After leaving Axedale, Marija and I continued east along the McIvor Highway, passing through the little town of Knowsley and the north eastern corner of Lake Eppalock. Our planned destination was the Heathcote Graytown National Park VKFF-0624. We hoped to activate a SOTA summit within the park, Mount Ida VK3/ VU-009.
This was to be another unique park for both Marija and I for both WWFF and the KRMNPA.
The park is located about 7km north of the town of Heathcote, and about 133 km north of Melbourne.
As we travelled along the Northern Highway the park came into view.
We soon reached the park boundary on Mount Ida Road. The park was well signposted.
The Heathcote Graytown National Park is 12,833-hectare (31,710-acre) in size and was established on the 30th October 2002. It was primarily established to protect Victoria’s diminishing Box-ironbark forests. The park includes sections of the Great Dividing Range, Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest land based range in the world.
The park lies within the Rushworth Box-Ironbark Region Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International due to its importance for swift parrots and other woodland birds.
Mount Ida is 450 metres above sea level and is worth 1 point in the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. It has been activated a total of 24 times, with the first activation by Peter VK3PF in May 2012.
The Mount Ida Road, off the Northern Highway leads to the top of the summit. The track is dirt, but is in good condition and easily passable in a conventional vehicle. There is communications equipment, a fire spotting tower, and a trig point at the summit.
And once you are there you are rewarded with some terrific views of the surrounding countryside.
There is a carparking area on Mount Ida Road and a locked gate. From there it is a 300 metre uphill walk to the summit. We were fortunate in that during out visit, the gate was open as there was a gentleman in the fire spotting tower, who kindly allowed us to drive to the top of the summit. We parked the car near the fire spotting tower, and walked back down the track a short distance and set up on the side of the track.
First in the log for this activation was Geoff VK3SQ, followed by Peter VK2UXO, and then Andy VK5LA. Contact number 4, qualifying the summit for me, was Gerard VK2IO with a good strong 5/8 signal from Sydney.
I worked a total of 15 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5. This included a Park to Park contact with Mark VK4SMA/p who was activating the Lamington National Park VKFF-0280.
I then swapped the mic with Marija whose first contact was with Mark VK4SMA/p in VKFF-0280. This was followed by Ray VK4NH, who with his 2 other callsigns, qualified the SOTA summit for Marija. Marija kept boxing on, logging contacts on 40m, whilst I went for a walk on the summit. If you follow the track to the north western side of the summit, you will reach the lookout.
I returned about 15 minutes later, and by that time Marija had 11 contacts in the log.
We then swapped the mic again and decided to have a listen on the 80m band. First in the log there was a Summit to Summit/Park to Park contact with Peter VK3PF/p who was activating Arthurs Seat VK3/ VC-031 in the Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750. Ron VK3AFW followed, and then my 3rd and final contact on 80m, Ken VK2KYO.
I was keen to try to get my 44 contacts, so I moved back to 40m where I logged a further 31 contacts. Contact number 44 was a QSO with Peter VK3TKK/m in his mobile. Another Park to Park was also logged, John VK5FLEA/p who was in the Mylor Conservation Park VKFF-0785.
To complete the activation I called CQ on 14.310 in the 20m band. VK2PRC gave me a shout, but unfortunately it appeared he could not hear me well, and I was unable to log the contact. Andrei ZL1TM in New Zealand then called in, followed by Stuie VK8NSB in Darwin, and then Ray VK4NH.
Marija worked the following stations:-
I worked the following stations:-
At the conclusion of the activation we drove in to the town of Heathcote for a very quick look. Gold was discovered in the area in late 1852. Within 6 months there were about 40,000 miners camped in the vicinity of McIvor Creek. Gold was so easily found in the area, that by the end of 1852 a large number of the miners had left as the gold supply had been exhausted. It did however prove to be one of the richest finds during the Australian gold rushes.
There are a number of historic buildings in the town from the gold rush era, many of which have interpretive signs. Marija and I both agreed that this is one little town we will need to revisit and explore.
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathcote-Graytown_National_Park>, viewed 7th December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Dividing_Range>, viewed 7th December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathcote,_Victoria>, viewed 7th December 2018