06012017 – VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday)
06012017 –VK3/VE-026 (Mt McDonald)
Both in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park.
Heading up to activate two summits using AAWT for access. Mt Sunday was considered for activation last week after successful activation of VK3/VE-040, VK3/VE-240 & VK3/VE-018 with earlier with VK3CAT. Decided not to and to come back when the weather was calmer as had unfinished business with Mt McDonald. Previous attempt (112015) to access Mt McDonald was aborted. This involved accessing from road through the dense bush. This is possible but heavy slow going. Decided best to access Mt McDonald from AAWT this time.
06012017 – VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday)
Left Midday and followed my normal access route of freeway then Mansfield to head down the Howqua Track into Brocks Road. Turned into Low Saddle Rd and crossed the Jamieson Rivers near the camp of last week. As you travelled deeper into the bush the tracks degraded. Low Saddle was fine. There are spots where I had to get out and move rocks and a couple tight squeezes between timber but overall the access good.
Then you turn into Mt Sunday road. The road is not 2WD. The final 100m of is across rocks and where you have to be careful. I proceeded in low range and have ‘Light Truck’ tyres in excellent condition. Next time would park where the Mt Sunday track meets Low Saddle and walk up.
VK3 contacts didn’t happen. Tried 40m, 20 and 10M. Worked ZL, VK2 & VK5 on 40M to qualify. Once qualified I packed up and proceeded down Low Saddle road to park where the AAWT meets Bull Plain Spur Road. Setup camp as wanted a start early to beat the expected heat.
Subie on the way back. You can’t see the new dint in the passengers side. Ran over a branch the flipped up and hit the car vertically. Watching rocks clearance and missed this stick. Grrrrr
06012017 –VK3/VE-026 (Mt Mcdonald)
This is what I was here for. Mt Sunday was a bonus.
Camped overnight at the point where the road meets the AAWT. Woke early, had coffee packed up tent and checked gear then headed off. Took KX3 and end fed for this activation.
The KX3, key, mic and 2900mAh internal nicads weighs in at 1480g. The FT817 with mic, key and 2800mAh batteries weighs in at 1570g. The KX3 is bulkier but includes antenna tuner and protective covers.
Followed the AAWT up. 6.1Km up, up across then up. As your are walking up you can see the roads weaving through the trees.
Took 2.5hrs to walk up, 30m to setup. Qualified in 20 minutes with Parks contact with VK3ZPF, then the usual culprits – VK2UH, VK7CW, VK5IS and VK2IO finally a complete for VK3CAT.
Then a couple arrived on the on the summit who were walking the AAWT. They were low on water and asking questions as to access for water at the Knobs and Mt Clear. Being aware of these sites but never needing to access I could not give useful advice. As it was expecting hot conditions, I was carrying additional water. Decided to give them water. Worked out how much I used on the way up and a margin for error then gave them the rest. Don’t go up here without water. You can’t rely on being able to access the springs or there being a fellow walker prepared to share what is the most valuable commodity in the bush.
Made a couple of post UTC calls with no response so packed up and headed back down. The track is good but still easy to wander off. 13Km for the trip but 200% easier then what appears to be a shorter option through the thick bush. Key is to stay on the ridge lines.
Great views from here,
View to Mt Clear,
01012017 – VK3/VS-027 (Ben More)
Decided to go to a local summit for the new year activations. Given UTC is at a civil time here and the high number of proposed activations it will be a great opportunity to chase Summit to Summit contacts (S2S).
Access is via a public road reservation that makes its way to the Ben More Bushland Reserve. Along the way, the road goes through several gates, one with a “Private – No Entry” sign, however the road reserve is public land. This is a popular site for hand gliders and I meet a couple coming down from the summit as I was heading up. They had decided to to launch due to the poor weather but confirmed the road condition and status. It is a rough track. There are no fences defining the boundaries until you hit the park. The summit is on private property. Watch out for livestock. The final climb into the reserve is steep. Subie handled it with no issues but would not be planning to go there if wetter.
Dark blue show the track taken whilst the purple lines show the road reserves. Don’t deviate from the road leaving the gates in the state you found them.
