VK3/VW-006 (Warrburra/Middleton Peak)
WWFF Grampians National Park (VKFF-0213)
A part of the VKFF weekend. Intention was to pick up the SOTA summit and activate the p[ark for WWFF.
This is one of my favourite sites.
There is a camping ground as the start of the track to the summit called Borough Huts. It is used as a destination for hikers coming through Mt Rosea or the Grampians Peaks Trail. You have to book (Parks Victoria) and is costs $15.30.
Michele was off to Port Fairy with her sisters so I decided to head up Friday night for an early start. Booked a site (28) near the start of the track. Left Ballarat in the rain, picked up spicy noodles from Ararat on the way through and made to the site on dark.
There is an old 4WD track that you can follow. Shows up on Garmin maps as “The Alley”. We used this area for navigation training with Scouts as you can stay on course as long as keep looking for where the road was. There are a few spots where you have to deviate around obstacles and the start is hidden. The regrowth is coming back and it is not as clear now. Took nearly 3 hours to cover the 5 odd kms to the summit. It does get steep and with the loose rocks you have to stay sharp. This was where I cancelled earlier as did not want to be in the loose rocks in the wet. Glad I did as slipped a couple of time in good conditions and scratch lower legs. Nothing that Betadine can’t fix. Once off the saddle you proceed through high grass and across slight valley.
Followed the track up then headed across the rock face to come put in the saddle. Did I say the regrowth is thick ? Setup once out of the depression and in the zone as the rock formations do not lend themselves to 40m of wire so need to take what you can. As it was I weaved through a couple of trees with the wire North/ south.
As the WWFF weekend was on there were amble chasers around and had no issues gaining 10+ contacts. I did not intend to stay for 44 as already qualified this park so really a case of once had worked all comers head backdown.
Had a couple of hours walk back to car another two parks on the agenda for the day.
If you intend to head up be aware the regrowth is getting quite thick, take a machete and compression bandage.
Great rock formations. Yes the undergrowth is taller then I. It was ok when waist high but this level of regrowth can hide a lot of dangers from rocks to cold blooded friends.
Looking across to Victoria Range
Once back at car, pulled down tent and headed back towards home.
Planned to activate two VKFF sites on the way home. Both just near Moyston. I use the Ararat-Pomanal road to cut from Halls gap to Ararat then head down the highway past Mt Cole to get home.
WWFF Jallukar Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2115)
First park was easy access. Just turn following gate signs and head into the park. There a couple of clearings so you can get off the road but still a dusty operation.
Good 4G signal so used the ParksnPeaks iOS app on the iPad to watch spots and log the contacts. Collected 8 parks to park in 20 minutes so once had secured the 10+ contacts for VKFF packed up and headed to the next site.
WWFF Moyston Flora Reserve (VKFF-2404)
Access is again easy as you follow the signs to the tip just before Moyston. I was in the right spot but the signs were out of date. Confirmed with the mapping from the PnP app and also talked to some locals who were walking their dogs.
Again using the app so watching spots to collect 7 park to park contacts in 30 minutes before continuing the drive home.
Worked a few more activators from the car on the way home including CW Park contacts. Good weekend with great contacts.
Tasmania trip 2019
We had never been to Tasmania so though time to correct that. The trip was not a Parks and SOTA expedition but we intend to catch up with friends who had moved there and to sample the food, scenery and hopefully see the Aurora.
Went over on the ferry so could take Subie. I have HF and VHF in the car with a Outbacker Stealth setup. The VHF is a Kenwood DT710 setup for APRS and HF using a FT891 and mAT-30 auto-tuner. So from the car I can tx on 80 to 2M.
I had a list of candidates that was based on input from a couple of activators and activation stats from PnP. The idea was that those that had recent activations should have clean access. Whilst we had booked the time off and theferry months put but did not pay attention until the week before. Saw no reason to book accommodation as prepared to play it by ear.
Left Melbourne in the evening to arrive in Devonport bright and early. Had breakfast at the House of Anvers Museum of Chocolate as we headed down and around Port Sorell to access the Narawntapu National Park on the way to Launceston.
WWFF Narawntapu National Park (VKFF-0005)
Narawntapu National Park proved to have straight forward access. We drive through heading up to the on the and proceeded to gain 10 contacts and qualify for VKFF. Intersting location as very different to the summits I’m use to. Smallish rugged costal plants. Finished up and headed down to Launceston.
