Australia Day 2023 celebrated with a SOTA trip

I had spent quite some time over the previous days examining the available mapping with regards to the many new Parks in Gippsland added to the Parks On The Air program (POTA). VK POTA Coordinator Marty VK4KC had recently added a large number of Parks for VK. Only very recently have these Parks been added to the databases at the ParksnPeaks website. Boundary files are not yet available for download, but other online mapping sources are available to check boundaries. I was exploring possible locations to access the new Parks that were within an hour or so from home.

On the Wednesday evening, I noticed that a couple of Alerts were posted for SOTA activations on Australia Day and decided to head out to a SOTA summit located in one of the new Parks.

Thursday 26 January 2023

The day started a little late, as I had slept in somewhat. I quickly organised the required gear and set off from home without having had breakfast. As I was driving, I considered my route options, deciding to hope that the Bakery at Heyfield would be open.

The trip to Heyfield was uneventful. Unfortunately, the Bakery was closed. The door was open at Heyfield Pizza and Take Away., so I entered and grabbed a drink from the ‘fridge. I was served and asked if I required anything further. On asking for a hamburger, I was informed that the store was not due to open until 1100 (it was 0950!). The lady glanced at the clock, and informed me that she would accept the order and I would need to wait 10 minutes. Very nice, helpful country service! 10 minutes later, I was sitting in the car consuming brunch. The plan at that stage was to activate the summit and probably head back to Heyfield for a late lunch snack.

I then headed to Coongulla and then northward to reach Ben Cruachan Rd, There were a couple of nasty rutted and rocky sections on the final climb to the end of the road, tackled with 4WD Low Range engaged. I safely reached the parking area at the end of the road and parked the vehicle. I soon had a line over a tree branch and the doublet in the air. I set up the station on the rustic picnic table.

Ben Cruachan VK3/VT-042 827 m 4 points
Ben Cruachan Natural Features Scenic Reserve VK-4038

The station at Ben Cruachan, with the summit visible behind.

Once the station was assembled, I started setting up the logging app and noticed that Bernard AX2IB/p had spotted almost 30 minutes earlier on 40 m CW. I quickly moved to his spotted frequency and heard nothing. I sent a “?”. Bernard responded with his callsign and we soon completed a contact, including exchanging summit references. Bernard was on Mount Emu VK3/VE-061, located to the north of Mount Beauty. Thanks for the S2S contact Bernard!

I moved a few kilohertz up the band and posted a spot, but forgot to change the frequency in the app. I resent the Spot with the correct frequency, but forgot to correct the Park reference. Doh!

I was using a hack, as the app I use does not natively support POTA. This had not previously been an issue, as there was a 1:1 relationship between VKFF/WWFF and POTA. Anyone wishing to activate could simply log and Spot using the VVKK reference number. Once at home, I use the mParks Converter program to create a log with the POTA references translated by the program. The new log file can then be uploaded to POTA. The new POTA references all have reference numbers higher that the VKFF reference numbers, so I simply added the POTA number as a WWFF reference. When spotting for SOTA, the app would set up a self spot including the WWFF reference in the Comment field, but I needed to delete the “FF” before sending the Spot. This simple hack will need to be used with care in the future when more Parks are added to VKFF. Once home, it is simple to change the MY_SIG and MY_SIG_INFO fields to the correct values, especially if one is using the ADIF Master program.

I started calling CQ, working my next station after a few minutes. I worked another 14 stations on 40 m CW, giving me 15 contacts logged. Both the summit and Park were qualified. I swapped to 40 m SSB and Spotted. I soon had Hunters responding to my calls. I was considering closing when a Spot came through from Glenn VK3YY that he was setting up and would be QRV in 10 minutes. Several minutes later, having had no replies, I stopped calling CQ and moved to Glenn’s spotted frequency, finding Bernard AX2IB/p working Matt VK1MA. Glenn was not yet on air. I quickly worked both Matt and Bernard, with Glenn calling in as the contact with Bernard was concluding. I worked Glenn and then closed down, with 31 contacts logged.

I packed up and retraced my access route. In the worst of the rutted areas on the descent, I again engaged 4WD Low and progressed slowly. I managed to hit one of the rocks on the underbody protection. As I was driving down, I noticed a purple marker on the GPS navigator above the dash. (I run a now-old Chinese built 7 inch “multimedia Player” running Windows CE, onto which I have loaded OziExplorerCE, with GetLostMaps 1:25000 maps on an SD card. The purple marker is a waypoint for a HEMA summit.)

Once at the bottom of the descent, I stopped and checked the mapping. The HEMA summit was about 1.2 km away (direct line), so I decided to attempt to activate the summit. I swung north on Avon Track, then west on Dolodrook Track, travelling to the high point of the track, NNE of the summit. I parked the car and loaded up the SOTA pack. I needed to head about 100 m horizontal through thick regrowth to be safely inside the summit AZ. I did not bother climbing all the way to the summit, given the thick scrub.

VK3/HVE-036 (unnamed) 707 m Not previously Activated

I set up with a line over a tree branch at about 7 m. I did not spot, as I was able to attract attention on the usual Parks 40 m SSB focus frequency. I soon had eight contacts in the log. With no further responses to my calls, I closed down and packed up. I returned tot he vehicle and headed back to the track junction below Ben Cruachan.

I stopped to consider my options. The forecast rain had not arrived, so I decided to attempt to reach a couple of summits that had been on my “To Do” list for a long time. I swung west onto Mt Margaret Track. The track had lots of regrowth at the edges, so I expect that the vehicle now has more pinstripes… The trip was about 33 km of 4WD, taking about 2 hours to reach the next target summit. Progress was slow but steady. I was aware that I was probably travelling past a couple of HEMA summits, but decided to continue, as I was not sure of the time required to traverse the route. The descent west of Chromite Mine Track had a nasty narrow and heavily rutted section, where I inched through in 4WD Low and managed to bottom out on one rock due to the deep ruts. I parked on the NW shoulder of the next summit and walked up into the activation zone.

Mount Margaret VK3/VT-031 1094 m 6 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

Given that it was almost 1600 local time, I did not continue all the way to summit, setting up about 15 m vertical below the summit. I had no mobile coverage, so again checked the Parks focus frequency on 40 m SSB, where I found my first contact, Malcolm VK3OAK in VKFF-2182. I moved up the band to a clear frequency. My next contact was Andrew VK2DA, who kindly agreed to spot me. I soon had nine contacts in the log. The last caller asked me to try CW, so I changed modes and started calling on the same nominal frequency. I eventually worked four stations, thus qualifying the summit on CW as well as SSB, and taking the Park tally beyond the 10 required for VKFF. I packed up and descended to the car.

Given the nasty deep ruts behind me, I continued northwards. I was aware that the northern section of the track as it descends to the Wellington River has a reputation for being difficult but hoped I could manage it. I was soon at the next summit, where the track passes within a metre vertical of the summit.

VK3/VT-032 (unnamed) 1067 m 6 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

I parked off the edge of the track and soon had a line over a tree branch. I set up the station only metres from the vehicle on the edge of the track. I had mobile phone coverage and was able to spot myself. I managed to work 15 stations in about 20 minutes before I swapped to CW, where I made four contacts. I received an SMS message asking I could return to SSB, to which I responded in the positive and soon had another contact in the log. I heard another spot, and quickly moved up the band to work Daryl VK3AWA activating VKFF-0747 using our Club callsign. I then packed up and resumed the trip north.

The distance out to Tamboritha Road was about 14 km. On reaching the helipad, the track starts to drop steeply to the west, initially over rocky ground. I took my time on the descent, mostly in first gear Low Range 4WD. Care was required to pick a reasonable line. I finally reached the bottom, stopping just before the bitumen to change back to 2WD. My thoughts were that I would not like to have to drive up that section of track. I then headed for home, via Licola, Seaton and Traralgon. The trip involved about 73 km of dirt roads, with about 54 km of 4WD.

A view into the upper Wellington River valley from the Mt Margaret Track west of the helipad.
The route through the hills. “3 Tyson Road” is in Heyfield (just a convenient marker). Ben Cruachan Road is the parking spot below Ben Cruachan. Monomak is the road junction below the summit, with the spot to the north the parking place for the HEMA summit. Sargood is the parking spot for Mt Margaret, and the eastern “Licola” is VK3/VT-032. The western Licola is where Mt Margaret Track joins Tamboritha Road. The helipad is located at the northernmost point of the track. Image courtesy Google Maps.

Thanks to all who made contact during the day.

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A trip to Wodonga for Christmas 2022

I would normally travel to Wodonga at least a week earlier to spend some time with family in the lead up to Christmas. This year, I came down with some strange bug that hit me hard for a couple of days, then feeling flat for several days, so I deferred my travel.

Friday 23 December 2022

I packed the car and headed off. Given the weather reports for the eastern portion of the state, I headed west and cut across the hills to reach Healesville, then north on the Maroondah Highway. My first stop was just south of Buxton.

Buxton Silver Gums Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2058

In the interests of the Club Challenge, I decided to use the Club callsign, VK3BEZ. I pulled well into the car park and spotted. I started calling using the mobile whip for 40 m. Several minutes of calling resulted in only a faint call and no response to my reply. Clearly conditions were somewhat flat. I quickly set up the doublet with a line over a tree branch. The result was several responses to calls. The next 15 minutes produced 14 contacts on 40 m SSB. I moved to 20 m SSB and then CW, working another six contacts. I then moved to 40 m CW for a Park to Park with Nick VK3ANL on Mt Donna Buang in Yarra Ranges National Park, followed by another five callers. 17 m CW produced a contact into VK5, after which I returned to 40 m SSB to hunt VK2EG/p in VKFF-1778, followed by two further callers before Nick VK3ANL called. I worked Nick on both SSB and AM. On returning to SSB, I had two further callers before I decided that I needed to close down. I had been on air for around 100 minutes to make only 31 contacts. It was hard work!

I packed up the station and headed north. I stopped in Buxton to grab a late lunch. I then travelled to Bonnie Doon and then on towards Benalla. The next stop was just before the Hume Freeway overpass.

Reef Hills State Park VKFF-0773

I drove a short distance into the park and found a spot to park. I soon had the doublet up at the full length of the feedline. I again hooked up the doublet to the radio in the car and was soon working stations on 40 m SSB. Conditions had improved significantly since earlier in the afternoon, so I was working stations at a brisk rate. I tried 20 m and 17 m CW, working five stations. I then returned to 40 m CW for a few contacts before a final five contacts on 40 m SSB. 50 contacts were made in around 75 minutes. I packed up and resumed the trip to Wodonga.

Saturday 24 December 2022

After undertaking a couple of domestic tasks, I headed out to a local Park for an activation.

Baranduda Regional Park VKFF-0959
Baranduda Range VK3/HVE-154

I headed to Bantik Track, finding that the track had recently been reworked – the bulldozer was parked just inside the gate. I drove up to the top of the main ridge, when I decided to activate at the HEMA summit. I had activated this summit earlier in the year. The track was in excellent condition, but with a dry and dusty surface. I parked the vehicle in a relatively flat drainage ditch close to the summit and set up the station nearby.

I was set up with the IC-7300 and 100 Ah LiFePO4 battery, with the radio on a folding table. I was ready to operate just after 1030 local time and checked the current Spots. I soon had Rod VK1ACE in the log for a Hump to Hump and Park to Park. Rod was in VKFF-0837 on VK1/HCT-040. I moved to a clear frequency and spotted myself. I worked another 13 stations on 40 m SSB before UTC midnight. I also noted that my mobile phone service was spotty and I missed Rod changing to CW. I worked a dozen stations on 40 m SSB before checking Rod’s CW spot frequency, hearing him clearly. Rod was soon in the log on CW. I moved to a clear frequency and spotted, working two stations before a friend called. We quickly moved back up the band to work on SSB before I returned to the CW frequency and worked another five stations.

I then moved to 20 m CW and worked eight stations, including Rod VK1ACE once again – very short skip on 20 m. I then moved slightly down the band to work Bill VK4FW in VKFF-0729. I then tried 20 m SSB, working four stations before I saw a spot for Rod VK1ACE back on 40 m SSB. I quickly changed bands and again worked Rob.

I then moved up to 10 m SSB, working 18 stations in around 25 minutes. I spent a few minutes looking at 6 m SSB, making only one contact. I tried setting up for FT8 on 6 m, but RF was upsetting the USB ports on the laptop. I later realised that I should have used a 6 m monoband antenna, which might have caused less of an issue with stray RF.