Being able to drive to the summit ensured I arrived on time, in fact early as expected a walk. Setup using 20/40 trapped dipole using the emergency marker;
Proceeded to work all I could find too finish up with 26 S2S contacts for 146 points. There were no hand gliders but eagles. Managed to get photo of one;
Good clear summit. Access is ensured but not 2WD track.
28122016 – VK3/VE-040 (The Knobs)
28122016 – VK3/VE-240 (High Cone)
29122016 – VK3/VE-018 (Mt Clear)
All in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park.
I’ve had my eye on this area due to the number of desirable summits and ability to use the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) to safely access said summits for a while.
Tony VK3CAT mentioned he was heading to the area after XMAS and I jumped at the opportunity to accompany him and Nan. Given the remote nature, these summits are not activated a lot. Previous activations have been by Wayne VK3WAM (https://waynemerry.wordpress.com/tag/vk3ve-040/) and Tony VK3CAT (https://vk3cat.wordpress.com/march-2015/) so also not many opportunities to go with someone who had been before. Sole hiking is not a good plan in this area. Intend to return to access easier summits but this time will go accompinied.
Weather was interesting. The week leading up predicted 36+ heat. Planning involved working outwore water points were.As it got closer the wetter the forecasts were becoming. Headed off Tuesday to drive via Mansfield as intended to camp that night. Noted the weather forecasts and decided to review the position in the morning. The closer to mansfield I got the wetter it became. Fears go excessive heat disappeared and was becoming obvious rain gear was to be deployed.
Easy access to the area. Head through Mansfield to turn down Howqen Road then pass through Shipyard Flat camping area to follow Brocks Rd down to the the Jameson River. This is marked as a 4wd track, but it is maintained to a high standard being recently graded, so no problems with a 2wd. Meat up with Tony and Nan at a camp site next to the Jameson River in time to setup tent in rain and have tea.
30Km all up over two days. GPX available on request.
The Knobs VK3/VE-040
Left Tonys camp on the Jamison in Subie to head down Mt Clear Track. Parked off the road and and headed up Mt Clear track then turned right to The Knobs track to gain access to the ridge line. One up on the ridge we meet the AAWT. This was used to to gain access to the summits. The weather was windy and grey but holding. It was a steep walk up but the AAWT track will head through the activation zone for The Knobs for our first summit. Track is clear and easy navigation. Just keep following the yellow triangles until GPS tells you you are in the zone.
This was the point for the first activation. Stayed dry but the wind forced us to select a spot just under the peak. Qualified and kept walking as more summits to do.
High Cone VK3/VE-240
Followed the walking track around to High Cone. The track did not go through the activation zone so we dropped packs and climbed the final 120M up to activate.
The rain was starting to come in now. Not a problem actually better than the expected 36+ conditions. Setup below the peak to avoid the wind and activated with intent to stay dry. Used the endfed with Tony’s KX3 to qualify.
Followed the AAWT around to camp in the saddle at the base of Mt Clear. The yellow line is the track AAWT GPX whilst the blue line is the actual route we took. There is a marked difference around ‘Square Top’. We decided not to go over the summit (can’t qualify so why walk up). According to AAWT GPX there should have been a track. No real track. Whilst the AAWT went around the base, the track in fact headed over the summit. We maintain 1490m and cut up once clear of the climb. By now the wind was quite gusty. Camped in the saddle at the base of Mt Clear. Given the wind and pending rain we selected a protected site as protected as possible and away from dead timber.
Mt Clear VK3/VE-018
Anything but clear.
The rain was varying from heavy drizzle to showers. Everything was wet. There was no view to enjoy so we qualified and moved on.
Walk back was via Mt Clear Track. This is the same track we had left the car on on the previous day. By now it is a overgrown 4WD parks management track that joined the AAWT. Despite the vegetation it is a easy but long walk as a case of head down keep going. The 4WD track is no longer used but still clear so no navigation going on. Frustrating in the final stages as it zigged and zagged down to meet Mt Clear Track. The GPS was showing 1.4km to the car for nearly an hour. There is a track on the maps that appeared a more direct route but did not see and usable options. Got back to Subie and headed back to main camp.
Tony stayed for another night whilst I headed home. Harsh weather on the way home so decided not to pickup summits on the way. Wet tried and looking forward to sleeping in my bed tonight.
