New SOTA summits for VK3 – 3

Tuesday 5 November 2019

The first Tuesday in November is noted for a major horse racing event in Melbourne – the Melbourne Cup. Many businesses in Victoria take either a half or full day holiday and the media is full of horse racing rubbish (IMHO) for weeks leading up to the event.

After a wet and cold night, the morning was cool but the skies clear. I decided to head out for another new summit near Bright.

I drove to Bright and then to Wandiligong. I took Growlers Creek Road and then onto Hillsborough Track to drive up onto the main spur.

The track had a few puddles plus a creek crossing. There were the usual spoon drains, plus some fallen branches and rocks to dodge.

At the top of the climb you reach a cross track intersection: Wet Corner Track running along the spur, with VK3/VE-081 to the south, Reliance Track dropping down the opposite side of the spur to reach Freeburgh and Hillsborough Track which you have just traversed. I turned left to head towards the new summit. I drove 1.6 km along the track to a spot north of the summit with plenty of room to park – in fact the remnant of the old track alignment which may have traversed the summit. I parked on the old track and loaded up with the gear.

VK3/VE-256 (unnamed) 930 m 6 points First activation

The summit is about 200 – 225 m south of the parking spot, with about 20 m climb. Therefore the parking spot is inside the AZ. The remnant of an old vehicle track deteriorates to a walking pad to the summit. At the summit I found a rock cairn and a small grassy clearing a short distance to the southeast, where I set up the station.

VE-256_cairn

Small cairn at VK3/VE-256

I started on 40 m SSB, trying to make contact with my close friends Rik and Mitch. Mitch VK7XDM was first in the log and Rik VK3EQ could not hear me. I moved to 80 m SSB and Rik was soon in the log. With no further callers, I moved to 40 m CW and spotted myself. David VK2NU was first on CW, followed by Steve VK7CW, Gerard VK2IO and John VK4TJ. I moved to 80 m CW and worked Geoff VK3SQ. After further calls with no replies, I spotted and moved to SSB on 80 m. I again worked Geoff, followed by Nick VK3ANL/7 first on CW and then SSB. Nick was in Mount Roland Regional Reserve VKFF-2938. Nick moved up the band and spotted himself. I called for a few minutes with no replies.

I next moved back to 40 m SSB and spotted. I worked Nev VK5WG and Col VK3GTV. After many more CQ calls, I moved to 20 m CW and spotted. Here I worked John ZL1BYZ, Gary ZL2IFB, Ian VK5CZ and Wynne ZL2ATH. Further calls yielded no responses, so I shut down, packed and returned to the car.

I exited by continuing along Wet Corner Track to reach Back Wandiligong Road and then headed into Bright to purchase some lunch.

I then headed towards Myrtleford, but turned off onto Westons Lane and worked my way around to McCormack Track. At a high point on the track at the edge of pine plantation, there was a slightly confusing sign, indicating no access through private property. I thought about it for a moment and it made sense: the track has a couple of branches which end at the boundaries of private property. This is a track that you need to traverse twice – travel in and then retrace your route to exit.

VK3/VE-267 (unnamed) 680 m 2 points First activation

The track has some rough and steep sections – 4WD recommended. The track passes over the summit. I parked the car and set up the station a small distance away. To the southwest was the Mount Buffalo Plateau, a spectacular view through the trees.

BuffaloFrVE-267

The view to the Buffalo Plateau

I again worked Mitch VK7XDM and Rik VK3EQ, both on 40 m SSB on this occasion. I moved to 40 m CW and spotted. I worked John VK4TJ, Gerard VK2IO, John VK5FLEA and Warren VK3BYD.

With no further callers, I moved to 40 m SSB to work Michael VK3FCMC, Tony VK3CAT, Phil VK3BHR and Nev VK5WG. With no further callers, I decided against moving to 20 m.

It was after 1500 by time I was packed up. I retraced my access route to finally reach Havilah Road and headed out to Rosewhite and then west to Ovens and on to Myrtleford. I then headed north to the Snow Road and worked my way around towards Moyhu.

VK3/VE-273 Carboor Range 550 m 2 points First activation

This summit replaces VK3/VE-231 and can be accessed by the same route off Braines Lane and on to Fire Track No 1. The new summit is about 2 km north of the old summit.

After reaching the T intersection with Fire Track No 2 at the top of the climb, I chose to turn right – the left hand route started dropping. I found a spot to park on the edge of the track just after it started dropping. This left a climb of around 210 m horizontal with vertical gain of about 30 m to reach the summit trig.

TrigVE-273

Trig at VK3/VE-273

I quickly set up and soon worked Mitch VK7XDM on 40 m SSB and Rik VK3EQ on 80 m SSB. I spotted for 80 m SSB and soon worked Peter VK3FPSR, Warren VK3BYD and Geoff VK3SQ. Then there was “CW” heard. I quickly announced to standby while I found and connected the key. A few minutes later I called CQ and had Steve VK7CW in the log. I then spotted for SSB on 40 m. After several calls, I worked Andrew VK7AW. Further calls went unanswered, so I shut down, packed up and returned to the car and headed back to Wodonga.

Once again, thanks to all the callers today.

 

Wednesday 6 November 2019

The weather forecast was for a series of cold front of increasing intensity to be passing across Victoria over the later part of the week, with the possibility of snow down to 1200 m on Friday. I decided to head out despite the possibility of rain.

VK3/VE-260 (unnamed) 880 m 4 points First activation

I drove to Shelley and made my way around to Red Track and drove to the summit. I then set up the station a short distance from the car.

First in the log was again Mitch VK7XDM on 40 m SSB, followed by Rik VK3EQ on 80 m SSB – Rik was just audible on 40 m, but did not respond to my replies. I called several more times on 80 m SSB but had no responses.

I was about to spot myself on 40 m CW when I saw a spot for Nick VK3ANL/7 on a summit. I tuned up to 7.090 MHz and soon had Nick in the log with a S2S to Mount Campbell VK7/CH-039 in the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park VKFF-0117. We chatted for a short time before I moved down to 40 m CW.

I called a few times before my first response and soon had three stations in the log: VK2IO, VK4TJ and VK2NU. I called several more times before moving up for 40 m SSB. After several calls I received an SMS asking if I was going to 80 m CW. After a couple more calls with no responses, I replied and moved to 80 m. I soon had VK3BYD, VK3KS and VK2UH in the log.

With no further responses to calls, I returned to 40 m SSB to work VK5WG, VK5FANA and VK2IO. I called several more times without any responses.

I moved to 20 m CW and worked ZL1TM and ZL2ATH. Again, more calls yielded no responses.

I packed up and headed down the hill in increasingly heavy rain. It did not last long, but there were intermittent showers for most of the rest of the day.

Nearby is Pheasant Creek Flora Reserve. I parked in the Reserve to eat lunch. I had no phone coverage and the rain was again heavier. I decided against an activation and started the drive back to Wodonga.

It was a relatively quiet day with only a single activation.

Thanks to all the chasers.

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New SOTA summits for VK3 – 2

Saturday 2 November 2019

The weather forecast was for rain and possible thunderstorms, with winds and warm temperatures. My assessment of the satellite imagery was that the worst of the weather was likely to arrive mid to late afternoon. I decided to head out to another new summit less than an hour to the east of Wodonga.

Jarvis Creek Plateau VK3/VE-265 701 m 4 points First activation
Jarvis Creek Plateau Regional Park VKFF-0969

This new summit was one that I had identified some time ago and advised Wayne. The original summit (694 m) was not valid as there are two knolls about a kilometre to the southeast surrounded by 700 m contours. The saddle between the old and new summit locations is above 670 m, so all three high points fall within the AZ of the old summit. I have operated from the new location in the past.

I approached the summit via Old Tallangatta, onto Jarvis Creek Road and then onto Plateau Road to climb up to the ridge line. The road traverses the AZ, so pick a convenient spot to park off the road and find a spot to set up.

I set up with my heavier ZS6BKW antenna, hauled up with a line over a tree branch. I was soon set up and spotted myself on 40 m CW at 2315 UTC. Gerard VK2IO was the first caller. Steve VK7CW was next, followed by John ZL1BYZ and Andrew VK1DA on VK2/ST-034 for a summit to summit (S2S). Summit qualified on CW.

With no further responses to CQ calls, I moved to 40 m SSB and worked Gerard VK2IO. Further calls produced no responses and I noticed a spot for a JA on 17 m, so I quickly changed bands. I soon had Katsu JP3DGT/3 on JA/KT-007 in the log on 17 m CW for another S2S.

