A trip to Melbourne with a Park detour

Thursday 28 February 2019

I needed to travel to Clayton to pick up an item, so decided to add a detour to the trip home. I left home about mid-morning and arrived at destination in Clayton in reasonable time. I made a couple of other stops before heading east along Wellington Road towards my target Park for the day.

Baluk Willam Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2042

This Reserve is located in South Belgrave, north of Wellington Road. It is split by Courtneys Road, with the road reserve excluded from the reserve boundary. There are some walking tracks and a small car park off Orchid Road. There is an interpretive sign at the car park, but only part of the car park is inside the reserve boundary so care is needed to select an operating site to ensure the station is inside the boundary, as required by the WWFF rules.

The Park is just over 67 hectares and mostly scrub. It is a sanctuary for over a third of Victoria’s orchid species. The Reserve contains thirteen Ecological Vegetation Classes, including shrubby foothill forest, damp sclerophyll forest, wet sclerophyll forest and heathy woodland (dominated by Sliver-leafed Stringybark). Over 250 indigenous plant species have been recorded in the reserve, including 73 orchid species. Several of the orchid species are rare or vulnerable in Victoria.

BalukWillamSign

The Reserve Wecome sign

I quickly set up the station, posting a spot as I commenced the process – I wanted to let Mike VK6MB/3 know that I was coming up shortly having seen a spot from Mike on arrival. I had a major issue once set up – S5-6 noise across 80 m. Despite the noise, I managed to complete a contact with Mike on 80 m SSB Park to Park to Lind National Park VKFF-0287. I spent another 10 minutes calling on 80 m with no replies heard above the noise. I then decided to move one end of the antenna. The result was a significant drop in the noise level. There was a power line transformer not far away, plus an obvious solar panel array on the closest house, either of which may have been the source of the noise.

I moved up to 40 m SSB and soon had three regulars in the log: John VK4TJ, Gerard VK2IO and Adrian VK5FANA. Further calls yielded no replies, so I set up the paddle and moved down to the CW segment of the band. This resulted in several calls, again working John and Gerard, plus Steve VK7CW.

I returned to 40 m and could just hear Geoff VK3SQ calling but he could not hear my responses. We dropped down to 80 m SSB to make a contact. I then tried 20 m SSB, with the noise level higher. I worked John VK4TJ on CW, as I was not deciphering his voice signal.

I next tried 30 m SSB, even knowing that the antenna match was poor. I again worked Mike VK6MB/3 in Lind National Park. I had no further contacts on SSB, so spotted for CW and again worked John VK4TJ plus Joergen VK2KJJ. I tried 15 m SSB and soon had John VK4TJ in the log on both SSB & CW, but no other callers. I tried 12 m, again working John VK4TJ on SSB & CW but no other callers.

I moved back to 40 m SSB and managed another contact with Mike VK6MB/3, working hard to make contacts from Lind National Park. I moved down from 7.144 MHz to 7.135 MHz and soon had some more callers: Mark VK3MDH/m in Belgrave, Compton VK2HRX, John VK2JON, Keith VK3MKE and then Nick VK3ANL on SSB and then CW. I then dropped down to 80 m and worked Keith and Nick again, but no further callers. Back on 7.135 MHz, I worked Dennis VK2HHA. After working Dennis, I stopped to chat with Mark VK3MDH, who had driven down to find me. With some assistance from Mark, we managed to finally make contact  with Michael VK3FCMC on 2 m FM – I could hear Michael on 15 m SSB, but he could not hear me on 15 , 40 or 80 m. Michael was contact 44 – Park qualified. As Mark drove off, we made an “insurance” contact on 2 m FM – 45 in the log and all done for me. It had been a hot afternoon, with temperatures in the mid to high 30s relieved a little by a gentle breeze for most of the afternoon. It took about three hours to make the contacts. Thanks to all who called, but especially John VK4TJ who looked for me on every band.

I packed up and started the drive home, coping with the Melbourne afternoon peak traffic.

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