National Park Road Trip, Cyclones & the Angry Roo Part 2
The National Park road trip continues with a visit to the highlight of the trip, Kwiambal National Park.
After leaving Kings Plains NP, it was only a short drive to Nullamanna National Park ( VKFF-602)
The park covers an area of only 296 hectares and was placed under the control of NSW National Parks in 2005. I arrived at 10:30am, plenty of time to get set up.
Once again there was no vehicle access into the park, so I took the Icom IC-7000 out of the 4WD. This is a pretty easy operation, four screws, unplugged a couple of leads, remove the head unit from the dash of the Patrol, which is held on by Velcro. It’s then a matter of placing the radio, wire dipole antenna, a 20 meter length of Coax cable, a couple of light ropes & and the two motorcycle Gel Cell batteries into the backpack along with a drink and some food. The backpack has a built-in seat.
I found a large tree just inside the park boundary, using a lead weight on the end of a rope, thrown over a limb to pull the antenna up, tying the ends to small trees in an inverted V configuration.
Started calling right on 11:00am, with Nick, VK3ANL working portable from Greater Bendigo NP in Victoria. Logged Nick as another park to park contact, a new park for me. Rob was next on the list & he did his usual spot on Parks & Peaks for me. Did not take long to get 13 contacts into the log.
Finished calling at 12:00 pm, had a quick bite to eat & headed off to my overnight stay at Kwiambal National Park (VKFF-274), a little over 100 km away.
Kwiambal National Park ( pronounced Kigh-am-bal) is located 40 km north of the village of Ashford, NSW and about the same distance south from Texas on the border of NSW & QLD. It is on the junction of the Macintyre & Severn Rivers, in the Granite belt. Huge balancing boulders & deep rock pools are a feature of the park, along with Macintyre Falls. The park is named after the indigenous people of the area.
Park entrance, Rock Pool, Aboriginal Scar tree.
Found a nice location at Kookabita campground next to a large waterhole on the Severn River amongst the very large River Gums. I had the entire campground to myself. There were plenty of sites with picnic tables, sheltered area, toilets and water.
I found a large Gum tree and set to erecting the G5RV multiband antenna. I managed to get it up at 40 feet, hanging as an inverted V next to the river. Set up camp and turned on the transceiver. Found Tony, VK3VTH working portable from Yarra Ranges NP in Victoria & had a contact park to park.
I wasn’t planning to start calling until later that evening, but decided to put out some calls anyway getting a few early contacts in the log. Found a station calling on 7.125 MHz on AM, VK2FPQ, Graeme & had a QSO ( conversation) with him before a friend, Cris, VK2BOZ came on the frequency. We had a bit of a chat, taking another caller as well, VK2WJD, Lindsey, who was in Cris`s shack, getting some gear organised for the John Moyle contest in a few weeks time. We will be contesting from Coolah Tops under Cris`s callsign.
It was getting on to 6:00pm, the time I had planned on starting so I put out a few calls and sure enough, there was Rob, VK4FFAB. He put up a spot and I was pretty busy for the next hour or so, taking calls from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland & also a call from VK8GM, Greg in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. Don’t often get a chance to work into VK8, so it was good to get him in the log.
Also logged Peter, VK3PF, calling from Mornington Peninsula NP in Victoria. We exchanged signal reports, another park to park contact.
Had a short break at around 8:00 pm, had a meal & a coffee. I grabbed the camera as a few Grey Kangaroo’s had started to gather on the edge of the campground. Most were female and a good number of them had Joey’s in the pouch.
I slowly walked up to the gathering, taking a few snaps. There was one female that seemed comfortable with me approaching, most of the others had moved away. She had a Joey in the pouch who was feeding on the grass as mum bent over to feed.
As I walked past a very large fallen tree, a large buck kangaroo stood up with a start, let out a loud cough (used as a warning to other roos ) & propped himself up on his tail and rear legs & gave me a very serious once over. He stood at around 6 feet tall & wasn’t too afraid of me!. He took a few hops towards me, I started to back away, as you would.
