A trip to Norfolk Island

On the last weekend of May 2016, the WIA held its Annual General Meeting and Conference on Norfolk Island VK9N and OC-005.

I booked a package tour via the WIA.

I left Melbourne on Sunday 22 May, flying to Sydney for an overnight stay, given the early check in required for the 0940 departure of the flight to Norfolk the following morning.

As I disembarked the Airport Transfer bus, I saw Ron VK3AFW and his wife Ruth. I said hello & we progressed to Check In and then had breakfast in a nearby eatery. It was then off to Customs, followed by a wait in the terminal prior to be called for boarding – which involved a bus trip out to the aircraft.

The flight to Norfolk was uneventful, with a reasonable lunch provided by Air New Zealand. As we approached Norfolk, we did a right turn, followed by a loop around Phillip Island, situated 6 km south of Norfolk Island. This loop was required to line us up with the runway, and afforded excellent views of Phillip Island.

Jacky Jacky VK9/NO-002 280 m 1 point NYA

The views included an outstanding look at VK9/NO-002, which has still yet to be activated. Several SOTA tragics had expressed interest in a trip to Phillip Island with the goal of reaching Jacky Jacky for an activation. We were aware of the need to travel to the island by boat:

To access Jacky Jacky, you will first need suitable weather and sea conditions for the boat trip to Phillip Island. The entire island is part of the Norfolk Island National Park (NP), with an approved guide required to accompany those wishing to land.

Landing involves jumping of the bow of the boat onto a rocky shore – surefootedness is a prerequesite. It is then a steep climb up off the shore.

One would then need to climb to the top of Red Knoll and then descend into the saddle between Red Knoll and Jacky Jacky. From reports from the NP rangers, no one has been to Jacky Jacky since the early 1980s. A view of the summit approach was had on our aircraft landing approach to land on Norfolk Island – there appears to be a steep cliff on the Red Knoll side of the saddle.

Maps and Google Earth are not of much assistance in determining the saddle depth, due to the steep cliffs on most sides of the summit and east and west of Red Knoll, known to confuse the SRTM system.

The Geosciences Australia Map shows cliffs on all sides of Jacky Jacky and only a small number of contours, none having height shown.

It certainly looks impressive! Technical rock climbing skills and equipment will be required, a fact which was confirmed later in the week by one of the National Park Rangers. Plans for a possible expedition later in the week were subsequently cancelled due to the weather and sea conditions. Although I had expressed interest in getting to Phillip Island, I was now less interested, having seen the required approach from the air.

PhillipIsland

Phillip Island during our approach to Norfolk. Note the deep notch between Jacky Jacky to the left and Red Knoll to the right of the saddle/notch: rock climbing will be required, or a helicopter.

Norfolk Island arrival

Having landed and passed through the incoming immigration checks (Australian citizens required a passport when we travelled, although this requirement will disappear from 1 July 2016), we were directed to a transfer bus for the short trip to the Paradise Hotel. At the hotel, we had a refreshing juice cocktail plus scones with jam and cream awaiting us. We received a short briefing and then we handed our keys, with our bags being delivered to our rooms whilst the formalities occurred – too easy.

I had decided to wait until later in the week to consider if I should hire a car. In the end, I did not, but got around OK thanks to others and the courtesy bus into town.

It all happened much faster than expected, so I soon had myself sorted out in my room. I set up my SOTA antenna off the balcony outside my room, but found that I had S8-9 noise!

A little later I again ran into Ron VK3AFW, who invited me to join him for a trip to reconnoitre Mt Bates VK9/NO-001. Ron had his hire car paperwork done and the car keys. I quickly grabbed my backpack, camera and VHF/UHF handheld and we headed off a short while later.

Mount Bates VK9/NO-001 319 m 2 points

The approach to Mt Bates is simple: drive to the carpark near the top of Mt Pitt, park & load up the gear. Find the walking path near the start of the road loop around the knoll below the true summit and follow the path. The walk is about 800 m, with a drop of around 35 m into the first of 2 saddles, with an elongated knoll between the 2 saddles. It is then a steep climb up to the summit of Mt Bates.

The walking route starts on gravelled path and then onto board walk before you move on to a grassed track, which can be slippery when wet.

As we approached the summit, I could someone working a pile up: Heath VK3TWO/9 was already up and running. When we were close to the summit, we could see Pail VK5PAS/VK9PAS setting up his station about 30 m from Heath.

We took in the views over the Island. When Paul was set up, Heath changed bands to 40 m and Paul took over the frequency on 20 m. Ron worked a small number of stations on the island on 2 m FM. Monique VK6FMON/9 and Marija VK5FMAZ/9 also got into the action on 40 m. After working several stations and qualifying the summit, Paul invited Ron to use his station to qualify the summit. Soon it was my turn, with 15 stations in the log in around 15 minutes of operating on 20 m. Areas worked were VK 2, 3, 4, 5, N7 and W5.

MoniqueVK6FMON_MtBatesS

Monique VK6FMON/9 operating on Mt Bates.

Shortly after, we started to pack up and head back: Norfolk time is 11 hours ahead of UTC and probably should be 11.5 hours ahead, so local time was already 1630. It is dark by shortly after 1700!

Further happenings on arrival day

We headed back to the hotel. Later I had dinner in the restaurant together with Ron, Ruth and Neill ZL1TAJ from NZART. After dinner, it was time to relax and have an early night.

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