My partner Helen and I have been looking forward to activating The Nut State Reserve for a while now since it was added approximately one year ago to the WWFF program. The Easter weekend looked like a good opportunity so we decided to take the plunge. The weather forecast sounded reasonable and the wind speed that so often plays a major part was low making it ideal.
Stanley is located approximately 80 kilometres west from our home in Burnie on the north west coast of Tasmania and it takes just under an hour to drive there. We both really like Stanley and visit there fairly often. Much of the film “The Light Between the Oceans” was filmed there so you’ll get a good feel for the place if you check out the film. The Nut is a sheer-sided bluff and all that remains of an ancient volcanic plug. It is 143 metres high and towers above Stanley. It is either reachable by a short, extremely steep walking track or by chairlift.
We arrived at the base of The Nut at around 03:30 UTC (14.30 local time). I braved the walking track carrying most of the radio equipment, whilst Helen took the chairlift up. The walking track is concreted and is around 400 metres in length so I reached the top in about 15 minutes. As expected, there were a lot of tourists on The Nut and a lot of time was spent during our operating time responding to questions about what we were up to. Fortunately no one asked us whether we had caught anything with our fishing pole! I really must be more patient with these questions. Helen is a much better ambassador for the hobby than I am! 😉
We tried to find somewhere to set up that was away from the tourists but this proved impossible. We set up near the trig point on The Nut. We had the usual equipment with us consisting of the Yaesu FT-857D, two Lipo Zippy 5000 20C series batteries, a fishing pole and the trusty linked dipole which covers 20, 30, 40 and 80 metres. I will return sometime for another trip that will be more DX focused and bring the Buddipole because I am certain this location would be sensational with a vertical antenna! It will be harder work though if I want the option of 40 metres, because I’ll need to bring up the 6 metre telescoping mast to get sufficient elevation.
Unfortunately we subsequently discovered that the location we had chosen had very loose soil and we had to be cautious where we stepped when extending out the ends of the inverted vee. Our feet disappeared on several occasions but we lived to tell the tale 😛 . We eventually got it sorted and were QRV shortly before 05:00 UTC (16:00 local time).
Helen was on the mic first and it was slow going to begin with. She had callers from VK1, VK2, VK4, VK5 and a ZL. We rarely get any callers outside of VK on these outings on 40 metres currently so Helen was delighted to get a call from ZL2ATH who was on a summit. I then did a stint and worked a number of stations on 40m from similar areas. At 05:50 UTC (16:50 local time) I decided to give 20 metres a go and got four more interstate contacts in the log. Dale VK4NBX was a very strong signal and told me I was up to 5/9 +20 to my surprise. Helen did a final stint on 40 metres and we decided to go QRT when it went quiet shortly before 06:45 UTC (17:45 local time).
There was some drizzle whilst we were operating but fortunately it didn’t last. There was a noticeable absence of VK3 contacts on 40 metres and it was interesting to see Linda VK7QP’s log for an activation done the same afternoon from the south of the state with lots of VK3s. Obviously the skip was a bit longer than it often is on 40m.
We packed up and descended from The Nut returning to the carpark around 07:30 UTC (18:30 local time). We ended up with about 40 contacts between us. We intend returning and will try 2 metres and a vertical on future visits. We may brave The Nut in winter when there are less tourists whilst the chairlift isn’t operating. However picking the right day where the weather is kind will be the challenge. Stay tuned.