A visit to Western Port Bay

Saturday 17 June 2017

I had an invitation to attend the Gippsland Gate Radio & Electronics Club 40th anniversary luncheon, so planned to spend several hours at that event. Just in case I had some time available, I packed the SOTA pack into the car.

The event went off well and I departed Cranbourne a little before 1500 local. The trip to my destination was just over 20 kilometres and took around 20 minutes.

Yaringa Marine National Park VKFF-0957

I had previously activated this Park, accessing the shore courtesy of a cooperative landowner.

In November 2016, I explored a couple of possible access points travelling back home from the Rosebud Hamfest.

The Yaringa Marina is just a short distance from the southern boundary of the Park, but is clearly private property. Whilst the public can drive in to the Marina car park, one would need permission to cross the land to access the Park. A further complication is that the area between the Marina and the Park is rough mangrove mudflats with thick scrub away from the high water mark.

One access point looked promising from the mapping data and the Google Earth images.

Access was gained via Bungower Road Somerville. At 10 Bungower Rd (on your left), you will see a riding school operation. Just beyond, you will find the road deteriorating to a rough sand track with many overhanging trees, with several private driveways near the apparent end of the road. You can continue another 250 metres approximately to a locked gate. There is limited parking here – I simply parked at the end of the track loop, figuring that anyone else arriving would still have space to turn around. I loaded up my backpack and started walking east along the track which is a continuation of Bungower Road. The track is shown as Maintenance Vehicles Only on Forest Explorer and travels through the North Western Port Nature Conservation Reserve. The track had some wet areas and plenty of dung from the horses….

As the track started to swing to the south, I headed through a gate and walked a short distance to within 20 m of the high water mark, the boundary of the Marine National Park. I found a fence post to support the squid pole and quickly set up the station.

My timing must have been good: I switched on the radio before I finished running out the dipole legs and heard Gerard VK2IO/p calling from a summit in a Park. Once the antenna was set, I waited my chance to call for a Park to Park contact. After the contact was completed, I found a clear frequency and started calling CQ. The next 5 minutes saw 7 contacts in the log, before some QRM from some DX stations (a guess) operating RTTY prompted a QSY. The next 15 minutes saw another 10 callsigns in the log. I checked the ‘phone to see that David VK3IL/p had moved to 80 m – he was very low down on 40 m and did not hear my calls. I strung out the 80 m extensions to the antenna and found that David was not about. I later found out that he only spent a very short time on 80 m due to the time of day – he had to descend off Mt Torbreck before it became dark. The next 15 minutes saw another 12 contacts in the log. Once I had no more callers, I closed down and packed up.

YaringaMNP

The activation site, looking NNE across the Marine National Park

It was a brisk walk in the dwindling light back to the car and then about 2 hours to drive home. About 30 contacts were in the log, more than enough to take the tally beyond the 44 mark. Thanks to all the Hunters.

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A winter day without power

A power outage was scheduled for this day and I was interested in possibly making a purchase in Castlemaine, so the decision was made for a shorter road trip….

Friday 16 June 2017

I was underway at around 0800 local, well before the scheduled outage start time. I travelled to Melbourne, with a short detour to purchase a set of snow chains. That added more time than expected, but I safely arrived at my first destination in the anticipated time window. I inspected the intended purchase and even managed to make a contact with Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/MN-075 on 40 m CW. After further discussions, the purchase was made prior to departing.

I then headed to Harcourt to grab some lunch and then up to Mount Alexander summit.

Mount Alexander VK3/VN-016 741 m 4 points
Mount Alexander Regional Park VKFF-0973

I set up using a line over a tree branch at about 10 m and ran out the heavy duty link dipole that normally lives in the car. First in the log was Neil VK4HNS/p in Gatton National Park – a Park to Park contact first off. Four minutes later, Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-0406 called me. After about 15 minutes, callers became scarce and it became hard work.

Approaching 0500Z I decided to change bands to 30 m. During the change, I heard Bill VK4FW call me. By time I had changed the antenna back to 0 m, Bill had gone – sorry Bill! Back to 30 m, I worked only Gerard VK2IO/m, about 30 minutes since I had worked him as my last contact on 40 m before the antenna change.

I switched the antenna again, this time going to 80 m. This yielded 4 VK3 stations. After a further 5 minutes of calling without responses, I switched back to 40 m, yielding 20 contacts in the next hour, including a CW contact with Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/MN-045. At 0643 Z, I worked 3 VK4 stations on CW before going back to 80 m, which yielded another 4 contacts. I tried 30 m again briefly, yielding another 2 contacts. Considerable time calling earlier on 20 m had yielded no contacts. With 48 contacts in the log, I decided to pack up and start the long drive home. Overall, a good day.

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Road trip to the 2017 WIA AGM in Hahndorf – returning home

Monday 22 May

I was up and organised reasonably early, departing Mount Barker at about the same time as Paul, who headed off to pick up Andrew VK6AS and to transport him to the airport.

I did not have far to go today, as I was staying near Murray Bridge.

First stop was into the local optometrist to have a quick repair to one arm of my spectacles. Whilst I was waiting, I found a pharmacy to purchase some Cold and Flu tablets – a lurgy had made its presence felt overnight.

I headed up to the freeway and headed east. Paul had mentioned some of the local Parks, so when I saw the exit sign for Monato, I took the exit and headed south. Approaching the Park, I noticed a large tract of bushland further south, guessing that it may be Ferries-McDonald CP, given that I was travelling on a road with the same name…. I stopped and explored my options, checking which other Parks were in the region. I ended up heading south to Langhorne Creek Road and then east to Wellington to cross the Murray River by ferry. Only a short distance across the river was my first target for the day.

Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park VKFF-0919 5CP-152

One might ask “Why bypass two Parks to get to this target?” Simple really – this is one of the Parks that count for the Murray River Parks Award.

I was set up inside the Park just before 0200Z. Gerard VK2IO was first in the log on 40 m SSB. It was slow going on a Monday in the middle of the day. I worked 8 stations on 40 m SSB in 20 minutes. I changed the antenna to 80 m configuration, and worked another 3 stations, including Adrian VK5FANA and Paul VK5PAS/m. With 11 in the log, the Park was qualified for VKFF, so I packed up when I received no further responses to calls.

I packed up and drove a short distance north, then east into the next Park.

Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park VKFF-1082 5CP-187

Only about 5 km up the road, I turned east onto Blackett Road and on to the very barren looking Park. It looks just like surrounding farmland. I climbed the fence and set up inside the Park, another Park that counts for the Murray River Parks Award.

This time I started on 80 m, working Paul VK5PAS/m. After several minutes of calling with no responses, I shifted to 40 m. I worked 14 stations in the next 20 minutes, before swapping to 30 m for 2 more contacts. Only Fred VK4FE was worked on 20 m. With a total of 18 contacts, I gave up with rain threatening.

After packing up, I headed back to the Princes Highway and then to Tailem Bend to buy a late lunch. I then worked my way around to Murray Bridge and on to my overnight stop – many thanks to Peter VK3RV and Jenny VK5ANW.

Tuesday 23 May

We had long discussions the previous evening which continued in the morning before I finally got under way. I headed south and then another ferry across the Murray River to Tailem Bend, then south east on Dukes Highway (A8). The cold/flu was doing well, so I thought seriously about simply trying to make it all the way home… I knew that I would be bypassing several possible activation sites, including Mount Monster CP and Kelvin Powrie CP – the later right beside the Highway as you approach Keith. I was glancing to the south after passing Kelvin Powrie CP and could see the obvious hill that must be Mount Munster.

