Easter 2016 Road Trip Days 3 & 4

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Sunrise from our camp at Belmore Lagoon near Crescent Head

Day Three, Sunday 27th March 2016 – Hat Head National Park to Thora via Taylor’s Arm & The Pub with no Beer, Jacob’s Ladder & Mt Killiekranke.

Sunrise over Belmore Lagoon was spectacular on Sunday morning, a good sign I hoped for the day to come. We packed up the Rooftop Campers, had some brekkie & headed back to Kempsey to get some fuel. The days plan was to head to The Pub With No Beer at Taylor’s Arm, via Collombatti. Heading out the Armidale – Kempsey Rd, turning right at Frederickton Rd (31.03.528S 152.48.086E) & then left onto Chain of Ponds Rd (31.01.433S 152.48.574E) for 10 km, then left onto the Collombatti Rd. 8 km further on the road veered to the left at an intersection with a little used track. (30.54.504S 152.44.443E)

At the time the track I was following seemed to be the one that had the most use but the pre-planned route on the GPS had turned right. Unsure which way to go, we followed the more used road. If I had of had a more detailed map up on the GPS I would have seen that the unused track lead to Taylor’s Arm Rd, the one we should be on.

The track we followed for around 2.5 km, slowly became steep, winding & narrow. I called Cris on the radio & asked him to hang back a bit & I kept going. The track became very rutted & steep rather quickly but I pressed on. In hindsight I should have stopped then, but it would have been impossible to turn around or reverse back, so I just had to put the foot down & hope for the best.

I don’t know how I made it to the top, the washout had become pretty deep, with large rocks & tree roots sticking out everywhere. One tree root stepped straight up about 400 millimetres on the right hand side at the top of a steep grade. After a lot of hard knocks & been thrown around inside the cab I finally emerged onto a clearing with a Trig station. This turned out to be Collombatti Lookout (30.52.465S 152.42.891E)

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Collombatti Trig Lookout

I radioed Cris & advised him how bad the last 100 meters or so the track was, telling him it wasn’t worth possibly damaging his vehicle, but leaving the final decision to him. At that time a couple of dirt bikes came passed Cris, so he asked how to get onto Taylor’s Arm Rd . With directions he headed off, I would continue down what turned out to be a lot better road than the way in, joining back onto Taylor’s Arm Rd at the junction with Greenhills Rd (30.51.979S 152.44.065E) after about 3 km. Here I waited for Cris & Brenda, who turned up 10 minutes later.

Back on track again after that little adventure, it took a while for the adrenaline rush to subside. We followed Greenhills Rd for 15 km till the road became a different Taylor’s Arm Rd (30.48.316S 152.42.290E). This one runs from Macksville out to Taylor’s Arm, just to confuse things. The Pub With No Beer was just 9 km away, it was nearing midday, so we were back on schedule.

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The Pub With No Beer – Taylor`s Arm

They had a band & bistro planned at the pub, so there was a lot of the locals already gathered there when we arrived. We were lucky to get a park right in front of the large sign outside the pub, just the right spot for photo with the vehicles in the frame.

This old pub is famous for being in the song of the same name by country music singer, Slim Dusty back in the 1970`s. He grew up not far from there at Nulla Nulla. A lot of history connected with the building, the walls lined with old images of the timber cutters with huge logs on drays dragged by bullocks & pieces of hardware from the era. I don’t drink beer, but I decided to have one seeing as it is such an iconic location & I think I needed one to settle the nerves for the next difficult section of track………….Jacob’s Ladder.

We didn’t stay for a meal, the queue was rather long & we still had a long way to go to the nights campsite. Heading east on Taylor’s Arm Rd, we turned left onto Kosekai Rd (30.43.682S 152.46.834E) for the climb up to Kosekai Lookout in Dunggir National Park. We’ve learned that the roads in this area get very steep very quickly. The pub was only 38 meters ASL, the lookout was at 840 meters ASL, a pretty steep climb in just over 20 km. After climbing up for around 10 km, constantly changing from 3rd back to 2nd over & over my engine temps started to rise.