I returned to 40 m SSB and worked John VK5FLEA and Tony VK7LTD, but had no other callers. I had noticed significant rapid QSB at times. I spotted and moved to 20 m CW, with no responses. Next was 80 m CW, again with no responses. I finished on 80 m SSB, working a couple of stations in Gippsland.

I packed up and returned to Old Tallangatta and decided to head to Mount Granya.

Mount Granya VK3/VE-165 863 m 4 points
Mount Granya State Park VKFF-0767

This is another drive-up summit. Approach via Granya Road and then Mount Granya Road. There is picnic table, telecoms station and fire watch tower at the summit, plus toilets nearby. There are great views to the south and south east from the summit proper, plus a short walk leads to a lookout with views to the west and southwest.

I again erected the ZS6BKW but was in too much of a rush. I spotted with the incorrect reference (VK3/VE-166) and I had not fully strung out the doublet legs – the ends were still on the ground. The KX2 tuner matched the antenna, but I am sure efficiency would have been down! I worked Gerard VK2IO and John ZL1BYZ on 40 m CW before I recognised that the ends of the antenna were on the deck. With that corrected, I returned to calling but had no responses. I tried 80 m CW after spotting, when I noticed the incorrect reference, so corrected the spots that I had made. I had no responses. I spotted on 30 m CW and worked Steve VK7CW. Next was 20 m CW and again worked John ZL1BYZ, but had no other responses to CQ calls. I returned to 40 m CW for a few minutes and worked Michael at VK2ATZ.

I then moved up to the Parks focus frequency on 40 m SSB to work Shane VK2LUV and Ian VK5CZ.

I next tried 80 m SSB, working Allen VK3ARH/VK3HRA. I also worked Allen on CW on the same frequency. With the summit and Park both qualified, I started to pack up, but then heard the audio of a Parks spot from ParksnPeaks.

I quickly reassembled the transceiver system and worked Colin VK2JCC/2 in VKFF-0281 on 40 m SSB. I then packed up and headed back to Wodonga. During the drive back, I had a few spots of rain fall, but insufficient to activate the automatic wipers.

I was safely back in Wodonga in warm and humid conditions – above 30 C, humid and gusty winds. Rain did not arrive until very late in the afternoon.

Sunday was very wet, so I had a quiet day with Mum, including a drive to Rutherglen. In the late afternoon, I started writing up the activities of the last few days.

Monday 4 November 2019

The weather forecast was for possible late rain, so I decided to head out for a couple of summits to the east of Wodonga.

First stop was the Tallangatta Bakery to grab something for lunch. I then headed to Bullioh and south to Tallangatta Valley. Google Maps suggested I could access the target summit via Left Hand Road, but my examination of the topographical maps suggested the route may have issues. When I arrived at the intersection, the sign for Left Hand Road had a No Through Road sign beneath the main sign. I went with my plan B: I continued south and around to Cravensville Road – the route that I have used a couple of times to access Gibb Range VK3/VE-069. I knew that Cravensville Road was likely to be passable. I could have saved some distance by taking Forbidden Valley Track, but it was an unknown to me. Once on the top of the range, I turned left to remain on Cravensville Road and headed NW to reach Rogers Creek Track. A short distance up the track, after a few large spoon drains, I reached the high point of the ridge and the junction with Forbidden Valley Track.

Mount Cudgewa VK3/VE-250 1080 m 6 points First activation

The track junction is above 1060 m, so the junction is in the Activation Zone for the summit. The scrub was moderately thick, so I decided to activate at the junction. I set up the ZS6BKW antenna and assembled the station.

I commenced on 40 m CW and soon had Steve VK7CW in the log. Five more CW contacts followed. I moved to 40 m SSB and worked Rik VK3EQ. With no responses to further calls, I changed to 80 m SSB to work Geoff VK3SQ, followed a few minutes later by Warren VK3BYD on CW.

It was UTC rollover, so I moved up to 20 m CW to work John VK4TJ and Phil ZL3PAH. With no more callers, I closed down and packed up. I returned to Cravensville Road and continued northwards to reach the Murray Valley Highway at Shelley, then headed west to Koetong and Firebrace Road, then Firebrace Track and around to the car park for the Conic Range Walking Track.

(Conic Range) VK3/VE-255 950 m 6 points First activation
Mount Lawson State Park VKFF-0768

The car park has space for several vehicles. Nearby is a picnic table in a grassed area. The walking track starts in the left-hand corner. A sign indicates a distance of 1.5 km and 45 minutes return to Conic Rocks, climbing up a spur through Blue Gum forest.

ConicRangeWalkSign

The start of the walk to the summit

There were a few trees across the track and I soon reached Conic Rocks with the extensive views to the north, from Mount Granya to the west around past Mount Lawson. The summit is another 200 m and 15 – 20 m vertical up the spur. There are faint tracks between the granite tors and the scrub.

I reached what I believe was the summit, or very close to it: it is a bit tricky given the terrain and scrub.

ConicRangeOpSIte

The operating site at VK3/VE-255

I set up the antenna and had my first contact at 0155 with VK3EQ on 40 m SSB.

I then spotted on 40 m CW. When the spot was posted, I noticed a spot for a JA station on 17 m CW. I moved up and soon found him – weak but audible. I heard ZL1BYZ and VK7CW work the station and called a couple of times. I soon had a contact with Minoru on JA/YN-041 (319/319) in the log.

I returned to 40 m CW to work VK7CW, VK4TJ, VK4DBJ, VK2TM, VK5FLEA and VK2IO.

I then moved to 40 m SSB to work Nick VK3ANL/7 on VK7/NC-013 and Shane VK2LUV. With no further callers, I moved to 80 m SSB to work Geoff VK3SQ.

I moved to 20 m CW to work ZL1TM, ZL1BYZ, ZL2ATH and VK5CZ, the last contact at 0305.

I had been hoping for a S2S with Allen VK3ARH, but he was never spotted. I am unsure of the outcome of Allen’s expedition for the day.

I packed up and returned back to the car. Care is required navigating back to the formal walking track as it is easy to lose orientation amongst the timber and rocks.

On the way back down the track, I almost stepped on a 1-metre copperhead snake (my best guess at ID and length) when stepping off a log….

Once back at the car, I had a late lunch and then drove around towards Mount Lawson and looked at a possible route to VK3/VE-262, another of the new summits. This failed, as I expected: the summit lies in part of the HVP Plantations in the northeast. Most roads leading into the plantations have large STOP signs barring public access and many have a large sign indicating that Induction and Permits are required prior to access.

I retraced my access route and headed back to the Murray Valley Highway and then back to Wodonga.

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New SOTA summits for VK3 – 1

In late October, an email exchange began between Andrew VK3ARR and myself regarding possible updates to the VK3 SOTA summit. Andrew had seen a comment on my blog regarding VK3/VE-071, a summit with a HASL 100 m lower than the height listed on the SOTA database. The summit was valid, but the correct height meant that it would lose (two) 2 points for Chasers and Activators, plus the 3-point seasonal bonus would disappear. I had also been active in the sotavk3admin group, set up by AM Wayne VK3WAM, with several others discussing new and questionable summits. Thus Wayne was aware of most of the changes recommended by myself and the VK3 Admin group. Andrew and I discussed a number of other possible changes and then I waited to hear if the update would proceed.

Semi-formal advice of an update on 1 November 2019 was made on 30 October to the OZSOTA group. The message included details of summits being retired, most with nearby replacement new summits, and of the new summits being added. (Formal advice was made via the SOTA Reflector on 1 November, but that formal advice arrived a little late for anyone wanting to be on a new summit at the moment the summit became valid for SOTA.)

I quickly created waypoints in OziExplorer and decided on Thursday late morning that I would attempt to activate one of the new summits on Friday morning.

Thursday 31 October 2019

I packed gear into the car and headed to Omeo and then up the Omeo Highway and across the Bogong High Plains Road. I made reasonable time and decided on a quick activation on my way to my overnight camp site.

Mount McKay VK3/VE-007 1849 m 10 points

This summit is an easy one except in winter: you can drive to the summit. I quickly set up a station, spotted myself and called on 80 m CW. My first caller was John VK4TJ. Warren VK3BYD and Geoff VK3SQ followed – three stations in the log. With no further calls, I moved to 40 m CW and bagged one more chaser – Wynne ZL2ATH. Summit qualified. With no further callers, I packed up and headed down to the camping area near Pretty Valley Hut to set up camp.