I then tried FT8 on 10 m, making four contacts. I then moved to 12 m, making six contacts on FT8. Next was 15 m FT8, where I noticed that the receive level in the WSJT software was very high and also my power output was low. I remembered that the doublet is difficult to match on 15 m, so I quickly threw another line over a branch and hauled up an end-fed coaxial dipole (a.k.a. HF Flowerpot antenna) for 15 m. I managed to adjust the receive levels and things were now looking much better. I made 15 contacts on FT8 on 15 m. 15 m SSB produced 15 contacts before I dropped down to CW to work a JA SOTA station, followed by a further five contacts.

I next tried 17 m CW, working stations in VK1 and Melbourne. I next tried FT8 on 17 m, with the first contact being a PY2 station. I worked another 10 stations before moving to 20 m FT8, which yielded another 10 contacts. The next 10 minutes on 30 m FT8 produced two more contacts.

I then moved to 40 m FT8, working 12 stations in around 20 minutes. Another 15 minutes on 80 m FT8 produced another three contacts. After a couple of SMS exchanges, I rang Rob VK2VH and arranged to try 160 m FT8, even though I was unsure if the doublet would work on the band. I changed to the 160 m FT8 frequency and hit “Tune”. Soon after, I was hearing and seeing Rob in the decoded text. We quickly completed the contact.

I then returned to 40 m SSB and spotted. I worked another 27 contacts in around 30 minutes. I then closed down. It had been quite a day, with lots of short skip propagation. Several amateurs chased me on multiple bands and modes. I made contacts on every band from 160 m to 6 m (okay, only one contact on each of the two extremities!). I had a total of 176 contacts logged. I packed up and made an error in taking Cobb Track to exit the park. The track had not yet seen the bulldozer and was very rough in places. At the point where the track exits the park, I encountered a very large messy bog hole complex with very deep holes, which I managed to skirt on one edge right up against the fence. I returned to Wodonga for the night, feeling rather tired.

Many thanks to all who worked me during the day, but especially those that hunted me on multiple bands and modes.

26 December 2022

After looking at the mapping, I decided to head out to a small section of one of the Parks in the Region. I drove down the Hume Highway and took the Chiltern exit, through the town and made my way around to the Chiltern Valley Road. Shortly after passing the junction with Franks Road, and opposite the southern end of Major Mitchell Road, is a car park for the Chiltern Valley No 2 Dam section of the Park, at the start of Nankeen Track.

Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620

I found a spot to park the vehicle which would provide a little shade. I soon had the doublet in the air and set up the station on the tailgate of the Ranger. I was set up a few minutes before 2300Z.

I soon had my first contact: Geoff ZL3GA on ZL3/CB-469 in ZLFF-0027 on 15 m CW. Next I worked Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-1485 on 20 m SSB. I then posted a Spot for 20 m SSB and worked nine stations, including Texas and New Zealand. I spent a few minutes getting a 15 m vertical antenna in the air, using another line over a different tree branch. Fittingly, my next contact was another Park to Park with Bill VK4FW/p on 15 m CW, following a Spot for Bill being posted.

I decided to next try 40 m SSB and worked eight stations over the next 15 minutes. Another Spot came through for Bill VK4FW, this time of 17 m CW. I checked the frequency and soon had another contact in the log. I returned to 40 m, but on CW. I worked four stations before UTC midnight, including Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-2713 and Bill VK4FW/p. I again worked Bill on 10 m CW just prior to UTC midnight. I had 26 contacts in the log.

After UTC midnight, I tried a variety of bands and modes, often dashing off to hunt other activators when a Spot came through. I tried all bands from 40 m through to 10 m using SSB and CW. I finally took a break for a late lunch and then pulled out the laptop to set up for data modes. I worked stations on FT8 on 20, 17, 10 and 40 m. Late in the afternoon, I returned to 40 m SSB to work another dozen contacts, followed by two contacts on 80 m SSB.

I finally closed down at 0645Z with 144 contacts logged. There were 21 Park to Park contacts to eight different Parks.

Thanks to all who worked me, with special thanks to those who hunted me on different bands and modes.

I packed up and returned to Wodonga.

27 December 2022

Another day, another Park activation…. I headed out past Hume Dam to reach the Murray River Road, which I followed to reach Granya. I took Webb Lane to reach Bridle Track at the Cottonwood camp area in the Park. I took Bridle Track and Jurgies Track to reach Wises Creek Track which I followed around to the first target site. Along the way I took a very rough short detour around a very large tree down across the track. 4WD was engaged for the detour.

I reached the first site, parked and set up the station nearby.

Wises Creek Track VK3/HVE-153
Mount Granya State Park VKFF-0767

This HEMA summit had not yet been activated and was a logical option. I quickly worked four different stations on 40 m SSB to qualify the summit for HEMA using VK3PF. I then changed call to the Club callsign and started calling. I worked 11 contacts before changing to CW, where I worked six stations. I then moved to 10 m SSB to work Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-0437, followed by another five stations. I then tried 10 m CW, working another five contacts, including one in California. I then closed down and packed up, with 28 contacts logged as VK3BEZ. I returned tot he vehicle and continued along to Sugarloaf Track and on to Hore Hill, about 2.4 km from the HEMA summit.


Hore Hill VK3/VE-192 763 m 4 points
Mount Granya State Park VKFF-0767

I quickly set up the station on the summit, spotted as VK3BEZ and started calling on 40 m SSB. I quickly made five contacts. I switched to 10 m SSB, where I made three contacts. I then tried 10 m FT8, making eight contacts. I made a quick band change to hunt Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0550 on 17 m CW. Next I tried 6 m FT8, making two contacts.

Next I worked my way down the bands, trying FT8, FT4, SSB and CW on most of the bands. I finished off on 40 m again, using FT8, FT4 and CW. The new UTC day had produced 145 contacts, making the Park total for the day 173 contacts.

I closed just before 0630Z, packed up and made my way back to Granya and then back to Wodonga.

Once again, thanks to all who called and special thanks to those who hunted on multiple bands and modes.

28 December 2022

Another warm day was forecast. I undertook a couple of family tasks first thing in the morning and then headed out towards Tallangatta. The trip from there was simple – onward to Old Tallangatta, up Jarvis Creek Road to Plateau Road. I chose to head to a knoll on Leys Track.

Jarvis Creek Plateau VKFF-0969

I decided to again use the Club callsign. I set up the doublet and soon worked Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1983 on 17 m CW. I then started setting up an additional antenna for 15 m. Once it was up, I refocussed on the current spots, working Gerard again on 20 m CW, followed by James VK2TER in VKFF-3196 on 40 m CW and Ian VK1DI/p in VKFF-0458 on 40 m SSB.

I then spotted myself and worked two stations on 10 m CW. A spot came through, so I swapped to 15 m SSB for another Park to Park, Deryck VK4FDJL in VKFF-1643 on 15 m SSB. I changed frequency on 15 m and worked 14 stations. 15 m CW produced four contacts. I then switched to 15 m FT8, working seven stations. I then swapped to 10 m SSB to again work VK4FDJL. A return to 15 m, this time using FT4, produced another seven contacts. I decided to try 6 m FT8, swapping the 15 m vertical for its 6 m cousin. This provided another five contacts. I then moved down through the bands on DATA modes, plus some SSB and CW.

I closed at 0535Z with 112 contacts in the log. I packed up and headed back to Wodonga. Thanks to all the Hunters.

29 December 2022

I again headed out through Tallangatta and on to Bullioh, turning south towards Granya to reach Mount Granya Road, which I followed to the car park on the summit. I parked and started setting up the gear on the picnic table.

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

I started calling on 40 m CW, with only a single Hunter responding. A friend called on the phone and we soon worked on 80 m SSB. 10 minutes of calling on 20 m CW produced only a single contact. I moved up to 17 m CW and soon had callers, working four JA and two W stations. A Spot came through, so I moved to 40 m to hunt Richard VK2OKR in VKFF-2545 on both AM and SSB. I moved to a clear frequency, spotted and started calling. I made a further 15 contacts before UTC midnight, plus another 16 on the new day. I tried various bands, making enough contacts to finish off the Park with the Club callsign. A total of 58 contacts were made from the summit, with nine Park to Park contacts.

I packed up and headed back to the main road, then headed north to Granya and then the Murray River Road. I then drove towards Wodonga but diverted into the next Park.

Wises Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2487

This park is just under 30 ha in area. There is a rough track from near the NE boundary of the park, off an old section of the main road. It had plenty of deep erosion ruts as it climbs up a shallow gully to a saddle, then it swings west to climb to the high point of the park, which is where I set up. I soon had a line over a tree branch and the doublet in the air. I again set up on the tailgate.

The activation started with Park to Park contacts with Peter VK3TKK in VKFF-0055 on 40 m SSB and CW. I worked another eight contacts on 40 m SSB before swapping to 40 m CW, working another seven contacts. I then tried other bands on both SSB and CW before returning to 40 m. I closed at around 0525Z with 85 contacts logged, conscious that I need to return to Wodonga by a reasonable time. I quickly packed up, descended to the main road and head back to Wodonga.

30 December 2022

Most of the day was spent on family matters. I drove Mum to Jingellic, where we briefly caught up with my brother. I checked out the memorial to the RFS firefighter Samuel McPaul, who died on 30 December 2019 when a firestorm overturned the fire truck containing him and two colleagues. We then returned to Jingellic to enjoy lunch at the Bridge Hotel. We then returned to Wodonga.

After a short break, I decided to head out for another activation.

Jarvis Creek Plateau VKFF-0969

I decided to head in to the northern section of the Park. I headed to Hume Dam, then took the Murray River Road to Georges Creek Road, then Langheims Road and Plateau Road to climb to the top of the ridge. I then travelled a few hundred metres north on Woods Track to park near a track junction. I parked and set up the station on the tailgate.

I spotted on 10 m FT8 and worked two stations. I heard a spot, so moved to 15 m CW to work Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-1550. I next tried 12 m FT8, making nine contacts. Another spot came through, so it was off to 15 m SSB to again work Bill. This was to be a bit of a pattern – operate on a band on FT8, then change band to hunt Bill before assessing where to operate next. I spent most of my time on 40 m (SSB, FT8, FT4 and CW), before moving to 20 m CW. Here I called for several minutes before a dog pile formed. I slowly worked a few stations, struggling to decipher individual callsigns through the pile up and the high (for me) sending speeds. I had just worked the fifth station when a lightning flash was followed about 3.5 seconds later by the sound wave. I decided that it was time to close! I was happy overall – I had 94 contacts in the log.

I quickly packed up, just getting the last of the gear in the car as the first raindrops arrived. By the time I had returned to Plateau Road, the rain was pelting down. I slowly descended down to Georges Creek Road, which I followed south to Old Tallangatta. That way, I was driving away from the centre of the storm…. I then headed back to Wodonga.

31 December 2022

I decided to head out to Wises Creek again, hoping that I might move the tally up to the quorum of 200 required for the Club/Team category. The trip out was uneventful and I was set up a little prior to 2300Z.

Wises Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2487

I started the activation by hunting the two Activators already spotted, working Deryck VK4FDJL in VKFF-1511 on 15 m SSB and Garrick VK3GJG in VKFF-0269 on 40 m SSB. Over the next 30 minutes, I made another 25 contacts. I then moved to 10 m SSB for two contacts. 15 m was more productive, producing 15 contacts on voice and three on CW. Only one contact was made on 20 m SSB. I returned to 40 m SSB, making a total of 27 contacts including a few on AM. I tried a couple of other bands before trying FT8 on 10 m, making eight contacts. This included a Park to Park with K7CAR. I then jumped to 20 m SSB to chase ZL3RIK in ZLFF-0040.

It was about here that I needed to take a break to chat with a Ranger who had come up the track. I explained what I was doing, and the Parks award scheme. He seemed satisfied that I was not causing any damage and departed.

Next I tried 6 m FT8, making four contacts before I jumped to CW to hunt Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-0662. 17 m CW provided five contacts. I then jumped back to 40 m for another contact with Bill VK4FW/p, followed by several others.

12 m FT8 and FT4 yielded a few more contacts before I tried 15 m DATA for a few more in the log. 15 m SSB yielded another 17 contacts. I tried 20 m FT8, making six contacts. My final contacts were with Bill VK4FW/p and VK8MM on 20 m CW, bringing the tally for the day to 142 contacts logged.

I packed up and returned to Wodonga.

1 January 2023

I was up and underway a little later than planned. I headed to Tallangatta to visit the Bakery, then headed down Tallangatta Creek Road. I then took Greenham Road to Mount Benambra Road, which I followed to the target for the day. The roads were generally very good, apart from several pot holes plus Greenham Road where it crosses private property and resembles a farm track rather than a road. I parked beside the Firemans Hut and gathered the gear required for the activation.

