Cape Paterson (Patterson) Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2063

This Park had been activated twice previously, but looked to be worth activating. It is about 1.5 hours’ drive from home.

Sunday 10 February 2019

I headed off from home aiming to be on site after UTC rollover. I used my normal route towards South Gippsland, heading to Yinnar, then west onto the Strzelecki Highway (B460), south to Mirboo North and then SW to Leongatha. Minor issue though: a couple of kilometres south of the B460 / C469 junction, I reached a traffic jam – traffic was largely stationary. I do not know what was causing the delays, perhaps a road accident at the junction. I headed into the plantation south of the road and worked my way through the track network onto Darlimurla Road and met further detours manned by CFA volunteers before finally getting back onto B460. (Update: local news on Monday night indicated that a motorcyclist died after running into the rear of a car waiting to turn right into Darlimurla Road. Sad news!)

That was not the only delay….. I had forgotten that the date was the Mirboo North Italian Festa, with around 15000 people attending. Traffic in Mirboo North was a disaster….

Once through Mirboo North, things moved fairly smoothly, despite an area of roadworks with a 40 km/hr speed restriction.

The route was simple from Mirboo North: On to Leongatha, Inverloch and around to Cape Paterson. It is interesting to note that the Parks Victoria website lists the Reserve as having only one “t”, yet the CAPAD database has the spelling with two “t”s….

I drove along the eastern and northern boundaries, finding very limited parking. The road reserves extended to the edge of the thick coastal vegetation within the reserve. I travelled around to the local small shopping centre and purchased some lunch, then headed back to the reserve via Cassia Street.

The end of Cassia Street extends onto a mown firebreak that extends along the inside of the western and southern boundaries of the Reserve, providing a place to park the vehicle and set up with the antenna running close to the thick scrub and bracken. It looked as if the firebreak was regularly used, so I avoided obstructing the fire break. I set up using the tailgate of the vehicle as my operating table.

VKFF-2063map_s

The Park aerial view showing the boundary, with the firebreak visible

I was finally set up at about 0245Z and spotted myself. I then noticed that Linda VK7QP/p was in a Park (VKFF-1133), so listened for her signals for a couple of minutes. Linda was in the noise at my location and we probably would have needed 80 m to make a contact. I returned to my spotted frequency and promptly worked Geoff VK3SQ, who had been calling me after seeing the spot. Next was Lou VK3AQZ in Wonthaggi, who invited me to visit for a coffee when I was finished. It was slow work, with lots of calls with few replies. Thank goodness for the IC-7300 Voice Memory… I was called by Mike VK6MB/2 for a Park to Park (P2P) from VKFF-0334. I occasionally changed frequency to listen for Linda, but she was always only just audible in the noise and not good enough to work.

At around 0315Z, I tried switching to CW, only to find that the 6.35 mm to 3.5 mm stereo adapter had a fault, with a short causing continuous sending of dahs. So much for picking up some CW contacts!

With only eight contacts in the log, I dropped down to 80 m SSB and worked 5 station in about 15 minutes. I returned to 40 m SSB and managed a Park to Park (P2P) with Peter VK3ZPF/p in VKFF-2054, followed by Cliff VK2NP. Ten minutes of calling produced no callers, so I set up for CW, setting up the KX2. Only 10 W output compared to the 30 W I was using on the IC-7300, but I quickly had four more contacts in the log. I switched back to the IC-7300 and 40 m SSB to work some more stations, including Alan VK5AR/4 in a Park for which he did not know the reference. I had some noise at the time and recorded the Park name incorrectly, so I will not claim a P2P contact. I finally managed to work Linda VK7QP/p, now in VKFF-1153 for another P2P. This was followed by lots of calls with no response, first on 40 m SSB and then 20 m SSB. 20 m CW yield three calls in the log.

I returned to 40 m SSB and worked several more stations. I was about to pack up when I saw a new spot from Peter VK3ZPF/p in VKFF-2031: I had tried calling Peter earlier on 40 m SSB and later found out that he had been calling me, but signals were too weak. We finally made it on 80 m SSB. It was now 0552Z and I had 49 in the log, so I decided to call it quits.

Station VKFF-2063

Partial view of the station taken from just outside the park boundary

After packing up, I called Lou VK3AQZ on the ‘phone and arranged to visit him and his wife Rhonda VK3ZYL in North Wonthaggi. It only took about 15 minutes to reach Lou’s house and we had a very long chat over coffee and home-made scones with jam and cream. Lou showed me some of his very well built home-brew equipment, including his multimode, multiband HF transceiver, his automatic antenna tuning unit and antenna/rig switch.

It was then a matter of driving home. I took a punt that the Festa in Mirboo North and the road incident would both be over, which proved to be the case, so the trip home was uneventful.

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