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.