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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/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/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


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.


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 Expoler 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. 


VK3YY Glenn & VK3PF Peter working ZL on VK3/VE-032 Mt Sarah 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 qulification of VK3/VE-025 was a  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.


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.


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. 

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.


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.


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. 


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


 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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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 …..


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

11112017 – 2017 KRNMPA Weekend

Keith Roget Memorial National Park Award activation Weekend 2017

11112017 – VK3/VE-093 Black Mountain in (VKFF-0069) Burrowa-Pine Mountain National park
11112017 – Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park (VKFF-0620)
12112017 – Brisbane Ranges National Park (VKFF-0055)

The annual KRMNPA activation weekend is designed to encourage portable activities in Victoria’s 45 National Parks. Tony VK3VX maintains this award and this year had 37 parks activationed out of 45 potential sites. 

I have 14 (now 12) outstanding parks to address. Decided to group these two together. Given the distance its a overnight trip. I pack the car and catch the train on the edge of Melbourne then go to work. 

Drove up the highway, refuelled in Wodonga and proceeded to drive out to Burrowa-Pine Mountain National park  to camp in Hinces Creek camp ground.,


Setup on dark and called it a night. Up early the next day, had breakfast and coffee and proceeded to travel back to the road and around to access Jephcott and Jewell Rd.

11112017 – VK3/VE-093 Black Mountain in (VKFF-0069) Burrowa-Pine Mountain National park.

VKFF 0069

There are several summits in this park for SOTA. The intention was to activate the park for KRMNPA so SOTA summit was a bonus. Chose Black Mountain as previous activators described a open summit with good access. 

Access was good, turn into Jephcott and Jewell Rd and follow Black Mountain Track. The track turns into Black Mountain Walking track and is signed as 4WD only. No issues with continuing in Subie as the track is still open and good. Parked short of the summit at a defined parking area. The track continued over the summit but was getting rough and for the extra 400m not worth passing a good parking spot.

VK3VE 093

Only need a single contact to qualify for KRMNPA , 4 for SOTA and 10 to claim VKFF. 

It was slow because early but I had time to wait for the other activators to wake up.

Qualified the Summit on CW then proceeded to chase parks contacts.

  • Peter VK3ZPF in Lake Eildon National Park (VKFF-0625) on 10,12,20 and 40M
  • Simon VK3/G7WKX in Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
  • Mal VK3OAK in Lower Glenelg National Park (VKFF-0296)
  • Sam Vk2GPL in Royal National Park (VKFF-0435)
  • Tony VK3XV in Kara Kara (St Arnaud Range) National Park (VKFF-0629)
  • Mick VK3PMG in Budj Bim (formerly Mount Eccles) National Park (VKFF-0345)
  • Chris VK3FHCI in Budj Bim (formerly Mount Eccles) National Park (VKFF-0345)

Highlight was the S2S and P2P with Simon VK3/G7WKX who was up on Mt Mt Bogong with a 2M handheld. Initial contact was marginal so ran a 2M ribbon antenna up the squid pole and secured the contact.

11112017 – Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park (VKFF-0620)

Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park is a short deviation from the freeway on the way home. I had driven past this site several times in the past on the way back from family events in Albury. 

Setup in Honeysuckle Picnic ground. Turn left off the highway and follow the signs to the park. Open clear area that I had to myself so setup dipole and proceeded to call for contacts. 

VKFF 0620

Picked up P2P with;

  • Gerard VK2IO in Prospect Nature Reserve (VKFF-1986)
  • Peter VK3ZPF in Yarra Ranges National Park (VKFF-0556)
  • Peter VK3PF in Tarra-Bulga National Park (VKFF-0480)
  • Paul VK5PAS and Marija VK5FMAZ in  Croajingolong National Park (VKFF-0119)
  • Mal VK3OAK in Mount Richmond National Park (VKFF-0361)

Warren VK3BYD came in for a visit. Had a nice chat about radios, antenna and failing code whilst out in the park, where such conversations should take place.

Contacts then slowed as it appears the other activators were travelling between parks. Still had 4hrs drive ahead of me so packed up and headed home.

