Gobur and Yarck Nature Conservation Reserves

Sunday 3 June 2018

It was time to head for home and I considered my route options. Mum wanted help with some tasks, so I did not get away until almost 1000 local. I decided to head back down the Hume Highway after filling the fuel tank. I stopped in Euroa briefly to buy some lunch and then headed to Creightons Creek and on to Terip Terip, then down Terip Road towards Yarck.

Gobur Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2096 Not previously activated

The main road is not part of the Reserve. I parked between the reserve sign – Gobur Flora Reserve – and the nearby gate on a track heading north through the reserve. I quickly set up by tossing a line over a tree branch.

I made a good start to the activation: a Park to Park (P2P) contact with Bill VK4FW in VKFF-1474. I found a clear frequency on 40 m, spotted myself and started calling. The Hunters started replying quickly, with John VK5BJE first in the line-up. Soon after were Rob VK4AAC/3 and Peter VK3ZPF together in French Island National Park VKFF-0622 and then Gerard VK2JNG/p in VKFF-1165. 18 minutes later I worked Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-1675 on 20 m. Back on 40 m I managed to work Ben VK7BEN/p on Mt Wellington VK7/SC-001. I then swapped to 80 m SSB to again work Rob & Peter on French Island plus several others around VK3 and VK2. With 45 stations in the log, I shut down and packed up.

Yarck Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2241 Not previously activated

Only 4.4 km down the road from the previous activation you start to pass through the Yarck NCR, with road again excluded from the reserve for most of the transit. I found a spot near the southern end of the transit where I could pull off the road onto a flattish area and set up there, definitely off the road reserve and in the Park.

I started on 80 m SSB, with Rob & Peter on French Island first in the log. I soon had six in the log on 80 m.

I swapped to 40 m SSB, working Matt VK4FMHT in VKFF-1663 and Bill VK4FW/p now in VKFF-1190. A little after 0500Z, I chased Nick VK3ANL/p in VKFF-2195 on 80 m both SSB and CW. With no further callers, I returned to 40 m for a few more, then one single contact on 20 m. Back to 40 m again to work Bill VK4FW/p, now in VKFF-0674. I moved slightly up the band and worked a couple more, including VK18FIFA. It took quite some time to reach the magical 44 contacts, with several band changes to attempt to work other activators. Back to 80 m again, hoping for some more VK3 stations, and managed to work another eight stations. I ended up with 49 in the log over an activation of about 2.5 hours. I packed up and headed down to Yarck and then started the long trip home.

Thanks to all who chased me during the day – two new references activated breaking up the long drive.

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Two “new” summits north of Big Ben

I had been looking at the maps of summits within easy reach of Wodonga for some time. I always wonder why the two summits north along the ridge complex with Mount Big Ben had not yet been activated. On a previous trip late last year, I checked a couple of possible direct access routes from the Yackandandah (west) side of the ridge without success. The likely roads reached closed gates with “Private Property” and “Fire Vehicles Only” signs. There was one road not yet checked: Turvey Lane off Allans Flat Road.

Saturday 2 June 2018

I headed off mid-morning towards Keiwa and onto Allans Flat Road and then into Turvey Lane. Just over one kilometre along, I reached the anticipated gate, again with “Private Property” and “Fire Vehicles Only” signs. I turned around and headed back to the bitumen, then turned south through Osbornes Flat and onto C527, then C528 and into Mount Big Ben Road.

The logical approach was to now try an approach from the south. As I drove up towards Big Ben, I decided to activate it first and then attempt to get to the next summit north. If I was lucky and Condons Track was open all the way, I might be able to drive out to the north somewhere…..

Mount Big Ben VK3VE-105 1154 m 6 Points

I set up just off the summit proper, within a metre or so in height. I started on 80 m CW – just for challenge. I soon had Gerard VK2IO in the log, but no other callers. I swapped to SSB and worked Geoff VK3SQ and Cliff VK2NP. Further calls went unanswered, so I changed to 40 m CW to work 5 stations and then to SSB for another 14 stations. I then moved back to 80 m SSB to work 4 more stations in VK3. It just shows that using 80 m even in the middle of the day can be productive at this stage of the solar cycle.

