Sunday 24 April 2016
Whilst the Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-0539 has been activated several times, it appears that the Marine National Park has had only a single previous activation, one which I missed as a Hunter. Logsearch showed that only 12 contacts had been made from the Park, so demand was likely to be high.
I had spent several hours on Saturday at an EZARC working bee, helping to erect 40 m of fencing near the clubroom. I returned home mid-afternoon and did a little chasing. My guests arrived back late after attending a concert and we chatted for far too long, resulting in hitting the pillow well after midnight. As a result, it was a slow start on Sunday morning, with the guests departing close to 0030 UTC. The weather forecast for the day was excellent – fine weather, low 20s temperature and light breezes.
I quickly got organised and loaded the radio gear into the car. I headed off via Boolarra, Meeniyan, Fish Creek and on to Tidal River. After parking the car, it was a case of loading up the pack and walking down the length of Norman Bay beach to reach the southern end, which marks the northern boundary of the Marine National Park (MNP).
I set up underneath some shrubs on the edge of the beach which offered some shade. I was less than 20 m from the high water mark at the MNP boundary. I tied the squid pole to some vegetation and strung out the linked dipole, keeping it to the edge of the vegetation.
Once the station was assembled, I checked the mobile phone – zero coverage! I turned on the radio and dialled up 7.144 MHz, to find Tony VK3VTH/p activating Hepburn Springs Regional Park VKFF-0619. Tony was very happy to be my first contact. I then moved down the band and worked Rob VK4AAC/3 in Alpine National Park VKFF-0619 not far from Falls Creek. As I was finishing the contact with Rob, someone called for me to move to 7.095. It was John VK2YW. Others clearly heard the call, plus John spotted me on ParksnPeaks. So began the dogpile! I had 20 stations logged in less than 15 minutes, including Paul VK3HN/p on VK3/VN-002. The caller intensity eased a little, but continued at a steady pace.
Throughout the afternoon there was a steady stream of walkers passing by: the operating site was at the junction of the Oberon Bay Walking Track and the beach route, with many visitors walking around Norman Point to Little Oberon Bay or beyond. I received many odd glances and several people stopped to ask about my activities, which I was happy to explain.
Other notable contacts included Steve VK5SFA/p in Morialta Conservation Park VKFF-0783, Bob VK3BNC/p in Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055 and Compton VK2HRX/p on VK2/CT-032. After about two hours of operating, I tried 20 m, with two callsigns worked. With 56 contacts in the log (54 uniques), I decided to pack up and head back to the car.
I slowly worked my way back toward the Park entrance, stopping to work a couple of SOTA stations. Traffic was reasonably solid – it was a long weekend and the weather fine, so patience was required.
I headed for Fish Creek.
Mt Hoddle VK3/VT-076
As I approached Fish Creek, I decided to head east to climb up to park beneath Mt Hoddle VK3/VT-076. I have previously activated this summit, but there were a couple of Alerts out for likely SOTA activations, so I decided to hope for some S2S contacts.
I climbed up to the summit, a climb of about 135 m with 35 m climb, and set up near the trig. The signage refers to the summit as Mt Nicholl, yet the VicMap sheets have it as Mount Hoddle. I was on-air just after 0700 UTC, and first in the log was Glenn VK3YY/p on VK3/VT-004 for a S2S. I promptly moved to 20 m and spotted myself, having good phone coverage. I then worked a string of European stations, all at good strength. Also worked were ZL1BYZ, John VK6NU and Jon VK6JON/4. Amongst the Europeans was Danny ON4VT, one of the key people in the WWFF organisation. Unfortunately, I did not recognise the callsign at the time – sorry Danny! The band seemed to close at around 0727 UTC, with no further responses to my calls. 17 contacts on 20 m were in the log.
As the calls of CQ were raising no more responses, I moved back to 40 m and spent several minutes chatting with local Chris VK3QB, only seven kilometres away below the summit. Next was another S2S with Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/SY-001, followed by Paul VK5PAS. Amongst the string of callers on 40 m was Allen VK3ARH/p on VK3/VC-018 for another S2S. The final tally was 37 contacts worked. I packed up after sunset and carefully made my way back down to the car and headed for home.