A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: the trip south

Monday 24 April

I departed Yugar a little after 0700. I followed the recommendation to travel back over Mount Glorious to Wivenhoe-Somerset Road (thus avoiding Monday morning Brisbane traffic), then to Ipswich, Warwick, Stanthorpe and across into NSW and Tenterfield.

Mount Mackenzie VK2/NT-025 1296 m 8 points

Mount Mackenzie is just west of Tenterfield and is very obvious as you approach the town from the north. I followed the signs out to the summit and set up mid-way between the actual summit and the lookout.

First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/p on Barraba Trig VK2/HU-065. I quickly worked another 4 stations and then shut down when I had no further replies. With the summit qualified, this was another new Unique and Complete.

ViewAcrossTenterfield

Looking across Tenterfield from the lookout

I drove back down to Tenterfield and then headed south on A15.

I explored a possible approach to The Magistrate VK2/NT006, via Rockdale Road, which looked to be a potential approach route. It was not to be: I reached a locked gate with a sign “Private Property No trespassers”. So I aborted this attempt. Alternate approaches would require a significant detour. Unfortunately, no information has been added by previous activators to the summit page. I did not really go search for information, rather simply looked at some maps. The NSW National Parks website has little useful information on the Park.

Back on the main road, I headed south through Glen Innes to Grahams Valley Road and Maybole Road to the junction with Whites Road. From Whites Road, there were clearly tracks up to the target summit, but without any obvious entrance.

Mount Rumbee VK2/NT-005 1503 m 10 points

A short distance east of the Maybole Road Whites Road junction, there is an entrance into a farm – “Koala”. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I drove quietly up the drive to near the farm house at base of the summit. Exiting the vehicle, I heard sounds from sheds, so walked over. I found activity – several people were shearing. I introduced myself and explained my mission. The lady said that my request sounded reasonable and sought out her son. I explained my request briefly and he offered to show me the way to the summit.

The summit itself has an area of Crown land, but is surrounded by the farm apart from a possible public access route which shows up on the NSW SIX maps. There is a comms installation on the summit and another on the lower hilltop just to the north. The family are concerned that additional comms sites are not established.

I was guided through the various gates and had the final approach route outlined. I was able to drive to the top of the hill.

OnMt Rumbee

On Mt Rumbee

I set up at the trig. Tony VK3CAT was first in the log. Within 11 minutes, I had 14 in the log. With no further responses, I switched off and headed back down the hill after packing up. This time I had to open and close the various gates – not a difficult task. I called in to the shearing shed again to thank the farmer for permitting access and informing them that I was heading out.

Back on Maybole Road, I headed to the hamlet of Ben Lomond, and on to Inn Road.

Ben Lomond VK2/NT-004 1512 m 10 points

I approached the summit using the same route as Ian VK1DI, reaching a locked gate within the AZ. I also set up using the fence to support the squidpole. First in the log were Helen VK7FOLK/p and Jon VK7JON/p in VKFF-1139. I had 17 callsigns in the log within 21 minutes, but was unable to complete a contact with Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-004. Thanks to Bill VK4FW, we coordinated a QSY to 80 m where I completed contacts with both Bill and Gerard. I switched back to 40 m to work friend Sergio VK3SFG and then packed up in developing gloom – the sun was below the horizon. This was a new Unique and another Complete for me.

ViewWBenLomond

Looking to the east. Mt Ben Lomond in shadow on the right.

I returned to Inn Road and Ben Lomond, then drove west and south to Narrabri, arriving a little before 2100. I indulged in a meal at a Chinese restaurant and then sought somewhere to sleep for the night. I ended up driving up into Mount Kaputar National Park to set up camp quite late.

Tuesday 25 April – ANZAC Day

Mt Coryah VK2/NW-004 1409 m 8 points
Mt Kaputar National Park VKFF-0353

I had camped in the Coryah Gap car park – perhaps not permitted, as it is not an official campsite. I packed up the camp and started the climb up the well-marked track. It took me 60 minutes for the climb.

First in the log was Rod VK2ZRD in Ulladulla. In just over 30 minutes, I worked 15 stations on 40 m. I switched to 20 m CW and attempted to contact JP1QEC on JA/YN-081. The contact was not completed – signals were marginal both ways. I spent a few minutes calling on 20 m ssb with no responses, then 30 m yielded another 2 stations. I moved back to 40 m, working several more stations, bringing the total to 26 for the activation. So another Unique and Complete in the bag.

I decided to continue the circuit walk, taking 40 minutes for the descent via longer route.

