Brisbane Ranges NP – VKFF-055 – 31 AUG 2014

by vk3arr

With my chores done on Sunday, I looked at the glorious weather, looked at the radio equipment, looked at the wife, and asked for a quick hour or two to activate Brisbane Ranges NP. The answer was in the affirmative, if, and only if, I brought back some nice chocolate. This could certainly be arranged.

Brisbane Ranges are the closest National Park to Geelong. I know this because it was one of only 4 questions I got wrong at school when doing a Australian General Knowledge test in Grade 6 for some local competition. I got 56 out of 60, despite being South African and the next person got 38 out of 60, despite being Sri Lankan. The closest Aussie was a very intelligent girl called Alana who got 27 or 28 or thereabouts. She came third by a country mile, which is a sad indictment of the level of Australian General Knowledge amongst Australians in the Geelong Region in 1992 😦

The answer I gave was the You Yangs – location of SOTA peak Flinders Peak. Turns out it’s just a Regional Park or something. No, the Brisbane Ranges are the closest national park, only 25 minutes up the road. It’s an area I know fairly well, because I spent a lot of time either as a child in Anakie Gorge (the main picnic area), as a teenaged Air Force Cadet doing bivouacs and fieldcraft exercises, and as a Air Force Cadet instructor, chasing officers around that had no idea of which end of a compass points north.

Indeed, many hilarious anecdotes stem from this time: the 87 degree NAVEX failure (a group of officers took a wrong bearing – 87 degrees wrong – despite me trying to tell them they were wrong, and spent the next hour wondering why they missed every checkpoint), the time I lost a group of cadets when I turned away quickly to make a SITREP call, turned back and they were gone (camouflage works, alright, and the little bast delights had run off in a different direction) and many instances of bogging a 22-seater bus because someone figured 4WD meant it was a bus with 4 wheels and you could drive it. (We bogged on private property adjoining the park, I’ll add – we never offroaded in the park proper). Turns out unbogging a bus is a great, if somewhat unplanned, leadership exercise.

Brisbane Ranges NP - VKFF-055

Brisbane Ranges NP – VKFF-055

But anyway, I digress. This time I drove up Switch Road, off the Geelong-Ballan Road north of Anakie, and parked the vehicle at the intersection of Nelson’s Track. From here is an easy walk to Nelson’s Lookout, about 30 minutes in total. I intend to try that as an operating area sometime – there’d be pretty good takeoff from there.

I was running out of time, so I just set up at the track intersection and strung out the dipole for 40m. I started with Amanda VK3FQSO who was competing in the ALARA contest, and then wife-and-husband pair Julie VK3FOWL and Joe VK3YSP. Julie was also competing in the ALARA contest, and Joe had never worked Brisbane Ranges before. Another six chasers followed on 40m, less than I was expecting, but a good haul nonetheless.

I switched to 20m, hoping to grab some European DX, but I struggled, even with 60W, to break through European contest QRM. 21 minutes after my last 40m contact, an OE station, Bert OE5WHN managed to pull my signal out at 5 and 5. 11 minutes after that, Ian VK6PXF called in, and we chatted for a bit about Keith Roget and the WWFF scheme: hopefully we have another VK6 convert.

I could hear Andrew VK1NAM knee deep in chasers on Spring Hill VK2/ST-036, but couldn’t hear him. He had 101 chasers in total. I texted him, somewhat in hope, in case he wanted the VKFF reference on 40m, but he didn’t receive it until he had cleared the backlog and I was long gone. I finished with Amanda again for another ALARA contact for her. Hopefully she does well in the contest.

As I was packing up, I was startled by some kangaroos powering their way through the bush – they make a lot of noise. I couldn’t get the camera out in time, unfortunately. I know the Brisbane Ranges have a large Kangaroo population – they had many times tried to grab food out of our packs on exercises while we slept.

Switch Rd - Nelsons Tk intersection.  The kangaroos came bounding across that road at the top right edge of photo about two minutes later

Switch Rd – Nelsons Tk intersection. The kangaroos came bounding across that road at the top right edge of photo about two minutes later

I headed home, stopping only to pick up the promised chocolate. It was even on special, saving me a few dollars; an unexpected bonus. I will go back to Brisbane Ranges sometime this year or early next – it’s too close and too easy to set up for.

Switch Road with plenty of wattle in flower

Switch Road with plenty of wattle in flower