Long Weekend National Park Trip – Part One
Easter long weekend, a trip to parts of the Gondwana World Heritage listed area along the Great Divide on the east coast of Australia. Lush rainforest, towering waterfalls & diverse National Parks. I will be doing several posts over the coming days. Nine National Parks visited over 4 days and over 750 km`s travelled.
Up early Friday morning, well before sunrise. The Nissan patrol was already packed for the trip, so I made a coffee and headed off for the weekends activations. The first stop was at Bendemeer, at a park by the Macdonald River for another coffee. It had taken around 2 hours driving on the back roads, so it was a welcomed break.
The next leg of the trip would be the climb up the Great Divide to Walcha, then another 40 km to Tia Falls in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, VKFF-406. The photo below shows the falls after heavy rain around this time last year. The image is deceiving as to the scale, the photo was taken from 800 meters away across the valley. The drop is around 250 meters for both falls.
As this was to be a short visit, I put up a 1/4 wave End Fed antenna for 40 meters & started calling at around 3:00 pm. The weather was closing in, light rain had started to fall. After putting out a few calls, I started to get a few contacts in the log.
Amongst these was VK3ANL/p, Nick, working portable in Barmah NP, VKFF-739, followed by VK3PMG/p in VKFF-760, Langi Ghiran State Park & VK5HDW/p in Little Dip NP, VKFF-739 & VK3PF/p, Peter in Shallow Inlet Coastal Park, VKFF-749. Good to get 4 new park to park contacts in the log on the first stop.
The 13 stations worked from VKFF-406 were:
VK2QM – Gary, VK2CP – Jess, VK2EJW – Jock, VK3DAC – Fred, VK3ANL/p – Nick, VK3PMG/p – Mick, VK5HDW/p – David, VK4SC – Stew, VK2EJH – Eric, VK3PF/p – Peter, VK2LX – Grant, VK2IO – Gerard, VK1MA – Matt.
The next park would be an overnight stay at New Country Swamp campground in Mummel Gulf National Park, VKFF-368. The park is only a short drive from Tia Falls along the Oxley Highway. I decided to take the Panhandle Road which winds it`s way up to Porters Camp at 1450 meters above sea level. There are several telecommunication towers & an Air Navigation facility at the top which were covered in mist. It was then down the other side to the campground.
Above: Entrance to the park, Panhandle Road & at the summit at Porters Camp, 1420 meters ASL
Mummel Gulf is a steep gorge between the mountain ranges, dropping some 800 meters to the valley floor. The area is heavily forested, with tall timber, Bracken Fern & Tree Ferns covering the steep hillsides. New Country Swamp was once a sawmilling site in the early 1900`s, the swamp was dammed to supply water for the steam powered mill.
A few friends were there for the weekend, the boys were doing some trailrides in the area, so it was good to catch up with them, especially as Brenda was cooking dinner for us that night using a new camp oven. Light rain had been falling all afternoon, the hot meal of whole roasted chickens & veggies very welcomed, thanks Brenda!.
After the meal I put up the new Spring Loaded Linked Dipole for 15 & 40 meters. I was keen to see how it it would work. the rain started falling a bit heavier & I soon found I had a problem with water getting into the feedpoint on the antenna, a quick spray with WD-40 & the problem was fixed. I will need to make a few modifications to prevent this happening again.
Back on the air and the first contact was with Peter, VK3PF, portable in Cape Liptrap NP, VKFF-745 on 40 meters, another new park to park contact. I put up a spot on parksnpeaks & started calling and soon had the contacts steadily rolling in.
Stations worked on Friday night:
VK3PF/p – Peter, VK4WJW – Bill, VK2XE – Greg, VK2QM – Garry, VK2EJW – Jock, VK4FFAB – Rob, VK2FALL – All, VK2YK – Adam, VK2LEE – Lee, VK5FANA – Adrian, VK3OHM – Mark, VK5PAS – Paul, VK3DAC – Fred, VK4YB – Rodger, VK3OB – Rex, VK5EE – Tom, VK3HRA – Allen, VK2POP – Greg
On Saturday morning:
VK4FALL – John, VK5IS – Ian, VK3FPBI – Allan
Thank you to the 21 stations that called in on the 40 meter band. I had made a few calls on 15 meters with no contacts on Friday evening, but this was when I had the feedline problem so the signal out was probably not very strong. The new linked dipole had performed well when I had cleared the water from the feed point, so I was pretty happy with the signal reports received as the antenna was only 7 meters high at the feedpoint.
I retired for the night at 10:30 pm, the rain had set in for the night. The next day I would be visiting Cotton Bimbang, Biriwal Bulga and an overnight stay at Tapin Tops National park. The only question was if I would still be able to access these parks due to the rain as there was some steep terrain and a few creek crossings to negotiate.
I had activated the parks that I visited on Friday before, one more on Saturday morning and then all new parks. I had not visited these parks before, let alone worked portable from them, it would be an interesting next couple of days.
Continued in Part Two.