As we were struggling with contacts at the Lower Goulburn National Park, Marija and I decided to pack up and head off to another park, the Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2318. The park is located just to the west of the town of Shepparton, and borders the smaller town of Mooroopna.
Marija and I travelled down McFarlane Road at Mooroopna, and soon reached the park, which was to our surprise, signposted.
The Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve is about 170 hectares in size and consists of Goulburn River floodplain forest and wetland between Mooroopna and Shepparton. The park includes Gemmill Swamp, a high conservation value wetland of State significance, and a surrounding area of relatively natural River Red Gum forest and Tall Spike Rush wetlands.
The park provides habitat for a number of Victoria’s rare and vulnerable mammals, birds and reptiles, including the Squirrel Glider, Turquoise Parrot, and Superb Parrot.
EBird have recorded a total of 208 species of bird in the park including Blue-faced Honeyeater, Crimson Rosella, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Rainbow Bee-eater, and Musk Lorikeet.
We set up in a clearing, just off one of the 4WD tracks that travel through the park. We ran the Yaesu FT-897 and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation. Sadly there was a lot of rubbish scattered around the park.
I kicked off the activation by calling CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band. As it was now 7.15 p.m. local time and the sun was starting to set, we decided to start off on 80m. First in the log was the ever keen Peter VK3PF, followed by Andy VK5LA, Geoff VK3SQ, and then Adrian VK5FANA. Many thanks to Adrian for spotting me on parksnpeaks.
The band conditions on 80m were quite good, despite the rather loud static crashes at times. We also had the cicadas singing in the background in the park.
Within 9 minutes I had qualified the park for VKFF, with contact number 10 being a QSO with John VK4TJ in Queensland. I logged a further 5 stations before swapping the mic with Marija.
Marija’s first contact logged was John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills, followed by Geoff VK3SQ, Tony VK3TNL, and then Ken VK3UH. Marija also qualified the park for VKFF in quick time, with her 10th contact being a QSO with Adrian VK5FANA. Marija logged a total of 16 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, before we again swapped the microphone.
The 40m band was in pretty good shape, and things were looking promising that I might be able to get the 44 QSOs required to qualify the park for the global WWFF program. I logged a further 5 stations on 80m before heading over to 7.130 on the 40m band. It was now 0856 UTC and the 7130 DX was co commence in 30 minutes time. So I thought calling CQ on that frequency might stir up some activity with people waiting for the net. And it paid off, as I soon had 44 contacts in the log. The magical contact number 44 was a QSO with Andrew VK7DW in Tasmania.
I ended up logging a total of 52 contacts from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7 and New Zealand. It was amazing how the band had come alive from our activation at the Lower Goulburn National Park.
It was now 8.30 p.m. and dark and time for us to pack up and head off to the pizza bar in Mooroopna. But not before enjoying some amazing views of the moon.
Marija worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
To top off the night we met up with Jason VK3FNQS who joined us for some pizza and a few well earned bundy and cokes. It was terrific to catch up with Jason.
We then headed back to the motel room for a well earned rest. It had been a long day.
ebird, 2018, <https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1253664?yr=all&m=&rank=mrec>, viewed 9th December 2018
Melbourne Playgrounds, 2018, <http://www.melbourneplaygrounds.com.au/melbourneplaygrounds-info.php?id=52447>, viewed 9th December 2018
Visit Melbourne, 2018, <https://www.visitmelbourne.com/regions/the-murray/things-to-do/nature-and-wildlife/national-parks-and-reserves/gemmill-swamp-wildlife-reserve, viewed 9th December 2018