A day out near Foster

Saturday 8 June 2019

At the local radio club meeting on Thursday evening, I had asked Ross VK3NRB if was interested in a day out activating Parks on Saturday. The weather forecast was looking to be a fine day after a foggy early morning. Ross arrived at my home at around 0800, and we were soon underway. We travelled to Boolarra, Mirboo, Dumbalk, Stoney Creek and then on to Foster via the South Gippsland Highway. We arrived early and had a slow drive around a couple of the roads near the boundaries, before heading into the centre of town to grab a coffee.

With coffees on board, we headed back along another road and stopped briefly to grab a photo of a sign marking the start of one of the walking tracks.

NZHillSign

The sign at the start of one of the walking tracks

New Zealand Hill Flora Reserve VKFF-2411
Not previously activated

Given its location, it is a little surprising that this reserve had not previously been activated. The Reserve sits on the northern edge of the township of Foster. The Park is divided by the South Gippsland Highway. The northern section has a water storage facility, based on the maps and satellite imagery. It therefore has the possibility of electrical noise generating systems, so I choose to set up in the southern section.

I then drove around to Simpson Street to its junction with McDonald Street and saw a vehicle track heading into the Reserve. We headed up the track to a high point close to a bench seat and some signage. I parked about 50 m SE of the seat and set up with a line over a tree branch. Ross went for a short walk up to Collis Street with a handheld to work me on 2 m and 70 cm FM. Collis Street has a large gate just NE of Winchester Street and the road reserve is excluded from the Park boundary. Ross returned and assisted with running out the legs of the ZS6BKW antenna.

NewZealandHillFR

Operating site in VKFF-2411. Image courtesy MapShare Vic.

I soon had six contacts in the log on 40 m SSB, followed by five on CW. I called for at least 15 minutes on CW with no further responses. I saw a spot for but was unable to hear Glenn VK3YY/p on VK3/VC-006 in VKFF-0556 on 40 m, so sent him an SMS asking if he had 80 m. Glenn replied in the affirmative and around 10 minutes later we worked on 80 m CW. The first hour was slow ‘yielding only 14 contacts.

After calling a few times on CW on 80 m, I moved up to 80 m SSB and worked several more stations, including Peter VK3ZPF/p in VKFF-0132.  I returned to 40 m SSB to work several more stations before a spell on 20 m SSB. A quick change back to 40 m yielded Hugh VK5NHG/p and Ian VK5CZ/p, both on VK5/NE-102 together with Angela VK7FAMP/p in VKFF-2918. I finished with a short stint on 20 m CW and finished up with 46 in the log. Ross was happy with just qualifying for VKFF with 11 in the log.

We packed up and headed back to the main street to visit the Bakery to grab some lunch prior to heading out to our next target.

Corner Inlet Marine & Coastal Park VKFF-1768

I drove to the end of Foster Beach Road and parked at the eastern end of the car park.

CornerInletMCP

Operating site at Foster Beach. Image courtesy MapsShare Vic.

The tide was out, but the view south to Wilsons Promontory was excellent.

PromViewFosterBeach

Looking south to Wilsons Promontory

I again set up the ZS6BKW and soon had Peter VK3ZPF/p in the log from VKFF-2244. Next was Angela VK7FAMP/p in VFF-2918. I found a clear spot on 40 m SSB and worked 19 stations in 22 minutes, with the last being Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2370. I then swapped to 80 m SSB to again work Angela VK7FAMP/p in VFF-2918 and Tony VK7LTD/p, plus another contact with Mike VK6MB/3. Thirty seven minutes of operating yielded 27 contacts – plenty for a VKFF activation toward the Boomerang Award. Ross also worked 10 stations.

We packed up and returned Lower Franklin Road and then into Port Franklin Road.

Bennison Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2267
Not previously activated

As we approached the Reserve, we could see someone raking leaf litter and adding it to a fire out the front of 310 Port Franklin Road. The Reserve surrounds this property on three sides. I saw a driveway and pulled in to the start of it, parked and jumped out of the car. The man approached, as did a very friendly young dog. I explained my amateur radio interest and my desire to activate the Reserve. The landowner explained that he held a grazing licence over much of the Reserve. He was clearly not willing to allow us access to the portion of the Reserve which he leased. He pointed us to Durston Road, suggesting that we would be safe to walk through one of the properties to reach the Reserve. We thanked him for his assistance and drove back to look at the suggested access point. I recalled that the southern boundary of the Reserve had private property along its length. We exited back to Port Franklin Road and drove north and then west examining the boundary.

With no obvious track into the Reserve, I headed back to the corner where we had seen a sign near the corner in Port Franklin Road. I pulled off the road and parked adjacent to the edge of the scrub. We could see the fence line of the leased area about 20 m or so from us, and some relatively low density scrub. We grabbed the gear and set up just inside the boundary.

BennisonFFR_sat

Operating site VKFF-2267. Image courtesy MapShare Vic.

BennisonFR

Sign on the Park boundary

I spotted myself and started calling. First in the log was Andrei ZL1TM. Twelve contacts later I worked Angela VK7FAMP/p now in VKFF-2899. When I returned to my previous frequency, someone had started using it, so I dropped down the band to a clear area and again spotted myself. I worked another 12 contacts in 11 minutes. I then moved down to 80 m SSB and worked seven contacts. I moved up to 15 m to quickly search the band, but it sounded dead.  I did work Ross who had wondered out of the Park with the KX2 and a small wire antenna…. I quickly jumped back to 80 m SSB to work Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2397 before moving down for some 80 m CW. This yielded contacts with John VK4TJ with his extra callsigns – a little surprising that propagation was working to Toowoomba this early in the afternoon. 40 m CW yielded seven contacts. The summary page on VK-port-a-log showed 45 in the log, so we closed down and packed up.

We headed NW to return to the South Gippsland Highway, then east to Yarram and around to the next target.

Won Wron Flora Reserve VKFF-2488

After passing Yarram, we headed north on Holmans Road to reach the Park boundary. We headed along the southern boundary until just past a track heading south and set up on the edge of the track, inside the park boundary. I again tossed a line over a tree branch to haul up the centre of the antenna.

WonWronFR

Operating site VKFF-2488. Image courtesy MapShare Vic.

I had previously activated this Park, so this was another Boomerang activation. I spotted and saw a spot for Paul VK5PAS/p. I changed to Paul’s frequency and heard nothing…. I realised that I had not connected the antenna to the radio – the efforts of the day were starting to show their effects! Once connected, Paul was quickly worked from VKFF-1159. I dropped down to 80 m and soon had another 11 contacts in the log. The sun had set and light was fading rapidly, so we called it quits and packed up. Ross had 11 in the log, so we had both qualified the Park for VKFF.

I headed out to the west on the sandy track, after having engaged 4WD. The track was a little rough in places, but we were soon on the sealed road when we reached the Hyland Highway and started the one hour journey back to home.

Foster_Route

Approx. route courtesy plotaroute.com

Thanks to all the Hunters who worked us during the day. Two new Parks for the Hunters plus another two brief activations.

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