After a long drive, I had an early night, expecting to wake early in the morning.

Friday 1 November 2019

I did indeed wake early….. I organised my gear, had some breakfast, packed the camping gear in the car and headed off for the start of the walk.

Mount Jaithmathang VK3/VE-244 1840 m 10 points First activation
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

I note that the SOTA system has this summit name with incorrect spelling. I have notified the team requesting a change.

The approach for most people involves a significant walk.

Park at the Pretty Valley Reservoir car park. Follow the Mount Fainter Fire Trail to Tawonga Huts – about 4.2 km with about 160 m vertical climb, followed by the same height dropped as you descend to Tawonga Huts.

At Tawonga Huts, continue a short distance to the start of the walking track to the summit. The summit track is relatively easy to follow except for a few places where there are false leads as a result of regrowth of the vegetation. The climb covers about 1.8 km with a vertical climb of just under 210 m.

The forecast was for about 20 C for Falls Creek, but with strong winds. It made for a hot walk. I finally reached the summit soon after 1000 local. I tried to take a couple of photos and to post something on FaceBook, but my phone complained about battery volts and went into battery saver mode. I switched it off. Perhaps I should have tried to restart the phone from scratch – later in the day I plugged it in to charge in the car, and it indicated 75% charge. The joys of technology!

FeathertopFrJaimathong

Looking across to Mt Feathertop from Mt Jaithmathang

I selected a spot just below the summit trig (or that which remains!), with some shade from a boulder, plus a reduction in the force of the wind. I set up with a doublet antenna which works well on 40 m and above. The match was poor on 80 m.

I was set up by 2330 Z. I scanned 40 m SSB and heard Scott VK4CZ/p in VKFF-1480. He was not strong but I called several times. Scott recognised that there was a caller, but could not decipher any intelligence. I waited a few minutes and called on CW when Scott’s signal was a little stronger. This time he recognised the call, but said he had no key. I tried again a few minutes later, and this time we managed to complete a CW/SSB cross-mode contact. Thanks Scott!

I then waited until 0000 UTC, when the summit would become valid.

I called on 40 m CW and soon had my first contact in the log: Steve VK7CW. Steve spotted me after I sent that I had no phone. Gary ZL2IFB, John VK4TJ and Gerard VK2IO followed. Then there was a period of confusion: I had both Andrei ZL1TM and Ron VK3AFW/p on another new summit calling me at the same time. I tried to complete the contact with Andrei, sending and receiving reports, but heard no 73. (I later noted that Andrei had not logged the contact on the SOTA database.) I then called Ron, but heard nothing. I later heard that Ron had not changed his antenna configuration for 40 m. When he tried to find me, I had moved 40 m SSB. When I was back in Wodonga, I noted that I had only been spotted by Steve on 40 m CW and no others had spotted me, which partially explains why it was hard work making contacts.

I worked Nev VK5WG and Tony VK7LTD on 40 m SSB, but no other callers.

I changed to 80 m and tuned the CW segment, hearing Ron VK3AFW/p calling, but he could not hear my responses. I then called in the SSB segment and gained two more contacts. The day was getting on and I still had a significant walk out, so I gave up, packed up and started the descent. The summit was qualified on CW and SSB, but I was two contacts short of VKFF qualification for the Park.

I took a lunch break at Tawonga Huts and a school group out hiking arrived. I chatted with a couple of the students. I made my way back to Pretty Valley, passing the student’s rucksacks and encountering a mob of eight brumbies plus a foal near the top of the climb.

Back at the car I had a long drink of water, packed the gear in the car and started the drive back to Falls Creek. I then headed to Wodonga for the night.

Part way down to Mount Beauty, I saw Andrew VK3BQ’s vehicle heading up the hill, loaded with mountain bikes. I switched on the VHF/UHF radio and called on 146.500 MHz, with no response. A little further on, I saw a rider working up the hill and just caught a wave from the rider: it was Andrew VK3BQ, as I found out later. I was past Andrew before I had a chance to reciprocate.

I safely reached Wodonga and then settled in for a night of relaxation with Mum.

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More VKFF wallpaper

My latest VKFF certificate arrived this morning, which prompted me to add some recent certificates to the blog.

National Wattle Day

A special event promoted by National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS. The weather forecast for the day was for a reasonable day, so I headed out for some of the local Parks…..

VK3PF 2019 National Wattle Day

National Wattle Day certificate

Thanks to all the Hunters.

Murray River Parks Hunter 51

The Murray River Parks Award has undergone some changes over recent months and it appears that the behind the scenes team are still working on the required scripting for the LogSearch database.  I know that the team are all volunteers and also lead busy lives, so I for one am happy to wait for the work to be done and will claim an Award once implemented on LogSearch. Recently, the 51 Hunter certificate was working, so I claimed the Award.

VK3PF - Murray River Parks Hunter 51

Murray River Parks Hunter Award 51 Parks worked

Thanks to all the Activators for being out there.

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1625 Parks worked

The next level for Hunting Parks within Australia. I now have 1625 Parks worked confirmed. Several Activators were responsible for the last 25 Park references:

Mike VK6MB  – 9 Parks
Scott VK4CZ – 5 Parks
Nik VK3ZK – 2 Parks
Steve VK4JSS – 2 Parks
Rob VK4AAC, Neil VK4HNS, Deryck VK4FDJL, Ian VK5CZ,  Jon VK7JON,
Mitch VK7XDM and Helen VK7FOLK – 1 Park each.

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1625s

VKFF Honour Roll 1625 Parks worked certificate

Again, thanks to all involved: The WWFF and VKFF admin team members and especially the Activators.

And I must remember to send off for the special VK5 National Parks award for contacts in August……

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A loopy plan

Warning: Long post!

For most of winter, I stayed away from the high summits. I did activate some Parks on the some nicer days. By early September, I was thinking about increasing my SOTA Activator score, particularly on CW. I have been attempting to qualify each summit on CW for a little over a year. Whilst I did not make the four CW contacts on every summit, most summits were qualified on CW. Thus the CW Activator score was building nicely.

Victoria had quite a few cold fronts sweep across the state during September which saw the ski resorts extending their season by a couple of weeks: there was plenty of snow up high. The downside for those of us who do not have a vehicle season pass was an extra period when Resort Entry fees applied.

The trip across Mount Hotham via the Great Alpine Road is spectacular at any time of the year, but especially so on a fine day when the peaks have snow cover. As the Great Alpine Road is a public highway, the Resort cannot charge you for driving across the Resort. With the automated number plate recognition system, there are no staff at the “entrance gates”, but the system allows a fixed time for you to transit the resort. If you stop within the resort and exceed the time allowed, you will receive a bill for resort entry. So an activation of Mount Hotham during the Bonus Season must occur after the Resort season closes or you must pay the entry fee.

With the weather fronts and periods of very high wind speeds at higher altitudes, I waited until after the middle of September to start a series of activations. The plan was to attempt a series of loops which maximised SOTA points during each trip.

Loop 1: Thursday 19 September 2019

This was a relatively “local” trip. From the Latrobe Valley, I headed to Licola and then towards Jamieson. The Licola – Jamieson Road is closed for the winter season by decree of the Shire of Mansfield. The Shire boundary is just beyond the first target Summit for the trip.

Connors Plain VK3/VT-022 1305 m 8 points

The logical place to attack this summit is from close to the start of N7 Track. A short distance in along N7, a track leads off to the left and heads diagonally up the slope and onto the plateau of Connors Plain. Once on the Plain, you are in the Activation Zone (AZ). 4WD is advised. It is also a reasonable route to walk to access the AZ.

I parked the vehicle and quickly set up, using a throw bag to get a line over a tree branch at about 8 m high. I used my ZS6BKW antenna and set up the station at a convenient spot to ensure that the open-line feeder was off the ground and used a folding camp chair – luxury!

I made 11 contacts, qualifying the summit on both SSB and CW, with two contacts on 30 m and the rest on 80 and 40 m. Yes, I know that the ZS6BKW is not supposed to work on 30 m, but the KX2 found a tuner match and I had two contacts into southern Queensland….

ConnersViewNE

View across the Macalister River valley towards Mounts Tamboritha and Reynard.

After packing up, I headed back to the main road and retraced the last couple of kilometres towards Licola and then swung south on South Road. There were many fallen small trees to dodge. Next it was right onto Mount Selma Road which had some rough sections. Left onto the second entrance (west of the summit proper) to Mount Selma Track and up towards the summit. Again, this was a little rough in places. After parking, I set up the antenna and station in the same manner as earlier.