I called Cris on the radio, he was a kilometre or so ahead of me to tell him my temps were going up with no downhill sections to cool of. He came back to say that he was getting a bit sick & tired of the narrow winding roads & was feeling a bit of vertigo with the steep drops beside the track. We made the call to turn around at that point, stopping on a rare flat area to have some lunch and talk about the rest of the trip.

We did not have a campsite organised for that night anyway, so we needed to find one. This was around 2:00 pm. I new of a free camping area on the Nambucca River just outside Macksville, so we headed there in the hope that it wasn’t full of holiday campers. Should have known better, it was absolutely packed when we arrived around 3:00 pm. The next option was Roses Park at Thora, about 15 km west of Bellingen on the Waterfall Way.

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Camp at Rose’s Park

So we joined the holiday traffic heading north along the Pacific Highway, turned onto Waterfall Way & arrived at Roses Park (30.25.573S 152.46.787E) on the Bellinger River around 4:30 pm. We were surprised to find only several campers & a motor home there. We set up camp just in time, the park soon filling up with other travellers. After dinner & a few drinks, we crashed for the night.

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The Bellinger River just below our camp

Although we did not get to check out Jacob’s Ladder, Kosekai or Killiekranke lookouts, we were pretty content with the day’s travel. We had done just 212 km for the day, but the constantly winding roads made it feel a lot longer. So far we had travelled 792 km on the trip over some pretty rough & steep terrain & we were feeling a bit fatigued.

Day Four, Monday 28th March 2016 – Thora to Home via Dorrigo, New England & Cunnawarra National Parks, Point Lookout, Styx River Forest & Armidale.

We were up before sunrise, had breakfast & packed up camp by 8:00 am. The weather was clear, a nice sunny day. Most of Monday’s travel would be on the highway, a nice easy drive. We headed west up the Waterfall Way to Dorrigo National Park & the Rainforest Centre there. I had driven past many times, so we took the opportunity to stop & check out a waterfall in the rainforest. It took us nearly an hour to hike down the track to the falls but it was well worth it.

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Crystal Falls – Dorrigo National park

Crystal Falls drops 10 meters down an escarpment through the rainforest, you can get a great view from the suspension bridge or walk along the track a bit further to actually walk behind the waterfall. After taking a few photos we headed back up to the car park. The next stop would be Point Lookout in the New England National Park, east of Armidale. The lookout is 1562 meters ASL & overlooks the mountains & valleys we had just travelled through over the last three days.

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The view from Point Lookout – New England National Park – 1562 meters AsL

After lunch at the lookout we headed south on Styx River Rd to Beech Lookout (30.31.157S 152.21.245E) that looks east over the ranges back towards Mary’s View & the Carrai Plateau. Then it was 25 km along Styx River Rd to the Kempsey – Armidale Rd (30.37.224S 152.11.261E ) heading east for 20 km, rejoining the Waterfall Way then on to Armidale, arriving there around 3:00 pm. This is were I left my travelling companions, Cris & Brenda who were heading south & I had to continue west for another 130 km to home.

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Beech Lookout

Reaching home around 5:00 pm, the trip meter had just clicked over 1100 km. The Patrol had performed well apart from getting warm on several of the hill climbs. Fuel consumption had averaged out at around 11.5 litres per 100 km`s, pretty happy with that with the weight of the Roof-topper, Fridge, extra fuel, water & other gear.

All up a great trip with good company. Even though we did not do all of the planned trip it was still a very enjoyable four days. Weather was great, little rain, plenty of blue sky. The dust was the only complaint, It will take days to clean the Patrol & the other gear. Also happy that neither of us had any problems with the vehicles, both still going strong at the end of the trip.

I will have go back & have a look at the area around Kosekai Lookout, Jacobs Ladder & Mt Killiekrankie another day. The only setback was not being able to get to the Blowhole. After all the attempts to get to this location it seems that it was not meant to be.