12112017 – Brisbane Ranges National Park (VKFF-0055)

There was no-one planning to activate the Brisbane Ranges National Park over the weekend so given its proximity to home I decided to take a couple of hours on Sunday and activate.  

Came in along Meredith-Steiglitz Road. There were controlled burns in progress so the intended access roads were closed. Ended up  driving into Steigilitz to turn into the park. Once in the park it was a case of finding a suitably open area as intended to deploy the dipole as HF was continuing the marginal conditions we are  was not on the getting use to. Setup clear of the roads as a steady stream of Parks vehicles went through dare say involved with the burns.

VKFF 0055

Not clouds but smoke from fuel reduction fires. Reminder summer and fire season in coming. 

Was not pushing hard for contacts, more a case of available if anyone looking for the site. P2P with Niel VK4HNS in Knapp Creek Conservation Park (VKFF-1574)

Thanks to Tony VK3XV for organising another excellent KRMNPA weekend.

06112017 – VK3/VT-034

06112017 – VK3/VT-034

Intention was to activate two summits. VK3/VT-062 and VK3/VT-034 however this was not to be.

The original plan was for VK3/VT-034 and VK3/VE-016 Mt Useful. Mt Baw Baw area is on the edge of reasonable driving for a day activation (Mt Erica with VK3YY).Was going over the maps and noticed VK3/VT-062. I am allways looking for new summits to activate.  This summit has only been activated once by Peter VK3PF and I had a contact from his activation. Good access and as always keen to secure a complete saw Mt Useful dropped and replaced with VK3/VE-062.


Parked at WalhallaRd and Low Saddle Road just before the bridge over Aberfeldy River. Good area off road.

The track is open and clear. Given the weather was degrading such a track is welcome. The walk is steep as up hill right from the work go;



So off I went following the track on a grey day. up up up.. rain .. down .. up down then a river came into  view.  This did not feel right. The GPS confirmed I was off the proposed route.  Pulled out the map from pack and had a look to discover the track as planned did not match the track on the ground. It had been re defined. It is not unusual to find tracks such as this in the bush. The original went along the ridge line. Have come across several instances where a new track was cut (Mt Emu) to give better fire access.  The new track will follow the existing one then cut around the summits avoiding the tops to rejoin on the other side. Once done the previous track is covered up to discourage use. Normally you will walk on the new part as it avoids a steep climd. The Garmoin maps that my GPS and printed maps are based on do not show such changes. 

This track was not heading up to the summit and I was facing a water crossing. This was not what I was expecting.

There is a creek marked on the map marked as ‘intermittent’. I saw campers on the other side on the way down also two 4WDs were coming down behind me. There was nothing to indicate a 4WD had crossed the river here recently. The water was moving and deep, this was not an intermittent creek. The 4WDs decided not to proceed and to turn back.

Simple country lad and does not cross rivers when he doesn’t have to. Anyway this was not relvent as I had strayed off the track.  Looking at the ridges on the map I did not believe this track was heading back to the summit. Ok head back up and find the old track.

The 4WDers offered me a lift back to my car but I declined and headed back up to the top looking for the original track. Once back up to the original track I went bush along the ridge line. There were trees and other obstacles across the old route but still clear as to direction. It was another 1.5K or so to go to the summit equivalent to what I had just covered to look at a river. Given the rain was back I decided to abandon the walk out to VK3/VT-062 then back so headed back to the car and proceed to VK3/VT-034. VK3/VT-062 will be addressed at a later time.


Peter VK3PF has more information as to desirable access –

06112017 – VK3/VT-034

Access to VK3/VT-034 is via good 2WD roads. Down Springs Road then turn into Williamson Spur. There is a track heading up to the summit from intersection of Army Track and Williamson Spur trk. It was raining and the track wet so did not push my luck by driving into the summit so parked and headed up to the summit. Walked in circles for a while before setting up the dipole as trying to avoid the burnt timber. Again wet. Seems to be only able to activate in the wet these days. Qualified on CW then worked Paul and Marija in VKFF-0758