Tuesday 20 September 2016
A few days earlier, I had an invitation to join Rik VK3EQ and Mitch VK3XDM on a proposed day visiting some Gippsland summits. It was my first opportunity to enjoy a day together with these two friends for quite some time, so I accepted.
I headed into Traralgon to meet Rik & Mitch beside the Highway. We then headed to Licola and on up the Licola-Jameson Road, parking near Conners Plain summit.
Connors Plain VK3/VT-022 1305 m 8 points
We set up on the summit plateau, using Mitch’s gear: a 40 m dipole and a 7 m squid pole. Before the HF gear was set up, I worked both Rik and Mitch from down the hill, outside the AZ. Phone coverage was marginal and 40 m propagation poor with no NVIS and some band noise. We found out later that a coronal hole was impacting the ionosphere. It took quite some time to gather the required 4 contacts to qualify the summit for each of the 3 operators. We preserved, although we could have stretched the rules, as among the 3 of us, we had 6 callsigns that could have been used.
The first HF contact was Gerard VK2io, followed by Paul VK5PAS and sometime later Nev VK3WG. Further calling yielded no responses. We tried both 80 m (using Rik’s KX3 plus tuner into the 40 m dipole) and 15 m without any calls. So I needed to work Mitch on 2 m FM after he had left the AZ to get my fourth contact. We were on the summit for almost an hour.
We headed back to South Road and then onto Mt Selma Road.
Mount Selma VK3/VT-013 1464 m 8 points
The road and track to Mt Selma were in reasonable condition after a couple of low-rain days with some wind to dry things out. There was plenty of evidence of the 4WDers with their mud tyres making a mess….
We set up a little way from the trig, not bothering to go the short distance along the narrow track. Gerard VK2IO was again first in the logs. We spent some time trying on 80 m to work Jim VK1AT/3 in a Park to our east. We could just hear him on 40 m SSB, but we could not here me. Nothing was heard on 80 m. I ended up with 7 callsigns in the log, without having to work Rik or Mitch.
We packed up and headed back to South Road and on to the next summit.
Mount Useful VK3/VT-016 1434 m 8 points
We passed the spot where my Forester died last year and on to Mt Useful. We set up near the southern end of the summit clearing, to give some space between us and the gear on the summit. Paul VK5PAS was first in the log, followed 4 minutes later by Gerard VK2IO, then Eric VK7EK a few minutes later. Conditions on 40 m had deteriorated – it was hard work with few replies.
I called on the local Latrobe Valley 2 m FM chat frequency to work Michael VK3ALZ/m. Mitch was still calling on 40 m with no replies. I packed my gear and headed down the access track in case Mitch or Rik needed a final contact to qualify the summit. Our chatting on 146.5 MHz stirred up another local, Brian VK3BBB, so Mitch and Rik got the required fourth contact. Mitch picked me up on his way off the summit. We continued south, then headed west on Williamson Spur Track.
VK3/VT-034 Unnamed summit 1019 m 6 points
This SOTA summit is likely to move further west along the ridge system, as I found a slightly higher spot than the current location. It is likely to be renamed Williamson Spur or similar when the next VK3 update occurs.
We again set up using Mitch’s gear. Gerard VK2IO was again the first in the log, followed by Rick VK4RF with a marginal signal – we could not confirm a contact with VK4HA due to the conditions.
We managed to raise Brian VK3BBB on 146.5 FM for a third contact. Early on, we could hear Paul VK5PAS, but he could not hear us due to an electrical storm near Adelaide. We eventually got a fourth contact each, then packed up and headed back to Traralgon.
There were plenty of topics discussed during the day, including other summits in the nearby hills. We also discussed options for adding 80 m extensions and perhaps links for 20 m into Mitch’s antenna.
The weather was good all day, although the breeze was brisk at times. It was a great day out – thanks for the invitation guys. I look forward to the next one.
So a good day: 4 summits activated, with a total of 39 activator points thanks to the seasonal bonus points.