After making it up that last section of track to Collombatti Lookout, I have gained a lot more respect for what my Patrol can do, but also learned that it would be advisable to walk an unknown track before attempting it. Getting stuck in an area like that would not be good, or worse still, breaking something & not being able to make it home.

Maybe I will invest in that winch after all……………………

Thanks for dropping by………see you on a track somewhere

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Easter 2016 Road Trip Day 2

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Sunrise from Mary`s View, Saturday morning

 

Day Two, Saturday 27th March 2016 – Mary’s View to The Blowhole via Carrai State Forest & Boonanghi State Forest.

I got up before sunrise on Saturday morning, grabbed the camera & walked up to the lookout to capture the sunrise. The weather was mild, just a little cloud to the east & no sign of rain. After taking a few snaps of the mist hanging over the mountains I headed back to camp for breakfast & to pack up camp.

Saturday would only involve around 100 km of travelling, plenty of time to have a look around. The Carrai Plateau was once the traditional home of Thunggutti people & has several sacred & ceremonial sites. I had heard about an area that had been used as a ceremonial Bora Ring, for sacred initiations. I had seen a photograph of the site on Google Earth & managed to get the GPS co-ordinates. Checking the maps, several roads could be seen near the site.

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Looking down into the Macleay Valley 800 meters below Mary`s View

We headed off about 8:00 am back down Warrick Rd to Carrai Rd. There was a loop road around the plateau marked on the maps so we went for a drive to check it out. We found a trail that looked like a shortcut but it lead to a locked gate several kilometres in. Back onto Carrai Rd heading north we came to a gate onto private property so we turned around & headed back to Daisy Plains huts.

Turning north onto Mines Rd at the huts, we headed for the Bora site. Unfortunately we had to stop at Felters Creek, as there were bollards across the road. There were supposed to be some old mines just passed the creek, so we walked a little way but only saw a few pieces of old machinery. To get to the Bora ground would be a good 5 km hike so we headed back to the vehicles & back to the huts.

Heading the 20 km south back along Carrai Rd to Kookaburra (31.01.418S 152.20.303E) we headed northeast along a winding road through the tall timber, stopping at McCoy’s Lookout (31.01.133S 152.20.512E) for an early lunch. The road from here descends from around 950 meters into the Macleay Valley, joining the Willi Willi Rd (30.55.813S 152.27.630) at 138 meters above sea level after 22 km.

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The view from McCoy`s Lookout

Turning right onto Willi Willi Rd we travelled 32 km through open farm country along the Macleay River to the junction with the Dungay Creek Road (31.04.184S 152.41.965E) turning right continuing on for 5.5 km to Boonanghi Forest Road (31.04.184S 152.41.965S). After turning right, we headed into the forest to find our campsite at the Blowhole. It was around 2:00 pm by this time & we were looking forward to a relaxing afternoon around camp. Things don’t always go to plan it seems.

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Entering the farmland of the Macleay Valley

After following Boonanghi Forest Rd for 8 km, we came to our first obstacle, an old log bridge had collapsed (31.04.192S 152.36.738E) barring our way. With no other way ahead we backtracked a couple of kilometres to another track heading south then north towards our planned camp. This track ended at a locked gate at the forest boundary. Turning around we went back to a track heading north to another road along a ridgeline that would take us towards the Blowhole. This unnamed track (31.04.081S 152.37.052E) was only 1200 meters long but climbed 350 meters in height with some very steep sections, 2nd gear low range was needed & took 10 minutes to climb.

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Unnamed Trail – Boonanghi State Forest

I went up first & then gave Cris & Brenda a call on the two way to come on up. We had joined Kullatine Rd (31.03.082S 152.37.301) along the ridgeline that wound it’s way along a narrow road using second & third in low range with steep drop offs either side & contours across the track. We reached Boonanghi Trig (31.02.531S 152.34.412E) at 649 meters ASL after around 8 km & decided to stop to consider our options as there were not many turn around points along the track.