Spent a couple of days and a night in Launceston. Went to a restaurant called Geronimo. This was the pick of the trip. if you do nothing else in Tasmania, go to this resturant.
From Launseaton we headed down to Hobart. Tasmania is quite compact and we were slowing down and getting use to the lack of distances involved.
Hobart felt like a country town. We got a hotel in the CDB and parked the car. We are country folk so happy to stay in city and explore. You can walk all over Hobart and we did.
VK7/SC-001 – Kkunanyi / Mount Wellington
WWFF Wellington Park Other Conservation Area (VKFF-2932)
We could see Kunanyi from our hotel window. The weather was undecided. My initial plan was to go up in the late afternoon hoping to exploit the evening grey line for 20m contacts and to get a view of the city. Access is restricted due to snow so plann to activate morning.
Headed off in the morning after breakfast in the city. Setup in the carpark with the endfed running out east west. Secured the summit but not the park. It was hard going with CW coming to save the day. Once qualified headed back down as had a dinner date in the city with Michele’s friends.
VK7/SC-037 – Mt Direction
Mount Direction is on Hobart’s eastern shore. Access is but steep in parts but overall an excellent trail. The walk is worth the views of Hobart and the Derwent Valley alone. Starting at the Risdon Brook Dam this is a straight forward walk but we left to the afternoon and were not aware that the carpark had a lock out time of 4:30pm. (Gates are open from 7:30am – 4:30pm and until 8pm during Daylight Savings) Managed two contacts on 40m before had to leave. Rejoined our party and made it back with minutes to spare. The ranger was waiting in the car park. Plan to do in morning not afternoon and take a packed lunch.
Whilst in Hobart we explored the Botanical Gardens, a-good walk from the CBD and a full day in itself. Drove up to Mona, not taking the ferry which would be a better idea, and spent a full day there. I’m a heathen and had to read what some of the pieces meant but have a lot of time for artists. We need artists in society to keep us challenged and Mona achieves that.
From Hobart we headed down to Glaziers Bay in the Huon Valley.
The goal here was lunch at Fat Pig. We stayed in B&B overlooking the farm which allowed us to walk there and back, given the red a good choice.
We headed back to see the Salamanca Market but should have stayed in Cygnet and had more of fennel and pork rolls.
Returned to Hobart and continued the quest. Franklin left us wanting. The Saffron had excellent veggie options. Fish on the pier with mayonnaise was a good as anywhere. Not a big seafood person but the fish in Tasmania was excellent. I have a rule of only eating fish if I can see the ocean. The options on the pier in Hobart lived up to this criteria. We later had fish from a cafe in Devonport on the last day where they catch and cook the fish, again excellent.
We booked two days (3 nights) in Lake St. Clair so said goodbye to Hobart thanking her for the hospitality and headed into the wilderness.
Again Tasmania in nice and compact with no real traffic stress. We headed off having lunch at the Agrarian and staying overnight in New Norfolk
Lake St. Clair – Lake St Clair Lodge
Lake St. Clair is at the southern end of Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park.
There are plenty of accommodation choices in the park, ranging from high end luxury to basic camping. Our preference was to stay at Lake St Clair Lodge positioned in Heritage listed area covering Cynthia Bay and Lake St. Clair National Park.
The car park and visitors centre are at Cynthia Bay. This is also the end point for people completing the Overland Track from north to south.
From here there are a number of good day walks as well as longer walks. The information centre has walking notes for the area and we used the National Parks map.
I wanted to pickup Mt Rufus but nature had other plans.
I’m a simple country lad. Grew up in regional NSW and central Victoria. Whilst did do some X-Country skiing, snow was not a part of my existence. When we moved to Ballarat 20+ years ago it would snow but Climate change has put a stop to that. When ever I have activated SOTA peaks in the snow it has been with at least two others. We have also tuned back in harsh conditions. Should have been aware of the level of snow but was not. The snap put a stop to my extended plans but did not stop us from enjoying this area. We did take the time to walk down two the Overland track and past the lake side. Also headed off to see platypus (but they had other plans) SOTA peak or not this is beautiful area to be walking in.
WWFF Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (VKFF-0117)
We were stating inside the National; park. Operating from the car in the car park I was able to pick up park to park contacts. Parked the car down by the ferry pier hoping for better contacts and whilst cannot write it off on poor conditions all reports were low and basically struggling.
