SOTA over the Australia Day weekend 2014

After having had a great weekend together back in early November 2013, Rod VK2TWR was keen to have another bout of joint SOTA activations. So the plans were plotted and finally came to fruition.

I headed off from Churchill on Friday afternoon and headed to Cann River and then north to Nimmitabel, arriving for a late dinner (many thanks, Judy!).

After dinner, Rod and I discussed possible targets for Saturday. We decided to head out to the area north of Lake Eucumbene, via Adaminaby.

After an early start, we stopped for some delights at the Adaminaby Bakery, then headed on to Tantangara Road. We headed north along Tantangara Road to the first major saddle. I had carefully examined the Google Earth images and had spotted a track heading in from near the saddle to the power line, and then north along the power line.

VK2/SM-036  1612 m  10 points  Not previously activated

Rod VK2TWR on VK2/SM-036

Rod VK2TWR operating on VK2/SM-036

From just north of the crest of the saddle, we spotted the track off the road and carefully headed along the track and then north along the power line. The plan was to drive to the high point of the ridge and then climb to the summit AZ. Just before the ridge crest, there was a rough 4WD track heading toward the summit. We parked near here and climbed up the rough track and onto the summit ridge. It looked like the high point and was definitely inside the AZ, so we set up using a fallen tree to support the squid pole. Later analysis showed that we were about 150 m S of the summit, but well inside the AZ.

Track down from VK2/SM-036

Track down from VK2/SM-036

We shared the one set of gear for the activations over the weekend, saving a little weight carried to the summits.

The first contact in the log was Phill VK2FPJR/p on VK2/IL-006 at 2249Z for a S2S – a great start! After 55 contacts in my log, including a total of 6 S2S contacts (not counting Rod’s log), we decided to head down. The track will give others an idea of the easy access route. Back at the car, we headed north. Along the way we looked at possible access to VK2/SM-033 Blackfellows Hill. We continued on to the junction with Tantangara Fire Trail, a logical starting point for our next summit.

Mount Nungar VK2/SM-027  1710 m  10 points  Not previously activated

We drove a little further on, into the corner in the gully north of the junction, then back tracked and parked at the road/track junction before loading up for the approx. 365 m climb. We simply climbed up the side of the slope, staying out of the gully. Well up near to top, we made a small detour to a shoulder to enjoy the view north, then climbed up to the summit cairn. Under the trig we spotted a poly pipe canister with one end broken off, with a log book inside. The last group through had been an Outward Bound group a couple of weeks earlier (IIRC).

Rod operating on the summit of Mt Nungar

Rod operating on the summit of Mt Nungar

We set up using the trig to support the squid pole. First in my log was another S2S, this time with Nick VK3ANL/p on VK3/VN-024, followed by Peter VK3ZPF/p on VK3/VT-078. I made another 7 contacts before we both headed down – of course, Rod also qualified the summit.

The descent was again a follow my nose navigation job, with us hitting the road about 60 m from the car – not bad, without reference to GPS or map & compass. All 3 tools were available, simply not used.

Once back at the car, we both had some more to eat and a good drink whilst we discussed further options for the day. We decided to hit an easy one close to Crackenback, not far from Thredbo. A short detour, but one could drive almost to the summit. Of course, we parked outside the AZ and walked up the final 30 m vertical to the summit.

VK2/SM-053  1459 m  8 points

When heading toward Thredbo from Jindabyne, watch out for the signs to the distillery – Wollondibby Road. Turn into Wollondibby Road and head on up to the high point, then right into fire trail / new road. There is development occurring in this area, with a new road as an estate is being prepared for sale. We parked outside the AZ and walked up to the high point – Rod had activated this summit earlier in the year.

First in the log was Peter VK3ZPF/p on VK3/VT-040 for a S2S, followed by Nick VK3ANL/p on VK3/VN-016. 19 contacts later, I decided to pack up and head back to the car, then back to Rod’s home QTH for the night. It had been a long day, especially after the climb in the heat up and down Mt Nungar.

After another terrific meal prepared by Judy, we discussed options prior to hitting the mattress.

Sunday morning was another early start, basically following the route of the previous morning: Cooma, then Adaminaby and on to on to Tantangara Road. Then north to Wares Yards Trail and on to the Yards area to park. From there, it was time to load up with the packs.

Blackfellows Hill VK2/SM-033  1620 m  10 points  Not previously activated



From Wares Yards, we picked up the walking/horse/MTB trail heading south to a saddle. In the saddle, the track swings to the west & then northwest and starts to climb to the north. We followed to trail up to the summit – easy walking as long as you pace yourself. The track becomes indistinct in places where trees have fallen across the track, but it is easy to pick it up again once around the obstacles.

