Saturday 19 September 2015
This Marine National Park was added to the list of WWFF References in late August. Prior to my trip, the reference had not been activated.
As always, check for the Park Note from the Parks Victoria website for some relevant information on the Park you intend to visit. The information about this Park suggests that access can be made via road or boat. From my inspections of the various mapping resources, the closest road access without crossing private land is via Seaspray. One can also approach from McLoughlins Beach, but with a longer four kilometre beach walk to reach the SW boundary of the Park.
I headed off from home late on Saturday morning, heading to Rosedale to buy some lunch at the excellent bakery and then to Longford and on to Seaspray. I parked in the parking area near the mouth of Merriman Creek and loaded up my backpack. Unfortunately, I could not find my GPS unit in a quick search through the backpack contents. Given that I had a reasonable walk down the beach, I was going to set up the SOTA station, but took my beach/lawn squid pole holder with me as well.
I walked across to the beach and then to the opening of the creek on the beach, a couple of hundred metres in the wrong direction. I walked through the rapid flow and then began the walk southwest. I knew that the straight line distance to the NE Park boundary was about 750 m from the point at the end of the road near where I had parked, but with no GPS, I simply headed along the beach. I tried to stay on the firmer damp sand, but needed many quick dashes to the right to avoid the wash from the larger waves. It is difficult to judge distance on a long straight beach, so I simply walked for around 30 minutes. I went immediately behind the dune to look at the lay of the land behind the coast and I reckoned that I was well past the NE boundary point from what I could remember from the maps. I started to set up the station, including a flysheet to provide some sun and wind shelter. Mistake number one – I tied the fly to the squid pole, which later broke at the top of the squid pole holder when a stronger wind gust arrived – right in the middle of a contact. I was able to hold the pole upright until the contact was complete, but then had to reconfigure everything.
As I was setting up, I found the GPS unit in the bottom of the bag storing my logbook! I switched it on and let it acquire satellites whilst continuing the station assembly. It turned out that I was well inside the boundary – about 2 km down the beach from Seaspray. That means that I travelled more than twice the distance needed!
Operations started on 40 m with a contact with Marshall VK3MRG/p on Mount Ritchie VK3/VC-003 in Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-556 at 0352Z. Next was Brian VK3BBB/p in Holey Plains State Park VKFF-758 for a very difficult contact – signals were weak considering that we were about 30 km apart. More Parks followed during the afternoon:
Mick VK3PMG/p in Dergholm State Park VKFF-756,
Johnno VK3FMPB/p stated as in Point Nepean National Park VKFF-628 (I saw a later email from Johnno to the Yahoo group suggesting that he may have been in Mornington Peninsula National Park),
Tony VK3VTH/p in Mount Granya State Park VKFF-767,
Paul VK5PAS/p in Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park VKFF-919.
After around 90 minutes on 40 m for only 20 contacts, I stopped to finally eat a late lunch, and then changed the antenna links and tried 20 m SSB at 0540Z. I had good phone coverage – I could see the Seaspray antenna mast – and was promptly called by Rick VK4RF. More calling resulted in some EU stations, but it was hard to attract any callers. I was about to give up and went to change to try another band when I noticed that the 10 m link on the cold side of the antenna was open. This may have been part of the reason why contacts were hard to find! I closed the link and worked a few more EU stations. I worked 13 stations on 20 m, with 11 EU stations. I changed back to 40 m at around 0630Z, when RRT announced Warren VK3BYD/p on 40 m CW on SOTA summit The Paps VK3/VE-204. The contact was made after Warren moved frequency because of other CW activity near 7.028 MHz.
I then started working on 40 m SSB for another 15 contacts, including VK4RF and VK4HA once again after working them on 20 m earlier. Last in the log was Tom VK5FTRG at 0724Z. I now had 44 unique callsigns logged, so it was time to pack up and head back up the beach to the car and then drive home.