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25042019 – VK3/VE-046

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.

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 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.

Camp

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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.

03032019 – VK3/VS-003 & VK3/VS-008

03/Mar/2019 VK3/VS-008 (Mt Cole)

03/Mar/2019 VK3/VS-003 (Mt Buangor) – VKFF-0766 In – Mount Buangor State Park

29/Mar/2019 VK3/VC-032 (VK3/VC-032)

Couple of local summits to keep the skills up. The skills requiring practice are CW and antenna setup.

You can practice CW on the comfort of the train (LCWO) but its not the same as when out in the wild. Noise, temps and are factors. The only way to improve is to practice is with live data so off I went to torture myself. 

Decided to visit local summits in Mt Cole just out of Ararat. Thus was a favourite spot for camping with Scouts so familar with the area.  The site is know as Mt Cole Forest but there are two seperate sites there. Mount Buangor State Park and Mt Cole State forest.  VK3/VS-008 (Mt Cole) is in the State forest and VK3/VS-003 (Mt Buangor) in (VKFF-0766) Mount Buangor State Park.  

Access to both sites is from Mt Cole Road. I access from Raglan and it comes out Warrak. Again its a actually a continuation of a couple of roads but basically the main road though as it is maintained very well and easy to follow. Don’t follow the GPS. Is this case the changing names create confusion where if you intending to travel through just stick to the biggest road. You can access VK3/VS-009 ( Ben Nevis) from this road by turning right at the sign directing to the TV antenna site. Not a big fan of VK3/VS-009 as its RF noisy.

You come out at Warlock near  Langi Ghiran State Forest (VKFF-0760) counting two SOTA sites. More info here and here.

Know a poor tradesman blames his tools but have been struggling with 40m recently. There is no logic to the conditions. The solution is to ensure your antenna will let you drop to 80m if required. 

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Top section of squid pole on VK3/VS-003 (Mt Buangor)

Have been using an ended consisting of a 27.2 m radiator and coax shield counterpoise into a 9:1 balun. The KX3 will tune a wet piece of spaghetti ( not that I carry spaghetti  up to a summit) and is able to tune this setup comfortably.

Access to Mt Cole is off the main Mt Cole road turning at the sign to Ditchfield lookout turning left not right. You can also come up Frees Rd but personally prefer staying on Mt Cole road. Also you can drive to the summit as the road passes around the site. Its rough so 4WD or AWD but not 2WD.  I park just off where you hit Frees Rd and walk up as less stress. Do also walk the loop out to keep it interesting.

The bracken is  lush and there is a slight fear of what’s sliding underneath so setup clear of the undergrowth. In this case the squid pole  was secured in the bracken to a small tree using a ocky strap with the other end aligned NS and secured to a convient tree. This was the SOTABeams Compact heavy-duty 7 m unit. This is the go to as fits packs short so convent to walk with. However heavy (1.6kg) so not used on extended walk ins. Radio operating position wa a large rock so as to be out of the bracken.

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03/Mar/2019 VK3/VS-008 (Mt Cole)

It was spot on for Mt Cole. I was rewarded with three S2S on 40m. Straight forward activation and intended to pick another summit so qualified and kept moving. Once qualified and packed and back at car. I have glued a fishing swivel to the tip of the squid and the glue failed on pack down. As a result won’t use on next activation until fixed. No issues as have spares in the car so will leave and fix later not an activation tape and spit job.

Continue down Mt Cole road. You are looking for the Beerpmo walk signs. If the take the first instance you will end up 800m from the summit or keep going and turn down to Dawsons Rock. (Camp ground at end of they road) taking the first right. It looks rough just overgrown, and finish up 500m from the summit. Either way short walk so take all the stuff you want. In this instance took the 7m Haverford Squid Pole.  

VK3/VS-003 (Mt Buangor)

Setup off to the left once up the summit. There are a several stumps and trees to use. In this instance used a snmall tree stump and again used the end fed. Then the pole broke. 

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Bottom section of squid pole on VK3/VS-003 (Mt Buangor)

The section split. It was not under extreme stress just worn. Actually a pole made from sections of two other poles that broke in different places. I have since rebuilt it with sections from a third. So used the wire close to the ground as just used the top sections attached to tree.

Two SSB Parks to Park contacts  and three SOTA CW contacts. Turned back and drove out on  coming out at Raglan. No desire for  and home early. Straight forward two SOTA summits and a WWFF activation.

VK3/VC-032 (VK3/VC-032).

