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Tasmania Trip 2019

Tasmania trip 2019

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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. 

Summits

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. 

WombatPoo

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. 

VK7 WC 009

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.

BedlamWall

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.

Conclusion

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.

Additional Photos

Looking back to Mt Rufus,

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Back to Lake St Clair

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From Lake St Clair,

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17082019 – VK3/VW-002 & VK3/VS-001

VK3/VW-002 (Red Man Bluff) in VKFF-0213 – Grampians National Park

VK3/VS-001 (Mt William) in VKFF-0213 – Grampians National Park

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VK3/VW-002 (Red Man Bluff)

Looking back towards Halls Gap over Lake Bellfield from operating position on Red man Bluff.

Access is from Mt William Road. The walk in is a short challenging 2Km. Challenging as the scrub is fierce and thick. The goal is to get onto a ridge line so as to avoid the thick gullies and to get up to the cliff line and follow the line across. Put your gloves on and pack the pack tight to get through the thick growth.

Track 001

There is a ’track’ across the top.  It is a section of the annual Serra Terror. Clear enough to follow and marked with yellow tape. Below is a section of the route from their documentation

SRtrack 001

Took 80m antenna and ran 40 odd meters of wire down the rock outcrops with the squid pole in the middle. Worked a treat with 40 and 80m contacts and a single 2M FM 

VK3/VS-001 (Mt William) 

The walk up Mt William is a 1.5Km on sealed road but steep. Left to end of day as easy and clear.

Mt William has a large flat activation zone with several comms towers. Given the easy access you could bring up elaborate antenna and supports. I go to the left between the towers so as to avoid the traffic. Once on site I pulled out the antenna to discover it had come off the winder and had transferred itself into a rats nest. Spent good 10 minutes unravelling to finally decide to cut the end off and use what I had. The KX3 tuned the 30 odd meters that was left and I secured the summit on 40 and 80m. 

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Looking towards Ararat from Mt William.

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Patches of snow on Mt William. The snow was from the weather earlier in the week but shows how cold the summit was. Also highlights micro climates as these pockets were cold. 

Overall a straight forward operation. Home on dark with 12 points for my efforts. 

03082019 – VK3/VC-003

VK3/VC-003 – Mt Ritchie – WWFF ID – VKFF-0556 

ATSonVC003

Took the ATS out to Mt Ritchie. 

This is a great summit and one I do each year.

Mt Ritchie is a good winter summit as 8 points with seasonal bonus and can be completed in harsh weather. You can access the summit from the north in summer with a 4WD but I prefer to park off Acheron Way at the gate on Road 15 and follow Road 10 to the summit. Easy clear access but the roads were not open due to several trees down. Not a issue as walking. Ive been off track in this area and its slow and wet. No need and no intent.  Didn’t take the GPS. This is not a reckless choice as used hiker app on watch;

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Its a 7k walk and all uphill to the summit. The summit is clear and open with enough room for long wire antenna. Several trees to support as well as sign posts to secure squid poles to. 

OperatingVC003

This year it was time to take the ATS out. Keen on the ATS as it supports 80m. Setting up an antenna for 80M has challenges due to the space the wire requires. A shorter length (26.8m 88f) wire and L Match Tuner has been raised to address. Whilst this setup matched 80 to 15m, it was too touchy on 80m so took a trapped 20/30/40m end fed to be sure. Really didn’t want to blow out the transistors on the first activation. 

There was light rain and cold, no snow but it was still cold. I addressed this with the proved method of layers on and still had two layers backup in the pack.These small radios do not do rain but to be fair neither does the KX3. The FT817 in its bag is best for such conditions.  Ok but 817 requires external tuners and is heavy both itself and on the battery. The KX3 is brilliant with internal batteries and tuner and lighter than 817 but not as rugged. The KD1JV devices (MTR & ATS) are small, light and efficient but requires external tuners and batteries. 

Secured the summit on 40M and CW with a P2P with VK5FLEA in Nurragi Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2247) and the usual loyal chasers. 

Happy with the performance of the radio and antenna. Called on 30 and 20 with no takers regretted not taking 80. After an hour on the summit packed up and walked back down in the light rain.

The quest for the ideal SOTA radio is ongoing ….

10062019 – VK3/VC-030

10062019 – VK3/VC-030 – VKFF-0982 In – You Yangs Regional Park 

Another close walk up the summit activation.1.7K each way for 190M elevation gain. This is the busiest summit I have found. Worse than Mt Hotham in summer.

Here is the summit marker, worn out from the traffic,

FlindersMarker

Having been here before I was expecting the crowds so took HT to activate on FM. Did post 40M CW alerts but once there, the people and grey sky made the decision to proceed with HT only easy.

An advantage to such tight summits is the car in the carpark caught and resent the APRS from the HT with no issues. Serured the summit with  5 contacts on FM. Did not secure DMR contact as it appears still have not got the correct config for simplex. 

APRSView

‘Device: Yaesu: VX-8G (ht) Last path: VK3ARH-7>SW41R5 via VK3ARH-1,VK3CV-1*,WIDE2-1,qAR,VK3RSA-1 (good)’

Proposed 2019

VK7 September 2019

Off to VK7 in Septermber.

Its not a SOTA trip but will be able to get some activations  including;

 * VK7/SC-001
 * VK7/SC-045
 * VK7/SC-027
 * VK7/CH-039 in VKFF-0117
 * VK7/WC-013 in VKFF-0347

 

VK3/VE-075

Post winter.