After packing up, I retraced my route back to Condons Track and started the journey north, basically zig zagging either side of the high voltage power lines. At roughly the point where Condons Track crosses the upper reaches of Swampy Creek, I found another gate: you guessed it: “Private Property” and “Fire Vehicles Only” signs.

VK3/VE-168 (unnamed) 845 m 4 points Not Yet Activated

I had anticipated this outcome, having looked at the various maps. However, the private property extended only a little east of the track and the land on the east side appears to be Crown Land, so I loaded up and started the climb, following an old track briefly and then following the N-S fence line. This involved a little scrub bashing low down, but the scrub dissipated after about 300 m. I continued to climb up to the summit and set up once on top.

I spotted myself on 40 m CW and first in the log was Gerard VK2IO. Within 10 minutes I had the summit qualified with six CW contacts. As I was about to swap modes, I saw a spot for Rob VK4AAC/3 in a Park on 80 m SSB, so I sent Rob an SMS advising that I would be on 80 in a couple of minutes – I needed to run out the rest of the antenna for 80. Rob replied that he was now on 40 m, so I stopped the antenna work and swapped to SSB and moved up the band. Rob was a weak 31 and could not hear my calls, so I moved down in frequency and started working callers. Six stations worked in about eight minutes. I then strung out the rest of the antenna for 80 m and went to CW, working six stations. Moving up to the voice section of the band yielded another three contacts. I then quickly change to 40 m SSB to work Paul VK5PAS in VKFF-0789. I tried to liaise with Rob using the ‘phone, but the signal dropped several times. I gave up on chasing Rob and packed up.

As I started the descent, I noticed the remnants of a very old track, with lots of grass and fallen timber across it. It provided a quick descent until it disappeared when the scrub started up as the terrain flattened a little. Back into the scrub, following the fence at times and animal tracks at others. I still gained a few splinters!

I was back at the car in about 30 minutes and retraced my tracks back to C528.

I considered my options as I was heading back down: give up and return to Wodonga, or have a look on the east side of the range. I decided on the later, so turned left when I reached C528. I descended down the valley and then turned north onto the Kiewa Valley Highway and travelled on to Kergunyah. Just near the 80 kph sign, I turned west into Simpson Road and followed it up the hill, expecting the same outcome as I had earlier in the day….

I did reach a gate, but this time with a simple sign “Please close the gate”! So I continued up to the top of the ridge and through another similar gate, but with “Private Property” and “Please close the gate” signs. I must double check Mapshare when I return home, but this appears to be a publically accessible route.

VK3/VE-163 (unnamed) 872 m 4 points Not Yet Activated

I then turned north on Gap Flat Track for a short distance and then onto Mount Murramurranbong Track, which had lots of large spoon drains. The final climb up to the top was steeper and rougher, with several obstacles to dodge. The track ran over the top of the summit. I parked off the track and set up – it was getting late, so I opted for 80 m SSB and hopefully a quick activation.

First contact was at 0715 UTC: Gerard VK2IO, followed by Warren VK3BYD. Next was Paul VK5PAS/p, still in VKFF-0789. I ended up with nine contacts in nine minutes. With no responses to QRZ and CQ calls, I shut down and packed up. The sun was already below the horizon, it was getting dark and cold quite quickly.

I carefully retraced my route back to Simpson Road, down to Kergunyah and then headed north back to Wodonga.

The last summit was a quick activation, but at least we have a known access route. A good day: two summits qualified on CW and two new summit Uniques for the chasers.

PS: After returning home I checked the official mapping for both approach routes used.

VK3/VE-168: The start of the route that I used is Crown Land. The summit sits in Crown Land – Part of the Big Ben State Forest. There is a section of land which is Private Property but which is NOT fenced. As I did not see any fence, I assumed that access was okay. The Public Land mapping shows that there is a Government Road reserve passing over the summit. Anyone wishing to access the summit in the future is advised to prepare a GPS Track following the Government Road alignment. I followed that alignment for most of my descent.