I had a quick glance at the tourist map a few minutes later and saw a Park to the west of Bordertown. I stopped near Wirrega and checked the map carefully, then had a quick look at ParksnPeaks. It looked as if the Park had not yet been activated. That was too much of an opportunity, plus I needed a break after some time driving. So I headed south on Black Joes Road and then east on Cannawigara Road to find a well-marked entrance to the Game Reserve.

Poocher Swamp Game Reserve VKFF-1741

I drove in along the access track and set up near a large red gum. I used the throw line to get a line over a branch and set up in accordance with the SANPCP Award conditions – similar in most respects to SOTA requirements. I spotted myself on ParksnPeaks with some difficulty – I had marginal coverage.

PoocherSwampGR

Poocher Swamp Game Reserve

First in the log was Geoff VK3SQ. I worked 6 stations on 40 m SSB, then Hans VK6XN and Fred VK4FE on 20 m. Several minutes of calling on 30 m SSB yielded only Gerard VK2IO; I then changed back to 40 m to work Ian VK5IS and Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-0065. Eleven contacts in the log, so I called it a day and headed into Bordertown to grab another late lunch.

A little while later, I pulled off the highway to again work Rob VK4AAC/2, now in another Park. As I approached Dimboola, I decided to NOT activate Little Desert National Park – still need another 27 contacts from the Park as an Activator. About 10 minutes after passing Dimboola, I received a text message from Mick VK3GGG. The new car has hands-free mobile phone operation, so I called Mick to chat, during which I was invited to drop in for a coffee when I reached Stawell. We transferred from the mobile phone to the Mt William repeater to liaise as I covered the distance to Stawell.

To keep it short, the short visit for coffee ended up with me staying for dinner and the night. Many thanks for the hospitality Mick!

Wednesday 24 May

The cold/flu was still doing well, so I decided to attempt a couple of likely drive-up summits. I drove to Ararat and made my way toward Warrak and the hamlet of Mount Cole and then made my way around to Ben Nevis Road.

Ben Nevis VK3/VS-009

I was lucky with my timing – I arrived on the summit after a shower of rain had passed. I set up a little north of the hut to the north west of the fenced compounds. I started on 80 m and worked only Mick VK3GGG. Changing to 40 m yielded 10 contacts, with a further four contacts on 20 m – 3 stations in VK4 and John ZL1BYZ. I packed up and navigated my way off the summit and eventually back to the bitumen, but via a different route to that used for the approach.

BenNevisFrNW

Ben Nevis from the NW

I deliberately made my way to the north west of Ben Nevis, and travelled via Eversley and Elmhurst before heading south on Raglan Elmhurst Road. There was a chance of another summit – Mount Lomond VK3/VS-013. I found Mount Lomond Road, but a couple of kilometres in struck some large Road Closed signs – forestry operations in progress. So it was a case of retrace my route and then to head south to Raglan, then east to Chute and north on Amphitheatre Road to Ben Major Track.

Ben Major VK3/VS-028

Ben Major Track is unsealed and becomes a little rough after about half way to the summit, but a vehicle with reasonable clearance should be able to negotiate it to the summit.

I set up using a small tree east of the trig to support the squid pole. I started on 40 m SSBand worked nine stations worked QRP. However, I had trouble being heard by Rob VK4AAC/2, so plugged in the amplifier to complete the contact. Mick GGG could then hear me… I ended up with 18 in the log, all on 40 m SSB. I decided against other bands – the wind was very lazy and I was starting to feel cold.

BenMajorViewSE

Looking SE from Ben Major

I followed Ben Major Track out to the south, then in to Lexton and then towards Ballarat. A short stop for some fuel at Warrenheip and then another near Ballan for yet another late lunch. It was then in towards Melbourne and a long traverse of the road network with heavy afternoon/evening peak traffic.

I finally arrived at home a little after 2000.

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Road trip to the 2017 WIA AGM in Hahndorf – activations near Adelaide plus the AGM activities

Friday 19 May 2017

My hosts Paul VK5PAS and Marija VK5FMAZ both had to work, so I was free for the entire day. I decided to at least bag the two nearest SOTA summits. I set the vehicle GPS to take me to the first target and arrived without incident.

Mount Gawler VK5/SE-013 541 m 2 points

The summit trig is on private property, but there is a large activation zone. I set up just outside the boundary fence at a spot where I could see the trig through the trees. Just as I was about to start calling, the property owner drove up to the gate, heading into town to make some purchases. I said hello and introduced myself – Paul had offered to ring to arrange access right to the trig, but I had declined.

I started calling after spotting myself, and worked 9 stations on 40 m SSB. I then moved to 20 m SSB, working John ZL1BYZ and David VK5PL in the nearby Barossa Valley. A new Unique and Complete in the log.

I then set the GPS for Mount Lofty and had a pleasant drive through the Adelaide Hills.

Mount Lofty VK3/SE-005 727 m 4 points
Cleland Conservation Park VKFF-0778 5CP-042

Following advice from Paul, I found a spot in the car park and set up just off a walking track – away from most of the tourist traffic but well inside the AZ.

I spotted myself and started calling on 40 m SSB, with John VK2YW first in the log. In 25 minutes I worked 13 stations. On 20 m SSB, 15 minutes of calling yielded 9 stations. Next I tried 30 m, yielding another 8 callsigns. I tried calling on 2 m FM, but heard nothing. Several stations later indicated that they had heard me, but clearly my handheld was being swamped by the high level of signals from the nearby transmitter towers. Back to 40 m SSB for another 17 stations, yielding a total of 47 contacts, thus qualifying the Park for WWFF. A new Unique and Complete in the SOTA log.

Cleland_Lofty1

Mt Lofty setup

I packed up and made my way to the AGM venue to pick up my registration pack. As expected, I ran into many people that I knew. Therefore, it was not a simple short visit.

I headed back to Paul’s location and as I was approaching, received a message advising that Paul and some others were enjoying a ale in Hahndorf. Given the traffic in 5town I decided against returning to join the others and sat in the car reading the various materials in the registration pack.

Later in the afternoon, we all jumped in a vehicle to head to the Friday evening welcome function. Lots of people attended, so there was much discussion.

Saturday 20 May

The WIA AGM, Open Forum and Conference

The day started with yet another queue: signing in for the AGM and being ticked off on the attendance list.

The AGM was an interesting affair, with several individuals expressing various opinions. The vote to accept the Minutes of the previous AGM on Norfolk Island ended up being counted three times, with all three methods used having a clear majority to accept the Minutes.

The various awards were announced and handed to the recipients that were present. We then broke for morning tea.

After the tea break, the new Board members introduced themselves and delivered a presentation on how they intended to work managing the WIA over the coming year. Their first formal meeting was not scheduled until the following morning. At the end of the Forum, Doc VK5DOC launched his new book “Cellar dwellers on the go”. We then broke for lunch.

After lunch, we had a number of presentations on various amateur radio activities in South Australia. The Conference presentations went well (apart from occasional dropouts in the microwave link to Mount Lofty) and all speakers were well received.

We headed back to Mt Barker to freshen up before returning for the Conference Dinner, where we had a good evening and three presentations: The launch of the ParksnPeaks iOS app, Craig VK5CE talking about his IOTA exploits and finally a couple of brief videos from the launch of the Horus balloons at the 2012 AGM in Mildura. Some of the vision captured by the second balloon was used to assist in the creation of realistic special effects in the movie Gravity.

Sunday 21 May

We returned on Sunday morning to the Conference venue to gather prior to heading out into various nearby Parks. Although I had offered to take some people out, I had only one taker – Robert VK3DN. We headed off to Charleston Conservation Park, where we found David VK5PL already on site and set up. We had a brief chat with David and then headed off to the next closest Park, about 20 minutes away.

