Moorabbin Hamfest and The Pines

Saturday 8 May 2021

With COVID restrictions somewhat eased in Victoria, I planned to attend my first Hamfest in around 18 months. Ross VK3NRB decided to join me for the trip, staying overnight Friday at my home so that we could be away early.

We were underway at around 0730 local time and headed towards Melbourne, with a short stop at Nar Nar Goon to add fuel to the vehicle. We then headed in to Moorabbin via the Dandenong Bypass and the Dingley Bypass and on to South Road. We then found a spot to park on the western side of Nepean Highway and walked across to the Kingston Town Hall to queue to check in to the venue and then again for an entry ticket. We then spent about 10 minutes chatting with others until the doors opened at 1000.

I dropped some of the VK3IL Pressure Paddle kits at the Moorabbin & District Radio Club table, hoping that some might sell. Lots of people wanted to chat, so it took quite some time to walk around to see what was on offer on all the tables.

At around 1130, I saw that a spot had been posted for a group of amateurs on a SOTA summit, so Ross and I walked back to the car and set up the HF whip. We heard nothing of the activators, only chasers. I asked Gerard to QSY down 5 kHz after he had worked the activators and logged a contact with VKFF-0281. I sent an SMS to Glenn VK3YY/p, suggesting that we try 80 m. We sat back and waited until the team spotted for 80 m. Due to S7 noise, we had great difficulty copying the activators. I again texted Glenn and suggested that they try CW. Within a few minutes, I had Glenn, David VK3IL and Andrew VK3JBL in the log from Mount Dawson VK3/VT-015 and VKFF-0619.

We drove around to find a parking spot just outside the venue and were back inside for a few minutes of browsing and chatting before the door prize draw at around 1230. Neither of us had any luck with the prize draw….

I collected my kits, with none having been sold. I then had a chat with one of the WIA Directors. Ross had purchased a couple of antennas after he borrowed some cash. He spotted something else of interest. After finishing my chat, I joined him and ended up buying a couple of HF whip antennas, which required a quick trip across the Nepean Highway to withdraw some cash from the nearest ATM.

We purchased some lunch and coffee from the small café at the venue, loaded the gear into the car and headed south towards Frankston. Along the way, I had a contact with Gerard VK2IO/p, now in VKFF-2012. The contact was difficult due to the QRM as we drove along the suburban roads. We then made our way around to our target park for the afternoon.

The Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2451

We parked in the far corner of the car park off Ballarto Road Carrum Downs. I soon had a squid pole lashed to a bollard and the ZS6BKW doublet was in the air. We set up with the IC-7300 on the tailgate of the Ranger.

Our operating site in VKFF-2451. Image thanks to Google Earth.

At about 0430 UTC, I came up on 7.144 MHz and checked if the frequency was clear. I promptly worked Gerard and Compton VK2HRX, both in VKFF-2012. Gerard and Compton had been chatting face to face, awaiting our arrival. Gerard closed down, leaving the frequency to us. Ross and I operated by passing the microphone until Ross had at least 10 in his log. He then went for a walk. I had a steady stream of callers. When the callers diminished, I went to 40 m CW and worked four hunters. We then returned to 40 m SSB and worked Gerard in VKFF-1921 and Bob VK2BYF and Gerald VK2HBG in VKFF-0043.

I moved up the band and again spotted and worked further hunters, including a CW contact with Gerard VK2IO/p. I had 44+ contacts in the log by 0610UTC and we packed up the station. I went for a walk to exit the Park and made a contact with Ross in the Park. As I returned to the car, I heard an Alert and saw that it was Paul VK0PD on air on 20 m SSB. We could hear Paul from the car, but the mobile whip was insufficient to make a contact. We quickly again set up the station at the rear of the car, working Paul at 0633 UTC for a P2P contact to VKFF-0571.

We missed the Alert for Sue VK5AYL in a park and we could not hear Fred VK3DAC in VKFF-0333.

We packed up again and started the drive back to home.

Thanks to Ross for the company during the day and thanks to all the Hunters for their calls.

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