Mount Selma VK3/VT-013 1457 m 8 points

I made 17 contacts, qualifying the summit on both SSB and CW, with all contacts on 80 and 40 m. I did not try any other bands.

The usual routine followed: pack up, drive back to the “main” road, retrace my route back to the junction of Mount Selma Road and South Road, then headed south towards the next target.

Mount Useful VK3/VT-016 1434 m 8 points

I again used the same set up as earlier. I set up about 100 m south of the tower, near the edge of the cleared area, as I wanted a little distance between myself and the solar power system at the tower.

I made 13 contacts, qualifying the summit on both SSB and CW, with all contacts on 80 and 40 m, the only bands tried.

After packing up, I headed back to the main road, now called Springs Road. I again headed south until reaching Williamsons Spur Track and then headed west to the next summit.

VK3/VT-034 (unnamed) 1019 m 6 points

This summit will be retired at the next VK3 Association update, as a higher knoll exists a little further along Williamsons Spur Track. You can drive onto the summit, so I used the same set up as earlier. Either the current or new summit (once it becomes listed) is a logical inclusion in this loop if you have the time available.

This time I made 12 contacts, with only one on 80 m and all others on 40 m. Summits was qualified on both SSB and CW.

I packed up and retraced my route back to Springs Road and headed south towards Seaton and then on to home, arriving after dark.

It had been a good day out, with three 8-point summits activated to gain the seasonal bonus points, plus the 6-point summit. 39 Activator points gained for the day.

Not a loop 1: Sunday 22 September

I had a friend’s birthday celebration to attend in Melbourne, so I arranged to spend the night with other friends who would also be at the birthday celebration. I packed for the overnight stop only, but made sure that the SOTA gear was in the car. During the party, I received a call asking for assistance from a family member. Plans rapidly changed. I had thought of activating Mount Donna Buang with the possibility of a walk to activate Mount Ritchie, even though Andrew VK1AD/3 was scheduled to activate that summit on the same day. The plan changed: VK3/VC-002 only as a detour en route to Wodonga.

Mount Donna Buang VK3/VC-002 1259 m 8 points

I was late getting away from my overnight stay. It was then simply matter of navigating to Warburton and on to the summit car park. There were a few cars around but soon had a squid pole erected and the antenna in the air. I had one contact on 80 m and 10 on 40 m, with the summit qualified on both SSB and CW. The contacts included a Summit to Summit with Andrew VK1AD/3 on Mount Ritchie VK3/VC-003.

After packing up, I headed back down to the Acheron Way and then followed it north to Narbethong and then onwards to Wodonga.

Radio-wise, it was a quiet day with one summit for 11 points.

Not a loop 2: Tuesday 24 September

After dealing with family issue, which included a return trip to Gisborne on the Monday, I headed for home on the Tuesday. The weather was looking good, so I decided to take the scenic route home via the Great Alpine Road over Mount Hotham. During the drive, I called Brian VK3BCM and arranged to meet him for lunch at Dinner Plain. It was good to catch up face to face. I then headed to a summit towards Omeo for an activation.

VK3/VG-030 1321 m 8 points

I was able drive to within about 500 m of the summit, when the track became almost covered with vegetation leaning over the track. I decided to retreat and park back closer to the main track in and then walked the 700 m or so to the summit. I was quickly set up and calling on CW. I made nine contacts, two on 80 m and the remainder on 40 m. Summit qualified on both SSB and CW.

I packed up, headed back to the car and returned to the Great Alpine Road. It was now after 1600 local, so I simply headed towards Omeo and then south and back to home, arriving around 2000 local.

Only 11 points for the day, but another summit qualified on CW plus the seasonal bonus.

Loop 2: Thursday 3 October 2019

The weather forecast was looking okay, but the wind would be increasing in strength during the afternoon. The plan was a loop around the upper Thomson River catchment.

I headed to Willow Grove, Hill End and towards Tanjil Bren before taking the Toorongo Tanjil Link Road, then onto Mundic Road and then Mount Toorongo Road and parked on the side of the road below the locked gate.

Mount Toorongo Range VK3/VT-026 1257 m 8 points

Mount Toorongo Road is subject to seasonal closure. A walk up the road of about 1.3 km with around 100 m climbing brings you to the high point on the road below the summit. Then one needs to pick a route up the edge of the road embankment and pick a route up to the summit. The AZ is only about 10-15 vertical metres above the road. I found a spot to set up short of the summit, about half way up the climb. A minor issue was that I had marginal ‘phone coverage, so spotting was tricky.

I made two contacts on 80 m and another eight on 40 m, again qualifying on both SSB and CW.

I packed up and headed back to the road, meeting a forester looking into the trees for seeds. We chatted briefly before we parted ways and returned to the car.

I retraced the route back to the Toorongo Tanjil Link Road, then headed north to reach and then along Tooronga Road to reach C511 (Warburton – Woods Point Road) and headed towards Matlock, then up Corn Hill Road and up to the next target summit.

Mount Matlock VK3/VC-001 1372 m 8 points

I quickly set up with a line over a tree branch and was soon on air. Propagation conditions were rather flat. I made a total of 15 contacts, one on 80 m and the remainder on 40 m. I again qualified on both SSB and CW.

I packed up and retraced the entry route to C511, then headed to Matlock and then south on Walhalla Road to Aberfeldy. The road at Aberfeldy passes through the summit AZ….

Mount Lookout VK3/VT-030 1115 m 6 points

I find the easiest place to activate this summit is in the car park area beside the cemetery. I again threw a line over a tree branch to lift the antenna.

I made 12 contacts using 80 and 40 m, and again qualified on both SSB and CW.

I packed up again and headed south towards Walhalla and then across the Thomson Dam wall to Rawson and then back home.

Three summits qualified on CW for a total of 28 points.

The next loop was initiated following a telephone call from Rik VK3EQ. We checked weather forecasts before deciding a couple of days later to go ahead with a trip to the Omeo area.

Loop 3: Wednesday 9 October 2019

We agreed to meet at Swifts Creek at around 1100 local. I was a little late departing home, but arrived at around 1120. We soon had Rik’s gear in my car and we headed off to our first target.

Mount Baldhead VK3/VG-027 1374 m 8 points

The route is to head towards Cassilis and then veer left onto Brookville Road and to soon start climbing into the hills. Veer left towards Dorothy Cutting and continue on to Baldhead Road. Baldhead Track is very overgrown, but there is a road through the logged out area before you get to that turn off. All was fine until we reached a small plateau below the summit, were the track was blocked by a tree at least one metre in diameter. We checked out a detour route and decided to give it a try after I engaged 4WD. All was good and we were soon setting up just below the summit, tossing a line over a tree branch.

Our plan for the next two days was for me to activate only on CW and Rik to use voice, plus we made sure to work each other – one inside the AZ and the other outside, then swap.

I made six contacts: four on CW, one on SSB (Mike VK6MB/5 activating a Park) and Rik on 2 m FM.

We then descended from the summit to the north on Baldhead Track to reach Baldhead Road, north to Grassy Ridge Track and then up Mount Delusion Track to find a suitable spot to park.

Mount Delusion VK3/VG-026 1375 m 8 points

We again set up with a line over a tree branch, with the radio gear set up on a folding table. I again made six contacts, with Mike VK6MB/5 activating a Park on 40 m SSB, four CW contacts on 40 m and Rik on 2 m FM. Summit qualified.

We packed up and continued along Mount Delusion Track towards Mount Delusion Road. We discussed our options and decided to add a couple of extra summits to the afternoon. We headed around to Groves Gap Road to head west. All was initially okay but we quickly reached some recently resurfaced road which was very slippery, even when using 4WD. Slower velocity was required….. We soon drove past the road machinery and the surface a little rougher but better driving. We worked our way around to Birregun Road and then headed south to Mount Birregun.

Mount Birregun VK3/VT-020 1363 m 8 points

We set up north of the summit, again using a line over a tree branch.

I made a total of seven contacts, one on 80 m, Rik on 2 m FM and the rest on 40 m, one SSB contact (again, Mike VK6MB/5) and the rest CW.

We packed up and returned along Birregun Road and then up Mount Phipps Track.

Mount Phipps VK3/VG-015 1536 m 10 points

We used the same set up again. We were getting pretty slick by now at getting the gear set up.