Porter Scrub Conservation Park VKFF-0787 5CP-189

We finally parked at the southern entry gate to the Park and set up beside the track about 50 m in from the gate. Robert assisted me in stringing out the dipole. I started tuning around on 40 m SSB. First in the log was Andrew VK1AD/2 on VK2/SM-027. Next up were Allen VK3ARH/5 and Chris VK5FR/p, both on VK5/SE-005 in VKFF-0778. There were plenty of Park to Park contacts, including some Park duplications with all the operators out in nearby Parks keen to make contact. Robert watched and listened for a little while and posted a picture of me operating to Facebook (I am not sure where…) before departing to assist in setting up for the afternoon’s activities.

In all I worked 15 different Parks and ended up with 47 contacts in the log.

I packed up and headed back to Hahndorf and made my way to the Hahndorf Oval, venue for the various afternoon activities.

There was plenty to view around the Oval. When I arrived, the Horus team were setting up the balloon for the afternoon’s launch. There was microwave gear at opposite ends of the Oval, plus Steve VK5SFA had a couple of his magnetic loop antennas set up. Inside the pavilion, there were several displays of various amateur activities, including some that had been discussed in the previous afternoon’s presentations.

Most people watched the Horus balloon launch and the fun then began as people attempted to make contact with VI5WOW through the cross-band repeater package in the balloon payload.

The Lions team began serving the BBQ dinner at around 1730. The food was basic but good. Lots more discussion occurred before we finally headed back to Mount Barker for the night.

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Road trip to the 2017 WIA AGM in Hahndorf – the trip to Adelaide

The WIA AGM was to be held in Hanhdorf in the Adelaide Hills on Saturday 20 May 2017. I was planning to attend, combining the trip with some Summit and Park activations.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

I headed off on Wednesday morning, with the weather forecast not looking promising. Neither was the space weather forecast. My basic plan was to get through to Ballarat and then consider options beyond. As I approached Ballarat, the sky was becoming darker grey. I decided on an easy option and continued on to Ararat and then south west to Moyston.

Point 599/Mt William Range VK3/VS-032 599 m 2 points
Grampians National Park VKFF-0213

From Moyston, I set the vehicle GPS for the junction of Yarram Park Road and Jimmys Creek Road, Mafeking. All was okay until getting close, with the direct route of Emmett Road having a Road Closed sign, so a minor diversion was required.

Having looked at the Google Earth images, the likely access route appeared to be via the unnamed track which heads off Jimmys Creek Road roughly 630 m east of the junction with Yarram Park Road. I headed carefully along the road and all was okay, with some overhanging branches and encroaching scrub in places. As the track started to climb, some large spoon drains were encountered and became more frequent. I eventually attained the top of the ridge and then turned left to head toward the summit.

About 100 m west from the desired parking spot, there was a tree across the track, with a tight diversion around. I parked here and walked the final short distance to set up close to the track bend, from which the track headed north with a steep descent. The track corner is above 580 m altitude, so well within the AZ, and still inside the National Park. The summit itself is on private property beyond the Park boundary.

The weather was threatening – it had been raining and it lokked as if more was to come. A quick activation was the result, with five contacts made in 5 minutes, with no close in contacts. After the fifth contact, the rain resumed, so it was time to quickly pack up and retreat. A new Unique and Complete in the log.

I followed the same route back to Jimmys Creek Road, and then headed west towards the Grampians Road (C216). It was then south to Victoria Valley Road and then travel around to Cavendish, then north west towards Balmoral before heading south on Dundas Gap Road.

Mount Dundas VK3/SE-045 459 m 1 point

Near the crest of the road, watch for Mt Dundas Road to the right. Travel up it and turn right to access the summit, which has significant RF infrastructure on top.

I quickly set up on 40 m ssb, and checked ParksnPeaks. First in the log was Paul VK5PAS operating VI5WOW in Mount George Conservation Park. I bagged a total of 8 contacts in 10 minutes before the rain started falling again, prompting another quick pack up and retreat to the car. A new Unique and Complete in the log.

I returned to the bitumen and headed SW to Coleraine, then basically west to Penola. There was not much open in the main street, so I dropped into the Prince of Wales Hotel, organised a motel room for the night and then dinner.

After dinner I made a call to arrange access to Mt Burr the following morning: The Summit information page indicated that approval was required from the local Broadcast Australia District Supervisor. I had made some email enquiries earlier in the week, so expected few issues. During my conversation with the appropriate person, I was also advised that approval from Forestry SA was recommended. I was given a contact number – a call to be made the following morning.

Thursday 18 May 2017

After packing the car, I headed down the street to call into the Bakery to grab some food. A little after 0830 local time, I called the ForestrySA number. A minor problem when the call dropped out, but contact was re-established shortly afterwoods. I spent some time explaining who I was to the local Ranger and discussing my plans to access Mt Burr. I was given verbal approval, plus an indication that the Ranger would meet me on the hill, as he was planning to be on-site at a similar time to myself.

Mount Burr VK5/SE-019 240 m 1 point

I had arranged to use the VI5WOW callsign for the activations today – Mt Burr and a planned later Park activation. After driving out to Mt Burr, I drove up to the summit and then retreated about half way down the access lane. I have added some additional notes to the summit page, as outlined below.

MtBurr

Looking up hill to the Mt Burr summit

I was just completing my fourth contact when the farmer and the Ranger drove up the access lane.

I had a long discussion with the Ranger, who then went up to the summit. He stopped again on his way back down, taking my details on the day and forwarded an approved application form later in the day via email.

The cleared & fenced area around the Mt Burr summit, plus the surrounding forests, are managed by ForestrySA. The surrounding pine forests are leased to forestry company OneFortyOne. There are several site leases on the summit, including Broadcast Australia. As noted elsewhere for this summit, the top of the summit is RF hot. There is an access lane to the summit area from the bottom gate, which has signs noting that you must be authorised to enter beyond the gate.

The cleared area surrounding the access lane is leased to a farmer to graze sheep.

I set up and operated from the edge of the access lane way, about half way between the summit and the access gate – well inside the AZ. To operate in this area, technically one needs approval from ForestrySA. You can apply on-line for a “Forest Access Permit” – see below.

To quote from the email I received from the local Ranger after the activation:

ForestrySA now has an online permit application form on our website at: http://www.forestrysa.com.au

Once the page has loaded, drag your mouse over the Recreation tab, then click Green Triangle.

Please have a read through the page as it has important information regarding your visit.

The page has information on general access to both ForestrySA’s Native Forest Reserves, and also Plantation areas managed by OneFortyOne Plantations.

Most activities do not require a written permit, but those that do are mainly for plantation areas, and include those such as Horse riding, Caving, or Christmas tree collection.

The page has links to electronic permits, please fill out the form electronically, stating what you wish to use the permit for, save a copy onto your desktop and email through the completed application to conservationandrecreation@forestrysa.com.au

We will approve the application and forward by return email.

Both the Bluff summit and Mt. Burr summit are ForestrySA properties, so the application form & Green Triangle Forest Access Permit ForestrySA, should be completed for those sites.”

The “Activity” on the form was noted as “Radio communications exercise”.

All wishing to activate Mt Burr are strongly encouraged to complete and submit an application for access to the site at least a few working days prior to your planned activation. You are unlikely to have any issues if you have the appropriate permit!

The Ranger was friendly and extremely helpful.

Despite the interruptions to discuss matters with the Ranger, the activation was a success, but with only 7 contacts made. A new Unique and Complete in the log.