Clear summit. Can drive to the site. 2WD drive down dirt roads from Ballan – Daylesford Rd (Turn at spurge Creek) or up through Ballan via Blakeville Rd. Either way heading to Camp road on a dirt track. There’s a pub at Spargo creek and or Ballan via Blakeville Rd. 

Again practising antenna setup In this case used dipole. Qualified 40m CW in minutes. Not surprising as dipole kills it for single band. If the band is open then clean operation. Also great GSM coverage so spot when ready. The AZ is becoming covered with regrowth but given the car close, I take a star picket and setup in the middle. Can qualify this site with 2M using ribbon JPOLE. 

01022019 – Hotham SOTA Summit 2019

 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.

01/Feb/2019VK3/VE-178 (VK3/VE-178)

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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)

Lizard

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

 

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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)

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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. 

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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.  

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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.

02112018 – VK9ARH in Christmas Island National Park (Commonwealth) (VKFF-0098)

WWFF Christmas Island National Park (Commonwealth) (VKFF-0098)

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Christmas Island is an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, lying south of Java, Indonesia. My wife has wanted to see the crabs for a while now we booked 7 days from 30th November 2018 (30/11 to 7/12) timed to see the red crab migration.

The crab migration starts when the wet season rains have established. The crabs’ breeding timetable is fixed around the phases of the moon. Spawning (the dropping of their eggs into the sea) must occur before sunrise on spring tides during the last quarter of the moon. We booked for the start of December hoping to see either a late migration or a times spawning.  

Passports and visas are not required when travelling to Christmas Island from the Australian mainland for Australians. You can use photographic identification such as a drivers licence. You are processed through international customs at Perth and Cocos Keeling Islands. We did see a couple using WA drivers licence and it required the assistance of additional customs officers to process.  Never keen on attracting attention from such officials so we took and used our passports.

Looking forward to the trip as the island is a prime site to play radio;

  • SOTA – VK9/CH-001 – Murray Hill
  • WWFF – VKFF-0098
  • IOTA – OC-002 Christmas in Christmas Island
  • DXCC – OC / VK9X
  • Grid Square OH29

Whilst a contact from the hotel balcony would qualify for IOTA and DXCC I was keen on the SOTA and WWFF sites. The island is 135 square kilometres in size with the Christmas Island National Park accounting for 85 square kilometres. So whilst the National Park makes up almost two thirds of the territory, it is thick monsoonal rainforest so provides challenges finding suitable operating positions. Any cleared area is likely mining lease so has to be avoided. Several beaches on offer to the east would provide suitable places for activations with a clear view to mainland Australia.

Secured the callsign VK9ARH for use whilst there. 

There is a top map available (https://data.gov.au/dataset/christmas-island-1-30-000-scale-topographic-map)  which you can buy from the Christmas Tourist information centre for $15. I downloaded, printed then imported into basecamp and studied in advance. 

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This is a good as map as any to gain an understanding of the layout of the island. Both Google maps and Garmin Birds eye are less than useful as they are aerial views and show clouds in the areas of interest. Murray Hill is to the left in thick vegetation, National parks covers the bulk of the island except for township. Two roads with an interconnect give access to all corners. 

Additional information for amateurs visiting Christmas Island can be obtained from the Christmas Island Amateur Radio Club (VK9XX). Doug, VK9XD was happy to assist during planning and crucial with verifying access to Mt Murray. 

I don’t understand why is is an Australian territory as was there a definite lack of venomous creatures there but is an naturalists paradise with the abundant unique crab, bird and marine life.

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There are a few things to watch out for;

Danger

Equipment

This was a tourist visit not a high end DX-Expedition, as a result my equipment had to fit within normal passenger luggage requirements. A Pelican 1485 AIR was used to protect;

which came in at 9.5Kg. The SOTABEAMS Compact heavy-duty 7 m mast was included in the larger bag which doubled role of also taking clothes and other stuff apparently needed for a holiday.

So after 24hrs including a stop in the middle of nowhere for additional fuel we arrived on Christmas Island via Perth and Cocos Keeling Islands. 

We had a unit in Mango Tree Lodge in Settlement off Gaze Road. The National Parks boundaries were on the other side of the road (20m away) and whilst clear undergrowth, was a vertical cliff wall and thick with trees. Contacts from unit would not qualify as VKFF. Operating from the area between road and cliff also not desirable.

Christmas Island has 2G Telstra mobile phone coverage but no 3G. This sucked and reminded me how fortunate we are with the coverage we experienced in VK from parks and from peaks. There was wireless from the unit via a private provider and at $20@G used as needed. 