Mount Benambra VK3/VE-041 1472 m 8 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

I walked up to about 100 m from the turn around area beside the fire tower. I deliberately set up below the summit, as I have previously received significant interference from the inverters on the solar panel array power system. I was well inside the allowable 25 m vertical Activation Zone. I set up in a gap between shrubs on the uphill side of the track. I put up the lightweight ZS6BKW doublet and also the 15 m vertical, with the KX2. I was set up a little after 2300Z.

There were a large number of Spots posted, so it was a matter of check who was on which band and checking signals. Sometimes it was then a matter of joining the queue of callers and trying to break through with only 10 W.

I made 15 S2S contacts, including seven Park to Park contacts, before UTC midnight. It was all a little hectic. After UTC midnight, things were less pressured. I worked 22 S2S (including 10 P2P) before I closed at about 0155. The log for the day showed 52 contacts.

I packed up and slowly headed down Mt Benambra Road, taking the turn to head out to Dartmouth. The road down to Dartmouth was a little rough in places. From Dartmouth, the drive was simple on good sealed road. I returned to Wodonga.

2 January 2023

Tuesday morning in the Calendar had an appointment near home, so today was the day to make the trip back home. After completing a few tasks in Wodonga, I packed the car and headed off. I decided to head towards Mount Hotham as the initial part of the journey. After buying something in Bright for lunch later, I resumed the trip on the Great Alpine Road. Bright was busy, as expected at this time of year. There were several slow vehicles on the climb towards Hotham, including some caravans. I reached to northern end of the Dargo High Plains Road and turned south. As expected, I soon encountered roadworks speed restrictions, but the unsealed road surface was reasonable most of the time. There was a lot of traffic on the road. I swung to the west onto Blue Rag Range Track and climbed up to the high point, at 1668 m and pulled off the track to park clear of the rough track towards Mount Blue Rag.

Mount Blue Rag VK3/VE-021 1679 m 10 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

The saddle between the summit and the high point of the track is above 1660 m, so the high point is inside the summit Activation Zone (AZ). I parked and soon had a squid pole strapped to a dead snow gum and the doublet up at 7 m above ground at the apex. I set up away from the vehicle and checked the SOTA spots. I listened on 10 m CW and soon had a S2S in the log: JP3DGT/3 on JA/OS-013. The reports were not great, but the contact was completed.

I then spotted on 40 m SSB, making seven contacts in five minutes. I then swapped to 40 m CW, making six contacts. My final slot was 20 m CW, yielding four contacts. With rain approaching from the north and strong winds giving significant wind chill, I closed and packed up.

I headed back down to the Dargo High Plains Road and continued south, encountering some areas with big pot holes and one very wet area in a saddle. I parked at the saddle north of the next summit, well inside the AZ.

VK3/VT-018 1393 m 8 points

I simply set up beside the road, not far from the car. Mobile phone coverage was marginal, but I managed to spot. I soon had the summit qualified on 40 m CW. I then tried 20 m CW, making six contacts. 20 m SSB yielded only a single contact. I moved to 40 m SSB, making seven contacts. I was about to close when another spot came through. I managed another S2S, this time JF1NDT/2 on JA/SO-070. I packed up and resumed the journey south.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. I travelled slowly through Dargo, with lots of vehicles parked near the Hotel. Further south, I cut across to Stockdale to head for Stratford and then headed home on the Highway.

Thanks for all who worked me over the period.

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WWFF 10th Anniversary weekend 2022

19 November 2022

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had participated in the WWFF 10th Anniversary weekend using the Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club callsign – VK3BEZ.

Several Club members have been activating Parks in our region for the Club/Team Challenge following the registration of the Club callsign on Logsearch in July. I had some difficulty in setting up the account but finally managed to have the callsign registered and then a couple of weeks later the Club account was live on the system.

I had activated Tarra-Bulga National Park on two previous occasions, working a total of 150 contacts. Therefore, a logical Park for the Anniversary weekend was Tarra-Bulga, with the aim of building the total number of contacts to the 200 minimum required for the Club/Team category.

I packed the car and headed around to my favourite spot to park in an old picnic area. The picnic infrastructure has been removed, but there is room for a single vehicle to park with plenty of space to set up the station.

Tarra-Bulga National Park VKFF-0480

I have found that mobile phone coverage is patchy in this Park, particularly at the Visitor Centre area at Balook. At my favourite spot, I have coverage, but it can be marginal. I sometimes need to move around a little to have cell service. As a result, receiving and posting Spots can be an issue.

I soon had a line over a tree branch at about 18 m above ground. The area chosen has lots of low undergrowth and a very nicely placed mountain ash. The issue with mature Mountain Ash is that the lowest branches can be well above ground. It took several attempts to launch the throw bag and line over the lowest branch of the chosen tree. I soon had the doublet in the air, with the apex so high that the end of the feed line only just reached the antenna tuner, thus making the apex about 15 m up. The ends were stung out to convenient anchors, with the antenna in Inverted V configuration.

I was on air about 10 minutes prior to UTC midnight and the start of the official Anniversary Weekend start. I started by hunting the Activators already spotted and managed 11 contacts before 0000Z, including seven contacts Park to Park (P2P) contacts to five different references.

After 0000Z, I again initially hunted other Activators already spotted. I then found a clear 40 m frequency and spotted myself. After around 30 minutes of operating, the calls slowed, so I moved to 40 m CW and worked five stations, including one P2P. I then moved to 20 m to hunt another P2P contact before returning to 40 m SSB. Propagation was not terrific for most of the day. I had long periods of calling without replies. I tried different bands and modes, with mixed success. A few contacts here and there, then long periods of calling without replies. Frustrating! There was little NVIS on 40 m, thus most VK3 Activators were not heard.

I pulled out the laptop and set it up to operate FT8. 20 minutes of calling on 10 m yielded only one contact. I then again hunted other Activators who were spotted on SSB or CW on 40 m. I tried 17 m FT8 with only one contact made – T33T on Banaba Island. I tried 40 m FT8, making two P2P contacts. 12 m FT8 yielded only one contact, with Alaska, in over 20 minutes of calling and responding to CQ calls.

I returned to 40 m to hunt Jim VK1RF in a Park on CW before moving to SSB and hunting two more Activators. I then found a clear spot and spotted myself. I made 10 more contacts, including three P2P. With 66 contacts for the Park (55 for the UTC day for the Anniversary), I decided to pack up. I headed back towards home, which gave me two obvious choices for a second Park to activate. I needed to drive through Traralgon South, with two Parks abutting the township. I had already qualified the Flora and Fauna Reserve for the Club Challenge, so the choice was obvious.

Traralgon South Fauna Reserve VKFF-2465

This Park is small, only 1.57 ha. It is a triangular area between the Traralgon Creek Road, the Traralgon South Recreation Reserve and a plantation. Beyond the eastern boundary of the Reserve is a Shared Use path, with a vehicle track between the path and the park boundary. A small vehicle track traverses the reserve. I set up on the side of the small vehicle track, but space is tight. The majority of the Reserve has quite thick undergrowth.

I again started by hunting the Activators spotted, making three P2P contacts with two references. I the found a clear frequency and worked 31 contacts over the next hour, including four P2P. I moved to 40 m CW and spotted, with Gerard VK2IO/p calling for a P2p for the first contact, followed by five more callers. I then moved to 40 m SSB to hunt Deryck VK4FDJL in VKFF-0084. I next tried 20 m SSB, working four stations. I dropped back down to 40 m SSB for a P2P with Alan VK2MET before returning to 20 m CW, making 10 contacts. 10 minutes of calling on 20 m SSB yieled only one contact.

I set up the laptop and tried 20 m FT8, making five contacts. 40 m FT8 produced four contacts. I then tried 30 m FT8, making eight contacts. I finally returned to 40 m SSB, making two more contacts over around 25 minutes. My final contact was a P2P with Richard VK2OKR in VKFF-1349 at around 0805. I decided to pack up and head for home, happy with 74 contacts from the Park.

It was a successful day, despite long periods of calling with few replies. I made a total of 140 contacts on the day, with 129 in the UTC day for the Anniversary Weekend.

Sunday was a bit of a right off – I drove to Rosebud for the SPARC Radiofest and then headed to Glen Waverley to attend a joint birthday celebration of some close friends. I finally was back on the road at around 1630 local and simply headed for home. I did manage to hunt a couple of Park Activators from the vehicle, but am aware that I missed many activations. Several of the contacts made from the car were not logged at my end as I was actually mobile when the contacts were made. I also managed to hunt some stations from home.

Checking LogSearch in early December showed that I had hunted 17 references over the weekend. As a result of the weekend’s activity, I earned three certificates for the Anniversary Weekend.

Many thanks to all the Activators and Hunters, and to the many administration team members.

Activator certificate for making 100+ contacts during the Anniversary Weekend.
Hunter certificate for working 5 references during the Anniversary Weekend
Hunter certificate for working 10 references references during the Anniversary Weekend
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VKFF Activation Weekend 2022

26 &27 November 2022

The normally annual VKFF Activation weekend followed on from the WWFF 10th Anniversary Weekend the previous weekend.

For the WWFF weekend a week earlier, I operated using VK3BEZ, the EZARC Club callsign, from Tarra-Bulga National Park for most of Saturday and then from Traralgon South Flora Reserve late in the afternoon. On Sunday, I simply chased from home.

The weather forecast for Sunday was looking marginal, with rain overnight and for most of Sunday, so I decided to head out on Saturday. The logical choice was to return to Traralgon South Flora Reserve using the Club callsign to build the number of contacts closer to the 200 contact tally required for the WWFF Teams category.

Traralgon South Flora Reserve VKFF-2465

I headed out and set up on the edge of the access track. I soon had the doublet up in the air and the radio gear set up on the tailgate of the vehicle. I was operational by about 2300Z.

I started by hunting the stations already spotted, working six stations in the first 10 minutes. I found a clear frequency and spotted myself and started calling. By UTC midnight, I had 22 contacts in the log. For the next 30 minutes, I was calling or moving to hunt other activators. I then hunted one Park and one SOTA Activator on 40 m CW. Back to 40 m SSB yielded two more Park Activators.

A change to 20 m produced another Park to Park contact, plus one Hunter on CW. With no further replies to CQ calls, I decided to set up the laptop and try some FT8. 40 m FT8 yielded seven contacts, with a quick diversion to 80 m SSB for a Park to Park contact. I then hunted on 40 m SSB for a while. I then tried some higher bands with little success. I did manage to work Madagascar on 17 m FT8.

I returned to 40 m SSB to hunt others and to call CQ, with the occasional diversion to hunt other Activators on other bands.

I tried some FT8 on various bands with a few contacts made. I returned to 40 m SSB before moving to 80 m SSB where I made 11 contacts. I finally shut down at around 0830Z and then packed up and headed for home.

Overall, it was a mixed day, with long periods of calling with few replies. Thankfully the IC-7300 made the task easier through the use of the memory keyer on both voice and CW. I ended up with 133 contacts for the day, including 66 Park to Park contacts.

Sunday 27 November

The rain had largely cleared by morning. I was a little slow off the mark, but decided to head out again. I drove to Sale, with a stop at the Rosedale Bakery. I headed around to the first Park for the day and parked the vehicle close to the gate.

Herb Guyatt Flora Reserve VKFF-2329

I had visited this Park once previously, making 18 contacts. The Park boundary begins inside the gate. There are areas inside the fence which is a reserve, but not part of the actual gazetted Park, so care is needed to ensure that you are inside the Park boundary.

I grabbed the SOTA pack and entered the Park. The low point of the track was under about 20 cm or more of water, leaving me little space to set up within the boundary without getting wet feet. As a result, the antenna set up was compromised.

I started by hunting Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5MAZ/p in VKFF-0826 on 40 m SSB, followed by Gavin VK2YAK in VKFF-1319. I hunted a couple more stations before spotting myself and calling. I soon had 18 in the log, before I ventured to CW for four contacts. I returned to 40 m SSB to call CQ and managed four Park to Park contacts, then nothing. I dropped down to 80 m for two contacts with locals. I had a total of 30 contacts, with 13 Park to Park. I decided to close and move to the next Park.

I drove around to my preferred location at the next Park and found the access route under water. I back tracked to an alternate car park. I needed to drive slowly through about 10 cm of water to reach the car park, which had only limited areas of ground exposed. I decided to activate from the vehicle with the mobile whip.

Sale Common Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2431

My first contacts were Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5MAZ/p in VKFF-0916. I moved to a clear frequency and spotted. I worked a total of 14 contacts before I closed down and headed off to the next Park.