VE-168

Public Land view of route to VK3/VE-168 (MapShare Vic)

VK3/VE-163: Simpsons Road is a Government Road for its entire length and the summit sits on Crown Land.

VE-163

Public Land view of route to VK3/VE-163 (MapShare Vic)

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Two new summits near Eskdale

Thursday 31 May 2018

I got away from Wodonga late – almost 0000Z before I was on the road. I headed to Eskdale and on towards Dartmouth and followed the signs to the boat ramp area and then up Six Mile Road. The road was rough from the start and the surface slippery. I took it easy and made steady progress until about 5 or 6 km up the track to be stopped by a large tree across the road. I turned around and headed back down to the bitumen. I also headed up Humpy Creek Track, which had a very soft slippery surface and lost traction on a steep wet section, preventing progress. I carefully did a multipoint U-turn and gave up, heading back to Dartmouth and then toward Mitta Mitta. Just prior to the bridge over the Mitta Mitta River, I turned into North Mitta Road and then onto Bullhead Road, climbing to the saddle and crossroad. The roads here were much drier and the surface good. I turned left into Tallandoon Track and climbed up to the high point below the first of the alternate targets for the day.

VK3/VE-207 (unnamed) 696 m 2 points Not yet activated

The OzTopo V8.0 mapping that I use for most planning shows the track heading directly over the summit, as does the 2005 VicMaps 1:25000 sheet. But the track skirts around the northern side of the summit, probably just below the edge of the activation zone. I parked the car and loaded up, heading up the old track. I spotted myself as QRV in 10 minutes and then set up on 40 m SSB. After a couple of calls, John VK4TJ answered. I then worked Cliff VK2NP, Gerard VK2IO and Ian VK5CZ. Several more calls went unanswered, so I started running out the 80 m extensions. Whilst doing that, I heard a caller on 40 m, so I hauled the antenna back up and called QRZ? I had no response to a couple of calls and then Gerard relayed that Steve VK3MEG had been calling. I called Steve with no response, so liaised via Gerard that I would go to 80 m. Hooking up the extensions and changing bands on the radio showed a high SWR. I checked all the connections and links and retried – all OK. I soon had Steve in the log. I soon had another 5 in the log, including both Gerard and Cliff in Sydney – it just shows that 80 m is worthwhile trying even in the middle of the day during this low phase of the solar cycle.

With no further callers, I tried 20 m after spotting, with only a partial contact with Glenn ZL1MY in Auckland. But I did not receive a report – sorry Glenn. With the summit comfortably qualified, I started packing up, but checked ParksnPeaks and saw that Neil VK4HNS/p was in a park on 40 m. So I reconfigured the antenna and dialled up 7.144. I soon had Neil in Girringun National Park VKFF-0199. Andy VK5LA called Neil after I had finished my contact. I called Andy when he finished with Neil and moved up the band slightly to work him and then Brett VK2VW. With no further callers, I shut down and packed up, returning to the car. I then retraced my route to Bullhead Road and crossed over onto Bullhead Gap Road. I travelled up to the high point and parked at a wider spot on a bend, safely leaving plenty of room for vehicles to pass.

VK3/VE-146 (unnamed) 952 m 6 points Not yet activated

From the parking spot, the summit proper is about one kilometre away. But the 930 m contour is only about 70 m horizontally and about 30 m vertical above. I climbed up the embankment and then started scrub bashing up the hill until I was on the flat portion of the knoll. I was safely in the AZ, but surrounded by moderately thick regrowth. I erected to antenna set for 40 m, spotted myself on SOTAwatch and started calling. Nev VK5WG was first to respond. In the next 10 minutes I worked another 6 stations, including Andrei ZL1TM. With no further answers to my calls, I shut down and packed up – I did not feel like running out the extra antenna wire plus it was starting to cool off significantly. I carefully headed back down the slope to the car. Mount Bogong was prominent to the south, with snow visible on the high ridges. I then headed back to the bitumen and returned to Wodonga.

