It had turned out to be quite a nice morning, and the wet weather was holding off. We even had a bit of blue sky appearing every now and again. So with that in mind, Marija and I decided to visit the Steavenson Falls. The Falls have been a local Marysville attraction since the late 1800’s. With a total drop of 84 metres and a catchment of about 16 sq km, Steavenson Falls is one of Victoria’s most imposing cascades.
Perhaps the overnight wet weather had worked in our advantage, as the Falls were flowing well and were quite magnificent during our visit.
Both the Falls and the river were named in the early 1860’s when the Victorian Assistant Commissioner of Roads and Bridges, John Steavenson, set up a base at Marysville (which he named after his wife) from which to supervise the construction of the road to the Woods Point goldfields.
After viewing the falls we took the lower track back to the carpark, stopping off occasionally to see if we could spot a platypus in the Steavenson River. Unfortunately we were not so lucky.
We then headed to the Keppel lookout, which offers magnificent views of Marysville and the surrounding countryside. The lookout is just a short distance out of Marysville and easily reached bia the Keppel Lookout Road.
It was approaching lunchtime, so Marija and I headed back into Marysville, and to the local bakery. We enjoyed a couple of beautiful foccasias, and so did the local King Parrots. Male Australian King-Parrots are the only Australian parrots with a completely red head. Females are similar to males except that they have a completely green head and breast. Both sexes have a red belly and a green back, with green wings and a long green tail.
They were exceptionally tame, and very game at times, even trying to pinch the foccacia off my plate. The one below appeared to be partial to a cup of coffee.
There was a bird feeding station here at the bakery, and along with the King Parrots, there were also Red Wattlebirds and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos.
After lunch, we headed to our next activation, the Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-0556. This was to be the first time that Marija and I had activated the park. So it was to be a unique for us for both the World Wide Flora Fauna program (WWFF) and the the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA)
The Yarra Ranges National Park was declared in 1995 and stretches from Healesville to Warburton and beyond to the headwaters of the Yarra River and north to Lake Mountain. The park is about 760 km2 in size. The Yarra, O’Shaunessy and Taggerty Rivers flow through the Park, and with several reservoirs form an important source of drinking water for the City of Melbourne. The park is home to kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, platypus, and about 120 species of native birds.
The park was severely impacted by the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009. This series of bushfires resulted in Australia’s highest ever loss of life from a bushfire, with 173 fatalities and 414 injured.
This is a large park, and we chose to head to The Beeches Picnic Area, along the Lady Talbot Drive. The road follows the Taggerty River valley up under the western flanks of Lake Mountain, to the top of Mount Margaret Gap. The road was named after the wife of Sir Reginald Talbot, Governor of Victoria from 1903 to 1908.
Our first stop was Phantom Falls. This is a fairly easy walk, including stairs, to the viewing platform at the falls. Don’t expect an imposing view of traditional waterfalls. These falls are mostly hidden by the forest. They were exposed during the 2009 bushfires which devastated this area, but are now mostly concealed by the forest. The height of the falls is about 20 metres and their length is about 40 metres.
The walk up to the falls is well worth it. It takes you across two bridges and through the amazing rainforest. The walk is about 1.6 km in length, and takes 45 minutes return.
On our way down we found this snake basking in the afternoon sun. It didn’t bother moving, and we didn’t annoy it.
We continued along Lady Talbot Drive, stopping every now and again to admire the amazing scenery that is the Yarra Ranges National Park.
We soon reached Keppel Falls which are a long set of cascades tumbling down the mountain side. The falls are about 40 metres in height, with a length of about 70 metres. This is a slightly longer walk of about 2km, taking 45 minutes return.
We continued on to The Beeches Picnic Area, where we parked the vehicle and set up our station. We ran the Yaesu FT-897 and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation.
There is a small secluded picnic area here with a table and bench. But there was not enough area in the picnic area to string out the dipole, so we set up just off the road, which was not at all busy. In fact we did not see another car.
Unfortunately this area was heavily impacted by the 2009 bushfires, and as a result there is a greatly increased tree hazard from trees killed during the fires. As a result many of the trails, including the Beeches Rainforest Walk were closed. The ancient rainforest features groves of Myrtle Beech trees, with many trees over 300 years old. There are also stands of enormous Mountain Ash, one of the tallest trees in the world. In the photos below you can see the dead trees from the fires, 9 years on.
We had no internet coverage at all, so we could not self spot on parksnpeaks, which made things particularly difficult during this activation. We were relying upon the goodwill of the park hunters, and sadly not many spotted us on parksnpeaks. This is an issue which has recently been discussed by the VKFF Team in a Skype hookup. It is so vital that park hunters spot activators, rather than work them and then walk out of the radio shack.
I called CQ on 7.144 on the 30m band and first in the log was Geoff VK3SQ (who kindly spotted us), followed by Ron VK3ARH, Gerard VK2IO, and then Mike VK2MKE. But it was very slow going, with long periods of unanswered CQ calls. It took me 14 minutes to get contact number ten in the log, a QSO with Dave VK2BDR/m in his mobile. After logging 11 stations, including a Park to Park with Andy VK5LA in the Mildura Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2386, I swapped the microphone with Marija.
It was even harder for Marija, running her allowed 10 watts PEP. First in the log was Andy VK5LA/p in VKFF-2386, followed by Dave VK2RP/VK2BDR mobile, and then Brett VK2VW. So with just 4 contacts in the log for Marija, we lowered the squid pole and inserted the links for the 80m section of the dipole. Marija called CQ on 3.610 and this was answered by Peter VK3PF, who kindly gave Marija his 2 other callsigns of VK3KAI and VK3GV.
Marija’s perseverance paid off, and after 20 minutes on air, had contact number ten in the log, a QSO with Tony VK3AN.
I then put a few calls out on 14.310 on the 20m band. But I had two things up against me. Number one, the lack of ability to place up a spot on parksnpeaks. And two, the ever present Over the Horizon Radar. To finish off the activation, I moved back to 40m and put out 5 minutes of CQ calls on 7.150, with just the one taker, Ivan VK2IJS.
Unfortunately I hadn’t got close to the 44 QSOs required to qualify the park for WWFF. But, Marija and I had qualified the park for VKFF, and also the KRMNPA.
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5LA/p (Mildura Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2386)
Marija worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5LA/p (Mildura Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2386)
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
Birds in Backyards, 2018, <http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Alisterus-scapularis>, viewed 12th December 2018
Marysville Tourism, 2018, <http://www.marysvilletourism.com/things_to_do/lady-talbot-trails/>, viewed 12th December 2018
Parks Victoria, ‘Yarra Ranges National Park Visitor Guide’
Waterfall Seasons of Australia-The Waterfall Guide, 2018, <https://waterfallseasons.com/waterfalls-in-victoria-phantom-falls-marysville.htm>, viewed 12th December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarra_Ranges_National_Park>, viewed 12th December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Saturday_bushfires>, viewed 12th December 2018