It was around 4:00 pm when we had checked the maps & decided to carry on as it was less than 5 km to the campsite. I was in the lead & was less than 500 meters from the trig when the track dropped away very quickly. I was about 100 meters down when the hill became even steeper & looked to continue straight down with nowhere to turn around, so I had no choice to keep going. The surface of the track was very loose gravel so reversing back up from a standing start was out of the question.

I hit the bottom after about 200 meters at a junction & we had a discussion over the two way about what to do next, I did not think that I would be able to get back up. I knew that the road leading north went nowhere on the map & the track heading south to the campsite was heavily overgrown, it would take days to clear the way down. I don’t know why Cris decided to come down to were I was, I think in hindsight it would have been better for him to have stayed at the top.

With daylight fading we had no choice but to have a go at getting back up. Cris went first as he had the more aggressive tread pattern on his tyres. He hit the base in 2nd low range at 3000 rpm. About a minute later he called over the radio that he was up, quickly followed by a NO I`M NOT!.

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Climbing up the Bullock Trail

I had been waiting at the bottom, my first thought were that’s it, were stuck here. Then Cris came on the radio to say he had made it, he thought he was at the top when he called, but was only half way, a huge sigh of relief from me I can tell you! Next it was my turn. 2nd gear low range, hit around 3000 rpm & held it there.

After a bit of wheel slip I got a bit of traction, swerving around a few fallen tree branches. The first 100 meters over, the second 100 a bit steeper, I eventually made it to the top. I was quite surprised that I had made it up without too much trouble & had gained a little bit more confidence in what my Patrol could do, even on a mild ATV tyre.

We decided to bail out of finding this elusive campsite & headed back the way we came. Nearing the end of the track we got talking on the radio. Were we going to let this beat us or was there another way in?. Several years ago we had tried to access this site via another road further along Dungay Creek Rd, but were stopped at a gate with No Trespassing & Private Road signs. It was starting to get late, around 6:00 pm, but we decided to have a look. After getting some directions from some people on their way back from the Blowhole we decided to at least have one last attempt.

The farmers down the track we had tried to use years before had posted the signs illegally, so the road was now open. The directions that we had got were as follows.

Through the gate, follow the road, turn right at the Monkey, turn right at the Yellow Arrow, turn right at the Green Whistle!. Seemed a bit strange at the time but it turned out to be spot on. It was nearly dark by then, but it was only 10 km along the track, so off we went.

It was well & truly dark when we found the Monkey (stuffed monkey at a junction) turned right, Yellow Arrow, turned right, got to the Green Whistle ( large toy whistle hanging in a tree) turned right & started to drive down a narrow rutted track tight between the trees. About 100 meters down Cris stopped & got out with the torch. I followed him down to find the drop into the creek was very steep & deeply rutted.

After a discussion it was decided that we were not going to make it back up without a winch. It had also started to rain lightly. It would have been only another 200 meters to the campsite. We turned around & headed back to the main road in defeat. At least Cris got to try out his new 180 watt LED driving lights & it was a bit of fun 4wding at night!

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Cris` new LED Driving Lights lighting the way

With no idea were we where going to camp that night, we headed into Kempsey, 25 km away, stopping at KFC for a feed & to talk about our options. It was around 9:15 pm by then. The only place I knew about to camp that was close was an area near Crescent Head on the coast, 20 km away, so we decided to head there. We were lucky to find enough room to camp when we arrived at 10:00 pm.

We had travelled for over 12 hours that day, only covering about 250 km in distance, all dirt road apart from the last 15 km of tar, but it will be a day we will long remember. We hit the bed at around 11:00 pm, went to sleep to the sounds of the waves crashing onto the beach, another adventure lined up for the next day………..

Continue reading …………… Easter Road Trip Days 3 & 4

Easter 2016 Road Trip Day 1

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Some of the terrain that we would be heading into

The best laid plans don’t always work out, even after weeks of researching, certain events conspire to throw things into disarray, but sometimes that can make a trip more interesting when exploring the unknown.