I headed back to the main road, and then west to Millicent, where I stopped to grab some tourist brochures and a map.

I then headed north to Robe to buy some lunch, then headed back to Old Naracoorte Road.

Lake Hawdon South Conservation Park VKFF- VKFF-1045 5CP-110

Whilst in Robe, I quickly checked ParksnPeaks: it appears that this Park had not yet been activated. There are several other Parks in the area, but I decided to activate this one for a little while.

Travelling along Old Naracoorte Road, I was looking for a small entrance way to a farm gate which is located adjacent to the northern boundary of the Park. I parked the vehicle here and climbed the fence to set up just inside the Park boundary.

The Park appears to be partially old grazing land, but also very swampy ground.

I worked 10 stations on 40 m SSB over about 25 minutes of calling, before switching to 80 m SSB to give some VK5 stations a chance to work the Park. The move yielded only John VK5BJE and Paul VK5PAS/m. I then went to 20 m to work another 8 stations, including one JA, before returning to 40 m for another 4 contacts before I closed, just over an hour after starting calling. A total of 24 contacts in the log, thus well qualified for VKFF.

I packed up and headed east and north, making my way to Woolmit Road.

Kungari Conservation Park VKFF-1044 5CP-106

This was another Park which had not yet been activated. I found the track that enters the Park, together with the locked gate at the Park boundary with a very new looking sign just beyond. I climbed the fence and set up near the sign.

Kungari

The Kungari Conservation Park sign

First in the log was Liz VK2XSE/5 in VKFF-0778 on 40 m SSB. In about an hour and 10 minutes I worked 31 stations on 40 m. I switched to 20 m, working Rick VK4RF. With no further calls, I tried 30 m SSB, again working Rick VK4RF plus Cliff VK2NP. I returned to 40 m to work another 4 stations, and then tried 80 m for another 5 calls in the log. With 45 in the log, I closed down as the rain spots were getting heavier.

I headed east to the Princes Highway and then made my way north, with the rain becoming heavier. I stopped at Meningie for some dinner, and then headed for Mount Barker for the night.

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2 summits north of Heyfield

Friday 12 May 2017

The weather forecast was good, but the day would be cool. The electricity supplier was due to being undertaking works near home, so I was scheduled to be without power for most of the day. It left only one obvious decision: head for the hills.

From home I headed to Heyfield and then north to Coongulla. It was then a matter of navigating the network of tracks to get to the junction of Ben Cruachan Road and Avon Track and then on up Ben Cruachan Road to the end of the road.

Ben Cruachan VK3/VT-042 836 m 4 points

This summit had only been activated once previously by Wayne VK3WAM, using CW only. It would be in demand as a new Unique for many Chasers. Unfortunately, I had not worked Wayne, so this activation was simply a new Unique for me as an Activator.

Wayne noted that Ben Cruachan Road appears to traverse private property. Prior to leaving home I checked Forest Explorer for access details and road restrictions: it appears that the road can be traversed by the public.

After the junction with Avon Track, the road becomes narrower and rougher. 4WD was preferred, with higher clearance required in a couple of spots. There are a couple of tight switchbacks as you near the top, and then a good sized car park with a rustic picnic table built from local timber. Only about 30 metres or so beyond the end of the road is the summit trig and what appears to be the remains of an old rock cairn, with a viewing compass.

BCrauchanViewN

View north from Ben Cruachan summit

I set up at the picnic table, well inside the AZ. First in the log was Ian VK5IS, after I had tried calling Mitch VK3XDM/p on Mt McKay VK3/VE-007 – I could hear Mitch but it was not reciprocal. After working Ian, I placed the power amplifier in circuit and managed to be heard by Mitch for a S2S. With Mitch was Perrin VK3XPT/p. Several of the regular mid-week Chasers were worked, including John ZL1BYZ on 40 m. I then switched to 20 m, to again work John at a slightly stronger level, followed by John VK6NU and Fred VK44FE. With no further callers, I shut down and headed back toward Coongulla.

Once back at the junction of Geoghegans Rd and Hodges Rd, I headed east and around to Huggetts Road and on to the picnic area at Mount Hedrick car park.

Mount HedrickVK3/VT-069 459 m 1 point

Opposite the car park is the start of a reasonably well-defined walking track.

HedrickStart

Start of the walking track

The walking track is later joined by another track which starts a little further south off Huggetts Road which appears to have plenty of motor bike traffic – perhaps it was a good idea to be attempting the walk late on a week day afternoon!

The sign was correct – some steep and rocky sections were encountered. The summit itself is obscured by thick scrub – I could not see a trig or other marker. I continued on to the north of the summit to a rocky area and set up there – less than 10 metres vertical below the true summit.

This is another rare summit, activated previously by Wayne before he went to Ben Cruachan, again CW only.

Ian VK5CZ was first in the log this time, followed by VK5IS and ZL1BYZ. I had 8 in the log on 40 m within 10 minutes. I switched to 20 m and was called by Pit YO7MPD followed by Rick VK4RF. Also worked on 20 m were Ralph KP4RV and Damiano IZ7UNJ. With no further responses to CQs on 20, I switched back to 40 m to work another 9 stations before closing about an hour after I arrived.A total of 22 contacts were made.

I headed back down and followed the motor bike tracks down to a point where the 2 tracks almost meet again, requiring only a few metres walk to get back onto the walking track.

Once back at the car, it was a simply matter to head south, following “my nose” to get back to the bitumen and to then head for home, arriving after power had been restored and then spending some time resetting various clocks!

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A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: Some new Victorian summits

Saturday 29 April

I decided to head off to attempt to activate a summit for another complete. I headed south east from Wodonga to Dartmouth and up to the obvious first summit for the day.

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

South of Dartmouth, take Mount Benambra Road and then Benambra Summit Track. Note that there is limited parking and turn around space at the tower at the summit.

The summit was clear, with almost all surrounding terrain obscured by low cloud. I could see the Main Range to the east and Mount Bogong to the west. The sun was beating down.

LookingtoBogong

Looking towards Mt Bogong from Mt Benambra

I set up near the trig and was greeted with S8 inverter noise when I switched on the radio. I could only hear the loudest of callers attempting to make contact with Wade VK1FWBD/p. I quickly pulled the station down and headed about 100 m down the track, hoping that a little distance would be sufficient to lower the QRM. I set up with the antenna parallel to the track, right on the edge of the track, with space for me to sit just off the track.

I could not hear Wade on switching on. First in the log was Wynne ZL2ATH on ZL1/WL-103. I ended up with 24 in the log, including several S2S contacts:

VK1FWBD/p on VK1/AC-044
VK3BYD/5 on VK5/SW-039
VK6MAC/p on VK6/SW-036 in VKFF-0645
ZL2ATH on ZL1/WL-103

I packed up and headed off to the main target for the day.

Mount Cravensville Range VK3/VE-058 1390m 8 points

I travelled back to Mount Benambra Road and followed it north west to the junction with Benambra Spur Track to climb up to the saddle between the SOTA summit and Mount Cravensville. I parked and climbed up the slope through moderate scrub until inside the AZ.

First in the log was Mark VK4SMA/p in VKFF-VKFF-0471. I worked 22 stations, including two more Park activators: VK7JON/p in VKFF-0322 and Greg VK4VXX/2 in VKFF-0470. After 30 minutes on the summit I packed up and headed back to the vehicle. A new Unique and Complete.

I headed east along Benambra Spur Track to exit the area. The approach to the summit might be a little easier from the east side of the summit, from around 36.478705° S 147.609168° E – the undergrowth looked thinner here.

