ILLW – International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend
Personally, I think ILLW stands for It’s Likely Lousy Weather! This year was no exception. Dom VK2JNA, Geoff VK2TGO and Geoff VK2AVR assembled at Staging point #1 (the coffee shop) just before 8am Saturday morning. We continued to Staging point #2 (Palm Beach carpark) where we met the NPWS volunteers who would open the lighthouse for us. After 91 metres of vertical ascent carrying our gear, the weather greeted us with the first shower as we crested the headland. Undeterred, we hung an OCF dipole from Barrenjoey’s man-made monolith and were on the air in time for 10am kickoff. 40m was the band of choice, and several club members called in on our home frequency of 7045kHz. We then alternated between CQing on one frequency and “search and pounce” around the band. A voice keyer for the FT-897D made CQing an activity of leisure, just wait for a callback and then grab the mic!! To be fair to the weather, the afternoon improved and no more rain was encountered until the evening. Dom VK2JNA gave spontaneous tours of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage to approximately 100 interested members of the public, including our radio station and explained what ILLW was all about.
Dom VK2JNA and Geoff VK2AVR stayed overnight, and experienced a wild rainstorm around 2am. The keeper’s cottage, being built of hefty sandstone blocks, simply shrugged it off!
The weather on Sunday morning continued to be unpleasant, and NPWS decided not to provide the usual Sunday tours of the lighthouse. To our surprise, club member Derek arrived mid-morning looking very wet! We warmed him up with a cup of tea but he had to go home for a change of clothes shortly afterwards. Dom VK2JNA gave some more tours to the public, Geoff VK2TGO came back up and we also saw Jeff VK2MZZ, his son Tom VK2FTOK, Patrick VK2PN and Steve VK3TDX. The weather steadily improved throughout the day meaning we could pack up and descend without worrying about rain gear.
Overall, we had 160 contacts including 26 lighthouses!! We had contacts into Europe (Sweden, Netherlands) and North America (Alaska, east coast USA).
Sadly, it’s a long time until the next one!! We will get busy writing out QSL cards in the meantime. Another great event and many thanks to NPWS for allowing us access to Barrenjoey, Geoff VK2TGO for organising with NPWS, Dom VK2JNA for manning the station for the whole weekend (!!) and doing some great PR work for the lighthouse and our club, and thanks also to the visitors who came up.
Total contacts: 160
RD contest contacts: 67
DX contacts: Sweden, Netherlands, Alaska, East coast USA, Indonesia