UTC 2018-12-02 0145 & 2018-12-06 0420 – FT8 IOTA – OC-002 Christmas in Christmas Island & DXCC – OC / VK9X

After a last minute discord conversation it was decided to downloaded FT8 software onto my computer. The idea was to operate from the unit providing contacts for VK9 and giving me an propagation indication. Contacts were secured as far away as Russia with ASIA being the dominate area. Not surprising as using a 20m end fed from second floor balcony.  This proved to be interesting but did not spend a lot of time chasing as there were better activities to be had.

UTC  2018-12-09 0400 – WWFF VKFF-0098 Christmas Island National Park (Commonwealth) (VKFF-0098)

Located a spot  further around Gaze road where a shoulder clearing would qualify for WWFF.This was a parking spot for access to the cliff.

Setup the vertical and started calling CW WWFF. The ground was as hard as concrete but given basalt rock, not suprising.

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Vertical on Murray Hill
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Vertical in the clear

It was slow going but secured VK and then as the sun dropped the EU CW started coming in. Too fast and marginal for contacts.  Had a 6:30 booking for tea (limited sites and spots) so packed up happy to secure 6 CW and 5 SSB contacts with VK, HS and VU over the hour. This proved that 15w into the vertical was going to do the job.  

UTC 2018-12-05 0930 – SOTA VK9/CH-001 Murray Hill

Ok here we go, the real McCoy. Checked out access to the start point as were in the area to access Martin Point, Hugh’s Date waterfall and the Dales the day before. First view of the foliage to be navigated

I had a track provided by Doug who approached Christmas Island Phosphates (CIRP) to clarify access. Murray Hill had been mined for an extended period. The track was 850m to the summit from behind the mining site through the thick vegetation. We parked the car 200m higher as the Winifred track was closed due to crab movements. A small  goshawk came out and perched in the tree watching us why we got ready to go not at all concerned by us.

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Deceptive view to ‘clearing’

 It took 2hrs to make it to a ‘clearing’ in the activation zone. That not because we decided to have a coffee on the way but the foliage. Whilst it may look   clear to the left, the area contained ferns and regrowth taller than I. It was cleaner to navigate the ferns.2018-12-06 10:57:22 I went through the foliage first bashing a path for Michele who was behind me dodging the ferns. We were dressed head to foot and had even sourced gardening gloves to protect hands. It is tough going. 

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Robber Crab on Mt Murray

Once in the zone I selected a ‘clear’ site and setup the vertical.  

 Could not spot. So called on 20 and 30m

A robber crab came out and checked us out. He had an impressive set of antenna but no valid callsign no no contact made.  

 Could hear FT8 and several ‘intruders’. Could not hear any conversations with callsigns to crash so kept calling. After calling on 14.062 and 10.110 with no response decided to drop the vertical and run up the 20m end fed. I was not groin g to get the 10/80 up. Not enough room. Hoping for some NVIS as desperate for a contact.  Unbeknown to us at the time I was picked up in Singapore (9V). It was 16:30 local and we had to pull out as only 2hrs before sunset and it would get darker quick out here and we were already pushing our luck

2018-12-06 10:57:222018-12-06 10:57:22UTC 2018-12-05 9:29:02 SOTA VK9/CH-001 (VKFF-0098) – VK9ARH/P on 14.062 cw (VK9/CH-001) *[RBNHole] at 9V1RM

 So with no contacts and no time left pulled the antenna down and headed back. 

Could not maintain a GPS fix on the way back. Believe due to the combination of thick foliage and now menacing clouds. It was back to old school compass and follow bearing. Given I had spent too much time studying the maps knew where the roads were knew what direction to head but the foliage was madness and knew we were heading off course.  

 It was a tough trip back. I’m use to such a task but Michele not. She kept up not complaining as we pushed on and with the aid of torches finally a GPS fix we hit the road only 50m from our starting point. Headed back to the car and back to town.

It was a two beer night with fish and chips for tea.

This site whilst only 850m from tracks will be a challenge to activate.

Apparently in 1857 the crew of the Amethyst attempted to reach the summit but failed. We reached the summit but failed to contact anyone. Doing better than them.

 UTC 2018-12-06 1050 – WWFF VKFF-0098 Christmas Island National Park (Commonwealth) (VKFF-0098)

I had noted a couple of potential sites off Murray Road that were clear and not a mining site. Off we went to have our plans crushed by road closures. The crabs were moving and as a result more closures. This was not unexpected as spent the day before down at the Dales and there were crabs on the move everywhere. Decided to activate from the beach off to the east. Clouds were developing and it had been forecasted to rain all week. There was a section on the road to Dollys Beach that I did not want to be negotiating in the wet so checked the map and headed back up and then out to Lilly Beach.