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Wodonga via Swifts Creek and Mitta Mitta

Monday 28 May 2018

I needed to head up to Wodonga for some family issues. I headed off early via Rosedale, Tinamba, Stratford and on to Bairnsdale to add fuel to the tank. Then on to Swifts Creek and a stop at the Bakery. I dropped into the DELWP offices next door to enquire about likely access to a couple of sites. Part of the advice was not good; a track giving access to a summit is closed and unlikely to be repaired. A walk will be required if and when I decided to head to the site. Another part of the advice was useful: that I should be able to access an as yet unactivated summit nearby.

I enjoyed the pie that I had purchased and tried to work Mitch VK3XDM/p on Mt Torbreck VK3/VN-001 – I could hear Mitch, be he could not decipher my voice. I was operating on the mobile whip. Mitch and Rik had already activated on 80 m whilst I was in the office chatting with the staff. They were ready to close, so I did not have time to drive to a spot and erect a dipole. One summit missed…..

I headed west on Cassilis Road and then on to Brookville Road and south to Carroll Track. East along Carroll Track up to the top of the main ridge line, then north along Richards Track. This was definitely 4WD country, with lots of spoon drains, some erosion and lots of tree debris on the tracks. I continued along Richards Track, ignoring Hodges Track which descended to the northwest. I moved some tree branches several times along the approach. The final section of the approach was along Flagstaff Track, complete with a warning sign that the track ends at a locked gate further along past the target summit. The vegetation encroaches from the track edges, making it very narrow in several places. I am sure that I added more scratches to the paintwork.

VK3/VG-086 (unnamed) 855 m 4 points Not previously activated

The summit height is less than 5 metres higher than the high point of the track. So I climbed up the track to a high point about 200 m from the nominal summit location. The scrub looked moderately thick, so I simply set up on the side of the track away from the vehicle. It is likely that the summit will become “Flagstaff Track” at the next VK3 update.

I spotted myself and started calling on 7.085 SSB – there was some traffic on 7.090. First in the log was John VK4TJ. I had nine contacts in the log in only seven minutes. I changed to 80 m and soon had Rik and Mitch in the log, with them using the whip on the car at the car park below Torbreck. I then worked Geoff VK3SQ and Nick VK3ANL. With no further callers, I tried 20 m for a few minutes after spotting myself for a third time. I was rewarded with a contact with ZL2ATH. With no further answers to my calls, I closed down and packed up. I also sent an SMS message to Rik asking their ETA on their next summit. I was not surprised when I had no immediate reply, given the area in which Rik and Mitch were travelling.

I retraced my route back to the junction of Richards Track and a track north of Hodges Track – perhaps an extension of Hodges Track – my mapping does not show a name. The track started to drop down but was in excellent condition. So I decided to explore this as a possible exit route. At worst, I might reach a gate with a Private Property No Entry sign, so I may have needed to retrace the route back up the road. The road continued to a gate with only a Please Close sign on the other side to the side from which I approached. So I continued on, passing a house just to the east of the track, with its own entrance gate. I continued down, passing through a gravel quarry area and through two more gates. The final (third) was almost back to Brookville Road. I opened the gate and passed through it, closing it behind me. The gate had a rough sign stating that it was private property – no firewood collection, plus another prominently stating “PUBLIC ACCESS ROUTE”. So this is a viable access route: Hodges Track. It is 2WD until it swings right to a gateway “Private Property”, with Flagstaff Track continuing straight ahead with encroaching scrub. I should have taken a photo, but I recall a small sign Hodges Quarry Track or similar. Much shorter and less rough than Carrolls and Richards Tracks, except for the final 900 metres plus about 170 metre climb to the summit along Flagstaff Track, which is narrow, rough and steep.

I returned to Swifts Creek and headed to Omeo for a short stop, during which I had a message from Rik: 45 minutes estimated to their next summit. That decided my route choice: I headed to Hinnomunjie and onto Knocker Track and then Knocker Link Track.

