31032018 – Easter Weekend

VK3/VG-002 – Mt Cobberas Number 1

VK3/VG-010 – Blue Hill

VK3/VG-007 – Rams Head Range

VK3/VG-012 – Brumby Hill

all in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

Running out of local summits so setting my eyes on VG (Gippsland). The plan is to camp at Native Dogs Flat off Limestone Road. Straight forward access and a good site to base from to activate the surrounding summits.

Had been in the area November 2014 with VK2TWR Rod and in parallel ridge lines (Davis Plain) during the recent Hotham weekend. 

NativeDogFlat

Left mid Friday to avoid the Easter traffic. Headed through Melbourne to Bairnsdale and then to Buchan to turn into Limestone Road. Return trip was through Omeo to Bairnsdale and back down the A1 through Melbourne and then home. Popped in on Peter VK3PF on the way back. Needed a break from driving and the coffee was welcome.

OverViewAPRS

It is a long trip. APRS coverage was the usual poor once away from repeaters. Phone coverage in this area is limited to 3G once on the summit , if lucky.

Saw Wallabies, snakes, deer, brumbies and a Owl. There were the expected nutters on the road and surprisingly no booze busses.

VK3/VG-002 – Mt Cobberas Number 1

Drove down Limestone Track turning into Cobberas Track to the defined walking track to the Cobberas. Followed the waking track (orange triangles) as bit over 6K. Clear walk but easy to wander off track due to the brumby tracks in the area.

ViewFromCobberas
Heard VK1AD Andrew on 2M once on the summit. Gave him a call and the battery went flat. Ahh yes I did take the HT out the other day listening to the CFA and no did not charge. Did want 2M to keep an ear out for Wade VK1MIC but he lack of battery put an end of 2M for the weekend. 

Stayed on summit for an hour. Picked up S2S with VK1AD on VK1/AC-008 and a P2P with VK3ZPF Peter from WWFF Yarringa Marine Marine National Park (VKFF-0957).
Did get off track on the way back but not enough to cause grief.  Great site worth the walk.

VK3/VG-010 – Blue Hill

BrumbiesBlueHill

Headed back down Limestone Rd and parked Subie near Boughyard Creek bridge. Not a lot of spots out of the way and there was road work at the time. My route was based on David VK3IL activation notes. The scrub was right forward with fallen trees, soft under growth however a lot of Brumby poo around. Being aware that will be coming back in dark tried to avoid the rocks and tracked from clearing to clearing.  Took a bit over an hour to reach the zone.

Once in the zone I weaved 42m of lightweight wire through the tree limbs and a 5m travel pole as support. This is a EFHW using a 1:49 matching transformer based on information in facebook. The KX3 smooths it out and away you go. I was ready by 18:30 but lacking the ability to spot and wanted to qualify on 160 CW so put out a few calls but waited on 1.832 for the others to come up. Keen to qualify and get off the summit. It was a good night to be out. Full moon, no rain just great piles of Brumby poo to deal with. Just after 19:00 contact was made. Bernard VK2IB/3 and Warren VK3BYD how were on VK3/VE-006 (Mt Hotham) with a kite antenna. David VK3IL portable from Philip Island up next giving him a complete. Then Peter VK3PF on VK3/VT-049 and final contact with John VK2YW. As soon as qualified I packed up and headed back down to the car in dark.  Came prepared with LED spot and head torches. Uneventful (thanks) trip back to car not face planting into the Brumby poo or taking a knee out in the rocks to get back to camp after 21:00 for tea and some Stones Mac.

VK3/VG-007 – Rams Head Range

ViewRamsHead

Came up Rams Horn Track off Limestone Road. This is a 4WD track that Subie handled in low range. The ruts were the only issue. Parked with a clear km or so to the summit through clear scrub. Couple of rocks to go around but no issues. The summit is a rocky out crop. Went with 20m end fed between my rock and a tree on another. Qualified on 80m in 15 minutes so packed up and headed back. Still had a big drive ahead of me.  

VK3/VG-012 – Brumby Hill

ParkingBrumbyHill

Nunniong road was the worst in the area. Whilst Rams Horn Track and Cobberas Track had ruts big enough to eat Subie the corrugations and rocks on this road were a joke. I develop a horrible noise in the frount. 

Access to Brumby Hill is easy. Nunniong Road brings you to the zone. I walked down Forlorn Hope Track a 100m or so  as wanted to be in the Buchan Wilderness Zone. Setup on a nice bit tree with 20/40m dipole. 12 contacts in 15 minutes all on 40m. 40m was alibi and a great day to be put.