I worked two stations on each of 80 m and 40 m CW, plus a 2 m FM contact with Rik.

Once Rik was qualified, we packed up and returned to Birregun Road and headed to Omeo, then south on the Great Alpine Road to Tongio Gap Road, then up Splitters Range Road and up to the next summit.

(Splitters Ridge) VK3/VG-036 1285 m 8 points

We were quickly set up and on air. I made eight contacts: 1 SSB, Rik on 2 m FM and the remainder on CW.

All the contacts for both of us were made with my KX2 running at a nominal 10 W.

Once we were both qualified, we quickly packed up as the wind was quite chilly. We headed back to Tongio Gap Road then south to Swifts Creek so that Rik could retrieve his car. We then headed back to Omeo for the night.

It was a long day, even more so for Rik who started in Melbourne, but we each had 57 Activator points in the log.

Loop 4: Thursday 10 October 2019

Rik again jumped into my car for the day. We headed out of Omeo on the Omeo Highway, then veering right onto Omeo Valley Road to Hinnomunjie Bridge and on to turn left into Knocker Track. This road in not sealed, but makes for a faster trip than the sinuous Omeo Highway between Bingo Gap and Glen Valley. We drove past a target for later in the day and returned to the Omeo Highway north of Glen Valley. We drove north to the junction with Razorback Spur Track, which we drove along to the junction with Wombat Creek Track, with its locked gate for the Seasonal Closure.

Razorback Range VK3/VG-033 1311m 8 points

The walk to the summit is about 470 m from the gate, with a vertical climb of about 40 m. We set up near the northern end of the summit area on the edge of the track. Poor decision: we had poor mobile coverage. Walk another 100 m or so to near where the track starts to drop down and set up there, you will have better phone coverage.

Rik had a problem with his KX3, so I dashed back to the car to grab my KX2 and my antenna. Once set up, my antenna did not present an impedance that the KX2 could tune, so we swapped to Rik’s antenna. At least we had made contact with each other in/out of the AZ on 2 m whilst I made the trip all the way back to the car.

I qualified the summit on CW with one contact on 80 m and three on 40 m.

Once both qualified, we packed up and returned to the car and continued along Razorback Spur Track to Pegleg Track and along that track until we came to a tree across the track. We stopped and walked up to the crest of the spur to check out the recent logging activity. On the walk up, we could see lots of blue tapes in the bush. At the crest, there were a couple of piles of stockpiled logs plus an obvious logging landing area. It looks as if the south east portion of the summit will be logged in coming months! At the high point of the spur, we spotted a bulldozer track heading up the spur. Having checked out the first 100 m of the track, we returned to the car having decided to use the new track to start the ascent of the summit.

At the car, Rik suggested that I should check out the performance of my new battery-operated chainsaw….. We added chain oil to the reservoir, loaded in a battery and discussed how to attack the task. I soon had the first cut into the tree – about 1/3 thickness from below but only half way “across” the log. I switched to the other side and lined up the next cut with the first with some assistance from Rik. Then it was the bigger task, cutting the remaining 2/3 from the top. Slow and steady was the go, but we finally made it after four cuts to achieve the full thickness of the log. See the photo taken by Rik – the chainsaw blade is about 335 mm long and the log was about twice that across. We then rolled the log into to edge of the track before we loaded the gear back in the car and drove up to the landing area on the crest of the spur.

CooperChainsaw

Almost through the log with cut #4

After deciding on which gear to take up the hill, we started up the bulldozer track. We reached the high point and then started to navigate through the scrub, climbing until we were well inside the AZ. We set up at a point still below the summit.

MtCooperTrack

GPS track courtesy Rik VK3EQ

I made only five contacts: four on 40 m CW plus Rik in/out of the AZ.

RikCooper

Rik operating on Mt Cooper

We packed up and headed back down through the scrub and then the ’dozer track to the car. It was time for lunch!

After lunch we headed back to the Omeo Highway and back along Knocker Track to Knocker Link Track and up to the summit trig.

The Knocker VK3/VG-016 1506 m 10 points

We again used a line over a tree branch to support the antenna. We were soon on air.

I made seven contacts: Rik on 2 m FM, two on 40 m SSB and four on CW, on one 80 m.

After we packed up, we headed back down Knocker Track to Hinnomunjie Bridge and south along Omeo Valley Road. Near the end, we tried a new route just for the fun of it: up Bingo Connection Track (unsealed) to the Omeo Highway and then south on Bingo Tice Road. The latter is unsealed and had several gates that Rik jumped out to open and close. We were soon around at the start of Mount Sam Road having seen a valley which neither of us had visited previously. We could also look to the west across the valley towards an as yet unactivated 6 point summit – not today!

Mount Sam / Sam Hill VK3/VG-049 1206 m 8 points

As we approached the summit, we saw two vehicles parked. No one was around, but three people emerged from the bush as we were setting up the antenna. The team was conducting a flora and fauna survey as part of an investigation for Shire of East Gippsland regarding the feasibility of a mountain bike track network. We chatted about their activities and explained our activity.

We were soon set up and on air.

I made eight contacts, three on each of 80 and 40 m, one on 20 m and Rik on 2 m FM in/out of the AZ. I qualified the summit on CW.

We packed up and headed back down to Omeo for the evening. After a break at the hotel, we headed to the other hotel in town to grab dinner. We both agreed that the meals were fine at both establishments.

A good day, with each of us earning 46 Activator points.

Not a loop 3: Friday 11 October 2019

Rik and I had discussed plans during the return to Omeo. Rik planned to activate some summits before heading home to Melbourne and I was planning to activate some summits before heading to Wodonga. We decided to head towards Mount Hotham, with Rik first going to VK3/VG-030, whilst I would climb Mount Livingstone. We headed off from the hotel close together. I headed left off the Omeo Highway onto Mount Livingstone Road, whilst Rik continued a short distance further to the access track to his summit.

Mount Livingstone VK3/VG-045 1227 m 8 points

I parked near the locked gate and started the climb to the summit: around 800 m plus 80 m vertical. Once on the summit plateau, I found a spot to set up and tossed a line over a branch. The antenna was soon up and the station set up. First contact was with Rik on 40 m SSB from VK3/VG-030, followed by Mitch VK7XDM in Hobart. I made a total of nine contacts; four on each of 80 and 40 m, with four on each of SSB and CW. It took a little while to achieve the four CW contacts, but once that was achieved, I packed up and returned to the car. Part way down, I met Rik coming up the road. After a brief discussion, we each continued on our way. Rik was on the summit and set up to start operating just after UTC rollover.

At the car, I retrieved Rik’s walking poles from the rear of my car and left them on his bonnet before I departed. I returned to the Great Alpine Road and headed up to Mount Hotham, parking near the start of the summit access track.

Mount Hotham VK3/VE-006 1861 m 10 points

I loaded up and walked up to the summit access track and along the track for a short distance to ensure I was in the AZ. I strapped a squid pole to one of the snow poles and soon had the antenna erected. I then set up the station and was soon on air. First contact was with Rik on Mount Livingstone – he had waited for me so that we could make a Summit to Summit contact. Next was Mitch VK7XDM in Hobart. I made three contacts on 80 m and five on 40 m, with the summit qualified for both SSB and CW. The wind was cold and just as I had packed up, snowflakes began falling.

LochViewSnow

Looking across towards Mt Loch, with snow falling

I descended to the car and began the descent down to Harrietville. The Bakery was closed for October, but a café a short distance further on was open, so I purchased some lunch. Just as I was finishing lunch, Rik arrived. We chatted briefly about plans before Rik arranged his lunch and I headed off to Cemetery Lane.

I climbed up Cemetery Lane and out along Mongrel Creek Track before a hard left to climb to Albion Track – the track was wet, so I took the less steep route rather than the short cut.

I made my way south past Albion Point to Link Track and then out to Paddy Hill Track.

(Paddy Hill Track) VK3/VE-070 1286 m 8 points

I quickly set up in the usual manner for this trip: a line over a tree branch and the ZS6BKW antenna, radio gear on the folding table. I made six contacts: one each on 80 and 20 m, three on 40 m and one on 2 m FM – Rik on The Horn VK3/VE-014. Four CW contacts. It started raining during the activation, but it was for only about 10 minutes.

Once qualified, I packed up and headed back towards Albion Point. The rain started again after I was packed up. I decided against attempting VK3/VE-030 as the day was well advanced and the area to the south was looking very grey and wet.