The Knocker VK3/VG-016 1506 m 10 points

I would normally save this summit for the winter bonus season, but decided to forego the winter bonus in favour of a likely S2S contact.

I arrived on the summit and quickly set up the station away from the car. I spotted myself for 80 m and soon had Gerard VK2IO in the log. Next were Mitch and Rik on VK3/VN-002. Nick VK3ANL, Geoff VK3SQ and Adrian VK5FANA were also worked on 80 m. I swapped to 40 m, and went looking for Ian VK1DI, who was showing on ParksnPeaks as in a Park, perhaps I had not forced the page to refresh… I found Gerard VK2JNG/p in VKFF-1972. I dropped down to 7.095 and started calling after spotting myself. I soon had another 7 contacts in the log, including 2 ZLs. With no further callers, I shut down and packed up.

I headed back to Knocker Track and then northwest to the Omeo Highway, then north and on to Mitta Mitta. I decided against any further summits, given that it was already 1500 local when I reached the highway. The trip was slow and steady and I finally reached Wodonga at about 1715. I stopped briefly in Eskdale to try to work Mitch on 40 m on his third summit for the day, but he was very low level and did not hear my calls. I had missed them on 80 m, as I had been busy driving. The recent closure of Rucksack Radio Tool due to new EU legislation renders RRT non-functional. Perhaps it is time to explore other options.

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VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1075

There are seem keen WWFF/VKFF Activators out there – even keener than myself. There have been a steady stream of activations that have been providing targets for all of the Hunters. As a result, many are seeking out new references for themselves to activate, including many first activations.

Yesterday I received the latest VKFF Hunter Honour Roll “certificate”: 1075 references chased.

Once again, thanks to all the Activators, as well as the State coordinators and especially Paul VK5PAS, the VKFF coordinator. It is perhaps a good thing that Paul also enjoys photography in addition to radio – it gives him many photographs from which to select for the new levels for the award scheme.

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1075

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Screw Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2188

Saturday 12 May 2018

Thursday and Friday had been very cold and wet as a complex of cold fronts passed over SE Australia. The air mass was so cold that most of the alpine resorts had snow, with snow expected to fall down to around 800 m. The forecast for Saturday was for wet and very windy conditions in East Gippsland, but it was probably going to be a cool and dry day until late afternoon in Central Gippsland and a chance of showers in Melbourne.

I headed off from home at around 0730 and headed to Melbourne. The drive was uneventful in bright sunshine. First stop was to an electronics supply house in Clayton for a couple of items and I then headed off to the Brentwood Community Youth Club for the Moorabin & District Radio Club annual hamfest. This was a new venue for the Club.

I met up with my primary target person and exchanged a 5.7 GHz PA for some dollars, with the deal having been previously arranged via email. There was time for a bacon & egg sandwich and a coffee prior to the doors opening at 1000. I attempted to do one quick lap around the tables but this was thwarted by lots of people wanting to catch up….. I must admit that I was not worried – I attend such events primarily for the social aspect these days. If I find something worth buying, then the trip has an added bonus! The bonus this time was a 20 m length of RG-223 double shielded coax terminated with type N male connectors for only $20. I had examined all of the tables with about 45 minutes to go until the raffle draw, so decided to hang around for the draw. Whilst waiting, I partook of a hamburger from the club food stall, including some chatting about SOTA and Parks with some of the “staff” and some other amateurs. I had no luck in the raffle and finally got away at around 1300. On leaving the hall, the atmosphere was feeling cold and damp – it felt like rain was imminent. I checked the weather radar to spot showers a little to the west, so that made the decision of how to spend the afternoon easy – I would head down to South Gippsland and attempt to catch up with Stef VK5HSX/3, who was activating a couple of Parks near Cape Patterson.

A few stations were active as I drove down to Korumburra and then south to Inverloch, but none were strong enough to overcome the noise in the vehicle. Time was getting on, so I decided to head for my target Park and get on air and hoped that I could catch Stef on-air and arrange to meet up at some stage during the afternoon.

