5th Annual Hotham SOTA Summit Weekend.

5th Annual Hotham SOTA Summit Weekend.

This is normally an annual event, with 2020 being postponed due to The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season now known as “Black Summer” before being cancelled due to COVID restrictions. So rescheduled for for February 2021 we started to lay plans then COVID again struck in late December 2020 resulting with Victoria closing its border with NSW. The proposed February date was kept and we watched the travel restrictions aware it could be cancelled without notice. Finally the stars aligned and we were able to proceed, be in in harsh weather. Brian VK3BCM again secured the Anton Huette lodge and we were able to proceed in a COVID safe comfortable environment.

Whilst there were no international players, we had representation from VK1, VK2 and VK5 as well as the usual VK3 players.

Operating FT8 from Mt Hotham Sunday Evening

Thursday saw some of the interstate participants travelling towards Victoria, activating summits along their travel route. I managed to work several of the activations.

05022021 – VK3/VE-230 Mt Glenrowan Headed off on Friday. It was quiet as an expected harsh weather event came across bringing rain (116mm 24hrs) and wind. Picked up Mt Glenrowan with 4 40m SSB contacts. Its a pleasant summit even if walking in the rain. Really needed to stretch after driving.

VK3/VE-230 Mt Glenrowan. Between the rain on the trip up.

06022021 – VK3/VE-024, VK3/VE-021 Mt Blue Rag , VK3/VE-015 Blue Rag Range & VK3/VE-039 Basalt Knob.

View from Tony’s Land Cruiser.

Saturday: With VK3CAT Tony & VK3YY Glenn. I Only had to drive over 1 tree & the 2 river crossings were not an issue.

06022021 – VK3/VE-005 Mt Loch & VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham

Sunday was another day of summits. Had plans to walk out to Mt Tabletop with VK3YY Glenn which we cancelled. Due to the recent rain and lack of traffic over the last 12 months, the track had become a creek due forcing us off track trekking. Whilst we had both been on this track and had more that enough navigation equipment the walk didn’t feel right. It was hard going and lead to doubt that we would make it back for Hotham. Decided to cancel and head back to pickup Mt Loch. Happy with this direction as not interested in off-track dark walking just to prove a point, been there done that.

VK3YY amongst the wild flowers

Sunday Evening mass activations on Hotham. VK3CAT & VK2IO worked into Europe, South Asia, ZL& VK6 with the KX3 and magnetic loop. VK3ARH worked VK6 and ZL with FT8 then typically, late cloud & fog came over causing us to retreat to the Pub.

RaspberryPI based FT8 portable config

07022121 – VK3/VE-017 The Twins.

Activation with Glenn VK3YY on the way home Monday. We came up the ridge and missed the track. Didn’t take any longer just was confusing as the route was not playing out as expected. Once joined up with the track headed up to activate the Twins. Didn’t take long to qualify (3 X 2m S2S) with all the activators in the area. Went off and gained 40m CW as well as a 80m Cw contact with VK2KI.

07022021 – Invalid activation of VK3/VU-006 Balmattum Hill
This was an opportunistic summit on the way back from Hotham. Single point just off the highway that had only been activated a single time before. The summit is on private land but there is a walking track through reserve adjacent. Not the first summit where you activate from public land on the edge of the AZ. Found information describing public route which placed the final point at 475m. Looked like a clean operation. Didn’t use a GPS on the day as just parked car and followed the signed track up. It was also as much an opportunity to break the drive and stretch legs with a clean 2k walk. Walked up until hit a fence and setup. Expected to be on the edge of the AZ but the distance to the obvious higher point didn’t feel right. Qualified on 40 and went to 80m for locals. However, checking against my watch later, and I operated (-36.758723° 145.594919°) from height of 363m. Its not 475m. It is 100m out. It was not in the AZ, not even close.

If you want this one you will have to seek permission to operate from private property. There is a residence at the base of a track off Euroa-Strathbogie Rd.