Australia Day 2018 at Churchill National Park

I had vague plans for Australia Day 2018 – January 26: probably attend the local community event and then see what eventuated. The weather forecast was for a very warm day, with early cloud.

Those plans went out the window when I received an email requesting an Assessment event, if I was able to assist. The candidate had been attempting to arrange an assessment to upgrade to Advanced licence with some Assessors closer to his home, but progress with organising a date had been glacial. I contacted a couple of other Assessors in the region and we managed to make suitable arrangements that fitted in with the candidate. The end result was that I was to be in Cranbourne at around 0900 on the morning of Australia Day.

The alarm was set and all was OK except the night was very warm, so sleep was not as restful as it should have been. I was up ahead of time and received a “heads up” about a Park activation. I prepared various items in preparation for possible activities in the afternoon. Prior to departing home, I worked Warren VK3BYD/p on 80 m CW in Arcardia Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2036 – the very first activation of this reference.

It was then time to hit the road and drive to Cranbourne, arriving at the venue, Gippsland Gate Radio & Electronics Society (GGRES), at about 0910. The candidate and my fellow Assessor had already arrived, so we started early with the paperwork and then the Assessment. The outcome was positive: although some questions were answered incorrectly, the candidate had answered enough questions correctly to exceed the 70% pass mark. After going through the paper with the candidate, we completed the remaining paperwork and then said goodbye to the candidate, who had a lunch engagement to attend.

I then chased Rob AX4AAC/2 in Gourock National Park VKFF-0474 and Paul AX5PAS/p in Kinchina Conservation Park VKFF-1764, using the Club equipment in the radio shack.

The GGRES members were planning a BBQ lunch and I was invited to stay. We continued chatting and then eating – it is always pleasant to catch up with fellow amateurs. After lunch, I took my leave and headed off to the target Park – decided late during lunch.

Churchill National Park VKFF-0621

The trip took about 22 minutes, despite the heavy traffic at times. I entered the Park off Churchill Park Drive and did a quick survey of the car parks – there were a number of vehicles around and initially no spots to park with some shade. However, one vehicle left, so I grabbed that spot, which give me plenty of space to park with the tailgate lowered to form an operating table and a nearby tree to toss a line over a branch and raise the antenna. I needed 26 contacts to bring this Park to WWFF qualification.

On switching on the radio, I could hear traffic on 7.144 MHz. I waited and called when appropriate, resulting in a Park to Park contact first up, working Wade AX1FWBD/2 in Budderoo National Park VKFF-0062 at 0236 Z. Wade was ready to pack up, so left the frequency to me – thanks Wade! I called and had a string of callers. David, the first caller, was kind and spotted me, saving me that small task. A little while later I worked Paul AX5PAS/p in VKFF-0764 and Brett AX3FLCS/p in VKFF-2205. Calls on 40 m were becoming further apart, so I tried higher bands. 15 m yielded Adrian VK5FANA at 0320. 15 minutes of calling on 20 m SSB yielded no results, so I returned to 40 m. The band was very slow, but I eventually had 45 in the log and packed up at about 0415. Thanks to all the Hunters for calling today.

During the Activation, someone asked for the Local Government Reference. I think I replied that I thought that it might be Greater Dandenong. Sorry – I was wrong. I checked and the Park is in City of Casey – CC3.

By this time, the temperature was into the low 30s and I was feeling a bit tired. I opted to simply head for home. On arriving home and checking ParksnPeak, I saw that I had missed 2 Activations – such is life! One cannot watch a web site and drive at the same time…. The ParksnPeaks audio alerts do not work on my Android phone. Perhaps it is time to look at the VK3ZPF app?

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