Benambra Spur Track joins Gibb Range Road about 2 km south east of the access point for Gibb Range VK3/VE-069, but I decided not to activate the summit. I headed out to the east to the Corryong-Benambra Road and north before heading back to Wodonga for the night.

Sunday 30 April

I was underway a little before 0900 from Wodonga and headed down the Hume Highway to Benalla then south to Mansfield. From there I headed to Merrijig and Merimbah, then up the Mount Stirling Road to Telegraph Box Junction. From there, I headed north on the Circuit Road and then out along No 3 Road to reach my first target for the day.

Mountain No 3 VK3/VE-033 1548 m 10 points

The alternate approach is via Carters Road, which requires a steep climb up to the summit from the winter road closure gate. I decided to attempt via my access route to see what the road was like: all was OK, with some bumps and spoon drains over the last kilometre or so. I drove up onto the pleasant snow plain area close to the summit via Weston Track. I set up at the northern limit of the snow plain, using a tree branch to support the antenna.

First in the log was Andrew VK3ARR/p on VK3/VC-002. Other S2S contacts included Wade VK1FWBD/p on VK1/AC-040, and Andrew VK1AD/2 and Al VK1RX/2 on VK2/ST-017. I also worked Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1410 and Ian VK1DI/p in VKFF-0842. With 20 calls in the log and no replies to a final CQ call, I packed up and headed back along No 3 Road. A new Unique and Complete. I parked at Razorback Huts.

Mount Winstanley VK3/VE-036 1523 m 10 points

Access to the summit is straightforward: follow the Hut Trail ski trail to the start of Razorback Trail, then climb a short distance to the top of the spur just to the west of the trail junction. From here, follow the walking track north along the spur until you reach the summit cairn, a distance of about 1.9 km from the Huts with a climb of about 165 m. The walking track appears to continue north from the summit along the spur, presumably to join Razorback Track near its northern end. This may provide a slightly shorter access route during summer when you can access No 3 Road – the climb would be similar, but about 400 m shorter.

The climb took me about 50 minutes. First in the log was again Andrew VK3ARR/p, this time on VK3/VN-027. I also worked Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1410, Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-0690 and Tony VK3CTM/p on VK3/VN-016. I ended up with 25 contacts in the log, all on 40 m. A new Unique and Complete. The return to the vehicle took 22 minutes.

Winstanley summit

The summit cairn on Winstanley. Mt No 3 visible to the north.

It was then back down to Telegraph Box Junction, then south on the Circuit Road to Howqua Gap and to drive up Howqua Gap Trail to the saddle just below the summit.

Mount Stirling VK3/VE-011 1747 m 10 points

I set up just south of the summit, seeking some protection from the wind. First in the log was Tony VK3CTM/p on VK3/VN-016. I ended up with 27 contacts in the log in only 20 minutes. A new Unique and Complete. I was getting cold and was still considering another summit, so packed up and headed back down to Howqua Gap.

From Howqua Gap, I took Corn Hill Trail and Corn Hill Road up to the Mount Buller village and made my way to the end of Summit Road, only a short distance from the edge of the AZ.

Mount Buller VK3/VE-008 1805 m 10 points

I climbed up until just inside the AZ to set up with a solid breeze and inside the cloud. This was to be a short activation! First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/m. With 8 in the log and without any replies to the final CQ call, I shut down and packed up.

It was then a case of driving down to Mirimbah, out to Mansfield and then to return to home. I arrived home at around 2000, having put a total of almost 6000 km on the odometer.

Trip Summary

23 summits activated for a total of 178 Activator points.

40 Chaser contacts made, for 149 Chaser points.

21 new Activator Uniques.

19 new Complete summits.

Reached 2500 Activator points on 24 April.

Reached 250 Complete summits on 26 April.

A total of 9 VKFF references activated.

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A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: the trip south

Monday 24 April

I departed Yugar a little after 0700. I followed the recommendation to travel back over Mount Glorious to Wivenhoe-Somerset Road (thus avoiding Monday morning Brisbane traffic), then to Ipswich, Warwick, Stanthorpe and across into NSW and Tenterfield.

Mount Mackenzie VK2/NT-025 1296 m 8 points

Mount Mackenzie is just west of Tenterfield and is very obvious as you approach the town from the north. I followed the signs out to the summit and set up mid-way between the actual summit and the lookout.

First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/p on Barraba Trig VK2/HU-065. I quickly worked another 4 stations and then shut down when I had no further replies. With the summit qualified, this was another new Unique and Complete.

ViewAcrossTenterfield

Looking across Tenterfield from the lookout

I drove back down to Tenterfield and then headed south on A15.

I explored a possible approach to The Magistrate VK2/NT006, via Rockdale Road, which looked to be a potential approach route. It was not to be: I reached a locked gate with a sign “Private Property No trespassers”. So I aborted this attempt. Alternate approaches would require a significant detour. Unfortunately, no information has been added by previous activators to the summit page. I did not really go search for information, rather simply looked at some maps. The NSW National Parks website has little useful information on the Park.

Back on the main road, I headed south through Glen Innes to Grahams Valley Road and Maybole Road to the junction with Whites Road. From Whites Road, there were clearly tracks up to the target summit, but without any obvious entrance.

Mount Rumbee VK2/NT-005 1503 m 10 points

A short distance east of the Maybole Road Whites Road junction, there is an entrance into a farm – “Koala”. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I drove quietly up the drive to near the farm house at base of the summit. Exiting the vehicle, I heard sounds from sheds, so walked over. I found activity – several people were shearing. I introduced myself and explained my mission. The lady said that my request sounded reasonable and sought out her son. I explained my request briefly and he offered to show me the way to the summit.

The summit itself has an area of Crown land, but is surrounded by the farm apart from a possible public access route which shows up on the NSW SIX maps. There is a comms installation on the summit and another on the lower hilltop just to the north. The family are concerned that additional comms sites are not established.

I was guided through the various gates and had the final approach route outlined. I was able to drive to the top of the hill.

OnMt Rumbee

On Mt Rumbee

I set up at the trig. Tony VK3CAT was first in the log. Within 11 minutes, I had 14 in the log. With no further responses, I switched off and headed back down the hill after packing up. This time I had to open and close the various gates – not a difficult task. I called in to the shearing shed again to thank the farmer for permitting access and informing them that I was heading out.

Back on Maybole Road, I headed to the hamlet of Ben Lomond, and on to Inn Road.

Ben Lomond VK2/NT-004 1512 m 10 points

I approached the summit using the same route as Ian VK1DI, reaching a locked gate within the AZ. I also set up using the fence to support the squidpole. First in the log were Helen VK7FOLK/p and Jon VK7JON/p in VKFF-1139. I had 17 callsigns in the log within 21 minutes, but was unable to complete a contact with Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-004. Thanks to Bill VK4FW, we coordinated a QSY to 80 m where I completed contacts with both Bill and Gerard. I switched back to 40 m to work friend Sergio VK3SFG and then packed up in developing gloom – the sun was below the horizon. This was a new Unique and another Complete for me.

ViewWBenLomond

Looking to the east. Mt Ben Lomond in shadow on the right.

I returned to Inn Road and Ben Lomond, then drove west and south to Narrabri, arriving a little before 2100. I indulged in a meal at a Chinese restaurant and then sought somewhere to sleep for the night. I ended up driving up into Mount Kaputar National Park to set up camp quite late.

Tuesday 25 April – ANZAC Day

Mt Coryah VK2/NW-004 1409 m 8 points
Mt Kaputar National Park VKFF-0353

I had camped in the Coryah Gap car park – perhaps not permitted, as it is not an official campsite. I packed up the camp and started the climb up the well-marked track. It took me 60 minutes for the climb.