Went back down Nunniong road cursing the corrugations heading to Omeo. Still working out the area so keen to secure petrol and get a better look under the car. Found the plastic trim was loose so a couple of zip ties and a meter of go fast tape later started the trip back home.

Dropped in on Peter VK3PF on the way back. I had time and needed a coffee. Peter had a great brew and once caffeinated up headed home to arrive 20:00.

Great weekend. Perfect weather. Will be back for more summits in the area. 

 

10032018 – VK JA ZL – EU S2S QSO Party

VK3/VC-032 – Unnamed local summit

The VK JA ZL – EU S2S organising committee (Andrew VK1AD, Mike 2E0YYY and Ed DD5LP) selected Saturday 10 March 2018 for the third annual SOTA VK – EU S2S evening.

This annual event has grown beyond VK – EU with ZL, JA and even Canada posting alerts. These are well supported as S2S contacts are always prized. 

I activated VK3/VC-032, a local 4 pointer that is close to my QTH, very convenient given the late kickoff (0630 UTC). 

ContactView

The bands were active with stations from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, as well as the UK, Germany, Russia, Austria, The Slovak Republic, Rumania and Spain.

Used trapped 20/40 dipole with the 7M squid pole as an inverted V. The KX3 had a 4S battery so 15w.

Weather was better than last year however propagation average. CW worked JA fine. Picked up VK3 & VK6 S2S SSB.

Heard no ZL and nothing from Canada or South Africa so maybe next year. Heard and called HB9DQM/P CW and SV2RUJ/P SSB but failed to secure a contact. 

Contacts

Thanks to the organisers, its a fun event and I will be back next year for more.

Allen

VK3ARH

03022018 – 3rd Annual Mt Hotham SOTA Summit

3rd Annual Mt Hotham SOTA Summit

VK3/VE-014 The Horn in WWFF Mount Buffalo National Park (VKFF-0339)

VK3/VT-023

VK3/VE-032 Mt Sarah in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

VK3/VE-049 Mt Selwyn in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

VK3/VE-064 in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

VK3/VE-025 Mt Murray in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham

VK3/VG-008 Mt Misery Range

VK3/VG-009

VK3/VE-010 Davies Plain

This is the third year Brian VK3MCD has hosted the now  annual VK Mt Hotham SOTA summit.

I’m keen on this weekend for several reasons. The first is you get to spend a weekend with like minded SOTA folk. Second is staying in Hotham during summer allows for clear access to remote mountains too far for a day trips from home. After three years we are starting to go further afield to activate new summits however have a broad pool of experience to draw from to select and gain access to summits. This event has become a highlight on the VK SOTA calendar and the increase in attendance and the enthusiasm expressed by the participates evidences how much we all enjoyed it

VieToHotham

VK3/VE-014 The Horn in WWFF Mount Buffalo National Park (VKFF-0339)

I took the opportunity to activate The Horn in WWFF Mount Buffalo National Park on Friday. I have never been to this site in good weather and wanted to enjoy the view as apposed to hiding from it.Previous attempts include a successful activation in July 2013 during snow and a failed attempt in July 2014. These conditions are a lot easier. Drove down to the end of Mt Buffalo Road and climbed the 800 odd meters to the summit. Took 7m squid pole as had planned to cast the long wire over the edge. Didn’t quite work that way so ran the wire from the fence line across the top.  Took a lot of photos of the summits in the distance due to the excellent conditions.  Also took advantage of the signage there taking references photos to align the pictures later.

FaintersFeathertopRazorbackLockHotham

Worked VK3YY Glen & VK3IL David returning from their Razor-Viking Wilderness adventure as well as Ron VK3AFW mobile. After qualifying the summit and taking enough photos I decided not to activate the other summits in the park but to head up to Hotham so as not to have a late night. Meet up with VK3HN Paul on the way up. I stopped to take photos and he picked the car with antenna was heading the same way. This was good as whilst I had the details of accommodation (This year we were based at the Anton Huette ski lodge) will admit apart from charging batteries the week before, booking and paying the deposit I did not spend a lot of time preparing so was not exactly sure where it was. One of the advantages is the ability to book leave early.

Friday night consisted of fine tuning plans and catching up with friends that whilst I talk to most weekends, only meet annually at such events. 

My agenda was to prioritise the activation of new summits to gain completes.  Peter has acquired a nice Ford Ranger 4WD and was happy to get out into the tracks so we teamed up. 

