My first SOTA activation: Mt Ida VK3/VU-009 (plus 4 National Parks)

This is rather late, but I thought that I would start going back to my first SOTA activation, way back in May 2012.

I was planning to attend the 2012 WIA Annual Conference and AGM in Mildura and had plenty of time for other activities either side of the activities in Mildura. In November 2011 I became interested in the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) offered by Amateur Radio Victoria. During the November 2011 Activity Weekend, I activated 3 National Parks and had worked several parks. A drive to Mildura & back would allow for the activation of several National Parks.

After spending the Wednesday night in Sunbury with friends, I set off to Heathcote and found the start of the access road to Mount Ida VK3/VU-009. Whilst the summit is only worth 1 point, it was a start that also activated the Heathcote-Graytown National Park.

Mount Ida VK3/VU-009 in Heathcote-Graytown National Park


The sign at the start of the track.

It is easy to miss the corner & sign, as they are at the end of a cutting and guard rail after climbing out of Heathcote.

The access road is unsealed gravel, with some washouts and a ford across a normally dry creek bed. At the base of the final climb to the summit, you reach a locked gate, with a car parking area and viewing point at about 420 m ASL. The summit is 450 m ASL, so the car park area is just outside the activation zone. The climb is moderately steep but easily ascended. Once on the summit I started to set up the station using the trig point to support the squid pole and realised that I had left the coax in the car. Doh!


View of the operating site, with the pole lashed to the trig.

A minor issue was noticed after I had spotted myself to SOTAwatch using SMS – I had not connect the coax. I quickly found that stations were on the frequency, including a VK3MIC in Morwell who I knew. Allen VK3HRA was chatting with them that I may be coming up. I joined the group. Mike VK3MIC and Harry VK2GMH allowed me to have the frequency and I worked a total of 9 stations in just under 40 minutes.






The view south toward Heathcote from Mt Ida.

When back at the car, I managed to work David VK3GP/m, who was having a lunch break whilst inside the Little Desert National Park.

It was then back to Heathcote for a late lunch and to fuel the car before heading to Bendigo via Axedale. Just past the trotting track and brickworks, I turned left into the One Tree Hill section of the Greater Bendigo National Park.

Greater Bendigo National Park


Sign near the road in Bendigo.

I drove in a few hundred metres & set up the squidpole, which I hooked up to the IC-7000 in the car. In less than 30 minutes I had several stations in the log.

After driving across Bendigo, it was a drive north to Mitiamo and into the Terrick Terrick National Park.




Terrick Terrick National Park


Sign at the southern end of Terrick Terrick National Park.

I drove around to the parking area near Mt Terrick Terrick and again set up the squid pole & link dipole. I promptly worked several stations. After packing up, it was time to drive north to Cohuna and into the Gunbower National Park.

I stopped briefly in Cohuna to buy some insect repellant and to then check the map prior to heading into the Gunbower National Park.

Gunbower National Park


Sign at entrance to Gunbower National Park.

The weather was looking threatening – it started spotting rain and it was dusk. Once set up, I called for about 15 minutes with no responses and lots of static crashes from the approaching thunderstorm. I scanned around 40 m and managed to find one station to make a contact and to thus activate the park. I was then a quick pack up in the dark and onto the road towards Kerang and Swan Hill for a late meal. I ended up driving on to Robinvale to spend the night before driving on to Mildura on Friday.

The story continues on after the WIA Annual Conference here.

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