ANZAC Day 2021 – an afternoon break in the field

25 April 2021

As well as being a national day of commemoration, ANZAC Day is one of only three days each year when Australian amateur radio operators can replace their normal VK prefix with the AX prefix. The AF prefix is sought after by prefix hunters.

The morning here was dull, with occasional showers. As a result, I simply chased/hunted the activators who were out in the field from home. A few patches of blue appeared early in the afternoon, with the weather RADAR suggesting that it may remain dry for a couple of hours. I decided to head out to the closest VKFF reference in an effort to build on the number of contacts made two weeks earlier on the Sunday evening of the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award activity weekend, when I logged 19 contacts. An extra 25 contacts would bring the reference total up to the 44 required to qualify the Park for WWFF in this calendar year.

Morwell National Park VKFF-0626

The two readily accessible access points to this Park are located down in gullies, with the main visitor site at Kerry Road not far from power lines and houses. The other easy to access site at Billys Creek is a little more open. I have operated in the past from a spot just off Jumbuk Road, north of Summerfield Track. I had been investigating other possible access points which may give a quiet location away from power lines.

I headed out from home and decided to attempt to reach a different area of the Park for the activation. I drove to Jeeralang Junction and then up Lindners Road, and on to Morans Road. About one third of the way up, I found a new gate across the road. The mapping shows the road as a public road, plus the gate was closed but not locked. I opened the gate and drove though, closing the gate behind me. I suspect that the new gate is due to activities on the HVP property on the NW side of Morans Road. I continued up the track (no longer in a state to warrant being called a Road) to reach another gate near the crest of the spur. This one was locked, with a Parks Victoria sign stating “Management Vehicles and Walkers only”. I found a broken Park sign on the ground just outside the gate.

The broken Morwell National Park sign on the ground close to the gate

I parked here and carried my gear through the gate and onto a small clearing just south of the track. I set up here with a line over a tree branch at around 11 m above ground to haul up the centre of the ZS6BKW doublet antenna. I carried in a chair and a small table, with an 18 Ah LiFePO4 battery and the IC-7300. I was soon set up and switched on the radio to hear Gerard AX2IO/p in VKFF-2020 working stations on 7.144 MHz.

Map of most of the Morwell National Park, with the operating location in the NE corner. Image courtesy MapShare Victoria.

I waited my turn and called Gerard to make my first contact for the day with AX3PF. I then moved up the band to find a clear frequency. I called to ask if the frequency was in use and Paul AX3IH answered me. After determining that he was simply calling me, I added Paul to the log and then spotted myself and started calling.

I quickly had a stream of callers. About 10 minutes later, a spot came through for Andrew VK1AD/2 on a SOTA summit. I made a mental note and continued working the hunters until there was a break. I announced a quick QSY and that I would return shortly. I soon had Andrew in the log from VK2/SW-028. I returned to my previous frequency and continued calling. I had a steady stream of Hunters.

When I had a lull in callers, I moved to 20 m SSB, posted a spot and started calling. After no responses in over 10 minutes, I returned to 40 m to see if I could hear Chris VK1CT/p in a park on CW. I heard nothing. I was about to return to SSB when another spot came through and I soon had Chris in the log on SSB from VKFF-0991. I moved up the band, spotted and started calling again. The next 10 minutes yielded 16 contacts in the log, with the sky upwind looking darker and the air feeling damp. A few drops fell from the sky, so I closed down and quickly packed up, only 70 minutes after my first call. I first moved the radio into the back of the car and then the rest of the gear. The antenna came down and was packed up as the next shower arrived.

I secured all the gear into the car and headed back down the track and then headed for home, with 62 contacts in the log.

Thanks to all the hunters for their calls.

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