Whilst travelling, I decided on yet another short activation from the vehicle, saving set up and pack up time but at the expense of a less efficient antenna. I parked inside the Park boundary and set up the logging software.

Giffard Flora Reserve VKFF-2321

I again started by hunting those spotted, then finding a clear frequency and spotting myself. I worked 11 stations, including seven Park to Park contacts. I quickly changed the antenna to 80 m to make two contacts with locals. I then headed off to the next Park.

Mullungdung Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2406

This time I set up the doublet, with the apex at around 12 m. I soon had two Park to Park (P2P) contacts in the log. The next 20 minutes yielded 27 contacts. I then tried 20 m SSB, making 10 contacts before I dropped back to 40 m for another P2P contact. I then tried 20 m CW, making four contacts. A jump to 80 m produced another P2P, followed by one on 40 m SSB. I moved to 40 m CW and was called by Gerard VK2IO for another P2P, followed by four more hunters. My final contacts were all P2P on 40 m SSB. I closed down and packed up, with 53 contacts logged, including 16 P2P.

I drove around to the next Park.

Kangaroo Swamp Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2121

I parked and again set up the doublet. I again started by hunting those spotted, then finding a clear frequency and spotting myself. Four P2P contacts were followed by 36 contacts, including five more P2P. I then dropped down to 80 m SSB to hunt Brett VK3MCA/p in VKFF-2211, whom I had been unable to hear on 40 m due to propagation. I returned to 40 m SSB for only one contatc in 15 minutes before I hunted another P2P. I then tried 30 m CW, making four contacts. Next was 80 m, where I made 11 contacts. I returned to 40 m and made a further 11 contacts before closing down.

I drove around to the next spotted, managing to hit a couple of potholes en route.

Stradbroke Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2443

I quickly raised the doublet by using a line over a tree branch. As I was finishing the set up, I noticed that the awning on the rear left-hand side of the vehicle was missing – the multiple pop rivets holding the awning proper to the mounting system had failed! I decided to start operating, but with an eye on the time as I decided to retrace my approach route to see if I could find the awning before the light levels dropped too low.

I spotted on 40 m SSB and worked 20 stations in under 15 minutes. I then stopped and pulled down the doublet. Just as I was putting the antenna in the car, I heard Gerard VK2IO calling me. I was soon back in the car and managed a final P2P contact for the day, using the mobile whip. The activation was short, but yielded 22 contacts.

I then headed back south and found the awning on the side of the track about 4.5 km south of my operating position. I loaded the awning into the car and headed back north. Given the time of day, I decided to simply head home. As I was driving home, I realised that I could have left the antenna up whilst I had driven to attempt to find the awning and then returned to the operating site for further contacts. Perhaps the efforts of the day had an influence on the decision to close down at the time…

The total trip distance was about 220 km.

Google Maps image of the route, without the backtrack to find the awning.

The day had been a success, with a total of 202 contacts made, including 52 P2P. Thanks to all the Hunters and Activators for a great day out, despite the lack of short haul propagation on 40 m. The propagation meant that most closer in stations were not heard. The exception were the small number who dropped down to 80 m.

Postscript

A few days later, I dropped into the store of the supplier of the awning. My aim was simple – to look at how the awning was mounted to the mounting plate. A staff member helped me unzip the display awning and it revealed that there appears to be plenty of space to repair my awning by drilling out the existing rivets and replacing the rivets with machine screws and nuts, at least in my mind. The staff member asked about my interest and I explained what had happened. He followed me out to the vehicle and examined the rivets – all cleanly snapped off. We returned into the store and found that I had made the purchase just over 2 years earlier, well outside the normal 12 month warranty period. Before I knew it, I was presented with a new replacement awning at no charge. You cannot complain about the after sales support!

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A last gasp attempt for a Complete

Late October 2022

I had almost given up hope of achieving a Complete for SOTA summit VK3/VE-079. A couple of weeks earlier, Warren VK3BYD and I arrived at the start of the access track to find large “Road Closed” signs. We choose to obey the signs and altered our plans for the day, as detailed in the previous blog. On my return home from that trip away, I found some important documents in the mail which ruled out the likely last possible attempt prior to the anticipated VK3 SOTA updates, likely to occur on 1 November 2022. I had an important appointment scheduled for me on 31 October in the morning. Warren was not available on the Friday and Saturday, but might be available on Sunday 30 October. The appointment meant the Sunday would be a very long day to get the summit and then drive home. I resolved that the opportunity would slip out of reach.

Mid-afternoon on Thursday 27 October, I received an email advising that the Monday appointment was deferred to Wednesday. I made contact with Warren to see if Sunday might be possible. By time he had responded, it was too late to start exploring options for permission to access the summit. On Friday morning, I attempted to make contact with the appropriate office of DELWP, leaving a message on the answering service. I also did some searching to explore what was happening with the access route.

I found that Glamour Hill Track was scheduled for fire prevention works, involving mulching a 20 m wide firebreak along the track. Later in the morning, I tried the general enquiry number for DELWP, and spoke with a very helpful lady based in Horsham. I explained my unusual quest, including helping her to find the track on the mapping system. I was advised that she would attempt to send a message in the right direction so that I might find someone with authority to consider my request for access permission.

A little after 1300 local, I received a phone call from an unknown mobile number, which I answered and found myself chatting with an officer from Forest Fire Management Victoria. I explained where and why I was hoping to reach, explaining that we had been out to attempt to reach the summit two weeks earlier and had obeyed the signs. I indicated that I fully appreciated that the answer to my request may well be in the negative. I explained that we were seeking permission to walk out along the track to reach the summit, to activate the summit and then return to the vehicle at the road closure. Verbal permission was granted!

By time I confirmed details with Warren, it was late afternoon. I started organising my gear so that I was ready for departure on Saturday morning.

On Saturday, I drove to Bairnsdale, Bruthen and on to Omeo. I then headed north to Mitta Mitta. I then decided to head around to Dartmouth for some tourist activity, watching the spilling of Dartmouth Dam. The site was impressive, as was the thunder of the water falling down the steep rock spillway. I decided against any radio activity other than occasionally chasing some other Activators at the odd times that I had mobile phone coverage. I then headed off to Wodonga for the night.

The impressive site at the foot of the rock spillway at Dartmouth Dam.

Sunday 30 October 2022

I once again met Warren at the Bakery in Tallangatta and he loaded his gear into my vehicle. We then headed east towards Corryong. Along the way, we received an SMS from Paul VK5PAS/7. I pulled into a logging road in the pines east of Shelley and parked the car, then switched off everything to remove the QRM from the vehicle electronics. We then waited our turn to call and work Paul in his Park before we resumed the trip. We headed east, then south on the Benambra – Corryong Road until we reached Gibb Range Road. We then followed Gibb Range Road around to the start of Glamour Hill Track to park.

VK3/VE-079 1262 m 8 points
VK3/HVE-029 Glamour Hill Track

We loaded up our rucksacks and headed south along the track. We noted that some vehicles had driven around the road block, but decided against driving down, as our permission was for us to walk to the summit. The track was in good condition all the way to the activation zone. The walk was around four kilometres each way, with a vertical climb each way of a little over 100 m. The approach took us just over an hour.

After checking the contour data on the GPS and confirming that we were well inside the summit Activation Zone, I selected a tree branch and soon had a line up to raise the centre of the doublet. I was soon on air calling without a Spot, as we had no mobile coverage. I called for several minutes without any responses. Warren then pulled out his satellite phone and posted a Spot. A couple of more minutes of calling resulted in my first caller. I soon had five contacts in the log on 40 m CW. I went QRT so that Warren could qualify the summit. As Warren was working callers, I grabbed his KX2, MFJ 40 m whip and counterpoise before walking back down the track to exit the AZ. I set up with the KX2 as a handheld and soon worked Warren for the Chase of the summit. I then walked back up to the rucksacks and to Warren. Warren called on 20 m CW for several minutes before he decided to go QRT. We were soon packed up and started the trip back to the car.

We took some brief pauses to admire the views to the west: Mount Cravensville Range, Mount Benambra, Granite Peak and Mount Bogong were all visible from within the old logging coupe through which the track ran.

We were back at the car about 70 minutes after we started the return journey. We then headed back out to the Benambra – Corryong Road. I decided to head south to reach Wild Boar Track. I mentally noted that the track sign at the intersection for Wild Boar Track was missing.

Looking back at the Glamour Hill Track summit from Gibb Range Road, north of the summit at the edge of a logging coupe.

We took Wild Boar Track out to reach our next summit. There were some rough sections and several large puddles along the way, but the underlying road surface was firm. I engaged 4WD once we reached the steeper section of the climb. We drove to the high point of the track and swung into the track to the trig to park beside the trig.

VK3/VE-029 Mount Sassafras 1588 m 10 points

We started unpacking gear at the tailgate of the vehicle and I managed to post a Spot that I was setting up. We started on a late lunch and soon had the antenna up. I set up a camp chair at the end of the feedline and was soon calling CQ. I worked six stations in nine minutes before I sent “QRX New Op” and swapped with Warren. I then finished my lunch while Warren was qualifying the summit. We then both hunted Bob VK2EG in a Park on 40 m SSB. I was just shutting down when Warren received an SMS, which saw me briefly back on 40 m CW to work Andrew VK2DA. We then packed up and started back down the track. I stopped a short distance down the track and Warren jumped out with my handheld radio. I continued about 100 m down the track until outside the AZ and called Warren from the VHF radio in the car, making a Chaser contact. Warren walked down to me before we started to real trip out.

The exit was uneventful – back to Benambra – Corryong Road, then north to the Murray Valley Highway, then back to Tallangatta. I dropped Warren at his car and gave him my thanks once again for his company and the Complete. I then headed back to Wodonga.

Monday was a wet day, spent undertaking some shopping and some other tasks for family. Tuesday was to be a trip back home, with the weather forecast for cold and very wet conditions.

Tuesday 1 November 2022

I had confirmation via email that the anticipated VK3 SOTA updates were expected to occur at 0000 UTC on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the forecast was very wet and cold conditions over much of the state, especially in the Alps.

I finally departed Wodonga at about 1030 local time and headed down the Hume Highway to Benalla, then south to Mansfield. I then drove around to the access route to the only summit for the day.

VK3/HVN-011 The Paps South Peak 671 m

Warren VK3BYD had activated this summit in April.

Access is usually straightforward: Take Paps Road off the Maroondah Highway. The only issue is that the road looks like a track across the farm paddock. Open and close the gates on either side of the farm paddock, then start the climb up the road towards the summits. You reach a marked fork, with a track to each of the north and south summits. A couple of hundred metres along the track to the south summit I found a tree across the road. I initially backed up and looked up the track to the north summit to see if there might be a track linking the two tracks – no such luck. I returned to the fallen tree and decided to clear the tree.

I had occasional drizzle. The battery chainsaw did the job, requiring a second battery. I need to cut two significant branches before cutting the trunk at the two edges of the track, plus in the middle of the cut section due to the mass of the truck. I soon had the pieces tossed over the downhill side of the track and proceeded to the south summit.

The rain cleared as I found a spot to park and set up. I soon had the doublet in the air and started calling on 40 m CW. I worked four stations, including Warren VK3BYD. I then tried SSB, working three stations before deciding to quit before the approaching rain squall arrived. I packed up and started back towards the track junction in increasingly heavy rain. Given the wet conditions, I decided against activating the SOTA summit on the north summit. Just as I jumped back into the car after closing the final gate, the rain intensity again increased and it started hailing.

A panoramic view from NE (L) around to SW from The Paps South Summit. Lots of heavy rain squalls….

The rest of the trip was wet but otherwise uneventful.

The activations on this trip were unusually short. Thanks to all who worked us during the activations. Thanks again to Warren for his company and for the opportunity to chase VK3/VE-079, which has now been retired from SOTA. I look forward to hopefully getting out to the replacement summit at some stage in the future.

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A week of late Bonus season activations in NE Victoria

October 2022

The SOTA Bonus season for VK3 runs from 15 June to the end 14 October. Given that Victoria switches to Daylight Savings Time on the first Sunday of October, the Bonus season ends at 1100 local time on 15 October.

Due to many factors, I had not had much chance to get away for several days to visit family and activate some SOTA summits before the end of the Bonus season. One of the factors had been the weather patterns.

Saturday 8 October 2022

I finally headed off on Saturday morning, travelling east via Bairnsdale and Bruthen to then travel on the Great Alpine Road to Omeo and on to Mount Hotham. I parked in the Staff Long Term car park near Whiskey Flat.

