Good Friday 2015: A day in the Parks

Sparkes Lookout VK3/VT-079 313 m 1 point

The weather forecast for Good Friday was for a fine sunny day, in fact, the best for the entire Easter weekend in Gippsland. I decided to head out to get in a new (for me) SOTA summit and to attempt to increase my Activator contact tally from Wilson Promontory National Park VKFF-539. I already had 25 contacts after a SOTA activation of Mount Oberon VK3/VT-060.

I headed off from home via Boolarra, Dumbalk, Stony Creek, Foster and down to “The Prom”. There was a long slow queue at the entrance gate, with day visitors and campers – The Prom is a popular destination at holiday times, with camping sites booked out well in advance. I then drove down to Darby Saddle to park the car. Check information for the Park at http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/wilsons-promontory-national-park

The walking track heads off from the west side of the road, with signpost indicating approximate distances to points of interest. The track initially climbs up a shallow spur, then climbs around the south side of the knoll, then up into a broad gully and around the south and west side of the summit before the track to the Lookout heads off to the right. You climb up to a sign marking the lookout, with good views to the west.

When standing in front of the sign, you can see a gap in the scrub behind, and a faint pad beside the sign. I headed up through the gap and started working my way along the ridge line through the bracken and fallen timber. I found later that it would be easier to follow close to the southern edge of the scrub. After about 60 m, I spotted a path slightly to the northeast of my location and headed across to that path/pad. It was relatively easy to follow the pad (perhaps an old walking route, or simply animal pads) up the spur to the summit.

I did not bother with the squid pole – I used a branch at about 3 m above ground to support the middle of the dipole and strung the antenna out in a roughly SE-NW direction. Tom VK5EE and Amanda VK3FQSO answered my initial call on 7.090 at 0038 Z. An initial pile up followed, then a steady stream of callers until around 0100 Z. I changed 20 m and spotted myself, to be answered by Ian VK5CZ and Gerard VK2IO. RRT announced a 40 m CW activation, so with no further calls on 20 m, I dropped back to 40 m to work Sam VK2AFA/p on VK2/NT-005 for a S2S. I went to send a text message to Tony VK3CAT, but the phone actually rang Tony, so I talked to him briefly, then worked him on CW. I was then called by Jerry VK7EE near Hobart. I guess that I should have tried to work another chaser on CW to qualify the summit in that mode, but I did not bother when no one called me after finishing with Jerry.

Near Sparkes Lookout

View north from near Sparkes Lookout, across Darby River.

I packed up and headed back down the spur to the Lookout, following the pads back down until ran into thicker scrub, then worked my way around the edge of the scrub to the top of the spur to find myself just behind the lookout sign. It was then a simple walk back to the car.

Mt Oberon view

A view to Mount Oberon (toward the left) from the walking track.

At the car, I worked Jodie VK3FJAT/p on VK3/VE-019, Marshall VK3MRG/p on VK3/VE-067 and Allen VK3HRA/p on VK3/VC-032.

I drove up the road to Yanakie to buy some food and then head to Lester Road and down to the boat ramp area behind the caravan park – the caravan park is inside the Shallow Inlet Marine and Coastal Park.

Shallow Inlet Marine and Coastal Park VKFF-749

This Park is one of those recently added to the WWFF system (10 March 2015). Lester Road heads off the road to Wilsons Promontory. It is only about 4 km of good unsealed road to the boat ramp area – too good an opportunity to pass up. After setting up at the northern edge of the car park, I operated from within the car, with the 40/20 link dipole held up with a 9 m squid pole (actually a 10 m pole, which has lost the top section, which snapped off one day when the pole collapsed). I used the IC-706MkIIG with about 50 W. There are a couple of nice timber picnic tables nearby, but operating from the car saved me worrying about sunscreen and a hat!

My first call was answered by Rex VK3OF in Swan Hill, I then spotted myself on ParksPeaks and had a steady string of callers. I worked Park to Park with Nick VK3ANL/p in Barmah NP VKFF-739, Les VK5KLV/p in Winninowie CP VKFF-820, Doug VK2FMIA/p in Oxley Wild Rivers NP VKFF-406 and David VK5HDW/p in Little Dip CP.

I worked Ian VK3FIAN at 0530, and had no responses to further calls, so packed up and headed back out to the bitumen with 51 contacts in the log.

Another easy operating site would be at the very end of Sandy Point Road, Sandy Point. The rest of the Park is surrounded by private land. For notes on the Park, point your browser at http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/shallow-inlet-marine-and-coastal-park

As I was heading north, I decided to add another Park…..

Cape Liptrap Coastal Park VKFF-745

This is another of the Parks added in March to the WWFF system. The Park extends for a considerable distance along the coast: from the village of Waratah Bay in the east, around Cape Liptrap and on the Point Smythe opposite Inverloch. Information on this Park can be found at http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/cape-liptrap-coastal-park

I drove to the Fish Creek Walkerville Road and kept an eye out for any spots which would allow for setting up. All the access tracks had locked gates. Walkerville Beach area is outside the Park, so no luck there. I continued along the Fish Creek Walkerville Road until I found Promontory View lookout (38.834016° S, 145.980017° E). There is space to park several cars here, as well as a picnic table and interpretive signs, plus a great view across Waratah Bay to Wilsons Promontory, with no nearby power lines. I again set up as at Shallow Inlet and operated from the car, with The Prom in front of me.

View to The Prom

The view to Wilsons Promontory from Promontory View, Cape Liptrap Coastal Park

Bill VK5MBD was first in the log just after 0600 Z on 14.325 MHz – there was traffic on 14.243, wiping out the preferred Parks frequency of 14.244 MHz. Next was Xaver DK4RM followed by 3 more VK stations. Then the Europeans found me – the next 40 minutes were hard work, trying to decipher calls from the pile ups. I worked 47 stations before the band became quieter. I took a break for a drink of water, then decided to go to 40 m for some local contacts. I had a steady stream of callers, with occasional pile ups. Amongst the tally were Doug VK2FMIA in Mummell Gulf NP VKFF-368 and Bob VK5FO/p in Horsnell Gully CP. I finally had no replies at 0748 Z, so stopped and started to pack up. A total of 78 stations worked for the activation.

I drove back towards home and stopped for food at Fish Creek – Good Friday and Fish Creek – had to be fish and chips! Although my head cold was causing a little croakiness in my voice, I decided to add a fourth Park to the trip and headed to Port Albert.

Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park VKFF-748

Yet another of the new WWFF references, Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park extends from near Port Welshpool in the west to east of McLoughlins Beach, with several potential access points. See the Park Note at http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/nooramunga-marine-and-coastal-park

I set up near the end of Old Port Foreshore Road and Paul VK5PAS was first in the log. After 55 minutes of operating, I was now feeling very weary and the voice was showing signs of strain. Contacts were becoming hard to find, so I gave up and started packing up at around 1015 Z. I had 26 contacts, so this Park will need to be visited again. I arrived home a little after 1100 Z – it had been a long day.

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