Our next park for the day (Sunday 1st December 2019) was the Mitre Lake Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2389. The park is located about 378 km northwest of the city of Melbourne and about 13 km west of the little town of Natimuk in western Victoria.
This would be a first-time activation of the park for the World Wide Flora & Fauna (WWFF) program.
Along the way, we stopped to have a look at the site of the old Duchembegarra North State School. The school was opened in April 1889 and close in July 1955. It is believed that the word Duchembeggara comes from the Aboriginal word ‘duckan’ meaning grey gum tree, and ‘bungarra’ meaning sky.
As we drove along the Arapiles-Grass Flat Road we had to pull over for a farmer who was transporting a grain container.
We then stopped to have a look at the cairn for the Gold Escort Route. It reads:
“Along this track Commissioner Alexander Tolmer lead the first of eighteen police escorts which under various commanders transported from Mt. Alexander, Victoria, to Adelaide, South Australia, March 1852 to December 1853, 328, 509 ozs of gold”.
We then reached the park by travelling along a 4WD track which ran off the Mitre-Grass Flat Road. The park sign was in less than ideal condition. It was apparent that the authorities had not been to the park for a long time.
Mitre Lake is a natural salt lake surrounded by Samphire, Melaleuca and other salt-tolerant vegetation. It is part of a natural chain of wetlands that stretch from Douglas in the south to the north of Mt Arapiles. The lake covers an area of about 720 hectares.
The Mitre Lake Flora & Fauna Reserve is home to numerous bird species including Red Capped Plovers, various birds of prey and various water birds. In spring flocks of the Banded Stilt, a migratory bird, visit the lakes of the area.
We set up on the northern shore of the lake. Again, it was incredibly windy at Mitre Lake and so windy that it was not possible to roll out the awning on the 4WD. We were getting the occasional drop of rain and decided that if it got much heavier we would re-locate to the inside of the vehicle.
For this activation we ran the Yaesu FT-857d, the 20/40/80m linked dipole and a 15m dipole. We strapped the 7-metre telescopic squid pole to a park sign.
We decided to start this activation off on the 15m band as 15m had been performing well at our last park at Oliver’s Lake. I called CQ on 21.244 while Marija placed up a spot on parksnpeaks. Ray VK4NH was first in the log with a good 5/7 signal, followed by Robert VK2XXM, Linda VK7QP, and then Gerard VK2IO/p for a Park to Park. Gerard was activating the Pitt Town Nature Reserve VKFF-1984. Marija also logged Gerard for the Park to Park contact.
Once I had 12 contacts in the log, and the park qualified for VKFF, I swapped the mic with Marija.
Marija called CQ on 21.244 and Linda VK7QP responded with a strong 5/9 signal, followed by Ray VK4NH, and then John VK4TJ. With Ray and John’s extra calls, Marija was now just 1 short of the 10 QSOs required to qualify the park for VKFF. Marija’s tenth QSO was with Geoff VK3SQ in Beechworth, followed by Andrei ZL1TM in New Zealand.
I then worked a further 3 stations on 15m, Geoff VK3SQ, Grant VK2LX, and Don VK3MCK. Sadly despite the 15m band being in great shape, callers dried up.
We then lowered the squid pole and erected the 20/40/80m linked dipole. I headed to the 20m band with the hope that I might get some DX in the log. Unfortunately, there was no DX, but I did log a total of 29 stations on 20m from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK7, and New Zealand. This included two Park to Park QSOs: Alan VK2MG/p in the Bouddi National Park VKFF-0049, and Gerard VK2IO/p in the Cattai National Park VKFF-0092.
The 20m band was in excellent shape, with some very strong signals. It was quite a surprise to be able to work Victorian and South Australian stations with such strong signals. I even managed to reach the 44 QSO level and qualifying the park for the global WWFF program. Contact number 44 was with Rob VK7VZ.
I then moved to the 40m band and called CQ on 7.144. I logged a total of 25 stations from VK1, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.
Marija worked the following stations on 15m SSB:-
- VK2IO/p (Pitt Town Nature Reserve VKFF-1984)
I worked the following stations on 15m SSB:-
- VK2IO/p (Pitt Town Nature Reserve VKFF-1984)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
- VK2MG/p (Bouddi National Park VKFF-0049)
- VK2IO/p (Cattai National Park VKFF-0092)
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
Arapiles Bike Trail, 2019, <http://www.arapilesbiketrail.com.au/natimuk-and-surrounds.html>, viewed 10th December 2019
Bonzle, 2019, <http://www.bonzle.com/c/a?a=p&p=59127&cmd=sp>, viewed 10th December 2019
Wimmera Places names, 2019, <https://swiftconsortium.org.au/client/en_AU/search/asset/243363>, viewed 10th December 2019.