Paw Paw Plain VK3/HVE-003 1710 m
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

From the car park, I picked my way through the undergrowth for about 100 m or so until I reached the Brabralung Trail, also known as the Hotham – Dinner Plain Trail. The Trail provides an excellent cross country ski trip during winter. The trail proved an easy route to the southeast, winding through the snow gums with some gentle ups and downs. The trail then started climbing up towards Paw Paw Plain. An initial short steeper section then does a sharp right turn and climbs diagonally up the hill to another sharp corner, this time to the left. This second corner is east and only 260 m horizontally from the HEMA summit. As the corner is the closest point on the trail to the summit, I decided to climb up through the open snow gums, dodging the thicker understory and fallen trees and branches. As I approached the summit, there were a few remnant patches of snow on the ground. I was soon set up on the summit, using a throw bag to place a line over a tree branch at about 6 m above ground to hoist the centre of the antenna. I spotted myself before I started setting up.

Looking west from the Paw Paw Plain summit, with Mt Loch (R) and Mt Hotham (C) visible through the snow gums.

I started calling on 40 m CW. Several minutes of calling yielded only two contacts. It was the middle of the day – around 0200Z. I switched to SSB and worked another 14 stations over the following 20 minutes or so. I swapped to 20 m CW, working three station, and then 15 m CW provided another two contacts. 10 minutes on 20 m SSB produced only one Chaser before a Spot came through for a Park activation. I swapped back to 40 m SSB to work Megan VK3TIN in VKFF-0231. I then found a clear frequency and worked another five stations before closing down. I had a total of 28 contacts in the log.

I was soon packed up and descended back down the slope to re-join the Trail within metres of where I had left it. I then travelled back towards Mount Hotham until I could see the large mounds of crushed rock in the car park, at which point I again navigated cross country to reach the car park and return to the vehicle.

I then drove up through the Mount Hotham village to a sweeping right hand bend near the access track to the summit proper. I noted that the gate on the track was open, but parked on the end of the road in the wide sweeping bend. I again loaded up with the rucksack and climbed up to the track, following an old pole line. I then travelled along the track until I was well inside the summit Activation Zone (AZ).

Mount Hotham VK3/VE-006 1861 m 10 points plus winter bonus
Mount Hotham VK3/HVE-001 1861 m

Earlier in the year, it was noted that the saddle between Mount Hotham and Mount Loch VK3/VE-005 was not as deep as previously thought. Investigations had revealed the prominence of Hotham to be between 121 and 141 m. There is no spot height in the critical saddle. Therefore, Mount Hotham is to be retired from SOTA at the next update, probably 1 November 2022. Most of Victoria outside the central region was recently added to HEMA, with the North East region added on 6 September 2022. So for a short period, Mount Hotham is valid for both SOTA and HEMA. It appears that I am likely the first to activate the summit for HEMA.

I strapped a squid pole to one of the snow poles beside the track and set up on a patch of grass on the opposite side of the track.

I started on 40 m CW and soon had six stations in the log in less than 10 minutes. I then swapped to 40 m SSB, where I worked 14 stations in the next 15 minutes. During the activation, the cloud rolled in and the breeze picked up, significantly lowering the apparent temperature to well below 0 C. I closed down and packed up.

I walked back down to the car, following the snow poles due to the decreased visibility. I was soon loaded up and on the road. The trip down to Harrietville was slow due to the low visibility, until I dropped below the cloud. The drive to Wodonga was uneventful.

Sunday 9 October 2022

Previous discussions with Warren VK3BYD resulted in a plan for a joint SOTA activation trip. The key point of the plan was to attempt to both activate a SOTA summit which is due to be retired in the near future: VK3/VE-079. The SOTA Summit data shows that I am the only person to have activated the summit, so the idea was for Warren to activate and for me to chase him, thus making the summit Complete.

We arranged to meet at the Tallangatta Bakery. Warren pulled in just as I jumped out of the car. We both soon had purchased lunch and loaded into my vehicle. We travelled down the Tallangatta Creek valley and the climbed up Cravensville Road. We then swung onto Gibb Range Road and around to my usual parking spot to the NW of the first summit.

Gibb Range VK3/VE-069 1289 m 8 points plus winter bonus

Despite recent works creating a wide firebreak on the south side of the road, an old logging track is just visible through the regrowth eucalypts beyond the firebreak. We proceeded along the old track, weaving between the saplings and other obstacles. The track goes through a shallow saddle. Just before the track starts to drop on the south side of the saddle, there is another logging track that veers left. We followed this through regrowth, wattles and dogwood, climbing up into the AZ of the summit. Once we were both happy that we were in the AZ, we found a clearing to set up a station.

I started calling on 40 m CW, working three stations. Warren then activated the summit. I then moved to 20 m CW and worked another three stations. We were about to pack up when I heard a Spot. I was soon on 10 m SSB and worked Jeff VK8DNT in VKFF-1230. Warren also worked Jeff before we closed the station. We packed up and retraced our route back towards the car. Before we descended too far, we worked each other either side of the AZ boundary on 2 m FM. We returned to the car and resumed the trip along Gibb Range Road.

We decided against heading out to the Cravensville Range summit, due to the required bush bash up to the AZ.

We arrived at the start of Glamour Hill Track, only to find several signs plus a large tree across the road. The road was closed due to fire prevention works. With the summit to be retired on 1 November, it is unlikely that I will get the chance to chase it. The summit is a valid HEMA summit.

We decided to travel further along Gibb Range Road and around to a six point summit. I took Carmodys Track around to Remote Radio Road, and then south to the summit.

VK3/VE-095 (unnamed) 1192 m 6 points

I parked at the start of a blocked track which leads to the summit. We were soon set up only about 100 m from, and less than 1 m below, the summit.

Warren operating on VK3/VE-095.

Warren activated first. I worked four stations on 40 m CW and one on 20 m CW. We then packed up and headed south. Warren jumped out before the edge of the AZ with a handheld radio and I continued down before I worked Warren. Warren was soon back in the car and we continued south the re-join Gibb Range Road. We were soon on Corryong Benambra Road and heading north.

We stopped at the picnic/camping area beside Nariel Creek for a break to eat lunch.

We continued north and travelled around to Jeffcott And Jewells Road, and then onto Black Mountain Track. We reached a large tree across the road, with a just wide enough section removed. Taking the gap carefully, we slipped a little sideways and stopped. Engaging 4WD enabled exiting the boggy hole on the left-hand side of the gap. The rest of the drive was uneventful, despite some muddy and wet sections. We parked at the signs announcing that the walking track was closed due to fire damage.

Black Mountain VK3/VE-093 1202 m 8 points plus winter bonus

The track ends a short distance from the summit, less than 2 m below the summit. We set up close to the car. Time was short, as I had a family commitment back in Wodonga. I quickly worked four stations to qualify the summit on 40 m CW. Warren then worked stations to qualify the summit. We started packing up when a Spot came through. I soon worked Stuart VK3UAO in VKFF-2153, followed by Megan VK3TIN in VKFF-0361, from the car. Two Park to Park contacts, which unfortunately will not count as I did not work 10 stations, let alone the 44 required for P2P contacts to count for WWFF. We were running late and I did not bother to attempt making more contacts. We packed the gear in the car and exited back to the highway, and then back to Tallangatta.

Once in Tallangatta, we said our goodbyes and I headed back to Wodonga.

Monday 10 October 2022

I departed Wodonga and headed to Myrtleford to grab something for lunch. I continued on to Porepunkah and then up to Mount Buffalo. I had checked the Parks Victoria website, which noted that the final section Mountain Buffalo Road had been reopened after its winter closure. I travelled up to The Horn car park.

The Horn VK3/VE-014 1723 m 10 points plus winter bonus
Mount Buffalo National Park VKFF-0339

There were several cars parked. I walked up the track to the summit and set up inside the AZ, but not at the summit itself, as I wished to avoid the crowd.

My first contact was a Park to Park with VK2HQ in VKFF-1779. I moved to a clear frequency and spotted. I made seven contacts on 40 m SSB, followed by four on 40 m CW. With the summit qualified on both SSB and CW, I closed and packed up. I descended to the vehicle and drove around to park at Cathedral Saddle. I worked Peter VK3TKK at VK-KPA5 Kapunda silo from the car. I again loaded up the rucksack and climbed up to the summit of The Hump.

The Hump VK3/VE-019 1695 m 10 points plus winter bonus
Mount Buffalo National Park VKFF-0339

I visited the summit, but set up a little lower down, well inside the AZ. I started on 40 m CW, where I worked four stations in less than five minutes. Next came four contacts on 40 m SSB. A Spot came through for Andrew VK1DA/p on VK1/AC-041 in VKFF-0845. I tried to make a contact, but conditions were strange. We finally made the contact on 80 m CW. I returned to 40 m SSB to make two more contacts. I tried other bands, making two CW contacts on 17 m before I closed and packed up. I descended back to the car and headed down the mountain.

A panoramic view to the east from The Hump. Views from the Main Range (under cloud), Mt Bogong, The Bogong High Plains, Mt Feathertop, Mt Loch and Mt Hotham, The Great Dividing Range to the south. The Horn near the right hand side in the mid-ground. The photo needs vertical exaggeration to see the summits along the obvious horizon.

I found a spot to park inside the Park boundary and decided to set up again, this time connecting the doublet to the IC-706MKIIG in the car. I made another 26 contacts before I closed. I have not yet checked for duplicates, but made a total of 51 contacts from the Park. I packed up and resumed the journey to Wodonga.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

I decided on the morning to head out to attempt a run of summits along a ridge system on the western side of the Ovens River. I drove to the northern edge of Harrietville and took Cemetery Lane to climb up onto the ridge. I then headed south on Albion Track before taking Link Track to reach Paddy Hill Track. I then headed SW to reach the first summit for the day.

VK3/VE-070 (unnamed) 1286 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I parked off the edge of the track and set up nearby. First in the log was Rob VK2VH at VK-GRM5 Geranium silo. Next I hunted Col operating VK2HQ in VKFF-2769. I then moved to 40 m CW where I worked four stations. A period on 20 m CW produced only one contact. I then moved to 40 m SSB to chase Andrew VK1AD on VK1/AC-043. I then moved up 5 kHz and spotted, working three more stations. I next moved up the band to again work Rob VK2VH, now at the Peake silo VK-PKE5. I then closed down and packed up.

As the tracks had been in generally good condition and largely dry, I decided to attempt to get to another summit to the SE. I took Paddy Hill Track around to Gunns Track, then around to an unnamed track to the summit.

VK3/VE-030 (unnamed) 1570 m 10 points plus winter bonus
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

I set up on the eastern side of the track so that I was in the National Park. I posted a Spot, which I later noticed was for the wrong summit – I was rushing to set up.

I worked six stations on 40 m CW and then moved to SSB. I made two contacts before I noticed the summit code error. I posted a new Spot with the correct code. I worked 16 more stations on 40 m SSB, including Peter VK3TKK/5 in VKFF-0897. I then tried 20 m CW, making two contacts. Geoff VK3SQ sent an SMS stating that he could not hear me on 20 m CW. I arranged to move to 40 m and worked Geoff on CW. I then closed and packed up.

Once the gear was loaded back in the vehicle, I retraced my route. At the junction with Paddy Hill Track, I decided to try following Gunns Track. The route worked and I returned back to Albion Track and up to the northern side the next summit to park.

Albion Point VK3/VE-080 1255 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I climbed up into the summit AZ and set up. I started on 40 m CW, quickly working six stations. I then moved to 40 m SSB, where I worked eight stations. I then packed up and descended to the car. I continued along Albion Track to the high point of the track close to the next summit.

Albion Track VK3/HVE-053 1144 m

Albion Track crosses the ridge at 1140 m, so I simply parked off the track and set up nearby. I worked nine stations on 40 m SSB, including John VK5HAA/p in VKFF-1752 and Daryl VK3AWA in VKFF-0747. This was a quick activation. I believe that the activation was the first of this HEMA summit.

I packed up and loaded the gear into the car before continuing north. I drove north on Wet Gully Track to the next summit.

Ebenezer Range VK3/VE-081 1255 m 8 points plus winter bonus

Wet Gully Track was in much better condition than when I visited last year.

I parked just north of the summit and set up a few metres away, just off the side of the track. I first worked Daryl VK3AWA again. I moved to a clear frequency, posted a Spot and then worked another six stations on 40 m SSB. I then moved to 40 m CW and worked another six stations. I then closed, packed up and loaded up the gear.

I continued north to reach the next summit.

