14th – 17th November – KRMNPA weekend
15th November is proposed SOTA Mass activation day.
Intend to camp in the Alpine National Intend on the weekend of 15th November 2014 with Rod VK2TWR.
The Cobberas area is in the East Alps Unit of the Alpine National Park, which is in the remote north-east of Victoria adjacent to the Snowy River National Park. The Cobberas Range itself is just south of the NSW border.
This this the furthest I have travelled for SOTA. Will be travelling up Friday the14th picking up National parks on the way and again working through parks on the return trip Monday 17th.
KRMNPA National parks;
Snowy River NP
Saturday 15 November 2014 as the VK SOTA Party mass activation day.
My maps show a track to Mt Cobberas Number 1 summit. It appears this track will be marked.
Plan to be on that one before sunset on Saturday for the DX effort as will have a track to walk back down in dark on.
Camp at Native Dog Flat – Latitude: -36°53’47.4″ Longitude: 148°5’22.2”. The camp includes a toilet, water from the Buchan River and plenty of open space.
VK3/VC-003 – Mt Ritchie
- KRMNPA in Yarra Ranges
- WWFF ID – VKFF-556
VK3/VN-027 – Mt Gordon
Great day out SOTAing. Two summits, 2 S2S, 2 NP, 3 CW and 2 2M contacts.
Was concerned as the weather reports during the previous week were for for more of the same harsh condition experience previously but it ended up with 5% chance of 1mm rain and as Michele was working, I charged the batteries and made plans to head out Sunday. I keep a list of proposed activations so dusted off Mt Ritchie and Mt Gordon.
Previous activation of Mt Ritchie was with VK3ZPF Peter and it was cold. Mt Gordon was new for me. These two make a good pair due to being close. Didn’t think Mt Vinegar was going to happen so left it to do with Mt Dom Dom in summer. View of Mt Ritchie with fog on the way up,
Foggy and patchy snow on the way. I hired a set of yowies again and put them on as the snow was now full cover. The snow was 10cm on the summit. The real issue was the water from melting. It was easier to walking in the snow as the lower regions were just slush and mud. View from top in full sunlight,
VK3IL David was on Mt Buller and we have several contacts on the way up to Mt Ritchie. I called again once in the zone to start the activation with a S2S. David was using 2M only so taking a while to qualify.VK2YK Adam spotted David which gave him the response needed. I could hear the increased activity on 2M and picked up a contact with VK3PI.
CW was the highlight. Took the MTR as had programmed CQ call into memory. Ran a could of times with no response. Not the first trip into the field but yet to make a contact. First trip she was covered with snow. Palm Paddle worked in the cold. Little bit stiff on one side so may need a review.
VK3/VN-027 – Mt Gordon
Operating position on Mt Gordon,
Mt Gordon does not have a lot of places for an antenna as there was constant mountain bike activity so setup off to the side and out of the way.
Had another go on Mt Gordon with MTR again with no response. Not convinced I have aligned it correctly. Followed the instructions with no issues bout will be seeking assistance with a good CRO and frequency counter.
It was nice to have time and conditions so could have a play instead of activating then getting out of the weather.
Now lets get into Navigation. GPS tracks where Red is Proposed and Blue is actual,
There is always a slight deviation between what is on the maps and reality. You have to expect that and act accordingly. You can’t expect the GPS to give you a step by step view.
Not getting along with my GPS’s at the moment. The device in the car sent me to Mt Gordon via Marysville. Took 30m to get there. I over-rid its authority on the way back and only took 10min.
The handheld has been been sending tracks without way points. This started after updating FW to 3.7. Revealed itself on Talbot Peak walk. The Alpine track is clearly marked and we were able to navigate even where the snow had covered the track. Current tracks still worked so able to backtrack but the new track only start and finish points. Recreated tracks at home with the same issue. Had a google and there were several pointers to ‘update FW and Basecamp’ as a solution. Not happy with the ‘update software’ solution to problems. I keep both current but do not auto-update. Sent a email to Garmin with details and whilst receiving a acknowledgement of the email, yet to receive a response from Garmin Support.
