31 March to 3 April
Several anniversary events are held each year by groups interested in Parks and/or SOTA. The weekend of 1 & 2 April 201 was to be the fourth anniversary of the SA National and Conservation Parks Award, with many planning to activate Parks in South Australia (SA).
In addition to the SANCPA activity, several SOTA operators were planning to attempt activations of summits using 160 m.
Despite the poor HF propagation conditions of recent months, I decided to head out within Victoria to support the SA activators. I decided to head to western Victoria, as I had activated very few Parks or summits to the west of Melbourne, apart from a trip south and then home from the WIA Annual Meeting in Mildura in 2012.
I still needed to activate several local government areas for the Amateur Radio Victoria (ARV) Local Government Award (LGA) to qualify for all VK3 LGAs Activated. I had completed the full set of 79 LGAs Chased some time ago. So the plan was to activate LGAs in western and northern Victoria, which would also help with the tally for the 2017 LGA Challenge promoted by ARV.
The area to be traversed covers more than half of the state, presenting too many options for activation sites. I focussed my planning around a reasonably direct route which would allow most LGAs to be activated from a Park or a SOTA summit. As you will see, some back tracking was required! A benefit of the planned route was that I would maximise the time available activating and minimise the effect of the roughly 2-hour drive each way from home to Melbourne.
Friday 31 March
After an appointment in the morning, I packed the car and headed to Melbourne, with a stop in Clayton before heading to Sunbury to catch up with friends. I finally departed from Sunbury at about 1445 local time. My initial route took me south and west: Toolern Vale, Bacchus Marsh and on to Anakie. From there, it was short trip up the Geelong-Ballan Road to Butchers Rd and then west to find an operating spot on the north side of the road.
Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055
The chosen operating site fulfilled my needs: inside the National Park and inside the Golden Plains Shire. I set up with a 7 m squid pole and the 40 m /20 m inverted V antenna and managed to post a spot to ParksnPeaks.
First in the log was Rick VK4RF, followed by Adrian VK5FANA and Bill VK4FW. Within half an hour, I had 10 contacts in the log, mainly VK4 & VK5, with one VK2 and a couple of VK3 stations. 10 contacts made the activation valid for VKFF purposes, so I called it quits and packed up given that further calls yielded no responses.
I drove back down to Anakie and pulled over to call on 146.500 MHz FM, with Bill VK3YHT in Geelong and Rex VK3FRJF in Clifton Springs calling back, thus qualifying the City of Greater Geelong. With no further responses, I resumed the drive to Geelong and then across to Point Lonsdale.
Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park VKFF-0954
I proceeded to the car park at the end of Lawrence Rd to find it almost empty. I parked on the eastern boundary and set up the station as previously: 7 m pole and 40/20 inverted V. After spotting myself, first in the log was Neil VK4HNS/p followed by Adrian VK5FANA. Amongst the callers were Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5FMAZ/p in Deep Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0780. After about 20 minutes of calling, I had no further callers, so again packed up and departed. The route was back along the Bellarine Highway to Geelong, where I stopped to fuel the car and grab some food.
I then headed west on the Princes Highway to Winchelsea and pulled off onto a quiet side road to spot myself and call CQ Shires. Bill VK4FW answered the calls, thus qualifying Surf Coast Shire. Further calls yielded no replies, so the trip west resumed.
Near Colac, I again found a quiet side road to activate Colac-Otway Shire. I again spotted and was called by Adrian VK5FANA, but apparently he could not hear me. A few minutes later, I called Peter at VK3SMS, the Lightning Ridge Men’s Shed Radio Club. I then resumed the drive to Camperdown.
Mount Leura VK3/VS-050 310 m 1 point
I drove up to the summit and set up using one of the sign support legs to hold up the squid pole. The wind was picking up, so it was cool. The first callers was Steve VK5CW at 1033 Z. I had 4 calls in the log within 10 minutes, but could not raise any other responses. I was packing up when I heard Bill VK4FW calling, so I quickly strung out the anternna again and managed to work Bill, making call number 5, thus qualifying Corangamite Shire under the Rover category for the Australian Shires award. This made for a new SOTA Complete. I packed up and headed toward Warrnambool, then south at Allansford.