VK3/VT-023VK3/VE-032 Mt Sarah in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619) & VK3/VE-049 Mt Selwyn in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

The first group consisting of VK3PF,VK3HN,VK3ARH and VK3YY were up and headed off to activate VK3/VT-023 (VK3/VT-023),VK3/VE-032 (Mt Sarah), VK3/VE-049 (Mt Selwyn), VK3/VE-066 (VK3/VE-066) and VK3/VE-025 (Mt Murray). The plan was to drive down to Mt Sarah however changed on route as we laised with the other groups and confirmed times. In the end is was a case of driving past Mt Sarah  to start from VK3/VT-023.

So off we went, back down to the intersection of Dargo High Plains Road and then onto Twins Road. This track is generally rough and narrow. We drove past the The Twins and VK3/VE-023 then around the side of VK3/VE-064 via Twins Jeep Track finally onto Selwyn Creek Road. from there is was sourh down Selwyn Logging Road turning into Tea Tree Range Road to arrive at VK3/VT-023 in time for S2S fun.

There were other explorers out in the bush so when we arrived on site there were still parking and antenna placement considerations. You can’t setup the dipole across the road.  You can’t park on the road.

Peters new 4WD addressed the terrian with full comfort. 

VK3YYworkingZL

VK3YY Glenn & VK3PF Peter working ZL on VK3/VE-049 Mt Selwyn from Glenn’s cute antenna whilst I was still getting the dipole up. The antenna is directly connected th the KX2 with a counterpoise and operated ‘Walki Talkie’ style.

VK3/VE-064 in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619) & VK3/VE-025 Mt Murray in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

The car left on the track whilst we climbed up to the activation zone. One stayed behind out of the zone and we used 2M to activate. After q quick operator shuffle, we had all qualifed the summit and were back in the car to continue on to Mt Murray.

YYNHPF0nHotham

VK3YY Glenn, VK3PF Peter and VK3HN Paul on Mt Murray. My squid pole behind for HF. Great views to the south across the Wongungurra River valley.

VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham

One feature of the Annual Hotham SOTA Summit is that Brian organises vehicle access to Hotham, making it a breeze to activate and  socialise. However drinks was not my priority, I  set up the HF with KX3 and linked dipole and started calling, VK3HN Paul setup his linked dipole and Summit Prowler-IV looking for 80m contacts whilst Glenn started calling on the KX2 with whip.

Warren VK3BYD/p was still on Mt Stanley with 23 cm so Andrew and Compton deployed 23cm gear. Using the handheld and 4-element Yagi resulted in very good signals both ways allowing Warren to log 8 S2S Hotham to Stanley contacts on 23 cm FM!

We eventually packed up and headed down to The General Store for dinner before a early night as adventures to be had on Sunday.

Day Two – 04022018

VK3/VG-008 Mt Misery Range, VK3/VG-009 & VK3/VE-010 Davies Plain

On Sunday VK3PF, VK2HRX, VK3HN and myself travelled in a convoy to activate three 10-point summits to the east of Mt Hotham. First was Mt Misery Range (VK3/VG-008) where we secured an unexpected S2S with Andrew VK3ARR/p on VK3/VN-016 (Mt Alexander). On arriving at VK3/VG-008 – Mt Misery Range I  pull out the GPS to discover the batteries are flat. Not an issue as have spares. However as there were four in the party and at least two other GPS devices, I decided to leave the GPS and use the Hike2 app on my Garmin vívoactive.

VioactiveMap

The device tracked and displayed our route with no issues. Given the short distances involved, it displayed on the small screen well enough to show and giving distances back to the start point. The map above downloaded from Strava shows us navigating (following brumby tracks) around the boggy area on the return trip.  Whilst the screen is small and does not have a map, the track back was easy as showed distance and direction to start point.  Ok this device is not a replacement for a GPS and map but did track and record the walk out and back and allowed me to be comfortable in the bush without a map and compass.

Once back at the cars we headed down Mt Misery Track then across to VK3/VG-009 in time for a S2S contact with Glenn VK3YY and Andrew VK3JBL on Mt Loch VK3/VE-005 and Leigh VK3SG on Blue Rag Range VK3/VE-015. Final summit was Davies Plain (VK3/VE-010).  Davies Plain in Kosciuszko National Park is the furthest we got, just 10km from the NSW border, and only activated once before (by Compton in 2013).  The 4WDs came into their own this deep into the bush. There is no way I would have gotten Subie this deep so appreciated the comfort that Peters 4WD provided. 

VK3PFVK3HNVK2HRSVK3VE010

It was 2+ hours of dirt road driving each way including some rugged 4wd tracks but a real experience. Here we are on Davies Plain 10k from NSW.  I had to force the group to turn and head back so as to start my trip home that night and suspect had I not they would still be out there chasing summits on 4WD tracks.

