For many years, one event that has proved very popular with Hervey Bay Amateur Radio Club members has been the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW).
One reason for its popularity is Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. It is a fascinating and beautiful place to visit, which, to our luck has a functioning lighthouse on it, and also just happens to be in our back yard!
It did not take much convincing for club members to make the effort to activate that lighthouse for the first time in 1999, which happened to be the second year the ILLW was conducted.
Club members travelled first by barge to Fraser Island, then the long arduous 4WD journey across the island’s sandy tracks and up the long beach to the Sandy Cape Lighthouse (AUS206) at the northern most tip of Fraser Island.
We were one of the few VK stations activating a lighthouse at the time. It turned out to be an excellent radio site, low noise and a good elevated position right next to the lighthouse with over water take off for most of the horizon, nirvana! Radio conditions were very good so contacting us was very popular and Fraser Island is an IOTA station to boot (OC142)! We have done that three more years since then, 2000, 2003 and 2008.
Club members also activated the only standing historical Lighthouse on Woody Island (AU0090 also IOTA OC142) in 2001, 2002 and 2011. Woody Island is in the Great Sandy Straights – nestled in between Fraser Island and mainland Hervey Bay. Getting to Woody Island presents other challenges as there is no regular ‘commuter service’ to the island.
A decision was made to choose an ‘easier’ lighthouse to access, so since 2012 to current the new Burnett Heads lighthouse has been the target, sadly being a modern structure it is not anything like the beautiful old lighthouses on Fraser and Woody Islands.
Something to lookout for in the future, the club understands that Woody Island lighthouse is being re-furbished, it might need another visit in the near future!