First in the log was Rod VK2ZRD in Ulladulla. In just over 30 minutes, I worked 15 stations on 40 m. I switched to 20 m CW and attempted to contact JP1QEC on JA/YN-081. The contact was not completed – signals were marginal both ways. I spent a few minutes calling on 20 m ssb with no responses, then 30 m yielded another 2 stations. I moved back to 40 m, working several more stations, bringing the total to 26 for the activation. So another Unique and Complete in the bag.

I decided to continue the circuit walk, taking 40 minutes for the descent via longer route.

Once back at the vehicle, I descended to Narrabri to grab some brunch after taking a short detour to avoid the ANZAC commemorations outside the local RSL. I decided to head to the Australia Telescope Compact Array radio telescope (Paul Wild Observatory) for a quick look.

RadioTelescope

3 of the dishes at the Australia Telescope Compact Array

I then decided to head further west to Pilliga, given that it was only about 50 km away. Whilst researching the trip, I had noted that there were several abutting Parks north of Coonabarabran, with only a couple having been activated for WWFF.

Pilliga West National Park VKFF-0604

Logsearch reports one previous activation for this VKFF reference, with 11 contacts made. I headed into the Park via Yathella Road and found a spot on the southern side of the road. I threw a line over a tree branch to haul up the dipole centre and strung out the dipole. Just as I was finishing rigging the antenna, it started to rain, so I connected the antenna to the IC-7000 in the car.

First in the log was Bob operating VK5WOW/p in Para Wirra Conservation Park VKFF-1739. Calls came quickly – much faster than in the morning. Park to Park contacts included VK5FMAZ/p and VK5PAS/p in VKFF-1752, VK2IO/p in VKFF-0196 and AX3ANL/p in VKFF-0773. I ended up 52 calls in the log in under an hour.

I packed up and headed back to the bitumen, then down the road to find an easy access into the Park to the east.

Pilliga West State (Coordinated) Conservation Area VKFF-1373 Not previously activated

I headed into the Park via Vale Road and found a side track junction that allowed me to be off the main track. I again threw a line over a tree branch to haul up the dipole centre and strung out the dipole, connecting to the IC-7000.

First in the log was Nick AX3ANL/p in VKFF-0773, followed by Marija AX5FMAZ/p and Paul AX5PAS/p in VKFF-1752. Other notable contacts included Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/MN-047 in VKFF-0196 and Dave VK2ZK/p in VKFF-0041. In 1 hour and 13 minutes, I had 52 calls in the log.

I retraced my route to Pilliga, then SSE to Baradine and north and east into Timmallallie National Park.

Timmallallie National Park VKFF-0609

By time I found my way into the Park and set up, it was getting late. I set up in fading light. Fist in the log were Paul AX5PAS/p and Marija AX5FMAZ/pin VKFF-1752 on 40 m. In ess than 20 minutes I had 12 contacts in the log. I then changed to 80 m and ended up with a total of 41 contacts in the log.

I packed up in the dark and then returned to Barradine and headed south to Coonabaraban and booked into a motel for the night – the afternoon had been wet and I decided against camping.

It rained overnight and in morning, but the weather radar showed it looks as if it would clear. I posted an Alert for 0001 Z.

Wednesday 26 April

After grabbing some food at the local bakery, I headed out to Warrumbungle National Park. I dropped into Visitor Centre to pay the entrance fees and headed around to Split Rock car park / picnic area. I loaded up and started the Split Rock Circuit in the recommended direction. I forgot to turn on my GPS until I was a little up the fire trail… The Parks team have been working on the track, but it was still slippery in places, with almost 7 mm of rain overnight. Finally make around to the start of summit climb. It was very steep in places!

Belougery Split Rock VK2/CW-017 749 m 4 points
Warrumbungle National Park VKFF-0520

I loaded up and started the Split Rock Circuit in the recommended direction. I forgot to turn on my GPS until I was a little up the fire trail… The Parks team have been working on the track, but it was still slippery in places, with almost 7 mm of rain overnight. Finally make around to the start of summit climb. It was very steep in places!

Once I had climbed up enough to have mobile coverage, I updated the Alert for later, as the climb was taking longer than my initial guess.

I climbed to the summit cairn for some photos. The breeze was stiff, so I descended to a spot out of the wind but still in the AZ. I started calling on 7.090. Got 10 in the log, and then switched to 20 m, finding significant noise on 14.310, so I moved up to 14.320. Here I worked Andrew ZL3CC and John ZL1BYZ. With no answers to further calls, it was time to pack up and descend carefully back to the Circuit Track. Another Unique and Complete in the log.

View toSE

Looking SE towards the Breadknife and Needle Mountain

I decided to complete the circuit, which involved more ups and downs. I finally arrived back at the vehicle feeling a little tired. After loading the gear, I headed back towards Coonabarabran, then up to Siding Springs Observatory.

At the Observatory, I checked out the Café and looked in the door of the visitor centre, but decided against a detailed inspection. I then had a quick visit to the Anglo Australian Telescope.

Mount Woorut VK2/CW-003 1155 m 6 points

I set up on the top picnic table, with the sky looking rather threatening. The wind was significantly stronger. On switching on, I heard Gerard VK2IO/p in Myall Lakes National Park on Winns Mountain VK2/MN-067 working Rick VK4RF. They were discussing going to CW. I called in and quickly worked Gerard before dropping down to 7.085 to call CQ. Steve VK7CW called in – not strong but we completed the contact. Steve posted a spot for me and callers started to appear. So did a brief shower with hail. I got 10 in the log before the hail really hit, when I quickly packed up and headed down the road to Coonabarabran.

I had been looking at the maps for access to a 6-point summit which had not yet been activated.

Needle Mountain VK2/CW-036 1168 m 6 points NYA

Access looked possible via Cenns Cruaich Road off the Newell Highway. The road is initially unsealed. About 6.5 km along, I found out why it has not yet been activated: a gate with a large sign: Private Property. Gate to remain locked. Access only by Authorised Key Holders. I did not even bother to try to ask at the house nearby for permission, given the sign. I headed back out to the highway and then south to Dubbo and then on to Orange for the night.

Thursday 27 April 2017

After grabbing some food at a Bakery, I headed out of town to the SW.

Mount Canobolas VK2/CT-001 1397 m 8 points
Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area VKFF-1353

I encountered a couple of sections of road works which slowed the approach, but safely arrived at the car park at the summit. It was cold – only 0 degrees, with a breeze making the apparent temperature lower. I set up using one of the sign supports to hold the squid pole, only metres from the trig. As I was setting up, I visitor arrived and was interested in what I was doing. I explained as I finished setting up and he listened to the first few contacts. First in the log was Rick VK4RF, followed by Steve VK7CW and Nev VK5WG. With 11 contacts in the log, I had no further callers, so reconfigured the antenna for 20 m, working only John ZL1BYZ despite calling for nearly 10 minutes. I switched back to 40 m for only 2 more contacts. I was getting cold and a bus load of tourists had arrived. I explained what was going on to some of them and then the squid pole de-telescoped: a sign to pack up and go with 14 in the log. Another Unique and Complete.

OperatingMt Canobolas

Operating on Mt Canobolas

I drove back to Orange via the alternate route, thus avoiding the road work areas, then passed through town and out to the north east.