In memory of Subies passed, this year Ron VK3AFW hosted the ‘Bust a Gasket Award

Thanks to Brian VK3MCD for offering, arranging and hosting the 3rd Annual Mt Hotham SOTA weekend, thanks also to all the participants – the camaraderie was terrific and it was great to have like-minded company to discuss a variety of topics and finally thanks to the chasers who patiently waited for us to arrive and then who tolerated us activators passing the microphones around to ensure all qualified the summits. An event like this only works because of the efforts of ALL who participate activator and chaser alike. 

MT HOTHAM SOTA SUMMIT 2018 – Bust a gasket award

This year there was on offer the ‘The Bust a Gasket’ certificate. The award is in memory of Ron VK3AFWs Subaru which blew a gasket during the previous Hotham weekend (2017).  

This will be awarded to Hotham weekend activators who achieve at least 50 points on Saturday 3rd Feb 2018 (sunrise to sunset) with multipliers for S2S contacts with VK3AFW. 

BAG 2018

21012018 – VK3/VT-062

21012018 – VK3/VT-062

I had previously attempted this summit last November.

Not a big walk but lack of attention to what was going on resulted in me taking the wrong track and wasting time and energy. Was not going to happen this time.

ViewTrack

After a couple of ruling K’s on a open track you arrive at the point where the track heads down to the river. We want to follow the old track. This is the track header. It is a typical case of the original track being closed and  The Forests Department (what ever they call themselves today) is trying to regenerate so you have to stay sharp. Still easier that raw bush bashing.

I have seen this hexagonal / beehive formation in rocks previously the way to Mt Erica and in the Grampians National Park.

Honeycomb

A google search attributes larger formations of this shape to giants fighting. Scientists have a different take and they say that these shapes are a result of a cooling lava. Volcanic eruptions causeing lava to ooze out of the earth slowly then the cooling and contracting of the lava formed this shape, either way cool rocks.

The final push through scrub to the AZ to setup across ‘track’.  Setup dipole NS as per normal to maximise VK1,2 & 5 contacts. Conditions were not in my favour as took half an hour to secure the summit. I was happy to receive the contacts I did. In this case the NULL was pointing to Peter VK3PF and we failed to secure contact despite the short distance. 

Results

 Here I am heading back on the relaimed track. Summit qualified and weather holding. 

ViewBack

 Anyway another complete secured. This one is a lot of effort for the points. The track is heavy rise and fall. Navigation off track is clear enough but will only decline as the forest reclaims its own.  

01012018 – VK3/VE-020

31122017 / 01012018 – VK3/VE-020 Mt Lovick in VKFF-0619 – Alpine National Park

ViewVE020

New Years Day is a unique day for SOTA as activators can claim points for an activation either side of the ‘UTC rollover’. Whilst a chaser can claim the same summit multiple times a year (unique days) the activator can only claim a summit one a year. Given AEST and daylight savings, UTC is 11:00 am in VK3 and on the last day of the year, in a new calendar year.

This is not to be missed The plan is to be on a site that requires more that normal effort to access then activate. You will gain double points for your trouble.

Ok so given the weather was not indicating the possibility of being in a National Park during severe fire alert, off to a high point remote summit.

Mt Lovick has been on my list for a while. Not too remote but at the end of a 4WD track in the Alpine NP.  I’ve been late for NYE before. Still worth the trouble but a bit like arriving late for a shark feeding frenzy, just with polite sharks…  there were bodies everywhere and you missed it all. Access is from a 4WD track s 6hrs from home so left the day before to camp at the Bluff Hut so as close as possible for the 1st.

Access is clear. Through Mansfield to Howqua Hills then 30Ks down Brocks Road then Bluff Link road into the Alpine National Park. This area is under access restirctions – Alpine National Park map 35B It is the gates that are of interest. Taking advice from those who travel before (and reading blogs) the intention was to park at the gates and walk in.

OverView

Parked subie at the gate and marked on GPS. (Not spending 5 days 1k from the car). Good spot which allowd the car to repeat my APRS packets from the HT. Only a 1.5km walk up to the hut along open track any way. Arrived at the hut with time to setup tent in light and walk up the ridge like to watch sunset.

SunsetVE020

Was not alone. My neighbours were whip cracking country music fans.  Whatever I was tucked up in my sleeping bag by dark so as to have a early start on the next day. CampBluff

Nearly full moon so the difference between night and morning was the number of birds. Got up and after brekky and a cup of tea headed up Bluff Link Road to Mt Lovick. This is 4WD track. Several came through and they were slow. Easy 3.5K walk across the track. There is a sign and a track that goes to the summit. I found the track coming back. The summit is to the right. Nice and big, can’t miss it. Saw a big fat fox in the activation zone. Chucked a rock at it and it left the scene very quickly. Few march flies but the big dopey ones you can flick away.