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

Wet Gully Track crosses the shoulder of the summit at around 905 m. I parked off the track and walked up an old vehicle come foot pad until I was well inside the AZ. I was soon set up and spotted. I worked 10 stations on 40 m CW. The last contact was a surprise – a station from HA5. I later learnt from an email that he was listening on a webSDR receiver in VK3. I closed down, packed up and returned to the car. I continued north to exit to Bright and then headed back to Wodonga.

It was a busy day!

Wednesday 12 October 2022

I decided on another big day, hoping that the rain would largely hold off.

I headed off from Wodonga to Mount Beauty, where I found the Bakery was closed. I was able to purchase some lunch from a small cafe. I then headed through town to make my way to Mountain Creek Road, Camp Creek Road and finally Hollow Way. I parked at the start of an old logging track on the NW of the summit.

Bull Hill VK3/VE-048 1425 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I loaded up the pack and made my way up into the AZ to set up the station. First in the log were VK2HQ and VK2BYF, both activating VKFF-2712. I then tried 40 m CW, working eight stations. I returned to 40 m SSB and worked another eight stations before UTC midnight. Just after midnight, I worked Deryck VK4FDJL in VKFF-1570.

I packed up and headed back to the vehicle, and retraced my route back to the start of Eskdale Spur Track. I stopped briefly along the way the grab a photo of the hills out to the NNW. The distant view was good, despite the immediate surrounds being desolate due to logging.

Looking to the NW from The Hollow Way, along Eskdale Spur.

I then travelled up Eskdale Spur Track to reach the next target summit.

Mount Emu VK3/VE-061 1360 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I parked near the high point. I soon had a line over a tree branch and used the excellent picnic table provided by Forest Fire Management Victoria as my operating position. I worked five stations on 40 m CW and then seven on 40 m SSB, plus one of those also on CW.

The operating position on Mount Emu.

I packed up and loaded the gear in the vehicle. I continued north along Eskdale Spur Track. I parked on the NNE shoulder of the next summit and again loaded up the rucksack. It was a steady climb up the spur to reach the AZ – around 180 m vertical climb over about 1 km horizontal.

Mount Yorke VK3/VE-082 1248 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I set up the station and quickly worked 10 stations on 40 m CW. I decided to end the activation, as time was rolling on, plus the skies were looking more threatening.

I packed up and climbed down back to the vehicle and continued north. The next summit was not very far and I drove up to the summit itself to park off the edge of Bowmans No 2 Track.

Bowmans No 2 Track VK3/HVE-055 1140 m

I was quickly set up with a line over a tree branch. I started on 40 m CW, working nine stations in around 15 minutes. Rain caused an end tot eh activation – I quickly moved the RF gear to the car and then packed up the antenna system. I loaded up the vehicle. I retraced the short descent back to Eskdale Spur Track before continuing north to the end of an old rehabilitated track on the NW shoulder of the next summit to park.

VK3/VE-071 (unnamed) 1183 m 6 points

I walked up the track into the AZ and set up the station. I worked eight stations on 40 m CW before the rain started again. I quickly packed up and returned to the vehicle to resume the trip north, this time in the rain. A little care was required in some areas where the track surface was loose and slippery. I was soon parked only metres from the trig on the last summit for the day.

VK3/VE-076 Mount Tawonga 1268 m 8 points plus winter bonus

The rain stopped just as I parked the vehicle. I was soon set up and calling. I worked nine stations on 40 m CW before the next rain shower started. I quickly packed up and retraced my route back to Bowmans No 1 Track, which I followed out to the NE to reach Fluerty Track and Smythes Road to Little Snowy Creek Road, then out to Eskdale and the Omeo Highway. It rained all of the way back to Wodonga.

Friday 14 October 2022

Thursday was a write off for radio activity, with rain most of the day and also overnight. The early part of the morning drive was in drizzly conditions. I headed to Mitta Mitta and south to the eastern side of Mount Wills. Here I decided against attempting Mt Wills given the conditions and headed out to the junction of Razorback Spur Track and Wombat Creek Track to park. I walked up Wombat Creek Track, which is a seasonal road closure. There was lots of debris on the track and one larger tree to climb over.

Razorback Range VK3/VG-033 1311 m 8 points plus winter bonus

As I approached my operating site, the drizzle stopped. I quickly set up and made six contacts on 40 m SSB to quickly qualify the summit. I returned to the car and headed back to the Omeo Highway.

I received an SMS as I was travelling back to the highway, which soon resulted in a change of plans for later in the day. I tried to ring the person who had sent the message, but coverage was poor. I continued south to the start of Knocker Track and then out along it to Knocker Link Track. I stopped at the high spot and made the phone call, making loose plans for Saturday afternoon. I then drove out to the summit of The Knocker to park.

The Knocker VK3/VG-016 1506 m 10 points plus winter bonus

I set up near the trig, with a line over a tree branch. I made seven contacts on 40 m SSB before closing.

I packed up and headed back to Knocker Track, which I followed SE to reach Omeo Valley Road. I took it slowly over the new Hinnomunjie Bridge, as hydrologists were sitting on the guard rail recording observations – the Mitta Mitta River was flowing fast after the recent rains, which had stopped for now. I then headed south to the outskirts of Omeo and took Connlleys Road to Mount Sam Track and up to the next summit.

Sam Hill VK3/VG-049 1206 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I quickly set up with a line over a tree branch. I made 10 contacts on 40 m SSB before the callers ran out. I packed up and descended back to the Omeo Highway and into Omeo, where I grabbed something from a bakery for a late lunch. I then drove out of town on the Great Alpine Road to Tongio Gap Road and onto Splitters Road. The latter road requires two gates to opened and closed as you traverse some farmland, with cattle grazing in the paddock. I then took Splitters Track up to the next summit.

VK3/VG-036 (unnamed) 1285 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I set up a little north of the summit and its radio site. I prefer to set up away from radio installations, especially those with solar power, as it reduces the likelihood of any interference. I soon had a line over a tree branch and the station set up. I worked nine stations before I had no further callers.

I packed up and retraced my access route back to Tongio Gap Road, then headed south to reach the Great Alpine Road and on to Swifts Creek. I then headed out along Cassilis Road to Brookville Road and then up Mt Delusion Road. I then took Mt Delusion Track to its high point and found a spot to park. I noted that there has been extensive recent logging in the area near the summit.

Mount Delusion VK3/VG-026 1375 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I quickly set up the station away from the vehicle. I worked 12 stations, including Jim VK1RF in VKFF-1533, and Gavin VK2YAK and Richard VK2OKR in VKFF-1778.

I packed up and retraced my route back to the main road, then took Grassy Ridge Track to Dorothy Cutting, then onto the southern end of Boomerang Spur Track and then Baldhead Track to the next summit.

Mount Baldhead VK3/VG-027 1374 m 8 points plus winter bonus

I was again quickly set up. I worked 11 stations on 40 m SSB before I had no further responses to calls. I packed up and retraced my route back to Dorothy Cutting.

I decided to head south to Baldhead Road. I encountered a logging coupe with road closed signs, but the gates were wide open and I had no response when calling on the UHF CB. I proceeded through the edge of the logging area and was soon out the other side. I then followed Baldhead Road south and eventually made my way out to the Princes Highway. I stopped for some food at Stratford before continuing home, arriving at about 2030 local time. Another long day.

Summary

Over the week, I activated 22 SOTA summits and three new HEMA summits. 19 of the SOTA summits earned seasonal bonus points, with a total of 237 Activator points earned. Thanks to all the stations who responded to my calls.

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A 3-summit day with some DX

2 October 2022

My day started a bit late, partly due to the switch to Daylight Savings Time overnight. I had not set an alarm and the clocks jumped forward an hour, so I woke “later” than usual. I was slow at getting organised before I finally decided that I would head to the hills, placing some Alerts on SOTAwatch before departure.

I drove to the local Bakery to grab something for lunch and then headed off to Willow Grove, Hill End, Icy Creek and towards Tanjil Bren, then up the Tooronga Tanjil Link Road, then into towards Mount Tooronga. I drove to the locked gate and parked.

Mt Tooronga Range VK3/VT-026 1257 m 8 points + Winter bonus

I walked up the access road to the high point below the summit, then climbed up into the AZ through the thickening scrub. The slope had much more scrub than my last visit in 2020. I climbed until well inside the AZ and set up on the sloping ground. The antenna was not very high off the ground. I started on 40 m CW, working Ian VK5IS before someone started dropping a carrier on the frequency. I moved up 2 kHz and respotted, but the QRMer followed. I gave up and moved to 20 m CW. I soon had three more contacts in the log. I then moved to 40 m SSB, where I worked six stations. A total of 10 contacts over about 30 minutes. I packed up and climbed down to the road. Shortly after starting the descent down the road, I almost stepped on the tail of a 1.2 m snake whilst walking down the road. I had been looking off at the horizon and sensed some movement in the periphery of my visual field. I glanced down to see the snake, which caused me to jump sideways! The snake reared up and attempted to strike, which I fended off with my walking pole, then rapidly moved further down the road whilst watching the snake. I stopped about five metres away and watched the snake start to wriggle back towards the edge of the road. The rest of the descent to the vehicle was uneventful, but the incident reminded me that there were many reasons to regularly walk with my head stooped slightly forward for micro-navigation: ensuring a smooth footfall, including not stepping on the local wildlife!

I drove back to the Link Road and then headed north to Tooronga Road and onto Nine Mile Road. I couple of times I was glad that I was taking it easy and keeping to the left, with some 4WD drivers using 90% of the road width! I was fortunate to have sufficient time and space to pull left into the gutter and slow further, whilst the other driver rapidly corrected to his left. This occurred several times. I safely reached “The Triangle” and swung NE towards Matlock on the Warburton – Woods Point Road. The road was excellent until the end of the sealed section. The rest of the journey around to Corn Hill Road was slower, with lots of fields of potholes. The potholes were difficult to spot once the road dropped onto the southern side of the ridgeline, with the shadows of the embankment and the tall timber reducing visibility due to highly contrasting light and dark bands across the road. I then headed up Corn Hill Road to park near the trig marker at the summit.

Mount Matlock VK3/VC-001 1372 m 8 points + Winter bonus

I set up near the trig and explained what I was doing to a family who drove up. I had a line over a tree branch and was stinging out the doublet when they approached. Talking with them slowed down the set up, but I soon made first contact, working John VK4MUD in a Park. The family members headed back to their vehicle near the comms facility, leaving me to concentrate on the radio. Next was another Park station – Deryck VK4FDJL. I then moved to CW, with only a single station worked on 40 m plus three more on 20 m. I then went to 40 m SSB, where I worked another five stations. A couple of stations reported some distortion on voice peaks, leading me to consider why during the afternoon. I was using a 4 Ah LiFePO4 battery, which had been charged the day before. The battery usually permits many contacts to be made, often lasting several short summit activations. I worked a total of 12 stations in just over 30 minutes before I packed up.

I drove down to the main road via the direct route, a little rougher than Corn Hill Road. I then had a slow trip once past Matlock, with Walhalla Road having many large potholes and several very wet & muddy sections. Surprisingly, the road surface was much better once south of the Mt Selma Road junction.

Mount Lookout VK3/VT-030 1115 m 6 points

I drove up to the Aberfeldy Cemetery car park. I was late compared to my Alert time. I hauled the ZS6BKW doublet centre up to about 8 m with a line over a tree branch, and strung out the doublet. I soon had the IC-7300 set up on a folding table and connected to a 100 Ah LiFePO4 battery.

There were several Spots posted for stations in Europe. I started on 20 m CW and was happy to be able to hear Wal VK2WP. We soon completed a rather marginal S2S contact, largely due to the relatively short distance between us. Next was Martin M7BIA/P on SSB for another S2S. I then returned to CW and tried listening for and calling a couple of EU SOTA stations without success. I spotted on CW and soon had an unruly dog-pile calling. Stations were calling over the top of each other, with some calling back when I had called for a partial callsign to repeat, when the partial call was totally unrelated to their callsign. Such stations were ignored! The other thing which did not help was stations calling at a much higher speed than my 14 wpm. After I had made seven contacts, I gave up and tried 20 m SSB, making three contacts in around 15 minutes. Next I moved to 40 m SSB for S2S contacts with Ian VK5CZ and Andrew VK1AD. Spotted myself to work some local VKs, including a S2S with VK2IO. A pleasant surprise was G0VWP on 40 SSB. The wind had picked up and the windchill made it cold. I was about to pack up when I was interrupted by another Spot. I swapped to 20 m CW and soon had another contact in the log. The net result was another 30 minutes of chasing with five more S2S: G4TGJ, M1EYP, F5LKW, IK2LEY and JA5QJX. I then packed up and started the drive home. I had spent some time listening for other S2S contacts without any success. The sun was getting quite low, so I switched off and packed up. I then headed south to Rawson, Moe and back home.