After several weeks of planing, a four day, 1000 km round trip around the New England High Country east of Walcha & the Gorge country around Armidale, NSW, taking in New England, Werrikimbe, Willi Willi, Carrai Plateau, Dunggir & Dorrigo National Parks along with numerous State Forests was finalised. The first day of the trip we had done before, the next couple of days would be into the unknown.

Friday nights camp would be at Mary’s View Lookout in Carrai National Park. This is a very remote area, at least a four hour drive to the nearest town, but well worth the effort for the spectacular views.

We had tried to get to a waterfall called the Blowhole, in Boonanghi State Forest, west of Kempsey, several years before, but we had problems finding the way in so this was the planned overnight stay on Saturday.

Sunday’s drive included a stop at The Pub With No Beer (from the Slim Dusty song) at Taylor’s Arm for lunch. Then up to Kosekai Lookout in Dunggir NP, onto a section of track called Jacob’s Ladder. It is said that this section is so steep motorbikes have trouble getting up it, it would be interesting to see how we went. Sunday nights camp would be where ever we ended up.

Monday would be home via Dorrigo, Ebor & then Point Lookout in New England NP, down Styx River Forest Rd to the old Kempsey – Armidale Rd. At Armidale we would part ways, Cris & Brenda heading south home & I would be heading west.

The weapons of choice for the trip was my 2005 GUIV 3.0L ST Patrol Wagon & my good friends Cris & Brenda in their 2010 D44 Navara Dual Cab. Both are equipped with ARB Rooftop Campers & OME 2 inch lifts. I’m running Mickey Thompson STZ`s, Maxxis Bighorns on the Navara, both on standard rims, neither of us has a winch.

We have travelled on many trips together in the last 5 years, so we know each other’s capabilities. Were more into 4WD touring than full on off-roading, but that was about to change on this trip…………

Day One, Friday the 26th March 2016 – Home to Mary’s View via Werrikimbe, Willi Willi, Carrai & Oxley Wild Rivers National Parks. 13 hours – 328 km`s

With the Patrol packed & fuelled the night before, I left home at 5:30 on Friday morning & travelled the 130 km`s to Bendemeer to meet up with Cris & Brenda at 8:00 am. After a quick coffee we hit the Oxley Highway for the 50 km trip east to Walcha, the last town for the next three days. With the last of supplies loaded it was back on the highway for the final 54 km`s of tar.

The weather was fine with a clear blue sky as we turned north at the Kangaroo Flat Rd (31. 16.987S 151.58.646E) & followed it for 18 km, turning right onto Mooraback Rd (31.11.921S 152.06.718E) for a further 6.6 km to the junction with Cobcroft Rd (31.10.151S 152.09.777E) at the Werrikimbe National Park eastern boundary. Turning left, we continued on another 5 km to the turnoff to the Mooraback Campground (31.09.332S 152.12.036E) in Werrikimbe national Park. Here we drove down to the campsite for morning tea. Back to Mooraback Rd heading north for 6.8 km to the end of Mooraback Rd where it becomes Racecourse Trail (31.06.629S 152.13.405E). Keeping to the right at the intersection with Youdales Trail, the road becomes a little rougher & narrows down, we were averaging around 35 km per hour for this part of the trip.

At around 16 km we turned north onto Spokes Trail (31.07.670S 152.19.532E). If you are looking for a campsite, Brushy Mountain in Werrikimbe National Park is about 5 km to the east of this intersection. Continuing up Spokes Trail for 4 km we came to Hoppy’s Lookout (31.06.762S 152.20.300E) were we stopped for lunch after taking in the views from the lookout just 200 meters along the walking track.

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Hoppy’s Lookout

Spokes Trail is a rough cobblestone track, so at the lookout I decided to reduce my tyre pressures by 10 PSI, this made a huge difference to the comfort of the ride. We were averaging around 30 kph on this trail as it wound it’s way along the boundaries between Oxley Wild Rivers & Willi Willi National Parks through Subtropical Rainforest at an altitude of around 1000 meters.

