwell and then travelled south out of Churchill to get to the park, rather than trying to take the dirt tracks through the mountains from Tarra Bulga.

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

The Morwell National Park is 565-hectares (1,400-acres) in size and was established on the 26th November 1966. The park is on the lower northern slopes of the Strzelecki Ranges in the Latrobe Valley.  The park preserves a remnant of previously widespread Damp Sclerophyll forest and some Warm Temperate Rainforest remnants restricted to deep creek gullies in the park.  About 320 plant species have been recorded for this park, including five rare or threatened species and 44 orchid species. 

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Above:- Aerial shot showing the Morwell National Park, with the town of Morwell in the background.  Image courtesy of google maps 

About 129 native fauna species have been recorded in the park, including 19 mammals, 96 birds, 11 reptiles and three amphibians.  Native animals include Feathertail Gliders, Sugar Gliders and Greater Gliders, Mountain Brushtail Possum, Koala, White-footed Dunnart, Long-nosed Bandicoot and Dusky Antechinus.  The endangered Powerful Owl can be found in the park, along with the Superb Lyrebird.

Until 1956, timber harvesting occurred in the park.  Much of the park prior to it being gazetted, was privately owned, and the land has been exploited since European settlement.  The majority of the Billy’s Creek Valley, from where we operated, was cleared for grazing.  There is evidence in the park of a timber sawmill, a gravel pit and a mine shaft.

I did a spot of birdwatching from the park.  Most were a little too quick for me, but I did get some shots of some Grey Fantails and some Eastern Yellow Robins.

Marija and I also saw a number of next boxes in the park.  From what I’ve read on the internet it appears these are nesting boxes for the Sugar Gliders, and not birds?

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Marija and I operated from the Billy Creek carpark area of the park which is on Junction Road, which in turn runs off Monash Way.

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Above:- The Morwell National Park, showing our operating spot at the Billy Creek carpark.  Courtesy of Parks Victoria.

There was a wooden table and benches here, so we didn’t have to worry about getting out the fold up table and deck chairs.  It was also close to the vehicle should we have to pack up in a hurry, as the sky was getting very black.  I attached the 7m squid pole to a fence post using an octopus strap.

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The weather was very threatening, so again Marija and I decided to share the mic for this activation, hopefully reaching our 10 contacts before the rain hit.  We tuned to 7.144 and found Garry VK2GAZ/p who was activating the Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371.  We logged Garry who was kind enough to hand the frequency over to us.  We then called CQ and this was answered by John VK5BJE.  Next we had another Park to Park contact in the log, with a QSO with Cliff VK2NP/p who was activating the Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve VKFF-1906.  Contact number 10 came 7 minutes into the activation, with a QSO with Mick VK3PMG.

We were now starting to experience a few drops of rain, so Marija got the bothy bag out of the vehicle.  I logged Gerard VK2IO, then Sergio VK3SFG and then Tony VK7LTD.  The rain drops started to get bigger, so I hid underneath the bothy bag to try to stay dry.  I logged a further 7 stations, before I had to call it quits, as the rain became very heavy, with the rain droplets leaking through the bothy bag.

Sorry to anybody else who was calling, but we had to call it a day as the rain had really set in and we were starting to get a little bit of lightning.  It was a mad dash to pack up the gear and get back to the vehicle.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2GAZ/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371)
  2. VK2YA/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-03171)
  3. VK1WAT/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371)
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK2NP/p (Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve VKFF-1906)
  6. VK3PF
  7. VK3KAI
  8. VK3GV
  9. VK3GGG
  10. VK3PMG
  11. VK2IO
  12. VK3SFG

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2GAZ/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371)
  2. VK2YA/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-03171)
  3. VK1WAT/p (Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371)
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK2NP/p (Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve VKFF-1906)
  6. VK3PF
  7. VK3KAI
  8. VK3GV
  9. VK3GGG
  10. VK3PMG
  11. VK2IO
  12. VK3SFG
  13. VK7LTD
  14. VK4TJ
  15. VK4/AC8WN
  16. VK4/VE6XT
  17. VK5GJ
  18. VK7WH
  19. VK2VW
  20. VK7FAMP

After packing up at the park Marija and I headed back into Traralgon and booked into the motel and freshed up a bit and got out of our wet clothing.  We then headed off to the hotel for tea.  We enjoyed a great meal and terrific company and spent about 3 hours at the hotel with Peter VK3PF, Sergio VK3SFG, Brian VK3BBB, and Ken VK3UH and his wife.  A great night, and thanks to Peter VK3PF for organising it.

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We then headed back to the motel and called it a night.

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 1998, ‘Morwell National Park Management Plan’.

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