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19052019 – VK3/VS-011

VK3/VS-011 Mt Abrupt in VKFF-0213 In – Grampians National Park

DownSerraRange

Serra Range to the north. The seasonal burns are in full flight thus making the area smoky. In the valleys so wont be an issue accessing the summits.

SideView

Mt Abrupt is on the southern end of Serra range in the Grampians National Park. There is a defined track for access from the front. It not as bad as it looks. 6.6Km return along a busy track. Head out of Dunkeld down Victoria Valley road turning right into Grampians Road. There’s space for cars to park on Grampians Road, roughly 5km from the park sign. The track starts on the left side of road and is marked by a sign and steps. The track starts off easy and after crossing the washouts heads up to the ridge line. Straight forward walk but still raises a sweat.

You can access Signal Peak from this track. There is a marker now where to turn (54HXD1977439156) Whilst there no track to Signal Peak its a case of stay left of the ridge line and there may be tape markers left from the The Serra Terror held on June long weekend to confirm your insanity. Anyway I have been on Signal Peak previously and not interested in it so continued to Mt Abrupt.   

There were two goals for this activation, first being the short but solid walk up and second to test a doublet. 

HF Doublet

DoubletOnAbrupt

Obviously not a new design of mine. First saw a doublet in action with Tony VK3CAT.  There was some debate as to the use of coax and a bolt to stabilise the feeder but it proved to be a effective antenna combined with the KX tuner securing contacts from 80 down. From my version I now believe the bolt and coax was acting as a choke stabilising the performance of the antenna.

I decided to stick to the 88f length radiator. Its is proving to be a reasonable compromise on summits tight for space.

So this is a 26.8m (88 foot) radiator with 7m feeders ‘all band’ antenna. Ive had poor signal reports from the 26.8m end fed which has been attributed to coax losses. The end fed has a coax run to get the feed point some height. Reducing the length of the coax lead from 9 to 2m lead to RF issues and poor tuning (lack of counterpoise) so now has a 5m run. The end fed is maintaining contacts on 80 and 40 but according to the licence I have to experiment so hence the doublet. The idea of the doublet is the reduction of feeder losses and the vertical run brings the length of the antenna to ~40m. The run to the KX is heat-shrunk twisted pair with a 1:! current choke. The spreaders are dripper line with zip ties as seen on Warren VK3BYDs version. Simple cheap and worked a treat.

There is conflicting dialog on the web as to the role of the feeder in these antenna. The total length being the single length of feeder plus total length of the radiator (26.8 + 7 = 34.8m) implying  the feeder plays a minor role in radiating or length of the entire  feeder and radiator (26.8 + 14 = 40.8m).  I’ll let those smarter than me to debate this but given int is a non-resonate antenna I like the idea of 40m of wire in a compact deployment following the view of ‘as much wire in the air as you can get’. 

DoubletOnWinders

This unit tuned up on 80m find using the tuner in the KX and worked a treat.

Rolled out fine with double winders. This summit was selected given the space available the ends ended up draped on the top of the bushes when the tying failed with no noticeable impact to performance. Maybe we are getting a bit precious as to deployment given the height ?

SOTALog

anyway the results are in with three P2P and solid signal reports I’m a fan of such an antenna. 

11052019 – VK3/VW-003

VK3/VW-003 Mt Rosea in Grampians National Park (VKFF-0213) 

Mount Rosea, is at the northern end of the Serra Range. It is my favourite summit in the Serra Range not just because if has good defined access but Mt Rosea gives 360 degree views from the lookout at the summit into the Grampians. 

Mt Rosea was selected to gain practice for Alpine activations as features rock outcrops, slopes and close to home.

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Was looking at another summit (VK3/VE-075) in the Alpine however we received 96mm rain (recorded at my rain gauge) in the previous week (48mm over Easter) so decided to stay closer to home and try to avoid the water. 

This was not to be. Whilst drier that around home it was wet in the grampians. Whilst the weather cleared up the further north you headed, there were clouds looming and masking the summits. Drive up was clean and parked at the carpal off  Silverband Road. This is accesses from Mt Victory road as one way from Grampians road. No concerns with the weather, dressed accordingly once there and headed off.

Easy walk on the track. It was very wet with water courses running and wet rocks when heading up. Took under 2 hrs to cover the 4.8K to the summit.

It was a challenge to setup the end fed given the wet rocks on the summit. Also very busy with several walkers going to Mt Rosea and a couple walking through to Borough Huts so headed away from the lookout.

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40M was alive. Qualified the site in 10 min on CW including a S2S with VK1MCW on VK1/AC-048

Went off and chased the park activators picking up 2 P2P contacts (VK6MB in Heathcote-Graytown National Park (VKFF-0624) and VK4SMA Mount Barney National Park (VKFF-0338)) Spent an hour on the summit for 10 contacts and happy to pack up and the drizzle was starting to annoy me. Carefully packed up as the rocks were very slippery and I didn’t want to slip. Have to stay sharp on the way back as easy to miss a turn and end up coming out in the valley. Not a biggie as you will hit the road eventually but would be very wet in these conditions and hard going so best to stay on track.

Nice clean activation. Mt Rosea is the pick of the summits in the Serra Range. You can add (VK3/VW-009) Near Sundial Peak and (VK3/VW-007) Near Boroka Lookout if you were in the area but I was on a mission as wanted to be home to cook tea.

Will return for (VK3/VS-011) Mt Abrupt soon enough as a great site with a good walk up.