Albion Point VK3/VE-080 1255 m 8 points

I found a spot to park close to the high point in the road. I loaded up the gear and climbed up the ridgeline until I was above the 1230 m contour and set up the station.

I made five contacts, all on CW: three on 80 m and one each on 40 m and 20 m. I packed up and climbed back down to the car and continued north on Albion Track, then north along Wet Gully Track and out to the next summit.

Ebenezer Range VK3/VE-081 1255 m 8 points

I parked on the edge of the track at a wider point and soon had the antenna up. I made six CW contacts, all on 80 m. The day was getting late, so I quickly shut down after I had no more callers. I still had a long drive to Wodonga! I continued along Wet Gully Track and dropped back down to the Great Alpine Road via Reliance Track. I then headed to Wodonga via Bright and Yackandandah, arriving at around 2030 local.

Another long day: five summits for 57 Activator points.

Loop 5: Saturday 12 October 2019

After a good night’s rest, I headed off on Saturday morning for Mount Beauty. A quick visit to the Bakery to grab some lunch interrupted the trip, and I then headed up Mountain creek Road, Camp Creek Track and The Hollow Way Road to reach the first destination for the day. Once parked, I loaded up and started the approach walk.

Bull Hill VK3/VE-048 1425 m 8 points

I walked in along an old logging track on the north side of the summit before climbing up into the AZ. I soon had the station set up.

I made 11 contacts on 80 and 40 m, with the summit qualified for both SSB and CW. Contacts included S2S with VK7XDM, VK7FAMP and VK7LTD, all on Macgregor Peak VK7/SC-018, giving me a Complete for that summit.

I returned to the car and retraced my route to the five-way junction and then headed up Eskdale Spur Track. This took me to the next summit.

Mount Emu VK3/VE-061 1360 m 8 points

This is another drive-up summit, with an Emergency Location station at the summit. The summit has a hang glider launching area on the south face and a great view over Mount Beauty.

IMG-20191012-WA0002

View towards Mount Beauty (to the left) from Mt Emu

I again set up with a line over a branch and was soon on air. I made two contacts on 80 m CW and five on 40 m CW. I quickly packed up and resumed the journey along Eskdale Spur Track. There were a few rough areas and plenty of fallen trees and branches to negotiate, but nothing requiring more than careful pointing of the car. I parked on the northeast shoulder of the next summit before loading up the gear and climbing up to the summit through the scrub.

Mount Yorke VK3/VE-082 1248 m 8 points

I set up the station and tried to work the required stations as quickly as possible. I made two contacts on 80 m and five on 40 m, including Mike VK6MB/5 on SSB. I then packed up and returned to the car.

The next summit is not that far along Eskdale Spur, so has a short drive time. After parking the car NW of the summit, a short walk up the old track is required to be in the AZ.

Unnamed VK3/VE-071 “1283 m” 8 points

The height of this summit was incorrectly recorded and it will lose points at the next Association update.

There are plenty of trees within the AZ, so I again tossed a line over a branch.

I made five contacts on 80 m and three on 40 m, with four on each of SSB and CW. Once I had no more callers after qualifying, I packed up and headed back to the car.

It is only 4.6 km to the next summit, with the track a little rough in places. I met a group of motorcyclists on the final climb: they were tackling some of the older, steeper and very rough tracks in the area, now blocked for most vehicles.

Mount Tawonga VK3/VE-076 1268 m 8 points

I again set up with a line over a branch. I made sure that the feedline and antenna were well out of the way, in case the motorcyclists visited – as it turns out, a good idea. Before I started operating, the loud ones arrived. We chatted briefly before they headed off again. I started calling…. I ended up with seven CW contacts: two on 80 m and the remainder on 40 m. A minor issue was that the motorbikes revisited in the middle of a contact – lots of QRM, but in the local audio environment, not via RF.

Once I had no further callers, I closed down and packed up. Given the rain in the area earlier in the day, I choose to retrace my route back to Bowmans No 1 Track and descended to Eskdale before heading back to Wodonga.

Another good day: five summits for 55 points. I could not remember my score target: had I reached 1000 points on CW? My mental arithmetic for points scored was correct, but when I looked at the total once back at base, I realised that I was sitting at 999.

Loop 6: Sunday 13 October 2019

Part of the original notional plan, I decided to head out on another four summit day. I departed Wodonga and headed to Tallangatta for a stop at the Bakery. There were cyclists everywhere in town, getting organised to load their bicycles onto trailers. I did not speak to any, but I suspect a group ride along the local Rail Trail.

Back on the road, I travelled down the Tallangatta Creek Road and climbed up Cravensville Road to reach Gibb Range Road. Then along Gibb Range Road to the southwest to my usual parking spot for the summit.

Gibb Range VK3/VE-069 1289 m 8 points

I parked at my usual spot and climbed up to the summit: about 850 m with about 60 m vertical climb. I set up and was soon on air. Things were a little hectic: several operators were out activating, so some time was spent listening around the bands to see if I could work other summits.

I worked 14 stations on 80 m and 40 m. The summit was qualified on SSB and CW. Three CW contacts on 80 m and six CW contacts on 40 m were made before I started chasing some of the other summits. SSB brought three S2S contacts: Mitch VK7XDM on VK7/SC-001 before and after UTC rollover and Sam VK2GPL on VK2/CT-003. I listened around for the ZL stations who were out activating without success.

I returned to the car and drove southeast along Gibb Range Road to Glamour Hill Track and drove into the next target.

(Glamour Hill Track) VK3/VE-079 1262 m 8 points

As I drove in to the summit, I saw signs suggesting that logging will soon be occurring at a site part way into the summit – access may soon again be restricted. I drove through the old logging coupe to the high point of the track on the ridge, well within the AZ. I again set up with a line over a tree branch.

I found that I had very limited phone coverage. First in the log was Bill VK1MCW/2 on VK2/SM-036. I managed to work three stations on 80 m CW and one on 40 m CW. Given the conditions and poor coverage, I gave up, packed up and headed back to Gibb Range Road.

The route was east to Corryong – Benambra Road (C545) then north. I have previously approach the next target via Scrubby Creek Track, but the route is rough. I decided to head a little further north and to approach via Dunstans Road to approach the summit from the higher end of Scrubby Creek Track. Although the distance was greater, my feeling is that transit time was lower. I parked at the high point in the track and loaded up for the climb.

VK3/VE-051 (unnamed) 1407 m 8 points

The climb is about 380 m with about 55 m vertical climb through low scrub. Once in the AZ, I set up the station and started calling on 40 m SSB, as I was aware that Tony VK7LTD and Angela VK7FAMP were setting up on Mt Wellington VK7/SC-001.

I had three contacts on SSB before Tony called me for a S2S, and I worked Angela a couple of minutes later. I made a total of 12 contacts: two on 80 m, one on 20 m and the remainder on 40 m. The summit was qualified on both SSB and CW.

I returned to the car. Then retraced the access route to Dunstans Road, and then headed south to Six Mile Ridge Track. I then travelled out along the track to the summit.

Six Mile Ridge VK3/VE-056 1393 m 8 points

I quickly set up with a line over a tree branch to support the antenna. I made 11 contacts on 80 and 40 m, qualifying on both SSB and CW.

I packed up and headed back to Dunstans Road and then headed back to Wodonga.

SixMileViewE

Looking eastwards: Mt Pinnibar to the right and Kosciuszko in the centre

Another busy day, with four summits activated for 44 Activator points. Once I had VK3/VE-069 qualified on CW, I had passed the 1000 point mark, qualifying for Mountain Goat all CW.

Overall, I earned 259 points in the five days, and 348 points since the campaign started on 19 September, with 32 summits activated in that period, with 9 days of activations.

Thanks to all the Chasers who worked me, especially those I worked on CW.

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Latest WWFF Hunter certificate: 1644

Today I received the latest WWFF Hunter certificate for having worked 1644  different references.

Many of the usual Activators feature in the more recent references worked, including Mike VK6MB, Gerard VK2IO, Scott VK4CZ, Rob VK4AAC/VK2VH, Neil VK4HNS, Marija VK5FMAZ, Paul VK5PAS, Ian VK1DI, Stephen VK4JSS and Hans VK6XN.  Ross VK3NRB added a few as well. I was happy to work JT7A in JTFF-0006  for something a little more exotic  using FT8 on 40 m.

Thanks to all the Activators and also to the WWFF Admin team members!

VK3PF H-01644#200s

The Hunter 1644 certificate

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National Wattle Day 2019

1 September 2019

In August, VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS announced a special certificate for those amateurs who activate a VKFF Reference area on National Wattle Day – 1 September 2019.

