January 2 & 3 2015 were both days of Total Fire Bans in Victoria, with high winds and high temperatures combined with low humidity forecast. In between family tasks, I managed to chase a few activations.
Sunday was to be the day to return to home. I was underway just before 0900 local and headed down the Hume Highway. RRT alerted a VK2 activation, but even when stopped, I could barely hear the activator on 20 m. I kept moving and stopped at the Mokoan Rest Stop, and heard Adam VK2YK/p in conversation with Matt VK1MA on 10 MHz. Once they finished, I made contact to get the summit.
I continued to Benalla, then south toward Mansfield. At Lima South, I heard Ian VK1DI/p on 40 m & pulled over to make the contact. It was a 1-point summit, but each point adds up.
Soon I turned off the highway to start progress towards a potential summit. The mobile rang, resulting in a long conversation about SOTA, vehicles and tyres. 45 minutes later, I decided to abort the unannounced summit activation and to continue to Mansfield to grab some lunch. From there, it was on towards Bonny Doon, with a detour up Paps Road.
The Paps VK3/VE-204 706 m 4 points
Paps Road heads across a paddock – close the gates! The road starts directly opposite the sign pointing out the summit on the main road (Maroondah Highway), about 1 km west of Paps Lane. Then up through The Paps Scenic Reserve. I parked at the start of the final climb and walked up. I set up using the trig to support the squid pole. The activation resulted in 9 contacts on 40 m. I did not try any other bands & simply packed up and headed back down.
Once back on the bitumen, I headed to Bonny Doon, and then onto Maintongoon Road. Then I followed the signs for Alexandra, stopping at the top of the climb on Sonnberg Drive.
Proctor Hill VK3/VN-019 681 m 2 points
The road (Sonnberg Drive) travels through the activation zone. I continued to the road junction beyond the summit and parked, then walked down the hill to exit the AZ, then back up to the summit to set up beside the road.
This was another quick activation – 6 stations worked in less than 10 minutes. The spot had gone out, but I was receiving no responses to further calls, so I packed up and headed back to the car. I then drove to Alexandra via Maintongoon Road, Skyline Road and UT Creek Road, then back toward home.
It was a long and tiring drive to finish 2 weeks of SOTA fun and family. The wallet & plastic card statement will remind me of the repairs that were needed – fortunately not too extensive nor expensive.