Saturday was shaping up to be a pleasant autumn day in Gippsland, so I decided on Friday night to tackle a couple of Parks in South Gippsland and the Bass Coast. The plan was to activate two Parks which had not yet been activated.
Saturday 28 April 2018
I loaded the gear in the car and headed off, with the first stop to add some fuel to the tank. I then headed to Poowong in South Gippsland and on to head west on to Lang Lang Poowong Road (C434). About 6 km down the road you reach a small picnic area on the south side of the road – Henry Littledyke Reserve, also known as Nyora Flora and Fauna Reserve according to the sign at the interpretive shelter.
Nyora Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2169 Not previously activated
I arrived at the Park about 20 minutes prior to UTC rollover and set up the gear. I could see a Spot for Jono VK4ALE in VKFF-1665, so I tuned to his frequency. He was weak but I gave a couple of calls. Jono could not hear me. I tried turning up the transmit power and start to notice some RF breakthrough – something was odd with the set up. The antenna & feed showed a high SWR. I took the simple option: I dropped the 80/40/20/15/10 m link dipole and ran out the 40/20 m link dipole. It was after rollover by time I had the station reassembled.
Gerard VK2IO was first in the log on 40 m, followed by a string of other callers. I had 31 in the log by 0100 but callers were now well spaced out. I tried 20 m for about 15 minutes with no callers. I saw another Spot for Jono and managed to make the P2P contact. I moved up to 7.144 and resumed calling. Contact number 44 came at 0142Z – thanks Allen.
I packed up the gear and headed west to Nyora and then around to the South Gippsland Highway and then the Bass Highway. Along the route I went past at least three other Parks. I stopped at Grantville to grab some food and then down to Bass and then west onto Bass Landing Road. The next Park is located at the end of the road.
Reef Island and Bass River Mouth Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2181
Not previously activated
Some of these newer Parks have names which are a mouthful! There were a number of vehicles parked in areas close to the Bass River. I found a spot and set up using one of the road boundary poles to support the squid pole. Other poles supported the ends of the lines holding out the antenna. I set up using the tailgate as the operating table.
First in the log was Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-1406. After a few contacts, I decided to move around to the side of the tailgate, hoping to enter some shade. As I rotated the IC-7000, it died inexplicably. I quickly pulled out the KX2 and plugged it into the antenna and battery. I ended up with 46 in the log, most of them on 40 m SSB. Three additional P2P contacts were made: Nick VK3ANL/p in VKFF-2225, Les VK5KLV/p in VKFF-2252 and the final contact, Warren VK3BYD/2 in VKFF-0056 on 30 m CW.
I started packing up and remembered to take a photo or 2 before I took down the antenna….
I headed back to the Bass Highway and headed north. I was considering my options and decided to have a look at Grantville NCR. I looked at the VicRoads Directory before leaving Bass River mouth. Stanley Road appeared to be the most likely spot for access without starting up the laptop and looking at more detailed mapping. I was aware that the Park was there, having seen the Park on the navigation system as I was heading south.
Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2101 Not previously activated
This Park is located south of Grantville township and is easy to find. Looking back as I am preparing these notes, there are four obvious access points:
At the western end: adjacent to the Rifle Range. The Rifle Range is within the Park, so setting up in the car park would be an option.
On the south side of the entrance road to the sand quarry. You would need to be careful here, as only 60 m of the access road abuts the Park boundary. The satellite image on Google Earth suggests that there may be a vehicle track which may allow access into the Park.
Off June Street in the Adams Estate. Some maps show a vehicle track entering the Reserve.
Off Stanley Road. I used this option, managing to find a spot beyond the Adams Estate where I could park the car off the road and within the Park boundary.
I tossed a line over a tree branch and hauled up the antenna. I again set up at the rear of the vehicle. I was set up and ready to operate at around 0530. The usual area for Parks operations up around 7.144 was very busy, with many stations on the band. I dropped down to 7.120, which was clear, and spotted myself. First in the log was Gerard VK2IO. I then discovered that this was another first activation – a stroke of luck given that this was a “bonus” unplanned activation. Next was Warren VK3BYD/2 in VKFF-0056 who called me on SSB for another P2P. We also worked on CW for another P2P. Next was Greg VK2EXA, followed by Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-1406 for another P2P. Another 26 stations were worked on 40 m SSB. I tried 20 m, with no responses to my calls. I tuned around the band and worked Mike VK4XQM who was operating as part of the Military Radio Weekend. I tried 30 m next, with the KX2 tuner coping with the 40 m dipole….. I worked John VK4TJ on SSB and CW with his 3 callsigns. We then went to 40 m to work again on CW, and then to 80 m for three more CW contacts. Contact number 45 was Ian VK1DI on 80 m SSB at 0706Z. It was getting late and cool, so I decided to close the station, pack up and head for home.
The drive home was uneventful – about 90 minutes.