I considered my options in the days prior to the actual date, waiting until I saw what the weather might bring. I finally made the decision on the morning and decided to do another run through several local Parks to build another activation to count towards the Boomerang Award. The weather RADAR was showing showers coming towards the local area, but with strong rain expected in the afternoon.

I left home just before the start of the UTC day and made my way around to the first target Park.

Traralgon South Flora Reserve VKFF-2465

I parked the car and looked around for a suitable tree branch. I soon had a line over a branch at around 12 m up, a few metres inside the Park boundary. As I was setting up the antenna, I explained what I was doing to a gentleman walking along the nearby multi-use path. Once the antenna was up, I moved the car to a position and connected the feedline to the IC-7000 in the car. I could thus operate from inside the vehicle and be much more comfortable if any rain arrived and warmer than sitting outside – it was around 9 degrees and very humid and the sky to the west was a dark grey.

First in the log was Rob VK4AAC/3 in Cobram Regional Park VKFF-0961 on 80 m. I then moved down the band a little and spotted myself. I soon had Geoff VK3SQ in the log from Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620, followed by Mike VK6MB/3 in Mount Alexander Regional Park VKFF-0973 and then Steve VK3MPR. I changed to 40 m and soon worked Greg VK4VXX/p in Good Night Scrub National Park VKFF-0206. A few callers later I worked Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734 and then Walter VK2LM in Wollemi National Park VKFF-0544. Three callers later was Neil VK4HNS/2 Boronga Nature Reserve VKFF-2541. I worked a couple more Hunters before I gave up due to the low rate of callers. I had 18 in the log – plenty to qualify the activation for VKFF.

VKFF-2465_wattle

A wattle tree near the operating site in VKFF-2645

I packed up and returned to the bitumen and headed north to the Callignee South Road and drove around to North Boundary Track and climbed to the junction with East Boundary Track to find a spot just inside the Park boundary.

Traralgon South Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2464

I again tossed a line over a tree branch, set up the ZS6BKW antenna and connected up to the vehicle mounted radio. I soon spotted myself and had my first caller only 33 minutes after the last contact in the previous Park: Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734. I worked another 13 Hunters before I moved frequency to chase other spotted activators: Steve VK4JSS/p in Bayview Conservation Park VKFF-1469 followed by Neil VK4HNS/2 Boronga Nature Reserve VKFF-2541. I moved back to my previous frequency for two more Hunters before moving to 80 m to work Rob VK4AAC/3 in Cobram Regional Park VKFF-0961. I had 20 in the log, so I decided to move on to the next Park.

After packing up, I returned to Callignee South Road and drove to Gormandale – Callignee Road and then Tong Bong Road and then onto the track that runs just inside the northern Boundary of the Reserve.

Callignee Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2287

I parked only a short distance into the Park and soon had the line over a tree branch and the antenna was soon in the air. It was again connected to the car-based system. I continued to operate from in the car, but the day had now warmed up into the mid-teens, so operation was now with the windows down and the warm jacket removed.

My first contact was again Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734, about 42 minutes after the last contact in the previous Park. I moved to a clear frequency and soon worked four hunters before Neil VK4HNS/2 called from Boronga Nature Reserve VKFF-2541. Next were two ZL callers before John VK4TJ called, always welcome with his multiple callsigns. I moved down to 80 m to work Rob VK4AAC/3 in Cobram Regional Park VKFF-0961, Mike VK6MB/3 in Mount Alexander Regional Park VKFF-0973 and Les VK7OT in Burnie. With 16 in the log, it was again time to pack up and moved.

I retraced my entry route to Gormandale – Callignee Road and headed towards Gormandale before turning into Onleys Road to cut the corner to reach Hyland Highway north of Gormandale. I then headed north to Oakes Road and a short distance to my usual operating spot. I then had lunch before setting up the antenna system in the normal manner for the day – a line over a tree branch and connected to the car-based installation.

Gormandale Flora Reserve VKFF-2325

With the slightly longer drive plus a break for lunch, I was on air about 50 minutes after the last contact in the previous Park. I started on 80 m and first in the log was Mike VK6MB/3 in Mount Alexander Regional Park VKFF-0973. I had only one other caller on 80 m – Peter VK3GQ. I moved up to 40 m, spotted and soon had callers, including Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734 and Les VK5KLV/p in Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757, plus several other Hunters. Last in the log – number 12 – was Ade VK4SOE/p in Girraween National Park VKFF-0198. I decided to pack up and move on to a fifth Park.

The route was simple – return to Oakes Road and head in an easterly  then NE direction before navigating the grid of forest tracks through the plantation. The obvious fire watch tower is a good landmark before one starts to head east once you are about 800 m beyond the track to the tower.

Merrimans Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2384

Intending activators need to be careful with the boundaries for this Park: Google Maps has shading that suggests the Park extends much further north than is reality. The track on the eastern boundary is inside the boundary, so setting up on the eastern edge of the track once you reach the Park will result in you being inside the boundary.

I used the same set up as previously in the day.

First in the log was Ade VK4SOE/p in Girraween National Park VKFF-0198 on 40 m followed by John VK5FLEA on VK5/NE-041 in Mount Remarkable National Park VKFF-0360. Then I caused the logging app to crash…. A short delay until I was ready to log Scott VK4CZ – sorry Scott. Next was Deryck VK4FDJL/5 in Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area VKFF-1734 before John VK4TJ called. Next was Les VK5KLV/p in Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757, followed by six other Hunters.

I moved down to 80 m and worked Ross VK7ALH. And then nothing…. I was occasionally activating the Voice Memory and was checking ParksnPeak when I sensed an odd smell – burnt electronics – at about the time I saw a spot from Cliff VK2NP advising nil signal on 80 m and was 40 m possible. I checked the transceiver control head and could see that I had no power output. I tried a retune to activate the ATU, but nothing happened with zero RF out. There was no obvious smoke in the cabin. I jumped out and moved around the vehicle to remove the DC supply to the radio body, leaving doors open. I had 16 in the log, so the Park was qualified for VKFF. I decided to pull down the station and head for home. The first part of the trip until I returned to the bitumen-surface Hyland Highway was with all windows open.

As I prepare these notes, I am yet to remove the radio from the vehicle – it is not that easy to remove. I shall need to remove the radio and then investigate.

Despite the radio issue late in the day, it was a good day out. The day was overcast most of the time, and warmed up to the mid-teens but with high humidity. The rain started after I had returned home and became quite heavy for a time. The local official observations site at Latrobe Airport showed 9.2 mm falling between 1733 and 1900 local time, with most of that falling in the first hour.

Thanks to all the Hunters who called today. The day increased my tally of activations to four for the first four Parks and to three for the last Park. Thanks to the other Activators for all the Parke to Park contacts. The only issue is that they will not count for the international P2P award tally, as I did not reach the quota of 44 in any of the Parks.

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VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1600

The latest Hunter Honour Roll certificate has arrived arrived from Paul VK5PAS via Peter VK3ZPF: 1600 VKFF references worked.

Another great photo from Paul, this time one of his colourful feathered friends: a Rainbow Lorikeet  in Shepherds Hill Recreation Park – see Paul’s coment below. Thanks Paul!

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1600

The VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1600 certificate

The last 25 references qualifying for this level were from several activators:
Five from Marija VK5FMAZ  activating Parks in VK3,
Four from Mike VK6MB  activating Parks in VK3,
Four from Gerard VK2IO activating in VK5 and VK2,
Four from Ross VK3NRB activating parks on South Gippsland,
Two from Ian VK5CZ,
Two from Paul VK5PAS in VK3 and VK5, and one each from
Ian VK1DI in VK2, Helen VK7FOLK in VK7, Angela VK7FAMP in VK7 and Hans VK6XN in VK6.
Reference 1600 came from Ian VK5CZ on 11 August 2019.

Thank you to all the Activators in the log. It has taken a while: the first contact showing for me as a Hunter was VKFF-0577 Cocos Islands way back in Ocotber 2011, before I was really chasing WWFF references!

Thank you also to the entire WWFF admin team and the VKFF admin team!

 

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VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1575

The latest certificate for VKFF Hunter Honour Roll has arrived.

12 of the last 25 qualifying contacts were with Mike VK6MB/3
9 were with Gerard VK2IO/8
2 with Rob VK4HAT
and one each with Peter VK3TKK/p and Greg VK4VXX/p.