OperatingPosition

Close to perfect operating conditions, low 20’s with light wind and clear sky. Setup under tree with shade. Using trapped 20/40m dipole at 7m clear NS. So here I was perfect conditions and on time, so off I went looking for contacts. Checked out the spots on PnP and went to 20M to secure two CW S2S then on to qualified the summit on CW. Spotted and sat on 20m for a while before going to 40.  20m confusing as secured ZL but not VK6 whilst 40m was alive which was welcome. Had a go at 80m as the KX3 will tune a wish but no contacts (heard VK3GGG) so back to 40 to play SOTA. Sat on 40 SSB and worked all comers. Jumped across to work new spots as they came. Even calling S2S caused a pile up. 7.032 was empty so decided to work CW up to UTC. Stayed for over an hour post UTC working SSB and chasing S2S. 27 SOTA S2S from VK3/VE-020;

  • VK2WP on VK2/CT-006
  • ZL1BYZ on ZL1/WK-035
  • VK7FAMP on VK7/CH-057
  • VK1AD on VK2/ST-006
  • VK1FWBD on VK1/AC-043
  • VK3GGG on VK3/VS-015
  • VK3ANL on VK3/VC-002
  • VK2HRX on VK3/VS-001
  • VK3PF on VK3/VE-126
  • VK2IO on VK2/HU-093
  • VK1FWBD on VK1/AC-002
  • VK3CAT on VK3/VT-010
  • ZL2KGF on ZL1/WK-142
  • VK5CZ on VK5/SE-016
  • VK2QR on VK2/SW-021
  • VK2HRX on VK3/VS-001
  • VK2WP on VK2/CT-006
  • VK3AFW on VK3/VE-031
  • VK3ARR on VK3/VC-019
  • VK3ANL on VK3/VC-002
  • VK2IO on VK2/HU-093
  • VK1AD on VK2/ST-006
  • VK1ATP on VK1/AC-043
  • VK3OAK on VK3/VC-024
  • VK2CDS on VK2/HU-013
  • VK5PAS on VK5/SE-013
  • VK3PF on VK3/VE-014

& 11 WWFF P2P contacts from VKFF-0619;

  • VK3CAT in VKFF-002
  • VK2HRX in VKFF-0213
  • VK3ANL in VKFF-0556
  • VK1AD in VKFF-0474
  • VK2CDS in VKFF-0017
  • VK3PF in VKFF-0339
  • VK1AD in VKFF-0474
  • VK3GGG in VKFF-2129
  • VK3ANL in VKFF-0556
  • VK2HRX in VKFF-0213
  • VK1FWBD in VKFF-0377

From here its was walk back to the tent. Left her up to dry. Packed up as a BMW X5 turned up. There were also 4 Land cruisers already there. Busy place. Subie would have made it to the hut in low but agree it would get real challenging should the weather turn. Once packed headed down to car to start the journy home.

Considered Rocky Ridge on the way back but decided to decline as already worked and had a long drive ahead.

Overall a great trip. Its 4WD past the gates however a clean walk from the gates with great facilities and views worth the trip alone.

27122017 – VK3VC-019

27122017 – VK3/VC-019

Coming to the end of year and realised I had not activated VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip nor VK3/VC-032. 

VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip is 10 minutes down the road with excellent access. Its not a favourite site as weedy and rubbish on the site. VK3/VC-032 is a great site but 30min drive so will address it soon enough.

HB9DQM was planning to activate VK2/SM-0012 so decided to pop out to gain a 10 point S2S.

VK3VC019

Setup to the right as there is a stump there that allows a 40M dipole to be strung up. Despite being close to the comms towers this is a better position then heading along the ridge as you avoid the power lines. Worked the other activators out before turning to CW;

  • VK/HB9DQM/P on VK2/SM-001
  • VK2IO in VKFF-0269
  • VK3PF on VK3/VE-097
A Black wallaby can out to say g’day on the way home

BlackWallaby

we have a lot of Roos in the area so this was a novelty for me.

Ok off to plan for VK3/VC-032, tomorrow ? Will be tight as daughters birthday, lets see …..

Update:30122017.

There was more fencing to be done at brother in-laws farm so no more SOTA for me despite being within stones throw of summits and parks;

MtLeuranIMG 2046