Thanks to Tony and Nan for patience in harsh conditions. Appreciated the opportunity to access desirable summits.
VK/ZL – Europe SOTA S2S Party – 22 Oct 16 0630 – 0830 UTC
Andrew VK1AD & Mike 2E0YYY organised using Sota website and Facebook. It took off with 54 summits across Australia, New Zealand, Japan, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France, Finland, Bulgaria, Portugal, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Greece and Switzerland alerted. Ed – DD5LP reports that there were 73 spots on the evening.
The evening started with hail and stayed cold. Never the less went to my local summit (VK3/VC018) that has good cover and setup for the evening. Given the wet conditions, took FT817 as not ready to drown KX3. 20m dipole at 7m so was dependent on CW for contacts. A great response.
Had a great time. The EU CW is so much harder then VK, much more and much faster activity. I’m looking for these activities to help with honing CW skills. The EU pace is madness.
I recorded 5 contacts. The only DX contact was with DL3TU3H on DM/BW-089, and local contacts with VK6NU,VK3CAT,VK3ARR & VK2IO
Heard many activations and called HB9IT,LZ1GY,JS1UEU,2E0YYY (SSB) , F/ON7DQ & JP3DGT but my QRP did not cut through.
From the reports it may have paid to hang on for another 30 min. However it was cold and wet. Had a good run so went into Bunnyiong to pick up pizza and went home to warm up.
Thanks Andrew (if thats really your name) and Mike. Looking forward to the next one.
01/Oct/2016 VK2/SM-059 (Big Badja Hill) in VKFF-0138 (Deua National Park)
01/Oct/2016 VK2/SM-052 (Bald Mountain) in VKFF-0212 (Gourock National Park)
01/Oct/2016 VK2/ST-013 (Middle Mountain) in VKFF-0138 (Deua National Park)
01/Oct/2016 VK2/SM-036 (VK2/SM-036) in VKFF-0269 (Kosciuszko National Park)
02/Oct/2016 VK2/SW-021 (Pilot Reef Mountain)
02/Oct/2016 VK2/SW-015 (Granite Mountain)
Snowy Mountains SOTA weekend was a event planned to present the opportunity for new and experienced activators to activate summits in the Snowy mountain area.
This is a popular area due to the abundance of high scoring summits with good access. Rob VK2QR was key to this event as he lives amd works in the area. Rob did the ground work and arranged for accommodation at the Snowy Mountains Resort and Function Centre in Adaminaby as well as recommending summits to consider.
I’m a fan of such events and jumped at the opportunity to activate in a region so far from home in the seasonal bonus period and add to my S2S tally. It also allows you to see how other activators are approaching the game.
Victoria had a public holiday so I travelled up Friday afternoon. It was wet the entire run up. All the rivers were full. Creeks were full and there were sheets of water in the paddocks. I travel nearly the length of Victoria have not seen this much water covering shuch a large distance before.
Did have plans to activate VK2/RI-016 and VK2/RI-051 on the way up. The rain and snow put those plans to rest. Talking to Warren VK3BYD who was 2hrs ahead of me indicated the trip across the Snowies was not improving. I was meet with more rain and snow as I got higher. Fornatulatly the snow ploughs were out so access was assured in AWD Subaru and an exciting start for the trip.
Made it to Snowy Mountains Resort and Function Centre in the dark and on time for tea, review of plans and time to sleep as big drive.
Woke and had breakfast. Rob was called to work at short notice so after confirming directions and targets we formed two groups and head off.
VK2HRX Cromption, VK3BYD Warren and myself went off in Compton’s Troop carrier whilst Ken VK3KIM, Ron VK3AFW and Phil VK3BHR went in in Kens Land Rover .
Meet Rod VK2TWR and Peter VK3PF out in the field.
01/Oct/2016 VK2/SM-059 (Big Badja Hill) VKFF-0138
Drove through Cooma to get coffee and salad rolls for lunch and headed off to Big Badja Hill. This site offered views to the ocean. HF was providing challenges to Warren to qualify on CW. Straight forward activation with FMas the second team were on Bald Mountain. Gained my first 1.2G contact with Ron VK3AFW on VK2/SM-052.
Qualified and proceed to travel to the other summit crossing paths with the other group and meet up Rob Vk2TWR and Peter VK3PF between summits.