I don`t think he liked me getting so close to his “Jennys”, so I just turned around a started walking away. I then heard a few loud stomps, had look over my shoulder and he was coming towards me but stopped when I turned. He seemed pretty content that he was the top dog, giving me the eye!
I headed back to camp after that and put a few more calls out & getting 35 calls in the log for the evening. Turned off the rig at 10:00pm, had a feed and hit the swag.
Up early Sunday morning, put the Billy on and turned on the radio, the first station I heard was VK3SIG, Don in Bendigo, trying to call into the Coral Coast Net on 7.060 MHz. I relayed a message to Joe in Bundaberg, QLD. I then scanned around the band & found EA3JE, Lou calling from Spain. We exchanged signal reports and I returned to the net frequency and contacted Jeff, VK4HDU, who had been right in the path of Cyclone Marie on Friday.
All was well with him, not too much damage at his place, but there was no power or phone service. It is at times like this, when a natural disaster takes place that Amateur Radio takes over as the main way to make contact into those areas.
Logged a few more calls, for a total of 49 contacts for that park. Packed up camp, took down the antenna, and started out on the home run.
Emus in the park & the entrance to Limestone Caves
Decided to check out the rest of the park before leaving, visiting Lemon Tree Flat campground and the Macintyre River Falls, which were not flowing at the time. The last stop was Limestone Caves, near the park entrance. The caves were mined for Guano ( Bat droppings used for fertiliser ) in the early 1930`s to 1960. The cave is home to Bentwing & Eastern Horseshoe Bats as well as a few Fairy Martins, who build their mud nests on the roof of the cave.
After a quick look inside the cave & watching the bats for a while, it was time to head to the next stop, Gunyerwarildi National Park VKFF-592
The park was created in 2005 and covers an area of 316 hectares. The park is just a piece of remnant Cypress Forest, no features in the park, just trees. Once again there was no vehicle access into the park, so it was over the gate and I set the station up as before, under a nice shady tree as it had become quite warm.
Logged 14 stations in the hour I was there before moving on to Bullala NP VKFF- 580, which took me a little longer to access than planned.
I thought it would only be a short drive to this park, but I could not get close from the northern access as planned. The road through the park had been closed several kilometres from the boundary. Looking on the maps I found where the road emerged on the southern side of the park.
This took me about an hour, putting the schedule behind. I finally found access, there was a road leading through the park to some farms on the western side. I pulled over near a clearing and set up the station once more. Bullala is similar to the previous park, a left over from the State Forest days. It was taken over in 2005 and covers 2516 hectares.
It was just passed 4:00 pm when I started calling. Rob must have been monitoring 7.144 Mhz, as he came straight back. Band conditions had been good all day, I logged calls from high up in Queensland to the bottom of Victoria, even heard a station from Western Australia, but could not make the contact at that time of day.
Logged a total of 17 calls in just over an hour. Once again packed up & headed south to the last park for the weekend. I did not know if I would activate this park as I was pretty worn out by then. I got to the turnoff to the park which is midway between Warialda and Bingara and decided to activate it as band conditions had been good.
It was around 6:30 pm when I got to Warialda National Park VKFF-613, access was good, a dirt road leads through the park to some farms, so it was a simple setup, wire dipole for 40 meters, inverted V under a large tree, connect the feedline to the radio, job done.
Rob, VK4FFAB, was already on 7.144 Mhz when I turned on the radio. He had decided to head up to the Glass House Mountains National Park VKFF-200 for an activation. Rob was having a QSO with another station so waited for them to break and then gave him a call, getting another park to park contact.
He let me keep the frequency, as he was heading home, so I put out a few calls. Ended up working 17 stations in an hour or so. By then I was keen to get home, a hot shower, coffee & a decent meal. I took me just over an hour to reach home from that park.
Thanks to all that contacted me over the three days. 7 of the 8 parks qualified for VKFF & 2 parks for WWFF. Many stations called multiple times, it was good to have so many hunters out there. Thats 18 park activations for me now, I think I`ll have a break for a few weeks until the John Moyle contest next month. I will be portable in Coolah Tops National Park on the Friday night before the contest & may activate another park on the way home, thats if I have a voice left after the contest.
Cheers & 73`s