New Year’s Day 2018

New Year’s Day and UTC rollover

On the previous afternoon, I had a chat with Warren VK3BYD on the ‘phone whilst driving back to Wodonga – easy using the hands-free system in the vehicle. We discussed a range of topics, including the holiday traffic on the Great Alpine Road and the number of cyclists. I had placed an Alert a couple of weeks earlier for The Horn for UTC rollover. The road trip up Mount Buffalo usually has lots of cyclists and few spots to safely pass them, especially when they are riding 2 or more abreast….. I decided to change my summit to Mount Stanley….

Mount Stanley VK3/VE-126 1052 m 6 points

Discussions earlier in the trip with Geoff VK3SQ indicated that Beechworth was to be avoided if at all possible due to the heavy traffic and high number of tourists visiting the town. I therefore decided to approach the summit via the route suggested by Russ VK2BJP: from Wodonga head south past Yackandandah, then turn right into Bruarong Lane, then onto Hillsborough Road and finally onto Mount Stanley Road.

I parked near the picnic table and proceeded to set up. The picnic table seats have seen some vandalism, but the support post provided a convenient tie off point for the squid pole. I strung the dipole out and checked SOTAwatch.

A string of S2S summit contacts followed: Tony VK7LTD on VK7/CH-057, Allen VK3ARH/p on VK3/VE-020, Tony VK3CAT/p on VK3/VT-010 on CW, VK5CZ/p VK5/SE-016 on CW, John VK2YW/p VK2/RI-025 on CW, Gerard VK2IO/p VK2/HU-093 on CW, plus some other CW contacts, then to SBB for S2S fun: Andrew VK3ARR/p on VK3/VC-019, Rob VK2QR/p on VK2/SW-021 and Sam VK2GPL on VK2/CT-001. A significant amount of time prior to UTC rollover was spent looking for other Activators without success.

After UTC rollover first in the log was Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-0583, followed by Mick VK3GGG/p  on VK3/VS-015 in VKFF-2129. I cahsed more Activators and finally settled on a frequency to call. Post-rollover, I ended up with 31 contacts including 18 S2S, all on 40 m. I tried 20 m briefly with no responses. I finally closed at about 0135, after working Mick VK3GGG/p, now on VK3/VS-018 and Tony VK7LTD/p.

I packed up and headed into Stanley then to Myrtleford to grab some lunch. As I was driving in, I was considering how activators had reached the two summits just east of Myrtleford: many of the possible access tracks were through pine plantations which had Private Road – No Entry signs posted. I headed back out of town and drove up Morrisons Lane past the local Transfer Station. The bitumen ended and I was able to proceed. I saw no signs barring access. There was a large gate with a Road Closed sign, but it was wide open. So I headed up the road and navigated the maze of roads to reach the first target for the afternoon.

VK3/VE-178 (unnamed) 805 m 4 points

The summit is high in the plantation, with a water tank covered by a separate roof and a comms facility beside it. I set up using a small pine tree to support the squid pole and also providing some shade. I spotted myself and worked 13 stations in about 11 minutes, including Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-093. With no more callers, I shut down and packed up. A new Unique and Complete.

I then drove north on some rough tracks through and on the edge of the plantation and then out into bush. As the track finally swung west toward the summit, in rapidly became very closed in with scrub. Another new Unique and Complete.

VK3/VE-197 (unnamed) 743 m 4 points

I approached the summit and set up using a line over a tree branch to lift the dipole. First in the log was Rob VK2QR/p, now on VK2/SW-015. Rob was about to close, so I stayed on the frequency and worked Ron VK3AFW/p on VK3/VE-137 after he worked Rob. Next was Peter VK3TKK/p in VKFF-2113, higher up the band. Back down to 7.090 and I was called by Gerard VK2IO/p, still on VK2/HU-093. I had 11 more callers over the next 10 minutes before I called it quits and packed up.

As I descended of the summit, I took a track heading down a spur which was outside the plantation. This eventually brought be back to Morrisons Lane close to the large open gate. From there, it was down to the main road and then north to Wodonga.

It had been a busy two and a half weeks. With family plans checked on the afternoon after returning to Wodonga, I decided to call it quits and to head for home on Tuesday morning. I had work that need to be done for the next issue of Amateur Radio magazine, the first of the New Year. I took a detour to catch up briefly with Peter VK3FPSR in Cobram prior to heading south to Melbourne and then back to the Latrobe Valley, where the grass was long and there were plenty of chores to complete. I decided against stopping to activate any summits or Parks and was able to navigate Melbourne before the traffic was too heavy.

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