Warren VK3BYD,Allen VK3ARH, Ken VK3KIM, Rod VK2TWR ,Peter VK3PF,Ron VK3AFW, Crompton VK2HRX, Phil & Cathy VK3BHR.
01/Oct/2016 VK2/SM-052 (Bald Mountain) VKFF-0212
This summit proved to be the hardest to activate over the weekend.
Whilst access was straight forward as the road runs along the ridge line. The site has a comms site which was not providing QRM. 40M was not behaving and 2M was at the edge of range. Whilst we can secure a summit by having members of the group walk out of the AZ but it is desirable to gain contacts. Warren VK3BYD worked to qualifying the summit on 40M CW whilst I secured a S2S with Peter VK3PF on VK2/ST-007 before contacting the other group qualified the summit. Moved on to the final for the day.
01/Oct/2016 VK2/ST-013 (Middle Mountain)
After Bald Mountain we regrouped and proceded to drive into the Deua National Park for the fial summit. The main reason was to verify access as there were creek (river?) crossing and given the recent rain decided best to approach with backup Fears were unflunded as the crossing point whilst full and active, solid and not a issie for the 4WDs.
Decided to go up Middle Mountain whilst the group headed to VK2/ST-007, Dampier.
This was to improve S2S contacts and could not pass the oppurtunity to scratch the shit out of myself. The rest of the team chucked me out on the side of the road and I proceeded up the 800m to the summit. Typically you would see vines for a short distance near roads in the bush but this scrub was lush, thick and full of vines. Whilst I did not loose any equipment, did tear pockets on pants, gain cuts to lower legs and back of neck from. The thickness of the ferns and dept of the undergrowth made for slower than expected going. Intention was to setup 40M and work CW. BY the time I got to the activation zone it was clear there was to be no extended setup. Climbed onto a rocky point and proceeded to qualify on 2M. Worked Peter VK3PF on VK2/ST-007 and our groups on VK2/SM-052. Headed back down through the thichk scrub to Curranbene Creek track to await the convoy. Whilst a short walk and easy navigation (stright up) this was heavy going and not the best opportunity in the area.
Ken misplaced the top portion of the HF antenna on his 4WD so headed back to find it whilst we repacked cars and headed back. Made it back on dark in time for tea.
01/Oct/2016 VK2/SM-036 (VK2/SM-036)
Crew walking up to the summit of VK2/SM-036
This summit deserves a name.
Access was good. heading along the Snowy Mounatins Highway you turn off onto Tantangara Road. About 5 Km along the good dirt road the right on an unnamed dirt track. We drove to 900m of the summit weaving through the scrub following a ‘track’ to leave the 4WDs in a position avoiding heading up into the snow. Followed the track walking to the summit. The summit is lightly treed and was in full sun with the snow still present providing a perfect operating position.
Views of VK2/SM-033 which Cromption was activating. Other contacts included VK3ZPF and VK1DI.
This is a great summit with cover and open area with good access. Worth the trip if your going down Snowy Mounatins Highway.
02/Oct/2016 VK2/SW-015 (Granite Mountain)
Access is straight forward as described by John VK2YW. There was some concern as to access due to the recent rain and wind but the roads had been magically cleared of trees and the 4WD ’s took the boggy sections in their strides. We had 5 HF stations setup. More radios than chasers. ZL1BYZ & VK1DI helped but the propagation was not helping us. Things got desperate so took a KX2 and whip antenna out of the AZ to give the final CW contact needed to qualify.
02/Oct/2016 VK2/SW-021 (Pilot Reef Mountain
Group on final summit (VK2/SW-015) VK3KIM,VK3BYD,VK3BHR,VK2HRX,Vk2QR,VV3ARH & VK3AFW.
Given a quick tour Tumut #3 Power station of a ‘Minor’ hydro electric generation plant. There were 6 turbines that could generate 1500MW. There with only one operating as the photo shows, keeping the phase apparently. This was the last of the power stations built in the area but still before computers and pre formed concrete. It was impressive to see the scale of engineering achieved.
We arrived back at the accommodation quite late and had to enlist the assistance of Ruth to act as barkeeper to secure a well earned ale or two.
