A trip to Werribee: a Park, a Hamfest and a Silo

5 February 2023

I decided to head to Werribee for the WARC Hamfest, despite some misgivings after news reports on Saturday about major traffic disruptions associated with the Avalon Air Show. I headed off from home and travelled in to Melbourne and across the Westgate Bridge. I decided to make a diversion and turned south to reach Williamstown, making my way around to Bayview Street. I parked near the High School and loaded up with the SOTA rucksack.

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2339

I had not previously activated this Park. I walked to the Park boundary and followed a rough walking track. I spied a Parks Victoria sign and walked across to it, near the water’s edge. I decided that the sign would be suitable support a squid pole for the antenna and was soon set up.

The operating site at Jawbone FFR. Image thanks to Google Earth.

I spotted myself and started calling on 40 m CW. My first caller was Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1361, whom I could not hear on SSB before I spotted. I worked two more stations before I gave up after 15 minutes of calling. I switched to 20 m CW, working four stations in a 15 minutes session of calling. I tried 80m CW with no replies. The same result occurred on 17 m CW. I returned to 40 m, this time on SSB, working Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1361, but had no other responses to my calls. I eventually went to 80 m SSB for two contacts before closing with 10 contacts in the log. I had been on air for an hour – conditions were tough.

The station at Jawbone FFR.

I packed up and walked back to the car and then headed to Werribee.

I arrived quite late at the Hamfest, held at the Italian Sports Club of Werribee. The crowd was starting to thin out and the door prizes had been drawn. I walked around looking at the remaining offerings, stopping to chat to friends. My only purchase on the day was a 2 m/70 cm dual band whip. I was invited to join a group of amateurs who were planning to have lunch in the Club.

The Club was busy, with several functions occurring. The meal was good and plenty of discussions occurred whilst waiting for the food. I paid and departed shortly after, as time was moving on.

I headed to the Werribee Open Range Zoo and into the northeastern corner of the car park, comfortably inside the activation zone of the Werribee silo.

Werribee silo VK-WRB3

Silos are often electrically noisy sites, so I usually try to find a spot within the activation zone which is likely to have less noise. My examination of the satellite imagery suggested that the Zoo car park might fit the bill. Fortunately, there were few vehicles in the far corner from the main entrance. The only issue was that the trees in the car park are relatively young. I managed to find a spot where I could place a line aver a branch at about 7 m. I set up the doublet away from where people might walk and set up the station on the vehicle tailgate.

Werribbe Silo operating site. Image thanks to Google Earth.
Some local visitors during the Silo activation. Cape Barron Geese.

I heard activity as soon as I turned on the radio and soon had Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-2005 in the log on 40 m SSB. I then spotted myself on ParksnPeaks just up the band. 25 minutes of calling produced only four more contacts! I spotted on 20 m SSB, but had no callers in 15 minutes of calling. 10 m SSB was also fruitless. I returned to 40 m SSB and made only another three contacts in 15 minutes of calling. It was now after 1600 local time, so I closed and packed up. I then headed for home, with a slow trip into Melbourne and out through the southeastern suburbs.

Another day of tough HF propagation. Thanks to those who called.

I then headed for home, with a slow trip into Melbourne and out through the southeastern suburbs.

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