A visit to Western Port Bay

Saturday 17 June 2017

I had an invitation to attend the Gippsland Gate Radio & Electronics Club 40th anniversary luncheon, so planned to spend several hours at that event. Just in case I had some time available, I packed the SOTA pack into the car.

The event went off well and I departed Cranbourne a little before 1500 local. The trip to my destination was just over 20 kilometres and took around 20 minutes.

Yaringa Marine National Park VKFF-0957

I had previously activated this Park, accessing the shore courtesy of a cooperative landowner.

In November 2016, I explored a couple of possible access points travelling back home from the Rosebud Hamfest.

The Yaringa Marina is just a short distance from the southern boundary of the Park, but is clearly private property. Whilst the public can drive in to the Marina car park, one would need permission to cross the land to access the Park. A further complication is that the area between the Marina and the Park is rough mangrove mudflats with thick scrub away from the high water mark.

One access point looked promising from the mapping data and the Google Earth images.

Access was gained via Bungower Road Somerville. At 10 Bungower Rd (on your left), you will see a riding school operation. Just beyond, you will find the road deteriorating to a rough sand track with many overhanging trees, with several private driveways near the apparent end of the road. You can continue another 250 metres approximately to a locked gate. There is limited parking here – I simply parked at the end of the track loop, figuring that anyone else arriving would still have space to turn around. I loaded up my backpack and started walking east along the track which is a continuation of Bungower Road. The track is shown as Maintenance Vehicles Only on Forest Explorer and travels through the North Western Port Nature Conservation Reserve. The track had some wet areas and plenty of dung from the horses….

As the track started to swing to the south, I headed through a gate and walked a short distance to within 20 m of the high water mark, the boundary of the Marine National Park. I found a fence post to support the squid pole and quickly set up the station.

My timing must have been good: I switched on the radio before I finished running out the dipole legs and heard Gerard VK2IO/p calling from a summit in a Park. Once the antenna was set, I waited my chance to call for a Park to Park contact. After the contact was completed, I found a clear frequency and started calling CQ. The next 5 minutes saw 7 contacts in the log, before some QRM from some DX stations (a guess) operating RTTY prompted a QSY. The next 15 minutes saw another 10 callsigns in the log. I checked the ‘phone to see that David VK3IL/p had moved to 80 m – he was very low down on 40 m and did not hear my calls. I strung out the 80 m extensions to the antenna and found that David was not about. I later found out that he only spent a very short time on 80 m due to the time of day – he had to descend off Mt Torbreck before it became dark. The next 15 minutes saw another 12 contacts in the log. Once I had no more callers, I closed down and packed up.


The activation site, looking NNE across the Marine National Park

It was a brisk walk in the dwindling light back to the car and then about 2 hours to drive home. About 30 contacts were in the log, more than enough to take the tally beyond the 44 mark. Thanks to all the Hunters.

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