There were summits on offer for Monday to activate. Rob VK2QR meet Crompton VK2HRA & Warren Vk3BYD to activate VK2/SW-073 (Talbingo Mountain) on the way home
Thanks to Rob for earlier in the day clearing some trees across the best road out from our last summit. All the sites activated had good access. However there were a couple of creek crossings, boggy patches and the odd gate. We had gained permission to venture past gates before heading off. After seeing experienced 4WD’ers and she state of the creek beds I would negotiate them in AWD Subie however there is no guarantee that you can. Access anywhere in the aussie bush has to be verified at the time and conditions at hand. No assumptions.
Thanks to Rob VK2QR for coming up with the idea and then finding accommodation in a central location on a long weekend. His advice in planning which summits to attempt was invaluable.Gate closures and weather reduced the possibilities but in the end we had more than we could fit in.
Will be looking forward to such an event in the same area again.
VK3/VT-031 Mt Margaret
VK3/VT-032 UnNamed Peak
Both in VKFF-0619 Alpine National Park
These summits had only been activated by Wayne VK3WAM over 2.5 years ago.
Two 6 pointers summits on 4WD track Mt Margaret Track whoch runs parrallel to Mt Tamboritha Rd just out of Licola.
There was a low event coming across the state with snow down to 1000m The predictions were for the weather to improve Saturday but it was going to be wet due to the amount of rain over previous days. It is winter so expecting a challenge and to get wet and be cold. Not a problem as dressed and prepared for the conditions.
As I was putting up spots I saw Peter VK3PF was on Mt Warrenheip. I did not have HF setup as the KX3 was packed to go and the Kenwood is away from the sanding dust so could not work him. Jumped on 2M in car and caught him between Mt Warrenheip and Mt Bunnyiong. This is a popular pair.
Peter VK3PF on Mt Bunnyiong in hail finishing up his activation. The shelter was of no value as the hail was coming in horizontally.
Had a chat before heading off to drive across the state to stay overnight at Muttonwood camping ground off the Wellington River.
Awake early after a restful night and back down the road to checkout Mt Margaret track. I had looked at the track on earlier trips in summer and considered it steep. In winter with the mud its use was out of the question. There were tracks from 4WDs who had been up and back but nothing recent. Closer inspection confirmed this is not a track suitable for Subie. So the question was to walk up the 4WD track or take the walking track further down. Plan A was to to take the Mt Margaret Walking track so stuck to it.
VK3/VT-031 Mt Margaret
Drove down to the start of Mt Margaret Walking track and parked the car.
This track is a route to Lake Tali Karng. I want to use for access the Mt Margaret 4WD track running along the ridge lione. The track has not been well maintained but is quite usable.
When on the ridge line it was clear as not a lot of room for deviation however on the flatter areas the track fans out and animal tracks add confusion. A lot of dear out there given the tracks. Not surprising there were also a lot a deviations around fallen logs fall or short cuts. I was not keen on walking in water so stayed high away from the the creek so again away from the track as marked on my maps. The direction is clear its a case of heading up.
The walk up is steep. After going over the first peek I hit thick scrub. Pace slowed down.
Had just purchased a Garmin VIBR camera so was distracted with it and strayed off track. My bad. The walk through the scrub cost me my sun glasses, pack cover and nearly lost the Spot device. The leather holder for SPOT is rubbish. It is stretched with use and have previously had the device fall out (and forgetting to zip tie in after replacing batteries). I took it out and kept in pocket. Whilst providing tracking abilities and I have interfaced with APRS the Spot device primary role is to gain assistance should the worst happen. Loosing a GPS in the area would be a issue but loosing the ability to raise help in a area with no phone coverage could be life threading.
In the end it took over 3 hrs to cover 5Km. Relived to make it to the 4WD track on the ridge line.
Once on the 4WD track I dropped my pack and took the FT817 and tuned end-fed for the 800m climb to Mt Margaret to activate. Quick activation. 40M not the best and quite.
By now I was 2hrs behind schedule and whilst the weather was not bad it was not improving and I like to be back at the car before dark.