Woke up and headed offsite a plan for SOTA peak VK7/CH-020 Mt Rufus. Great tracks but the reality was waist deep snow once above the tree line. This is where it dawned on me I was not prepared for the snow and would not get the summits on my list. Being bold and pushing limits is one thing, there was more snow that I was prepared for and also alone. I had enough safety gear but that does not justify pushing beyond limits.
Headed off the well marked track to Mt Rufus. Clear run with no real navigation going on, just follow the signs. A group of monks came up behind me as I was walking . Dressed in heavy ’skirts’ and boots they were by no means observing silence but rather enjoying themselves. They caught up to me once up on the plateau before the final push to the ridge line. By this time I had decided not to proceed but will admit considered heading off with them. They offered and I declined and proceeded back to operate from a clear position that was noted earlier and they proceeded off to the ridge line with plans to get to he summit. I could see them and noted that whilst two got up onto the ridge, the majority had decided to spend the time sliding down the snow. Sounded like a pack od school kids.
I setup in a clear position and proceeded to call WWFF. It was slow with poor reports both ways. By the time the monks had started to come back it was time to pack-up and head back down to the unit .Talking to them on the way down they described an inability to walk through the snow on the ridge and also deciding turned back. That made me feed good about my decision. This is a great walk and would recommend if in the area. Don’t get hung up on the summit, its a journey its self.
yes wombats do have rectangular poos.
WWFF Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park (VKFF-0185)
The target was SOTA peak VK7/WC-009 – Mount King William I. Following the track advice from the Lake St Clair information centre which involved following a track (old 4WD) then turning right to approach the summit from the east. There was so much water around that I would call the track a creek. Actually went off course to find a creek that the maps indicate was running in parallel to verify was on the right path. As I progressed up the track the summit would present itself through the clouds and it came clear that again (surprise) was hosting snow. Continued to walk up as the track was fun and I was not in any danger. Turned back once the track started to climb and headed back to the car. As alway the fall back plan was to activate the park.
Once back at the car I proceeded into a large cleared marsh area on the road that was noted on the way in and activated the park. I did have alerts up and wanted to come up so as to ensure no concerns as to timing. Once I had worked all callers proceeded to head back down the A10 to see what access to other lower summits was like. The bush is thick and decided not to go off track so after an hour decided to turn back and pickup Bedlam Wall. This was my fall back summit however become the only summit activated in the area.
VK7/CH-097 – Bedlam Wall
Access is off A10 down logging tracks. The tracks didn’t match my maps but was able to leave car in a safe spot in a logged clearing and headed through thickish bush for a 1.3Km to the summit. The bush was clearer then that off the road but still not to be discounted.
Deployed the doublet due to the vegitation and also hoping to shake the poor performance that was common to this trip.
Picked up Ian VK5IS on CW and went to gain a S2S with Brian VK3BCM to qualify with 40SSB. Happy to finally get a summit and a first activation in VK7.
WWFF Central Plateau Conservation Area (VKFF-1158)
To activate Central Plateau Conservation Area I will have to drive out of Lake St Clair and back down the A10. Decided to wait to dusk then headed out to a point where I noted a truck parking area within the park. Parked the car so as to exploit the ground plane (car) directed the signals to the mainland and proceeded to qualify for VKFF on 40 and 80 comfortably. Again selecting an area with marshy overlook must have helped my signals.
After two days at Lake St Clair it was the end of the trip and time to head back to Devonport and back home.
Didn’t get as many summits or parks as you could. Will acknowledge that should have spent more time planning but have no intention of pushing into the snow.
So no idea why it has taken us so long to get to Tasmania. The pace, food and scenery are spot on. We were fornatute to stay in the heritage areas and I would recommend it.
Shall return if not only for more fish but now the overland track is on the list.
Looking back to Mt Rufus,
Back to Lake St Clair
From Lake St Clair,
25042019 – VK3/VE-046 The Governor in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
This was my second attempt for this summit. Previous was with Tony VK3CAT and David VK3IL coming across from Eagles Peak. We hit Cat 5 conditions and when combined with temp decided it was not worth chasing.
This attempt will involve a longer walk but avoiding cliffs. Planned to take two days with the first spent travelling up and walking in over the first hill to camp at a site with water in the valley.
Headed off 9:30an Wednesday and drove to Mansfield to head down to Howqua Hills. Turn right through SheepYard flat and follow Howqua Hill track.