Updating the FW and Basecamp addressed this issue. There is a issue with the earlier Basecamp / and 3.7 FW releases.
Currently eTrex 30 FW is at version 3.90 and BaseCamp for Mac at version 4.3.4. This is working.
Check your tracks before going out.
Spot Device. Disappointed that it only got 5 packets out over the day. This is a satellite based device that requires subscription. Consider it my backup device or where to start looking for the body. Worked fine in Nepal.
The APRS also only got packets from Mt Gordon. The radio (VX-8G) was taking its time to locate satellites and I did head off instead of waiting. The cover of Mt Ritche must have prevented the car receiving the packets as I could hear it sending on the way up and whilst on the summit. The only packets that made it out were from Mt Gordon and repeated from the car. Here you can see me driving up to Mt Gordon then out of the zone to walk in. Glad I parked off the road as it was busy with mountain bikers driving up to go down the track.
Overall a great day in the bush with all my toys.
VK3/VE-022 (Mt Speculation)
VK3/VE-043 (Mt Despair)
VK3/VT-001 (Mt Howitt)
KRMNPA in Alpine WWFF ID – VKFF-619
Three summits in the Alpine NP before the road closes.
For this activation I planned to camp at MacAlister Springs then make my way along the Crosscut Saw to Mt Speculation then across to Mt Despair returning to Mt Howitt in the evening. Mt Despair was going to be optional dependent on conditions. Fortunately the weather whilst grim was on my side. Cold, snow showers and wet but no heavy rain whilst walking. The fog and wind would come in then clear up to just to taunt me. Have good equipment so a case of keep going.
Activation went according to plan. Drove up Saturday evening. Arrived at Mt Howitt car park at 6:00pm. Walked into MacAlister Springs camping ground. Dark but can follow the track. The waxing moon helped when it came out but the track is quite well defined. A bit of slipping for the last 500m as the rocks increased when starting the descent into the camping ground.
Setup tent. Cold. So called a night. Woke up just on light, had cup of tea and weetbix then off as had a lot of ground to cover.
Walked out into fog past a couple of confused brass monkeys into the spur.
Have to stay sharp,
but basically a uneventful trip out across the spur line. Actually quite exciting. This is what you are here for.
VK3/VE-022 (Mt Speculation)
Made to Mt Speculation just after UTC. Had to select a operating position from Mt Speculation out of the wind as it would burst and slight snow showers. With the coat and layers of jumpers, gloves and beanies no issues. Great signals today 4 S2S (VK1DI/p2, VK3ANL/p, VK5PAS/p and VK1RX/p). Packed up and moved on once quite.
VK3/VE-043 (Mt Despair)
Walk into Mt Despair. 4 Km across, down then up. Walking in the fog not a problem as the track is quite good. Better that expected.There are a couple of areas where you have to scamper across rocks and the track will disappear completely. I was using a GPS with the route defined so just a case of following the pointer.
Another quick activation but bagged 3 S2S (VK2IB/p, VK3EK/p and VK3MRG/p). Packed up once no response as wanted to be back on Mt Howitt before dark.
Really glad to pick up these two summits as the second attempt to get this far out. Now time to get back.
Stopped to enjoy the view on the way back when the clouds would clear.
VK3/VT-001 (Mt Howitt)
Comfortably back on Mt Howitt before dark. The fog cleared up and was a nice walk. Mt Howitt is barren and with the wind and cold not a place too as quite exposed. Despite the 10 points this is a boring summit. Have to setup antenna using rocks as no trees in the zone. Antenna fell down on the first call but I got it back up and qualified the summit. No phone so not able to checkout other activations so missed both VK3WAM and VK5CZ. Quick activation and will apologise to any chasers who may have missed the opportunity due to quick activations. Whilst conditions improved I still wanted to keep going. Quite cold so did not want to sleep another night on the hill. Got back to Mac Callistor springs no issues, grabbed the big pack and walked out in the dark. Made it home 01:00 Sunday.
