New Year 2016

Like many SOTA Activators, it was an early start on New Year’s Day. I was on the road by 0700 EADT and travelled east to Corryong and almost to Khancoban, then up the Swampy Plains Creek Road.

I parked on the northern side of my target summit – Round Mountain.

Round Mountain 1 VK2/SM-022 1756 m 10 points
Kosciusko National Park VKFF-0269

I parked just before the road started to rise above the surrounding terrain – which dropped down into a grassy, boggy frost hollow. At the edge of the road, there was a wide area of grass. I loaded up with my gear and headed in around the western edge of the frost hollow until I found a gully which looked relatively grassy, less than 100 m from the road. I started climbing up the gully, with only occasional scrub to work my way through. The surrounding regrowth was several metres high and very thick – it would be a battle to climb through. As I gained height, the scrub height dropped. Eventually I popped out onto very low alpine scrub amongst lots of snow grass. It was then simply a matter of climbing up on to the summit flat area and walking across to the trig. The total approach climb took about 70 minutes. I chose the route after examining the satellite imagery available on Google Earth.

access route

My access route to Round Mountain

I was set up and started chasing other activators at 2324Z, catching Mitch VK7XDM/p on VK7/WC-013. A string of other activators followed, with a total of 13 S2S contacts made before rollover. Propagation was poor into VK3 – several activators were inaudible at my location.

The fun started again in the New Year (UTC), with another 13 S2S contacts. The best distance covered was to John VK6NU/p on Mt Randall. I spent some time listening for ZL and JA, but was unable to catch the stations.

Still, I was happy with the results: A new summit for me and a complete. I gave up just after midday, as the rain drops were becoming bigger and more frequent as thunderstorms began to build in intensity.


Looking south from Round Mountain – thunderstorm evident.

I followed my climbing route back down – only 35 minutes for the descent.

I then drove around to the agreed meeting spot and waited for about 20 minutes for Rod VK2TWR to arrive. With no sign of Rod, I then moved toward Cabramurra until I found a spot with mobile coverage and started reading emails. Rod arrived a little while later, and we set off to the next summit, with my car parked off the road.

Mount Black Jack VK2/SW-010 1604 m 10 points

After leaving my car safely parked, we headed off along Manjar Fire Trail to Black Jack Trail and on toward Mount Black Jack. We parked near the locked gate a walked up to the Fire Watcher Hut. As advised by Rob VK2QR, there were lots of small ants everywhere. The air was cool and moist – we were between thunderstorms.


Looking south to Round Mountain, with thunderstorms visible.

We quickly set up and worked Rob VK2QR/p and Brian VK3MCD/2, both on VK2/SM-036, on 144 MHz SSB. I worked Adam VK2YK/p on VK2/HU-024 on 40 m SSB, then Ian VK1BG on 2 m & 70 cm SSB


Rod operating on Mt Black Jack. Plenty of storm cells!

The ants were rampant, so we decided to descend toward the vehicle and set up again a little way down the hill. Three more S2S contacts were worked before we gave up as another thunderstorm was very close. The summit was qualified, another new one for me, now Complete.

We drove back to my car, and then worked our way across toward Cabramurra and then Kiandra via Kings Cross Road and Link Road. It was then on toward Adaminaby, but only as far as Tantangra Road. I again jumped in with Rod and we drove up to VK2/SM-036.

VK2/SM-036 unnamed summit 1612 m 10 points

Rod and I first activated this summit back in January 2014. We quickly set up the station and started calling. Stef VK5HSX/p in Coorong National Park was first in the log. I made 7 contacts in the quick activation, including Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-093. However, I paid the price – the March flies were vicious!

The thunderstorms were coming closer, so we packed up, headed back to my car, then drove back to Cooma to fuel up the vehicles before heading to Nimmitabel for the night.

A great day, despite missing lots of S2S opportunities due to timing and/or propagation.

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