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Spokes Trail

18 km further north from Hoppy’s we arrived at the old forestry site of Kookaburra (31.01.459S 152.20.256E). Once a small village was located here around a Sawmill that processed the prized Red Cedar that covers the steep mountainsides. Not much remains now, the old Kookaburra School & Forestry HQ buildings are still standing. The clearing around these building is ideal for an overnight camp.

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The old Forestry Headquarters at Kookaburra

Hidden in the bush just to the east are the remains of the Sawmill. A huge cast iron flywheel about 12 feet high still stands on it’s concrete mountings (31.01.465S 152.20.062E). A few other relics, old saw blades & pipes can be seen laying around.

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Old flywheel hidden in the scrub

At Kookaburra, Spokes Trail joins Carrai Rd (31.01.418S 152.20.303E). Here we turned west to head to Daisy Plains on the Carrai Plateau. 4.5 km along on the left of the road is Kunderang Lookout (31.01.281S 152.01.781E). There is not much room to turn around at the lookout, so if towing a camper it might be better to walk the 200 meters to the lookout. 10 km past the lookout is the old McMillan’s Homestead, perched on a clearing overlooking the valleys below. This site is on private property, so we only stopped to take a few photos before moving on.

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McMillin`s Homestead

Heading north along Carrai Road, the track winds its way up to another old forestry site at Daisy Plains along the western boundary of Carrai National Park. Daisy Plains Huts (30.54.217S 152.17.414E) is a free campsite in Carrai National Park, 21 km from Kookaburra. There is a bunk house with 5 single rooms & 1 double room, a kitchen hut, shower hut, a single hut & toilet. There is also plenty of level areas for camper trailers & tents. This campsite is completely free to use but the buildings are usually occupied during the holidays. No bookings, so first in, first served. Surprisingly they were empty when we arrived.

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Daisy Plains Huts

After having a quick smoko break we continued to our overnight camp at Mary’s View (30.50.894S 152.10.304E).The lookout is named after Mary Cochrane, one of the early settlers in the area whose family owned Carrai Station for which the park is named.

Travelling along Carrai Rd for 9km we came to Warrick Rd (30.52.512S 152.13.219E) were we turned left for the final 7 km to the lookout. At the end of the track there is a small parking area with just enough level ground to park & set up the rooftop campers.

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We arrived at the camp at around 6:30 pm. 13 hours of travel including stops. Around 230 km of tar & 98 km of rough winding dirt tracks. The country was looking very dry, the dust at times was as thick as fog. We had travelled to this spot 5 years before. At that time it had rained the whole trip & the mountains were covered in cloud & fog, so it great to be able to enjoy the scenery once the dust had settled.

We had just enough time to wander up the 100 meters to the lookout just as the sun was setting. The viewing area is at just over 1000 meters above sea level & the Macleay River valley is nearly straight down, 800 meters below.

Back at the camp it was time for dinner, Steak & vegies, followed by marshmallows cooked over the fire & a few drinks. For a bit of entertainment, Cris got the Didgeridoo out, he was a bit out of practice but soon the haunting sound was echoing though the valleys. The weather had been great all day but clouded over just before sunset but still no rain. We hit the bunks around 10:30 as we had a big day ahead, travelling to an area we had never been into before.

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Cris on the Didgeridoo

If we had of known what we were in for the next day I think we would have gone to bed a little earlier……………………

Continue reading………….Easter 2016 Road Trip Day 2

 

World Wide Flora & Fauna Certificate

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It has taken a while to accumulate enough parks to achieve this award, but well worth the effort. It has been awarded for making contact with 44 other Amateur Radio operators working portable from National Parks around Australia. The World Wide Flora & Fauna program is a popular activity for radio operators around the world, something I became involved in a little over 12 months ago.

Although I have not made a contact to any overseas National Parks yet, it is something that I look forward to achieving in the future. The program is very popular in the UK & Europe as has gained popularity here in Australia in the last couple of years. I am a keen park activator as well, having operated a portable station from 27 National Parks so far. The program involves promoting National Parks & the part they play in the environment as well as giving the hobby of Amateur Radio some exposure to the public.