The path is marked ’to Castle Rock’ and ’To Upper Jamieson Hut’ (7hrs, seams optimistic). The 4km walk in steep to start with then down hill to the valley for Lickhole Creek.
The plan was to camp at the base of the first (55 H 443431 5880186) hill securing water as didn’t want to carry two days water in. Should the creek not be running I intended to head back and bring in water. Either way intended to camp at this spot leaving 7kms to the summit.
Found a suitable place for the tent above the creek and setup before the light rain. Slept on dark surprised as the the amount of dogs in the park. You could hear at least 4 different howling. I don’t know if they were wild or from hunters. have heard the wild dogs and cats in the Cobberas but not in the Alpine before.
Up at first light and headed off at 7:00am to the Governor.
Left the tent up only taking radio, jacket and first aid gear on the walk to the summit. This reduced the load from 20kg to around 8kg with 4l water. Glad I camped as planned as whilst you could hear the water as you walked up Lickhole Creek but the blackberries got thicker until access would be prohibitive. Whilst you could walk down the track with a good touch, there were not the camping opportunities along the way. This was a good plan and had margins for a slow walker like myself.
The track was easy to follow despite the blackberries encroching. I would not recommend walking down here in shorts. There were a couple of red triangles to reassure you’re on track but essentially a case of following the track as it weaved up the valley heading to Mt Darling. Leisurely walk that picked up once at the base of Mt Darling.
Once clear of the valley and the blackberries, the going was uphill so slow but a case of keep plodding. Turned and headed accross to the saddle hitting a ‘track’ to the Governor. Continued and once in the zone and in a clear area I setup the ended and started calling. 40m was not behaving, nor was the phone. Expected phone service from Buller but it was patchy and as a result unable to get a SMS spot out. However after waking for 5 hrs I was not leaving until qualified however apprehensive and only had an hour allocated on the summit to get back in day light.
Finally qualified with 20M ZL, 40M CW and SSB contacts to finish up heading back at 13:30. 40m was hard going and we have been spoilt with spotting and the number of chasers these days.
The walk back to camp was quicker as basically down hill. Followed the track out and across to Mt Darling to head back down Lickhole Creek track. Straight forward operation. Nothing like the stress involved with heading from Eagles Peak. Made it back to my camp to be left with the final 4Km back to the car under full pack with limited day light. Made it back to the car with torch in the dark on good tracks.
No issues but will declare I was tried and had sore legs but safe and had successfully qualified a remote summit. The weather was perfect. Light rain in the night, overcast morning with clear sky around 20 max.
Not happy with the SPOT devices coverage. Whilst a ‘OK’ message got out the night before I failed to have any tracking on the next day. It was overcast and the device was in a pocket but this was ‘normal’ usage. Recently paid the $300AUD annual subscription. This was has seen 20% increase over last 5 years and with the falling AUD$ has brought the running cost into the range of an Iridium subscription.
Also surprised with the lack of animal life in the area. Only saw a single wallaby, one Kookaburra, a lazy lizard and two pigeons. There is more animals at my place these days. I could hear dogs at night and there was evidence (scat) on the track so I hope the ferals haven’t killed all natives in the area.
Overall very happy with the activation. Can recommend this as an access route. Longer than from Eagles Peak but ‘easier’ . Easy access to water at the start and trousers are essential.
Ok now there are another two summits in the area that demand respectful planning to gain….. next.
Hotham SOTA Summit 2019
The fourth Hotham SOTA Summit again organised by Brian VK3BCM and hosted at Huette Lodge, Mt Hotham. This is a great site with summits aplenty. The weekend starts on Friday with the drive up. We are talking nearly 6hrs from home so need to break it up with a couple of activations. Decided to stay away from Mt Buffalo this year so picked two sites just off the main roads.
01/Feb/2019 VK3/VU-002 (Mt Wombat) in VKFF-2403
Just off the Hume highway through Euroa. Its a clean drive up as has a CFA lookout and several comms towers on site. Drove up and parked the car in the clear so the bloke in the tower can see no issues. Went past the aviation site and ran up the end-fed down the edge. This end-fed is a none resonate 27.2m long light weight with a 9:1 unbalanced to unbalanced (unun) based on Andrews work. The shorter antenna is intended to be long enough to tune 80M whilst also compact enough to fit tight sites. I have a 40m long one with 64:1 matching unit based on Davids work, that works a treat but needs a lot of room. The shorter unit was ideal on this site. Whilst there is open area you have to setup heading down a slop so the compact was run up with the 7m squid pole and with the wire running away from the comms sites heading down the edge. This was not to avoid noise but to stay in the clear and so not to be perceived as a threat to the sites. Quick activation with S2S (VK2IO on VK3/VG-004 and VK3BCM on VK3/VE-005) a chat with the CFA bloke in the tower to find out what the fires were up to. Back down and onto the highway to continue.