Mount Bulga VK2/CT-031 1060 m 6 points

The approach to Mount Bulga is relatively straight forward, but the track to the summit is 4WD with a steep gutter at the start. I was able to drive a few hundred metres up the track until I came across a tree half down across the track, but low enough to question if I had clearance. I parked, loaded up and climbed into the AZ. I had been listening to Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-094 in VKFF-0375 calling on the approach and decided not to make the final climb to the actual summit in favour of a S2S contact.

Gerard was first in the log, followed by Steve VK7CW. I ended up with 13 in the log before deciding to pack up and head back down. Cliff VK2NP was lucky last – I was about to disconnect the antenna when he called.

Another Unique and Complete.

I drove back to the edge of Orange and then headed south to Blayney and on to Carcoar.

Mount Macquarie VK2/CT-011 1205 m 8 points

There are a couple of traps if approaching from near Carcoar: the first is that Mount Macquarie Road cannot be entered from the main road – you must enter into Carcoar and then drive under the main road. The second is that the first obvious track leads to a very steep track to the summit, which was very slippery after the overnight rain. I decided to explore further around and found a logging road with reasonable surface from on the south side of the summit. There were some ruts and wash outs, but all could be negotiated with care in a 2WD vehicle. You can drive to the summit, with a large and a smaller tower. As I approached, I could hear the noise level rise on the rig in the car. I drove around the main tower, noting the mess left by the logging of the pine trees. I drove about 150 m back down the access road and set up on the side of the road, about 10 m vertical below the summit. Once set up, I posted a Spot.

Col VK3LED was the first to call. After about 10 minutes calling, I had 6 in the log and no replies to further calls. I reconfigured for 20 m and called for at least 10 minutes with no responses. After going back to 40 m, I worked another 7 calls.

Another Unique and Complete.

After packing up, I head back to the main road and headed SW to Cowra and Grenfell. I had explored the maps and Google Earth for possible approaches to VK2/CW-048. An approach looked feasible off Grimms Lane, first going through the State Forest. That worked OK – a gate to pass through with no signs or lock. But the gate at the National Park boundary had a heavy chain with a large lock. Summit was therefore aborted. There is little information on the NP website about the Park. There is access from the east into the Park – perhaps next time!

I headed east and south, making my way to Temora, Wagga Wagga and south to Wodonga to spend three nights catching up with family.

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A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: some SOTA and Park activity in SE VK4

Friday 21 April

I left Gatton and allowed the car navigation system to lead me to my first activation for the day. I used the simplest option of the “Town Centre” and entered a locality name I had seen when looking at my digital mapping the evening before. It wanted to take me on a narrow “Dry Weather Only” track, so I headed back a short distance and north about a kilometre to reach a sealed main road.

Mount Perserverance VK4/SE-024 805 m 6 points Not previously activated

The GPS system recalculated the route and had me coming in to the west of the summit, but then wanted me to go further west, so I cancelled the route and checked my mapping application on the laptop. A quick U turn and backtrack about 200 m took me to a linking road to get back on National Park Road, Palmtree School Road and then Perseverance Trig Street. As I approached the summit, the road condition slightly deteriorated as I passed a couple of signs for Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427. My earlier investigations suggested that it might be possible to be in both the National Park and the summit AZ.

The simple approach to the summit is from Esk Hampton Road (Highway 85): Take Shearer Road and National Park Road to Palmtree, and on Palmtree School Road and then Perseverance Trig Street. When you see the steep rutted track, swing right onto the newer track, which joins Diamond Road east of the summit. Turn left to follow the sign up to the comms facilities at the summit.

I came to a junction of the old road and a new track which ran around the south side of the summit. The direct approach on the old road was steep, rocky and rutted, so I thought I would look at the southern track. When I got almost around to the east side of the summit, there was a truck half blocking the track. It had a load of sawn timber on the back, but I managed to sneak around the front of the truck, the rear of which was well off the road. Once past the truck, I saw a sign pointing up to summit – an easy approach.

I set up on the northern edge of the cleared area, hoping that it might just be inside the National Park. When I was making contacts, I mentioned that it may be a Park activation, but would need to confirm my location in relation to the Park boundary on my return home. Checking the CAPAD outlines in ArcGIS Explorer, the boundary is a short distance further north, so this was not a valid Park activation. Sorry folks!

Geoff VK3SQ was first in the log on 7.090. I worked 11 stations on 40 m and then switched to 20 m after having no replies to a few CQ calls. I worked a further 7 stations before calls dried up and I shut down and packed up. I retraced my route back to National Park Road and along to Shearer Road and out to the bitumen of Esk Hampton Road/Highway 85. I then followed the vehicle GPS to next possible target – Mt Sevastopol VK4/SE-058. All was fine until Sebastapool Road, where I found a locked large gate, so the summit was aborted.

I entered the overnight destination into the navigation system, which directed me north and east to Toogoolawah, for a stop to grab a late lunch. The route then took me through Mount Beppo, Caboonbah and Bryden to route 31: Northbrook Parkway. This is a scenic and twisting climb up into D’Aguilar National Park. The road takes you through the AZ of Tennison Woods Mountain. D’Aguilar NP

Tennison Woods Mountain VK4/SE-117 770 m 6 points
D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129

Although I was expecting the track junction, I missed it near the top of the climb, so I needed to pull over at the next road junction and turn around. Traffic and the angle of approach were awkward, so I headed back over the top until I found a spot to again turn around. This time I was able to pull up and reverse in to the start of the track to the summit. I grabbed the gear and set up close to the locked gate to the summit: the track junction with the main road is inside the AZ.

I switched on a called on 7.090, with Gerard VK2IO first in the log. I ended up with 21 calls in the log from 40 m. Much of the activation was completed under a large umbrella, with heavy rain at times. I then packed up and headed around to the home of Kevin VK4UH, who had offered to host me for the weekend. Yet another Unique and Complete in the log.

Saturday 22 April

Redfest & Q-Tech

Kevin and I travelled separately to the event, with me arriving about 30 minutes later than Kevin, but still early. Traders at the Redfest hamfest were still setting up. I had a quick look around and managed to score some goodies: 2 x Omni Spectra 8-18 GHz power dividers, a 6 position SMA relay and a 800 – 2500 MHz 30 dB coupler, all for the grand total of $1.

The conference sessions were due to start at 1000, so I took my USB memory across to the venue at 0945. Minor issue – the computer refused to recognise the device. So I made a quick trip back to the car to get the portable hard drive, with its original copy of the file. Thankfully, that file worked.

The Conference session were an interesting and informative mix of topics:
ARISS School Program by Shane Lynd VK4KHZ;
Portable operating, Summits On The Air (SOTA) and Parks Award Programs by me;
Amateur Satellite Operation by David Hopkins VK4ZF;
Meteor Scatter by Kevin Johnston VK4UH;
EMR compliance and your Amateur Station by Doug Hunter VK4ADC.

It all went well. I returned to Kevin’s home.

Sunday 23 April

3 summits in D’Aguilar NP

I departed Yugar before 0800 and drove through Dayboro and up Laceys Creek road to the top of the range. I parked close to the locked gate and loaded up.

South of Mt Sim Jue VK4/SE-045 659 m 4 points
D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129

The climb of 2.8 km with a climb of about 220 m took me 55 minutes. I chose not to walk around to the summit itself but set up just north of the junction with the road to Mount Sim Jue, within 10 m vertical of the summit. Gerard VK2IO/p on Mount Elliott VK2/HU-093 was first in the log. Other notable contacts included Andrew VK1AD/2 on Bobbara Mountain VK2/ST-044, Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-1552, Ian VK5CZ/p on VK5/SE-010 (15 m CW), John VK5BJE/3 in Snowy River NP VKFF-04555, Tony VK3CAT/p and Allen VK3ARH/p, both on Big Hill VK3/VE-059 (40 m CW), Wade VK1FWBD/2 on VK2/IL-005 and Grant VK4JAZ/p in VKFF-0179.