Below are some links to other Blogs from park activators from Australia & around the world, it`s a great way to experience some of the different parts of the world through the eyes of people that enjoy the environment.

Paul – VK5PAS – Parks in South Australia.

Peter – VK3PF – Parks in Victoria, Australia

Danny ON4VT – Parks in Belgium

Andrew M0YMA – Parks in the United Kingdom

Gerard VK2IO – Parks in New South Wales, Australia

John VK5BJE – Parks in South Australia

If you would like some more information on the Australian program (VKFF) visit www.wwffaustralia.com

Waa Gorge & VKFF-582, 599 & 353

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Waa Gorge, Mt Kaputar National Park

I decided to head out towards Narrabri over the weekend to activate several National Parks as part of the World Wide Flora & Fauna program for Amateur Radio operators. The first park would be Couradda, followed by Moema & then on to the northern part of Mt Kaputar National Park for an overnight stay near Waa Gorge.

Setting of from home around 7:30 am & travelling west through the Horton Valley & the Killarney Gap, then onto the plains 40 km north of Narrabri. The 130 km trip took just over 2 hours on the back roads, arriving at Couradda National Park with 15 miniutes to spare to the planned activation time of 10:00 am. I quickly set up a 40 meter Inverted V antenna just inside the park boundry, using the entrance sign to tie off the guy rope & set about putting out a call.

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Couradda NP, VKFF-582 was created in 2005 & covers an area of just 362 hectares. It was once a State Forest, the surrounding countryside has been extensively developed for broadacre farming. The park is wooded with Cypress Pine & Ironbark trees.

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Couradda

After setting the Icom IC-7000 to 7.144 MHz, i started calling, the first contact for the day was Peter, VK3PF in Victoria, followed by Adrian, VK5FANA & Vk5PAS, Paul in South Australia, all good signals. The next station was a surprise, Amanda in Victoria using just 500 Milliwatts of power coming through quite clearly, great work Amanda. A steady stream of callers followed, ending up with 27 contacts in the log for just over an hour & a half calling.

The stations worked were:

VK3PF-Peter, VK5FANA-Adrian, VK5PAS-Paul, VK3FQSO-Amanda, VK3HRA-Allen, VK2BTC-Tony, VK3OF-Rex, VK2EJW-Jock, VK3ANL-Nick, VK2GKA-Karl, VK5BJE-John, VK3PMG-Mick, VK2BOB-Bob, VK4FFAB-Rob, VK3DAC-Fred, VK2NN-Peter, VK2DDS-Brenton, VK2IO-Gerard, VK3SMC-Simon,VK4DD-Dave,VK2MJB/P-Mick, VK2GJC-Greg, VK2FADV-Jim, VK4TAD-Allan, VK2AEV-Alex, VK3TKK/M-Peter, VK6BMM/2-Mal.

After a quick tour around the park it was just a short drive up to Moema National Park, VKFF-599.

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This park was also created in 2005 & covers 2028 hectares with the same type of vegetation as the previous park. After a scout around I found a clearing just down the road to set up an antenna.

Moema

After a meal & a look around the park, then turned on the transceiver & had a scroll through the 40 meter band, finding Tony, VK3VTH portable in Lang Ghiran National Park, VKFF-760 & logged him as a park to park contact on 7.100 MHz. I started calling on 7.144 & made contact again with Rob, VK4FFAB who is a keen park activator & hunter. I logged 21 contacts while in the park including a station in Japan, Toshi, JM2MHQ who was calling CQ on 21.260 MHz.

The stations worked were:

VK3VTH/P-Tony, VK4FFAB-Rob,VK2IO-Gerard, VK2EJW-Jock, VK4SC/M-Stew, VK2JDS/P-Dave, VK2YK-Adam, VK3DBP-Paul, VK2XXM-Robert, VK4AAS-Allan, VK3OB-Rob, VK3FQSO/QRP-Amanda, VK4DD-Dave, VK3TKK/QRP-Peter, VK4FADW-Owen, VK2FMJK-Mick, VK3ZPF/P-Peter, VK2XAN-Peter, VK4ND-Dennis, JM2MHQ-Toshi, VK2AAA-Jim.

