Trip to Shepparton for the SADARC Hamfest

Sunday 9 September 2018

I have used the SADARC Hamfest as a good excuse to visit family in Wodonga on a couple of previous occasions. It was again part of the plan for this trip. I was away slightly later than planned, but I was not worried about being at the event for the official start – I was mainly visiting as a social event.

I checked out the variety of things on offer but did not make any purchases other than the entry fee and some raffle tickets. I spent a lot of time chatting with various people. Good food from the Food Van outside and it was then time for the raffle draw. No win for me, so I quickly moved out of the hall and returned to the car.

I had posted an Alert for the Lower Goulburn National Park, but recalled as I was driving across from Wodonga that there was a new reference near Mooroopna. During the hamfest, I quickly looked it up on ParksnPeaks, which showed no previous activations. That settled it: the new plan was to go to the new reference. If I had time, I could move around to Lower Goulburn National Park later in the afternoon.

Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2318 Not previously activated

Access is straightforward, with several tracks running into the reserve. I approached via McFarlane Road.

GemmillSwampSign

I found a small clearing just off the track and set up the inverted V antenna. It was unfortunate that some people have used the reserve as a dumping ground – there were piles of rubbish dotted around.

First in the log was Robert VK2YMU/m on 2 m FM, followed by Geoff VK3SQ/m, both on the road after the hamfest. I then started setting up on HF and once set up worked Gerard VK2JNG/p in VKFF-2625, followed by Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0752. The next 30 minutes brought only 18 contacts. I swapped to 40 m CW and work three more station in about 25 minutes of calling. A session on 80 m SSB yielded only one contact. Returning to 40 m SSB yield another 10 contacts in 30 or so minutes, including Andy VK5LA/3 in VKFF-0373, Bill VK3CWF/p in VKFF-2372 and Les VK5KLV/p in VKFF-0914. Back to 80 m for another 30 minutes, yielding only another six contacts. Going was slow all afternoon! Back to 40 m to try to get to the 44 mark for another 25 minutes. I worked Lewis VK6LDX/p on VK6/SW-037, plus a small number of other callers. The final tally was 48 stations in 3.5 hours of operating. By time I had packed up, it was after 1630 local, so I made my way out of the reserve and started the trip back to Wodonga. It had been a long day. Apologies to anyone that was hoping to hunt the Lower Goulburn National Park. I will get there again someday, as I still need more contacts to get to the WWFF qualification level.

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