Winding down after GippsTech 2017

It had been a tiring weekend and lead up to the annual GippsTech amateur radio technical conference in Churchill. The conference was my idea initially and the local Club (now known as the Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club) liked the idea. The first conference was held in July 1998, so this year marked the 20th annual event. We also ran a second “Special Edition” in 2009, when the Club hosted the WIA annual General Meeting – the first AGM weekend in the format that has been used at all AGMs to date since 2009: The formal AGM, an Open Forum, an afternoon of technical presentations on aspects of amateur radio and social and educational activities on the Sunday. I have been the conference Chair from the first event, so am always busy in the lead up to and during the event.

This year was no different, except that we had a beautiful Gippsland winter day on both days: very brisk first thing in the morning with frost and fog, but bright and sunny for the rest of the day, even if a little cool.

Sunday 2 July 2017

After we had cleaned up the venue, I headed home briefly to drop off some items and then headed off toward Foster in South Gippsland.

Corner Inlet Marine and Coastal Park VKFF-1768

The Australian WWFF coordinator Paul VK5PAS had missed adding this Park when he added the other Victorian Coastal and Marine Parks and Marine National Parks to the VKFF list back in August 2015. I discussed this omission with Paul at the Antennapalooza event in April, held at Foster. Paul added the Park once he returned home, but had not advertised the addition. No problems about that Paul – we all know that you are a very busy person. Some discussion on one of the VK groups late in the previous week led me to discover that the Marine and Coastal Park was on the list of valid Parks. Therefore, as I was feeling okay early on Sunday afternoon, I decided to activate the reference.

The drive down was uneventful. My chosen activation site was at Foster Beach, located between Foster and Port Franklin. Access is easy: make your way to Lower Franklin Road and then travel down Foster Beach Road – the latter is not sealed. There is a parking area at the end of the road. There are several sites where the Park can be easily accessed. See the Parks Victoria Park Note.

When I arrived, the extensive mud flats were obvious. The views are terrific: from Mount Hoddle to the west and down to the mountains of Wilsons Promontory, clearly visible across the water of Corner Inlet. One could clearly see the summits Mount Margaret and Mount Hunter (VK3/VT-074) on the northeast section of Wilsons Promontory. These two summits overlook the “other” Corner Inlet Park – the Marine National Park VKFF-0948, which has not yet been activated. It requires a long bushwalk or a boat. Perhaps sometime in the future…. There was one other vehicle in the car park, a fisherman getting ready to try his luck. I set up on the edge of the car park, throwing a line over one of the paperbark trees to lift the dipole centre.

CornerIMCP

Almost at Foster Beach

I started on 40 m and was about to spot myself on ParksnPeaks and saw that Paul VK5PAS/p was in a Park, so worked Paul just after he had a Park to Park (P2P) with Hans VK6XN/p. I mentioned to Paul that I would try to find Hans, and Paul called to see if Hans was still listening on the frequency. He was, so I quickly worked Hans for another P2P. I thanked Paul for the assistance and then tuned around to find a clear frequency. Tuning down the band, I came across Mark VK4SMA/p in another Park, so bagged yet another P2P contact. I good start to the activation!

I finally found a clear spot and was promptly called by John VK5BJE. After working John, I finally spotted myself and started working the callers. Amongst the callers was Ian VK5MA/6 in VKFF-0468 for another P2P. The calls were becoming infrequent, so after 30 minutes of operating, I tried 20 m for about 10 minutes with no responses to calls. I switched to 30 m, and managed to work Greg VK8GM and Bill VK4FW. Several minutes of calling yield no result, so it was time to change to 80 and try to get some of the closer in stations in the log. Progress was again slow but steady after the initial rush after posting the spot. I moved frequency to again work Paul VK5PAS/p- the WWFF Rule revisions now allow repeat contacts with a station, provided that the band and/or mode has changed.

VKFF1768_Prom

Looking towards Wilsons Promontory in the early evening

The sun was below the horizon when I changed back to 40 m at 0735Z. The band change was rewarded with another 8 stations over the next 16 minutes and I was finally past the magic 44 contacts. I heard a weak call from Geoff VK3SQ and replied, but clearly he could not hear me. So I sent an SMS to Geoff and reconfigured the antenna to 80 m. The move worked – I worked Geoff and also Greg VK5GJ, after having to find a clear frequency and posting a spot: there were many ZL stations calling “CQ Contest” on the band. With no further responses to calls, I shut down at around 0815 Z, just under 2 and a half hours after I worked the first station. I had 47 calls in the log and had given everyone that I worked a new Park.

After packing up I eventually got underway and headed for home.

A good finish to what had been a very busy and satisfying weekend.

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