I packed up at around 0235Z, with a second group of motor bike riders disturbing the peace as they roared up the road – it is apparently common for motor bikes to find ways around the locked gates!

The return trip to the vehicle was much faster. I then headed north along the ridge line to the next summit.

Kluvers Lookout VK4/SE-039 683 m 4 points
D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129

Range Road travels largely along the top of the ridge line and takes you past the summit. There is a comms site with an impressive array of solar panels on the summit. I set up at the edge of the car park.

Wade VK1FWBD/2 on VK2/IL-005 was first in the log. I then worked John VK5BJE/3 in Lake Tyers State Park VKFF-0761. 3 more in the log then I paused to explain what I was doing to a couple that had arrived. I then worked Paul VK5PAS operating VK5WOW/p in Cooltong Conservation Park VKFF-0823. A quick CQ call yielded no responses, so I packed up and headed north. Yet another Unique and Complete in the log.

North of Mt Byron VK4/SE-043 662 m 4 points
D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129

I continued north along Range Road, then west along Sellin Road and into the Mount Mee section of the Park. Follow Lovedays Road, K Break, Army Road to Escarpment Link Break and south onto Western Escarpment Road. The summit is just north of Somerset Lookout.

Dennis VK4SX was first in the log, followed by Kevin VK4UH. Notable contacts included David VK5HYZ/p in Scott Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0788, Tony VK3CAT/p on Mt McKay VK3/VE-007, Marija VK5FMAZ/p and Paul VK5PAS as VK5WOW/p both in Coolton Conservation Park VKFF-0823, Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-0701 and John VK5BJE/3 in Lake Tyers State Park VKFF-0761.

ViewFrNearSE-043

Looking SW from close to VK4/SE-043

I again packed up and headed back to Yugar, with yet another Unique and Complete in the log. The total number of callsigns in the log from the four activations should comfortably qualify the Park for WWFF.

ViewOfDAguilarRange

Looking west to the D’Aguilar Range on the trip back to Yugar

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A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: Heading north

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Having seen a message to one of the Groups several days ago, I emailed John VK5BJE suggesting that we might meet up on his travels east to Lakes Entrance. On the day, I met John VK5BJE & wife Judy in Traralgon for coffee and a chat. Of course, the caht continued for longer than it should have. I finally left Traralgon at about 1230 K and head east to Cann R and then north on the Monaro Highway to Bondi Forest Way. I made my way around Cairnlea Road and Mount Tennyson Road.

Mt Tennyson VK2/SM-087 1056 m 6 points

Mount Tennyson Road heads south and east around the edge of a pine plantation and climbs up to a high point on a ridge. I failed to record the name of the track at the junction – simply turn right and climb the track along the ridge to the summit, which has some comms installations.

I set up using a tree to support the squid pole and started calling on 7.090 MHz. Col VK3LED answered my calls and kindly posted a Spot. At about 0708Z, I heard Bill VK4FW call me, but he did not respond to my calls to him: sorry Bill. I ended up with 13 contacts in the log, including 3 ZL stations. I changed bands to 20 m for about 10 minutes of calling, yielding only one contact with Hans VK6XN/p in Ngari Capes Marine Park VKFF-1450 for a new Park.

The activation was a new Unique and Complete for me.

I then packed up and headed north, reaching my destination in Nimmitabel at a reasonable hour.

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Departing Nimmitabel at around 0800 local, I drove north through Cooma, Canberra and then on to Boorawa, Cowra, Canowindra, Molong, Cumnnock, Yeoval, Obley and along Gundong Road to the eastern edge of Goobang National Park. It was then south along Keen Trail and Wandoo Wandong Trail to Caloma Trig.

Caloma Trig VK2/CW-050 774 m 4 points
Goobang National Park VKFF-0204

I set up about 170 m north of the trig, but still inside the AZ: the trig itself is located in a reserve which is not part of the National Park! I spotted myself on 7.090 MHz a few minutes after 0500Z. First in the log was John ZL1BYZ, followed by Gerard VK2IO and Andrew VK2MWP. The fun continued until I decided at around 0600Z to try 20 m, when calls eased off on 40 m. 20 minutes of calling was rewarded with only one contact: Tadashi JA1VRY. The contact was tough, with lots of QSB.

I returned to 40 m, initially on 7.088 and then 7.085. Last in the log was Rob VK2QR in Talbingo.

48 contacts in the log over 1 hour 35 minutes: A new Unique, Complete plus the Park qualified for WWFF.

CalomaTrig

The Trig station at Caloma Trig – in poor repair

I retraced my route back to Gundong Road and headed North West to reach the Newell Highway A39, and then north to Coonabaraban to grab some food. I headed north on A39 to Number One Break Road, then east to Top Crossing Road to head south to Dandry Gorge Road to Sculptures in the Scrub camp area in Timmallallie National Park for the night.

Timmallallie National Park VKFF-0609 Not previously activated

I quickly set up the tent and an antenna. However, time was late and I had no mobile coverage, so could not spot myself. I searched around on both 40 m and 80 m, but had no luck with Calls. I did manage to work 10 stations on Thursday morning, all on 80 m. Time was getting on – it was after 2120Z and I wanted to head north to be on a new Summit at around UTC rollover. I packed up and headed back to the Newell Highway.

Thursday 20 April

The drive to Narrabri was uneventful. I headed out of town following the large brown sign for Mount Kaputar National Park. Be careful, the small sign at the correct intersection (Kaputar Corner) is NOT in the typical brown used for tourist signs! Head along Kaputar Road, enter the Park and climb up to Mount Kaputar car park.

Mount Kaputar VK2/NW-001 1500 m 10 points
Mount Kaputar National Park VKFF-0353

The final climb to the car park is sign posted as 4WD recommended. It was a little rough in places…. I parked in the top of the car park, well and truly inside the AZ, loaded up the gear and climbed the stairs and boardwalk to the summit marker. I took some photos on the summit and then climbed part way down the approach to set up using the guard railing to support the squid pole and antenna ends, sitting on the top of a short section of steps for the activation.

KaputarView

Looking west from Mt Kaputar summit

I spotted myself and started calling at 0013Z, with Rick VK4RF first in the log. I had 14 calls in the log by 0027Z. I changed the antenna configuration to 20 m and worked John ZL1BYZ and John VK6NU. After another 10 minutes of calling, plus explaining what I was doing to a couple of tourists, I switched to 15 m and was rewarded with Nigel VK6NI and Neil VK8ZCU.

I packed up, happy with the 18 contacts. I was about to head off back down the road when I heard RRT announce a new activation. I checked to find that it was a nearby summit, also in the same Park. I could barely hear the calls being made using the mobile whip in the car, so quickly strung out the SOTA antenna away from the car and set up the SOTA station. This time I could just hear Brett VK2BNN/p on Mount Yulludunida VK2/NW-020 at 0129Z – we exchanged 51 reports. I improved the antenna height and made a repeat contact at 0135Z, this time with 58 reports both ways. I then heard John VK2YW calling Brett and waited to work John. That brought another contact: Julie VK3FOWL/p, but with a weak signal received by Julie. A total of 20 contacts were in the log for the summit and Park. Yet another Unique and Complete for SOTA, plus a new Park for VKFF, but needing more contacts for WWFF.

I then headed back to Narrabri before heading north on the Newell Highway to Moree, Goondiwindi and on to Toowoomba. Finally in VK4, I ended up in a Gatton motel for the night.

The story will continue in the next entry.

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