Once back at the vehicle, I descended to Narrabri to grab some brunch after taking a short detour to avoid the ANZAC commemorations outside the local RSL. I decided to head to the Australia Telescope Compact Array radio telescope (Paul Wild Observatory) for a quick look.

RadioTelescope

3 of the dishes at the Australia Telescope Compact Array

I then decided to head further west to Pilliga, given that it was only about 50 km away. Whilst researching the trip, I had noted that there were several abutting Parks north of Coonabarabran, with only a couple having been activated for WWFF.

Pilliga West National Park VKFF-0604

Logsearch reports one previous activation for this VKFF reference, with 11 contacts made. I headed into the Park via Yathella Road and found a spot on the southern side of the road. I threw a line over a tree branch to haul up the dipole centre and strung out the dipole. Just as I was finishing rigging the antenna, it started to rain, so I connected the antenna to the IC-7000 in the car.

First in the log was Bob operating VK5WOW/p in Para Wirra Conservation Park VKFF-1739. Calls came quickly – much faster than in the morning. Park to Park contacts included VK5FMAZ/p and VK5PAS/p in VKFF-1752, VK2IO/p in VKFF-0196 and AX3ANL/p in VKFF-0773. I ended up 52 calls in the log in under an hour.

I packed up and headed back to the bitumen, then down the road to find an easy access into the Park to the east.

Pilliga West State (Coordinated) Conservation Area VKFF-1373 Not previously activated

I headed into the Park via Vale Road and found a side track junction that allowed me to be off the main track. I again threw a line over a tree branch to haul up the dipole centre and strung out the dipole, connecting to the IC-7000.

First in the log was Nick AX3ANL/p in VKFF-0773, followed by Marija AX5FMAZ/p and Paul AX5PAS/p in VKFF-1752. Other notable contacts included Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/MN-047 in VKFF-0196 and Dave VK2ZK/p in VKFF-0041. In 1 hour and 13 minutes, I had 52 calls in the log.

I retraced my route to Pilliga, then SSE to Baradine and north and east into Timmallallie National Park.

Timmallallie National Park VKFF-0609

By time I found my way into the Park and set up, it was getting late. I set up in fading light. Fist in the log were Paul AX5PAS/p and Marija AX5FMAZ/pin VKFF-1752 on 40 m. In ess than 20 minutes I had 12 contacts in the log. I then changed to 80 m and ended up with a total of 41 contacts in the log.

I packed up in the dark and then returned to Barradine and headed south to Coonabaraban and booked into a motel for the night – the afternoon had been wet and I decided against camping.

It rained overnight and in morning, but the weather radar showed it looks as if it would clear. I posted an Alert for 0001 Z.

Wednesday 26 April

After grabbing some food at the local bakery, I headed out to Warrumbungle National Park. I dropped into Visitor Centre to pay the entrance fees and headed around to Split Rock car park / picnic area. I loaded up and started the Split Rock Circuit in the recommended direction. I forgot to turn on my GPS until I was a little up the fire trail… The Parks team have been working on the track, but it was still slippery in places, with almost 7 mm of rain overnight. Finally make around to the start of summit climb. It was very steep in places!

Belougery Split Rock VK2/CW-017 749 m 4 points
Warrumbungle National Park VKFF-0520

I loaded up and started the Split Rock Circuit in the recommended direction. I forgot to turn on my GPS until I was a little up the fire trail… The Parks team have been working on the track, but it was still slippery in places, with almost 7 mm of rain overnight. Finally make around to the start of summit climb. It was very steep in places!

Once I had climbed up enough to have mobile coverage, I updated the Alert for later, as the climb was taking longer than my initial guess.

I climbed to the summit cairn for some photos. The breeze was stiff, so I descended to a spot out of the wind but still in the AZ. I started calling on 7.090. Got 10 in the log, and then switched to 20 m, finding significant noise on 14.310, so I moved up to 14.320. Here I worked Andrew ZL3CC and John ZL1BYZ. With no answers to further calls, it was time to pack up and descend carefully back to the Circuit Track. Another Unique and Complete in the log.

View toSE

Looking SE towards the Breadknife and Needle Mountain

I decided to complete the circuit, which involved more ups and downs. I finally arrived back at the vehicle feeling a little tired. After loading the gear, I headed back towards Coonabarabran, then up to Siding Springs Observatory.

At the Observatory, I checked out the Café and looked in the door of the visitor centre, but decided against a detailed inspection. I then had a quick visit to the Anglo Australian Telescope.