This is a good walk despite the warnings. The spur line is exciting. The real issue is the changeable weather. My second attempt to Mt Speculation as the first last year was cancelled under heavy wind rain then real snow. This time whilst fog is annoying not a issue.
The state of this track is clearly declared on signs at the Mt Howitt Car park and also the ‘Wilderness Area’ status of the area is declared as you enter the CrossCut. You have to be prepared to support yourself out here. That said the harshness of terrain and navigation skills required are not greater that that for the Sierra Ranges in the Grampians. There were always tracks to follow and the vegetation whilst thick still not as harsh.
Still want to activate The Viking and The Razor but not planning to walk in from MacAlister Springs. Too big for for a single day.
VK3/VN-028 (Mt Piper)
VK3/VN-015 (Mt Hickey)
VK3/VC-014 (Mt Disappointment) – VKFF-264 and KRMNPA
APRS – Limited.
After being away for three weeks I went out to pick up a couple of summits as this would be the first month since SOTA launched that I have not been out. Two I have done before and one that I had missed.
VK3/VN-028 (Mt Piper)
This was a summit I had not activated before. Easy access. 900m walk from the car park to the summit.
I came from Kilmore down the Broadford-Kilmore Rd turning right into Jeffreys Lane before turning left into Mount Piper.
Nice clean summit with a trig point to strap the antenna to. No S2S. Lots of chasers so a quick activation.
View from Mt Piper to Mt Hickey. The fog was hanging around Mt Hickey.
VK3/VN-015 (Mt Hickey)
I forgot how noisy Mt Hickey is. Had S7 -S8 noise. Was not able to work a SOTA station for S2S has could not hear through the noise.
Able to work VK2AFA/p on VK2/NW-026 which was the only S2S for the day.
Access from freeway using Ennis Rd. I don’t use Mountain track but go further down and up Mt Hickey Rd. There are coms towers on the peak hence the noise. Park the car off the tracks as motor bikes come through. Have to go for a walk to ensure access is as per the rules.
Summit covered in fog. High noise level. Once qualified happy to pack up and head to Mt Disappointment.
VK3/VC-014 (Mt Disappointment)
VKFF-264 KRMNPA – Kinglake National Park
Turn off the highway into Epping-Kilmore Rd. Turn left into South mountain road and follow. South Mountain turns into Mountain road. Mountain road becomes dirt and joins Mt Disappointment rd. Parked the car at Blair’s Hut picnic area and took the track for the final 1.5Km. The walk is quite nice through the undergrowth. Got onsite towards the end of the day but enough time to work all comers.
If you follow the track up to the summit from the picnic area and keep walking you will come to a fenced area. This is where the state forrest becomes National park. Keep walking as there is a table within the zone. By setting up here you can be in the NP park and SOTA activation zone with luxury conditions to operate from.
Went to 14.280 and made several calls after sending a spot. Could hear other stations but no response to my calls.
Walked out just on dark to finish the day on a good note having bagged all my intended summits.
Blair’s Hut picnic area
01-03112013 – KRMNPA Alpine NP
01112013 – SOTA VT-004 Pryces Plain
02112013 – SOTA VE-016 King Billy No1 and VE-012 Mt Marjorie
03112013 – SOTA VT-001 Mt Howitt
APRS Limited G3 Limited
Had taken from the 1st to the 4th of November off. Enough time for a multiple overnight trip exploiting the Alps Walking track before summer weather. So left home on the Friday the1st and back Monday afternoon.
Day One – Friday 1st November
Drove down to Melbourne then across taking the Princes Freeway to Traralgon. Head up inland to Licola then heading up the Tamboritha Road. Keep going until reach the Howitt Rd car park. All the roads were open and in 2WD condition.