Could just follow the walking track back out but I obviously had not found the best way up so no reason to believe navigating in the dark was going to be easier. Following the 4WD track out would ensure I picked up the second summit. It was going to be longer (~7K) but quicker travel. Anyway I was here and it would be a long before coming back so as long as can get safely back to car then why not ? Ok it would be safe but long walk on the road in the dark. Nothing else to do out here.
Took the longer easier option by taking the 4WD track back ensuring the second summit.
VK3/VT-032 UnNamed Peak
Mt Margaret Track passes through this peak. Just walk. A lot to see,
This view is from track looking towards Trapyard Hill.
Above is a picture of the GPS logs whilst below is from SPOT maps. There are a few rough spots. Dare say being in pocket was not helping. Going to tie it back on pack.
The walk down the 4WD track was faster as no need to navigation and clear access. The biggest issue is slipping in the water on the down side. Some trees over road but good track along the ridge ling.
Given the weather and lost time deciding to take the longer but safer option and follow the 4WD track back to the sealed road was the best choice and also avoided covering old ground. Very steep on the down side. Got back to the road on dark so wipped out the head torch and strarted walking down the road. The advantage of roads is the gentle gradient and clear.
Removed a lot of rocks that were on the road. A couple of recovery trucks came past heading out with 4WD on the back or in tow. Someone had issues. Scared a wombat who was not expecting me and had a chat to a shooter walking the other way. By this time it was dark and gently raining (snow) but warmer than mid day so apart from the distance, walking out along the road was the best option.
Had walked out of the National Park when offered a lift with some other shooters who were off to the pub. Glad for the offer as had had enough by now and took 4Km off the walk saving 40min.
Whilst only 6 pointers these peaks have interesting access options. A real 4WD with suitably equipped for the climb and with a skilled operator could drive up and along the ridge line. The waking track has not been maintained and requires attention to stay on target. Either way being prepared ensures a long but rewarding day.
Stats, 32769 steps for 27Km and 177 floors. 12 SOTA activator points and 1 complete.
VK3/VE-165 – Mt Granya – (VKFF-0767) Mount Granya State Park VK3/VE-175 – Mt Bolga – (VKFF-0767) Mount Granya State Park VK3/VE-178 VK3/VE-208 – Jarvis Creek Plataeu – (VKFF-0969) in Jarvis Plateau State Park
VK3/VE-126 – Mt Stanley
Sunday was the inaugural Freeze Your Butt Off (FYBO) contest. ‘Freeze Your Buns Off’ is a QRP HF Ham Radio contest held in the Northern hemisphere in February. Ian VK5CZ had taken it to organise the southern hemisphere equivalent being “Freeze you Butt Off”. This is to encouraging portable activity and aligned well with the SOTA winter bonus period. The participation of the Parks and SOTA crew was a given even if limited.
The timing could not have been better for freezing one’s butt off, as an Antarctic blast of cold air swept up the east coast of Australia on Friday, resulting in record low temperatures and snow falls down to 500 meters from Bathurst to Ballarat. Both Melbourne and Sydney shivered through the coldest June day in almost 20 years.
Whilst a contest greatly enhances your chances of making contacts, you cannot expect to turn in a great contest score without spending a lot of time in front of the radio and in the same place. This is contrary to my normal SOTA method of operations and challenging in the cold environment. However I was not going to miss to opportunity to participate be it limited in the contest.
Plan was to activate summits on the Mt Buffalo National park. The summits were of 1400m height and would have snow cover. This would have involved trekking in the snow then camping overnight short of the summit. Given the cold snap it was decided to stay below the snow line thus avoiding potential for issues associated with the wet on the exposed summits.
The winter conditions presented great views,
View to Mt Buffalo
View featuring Mt Feathertop
View To Mt Bogong
We (VK3ARH & VK3BYD) operated from a single station. Warren would come up on CW and work all comers then I wold go to SSB to finish off. This ensures all who want the summit will get a contact and optimised our efforts on the summit.The KX3 ran out of battery on the last summit. We got 4.5 activations CW and SSB out of the internal NiMh AA batteries.
With all the activity Summit to Summits contacts were a plenty,
A good day be it cold. Not too surprising give its winter.
Glad stayed below the snow as the weather conditions had turned all the roads to mud and happy to stay off slippery rocks.
Will return for Mt Buffalo once the snow has settled in or melted away.
Great APRS coverage in this area,