Had the car on 40m and picked up CW contacts with VK3HN and VK3PF on the way up.
I had been on this site before so know its a rabbit warren. Plantation roads are dynamic at the best of times. I called Warren VK3BYD as he had been recently and had a track to follow. I could hear activations from the car and able to contact VK1MIC & VK3PF from the HT. There were CW spots coming through so ran the endfed up and picked up VK1DA and VK2IO S2S CW, the best SOTA contact. Once worked the other activators out had a contact with VK3EQ and headed back down as wanted to keep moving to be at Hotham in light.
Arrived at the lodge to meet up with regulars (Peter VK3PF,Alan VK3FABT, Brian VK3BCM, Ron and Ruth VK3AFW, Compton VK2HRX, David VK3IL, Glenn VK3YY, Leigh VK3SG, Phil and Kathy VK3BHR and Ken VK3KIM) and new attendees being Andrew VK1DA, Gerard VK2IO, Wade VK1MIC, Adele ZS5APT and Sid ZS5AYC. It was great to catch with old and new friends. Rik VK3EQ was also in the area. Some off these people I have had regular contacts with going back 6 years and finally meet in the flesh. The conversation quickly turns two planning as many had activated on the way up and Saturday is always a early start to maximise opportunities whilst in the area. Summit to Summits are the goal so timings have to be clear. There were maps a plenty and some smooth lemon based drink.
Early to bed as early start.
Saturday went out with David VK3IL, Glenn VK3YY and Phil VK3BHR in Davids 4WD. We headed off to Omeo down Alpine Road towards Mt Nugong.
01/Feb/2019 VK3/VG-018 (Mt Nugong)
Mt Nugong is a drive-up summit basically following Nunniong Road off Bindi Rd. As there is a communications tower on site the road is good quality.
This was an activation of real hams as Phil setup his hand crafted 40M SSB radio for HF and Glenn deploying his home made 2m antenna for 2m contacts.
Glenn VK3YY with Phil VK3BHR using 2m yagi.
I secured S2S with other activators in the area including VK3EQ on HF and with VK3KIM , VK3PF and VK2HRX on 2M.
Could see the Timbarra fire in the distance. Didn’t affect Mt Nugong nor Bindi or any of our planned activities but we were watching. (35km SSW of Corryong North of Timbarra and Buchan and west of the Gelantipy Road between Gelantipy and Murrindal Fire Not yet under control Sat 9th Feb)
Keeping on time is essential to maintain alignment with the other parties so we packed up and headed to Mt Bindi. This involved heading back and along Nunniong Road, then north to Sawpit Road. Then following Granite Flat Link Track to Escarpment Track, then north to reach to Mount Bindi Track.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VG-017 (Mt Bindi)
I ran up the KX and 27.2m end fed down the road on Mt Bindi to secure CW contacts including a S2S with VK3PF and with regulars including VK3BYD, VK7CW and VK5CZ. Another S2S with VK3EQ was secured on 2m. Once qualified again we kept moving to try and keep aligned with the other groups.