Arrived onsite on dark. Decided to camp at Howitt Rd Car park as had not walked into MacAlister Springs before. Should walked up to MacAlister Springs camping ground. It is a clear wide track and lands you at the base of Mt Howitt. This would have saved me 4.8K each way for the next two days. It is a clear track that could be navigated in dark.
Qualified VT-004 Pryces Plain on way up.
Day Two – Saturday 2nd November
The plan was for three summits being VE-020 Mt Lovick, VE-016 King Billy No1 and VE-012 Mt Marjorie then Mt Howitt for evening activation. The plan is to trek out and activate on the return trip. Droped Mt Lovick so only went as far as King Billy 1. This was directory related to camping at Mt Howitt car park not MacAlister Springs. Had lost 2hrs walking time and didn’t want to be walking in dark. The terrain was good as can follow the Alpine Walking track to all points of interest so up to weather and light now.
Checkout the view from new toilets at MacAlister Springs.
View from Mt Marjorie. Very exposed on the summits but weather was good if not sunny. Had to use sunscreen as no where to hide once setup. Setup on King Billies using a tree.
Poor signals. This was to be the norm for the day. Bad conditions.
VK3/VE-016 was worth the walk. Whilst only 5 contacts due to conditions, managed 3 S2S contacts. CW with VK3BYD on VK3/VE-006 as well as VK5ANL on VK3/VN-003 and VK3MRG on VK3/VN-005 .
VK3/VE-012 and still poor signals. 4 contacts including VK3PI on VK3/VC-012 and VK2IB on VK3/VE-130.
Got back to Mt Howitt in dark. Putting the antenna up was a struggle as only rocks on site and now fading light. Got it up and listening was well as a couple of calls when she came down so given the poor conditions still in play decided to leave for the day and get back to camp.
Picked two 10 pointers for the day. Was in cover when the weather turned. Not a bad outcome.
Qualified VE-016 King Billy No1 and VE-012 Mt Marjorie
Day Three – Sunday 3rd November
Had already decided to drop VE-043 Mt Despair due to the added walking in times. So plan was to walk out to VE-022 Mt Speculation and returning to pickup VT-001 Mt Howitt for evening activation.
Got further around and wind gusts were increasing.
Decided to return to Mt Howitt and leave Mt Spectular to another day
EndFed Dipole strapped to rock on Mt Howitt.
Made it back to MT Howitt for pre UTC.
6 S2S contacts. Weather was coming up from the south and you could see it. Decided to leave as soon as weather turns. Had radio equipment packed up when the first snow showers came. Had jackets and pants as ready for harsh weather. Started the walk out back to Mt Howitt Camp. Easy walk. Snow starting to patch when back at camp. Decided to change sites as reasonably exposed at current camp. Noted a couple of sites on the way up. Found a site called ‘A4’ and setup in a better protected site.
Qualified VT-001 Mt Howitt for my 18Km walk.
Day Four – Monday 04th November
Camped at VT-002 Mt Reynard in the snow. Spent all night in the tent and worked a couple of SOTA stations who also out in the night. No boogy men here!
Woke up to several cm/s of snow. Slept well as sleeping bag and swag in the tent works well. It would be a different story if had to spend time. Tent not big enough to stand in. Also nowhere to keep shoes / stove under cover out of snow. No water got in so dry night but having a area covered by fly would be an advantage in snow.
Up early and the snow had not stopped. Couple of cm of cover now. Had a cup of tea and a look around and decided to pack up. Packed up camp into car between showers and went for a walk to find the track. Found the start to tracks but was not comfortable in the snow. Still snow showers with no indication they were going to ease. Was not prepared to go into the snow myself. Called it a day and headed home.
Planned for eight and picked up four. Was not expecting a stroll but it appears the Alpine NP will not be giving up her points easily. The weather ranged from sun screen from the full sun to plastic pants as snowing.
