Mount Hotham SOTA weekend: Sunday

Sunday 21 February

I was again woken by our early riser and got up and organised my breakfast and then lunch. Once again, there were several groups heading out in various directions.

I loaded my gear into Compton’s 4WD and we headed off towards the Mount Hotham Resort entrance station on the Harrietville side at Buckland Gap, then started up Gunns Track. The track was rough and steep, especially once beyond the first knoll. We crossed Mount Sugarloaf and continued around to the summit VK3/VE-030, following the “Helipad” sign.

We parked on the top of the hill and started setting up gear. Compton put up a Slim Jim of 2 m and a HF antenna, whilst I set up my 3.4 GHz transverter and dish. I tried listening for the VK3RGI beacon but could not hear anything. I called Ralph VK3WRE to find that he was on his way to Mount Tassie and that the beacon should be working. A little later, we tried making contact, but nothing was heard either way. The transverter had been sitting unused for a couple of years – I really should have checked that it was working before heading off on the trip.

On the summit of VK3/VE-030: Compton and gear.

On the summit of VK3/VE-030: Compton and microwave gear.

The pattern for contacts was largely similar to Saturday – lots of contacts on 2 m FM with the other groups out on summits. We could clearly see the nearby The Twins and could just make out the movement as Andrew and Adan were setting up. There was another group on Mount Murray, but being a little further away, we could not see anyone. We did manage to get the Mt Murray team to fetch the 23 cm gear from the vehicle and made S2S contacts with them on 23 cm FM. This was another Unique and a Complete for me. We eventually packed up and headed on to the next summit.

It was back to Gunns Track and then north and west on Paddy Hill Track around to VK3/VE-070. Compton quickly set up his dipole and Slim Jim. The summit was qualified using 2 m FM once again, but some 40 m SSB and a 2 m SSB contact were made. Again, this was another Unique and a Complete for me.

We packed up and headed back towards Gunns Track, but headed north on Link Track to reach Albion Track. We then headed out along Demon Ridge Track to look at VK3/VE-063, which has not yet been activated. When we arrived at the closest road approach, we could see why: the route involves significant descent plus ascent, with around 2 km to travel if you are a crow! Plus the scrub looked thick. Given that it was now well past midday local time and the temperature was rising to hot, we decided that this one could wait for another day. We retraced our route to Albion Track and worked our way around to the northern side of the summit of Albion Point to park the vehicle.

The track used to travel over the top of the summit, but the high point has been bypassed. We climbed up the hill into the AZ of Albion Point VK3/VE-080 and started calling on 2 m FM. First in the log was Allen VK3ARH/p on VK3/VE-024 for a S2S. Contacts were slow, so I went back to car to grab my pack to set up HF. As I was climbing back, Compton got his fourth callsign in the log and I was able to make contact as well – summit qualified. Again, this was another Unique and a Complete for me. We headed back down and continued north along Albion Track.

Whilst in transit, we heard the group over on the Knocker VK3/VG-016 come up on 40 m, so we stopped and made contact with them to chase the summit. We told them that we were on route to our next summit.

We travelled on and up Wet Gully Track to Ebenezer Range VK3/VE-081 to again set up on 40 m and 2 m. I quickly qualified the summit on 40 m SSB before passing the microphone to Compton. We had S2S contacts with Andrew and Adan on Mt Murray VK3/VE-025 on 2 m FM. We then had some frustration as they managed to work the team on The Knocker, but we could not hear the later team. By this stage, the HF station on The Knocker had been packed up, so we missed a S2S. Such is life. If attempting to access this summit, note that Homeward Bound Track and Cavalier Spur Track have been closed off.

We then packed up, retraced our route to the track junction with Cemetery Lane and descended to the Great Alpine Road, and travelled back to the lodge.

Back at the lodge it was time to clean up and to chase the team still out when they activated Mount Sam VK3/VG-049. We then loaded into vehicles and headed down to Dinner Plain for a meal. We had ordered before the late team arrived from Mount Sam – in fact, those that ordered entrée had already been served their starters! The food was excellent. We eventually paid up and returned to the lodge for further discussions over red wine before retiring for the night. It was a quieter evening, as some people had departed for home that afternoon.

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