We set up very close to the summit. First in the log was Greg VK2FGJW/p on VK1/AC-008 for a S2S. Within the next few minutes, I had another 5 S2S contacts in the log. I worked some more stations for a total of 16 contacts. Rod also qualified the summit before we headed back to the car for lunch.

After discussing options for the rest of the day, we decided to head around to Kiandra and then north along Long Plain Road. Along the way, we looked at possible access into VK2/SM-037. The route options looked steep and considerable walking – we decided to leave it for another day. Rod was keen to look at a possible approach to a summit further north, so we headed that way. We arrived at a track junction with MVO signs in the desired direction, paused and then back tracked to head into Cooinbil Hut. After parking the car in a spot between the many horse rider camps, we loaded up and started to climb.

Skains Mountain VK2/SM-038  1601 m  10 points

Route to Skains

Approx route up Skains Mountain

Rod had activated this summit on New Year’s Day, IIRC. We climbed up a vague spur from where we parked until we picked up a brumby track, then followed it into a saddle and then on up toward the actual summit.

We set up using a fallen tree and the first contact was another S2S, this time with Nigel VK5NIG/p on VK5/SE-013, followed by Tony VK3CAT/p on VK3/VN-003. Ron AX3AFW/p was another S2S contact amongst the 17 contacts made from the summit.

It was then simply a case of navigating down the hill and picking a spot to stop following the brumby tracks to get back to the car. We ended up emerging from the trees about 150 m west of where we parked – again not bad without resorting to either GPS or maps.

Once back at the car, it was simply a case of heading back to Nimmitabel for the night.

On Monday morning, we headed south to Bombala in separate cars. Rod parked just south of town and jumped in with me. We then headed to Delegate and on to Mount Delegate.

Mount Delegate VK3/VG-034  1308 m  8 points

My first contact from Mount Delegate was Greg VK2FGJW/1 on VK1/AC-023 for another S2S. Another 30 odd contacts were made, including S2S with VK3MRG/p, VK1DI/p and a post UTC rollover contact with Greg VK2FGJW/1. Whilst on the summit we chatted with the fire spotter up the tower, and with a couple of carloads of people in 4WD vehicles.

We then headed back down to Delegate for lunch and then made our way around toward Iron Doon Range. Access to here was a little tricky via a bit of a maze of tracks through the pine forests.

Iron Doon Range VK2/SM-089  1025 m  8 points Not previously activated

En route, we had a few challenges, but eventually found our way into the AZ of Iron Doon Range. We set up and started operating at 0217Z with a contact with Andrew VK3ARR. I made around 9 contacts & Rod also qualified the summit. There was a S2S with Marshall VK3MRG/p on VK3/VC-009.

We then headed back out and made our way back to Bombala. I dropped Rod at his car, expressed my thanks for his hospitality and companionship, and then headed south to Cann River.

West of Cann River, I kept an eye out for Dinah Divide Track…..

Dinah Divide Range VK3/VG-139  506 m  2 points Not previously activated

From the Princes Highway, head up Dinah Divide Track and pass the telecoms installation at a high point. Drop down into the saddle to the south, and park at the junction with Jack Two Track. This track is steep and has heavy regrowth across the track. A large 4WD might tackle it, but I decided to walk. I walked up into the AZ, only about 30 m or so from the actual summit (it is fairly flat on top) and set up beside the track.

First contact was with John VK3YW in Wagga Wagga. I worked 14 more stations before the pile up disappeared, then packed up and headed back to the car.

It was then back to the highway and head west toward home. I stopped off in Bairnsdale to chat with Rob VK3EK for a few minutes and finally got home at around 2000 local.

Overall, a fun weekend of SOTA activity.

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3 Responses to SOTA over the Australia Day weekend 2014

  1. Hi Peter
    Thanks for posting this report. I must revisit Tantangara Road, I drove down the road to access Bimberi Peak AC-001. Of course at the time Al (1RX) and I didn’t have time to climb the summits mentioned in this post. Another SOTA summit nearby is Alpine Hill off the Snowy Mts Hwy.
    Excellent report Peter, the addition of maps and pictures is always good value.
    Andrew, VK1NAM

    • vk3pf says:

      Hi Andrew,
      There are plenty of peaks up in that area of the Snowys. We explored what appeared to be a possible access route into one, only to find the old track slowly getting worse & very overgrown well away for the target summit, so retraced our route back out to the bitumen.
      Alpine Hill was looked at – Rod has activated that one too. Mount Tantangara was discussed as we drove past it en route to Kiandra. Another summit Rod has activated. He thought that it would be possible to activate it on skis in winter, so it might be attempted during the bonus season.
      I will draw up roughly the track from memory to Skains Mountain and add it to the blog soon.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Pingback: SOTA Activation VK2/SM-053 unnamed | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

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