Easter Long Weekend Trip Part Three

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Jacky Barker`s Hut, Nowendoc NP, NSW

Daylight saving…….don`t mind it, its the change back to normal time that I don’t like. I slept in on Sunday morning & the change back to normal time made me late as well, throwing out my internal clock. I now had less daylight in the evening, so it was a bit of a scramble to get camp packed up for the days travelling.

As a result I did not get a chance to get on the air on Sunday morning, instead I had a long winding drive to make to the next park south of Gloucester. Got away around 9 am, the overnight rain had turned to light drizzle. I headed down Knodingbul Rd, the condition of the roads had improved, not so slippery this morning.

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Looking back to where Ive been

I settled in for the drive, following the navigation system as it led me through the forest. 60 odd km along I came to the intersection I was looking for, hoping to turn right, but found that the road was closed, a bridge had been washed away years ago & not replaced. So it was either return the way I had come or continue south. I chose to continue, meaning I would have to drive right to Gloucester then head west to the park. This added over 100 km to the trip, putting me further behind schedule.

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Overlooking Gloucester, NSW

Around midday I finally reached a sealed road, a small rest area overlooking Gloucester came into view, so I stopped for an early lunch. Headed northwest after that, it was only about 40 km to Woko National Park, VKFF-542 from there. The drive up to the park was spectacular, soaring cliff faces and rugged mountain ranges came into view as I travelled along the rough dirt road.

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Woko NP in the distance

I arrived at the park to find it absolutely packed, the campground is very narrow, just a flat strip of ground along the Avon River. I drove around for a while before finding a management trail that I could use & quickly found a spot to put up an antenna.

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The End-Fed Sloper was used again, quick & easy to put up, I then started calling on 7.144 MHz. I managed to work 10 stations in quick succession, just enough to qualify the park.

Those stations were:

VK2WGW – Glen, VK3OF – Rex, VK3PF – Peter, VK3CRG – Craig, VK2YK – Adam, VK2IO – Gerard, VK3CAB – Tony, VK5IS – Ian, VK2LEE – Lee & VK2XAM/qrp – Max.

I had planned to activate another park nearby, but as I was running behind I decided to head for my overnight stay in Nowendoc National Park, VKFF-395, around 50 km away, so I packed up & set off. Back on the sealed road, Thunderbolts Way, which runs from Gloucester via the small village of Nowendoc to Walcha.The plan was to drive to a campsite I had only found out about several days before, the Jacky Barker camp in the southern part of the park.

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I would never have found the turnoff without the navigation system, no signs on the main road. Turning left I found the sign for the park just inside the gate, 5km, 4WD ONLY. I started down the track which soon became very steep & slippery. Thinking better of it, I put the Patrol into 4WD & set off. I`ll tell you, it was one of the steepest tracks I’ve ever been down, narrow with a lot of switchbacks, slippery as well. Took around 20 minutes to travel the 5 km`s.

Made it safely to the valley floor only to find the campsite packed with 4WDs. I had a look around, there was a rustic old cabin there, must have been Jacky Barker`s hut, I rolled of a few shots on the camera & had a bit of a stroll around the small creek, finding a rather large carpet Python curled up on a log across the water, getting a bit of warmth from the sun which had finally broken through.

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As the camp was pretty full, I decided to head further north, following a National Parks Ranger back up the hill, just in case I got into trouble. The climb out was better than the decent, the fear of sliding of the track on the way up not so bad, it actually only took half the time on the accent. Joining the highway again it was around 40 km to the top of the park.

I arrived about an hour before dark, finding a clearing just of Wild Cattle Creek Rd, no official campsite, just a clearing in the middle of the forest. I got to work erecting the 15/40 meter inverted V & started calling on the 15 meter band, getting Colin, VK4FAAS, in the log before heading down to 7.144 MHz.

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My spot in Nowendoc NP for the night.

First contact on 40 meters was Rex, VK3OF. I had Rex call into 6 of the 8 parks I worked from, thanks for being there. Next was Adam, VK2YK, another regular contact on the weekend, along with Rob, VK4FFAB working portable from a national park in Queensland.

