Long Weekend National Park Trip – Part Two

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The road trip continues with a visit to an area made famous for all the wrong reasons, used as a hideout for 8 years by a fugitive wanted for murder & the scene of one of the largest manhunts in Australian history. Pictured above is Ellenborough Falls near Tapin Tops NP, a 200 meter drop. Photo taken in 2011.

Malcolm Naden survived by living off the land & by breaking into isolated farm houses, stealing food & clothing, even using the internet at some locations, an action that would be his undoing. Myself & a couple of friends had spent a lot of time in the area when he was on the loose, the Blue Knob Fire Tower where we used to go for the UHF/VHF contests is right in the middle of the area he was hiding in 2011 to 2013. We were always a bit nervous when camping there!.

The whole area is dense sub-tropical rainforest, near impenetrable, the first european explorers, John Oxley & his group were the first into this area in 1818, travelling east to what is now known as Port Macquarie on the coast. I can`t imagine the hardship they faced in the valleys before roads were made.

I awoke reasonably early on Saturday morning. The rain had continued steadily most of the night but had turned to light drizzle as I put the billy on & made a coffee. Al & the guys were on the Coral Coast early bird net so I dropped in to say g`day. The campground was pretty wet along with most of the camping gear.

I made a start on packing up to move onto the next park. The guys had the fire roaring by then, it was hard to leave the warmth but i strolled back to my vehicle and put out a few calls before packing up the antenna. Had 3 stations call back. It was then time to hit the road.

The next park was only 20 km away, the Oxley Hwy runs along its southern border. Cotton-Bimbang National Park, VKFF-116, forms part of the Gondwana Heritage area along the Great Divide, with some of the oldest rainforest on the planet, leftover from the time that all the major continents were joined as one.

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Fenwicks Road, Cotton-Bimbang NP

As I had activated this park last year, it did not take long to find a spot just off the highway to set up. This time i used just a 1/4 wave End-Fed wire as I was only going to be on air for an hour or so. I started calling on 7.144 MHz, the first station to respond was Lee, VK2LEE in Scone. A couple of calls later, Nick, VK3ANL/p gave me a contact from Gunbower NP, VKFF-740, another new park to park contact. Also had a contact with VK1NAM/p, Andrew working from SOTA summit VK2/ST-016. Ended with just 9 calls in the log after an hour. These were added to the log from my previous visit.

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They were:

VK2LEE – Lee, VK2EJW – Jock, VK3ANL/P – Nick, VK5EE – Tom, VK3OF – Peter, VK3DAC – Fred, VK2FCJZ – Ray,
VK1NAM/P – Andrew, VK3HRA – Allen.

I packed up the antenna, started up the navigation system (OziExplorer) & got set to head to the next park. Biriwal Bulga, VKFF-034 & would be a first time activation, I had been to the park but not where I had planned to do the activation from, so it would be a new location.

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After a short hop down the highway past Gingers Creek shop to the rest area where Knodingbul (pronounced Nodding Bull) Road headed south. About 10 km`s in on the dirt road the road was near impassable, State Forests had graded the road about a week before and the overnight rain had turned it to slop. Didn`t even get a chance to lock the hubs or even put the Patrol into 4WD, just had to keep driving and hope for the best.

The muddy road continued for around 10 km`s, I managed to keep it out of the table drains. The road passes Maxwells Flat campground, anyone in a two wheel drive vehicle would have a rough time getting out anytime soon, as if you had to stop, you probably would not get going again.

Biriwal Bulga

The entrance to the park was just 5 km`s further on, I stopped for a quick photo at the sign & then headed a short distance into the park & once again put up the End-Fed antenna. I had a scan around on 40 meters & found VK3ANL/p, Nick working from Terrick Terrick NP, VKFF-630 in Victoria. Great to see Nick out activating parks on the weekend as well. I then found Tony, VK3VTH working portable from VKFF-372, Murray River NP in South Australia, another new park to park contact.

