The drive down to Portland had seen the rain increase in intensity and rain continued through the night. Fortunately it was clearing by time I got underway on Wednesday morning. Portland is quite close to 3 national parks, which explains my choice of overnight stop.
Mount Richmond National Park
First stop was the Mount Richmond National Park, where I found a convenient car park area which allowed for the erection of the squid pole & link dipole:
It only took 16 minutes to work 8 different stations from Mt Richmond NP, after which I packed up and moved to the west to Blacks Road, then north onto Cobboboonee Extension Road, which forms part of the boundary between the Lower Glenelg National Park on the north side of the road and Cobboboonee National Park on the south side! Very convenient.
Lower Glenelg National Park
I set up on the road side, again using a convenient road sign to support the squid pole.
I quickly worked 2 stations, including Ron VK3AFW, from Lower Glenelg NP. I called several more times without replies, so I pulled down the antenna, moved slightly up the road and set up again on the south side, so that I was in Cobboboonee National Park.
Cobboboonee National Park
I quickly worked 4 stations, including Ron VK3AFW who was to be a regular in the log for the trip.
After about 20 minutes I again packed up and headed out to Heywood, Myamyn and across to Ardonachie and into Mt Eccles National Park.
Mount Eccles National Park
I parked in the picnic area above Lake Surprise. Operations lasted around 30 minutes, during which 6 stations were worked, including VK3AFW again.
Back down the road to Ardonachie, then across to Macarthur, north to Byaduk North and then into Mount Napier State Park.
Mount Napier VK3/VS-046
Once I had parked near the northern boundary of the Mt Napier State Park, I headed off. The maps show tracks up to the summit, but these appear to be Management Vehicle Only (MVO) for the main track and walkers only, which suited me as Mt Napier is a SOTA summit (VK3/VS-046).
The walk up is steep but steady, with a nice bench seat about half way up if you need to rest. As I approached the summit, I disturbed a small mob of kangaroos. At the summit there is a trig point plus a concrete platform with a memorial plaque.
I operated for about 45 minutes, working 10 stations (Yes, Ron was one of them). After taking some photos, I packed up and took the joining track (the MVO track), which was steeper in places and would be a very rough 4WD track at best. This track hit the park boundary about 1.5 km east of the car park, with an undulating walk back to the car. I would recommend that others attempting this peak simply take the main walking track up and back down – you do not really see much more of the forest on the longer route, plus you hear more of the quarry operations nearby.
The drive out took me south through the park, then south east to Warrnambool, Allansford, Peterborough and Port Campbell.
Port Campbell National Park
I drove past the 12 Apostles car park and on to the Gibson Steps car park, where I stopped just after dusk to set up to activate the Port Campbell National Park. This was at around meal time for many, but over 30 minutes I worked 4 stations before packing up and heading east over the Otways to Apollo Bay for the night.
The main street was quiet. I found a motel room for the night and then just caught the only food outlet before they closed early due to the lack of customers.
Crowsnest Lookout VK3/VS-049
Thursday 30 May saw me driving up to below the Crowsnest Lookout above Apollo Bay and walking up to the car park to set up to activate the summit (VK3/VS-049). The actual high point is a few metres away on private property. The operation was across the UTC day change, with 15 stations worked in about 70 minutes.
The Google Maps view is a little confusing – it shows a private driveway as a branch of Tuxion Rd going very close to the summit location. This driveway is private land! Travel on until Tuxion Rd takes a hard right to a dead end, which is well inside the Activation Zone – X marks the spot on the image!
Mt Cowley VK3/VC-022 Great Otway National Park
Back to the car and then along the Great Ocean Road to Lorne to buy some lunch and then into the hills to Mt Cowley (VK3/VC-022) in the Great Otway National Park. Whilst one can drive to the top, the SOTA rules require your final approach to be via non-motorised means. I parked well down the approach road and walked up to the summit, setting up using a marker post to support the squid pole.
I operated for about an hour, working 14 stations. I packed up and headed back down to Lorne, then along the Great Ocean Road toward Geelong, before cutting across to Clifton Springs to visit my mother. I ended up spending the night.
Brisbane Ranges National Park
Friday saw a leisurely departure from Clifton Springs, driving into Geelong and then out past Anakie Junction and Staughton Vale before climbing up into the Brisbane Ranges National Park. I set up at a track junction mid way along Thompson Road and promptly worked several stations, including Ron VK3AFW. Ron had requested that I consider travelling through the Brisbane Ranges NP to help his tally of parks worked. It was then time to pack up and head toward Melbourne and then back home to Churchill.
Radio-wise, it was a rewarding trip: 6 SOTA summits and 16 National Parks activated. The blown tyre meant changed plans that meant that I missed the Saint Arnaud Range National Park – it will need to wait for another trip to the western half of the state.