Screw Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2188 Not previously activated

I had checked out this Park when I did my run to Wonthaggi earlier in the year. At the time, I was feeling rather tired after having activated Kilcunda NCR and Wonthaggi Heathlands NCR and decided against undertaking another activation.

The Reserve is just east of Inverloch – head towards Tarwin Lower and then turn right into Coastal Way and the new estate about 330 m after crossing Screw Creek. I then turned right into The Landings. The fence on the right is the boundary of the Reserve. I opened a gate and closed it behind me and parked near a large gum tree. I tossed a line over a branch and soon had the 80 – 10 m link dipole in the air. The 80 ends were low – less than a metre off the ground – but the 40 m link was at about 3 m.

ScrewCreekNCR

Screw Creek NCR (MapshareVic)

First in the log was Colin VK3NCC/2 in VKFF-0587. I also heard Stef working Colin and we arranged to move down the band. Stef was in Bunurong Marine National Park, about 9 km to my southwest. We completed the contact and I then started working other stations. About 20 minutes later, Stef arrived and we chatted briefly as I continued to work the hunters. When the callers dwindled off, we had a proper chat and also changed the antenna links to 80 m. After spotting myself, we were quickly working VK3 stations, with Nick VK3ANL a solid 59 signal. Next was Andrew VK7DW/p in VKFF-0005 for another P2P. Geoff VK3SQ and Linda VK7QP were solid contacts, as was Nik VK3NLK. I was then called by VK3BI. I thought that I recognised the voice, but the call threw me. It was Mick VK3GGG operating the Central Goldfields Amateur Radio Club station as part of the Club activation of the Maryborough Knitting Mill site for Mills On The Air. Mick encouraged all the amateurs at the event to work me, so I quickly had another 10 contacts in the log. I went back to 40 m and worked Helen VK7FOLK/p in VKFF-1840 with signals a little marginal – the distance between us and band conditions would have better suited 80 m, based on the signals from other VK7 stations. During all of this activity, we watched a couple of kangaroos emerge from the scrub, ducking under the fence and hopping out onto the grassed estate. About 10 minutes later they retraced their route back into the scrub.

Stations eventually dried up, so I started packing up at around 1610 local, continuing to chat with Stef, who was now convinced of the value of using 80 m during the day. We discussed antenna options for him and I also offered to assist if needed when he was in the Latrobe Valley at the end of the coming week. Stef departed at around 1650 and I was about to drive out of the reserve when I heard Eric VK7EV in VKFF-1810 under the electrical noise. I shut down the car and managed to complete the contact with Eric for one final P2P contact. Contact number 54 in the log….

It was then a simple matter of exiting the reserve, closing the gate and heading back to home, a trip of around 90 minutes.

Overall, a good day out with lots of face to face interactions with other amateurs, plus a new Park safely qualified for WWFF. As a bonus, I managed to work Stef in the reserve the next day!

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Another VKFF milestone – Murray River Parks Award

The VKFF Coordinator Paul VK5PAS has done a great job in creating a series of goals and awards for both Activators and Hunters for the Parks program in Australia. There are a series of Awards for Hunters and Activators from Bronze (10 references / Parks) up to Sapphire (75 references / Parks) and then there are the Honour Roll certificates, with steps of 25 references / Parks. There are several other Awards, with all the details available at the WWFF Australia website.

One of the Awards is the Murray River Parks Award for working designated Parks that are located close to the Murray River as it travels from near Mt Kosciusko down to the Coorong and Goolwa in South Australia. There a total of 43 qualifying Parks, but two of those on the list cannot currently be accessed by the public. That leaves 41 Parks as the top level of the Award at this time.

Several island Conservation Parks were activated by amateurs living in the Riverland area of South Australia on ANZAC Day 2018 – 25 April. I managed to chase all of the Parks activated. The last of the logs from those activations were uploaded to Logsearch today. When I checked my National Awards tally, I saw that I could apply for the top level of the Murray River Parks Award….. The system worked quickly and I soon had the certificate in the Inbox. Many thanks for your efforts with the program Paul! And a big thank you to all the Activators who made it possible.

