19-20 AUGUST 2000
18-19 AUGUST 2001

QSL Route - PO Box 41 Tyabb, Vic. Australia 3913
OR via Bureau to VK3LCM
Email - [email protected]

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On 18th August, 2000 an intrepid band of enthusiastic amateurs ably led by David, VK3JKY undertook a 4 hour plus trip to the Southernmost reaches of Victoria to Cape Otway Lighthouse. The objective of the weekend's activity was to talk to other amateur radio operators around the world in similar circumstances in the interests of international goodwill. We amateurs get up to strange antics at times but it's all good fun and we'll be doing it again in 2001.  See report below.

The Antenna Farm

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Dale VK3LBJ on the key.

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The team Claureen VK3LCM, David VK3JKY, Keiran VK3BTV, Dale VK3LBJ, John, VK3MGZ, Gerry VK3GER

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Keiran and Dale

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Keiran and John

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Dale at the old Telegraph Station. The first time it has been used for CW for over 100 years

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Portable relief stations ??

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Presentation by Keiran of the home brew banner made for the event by Viv, Keiran's wife. The recipient is Kay, the light-keeper's wife

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International Lighthouse Weekend – Cape Otway Lighthouse – 19/20 August 2000.

Attendees: Dave VK3JKY, Claureen VK3LCM, John VK3MGZ, Gerard VK3GER, Dale VK3LBJ and yours truly, Keiran VK3BTV

One night on 80 metres, Kevin, VK2CE, proposed a curious weekend outing. "Why don’t you Light-up a Lighthouse in Victoria?", he asked. "Doesn’t sound any weirder than a WWF Peace Rally", I thought, so on Friday 18th August I found myself and John, doing the 300km slog from Mount Dandenong to Cape Otway Lighthouse at the southern-most tip of SW Victoria.

Just on nightfall, at the end of 50kms of steep windy roads through the Lavers Hill region, we arrived at the front gate. The reserve is not open to the public after hours, but the Lighthouse keepers, Bob and Kay Adams, had thrown us the key and said, "Be our guests".

Our stationmasters, Dave and Claureen, had already set up the operating shack (their camper annexe), a 10m Yagi, an 80m dipole and verticals on 40m and 20m. A week before, Dave had secured another valuable asset – the special event callsign, VK3OWL (OtWay Lighthouse). John and I lugged our sleeping gear down to what had been described as a "roof over our heads". We discovered that we had been treated to a very cosy, fully equipped, colonial cottage known as the West Studio! Soon we were tucking into some grub, with John staring in amazement at the workings of my little metho fueled storm cooker (perhaps he thought I was going to drink the stuff.)

Saturday morning brought sunshine, a light breeze and 14 degrees according to 3JKY’s ultrasonic weather station – I never imaged that I would be sitting in an annexe at Cape Otway in August in a T-shirt! After a couple of mugs of Claureen’s fabulous percolated coffee we set to work at 1000hrs local on 20 meters. The Australian Lighthouse stations were coming in thick and fast as well as a fair share of regular amateur stations. We could sense that things would be busy in the afternoon once the Yanks and the Poms started to come on-line. It was such a breath of fresh air to be able have a couple of overs with each station, rather than the 5-9-ThankYouMam of some of the other events.

250 metres away, Dale, our ex-PMG Telegraph Op, was busy on the keyer at the old telegraph station. Because this majestic building is subject to ongoing renovations by the students at Ballarat College, Dale found himself operating from a ‘cool’ location on the back verandah, about 10 yards from a 100 foot cliff to the wild surf below. He thought that he should be visible to the public, however, since morse had not been transmitted from that station for 106 years. Gerard sat back in a deck chair on the grass, drink in hand, offering translations of excepts of the morse conversations. Blowed if I know how he could copy Dale’s 35 words-per-minute – it sounded like a blur to me – although someone suggested that he’d spent some time in signalling corp.

As we wandered down to the Lighthouse Keeper’s residence that night for a BBQ, two powerful spotlights made the statuesque lighthouse glow white against the dark sky – a magnificent sight. Bob and Kay invited us to eat inside and hear a few of Bob’s lighthouse tales, including (you guessed it) the one about the ghost that lives in the telegraph station.

After tea we manned the radios again and drummed up some business on 80 metres, while Dale returned to his post alongside the ghost at the telegraph station to try his luck on 20 metres. I must admit that it’s a spooky trip at night, walking 250m down a ‘tunnel’ cut through the thick scrub. I managed to run into a rather big kangaroo on one traverse. I’m glad that I bothered to take a torch with me. The roo was in no particular hurry to get out of my way. Once out the other side of the scrub I could still clearly hear the morse code drifting across the dunes. I’m told that I wasn’t the only one that weekend that got goosebumps from that eerie sound.

Sunday morning was another sunny surprise after a bit of light rain in the wee hours. We presented Kay with our 1000mm by 500mm banner, complete with a painting of the lighthouse at one side, which my wife Vivienne had put together the previous week. Kay has promised to install the banner in the proposed telegraph station museum, along with all of the QSL cards which we will be donating to Cape Otway. She added that we’ve earned an invitation to return there for 2001.

Our thanks go to Bob and Kay Adams of Cape Otway Lighthouse – the friendliest and most helpful hosts you could find.

Thanks also to Dave VK3JKY, our officer in charge, and his wife Claureen VK3LCM for keeping him in line (and making great coffee).

And, of course, Kevin VK2CE who promoted the mad idea and prepared the web site.

Keiran VK3BTV







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