I managed to work 15 stations that evening before retiring for the night, they were:

On 15 meters Sunday

VK4FAAS – Colin

On 40 meters Sunday

VK3OF – Rex, VK2YK – Adam, VK3FQSO – Amanda, VK4FFAB – Rob, VK5PAS – Paul, VK5FANA – Adrian, VK3HRA – Allen, VK2IO – Gerard, VK2XAM/QRP – Max, VK3PF – Peter, VK4RF – Rick, VK4LT – Noel, VK4NL – Noel, VK2BOZ/P – Cris.

I heated up some stew & made a coffee before turning in, fog had rolled in by then, the crisp mountain air at an altitude of 1300 meters made falling asleep pretty easy.

Awoke pretty early to a bright sunny day, just a light mist on the mountain tops. The usual ritual, put the billy on, made coffee & turned the transceiver on to find the Coral Coast Net in full swing. After checking in I had a scroll through the band & had contacts with a few stations before moving to 15 meters, finding VK7FRJG, Rod in Tasmania with a strong signal. After that contact it was time to head to the final park for the weekend.

Stations worked on Monday morning:

40 Meters

VK4FALL – Al, VK2FPRA – Peter, VK2LES – Les, VK2NJP – John, VK2KWM – Wayne, VK2EJW – Jock, VK2SB – Angus, & VK1DA/P – Andrew.

I found a couple of stations working from SOTA summit VK4/SE-011 in Queensland, ZS5AYC/4 – Sid, & Adele, ZS5APT/4, visitors to Australia from South Africa. Great to see some international ham operators putting out some calls while on there travels here. I have worked Sid & Adele several times over the past few weeks, great to hear they are having a good trip.

15 Meters

VK7FRJG – Rod

A total of 23 stations worked.

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Yes the sign says 75 km of winding road!

Barakee National Park, VKFF-013 was just across the valley, a pretty easy drive. Not much to see in the park, just the one road through the centre which has a locked gate at the other end. I found a spot along the road and erected the 15/40 inverted V & called on 7.144 MHz.

Stations worked on 40 meters:

VK3OHM/P – Mark, VK2EJW – Jock, VK3PF – Peter, VK2CCJ – Cliff, VK4FFAB – Rob, VK3OF – Rex, VK2IO – Gerard, VK3MTB – ?, VK2BOZ/M – Cris, VK4FBMW – Adrian, VK2KJJ – Yanni, VK2FSMI – Brenda.

On 15 meters:

VK5PAS – Paul

Fittingly, Paul was the last contact for the weekend, great to get you in the log on a different band to usual, thanks to Rob, VK4FFAB for arranging the contact. Thanks to the 13 contacts, enough to qualify the park.

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Had to stop here for a photo!

I wont bore you with the details of the trip home, just to say I got a second wind & was going to do one more park on the way home at Warrabah NP on the Namoi River near home, but the weather intervened with severe storms rolling in, so I continued home with a stop just outside town for some lightning photos.

Thanks to all the contacts over the weekend, especially Nick, VKANL/p, who was also out activating parks in Victoria over the weekend. I worked Nick from 4 different parks, great effort Nick. Also have to thank Fred, VK3DAC for 5 contacts, Lee, VK2LEE for 5 contacts, Jock, VK2EJW for 6 contacts from 8 parks, great to have you out there Jock.

The standout for the weekend was Peter, VK3PF. I had 4 park to park contacts with Peter as well as another 2 from his QTH for a total of 6 contacts for the weekend, thanks for the new parks Peter.

Just a quick summary to finish off. I visited 8 out of the 9 parks planned, added to the contacts already made from 3, qualified the remaining 5. I had 145 contacts & travelled 784 kilometers. I have travelled extensively in the area over the last couple of years, if you are looking for destination for you next 4WD trip I highly recommend the area. The area between Barrington Tops & the Queensland border along the spine of the Great Divide is one of the most heavily forested areas in Australia, with old growth Rainforest still to be found in the Werrikimbe area, part of the heritage listed Gondwana Parks.

That will be my last multi park run for this season, I still have a couple of parks near home to activate over winter. I have activated just about all the parks in a 300 km radius from home for a total of 28 parks in just over 12 months. We really need to get some more activators out in VK2, I have only worked 2 other park activators in NSW & would like to get some more in my chaser log.

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Thats it for now, stay safe & I hope to catch you on the air soon. Just one more thank you to my travelling companion, my Nissan Patrol. The old girl is my transport, kitchen, sleeping quarters & my radio shack all in one, she just keeps plugging along with no complaints day in day out, a must when travelling in some of these rugged areas of Australia.

73`s & 44`s.

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