VK3PF Murray River Hunter 41s

Murray River Parks Hunter Award for 41 Parks hunted

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A trio of new Parks in Bass Coast

Saturday was shaping up to be a pleasant autumn day in Gippsland, so I decided on Friday night to tackle a couple of Parks in South Gippsland and the Bass Coast. The plan was to activate two Parks which had not yet been activated.

Saturday 28 April 2018

I loaded the gear in the car and headed off, with the first stop to add some fuel to the tank. I then headed to Poowong in South Gippsland and on to head west on to Lang Lang Poowong Road (C434). About 6 km down the road you reach a small picnic area on the south side of the road – Henry Littledyke Reserve, also known as Nyora Flora and Fauna Reserve according to the sign at the interpretive shelter.

LittledykeSign1

Interpretive sign in the picnic area.

LittledykeSign2

Interpretive sign in the picnic area.

 

Nyora Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2169 Not previously activated

I arrived at the Park about 20 minutes prior to UTC rollover and set up the gear. I could see a Spot for Jono VK4ALE in VKFF-1665, so I tuned to his frequency. He was weak but I gave a couple of calls. Jono could not hear me. I tried turning up the transmit power and start to notice some RF breakthrough – something was odd with the set up. The antenna & feed showed a high SWR. I took the simple option: I dropped the 80/40/20/15/10 m link dipole and ran out the 40/20 m link dipole. It was after rollover by time I had the station reassembled.

NyoraNCR

The dam previously used to supply water for steam engines.

Gerard VK2IO was first in the log on 40 m, followed by a string of other callers. I had 31 in the log by 0100 but callers were now well spaced out. I tried 20 m for about 15 minutes with no callers. I saw another Spot for Jono and managed to make the P2P contact. I moved up to 7.144 and resumed calling. Contact number 44 came at 0142Z – thanks Allen.

I packed up the gear and headed west to Nyora and then around to the South Gippsland Highway and then the Bass Highway. Along the route I went past at least three other Parks. I stopped at Grantville to grab some food and then down to Bass and then west onto Bass Landing Road. The next Park is located at the end of the road.

Reef Island and Bass River Mouth Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2181
Not previously activated

Some of these newer Parks have names which are a mouthful! There were a number of vehicles parked in areas close to the Bass River. I found a spot and set up using one of the road boundary poles to support the squid pole. Other poles supported the ends of the lines holding out the antenna. I set up using the tailgate as the operating table.

First in the log was Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-1406. After a few contacts, I decided to move around to the side of the tailgate, hoping to enter some shade. As I rotated the IC-7000, it died inexplicably. I quickly pulled out the KX2 and plugged it into the antenna and battery. I ended up with 46 in the log, most of them on 40 m SSB. Three additional P2P contacts were made: Nick VK3ANL/p in VKFF-2225, Les VK5KLV/p in VKFF-2252 and the final contact, Warren VK3BYD/2 in VKFF-0056 on 30 m CW.

I started packing up and remembered to take a photo or 2 before I took down the antenna….

BassRiverMouth

Looking NW across the Park with French Island on the horizon.

I headed back to the Bass Highway and headed north. I was considering my options and decided to have a look at Grantville NCR. I looked at the VicRoads Directory before leaving Bass River mouth. Stanley Road appeared to be the most likely spot for access without starting up the laptop and looking at more detailed mapping. I was aware that the Park was there, having seen the Park on the navigation system as I was heading south.

Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2101 Not previously activated

This Park is located south of Grantville township and is easy to find. Looking back as I am preparing these notes, there are four obvious access points:

At the western end: adjacent to the Rifle Range. The Rifle Range is within the Park, so setting up in the car park would be an option.

On the south side of the entrance road to the sand quarry. You would need to be careful here, as only 60 m of the access road abuts the Park boundary. The satellite image on Google Earth suggests that there may be a vehicle track which may allow access into the Park.

Off June Street in the Adams Estate. Some maps show a vehicle track entering the Reserve.