Mount Woorut VK2/CW-003 1155 m 6 points

I set up on the top picnic table, with the sky looking rather threatening. The wind was significantly stronger. On switching on, I heard Gerard VK2IO/p in Myall Lakes National Park on Winns Mountain VK2/MN-067 working Rick VK4RF. They were discussing going to CW. I called in and quickly worked Gerard before dropping down to 7.085 to call CQ. Steve VK7CW called in – not strong but we completed the contact. Steve posted a spot for me and callers started to appear. So did a brief shower with hail. I got 10 in the log before the hail really hit, when I quickly packed up and headed down the road to Coonabarabran.

I had been looking at the maps for access to a 6-point summit which had not yet been activated.

Needle Mountain VK2/CW-036 1168 m 6 points NYA

Access looked possible via Cenns Cruaich Road off the Newell Highway. The road is initially unsealed. About 6.5 km along, I found out why it has not yet been activated: a gate with a large sign: Private Property. Gate to remain locked. Access only by Authorised Key Holders. I did not even bother to try to ask at the house nearby for permission, given the sign. I headed back out to the highway and then south to Dubbo and then on to Orange for the night.

Thursday 27 April 2017

After grabbing some food at a Bakery, I headed out of town to the SW.

Mount Canobolas VK2/CT-001 1397 m 8 points
Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area VKFF-1353

I encountered a couple of sections of road works which slowed the approach, but safely arrived at the car park at the summit. It was cold – only 0 degrees, with a breeze making the apparent temperature lower. I set up using one of the sign supports to hold the squid pole, only metres from the trig. As I was setting up, I visitor arrived and was interested in what I was doing. I explained as I finished setting up and he listened to the first few contacts. First in the log was Rick VK4RF, followed by Steve VK7CW and Nev VK5WG. With 11 contacts in the log, I had no further callers, so reconfigured the antenna for 20 m, working only John ZL1BYZ despite calling for nearly 10 minutes. I switched back to 40 m for only 2 more contacts. I was getting cold and a bus load of tourists had arrived. I explained what was going on to some of them and then the squid pole de-telescoped: a sign to pack up and go with 14 in the log. Another Unique and Complete.

OperatingMt Canobolas

Operating on Mt Canobolas

I drove back to Orange via the alternate route, thus avoiding the road work areas, then passed through town and out to the north east.

Mount Bulga VK2/CT-031 1060 m 6 points

The approach to Mount Bulga is relatively straight forward, but the track to the summit is 4WD with a steep gutter at the start. I was able to drive a few hundred metres up the track until I came across a tree half down across the track, but low enough to question if I had clearance. I parked, loaded up and climbed into the AZ. I had been listening to Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-094 in VKFF-0375 calling on the approach and decided not to make the final climb to the actual summit in favour of a S2S contact.

Gerard was first in the log, followed by Steve VK7CW. I ended up with 13 in the log before deciding to pack up and head back down. Cliff VK2NP was lucky last – I was about to disconnect the antenna when he called.

Another Unique and Complete.

I drove back to the edge of Orange and then headed south to Blayney and on to Carcoar.

Mount Macquarie VK2/CT-011 1205 m 8 points

There are a couple of traps if approaching from near Carcoar: the first is that Mount Macquarie Road cannot be entered from the main road – you must enter into Carcoar and then drive under the main road. The second is that the first obvious track leads to a very steep track to the summit, which was very slippery after the overnight rain. I decided to explore further around and found a logging road with reasonable surface from on the south side of the summit. There were some ruts and wash outs, but all could be negotiated with care in a 2WD vehicle. You can drive to the summit, with a large and a smaller tower. As I approached, I could hear the noise level rise on the rig in the car. I drove around the main tower, noting the mess left by the logging of the pine trees. I drove about 150 m back down the access road and set up on the side of the road, about 10 m vertical below the summit. Once set up, I posted a Spot.

Col VK3LED was the first to call. After about 10 minutes calling, I had 6 in the log and no replies to further calls. I reconfigured for 20 m and called for at least 10 minutes with no responses. After going back to 40 m, I worked another 7 calls.

Another Unique and Complete.

After packing up, I head back to the main road and headed SW to Cowra and Grenfell. I had explored the maps and Google Earth for possible approaches to VK2/CW-048. An approach looked feasible off Grimms Lane, first going through the State Forest. That worked OK – a gate to pass through with no signs or lock. But the gate at the National Park boundary had a heavy chain with a large lock. Summit was therefore aborted. There is little information on the NP website about the Park. There is access from the east into the Park – perhaps next time!

I headed east and south, making my way to Temora, Wagga Wagga and south to Wodonga to spend three nights catching up with family.

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