Antenna 003

First time operating near the ocean for me. Setup the vertical and was rewarded with great reports. Clear view to VK. 15m and 20m worked. 22 contacts in the hour including DX. Stayed until sunset as intended to be out before dawn to watch crab spawning. 

Great trip. It didn’t rain until we were on the plane leaving so no mass migration or spawning. Saw enough crabs moving, several spawning and birds to keep us happy. 

24hrs later we were home. Whilst we were gone there were fires again near Scotsburn. No impact to us but back to the real world.  

112018 – VK3/VE-047,VK3/VE-045,VK3/VE-050 & VK3/VE-191

09/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-047 (Rocky Ridge) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

10/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-045 (Eagle Peaks) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

10/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

11/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-191 (VK3/VE-191)

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I’ve had my eye on VK3/VE-046 Governor for a while. Having activated most in the area is it untidy at least not to attempt an activation. The Governor has only been activated by Wayne VK3WAM in September 2012.This is a cat 5 hike. As a result I was not prepared to go out alone so put out a call for interested parties. There were several responses and once the dates were finalised both Tony VK3CAT and David VK3IL in a position to join. The planning process commenced. A weekend after Melb cup was selected to ensure the roads were open and there would also be traffic through the area assuring any access issues would be addressed. This aligned with the annual KRMNPA weekend. Whilst the Alpine would not be the most sought after site, we were glad to align the activations to the weekend as there would be a large pool of chasers available.

The original plan was to do a through hike from 8 mile gap on Brooks Rd to EaglesPeaks, then pickup The Governor and out through VK3/VE-075 to finish at Wren’s Flat. After reading Waynes Blog, calculating distances and the amount of water required and reviewing hiking sites, it was decided to go with plan B from the start. Plan B was to break the trip at The Governor and tackle VK3/VE-075 as a seperate activation. Plan B also did not depend of leaving a car at Wren’s Flat.

So it was decided to meet at 8 Mile Flat camp ground evening of Friday the 9th.

09/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-047 (Rocky Ridge) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

Drove up Friday. Meet up with Tony at Mansfield. decided to leave my car at Mansfield and proceed down Howqua Trak to Brocks Rd. We were on schedule so keep going and proceeded down Bluff Link to pick up VK3/VE-047 Rocky Ridge.  

Rocky Ridge is a straight forward operation and bit over 1.5K each way. There is a track to follow but essentially head up to the ridge line then turn right until you find a site suitable for deploying your antenna. Qualified on CW and headed back to 8 Mile Flat camp ground 

David VK3IL joined us at 8 Mile Flat camp ground. This is a great spot as within the Alpine NP and excellent faculties. There is a small creek to cross which is AWD and you can camp on the either side of the creek should the water be up. 

10/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-045 (Eagle Peaks) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)

We were on the road early Sat morning for a fairly quick drive up to 8 Mile Gap where we left the cars. David had tighter time lines that Tony and myself so needed two for seperate exits. There is enough room for a couple of cars here but you would not want too many. After getting the packs out we locked up and headed up Eagle Peaks track.

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It’s a clear run but along a ridge line. The start is up but gets more intense as you get closer to Eagles Peeks.    

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We arrived at Eagle Peaks in good time and setup along the ridge line. No point in worrying which way the dipole is aligned as limited choices. Started calling. KRMNPA weekend ensured chasers. Once qualified and after reviewing the terrain from this vantage point, we packing up we headed on through Eagles Peaks and towards the saddle leading to The Governor. It was slow but comfortable going.There were sections of bush then steep ledges requiring careful progress. 

P1000542Eventually we hit small but challanging cliffs. Decided to take our packs off to avoid having to deal the weight whilst investigating the obstacle when my pack slid down and over the cliff. I kept an eye on the pack as it had rested against some small trees while David went to the right and Tony headed left to find access. Once the pack had been recovered we took time to evaluate the situation. Basically not in any danger but given the time and carrying ~20K of equipment each including 7l of water, we decided to abort this approach. If we had had ropes you would setup a clear return path but we decided to fall back to Plan C.

HeightEaglsPeaks

 

Actual 001

 

7.2Km in 7:45 including activations and lunch. As a part of planning we had fall back positions so decided to head to Wrens Flat via Mt Sunday. 

