2018 Hotham SOTA Summit – the trip home

Wednesday 7 February 2018

I departed Wodonga close to 0900 and headed south west on the Hume Highway to Benalla and then south to Mansfield. I grabbed some food at a Bakery and then headed to Jamieson, with the later portion of the trip very slow behind 4 caravans and other vehicles stuck behind them. I turned right onto Eildon Jamieson Road and climbed the hills before turning onto Lake 1 Track and up to the AZ of the first summit of the day.

Bald Hill VK3/VE-137 990m 6 points
Lake Eildon National Park VKFF-0625

I had chased this summit several times, so this was a chance for another Activator Unique and Complete.

I set up with a line over a branch and hauled up the HF dipole. My first call yielded John VK2YW in Wagga Wagga, followed by VK7JON and VK2IO. After those contacts, I had no answers to calls for a long period. I swapped to 20 m, working another 7 stations. I then ran out the rest of the antenna and called on 80 m, working Mick VK3GGG and then with what was possibly an incomplete contact with Tony VK3CAT. I swapped to CW and we made it. Back to voice and I tried several other bands without any luck. I went back to 20 m when I saw a spot from Gerard VK2JNG/p in a Park and made contact, and then worked Geoff VK3SQ. With 15 definite contacts in the log, I called it quits and packed up, heading back down to Eildon Jamieson Road. From the junction, one simply headed across the road and started driving along Mount Terrible Track and on to the next summit.

Mount Terrible Spur VK3/VE-134 1010 m 6 points

I found a spot safely off the track and set up the station. I set up on 40 m SSB and quickly had 4 stations in the log. I tried calling for several minutes on 20 m with no replies, so packed up to move on.

A Forest Management vehicle pulled up and we exchanged greetings. The two officers were doing fuel assessments of the forest in preparation for a planned controlled burn in autumn. I explained what I was doing and then we went our separate ways – them into the scrub off the side of the spur and me on to Mt Terrible.

Mount Terrible VK3/VE-067 1316 m 8 points

I set up to the south of the hut near the summit, with the dipole running north-south. Starting on 40 m SSB, I again had 5 contacts in the log within a few minutes. I also heard VK3AFW and VK3SQ calling me, but had no response to my calls to them. Time was moving on, so I decided to pack up and get back on the track. I had achieved the key goal of the day – three Activator Uniques and three Completes.

But which way to travel? Either retrace my route and then make a decision once back to Eildon Jamieson Road, or to head south on Mt Terrible Track and work my way south to Mt Matlock? I decided on the latter route.

The track was rough and narrow in places, but I safely made it to the target.

Mount Matlock VK3/VC-001 1372 m 8 points

I arrived at Mt Matlock about 90 minutes after leaving Mt Terrible. I quickly set up and started calling after spotting myself. First in the log was Warren ZL2AJ. In less than 10 minutes, I had 7 stations in the log. I dropped down to 80 m, working another 4 stations. As I was packing up, the bottom cover of the KX2 fell off into my hand. I had lost one of the thumbnuts….. I reassembled the bottom plate as best I could, but still need to locate a replacement thumbnut.

I packed up and then resumed the trip home. The choice from here was simple, despite what the GPS in the car thought. I headed towards Aberfeldy. There was an option of another summit, if the travel went well and I was feeling up to it when I arrived at Aberfeldy.

The road was in reasonable condition, so progress was reasonable.

Mount Lookout VK3/VT-030 1115 m 6 points

Access to this one is simple: drive up the track to the cemetery and set up in the car park. Watch the ditch across the track just after it swings to the south.

I again threw a line over a branch and set up. This time I started on 80 m SSB and quickly had 4 stations in the log. With no further responses to calls, I swapped to 40 m and worked another 8 stations, including 2 ZLs. At just after 0800 Z, I switched off and packed up, heading south to Moe and then to home.

MtLookout

Aberfeldy Cemetery occupies part of the AZ. Baw Baw Plateau in the distance.

Overall, a good day: some new (for me) tracks explored, 3 new Activator Uniques and 3 Completes, plus 34 Activator points for the day.

I was tired but satisfied once I arrived home. It had been quite a trip… The only issue is that I kept forgetting to take some photos!

A big thank you to Brian for organising the weekend, and thanks also to all the participants – the camaraderie was terrific and it was great to have like-minded company  to discuss a variety of topics whilst travelling between summits.

Plan ahead – make sure that you keep the first weekend in February 2019 free, as I believe Brian will be organising a 2019 edition.

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