I made a total of 57 contacts from the three summits, for 28 Activator points plus 47 S2S points and 32 Chaser points for the day. In addition to VK and ZL contacts, I also worked W, G, F, HB, OK, DL, IK and JA.

A good day out, despite the sometimes poor road conditions. About 275 km driven. Thanks for all the contacts.

The day leaves me with a new task – investigate the SOTA 4 Ah LiFePO4 battery. Is it the cause of the audio distortion on SSB voice peaks due to diminished battery capacity, or is there a problem with the KX2?

The route, thanks to Google Maps.
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Shepparton Hamfest visit, with some other radio fun

After an absence due to COVID, the Shepparton Hamfest was scheduled to return on the second Sunday of September. The event represented an opportunity to catch up with several friends, plus to arrange another visit to family in Wodonga. I was keeping an eye of the weather forecasts to determine my travel plans, finally deciding to depart home on the Friday morning.

During the week prior to departure, I learnt that two of the regions of Victoria which I had surveyed for HEMA had been added to the official list of summits – Northeast Victoria and East Gippsland. These two regions added approximately 300 summits to the HEMA list in VK3. I noted that the West Gippsland region was missing and inquired of the VK3 coordinator. That list was soon relocated and is currently being processed. There are now many more sites to visit to play radio!

Friday 9 September 2022

The weather forecast was not great, but I headed off anyway. I decided on the eastern route, via Bairnsdale, Omeo, Mount Hotham, Bright and on to Wodonga. During the drive to Bairnsdale, I managed to work Gerald VK2HBG/p in two Parks from the mobile. Past Bruthen, I took the Great Alpine Road until I reached the junction with Playground Road, which marks the southern boundary of the Mount Elizabeth Nature Conservation Reserve.

Peter Creek Road VK3/HVG-084 404 m First activation

I was lucky that the rain stopped as I was approaching the summit. The approach is simple: take Playground Road to Peter Creek Road, then climb up to the top of the first knoll. You are at the summit.

I quickly set up the station away from the car, spotted myself on ParksnPeaks.org and started calling on 40 m SSB. I soon had the summit qualified, making six contacts before spots of rain appeared. I closed down the station and quickly packed up.

I retraced my approach route to the Great Alpine Road and continued north. I made a stop at the Bakery in Swifts Creek to grab a late lunch and then continued north to Omeo, then headed across Mount Hotham. The traverse of Hotham was slow due to the speed limits and the thick cloud and rain.

Once I reached Bright, I explored a couple of approach options for nearby HEMA summits in the pine plantation. The first summit was blocked with a gate and signs advising logging operations in progress. The second summit I decided was not feasible due to steep and slippery tracks on the day. I then continued north to Beechworth and then headed east to approach the second HEMA summit for the day.

Twist Creek Road VK3/HVE-136 780 m First activation

This summit is located just north of Twist Creek Road, between Rawes Road and Erich Road. The summit is covered by pines. I decided to activate from the junction of Beilby Road and Erich Road, off the main road but well inside the Activation Zone (AZ). I kept the activation short and sweet, using the KX2 and the RHM8B whip antenna. It had been raining during the approach and I could hear an approaching thunderstorm, so I wanted a quick activation!

I soon had six contacts logged and the rain started again. I retreated to the car and packed up the gear. I then headed back to Beechworth and on to Wodonga.

Saturday 10 September 2022

First thing in the morning I need to undertake a couple of tasks in town. Once these tasks were completed, I headed out to activate a SOTA summit. I travelled through Yackandandah towards Dederang and around to Running Creek Road. I saw couple of lovely old vintage cars out for a run, with the driver and passengers well rugged up against the cold air and occasional showers.

I started up Mount Jack Track and was about 2 km up the track before I encountered a huge root ball and large fallen tree blocking the track. It was obvious that I could do nothing to get around the tree on the very steep slopes. I reversed back down the track for about 300 m to spot wide enough to complete a multi-point U turn. Once back on Running Creek Road, I headed west to Kancoona Gap, where the road changes name to Happy Valley Road. I saw some more vintage vehicles along the way. When I reached the junction with Rosewhite Track, I found several stopped vehicles, with two across the start of the track. One of the vintage vehicles had boiled and they were waiting for the cooling system to cool down. I explained that I wanted to travel up the track. The managed to push the vintage vehicle back enough for me to swing onto the track. I headed up the track, stopping a few times to clear several fallen branches from the track. I finally rejoined Mount Jack Track and headed north to the SOTA summit.

Mount Jack Range VK3/VE-090 1205 m 8 points + Winter bonus

I parked just north of the track junction near the summit and set up nearby.

My first contact was with James VK2TER in a new Park VKFF-3235 Mooney Mooney Aboriginal Area on 30 m CW. I then moved to 40 m CW and made 11 contacts. I moved to 40 m SSB and made another six contacts, including Summit to Summit contacts with VK2IO/p on VK2/CT-003 and Brian VK3BCM on VK3/VE-098. The whole activation was damp, as I was in thick cloud. When the drizzle started, I shut down, packed up and returned to the vehicle. I retraced my access route back to the bitumen, then headed east back to the Kiewa Valley Highway. I then headed north through Dederang and towards Kergunyah.

Kergunyah Silo VK-KRH3 First activation

Some weeks earlier, Peter VK3ZPF had emailed me asking if I could obtain a photo of what he believed would be a “new” silo at Kergunyah. I looked at the site and grabbed a screenshot from StreetView which was clear enough for Mark VK3OHM to add the new silo. There was a minor issue – the system reused the same Silo code as the now removed Korumburra South silo…..

The silo is just south of 3125 Kiewa Valley Highway Kergunyah. It is an old brick silo, amongst trees and sheds. After taking a photo, I looked for an activation site. I set up the ZS6BKW doublet with a line over a tree branch hooked up to the IC-706MKIIG in the car, parked off the edge of the road south of the silo site, near the edge of the activation zone.

The Kergunyah silo, hiding amongst the trees and farm sheds

First in the log was Warren VK3BYD on 40 m CW, from VKFF-1406 Batemans Marine Park. I moved to 40 m SSB and worked another 42 stations (including a CW contact with Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/CT-005). A dozen of these occurred after I called in on the VK3SRC net frequency, having heard Joe operating as I was tuning the band. Thanks to Joe and the net members for letting me work you all, plus letting several others call me on the net frequency.

I then packed up and headed back to Wodonga.

Sunday 11 September 2022

I was underway slightly later than planned. I headed to Wangaratta and around to Wangandary Road, climbing up onto the Warby Range. Along the way, I had managed to work Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/CT-004 on both CW and SSB. I could see plenty of water cascading down waterfalls on the eastern face of the range following the recent rains. I headed towards Wenhams Camp, parking the car in an opening near the high point of Booth Road NW of the summit of Mount Warby.

Mount Warby VK3/HVE-196 480 m First activation
Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742

I walked up the spur towards the summit to ensure that I was well inside the summit AZ. I was sure that my parking site was inside the AZ, but wanted to be sure that the activation was valid. I soon had the antenna up and the gear set up.

First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/CT-005 in VKFF-2505. I then worked another 15 stations before the callers dried up. I packed up and returned to the car. I headed north back out towards the bitumen, stopped and exercising the battery chainsaw to help clear a fallen tree from the road. I then headed west to Devenish and on to Shepparton, passing several silos en route.

I arrived at the Shepparton Hamfest about an hour after the doors opened to the public. After finding a parking spot, I walked though and paid the entry fee. The next 100 minutes were spent largely chatting with friends plus trying to get around to look at the items on sale. I made a couple of return trips to the car to work stations out in the field. I waited until after the door and raffle prizes were drawn and then made my way across to Mooroopna. I crossed the Goulburn River on Watt Road and turned onto Hattons Track and then onto a side track and found a spot to park.

Mooroopna silo VK-MRN3
Shepparton Regional Park VKFF-0976

A quick snap of the Mooroopna silos, taken while stopped at the traffic lights.

I soon had the ZS6BKW doublet in the air in inverted-V configuration and the IC-7300 set up on the tailgate of the Ranger.

My first contact was a Silo to Silo with Rob VK2VH at Meringur silo VK-MRR3 on 40 m SSB. I worked about 25 contacts before moving to CW. Soon after, Ross VK3BEL dropped by to say “Hello”. So the CW was interrupted for several minutes as I chatted with Ross and he checked out my setup. I worked several callers as Ross watched on. Ross left, leaving me to concentrate on the callers. 20 m SSB was next, yielding four contacts, followed by 20 m CW, which produced seven contacts. I chased a few other stations and ended the activation with 54 contacts in the log.

I packed up and headed back towards Wodonga, deciding to take essentially the route taken in the morning. I stopped whilst still transiting the Shepparton suburbs to work David VK3TUN in VKFF-2399.

The next stop was at the gate of a silo.

Pine Lodge silo VK-PNE3

The remaining activations were using the mobile system to minimise the loss of time. The routine became simple: park the car and turn it off. Open and then close the door to start the shutdown of the vehicle systems, enter the silo code into the logging system, find a clear frequency if needed and send a Spot, and then start calling CQ. Work all callers until there were no replies to my CQ calls, then start the journey to the next silo. Short and sharp was the order of the day, as it was well into the afternoon!

Pine Lodge silos.

I parked at the gate of the Pine Lodge silo. I spotted myself and started calling on 40 m SSB. I soon had eight callers in the log in about 10 minutes. I then resumed my trip. I headed back to the main road and drove to the railway crossing at Cosgrove and parked off the road.

Cosgrove silo VK-CSE3

Cosgrove silos.

My first contact occurred less than 15 minutes after the last contact at the previous silo. I worked eight stations in about seven minutes. When there were no more callers, I started up the vehicle and started to drive to the next stop, just less than six kilometres away.

Dookie silo VK-DKE3
Dookie 2 silo VK-DKI3

I parked outside the exit gate of the Dookie silo, well inside the AZ of both silos.

Dookie silos.

I activated the Dookie silo first, making eight contacts. With no further callers, I changed silo code, spotted and started calling from Dookie 2, working ten contacts. With no further responses, I started the vehicle and resumed the trip.

Dookie 2 silos.

Devenish silo VK-DVH3

Devenish silos.

I travelled just over 28 km to Devenish and parked. I walked across the road to take a photo and then started the activation. I worked nine stations in about six minutes. There were then no further callers, so I resumed the trip to Wodonga.

The trip was straight forward: back over the Warby Range and into Wangaratta, then onto the Hume Highway and NE to Wodonga.

Monday 12 September 2022

The day started with some domestic tasks. I then headed to Chiltern. The Bakery and most stores were closed. So I then headed to Beechworth to grab something for lunch, and then headed to Mount Pilot.

Mount Pilot VK3/HVE-186 530 m First activation
Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620

The car park at Mount Pilot is outside the AZ for the summit. I walked up the track until well inside the AZ and set up the station. I lugged the large battery and the IC-7300 up the hill.

I set up the station with a line of a tree branch to haul up the doublet. I decided to use the Club callsign VK3BEZ for the activation, adding a Park to the tally for the WWFF Team category.

I worked 22 stations on 40 m SSB and then chased Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-2019 again on CW. I tried 20 m SSB, 17 m SSB and CW, 30 m SSB and CW, making 25 contacts. I then worked Geoff VK3SQ on 80 m SSB before going to 40 m CW. I returned to 40 m SSB for a further spell before I received an SMS and moved to 20 m SSB to work Marty VK4KC. Overall, I made 71 contacts before I closed down, packed up and returned to the car. I then drove back to Wodonga.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

My first call was into a shop in Wodonga to pick up some items that I had returned for repair on Saturday. I then headed out to the target for the day.

Baranduda Range 720 m First activation
Baranduda Regional Park VKFF-0959

I approached via Bantik Track to reach the top of the range, then headed northeast along the range to reach the HEMA summit. I parked the car in a shallow drain to be off the track and set up the station nearby. Half of the antenna ran across the track, but was at least 6 m up at the track edge, so unlikely to be an issue for any passing vehicles.

I decided to again use VK3BEZ for the activation. I was set up just after 2330 UTC. The first contact was with VK2HQ in VKFF-3227 Cullunghutti Aboriginal Area, followed by Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/CT-012 in VKFF-3199. I moved to a clear frequency, spotted myself and started calling. I moved down to 40 m CW to chase Gerard VK2IO/p again, only a few minutes before UTC midnight. I worked another 10 CW contacts before heading back to SSB to chase VK2IO/p, followed by VH2HQ & VK2BYF for Park to Park contacts on the new UTC day.

