Sunday 11 March 2018
Whilst driving home the previous evening, I considered options for Sunday: Chase from home or head out and activate a Park or 2? I decided on the latter option.
I was away from home a little after 0830 local time and headed to Yinnar, Mirboo North, Leongatha, Inverloch, Wonthaggi and Dalyston and on towards Kilcunda. I then headed along Mouth of Powlett River Road to park the car next to the bridge across the river. I then walked across the bridge and a short distance (about 100 m) to enter the target Park.
Kilcunda Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2125
This is one of the Parks added in early August 2017 and had not yet been activated. Access is straightforward: take Mouth of Powlett River Rd from the Bass Highway B460, between Kilcunda and Dalyston. There is a small parking area on the west side of the river on the north side of the road. Walk across the bridge and then cross about 30-40 m of ground to the boundary fence of the reserve. There is more parking located further along, closer to the beach, but would involve a longer walk to access the reserve.
The Reserve is part of a floodplain, covered with marsh species. The boundary fence on the southern boundary is decaying and easily stepped across. There are no signs at all. I decided to set up at a corner post on the southern boundary, using the post to support the SOTA lightweight squid pole. I strung out the dipole legs inside the Reserve boundary and had carried the folding chair in with me. I set up my typical SOTA station with the chair facing south, so that I had some protection from the sun – the Reserve is devoid of any trees or shrubs more than about 20 cm high.
I was set up just on 2300 UTC (Saturday) and saw a SOTA spot for 20 m, so quickly reconfigured the antenna to 20 m and worked Warren ZL2AJ on ZL1/WK-151. I then swapped the antenna back to 40 m and heard Paul VK5PAS/p with a large dogpile of chasers. I tried calling a couple of times and then found a clear frequency and spotted myself on ParksnPeaks. A string of Hunters started calling. After about 10 minutes and 9 contacts, I listened up on the frequency where Paul had been and was rewarded with a P2P with Marija VK5FMAZ/p in VKFF-1124, followed immediately by Paul VK5PAS/p. I again changed frequency down the band to work 2 more Hunters. I then went to 20 m SSB to work 4 callsigns before swapping back to 40 m to work some other Activators that had been spotted. I found a clear frequency and started calling, working more P2P and other Hunters, being able to now rework stations worked earlier as we were now in the new UTC day. There was more jumping around in frequency to Hunt other Activators, plus I tried 80 m SSB and worked 5 more stations.
Back on 40 for the final few contacts to achieve the required 44. I closed down the station a little after 0105 UTC, with 51 contacts in the log. The tally included 16 P2P contacts with stations in 6 different Parks.
I packed up and walked back to the car, then headed back to the Bass Highway and back to Wonthaggi, then south to the next target.
Wonthaggi Heathlands Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2235
This was another of the Parks added in August 2017 and had not as yet been activated. Easiest access is at the end of Chisholm Road where there is a small turn around and car park. I parked in a spot on the east side in a manner which had the rear of the vehicle just inside the reserve boundary according to the CAPAD database. I set up a squid pole using a convenient fence post and strung out the link dipole.
First in the log was Mark VK4SMA/p in VKFF-0475 on 40 m SSB. The next 6 contacts were also P2P. After about 30 minutes, I swapped to 20 m and gained 9 callsigns, then back to 40 m for a P2P. Then down to 80 m for 6 callsigns and then back to 40 m. replies to calls were becoming less frequent as the afternoon progressed, but by 0420 UTC I had a total of 52 contacts in the log, including a total of 20 P2P. I was aware that Warren VK3BYD would be on a summit sometime soon, so I continued calling and then listening for Warren. I eventually worked Warren on 80 m CW. I waited and listened for Peter VK3TKK/p in another new Park, but heard nothing from him. I ended up giving up and packed up.
Two first Activations were in the bag/log after a pleasant day out in the natural environment, so I was happy. I had considered activating a third Park, but I was feeling tired and band conditions had been more difficult in the afternoon, so I simply headed for home.
Thanks to all the Hunters who worked me.