For those of you who follow this blog but are not involved in Amateur Radio here are some of the terms that are used, it sounds like we are speaking in code but the majority of it is just shortened words.

VK stands for stations in Australia. VK0 is Antarctica, VK1 in the Australian Capital Territory, VK2 is New South Wales, VK3, Victoria, VK4, Queensland, VK5, South Australia,VK6 is Western Australia, VK7 is Tasmania, VK8 is the Northern Territory & VK9 is islands such as Norfolk, Melville & several others.

Stations with the letter F after the number can use no more than 10 watts of power. Callsigns with /P are portable, /M are mobile & /QRP are stations running less than 10 watts of power.

So a callsign starting with VK is in Australia, followed by 8, meaning in the Northern Territory, /P meaning out working portable /QRP, using low power, giving the callsign of VK8FAAA/P/QRP. Hope that makes it a bit less mysterious.

After about 90 minutes the contacts were starting to dwindle away, so it was time to head to the northern end of Mt Kaputar National Park, VKFF-353 to an area known as Waa Gorge for an overnight stay & a bit of bushwalking up to the gorge on the following day.

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Grattai Mountain rises to 1360 meters above sea level & over 1000 meters above the surrounding plains.

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The rugged Mt Waa, the remnants of a volcanic eruption some 20 million years ago.

Kaputar

It is a 40 km drive around the northern tip of the Nandewar Ranges to Waa Gorge from Moema NP. not a bad drive considering the views. I arrived at around 4:30 pm, just enough time to set up camp & get an antenna up before dark, a multiband G5RV this time as I planned to work on the 80, 40 & 15 meter bands. First order of business was get a meal on. I had recently refurbished an old camp oven & was keen to try it out, so with the fire lit & some hot coals the entree was cooked, a basic damper, then it was time to cook the main course, Lamb Shanks, Potato & Mushrooms.

Mt Kaputar National Park is made up of a large area that was once a Shield Volcano over 20 million years ago. The activity back then was similar to how the Hawaiian Islands have been formed. The park was created in October 1967. It covers an area of 50,225 hectares & has many different attractions including the summit at 1510 meters ASL, Sawn Rocks & Waa Gorge.

Camp Oven cooking, the main course.

Camp Oven cooking, the main course.

With dinner out of the way it was time to check the bands. First contact was with Tom operating the special event callsign of V100ANZAC on 7.112 MHz. I then started calling on 7.135, logging 8 stations before calling it quits & having a relaxing evening at the campfire before retiring for the night.

Stations worked on Saturday evening:

V100ANZAC-Tom, VK4CJM-John, VK2BOW-James, VK5PAS-Paul, VK3PMG-Mick, VK3PF-Peter, VK6MB-Mike, VK3DAC-Fred, VK3FQSO-Amanda. I have worked from this park many times before, so the 13 contacts were added to this tally.

Sawn Rocks

Sawn Rocks

Up early Sunday morning, restarted the fire & put the billy on & called into the Coral Coast Net on 7.060, contacting Al, VK4FALL, then moved to the 80 meter band to join in with a net of the locals, VK2PB, Brent, just down the road in Narrabri, Jock, VK2EJW & Les VK2LES. Had a chat for an hour or so while packing up camp. It was then out for a bushwalk up to the gorge, around 2 km and all uphill. I spent just over 3 hours exploring the gorge before heading home, with a quick stop at Rocky Creek for a bit of fishing. All up travelled 280 km, visited 3 parks, had 61 contacts for a very pleasurable weekend. Clear blue skies & mild Autumn weather made the weekend even better, although I am feeling the effects of the hike today.

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73`s & 44`s.

Map images courtesy of NSW NPWS

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