Off Stanley Road. I used this option, managing to find a spot beyond the Adams Estate where I could park the car off the road and within the Park boundary.

I tossed a line over a tree branch and hauled up the antenna. I again set up at the rear of the vehicle. I was set up and ready to operate at around 0530. The usual area for Parks operations up around 7.144 was very busy, with many stations on the band. I dropped down to 7.120, which was clear, and spotted myself. First in the log was Gerard VK2IO. I then discovered that this was another first activation – a stroke of luck given that this was a “bonus” unplanned activation. Next was Warren VK3BYD/2 in VKFF-0056 who called me on SSB for another P2P. We also worked on CW for another P2P. Next was Greg VK2EXA, followed by Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-1406 for another P2P. Another 26 stations were worked on 40 m SSB. I tried 20 m, with no responses to my calls. I tuned around the band and worked Mike VK4XQM who was operating as part of the Military Radio Weekend. I tried 30 m next, with the KX2 tuner coping with the 40 m dipole….. I worked John VK4TJ on SSB and CW with his 3 callsigns. We then went to 40 m to work again on CW, and then to 80 m for three more CW contacts. Contact number 45 was Ian VK1DI on 80 m SSB at 0706Z. It was getting late and cool, so I decided to close the station, pack up and head for home.

The drive home was uneventful – about 90 minutes.

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A new VKFF certificate

I do enjoy chasing other Activators, regardless of their location: SOTA, WWFF reference or anywhere else. Given my simple antennas, most of my Chasing/Hunting is for Australian and New Zealand amateurs.

I must pass on my thanks to all the Activators out there – you are the ones doing the harder work. Yes, chasing can be a little hard at times depending on propagation and local noise, but the Activator does more work than those who chase.

Big thanks to Paul VK5PAS as VKFF coordinator and to the other members of the VKFF team, especially Mick VK3GGG.

Here is the latest certificate which arrived today.

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1050s

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Another trip to NE Victoria – 6

I had been in the NE for a week, plus I had an engagement in Melbourne on Friday evening, so it was time to head south east.

Friday 20 April 2018

After having said my farewells to family members, I was on the highway heading towards Melbourne by around 0930. My engagement was not until 1930, so I had plenty of time. I had committed to arriving mid to late afternoon at my host for the evening, so that needed to be considered in the mix.

I decided to activate a Park near Wandong, so simply headed south on the Hume Highway. As I was nearing the exit for Wandong, I decided that I might also attempt Mount Disappointment. I purchased some lunch in Wandong and then headed around to Disappointment Road. I reached Blair’s Hut picnic area and found the road ahead closed “due to roadworks”. As I only had time available for a quick activation, I decided against the short walk to the summit and returned back towards Wandong.

Wandong Regional Park VKFF-0979

Car is needed when activating many Parks to ensure that you are inside the Park boundaries. In this Park, some road reserves are excluded from the Park, so it is not as simple as setting up beside any track or road. I had previously considered using Radio Road as an activation site, but it had a locked gate at its start. I continued a little further and parked off Pattons Track.

Rob VK4AAC/2 was first in the log at 0240Z on 40 m. 30 minutes of operating yielded 17 contacts on 40 m, including a Park to Park with Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-1492. I tried listening for Mitch VK3XDM on Mt St Leonard, but could not hear him on either 2 m nor 40 m. We arranged to try 80 m and made the contact. I worked another 5 stations on 80 m before returning to 40 m for another 5 contacts. Calls on 20 m yielded no results. 28 contacts in the log for the activation, so this one will need to be revisited another day to reach WWFF tally requirements.

I packed up and headed back towards Melbourne, with heavy traffic on parts of the Western Ring Road. I safely arrived at my destination and had plenty of time to chat and enjoy dinner with my hosts. I then headed off to visit the Melbourne Electronics and Radio Club to talk about portable operations, including SOTA and Parks. That talk was well received and I hope that it encourages some of the members to try portable operating, perhaps even in a Park or on a SOTA summit.

 

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