Friday 14 October 2016
Victoria had suffered from some wild weather on Sunday 9 October, with extreme wind speeds and heavy rain. I did a trip from Wodonga back to home in the Latrobe Valley on the Monday, with the rain still about, so no SOTA or Parks activations. My route took me through Healesville, where everything was shut as they had no power due to storm damage.
Friday 14 October was looking to be a nice day for weather, so I roughly planned a day of SOTA to take advantage of the last full day of the Winter Bonus period. I was on the road before 0800 local and headed to Nilma, Neerim South, Powelltown and on to Warburton. Progress through Warburton was slow, with 50 km/hr speed limits broken up with road works with traffic controls and 40 km/hr limits. But it was easy once through town and I began to climb towards my first target.
VK3/VC-002 Mount Donna Buang 1259 m 8 points plus bonus
I had seen the plans of Mitch VK7XDM to be on a summit on Friday morning, with a second summit possible later, so this firmed up my plans: Donna Buang with a possible S2S contact with Mitch. I posted an Alert the previous evening and received a message from Warren VK3BYD indicating that he would try to be on a summit in time to work me S2S.
I parked in the top car park and decided to set up at one of the picnic tables near the tower. I initially set up for 40 m operation and was quickly rewarded with Gerard VK2IO in the log. Gerard advised that Warren had just been spotted on 7032 CW, so I tuned down to see if I could hear Warren. He was very weak – there was clearly no NVIS working on 40 m at the range involved. After texting him, I returned to 7.090 to call again, working three stations quickly, thus qualifying the summit. I then noticed a response from Warren, so quickly ran out the 80 m antenna extensions. Once set up, I called Warren on CW and was rewarded with 519 reports both ways for a S2S to VK3/VE-189.
I returned to 7.090 to work some more stations. Tim VK3TJC noted that the K index was up around 6 and expected to go higher – little wonder there was poor close in propagation. I checked the ‘phone to see a spot for Mitch on 7.085 on Legge’s Tor VK7/NE-001, whom I could hear weakly. But he could not hear me. After a few tries at calling, I gave up and returned to the car to grab the IC-706MkIIG. I set it up at the picnic table and called Mitch with 50 W. I got through that time, for 41 reports both ways – Mitch typically runs about 40 W. I gave one final call on 7.090 for another VK7. I decided to then pack up and head down to the Acheron Way.
Overall, 9 contacts on 40 m SSB including a S2S, plus a S2S on 80 m CW.
VK3/VC-003 Mount Ritchie 1255 m 8 points plus bonus
I parked the car at the start of Road 15 and started the climb at about 1140 local. Road 15 initially climbs up beside the Acheron River, gently for the first few hundred metres. It then climbs more steeply up the side of a spur and then traverses upwards into a saddle to a junction of Roads 15, 10 and 11, about 2.3 km from the start. There is then a steep climb of about a kilometre to the northeast along Road 10 before it flattens out and descends over about 900 m. You then have a moderate climb over about 3.4 km to the summit of Mount Ritchie. All up, around 7.8 km according to my GPS, with 625 m climbed and 37 m lost on the way “up”. It took me about 3 hours, which is faster than anticipated: I use a rule of thumb of allowing one hour per 4 km plus 1 hour for each 300 m vertical climbed.
The summit area is rather flat, so I used a road/track sign to support the squid pole. I was set up and ready at 0400 UTC, but I could weakly hear Mitch on his second summit and others working him. I had marginal ‘phone coverage, but managed to send a text message to Mitch. Several minutes of calling produced no result – Mitch could not hear my 5 W. I waited until all the traffic died down before I started calling on 7.090. It took several minutes to finally pass my report back to Gerard VK2IO – I even tried calling him on CW, but I think that we had a frequency offset issue. Gerard posted a spot for me, and I worked Nev VK5WG and Adrian VK5FANA over the next few minutes. I then decided changed to 80 m, with Gerard posting a spot. I heard Rob VK4AAC/3 call me, but he could not hear me. Geoff VK3SQ was an easy contact, so the hill was finally qualified about 50 minutes after I was first on air. I heard Mick VK3GGG call – about 52 – but he could not hear me. So I gave up and started to pack up. One new Unique for me and another Complete.
The descent took just over two hours, with a couple of short rest breaks along the way. There were great views form some places on the steep descent to the road junction. For most of the route, Road 10 travels through towering eucalypt forest (probably Mountain Ash). For some reason, WordPress wants to rotate my vertical format images to horizontal, so I have left them out!
Once back at the car, I loaded up, had a good drink and headed for home, about a 2 hour drive. It was a long day, but satisfying.