Not going out into the snow alone. No different to storms in the Grampians just looks nicer.
Points from this trip,
- Have flexible plans
- The Alpine weather is unpredictable
- Batteries loose condition in the cold
- Walk in to MacAlister Springs and set off from there
Will be coming back here before summer hits.
Overview – Overview-Map.pdf
Day One – 01112013-Map.pdf
Day Two – 02112013-Map.pdf
Day Three – 03112013-Map.pdf
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
SOTA VK3/VT-026 (Mt Toorongo Range)
SOTA VK3/VC-025 (Mt Dandenong)
KRMNPA Churchill NP
KRMNPA Dandenong Ranges NP
SOTA VK3/VT-026 (Mt Toorongo Range)
Have not been out this month due to family commitments but had planned to activate Mt Toorongo Range as it appeared to have 2WD access and qualifies for the 3point bonus during winter. The key is Mt Baw Baw tourist road. This is a sealed road with signs access from the freeway. Whilst curvy it is as good a toad as any. However there were obstacles. This was due to the recent wind and just a case of clearing access. Could drive under the log after clearing debris on the road. You need to keep your eyes open for the turn off to Link road. Link road up is dirt but again excellent condition and suitable for 2WD access.
Drive down Link road for 20 mites then turn into Mt Toorongo Rd. I parked the car at the intersection of Mt Tooronga Rd and Mundic road. Mundic road becomes the major road at this intersection. Mt Toorongo Rd does continue up and is good quality however there is a gate 800m up the track which would present challenges to turn around and there is only 1.2 K to walk so in in opinion not worth the hassel. This easy access put me 2hrs ahead of schedule, actually first time I have been early for an activation.
It is a good walk with the final 200m cross bush to the summit. There was a bit of wind around. Setup the end fed as a ‘L’ as the bush was creating challenges with the squid pole wight he being able to secure in the wind. S2S contacts with VK2WU on VK3/VE-002 (Mt Feathertop), VK3YY & VK3ZPF on VK3/VT-006 (Mt Staint Phillack) and VK3PF on VK3/VT-046 (Mt Tassie)
Moved on as wanted to pickup a couple of NP’s and Mt Dandenong on the way home.
VK3/VC-025 (Mt Dandenong) and KRMNPA Churchill NP .
Picked up Churchill NP on the way to Mt Dandenong. Could hear SOTA activations but was not getting a response. Worked VK3EJ to qualify the park and moved on to Mt Dandenong hoping to gain SOTA S2S.
KRMNPA Dandenong Ranges NP
Qualified Dandenong Ranges NP during Mt Dandenong activation. Have to be careful here as to ensure in the NP and within the 25m for SOTA. Setup at 615m just below Observation Rd. Both the the sign on site and the map on my GPS show this as within the NP and at 615M was within the activation zone as Mt Dandenong is listed at 630m. Also you need to ensure you have $5 in change to pay to get in.
You can see from the tracks It took a little bit to find a spot away from the crowds. Made the required contacts with ease including VK3ARR on 1 watt and VK5PAS in the Mylor CP.
Hung around as was a comfortable spot and ended up making 2 SOTA S2S contacts with VK3MCD on Flinders Peak and then just as I had pulled the squid pole down the Goat bleated to bring my attention to VK1DI on Mt Gillamatong. Up went the antenna, contact completed so now time to go home.
Straight forward operation. Access to Mt Dandenong costs $5 a car. Parking was a issue as the place was busy with tourists. Next time will park on Ridge Rd near Ridge Crt and walk in from the exit as close to the activation zone.
The aim of this award is to encourage portable operation in Victoria’s 45 National Parks. A contact with/from a National Park earns 1 point. Contacts via Repeaters, IRLP or Echolink are not permitted. Details of the award can be found on the ARV web site. http://www.amateurradio.com.au/award
Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award special activation weekend – Event date: 15/16th November 2014