Saturday 29 September 2018
Victoria has a long weekend with a Public Holiday on the Friday, the day prior to the Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final. I usually try to be away for the weekend, usually activating some SOTA summits. This year I decided to stay at home and to get out on the Saturday to activate a new Park.
One of the local Club members has recently moved house and was having a garage sale at the now sold previous home in Longford on the Saturday morning. I had a few tasks to complete early in the morning and reached the garage sale late in the morning. I had a look around and a chat with those present. I did spend a few dollars on a new old stock UHF CB antenna, but otherwise resisted picking up any other items.
I headed south on the South Gippsland Highway for about 13 km to the south east corner of Holey Plains State Park.
Holey Plains State Park VKFF-0758
I have activated this Park on three previous occasions, and my route from the garage sale to the new Park took me past the eastern end of Holey Plains State Park, so I decided to undertake another quick activation to work towards the Boomerang Award.
A short distance after crossing Carr Creek, there is a track that runs along the southern boundary of the Park. I drove in about 100 m and parked the vehicle, and then set up the station using a line over a tree branch to lift the antenna feed point. I had everything ready to go just after 0300 UTC and was about to spot myself when I saw a spot for Ade VK4SOE/p in VKFF-0471. Next in the log was Mark VK4SMA/p in VKFF-1652. It was a little difficult to find callers, but in the next 20 minutes, I worked another eight stations, getting me to the 10 required for a valid VKFF activation. I packed up and returned to the Highway to continue south.
21.5 km further on, I turned into Big Tower Road and headed towards the west to reach the Park boundary.
Mullungdung Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2406
Not previously activated
I stopped briefly to photograph the park sign, and then continued on to reach the high point in the road. As I drove closer, you could see the “big tower” beside the road ahead. I stopped just past the tower to grab another photo and then decided to continue on: there was a camp site on the north side of the road (in the State Forest, but outside the reserve) with several vehicles and campsites set up, with many motorbikes around.
“Mullundung tower (or Big Tower) was one of the largest of its type to be built. The tower was constructed using large hand-hewn spliced legs, with timber bracing, steel re-enforced joints and steel bolts. The base is 6.7m square and is a tapering structure crowned by a small lookout cabin. The timber used in the construction of the tower appears to be mostly yellow stringybark (Eucalyptus Muelleriana)
The tower was abandoned in 1960, in preference for a lookout tower erected on Mt. Fatigue.”
This website notes the tower height as 30 m. The tower now has a security fence around the site.
I sought a quieter location, away from the motorcycles. The first site considered would have been adequate for radio, but there was no mobile phone coverage. I continued on the roads which form the Reserve boundary until near the south east corner of the Reserve, where I headed in a short distance on a small track and then into the open forest to set up. This spot had mobile phone coverage and was about 100 m inside the southern boundary of the Reserve.
First contact was on 80 m SSB at 0440 UTC. I soon had four in the log. I swapped to 40 m SSB at around 1500 UTC, after many minutes of calling CQ on 80 m without any responses: I can only guess that many were “glued” to the television watch the football match. The next 35 minutes yielded only 16 contacts. I tried 30 m, gaining one more in the log. Fifteen minutes of calls on 20 m went unanswered. I changed to 80 m again at around 0600 UTC, gaining another two contacts. Lots more calling were again unproductive. I swapped back to 40 m, with more fruitless calling. Last in the log was Stefano VK5FSCD/p in VKFF-1127. Several more minutes of calling were again unanswered, so I gave up when a rain shower hit. I packed up and headed out to the Highway and then headed for home.
Thanks to all the Hunters who called. For those that missed out, I will return to the Park, as I ended up with only 24 in the log.