Thanks to all the Activators for getting out and activating new Parks.

Thanks to Paul VK5PAS and the rest of the VKFF admin team for their work.

The latest certificate is another photo from Paul, this time the track heading towards Red Bluff Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2426 in remote Mallee country near the VIC/SA border.

VK3PF - VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1575

VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1575 certificate

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World Ranger Day 2019

Thursday 31 July 2019

VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS had announced a special certificate for those amateurs who made the effort to activate a VKFF reference on World Ranger Day. In the days leading up to date, a number of operators indicated that they were planning to be out activating Parks. After checking the weather forecast, I decided to also head out to some local Parks with the aim of building up activation counts towards the Boomerang Award as an activator. I posted an Alert on ParksnPeaks for the first target Park.

I had a leisurely start. I managed to work Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-1114 and Rob VK4HAT/p in VKFF-1511 before I shut down the radio shack and headed out for the day. I made a visit to the local Bakery to grab something for lunch and then headed out to Tarra-Bulga National Park via Traralgon South.

When I reached the T intersection with the Grand Ridge Road, I headed east towards Carrajung.

Tarra-Bulga National Park VKFF-0480

There are several sites where one can operate in this Park. Many go to the Visitor Centre near Balook, but I ruled it out as mobile phone coverage is marginal at best in my experience. The Visitor Centre is also popular with visitors, so one needs to be careful when setting up your antenna.

TBNPsign

Main welcome sign for Tarra-Bulga National Park

There is an old picnic area about 1.4 km east of the junction of the Grand Ridge Road and the Traralgon-Balook Road, not far beyond the intersection with Cooks Road. There is a Park sign adjacent to the entrance. I parked in the picnic area, making sure to avoid the tree guards around the planted trees. There is plenty of room but no facilities.

TB_OpSite

The operating site

I managed to toss a throw bag over a tree branch at about 14 m up and soon had the ZS6BKW antenna set up, right at the limit of the feedline. It was a cold morning, so I connected the feedline to the tuner mounted in the car and operated from the driver’s seat.

On switching on the radio, I had good signals from Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-1114. I waited for a chance to work Gerard, who then offered me the frequency. I accepted the offer, but noted that I would first try to hunt the other stations that had been spotted. Next in the log was Ade VK4SOE/p in VKFF-0471, followed by Ken VK2KYO/p in VKFF-1785. I heard nothing from Mike VK6MB/3 on 40 m SSB. I returned to 7.144 MHz and soon worked Cliff VK2NP in Sydney. A few minutes later, a spot appeared for Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2032 on 80 m. I quickly changed bands – easy with the antenna in use – and soon had Mike in the log. I returned to 40 m and started working a string of hunters. Early amongst those worked was Alan VK2MG who was chasing my Park for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award. Glad that I could assist Alan! I soon had around 18 in the log, including Park to Park contacts with Grant VK4JAZ/p in VKFF-2878 and Ian VK1DI/2 in VKFF-0385.

I changed to CW and worked seven stations, then went to 20 m to chase Ian VK1DI/2 again, and then Gerard on CW on 20 m. I then swapped bands to 80 m for another six stations, most at closer range who could not hear me on 40 m. A change to 30 m yielded another eight contacts, all in VK4.

I then returned to 40 m, working Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-0475. I found a clear frequency and had a long chat with Sue VK5AYL regarding logging requirements when activating a SOTA summit. Sue is close to finalising the next version of her iOS logging app…..

I missed Mark VK3PI/p on Mt Ida VK3/VU-009 in VKFF-0624. I was in his skip zone and from the spots, it appears that he only operated on 40 m.

Next was John VK5BJE in VKFF-0785. John had just set up his station, so I was first in the log. After another hunter on 40 m SSB before swapping to CW mode on the same frequency to chase Gerard VK2IO/5 for another mode. Two stations came back on CW, but one did not respond after I worked the first station. I had 48 contacts in the log, so announced “Final calls” and then closed down and started to pack up the station.

Whilst in the middle of rolling up the antenna, I heard the Spotting sound from ParksnPeaks. I finished packing up and reconnected the mobile whip to the radio and soon had another Park-to-Park contact in the log: Angela VK7FAMP/p in VKFF-2929. I had only needed 10 contacts to qualify this Park for the Boomerang Award, but ended up with 49, with 12 Park to Park contacts: a profitable couple of hours of operating.

I exited the park and returned to Traralgon South.

Traralgon South Flora Reserve VKFF-2465

I entered the reserve via the track just north of the entrance to the township and parked within the Reserve. I again tossed a line over a branch and erected the ZS6BKW antenna and was soon on air from inside the car – it had warmed up a little, but was still only around 8 degrees.

The activation began with a series of Park to Park contacts:
Ade VK4SOE/p
John VK5BJE/p
Neil VK4HNS/p
Peter VK5PET/p in VKFF-1752
Angela VK7FAMP/p

Ade had been occupying 7.144 MHz for quite a while and wanted a break to grab some food and drink and offered me the frequency, so I spotted myself and started calling. I soon had six more in the log, including Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-1114. I dropped down to 80 to work Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2236 and then returned to 40 m to catch Ian VK1DI/2 in VKFF-0406 before returning to 7.144 MHz. I managed a few more on 40 m SSB before I dropped down to 80 m to start calling there, working six more stations, including Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0132. I returned briefly to 40 m to work Adrian VK5FANA in VKFF-1755 before I closed down and packed up.

The next Park is quite close – only about 750 m to the east. Rather than drive around via the sealed roads, I took a direct route to North Boundary Track and then headed east along it. At the Reserve boundary I saw a sign indicating no vehicle access at that point. I continued east and stopped briefly at a high point, only to find poor mobile coverage. I continued on until I reached Callignee South Road, and then retraced my route to the top of the hill I had just driven over. I check mobile reception and simply parked the car within the boundary of the Reserve. I spotted myself and started calling simply using the mobile whip antenna.

TSFFR_sign

Sign at the NW corner of the Reserve

Traralgon South Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2464

First in the log was Adrian VK5FANA in VKFF-1755, followed by Ade VK4SOE/p in VKFF-0471. The band was starting to be busy, with DX stations starting to appear. I found a clear frequency and started calling after spotting myself. I soon had 11 contacts in the log, so I choose to shut down and travel to the next Park.

I returned into Callignee South Road and headed south. The next Park was about 9 km away, so it did not take long to move to the next Park.

Callignee Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2287

I set up just inside the northern boundary and set up the ZS6BKW antenna with a line over a branch. Ade VK4SOE/p in VKFF-0471 was first in the log, followed by Paul VK5PAS/p in VKFF-0784, Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-0276 and Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2236. I found a clear frequency, spotted and started calling. I soon had another 10 contacts in the log, including Adrian VK5FANA in VKFF-1755. I dropped down to 80 m and soon had seven more contacts, including Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF-2236. I closed down and packed up the antenna. Another spot came through and I was able to work Steve VK4JSS/p in VKFF-1525 with the mobile whip. I then made a decision to try to squeeze in another Park on the way home. The activation time was a significant addition, but driving time was only 5 or 10 minutes extra.

I travelled towards Gormandale along Gormandale-Callignee Road and then swung into Onleys Road to emerge on Hyland Highway north of Gormandale. I then travelled north and then swung east onto Oakes Road and found a spot to drive into the target Park.

Gormandale Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2325

I decided to operate with the mobile whip, minimising set up time and was hoping for a quick activation. First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/5 in VKFF-0276 on 40 m CW. I moved up the band to then SSB segment, spotted and started calling. I worked 8 stations in the next 8 minutes before I changed to 40 m whip for its 80 m brother. On 80 m SSB, I worked Mike VK6MB/3 in VKFF2236 and Paul VK5PAS/p in VKFF-0784, plus a couple of VK2 stations. I then swapped whips again and managed to work Hans VK6XN/p in VKFF-2940 for a final Park to Park contact.

My voice was rather hoarse after a long day – 120 contacts in the log. I closed down and started the drive home – around 30 minutes away.

Overall, a good day of Parks activity. Four Parks qualified at VKFF level and one at WWFF level. The last four Parks activated will need future visits to bring them up to 5 activations for the Boomerang Award, but the activation of Tarra-Bulga National Park was the fifth activation for me.

Many thanks go to all the Hunters out there and especially to all the operators who made the effort to activate a Park – I managed to work 18 unique Parks during the trip.

Special thanks to Paul VK5PAS for the terrific certificate!

VK3PF World Ranger Day 2019

The certificate from VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS

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