10/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday)

Drive up in a 4WD. There were a couple of motor bikes go through whilst we were there. They were not off-road bike and after talking to them found out that they were following Google maps for a quicker way to Jamesion and had been left astray. My now they had left a bike behind 

 Mt Sunday on DMR simplex using just a rubber ducky antenna at each end. Having alm

VK3/VE-075 (an unactivated unnamed peak)

After staying the night at Wrens XXX we headed off to the ridge link to activate VK3/VE-075. The road had been torn up so it was decided to leave the car in a safe spot and walk a couple pf K’s to the ridge. Once there we turned right, dropped a bearing and headed into the scrub. This is thick.

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The going was slow only progressing 1km in an hour following the ridge line. As there was another 5.7Km to go to reach to summit, quick sums clearly demonstrated we would not back it there and back there and back today. Again the decision to abort was taken and we headed back out then along the road to evacuate plan D. Plan D was to pickup a summit on the way back to Mansfield via Jamison. 

11/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-191 (VK3/VE-191)

Another site only previously activated by Wayne VK3WAM. We followed Sappers Link and Jamieson Lookout Track. It was a leisurely drive in Tony’s 4WD through some beautiful area. A quicker route would be from Jamison along Sappers Track but we had the time to explore.

Again qualified on CW then headed back to mansfield to start the journey home. 

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Conclusion 

VK3/VE-075 is another summit that will be tackled with more respect. The going was hard through the bush. It should be addressed as a full day. 

I was disappointed not to make it to Governor. Not surprised as the distances and terrain are real. The decision to turn back was unanimous. Basically a combination of terrain and water required as well as level heads. We did not want to to require external assistance to be recovered from a undesirable situation. This attempt has given more information and experience in the area so will have another attempt at the Governor in 2019. This time using the Eagle Peaks Circuit.

Proposed 2019

Starting and finishing from Howqua Hills, it will be longer but clearer and will allow for water drops before hand.

Stay tuned, this site will not evade me forever…..

23092018 – VK3/VS-004

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.

23082018 – VK3/VE-073 & VK3/VE-123

2018-08-23 – VK3/VE-073 Mt Timbertop

2018-08-24 – VK3/VE-123

I had the week off for a planned trip to Deal Island. The plan was to charter a boat for drop off and pickup spending the weekend on the island. Always weather dependent keeping an eye on forecasts for the  return trip as did want a Gilligan’s Island situation.

This was cancelled (re-scheduled) due to the rough conditions.

I had the leave booked so decided to head up to into the Alpine NP for an overnight trip anyway.

I wanted to checkout the conditions in preparation for an upcoming hike out to The Governor. I have all-ready activated most of the summits in this area and those left have serious access considerations.  This trip was to see the snow lines so given road closures and being winter did not expect to gain deep access.  Anyway headed up Thursday morning intending to pickup Mt Timbertop on the way in.

VK3/VE-073 Mt Timbertop

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Arrived late in the afternoon with enough time to walk up, activate and safety get back. The track is in great condition. I was expecting light snow so dressed to be wet. Key will be to be past the snow for the walk out as will be in dark.  Not a but risk just needed buffer in case of issues. Parked at the bottom and headed up. Activated in the ‘clearing’ just below the peak. Well in the AZ and room to rolled out the 80m antenna. 80m is compulsory these days to ensure local contacts. For this activation I used 80 SSB and comfortably qualified. This summit is worth the walk for the views. On sunset the red sky was reflecting off the snow and provided an eerie view.

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Drove in and camped at Eight Mile Flat as this site in in the Alpine National Park.

It was cold the next morning.

Progresses down Brooks Rd. There were trees and rocks on the road. The trees had been cut and I move some rocks but got to a point where a new tree brought my plans to a stop. I could see snow on the ridge lines so not too fussed. It was a beautiful clear crisp day and worth the drive out any way.

Decided not to proceed out to Eagle Peaks. I have been before so know there is a track but the last 200m is a rock scramble. Given the snow though not a risk worth taking. Access also removed Rocky Ridge  and The Bluff from my agenda. Never really though the Bluff was an option. So headed back to pickup VK3/VE-123.

VK3/VE-123 UnNamed.

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Parked Subie at the base of Three Chain Track. It was wet and the first section torn up so not an option. There was patches of snow in corners so must of been low heavy snow recently but the track clear, just muddy. It is an easy walk with great views.

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Both these sites are worth consideration as clear access even in harsh weather. Mt Timbertop also qualifies for the seasonal 3 point bonus.