Day three was now here, Sunday 18th November 2018. It was time to leave Bendigo and head to Shepparton where we had planned to stay 2 nights. It was a relatively short 120 km drive up the Midland Highway to Shepparton, but we decided to take the ‘scenic’ route, with our intention to activate the Heathcote-Graytown National Park. This would be a unique park for both Marija and I for both the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, and the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA). I am aiming for my KRMNPA Grand Slam, awarded for having activated and worked all 45 Victorian National Parks.
After packing the vehicle, Marija and I headed to the One Tree Hill Lookout tower which is located in the Greater Bendigo National Park. The tower can be located on One Tree Hill Road. It offers great views of Bendigo and the surrounding countryside. A number of SOTA summits can be seen from the lookout including Mount Moliagul (37 km away), and Mount Ida (23 km away).
I was starting to feel a bit peckish, so we headed back into Bendigo, and by complete accident, stumbled across the Harley Street Cafe. And I am so pleased we did. We enjoyed a beautiful cooked breakfast and coffee, and can highly recommend a visit here.
We then headed east out of Bendigo along the McIvor Highway. The name ‘McIvor’ refers to the original name of the Heathcote region, used during the Victorian Gold Rush. It wasn’t long before we reached the Axedale Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2037.
The park is located about 20 km east of Bendigo, and about 145 km north of the city of Melbourne.
The Axedale Flora & Fauna Reserve is a protected sample of Axedale’s Box Ironbark forest. It features Grey Box, Yellow Box, Yellow Gum, Red Ironbark, White Box, Red Box, and Red stringybark.
The park has two distinct sections. The first being on the western side of Taig Road. And the second being adjacent to the Axedale cemetery. We operated from the Taig Road section.
The O’Keefe Rail Trail is a linear trail linking the rural township of Heathcote with Bendigo covering 49km. The trail was opened in 1993 and is the former railway line between Bendigo and Heathcote. Trains stopped running on this line in 1958.
Although there were power lines running through the park, we experiences absoultely no noise at all on the bands. Please be aware that the power lines are there. For safety sake, always look up, before erecting your telescopic squid pole.
We had internet coverage from the park, so Marija placed up a spot for me on parksnpeaks, and I commenced calling CQ on 7.110. First in the log from Axedale was Gerard VK2IO with a strong 5/8 signal, followed by Glynn VK5GP, and then Geoff VK3SQ. However it was very slow going, and after 7 contacts it slowed right down.
So it was time to swap the mic and see if Marija could do any better. Marija’s first contact was Geoff VK3SQ in Beechworth, followed by Neil VK4HNS, and then Ian VK1DI. Marija did a little better than me, and within 9 minutes Marija had contact number 10 in the log, qualifying the park for the VKFF program. And contact number 10 was a Park to Park with Compton VK2HRX who was on SOTA peak VK2/ MN-120, in the Barrington Tops National Park VKFF-0017. I also logged Compton.
It was time for me to get back on the mic and try to pick up 2 more contacts so I could qualify the park for VKFF. I started calling CQ again on 7.110, with contact number 10 coming very soon after, with a QSO with Ken VK2KYO.
I logged a further 17 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK7. I moved down to 3.610 on the 80m band and started calling CQ. I logged Geoff VK3SQ and Ken VK3UH, but unfortunately they were my only takers on that band. Thanks to Ken VK3UH for spotting me on parksnpeaks.
I now had 29 contacts in the log and decided to try the 20m band. Marija popped up a fresh spot for me on parksnpeaks and I started calling CQ on 14.310. First in the log was Compton VK2HRX/p in VKFF-0017, followed by Gerard VK2IO, and then Danny VK5DW. I was surprised to hear Danny, as South Australia is normally a little too close on the 20m band.
I logged a further 3 stations before the UTC rollover, and then a further 10 stations after the UTC rollover. This worked in my favour, as a few amateurs called me back after the rollover, meaning this was a new UTC day and counted towards my 44 required QSOs to qualify the park for the global WWFF program. Contact number 44 was a QSO with Wayne VK5YP.
To complete the activation I put a few calls out on 3.610, after Marija had conversed with Peter VK3PF via the mobile phone. Peter was at a Hamfest, but unfortunately was unable to hear me due to the noise.
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK2HRX (SOTA VK2/ MN-120 & Barrington Tops National Park VKFF-0017)
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK2HRX/p (SOTA VK2/ MN-120 & Barrington Tops National Park VKFF-0017)
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB before the UTC rollover:-
- VK2HRX/p (SOTA VK2/ MN-120 & Barrington Tops National Park VKFF-0017)
I worked the following stations on 20m after the UTC rollover:-
After packing up Marija and I drove into the little town of Axedale which was surveyed and proclaimed in 1861. Axedale is located alongside the Campaspe River which feeds out of Lake Eppalock. The Campaspe rises on the northern slopes of the Great Dividing Range and descends to flow north into the Murray River. The river was named by Major Mitchell in 1836 for Campaspe, a mistress of Alexander the Great.
There is a nice little picnic area here with tables and chairs, and plenty of shade under the majestic gum trees. There is also a platypus sculpture created by sculptor Yvonne George. The slow moving waters of the Campaspe River are ideal habitat for the platypus.
We stopped here for about 30 minutes as it was such a lovely spot and absolutely alive with birdlife. It was a good opportunity of putting my bird photography skills to the test (which are not great).
We then moved off to the Heathcote-Graytown National Park.
Bendigo Advertiser, 2018, <https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/2443538/axedales-platypus-unveiling-video/>, viewed 6th December 2018
Bendigo Tourism, 2018, <https://www.bendigotourism.com/images/Cycling/OKeefe%20Rail%20Trail.pdf>, viewed 6th December 2018
Bendigo Tourism, 2018, <https://www.bendigotourism.com/things-to-do/cycling-and-walking/okeefe-rail-trail>, viewed 6th December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McIvor_Highway>, viewed 6th December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axedale>, viewed 6th December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaspe_River>, viewed 6th December 2018
Brilliant! Having just been in that part of the country (albeit with a broken 706) I did scope out several of these parks and at one point msg’d you for a signal report from one!
This is a nice little park, and one of many in the area. Some we just didn’t have the time to do. I am definitely heading back to the Campaspe River once we have a van. What a top spot to sit back and have a few ales on a sunny afternoon.
It’s a pity I did not know that you were in my area. You were within 1km of where we, myself and Monica, VK3FMON, live – the other end of Taig Road and around the corner 200m or so. Did you have a look at the Axedale Station “exhibit”?
Please have a look at http://www.axerail.coffeecup.com for information on what you were close to. I also feel that we have made contact some time in the past.
Kevin – VK3CKC
Sorry we weren’t able to meet. We were fairly pressed for time during the entire trip, but did manage to catch up with a number of amateurs which was great.
We plan on coming back again at some stage, so I will let you know.