Our next activation for Thursday 29th November 2018 was the Darlington Common Flora Reserve VKFF-2303, which is located about 198 km west of the city of Melbourne.
The Darlington Common Flora Reserve is about 130 acres in size and is located on the northern side of the Western Highway. The park consists of a stand of gum trees and grassland.
The park takes its name after the town of Darlington which was an early place of European settlement, being situated on a track which forded the Mount Emu Creek, which was also known as Taylor’s Creek, after Frederick Taylor who settled in the area in 1839.
A bridge was built in 1849 across the creek, which resulted in the area being known as Elephant Bridge. This was due to the fact that the track passed in close proximity to Mount Elephant. In 1852 the township of Darlington was gazetted, and named after Darlington in Durham, England.
We parked the vehicle on a dirt track which runs parallel to the Hamilton Highway and climbed the wire fence so that we were inside the park boundary.
It was quite noisy during our activation as we were very close to the busy Hamilton Highway.
Marija placed a spot for me on parksnpeaks, and I started calling CQ on 7.144 on the 40m band. Ken VK3UH was the first to call in, followed by Dennis VK2HHA, then Murray VK1UU and Ray VK4NH. Within 6 minutes I had contact number 10 in the log, a QSO with Gerard VK2IO.
I logged a total of 15 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5 before swapping the mic with Marija. The local time was 5.00 p.m. local time and it was a great time of the day to be on 40m, which was in very good condition.
Marija then started calling CQ, with Peter VK3PF being first in the log, followed by Adrian VK5FANA, Ron VK3AHR and Dennis VK2HHA. It didn’t take Marija long to qualify the park for VKFF, with contact number ten being Ken VK3UH.
We were a little pushed for time, but I was keen to hopefully get my 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global WWFF program. Marija phoned the motel at Hamilton to confirm check in time, while I called CQ on 40m. I logged a further 17 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.
I now had 32 contacts in the log, and needed just 12 more to qualify the park. But callers had dried up on 40m, so I lowered the squid pole and inserted the 80m links, and started calling CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band. Peter VK3PF was first to call in on that band, followed by some more of the park regulars, Geoff VK3SQ and Dennis VK2HHA. I logged 9 contacts on 80m and I was now just 3 contacts short of the 44.
I then moved to 14.310 on the 20m band and was called by Ray VK4NH. Ray regularly uses his two other callsigns, so I knew I was now over the line. A total of 7 stations made it into my log on 20m.
It was now nearly 7.00 p.m. local time and it was time that we hit the road and headed off to Hamilton.
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
As we drove along the Hamilton Highway, there were some nice views of the nearby Grampian Mountains, and also Mount Rouse as we drove into Penshurst.
We then stopped briefly to have a look at the site of the old Crosskeys Hotel near Tarrington, which was formerly known as Hochkirch. Ferdinand Zerbst established this hotel in 1867, which operated until 1885. Following its closure, the building became a private residence, until 1953, when sadly it was dismantled.
We then entered Tarrington and stopped to have a look at the many entrants in the annual Hay Bale Art competition. Tarrington was formerly known as Hochkirch, meaning ‘church on a hill’. The town was settled in 1853 by Lutheran emigrants from the Kingdom of Prussia. The name of the town was changed from Hochkirch to Tarrington in 1918 due to anti German sentiment.
Whilst in Tarrington we saw that on the following night there was going to be a festival in the town. I have researched my family history and my mum’s side of the family came from the Kingdom of Prussia. So with that in mind, Marija and I decided that we would attend the festival tomorrow night.
We finally reached our accomodation at Hamilton, the Hamilton Town House Motel. After checking in we headed out for some Chinese takeway.
Victorian Places, 2018, <https://www.victorianplaces.com.au/darlington>, viewed 22nd December 2018