Phil VK3BHR on Mt Bindi
We headed back to Nunniong Plains Track via Sawpit Road and Lake Hill. Lake Hill trk was the roughest we experienced and would be a challenge in the wet but not a issue in current conditions. Once on Nunniong Road took the advice from last night and headed up the longer way but quicker route to eventually head down Jam Tin Flat. Worked out we missed the turn to the summit once ran out of hills so turned back and down Blue Shirt to an open wide AZ.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VG-011 (Mt Nunniong)
David VK3IL, Phil VK3BHR and Myself qualifying VK3/VG—011 on 2M. Photo Glenn VK3YY
02/Feb/2019VK3/VG-012 (Brumby Hill)
Retrace back to Jam Tin Flat Track, then north along Nunniong Road to Limestone Road which passed through the AZ of Brumby Hill VK3/VG-012. Brumby HIll is a clear site. The road is in the AZ but setup behind the gate to be safe. Phil ran up HF and it was quite. 2M as also quite with Glenn deploying the beam again. Then the other sites came up and it was on for all. Four S2S on unique sites and HF payed off as chased by regulars VK5PAS,ZL1BYZ,VK5IS & VK4TJ. Day coming to an end and we still had work to do.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VG-022 (Mt Pendergast)
We had had a big day with but Mt Pendergast was too good to drive past. The intent was for a quick activation as we had two hours drove to get back to Hotham for the evenings activities. Its is a clear but steep drive up to the comms site. By this part of the day the boys had had enough of me and kicked me out on the road out of the AZ and so were able to gaining contacts as soon as they got to the summit. I also need the walk to stretch my back and get the step count up. Glenn got his beam out and by the time I got there they were chasing the boys on VK3/VG-014. Qualified and started the trip back.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VE-006 (Mt Hotham)
VK1DA’s 4 element 23cm beam. Photo David VK3IL
M\BY the time we got there then summit was rocking. Ron had HF up, Wade was playing with FT8, Andrew had setup a 23cm station (1296.150 SSB) so I jumped at the opportunity to secure microwave S2S with Andrew VK3JBL on VK3/VN-001Mt Torbreck and Crompton VK2HRX on VK3/VE-030.
Rik came in from the wild and after snacks and a bear that turned up from nowhere , we headed back down to The General for dinner.
Again once back at the lodge we discussed the next day and out came the radios for show and tell. Plans were made, timings confirmed and off to bed for another big day.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VE-005 (Mt Loch)
Its was a busy site. I was the second for the day. Rick and Paul were up and gone early. I was the afternoon shift as thinking of being there for UTC rollover. Rick and Paul got out there and qualified in 1:18 (TBV) I was slighlty slower but not by much and didn’t have a snake to deal with. Its a great walk to a clear site with a perfect antenna mount.Great activation qualified before getting the pack off. Total of 24 contacts, 8 distinct S2S sites, 40/80M CW contacts and killer views.
The weather was amazing. Typical Alpine conditions, needed the jacket on the walk out, jumper on site and sunscreen on the way back.
Thanks again to thanks to Brian and Kathy for hosting another memorable weekend in the Victorian Alps. I will be back next year for what has to be the premier SOTA activation fest in VK.
VK3/VS-004 (Mt Langi Ghiran)
WWFF Langi Ghiran State Park (VKFF-0760).
Quick activation to pick a S2S from VK3BYD Warren who was out in the Grampians. Given the distances 80m was the band. Mt Langi Ghiran is essentially a rocky ridge with summit at the top. It has enough room for an 80m antenna but you have to be careful weaving through the trees and watching the rocks as you climb around. Usied the 7m Tactical 7000hds compact pole for height reducing the distance across. This pole fits inside in pack leaving my hands free and allows for scrub negotiation essential for the hike in.
Once antenna up I turned on the KX and Peter VK3ZPF was on channel. Worked him then went to CW for S2S with Warren and eventually 40m to keep the regular CW chasers happy.
- VK JA ZL – EU S2S QSO Party Saturday 20 October 2018 – 06:30 UTC to 08:30 UTC
- (Melbourne, Australia AEDT (UTC +11) Sat, 20 Oct 2018 5:30 pm)
- KRMNPA Activation Weekend – Fri 9th – Mon 12 Nov 2018 – Tony VK3XV
- VKFF Activation Weekend – Sat 24th – Sun 25th Nov 2018 – Paul VK5PAS
30112018 – Christmas Island
7 days from 30th November 2018.
- SOTA – VK9/CH-001 – Murray Hill
- WWFF – VKFF-0098 Christmas Island National Park (Commonwealth)
- IOTA – OC-002 Christmas in Christmas Island
- DXCC – OC / VK9X
- Grid Square OH2
Deal Island 2018 – Cancelled due to winds. 2019 ?
ILLW 2018 – 00.01UTC 18 August to 2400UTC 19 August 2018 (48 hours)
leave Friday 17^th August, return Monday 20^th
- Lat. 39°29.8’S, Long. 147°19.3’E
- SOTA VK7/NE-059
- IOTA – AU-0129
- OC-195 Deal Island in Furneaux Group
- WWFF – VKFF-0260 Kent Group National Par
3rd Annual Mt Hotham SOTA Summit
VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham
VK3/VG-008 Mt Misery Range
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.