We arrived at Healesville on Sunday afternoon and settled into our accommodation. The next morning the sun was shining and we set off on our expedition to the Yarra Ranges National Park. We had set aside a whole day for the Park and besides activating the Park from two locations, we also planned some bird-watching near the Maroondah Reservoir just out of Healesville. When we arrived at the Park gate to the reservoir there was a notice indicating the area was closed.
So we decided to travel to activation location number two, Mount Donna Buang. We chose to take the longer route from Healesville. Our map showed that some of this route was unsealed. That is indeed what we found. The bitumen road surface stops and the road becomes narrower and gravel, although in good condition. It is certainly useable by a two-wheeled drive vehicle. Care should be taken on the corners, especially on the ascent, and keeping hard left is sensible. We were soon at the summit and I was surprised to see so many people and so many cars.
A group of Lotus cars at the summit with their owners and admirers.
We went for a walk looking for an activation spot and I found an unclaimed picnic table which I claimed. It was sheltered from the main area by some trees and shrubs and proved to be a great location. The weather was great!
My operating position (JCD photo).
Mount Donna Buang Lookout (JCD photo).
A view from the observation tower: spot the squid pole? (JCD photo).
I set up and was soon on the air. My log is reproduced below and I well and truly qualified the summit and the Park at WWFF level (44 contacts). My operating conditions were my Yaesu 857D set for ten watts, an 80 and 40 metre linked dipole and an IC80AD Dstar/FM hand held radio, potentially for some two metre contacts.
All my contacts are appreciated and thanks to all of the chasers. However the highlight contact was with Peter, VK3TKK on two metres. I used my ICOM HT, set for five watts with a quarter wave length antenna holding the radio lengthwise and parallel to the ground. That is the antenna was parallel to the ground as well. I was standing on the picnic table. What I had achieved was directing the donut-shaped pattern of radiation down the valley towards Melbourne. Peter’s signal was 5 and 9 (from his vehicle) and I received a 4 and 3 report. I was happy with that. I wish to thank Peter for his patience in making this contact. It took a while as I was experimenting with the direction of the antenna. I did not take a compass bearing but I am confident the antenna was broadside to Melbourne. I should have climbed the lookout tower for two metre contacts. But Peter called before I could close down on 40 metres and there were still callers on the frequency.
The twenty metre band was selected to try and work some VK6 stations. I posted an alert but there were no takers. I suspect propagation was not working. I did, however, snare a series of VK4s. Thanks to the VK4s who took time out to give me a call.
This photo, taken after we left the summit on the Road to Warburton, gives some idea of the magnificent eucalypts in the rain forest. I am standing near the speed sign on the right hand side of the road (JCD photo).
After departing from the summit we took the alternative descent to Warburton and then drove to Healesville making a round trip for the day. The road from the summit is excellent (see picture above) and we were soon at Warburton where we stopped for some refreshments and a break and walked up and down the main street enjoying the sights. Warburton was crowded and the traffic was heavy. There was almost a carnival atmosphere in Warburton and it appeared that this was one of a number of locations that Melbournites retreat to for a weekend drive.
The man on the seat had two donkeys, a dog and a lorikeet employed entertaining the crowds and the animals appeared beautifully cared for and there was not a hat or container in sight.
There was also a controlled burn underway on a nearby mountain and the responsible department had two staff members in Warburton, with a stand on the footpath, ready to answer people’s questions about the fire. I was impressed!
All in all a magnificent Autumn day to remember!