Three Parks beyond Stratford

Saturday 28 July 2018

I activated a couple of today’s target Parks in November last year, but did not attempt to get to a full WWFF quota of 44 contacts from each. On Saturday morning, the weather started out cold but fine, with a good forecast for the day, so I decided to head out for a day of radio activity in some Central Gippsland references.

I headed from home off to Rosedale, with a stop at the Bakery to grab some food. Then off to Stratford and on towards Bairnsdale, but not too far. I turned north onto Swallow Lagoon Road. After the road crossed the railway line, it became narrower and twisting between road-side trees, requiring some care. The railway line to Bairnsdale bisects the second Park today and is close to the northern boundary of the third Park.

Swallow Lagoon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2199

I soon reached the Reserve and parked near the gate at the junction of Swallow Lagoon Road and Andrews Road. I carried the gear inside the reserve via the pedestrian gate and set up just inside the boundary. A line over a tree branch supported the dipole. There was a new sign inside the gate with the Reserve name, plus a sign indicating activities that are approved and banned.

The usual Parks frequency on 40 m SSB was free, so I started calling. Sue VK5AYL was the first to respond. We chatted for a bit, including some discussions of the two VK apps for logging – Sue’s iOS app and Peter VK3ZPF’ port-a-log for Android. Whilst chatting with Sue, I posted a Spot. Paul VK5PAS and John VK5BJE were next in the log. After about 25 minutes, calls were sparse, so I tried 80 m SSB, quickly working two VK3 regulars and Jim VK1AT. I returned to 40 m SSB to work Gerard VK2IO/p for a P2P, and then moved down in frequency to continue calling. A short break saw Gerard VK2JNG/p in the log for another P2P before I returned to my spotted frequency to work several more hunters. I tried 30 m, but only worked VK2IO/p, on both SSB & CW. Back to 40 m SSB for several more hunters before I became the hunter to work Chris VK1CT/p for another P2P. With 48 in the log, I decided to pack up and head to the next target.

Travel to the next Park was simple: travel east along Andrews Road to Munro, then straight ahead to turn left onto Sinclairs Road, then about 8.9 km until I reached West Boundary Track and turned left into the northern section of the Reserve.

Providence Ponds Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2425 Not previously activated

I set up only about 50 m along the track, at a point wide enough to allow vehicles to pass and underneath a tree with a branch to support the dipole.

Providence Ponds FFR runs from south of the Princes Highway to north of the Sale-Bairnsdale rail line. Providence Ponds is the local name for this area around the Perry River. The Reserve can be accessed from several sandy tracks running off the Princes Highway, but beware that the road reserve is excluded from the reserve boundary. In the area where I set up, the rail line and road reserves are also excluded from the reserve.

Only 36 minutes after the last contact in the first Park, I had Gerard VK2JNG/p in the log for another P2P contact. A few minutes later, Gerard VK2IO/p was in the log for another P2P and the Hunters continued. The next P2P was with Rob VK4AAC/3 in another first activation. A few minutes later, Chris VK1CT/p called and I then went hunting other Park activators: Peter VK3ZPF/p, Gerard VK2IO/p on CW and Alan VK2MG/p. Contacts were becoming slower, and I then I worked Steve VKESG/p for another P2P. Fifteen minutes of calling on 80 m SSB yielded no responses, so I returned to 40 m SSB for more contacts until I worked Les VK5KLV/p for another P2P and I decided to shut down, with 45 in the log.

I packed up and travelled the short distance back onto Sinclairs Road and then ENE for about 3.6 km to Fernbank Road. A right turn, cross the railway line, then another right onto a dirt track on the south side of the railway line for about 400 m and I parked off the track near the reserve boundary.

Fernbank Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2088

I set up just inside the boundary, again using a line over a tree branch to hoist the dipole. 34 minutes after the last contact in the previous park, Steve VK2ESG/p was in the log for another P2P. Next was Gerard VK2IO/p for yet another P2P. 2 contacts later, Rob VK4AAC/3 called in for another P2P. Several other P2P contacts were made over the next 30 minutes. I swapped to 80 m SSB, working several hunters and two more P2P contacts. I changed to 20 m SSB to work 3 P2P contacts in VK6. Calls on a clear frequency yielded only one more hunter. I tried 30 m SSB, working Gerard VK2IO/p on a new band. I returned to 40 m SSB for another four contacts for a total of 47 in the log before packing up and starting the drive home.

Parks 20180728

Google Earth view of the 3 operating locations

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