A day in Bass Coast

Sunday 15 July 2018

The weather forecast was for a fine day after a cold start. I decided to head out to attempt to activate three Nature Conservation Reserves (NCR) located in Bass Coast Shire, plus a third NCR nearby in South Gippsland Shire.

I was underway a little after 0800 local time and travelled across to Mirboo North, to Leongatha, and then NW on the South Gippsland Highway to beyond Loch and then across the back roads towards Grantville. The temperature was -1 C as I drove through Yinnar, close to home. I picked up some food at the Bakery in Mirboo North en route.

The Gurdies Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2208

I had driven past this Park on my last trip to Bass Coast to activate Reef Islands and Bass River Mouth NCR. There is a parking area accessible from the southbound lanes of the Bass Highway, with pedestrian access into the Park. There is also a picnic area with small carpark near the south east corner of the Park, accessible via Dunbabbin Road. The Park Note says that the picnic area is inside the Park, but activators need to be aware that much of the access road and carpark are outside the formal boundary. The northern picnic table is just inside the boundary but outside the fence – I set up at the picnic table. I had examined the mapping carefully the previous afternoon to check the Park boundary location – the road reserve is outside the Park.

I was up on air a little before UTC rollover. Sunday morning on 40 m is tricky, with several stations transmitting the WIA News broadcast. I started on 7.160 MHz, with Gerard VK2IO first in the log. I had 10 calls in the log before UTC midnight. I worked several callers following UTC rollover until callers dried up at around 0015Z. I dropped down to 80 m and worked Mick VK3GGG. I then tried 20 m SSB and found the band busy with contest activity. I called on 14.346 MHz and worked 4 calls. I moved back to 40 m SSB to work more callers and then tried CW on the same frequency for 5 more calls in the log. I checked ParksnPeaks and saw that Tony VK3CAT/p was on a SOTA summit in a Park, so moved down to chase Tony. I then moved down to 80 m SSB and worked another three stations including Duncan VK3XBC/p in a Park before I closed, with 44+ in the log.

ViewGurdies

The view across to Philip Island

I packed up and headed around to the northern side of the Park, dropping in to the Winery to ask about access to the next planned Park. I recalled that research when I was preparing the list of VK3 additions to VKFF that there was a road reserve next to the winery which headed down to the Park boundary. The gentleman at the winery was helpful but explained that the property had been subdivided and a different owner had the property to the north plus had licensed use of the road reserve and was not conducive to allowing visitors on the property. I needed to find an alternate access route!

Hurdy Gurdy Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2109

Access to this NCR is tricky as it is almost surrounded by private property. There are two unlicensed government road reserves which might be viable for walking access. The other option is to access from the road reserve near the Bass Highway. I chose the last option… I parked close to the creek on the north side, off the service road. I loaded up the SOTA backpack and carefully walked slowly past the bee hives at the fence corner and proceeded upstream to the first major bend in the creek and the associated fence corner on the farm. I set up close to that corner, with the antenna strung out through tree branches – the scrub was moderately thick and sharp, with some blackberries to catch your arm or leg.

The activation started on 80 m SSB with Mick VK3GGG/p in a Park, so a good beginning. I moved off Mick’s frequency and quickly had another 6 in the log. I moved to 40 m SSB and started by chasing three Park activators. I then found a clear frequency and started calling. I had a quick QSY to 80 m to work Glenn VK3YY/p on a SOTA summit and then back to 40 m SSB for more callers – Grant VK2GEL/p in a Park was next in the log, with Andy VK5LA/p also in a Park a little later. I had a visit from the neighbouring farmer, so I stopped operating and explained what I was doing – he had seen the vehicle parked and came across on a quad bike to investigate. He was initially concerned that I might be on his land, explaining that the original title went to the middle of the creek. I explained that the current mapping showed the fence line as the boundary. We discussed the WWFF program and he ended up leaving reasonably happy about my presence. A couple of minutes later I worked Tony VK3CAT/p on 40 m CW from Mt St Leonard. Back to SSB and I moved down the band due to weak DX contest stations in the usual operating segment. After a small number of SSB contacts plus some CW stations, I finally had 45 in the log. I packed up and carefully made my way back to the car, moving slowly past the bee hives…

I then drove around to the next Park for the day.

Adams Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2034

I accessed this Park via Hookers Road off the South Gippsland Highway. The Park borders some large sand quarries, with some of the tracks blocked to vehicle access. Horse riding was clearly a popular pursuit in the Park, with a dedicated parking area. I found a spot to set up, just inside the Park boundary. I started on 80 m SSB, working Andy VK5LA/p in a Park before moving a little up the band. Next was Peter VK3ZPF, who was the first to activate my Park. Next was Grant VK2GEL/p in a Park. The callers continued for several minutes. When they dried up, I moved to 40 m and chased Ian VK1DI/2 in a Park, followed by Marija VK5FMAZ/p and Paul VK5PAS/p in a Park. I then found a clear spot: the band was very busy with overseas contest traffic. I then worked callers as they answered my calls, plus jumped around the bands to chase other stations, including Lewis VK6LDX/p in a Park on 20 m. Most of the calls were made on 40 m SSB. The last three contacts were on 80 m SSB, including Peter VK3TKK/p in a Park. I had 51 in the log, so packed up and headed for home.

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