I then started calling on 7.144 MHz. Jock, VK2EJW was first cab off the rank, he has become quite the park hunter lately, Iv`e logged him from a lot of parks over the last few months. A few more contacts then Peter, VK3PF/p also a keen hunter & activator called from VKFF-747,Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, followed by Paul, VK5PAS/p in Kenneth Stirling CP in South Australia, great to get you in the log Paul.

A total of 16 in the log from Biriwal Bulga NP:

VK3ANL/p – Nick, VK3VTH/5 – Tony, VK2EJW – Jock, VK2TAM – Andy, VK3PF/p – Peter, VK2YK – Adam, VK2BTL – Tony, VK2NNN – Darren, VK3DAC – Fred, VK4FAAT – Tony, VK1DI – Ian, VK2LEE – Lee, VK2IO – Gerard, VK3CRG – Graig, VK4FFAB – Rob.

Thanks to all who called in.

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Road junction, Tapin Tops NP

The next park would be Tapin Tops NP, VKFF-477, only a short drive south. I had planned to take some of the back roads, I did go down one for about 15 km, it was steady going but I had a few hours to fill in & wanted to take a few photos as the light rain had finally stopped. After a lunch break next to a small mountain stream I headed of to my overnight stay.

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tapin tops

Arriving around 4pm I had a look around the campsite, I have passed by there before but had not really had a good look. The campground is located at a main road junction and was once a Sawmilling site, some of the old machinery is on display. As this would be an overnighter, I decided to put up both the G5RV & the the new Spring Loaded Linked Dipole as I was keen to get on as many bands as possible, I especially wanted a resonant antenna on 15 meters as I wanted to get some DX (overseas contacts) in the log.

I turned the Icom IC-700 on & had a listen around on the 15 meter band. Several DX stations could be heard, one very strong station from Hawaii, AH6WX – Vic, talking to Brandon, VK4FABB. I listened to them for a while & then started calling on 21.244 MHz. After ten minutes or so I was about to give up when Vic came back to my call. He was a very strong 59 signal, we had a QSO (conversation) for about 20 minutes before signing. Great to finally work a bit of DX from a park on 15 meters, something hard to do with only 10 watts of power.Nothing else was heard on 15 meters so I moved to the 40 meter band & put out some calls on 7.144 MHz. Around an hour or so later had 19 stations in the log.

On 15 meters:

AH6WX – Vic

On 40 meters:

VK4VXX/p – Greg, VK3OF – Rex, VK2XUP – John, VK4FAAS – Colin, VK2FQSL – Glen, VK3FQSO – Amanda, VK3AWG – Chris, VK3DAC – Fred, VK4FAAT – Tony, VK3PF/p – Peter, VK3ETC/p – Ethan, VK5FLEX – Peter, VK3FPSR – Peter, VK5FANA – Adrian, VK3HRA – Allen, VK3VT – Greg, VK4FBMW – Adrian, VK3ARR – Andrew.

I was feeling a bit fatigued by then, the long winding mountain roads taking their toll & the last hot meal had been the night before. I cooked some toast & cracked open a tin of Baked Beans for dinner & then hit the swag for the night, all the wood was wet so no warm fire to sit around.

The next day would include a long drive to the next park near Gloucester, then onto another two parks before camping overnight. It looked to be an easy sort of day, but sometimes things transpire to throw you of the track……..

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Continued in Part 3

Part 1

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4 thoughts on “Long Weekend National Park Trip – Part Two

  1. Hi…planning to go to dingo tops and want to ask if the campsite is at junction of knodingbul rd and dingo tops rd? As a little confused whether it is there or kerricki rd turnoff from dingo tops rd.
    Dont plan to take any radios with 😦
    Many thanks
    Regards and 73
    Nathan vk2nth

    • Hi Nathan, Dingo tops is right on the 3 way intersection of Knodingbul, Dingo Tops & Kerricki Rd, can`t miss it. Great lookout 12 km north from Dingo Tops on Knodingbul Rd, Blue Knob fire tower ( my old UHF/VHF contest site), 360 degree views back to the coast.
      Sorry for the late reply.
      Cheers, Doug

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