I found a clear frequency on 40 m SSB and worked another 22 stations. Next was three contacts on 80 m SSB. I then tried 17 m CW, only working Gerard VK2IO/p again. It was then down to 40 m SSB for a SOTA chase, then 20 m SSB followed by CW. I short stint on 15 m CW yielded two US regular Hunters. Back to 40 m SSB to chase another SOTA contact. I then pulled out the laptop and set up FT8. All booted up okay and I was soon working stations on 10 m FT8. An SMS exchange with Geoff VK3SQ resulted in contacts with him on several bands. A short stint on 30 m CW yielded three contacts. I then went to 40 m FT8, where I made 14 contacts. I went to 20 m FT8 for three contacts, and then to 20 m SSB for three more contacts, followed by three CW contacts. I then closed down and packed up.

As I was heading back to Bantik Track, I heard a Spot come through and soon worked Brian VK3BCM on VK3/VG-064 from the car, before descending down the track to the gate at the Park boundary. The activation yielded 102 contacts. Thanks to all the Hunters!

I headed back into to Wodonga for a family gathering for most of the rest of the afternoon.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

This was another transit day, heading back home. As usual, I planned to do some radio activity en route.

In my rush to depart, I neglected to top up the fuel in the vehicle. Not a major issue, with just under half a tank on the gauge. The thought was to perhaps add some fuel at Bright……

As I was driving through Bright there was lots of traffic. I forgot about the fuel, but did stop to grab some lunch for later. I travelled on to Harrietville to stop at a ski shop. I purchased a set of chains for the car so that I was legal, with chains that actually could fit the tyres on the car, as opposed to the chains for the smaller original tyres. Mind you, I have not fitted chains for many years, but you need to have chains aboard to enter all the Victoria ski resort areas.

The view north from the Great Alpine Road on the shoulder of Mount Hotham. The Razorback Ridge on the left running out to Mount Feathertop. On the right, the shoulder of Mount Loch and across to the Bogong High Plains and Mount Fainter.

I drove up over Mount Hotham and down to just short of Omeo, taking the Cassillis Road, then Birregun Road. Next, I headed up Zig Zag Track and onto Mount Phipps Track to my first summit for the day.

Mount Phipps VK3/VG-015 1536 m 10 points plus Winter bonus

I parked near the summit and set up nearby. I made 12 contacts on 40 m SSB, followed by two on 40 m CW and then two on 20 m CW. I packed up and resumed the drive, descending to the south to return to Birregun Road and on to the next summit, about 17 km to the south from Mt Phipps.

Mount Birregun VK3/VT-020 1363 m 8 points plus Winter bonus

I parked and set up the station just north of the summit proper, less than 5 metres vertical below the summit. First in the log was Dan VK3NDG using the VK3BEZ callsign from Moondarra State Park VKFF-0764. Dan had no phone coverage, so I was able to Spot him once he had found a clear frequency. Next were some more Park contacts: Joel VK2MOE in VKFF-0111, and Al VK7AN and Rod VK7HAM in VKFF-2906. Then a jump in frequency to chase Ken VK3KIM on VK3/VN-012, then up 5 kHz following a voice request to move “up 5”. I then moved to CW on 40 m, where I worked five stations. A short stint on 20 m CW yielded only one contact. I packed up and decided to head towards Dargo.

The next stop was about 11.5 km south.

VK3/VT-033 (no name) 1032 m 6 points

I parked the car and grabbed the SOTA pack. I climbed up the firebreak on the ridge line until I was well inside the AZ. I operated here with the KX2 and the RHM8B whip.

First in the log was a summit to summit with Ron VK3AFW on VK3/VN-012, on 40 m CW. I moved up the band a few kilohertz and spotted, working another five contacts on CW. I then moved to 40 m SSB to chase Greg VK1AI on VK1/AC-013. I then moved to a clear frequency and worked another eight contacts. I packed up and returned to the car. I continued south to the road junction below the next summit, just under 7 km away.

From the junction, I started up the small track towards the summit, but stopped a few hundred metres along as it was looking very overgrown. I retreated to the main road and then headed along Gidleys Track, then drove up the access track after engaging 4WD. I need to stop a few times to remove some fallen branches and negotiated some large spoon drains. I drove over the summit and did a U-turn at the helipad, returning to park close to the summit. I soon had the station set up nearby, this time using the doublet.

Mount Steve VK3/VT-036 987 m 6 points

I spotted myself on 40 m CW and soon had eight contacts in the log. I then moved to 40 m SSB and spotted. I again worked Dan using VK3BEZ from VKFF-0764, followed by 11 further contacts. It was now 0620 UTC, so I packed up and retraced my access route.

Once back at Jones Road, I continued to Dargo. The first few kilometres were slow going, with the road closed to all vehicles other than “light 4WD”. Several sections of road had been repaired and had a rough surface. I reached Dargo and found that the Store closed at 1600 local, almost an hour before I arrived. I checked the estimated Distance To Empty (DTE) and decided that I could make it to at least Stratford.

I headed towards Bairnsdale on the Dargo Road until I reached Glenaladale, then took Beverleys Road, Stockdale Road and Briagalong Road to reach Stratford. The DTE suggested plenty of fuel to make Sale, so I headed down the Princes Highway and filled the tank in Sale, with an indicated DTE of under 110 km.

From there, it was a simple job of driving home.

Thanks to all who called me during the activations.

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A winter weekend of activations in Parks as a Rover

I strongly support the WWFF and VKFF Award programs. The programs were generally very well run and have excellent support in VK, thanks to Paul VK5PAS and the other members of the VKFF admin team. My recommendation is for anyone considering activating Park entities within VK is to Spot yourself using the excellent parksnpeaks.org website using the VKFF reference details. The site has a good number of Hunters / Chasers who regularly monitor the site.

I have noticed a small number of new Park activators spotting themselves only on the pota.app website. My impression is that this site is good if you wish to attract attention from overseas Hunters and/or to monitor Spots from overseas Activators.

Most VK Activators spot on parksnpeaks.org, with some also spotting on pota.app as a secondary site.

Having made the above comments, I see nothing wrong with also submitting my activation logs to both the WWFF and POTA programs. Alan VK2MET has prepared the excellent mParks Converter program to perform the translation of VK WWFF logs to POTA format and references. POTA now allows self upload of Activator logs, once you are registered and logged into the website. VKFF logs still need to be forwarded to the local state-based team member to be uploaded to the WWFF website database. By uploading to both programs, you can gain certificates from both programs with minimal additional effort.

One advantage of the POTA program is that it offers some different awards. I have previously been awarded certificates for the RaDAR Awards – Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. I had qualified for all levels of the RaDAR Awards other than the Leopard Award, for activating 10 sites in Parks with 24 hours.

POTA also conducts a quarterly Support Your Parks events, with the Summer event in 2022 being a Plaque Event.

The 2022 Plaque Event was scheduled for July 16 & 17 UTC. The weather for the weekend was not looking great in VK3, in the middle of our winter. I decided to head out, with the goal of at least qualifying for the Leopard Award.

Saturday 16 July 2022

I headed out after a leisurely start to the day: the POTA event started at 0000 UTC Saturday, so there was little need to be out early. Ross VK3NRB decided to join me for the weekend. We were in my closest Park ready to start operating just after 1000 local time (0000 UTC).

The routine for the day was simple: drive to the Park and set up the gear. Spot ourselves and work as many callers as possible as quickly as we could. Pack up and drive to the next Park. Repeat.

The Saturday panned out in the following order:

Morwell National Park VKFF-0626
Mirboo North regional Park VKFF-1876
Koonwarra Flora Reserve VKFF-2350
Outtrim Cemetery Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2171
Wonthaggi Heathlands Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2235
Cape Patterson Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2063
Bunurong Marine National Park VKFF-0945
Screw Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2188
Tarwin Lower Flora Reserve VKFF-2447
Bald Hills Creek Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2259
Cape Liptrap Coastal Park VKFF-0745
Shallow Inlet Coastal and Marine Park VKFF-0749
New Zealand Hill Flora Reserve VKFF-2411
Corner Inlet Coastal and Marine Park VKFF-1768
Nooramunga Coastal and Marine Park VKFF-0748
Won Wron Flora Reserve VKFF-2488
Bruthen Flora Reserve VKFF-2282

We then headed back to my home for the night. We switched off the lights at about 0020 local time.

Looking across Bunurong Marine National Park

Sunday 17 July 2022

Despite a long day on Saturday, we were up reasonably early and headed out again to Traralgon South for the first Park of the day. A day was planned with a smaller number of Parks but with basically a similar mode of operation as yesterday. The weather decided to intervene, together with some tiredness on the behalf of the two operators.

Traralgon South Flora Reserve VKFF-2465
Traralgon South Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2464
Callignee Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2287
Gormandale Flora Reserve VKFF-2325
Merrimans Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2384
Holey Plains State Park VKFF-0758

Looking across the Latrobe Valley from Merrimans Creek Flora Reserve

We activated the first three Parks before UTC midnight, so we had a total of 20 Parks activated on Saturday UTC. We took a detour into Rosedale to buy some lunch before heading to Holey Plains State Park. We were starting to feel weary after we set up at Holey Hill. After we checked the weather radar, we decided that we would operate until before the approaching cold front arrived. We timed our closure well, with rain starting just as we started to drive away from our operating site.

Once we were back on the sealed road, we decided to call it a day and simply headed back home. The sky to the west was almost black, with the worst of the cold front rain yet to arrive. Ross grabbed his gear and drove back to his home, through the rain for the whole trip.

Our six Parks on Sunday (local time) saw me with 204 contacts in the log. I had driven just over 551 km for the weekend.

Results

After submitting my logs to POTA, I claimed both the Leopard Award (10 RaDAR transitions) and a new Lion Award (12 RaDAR transitions). Note that the RaDAR Awards require that each transition can only be used once.

POTA RaDAR Leopard Award certificate
POTA RaDAR Lion Award certificate

According to the POTA Results, I ended up with 663 Activator contacts, placing me 27th overall in the Most Contacts Activator category.
My 328 Hunter contacts earned me 10th place globally in the Most Contacts Hunter category, with Ross VK3NRB placing fourteenth (300).
In the Rover category, my 23 Parks gave me equal 7th place (with Ross VK3NRB). A good result, given that in the US, POTA has many 2-fer, 3-fer and 4-fer sites, so that careful choice of sites can give you 2, 3 or 4 Parks for a single activation. The top Rover activated an impressive 65 Parks.

The 2022 Plaque Event included IARU Region 1, 2 & 3 specific awards for the first time.
My 663 contacts gave me first place as an Activator for Region 3, with second place going to Naota JF7RJM (530), and third to Roly ZL1BQD (503). Ross VK3NRB claimed fourth place, with 431 contacts.
For the DX Region 3 Hunter award, I placed first, followed by Ross VK3NRB and Marty VK4KC (136).

Dan VK3NDG, Tony VK3YV and Ross VK3NRB all activated Holey Plains State Park using the Club callsign VK3BEZ, qualifying a Park for the Club category, where we placed twelfth with 104 contacts.

I anticipate that I will eventually receive the two Region 3 award plaques in the mail from the US.

Once again, thanks to all who worked both myself and Ross over the weekend.

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Two significant Awards received

6 June 2022

On Saturday morning last, I received a message from Marty VK4KC that his latest logs had been uploaded to the WWFF Logsearch database. This prompted me to log in to Logsearch and to check my tally of references hunted.

I soon had two new award applications submitted.

VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 2000

This award is for Hunters who have worked 2000 different VKFF references. The Honour Roll awards are made in increments of 25 references, with the initial award at 100 references worked.

The latest 25 references came in just under one month. The references were activated by eight Activators:

VK4KC – 14 references
VK2IO/p – 5 references
VK2BYF – 1 reference
VK2MET – 1 reference
VK3BYD/p – 1 reference
VK3DL – 1 reference
VK4EMP – 1 reference
VK4FDJL – 1 reference

Thanks to all Activators who have been out in the field, but especially to those who gave me new references.

The VKFF Hunter Award (Honour Roll) 2000 certificate.

The certificate features another photograph from Paul VK5PAS.

WWFF Hunter Certificate 2044

The WWFF Hunter certificates are awarded in increments of 100 references worked once the Hunter has reached 144 references. The latest 100 references were worked over the period 20December 2021 to 3 June 2022. Most of the references were in VK, with six ZL references, one DL reference and one new JA reference.

Again, thanks to all the Activators.

The WWFF Hunter certificate 2044.

Special thanks go to all the Administration team members whose work support the WWFF programs.

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