A post-GippsTech day of SOTA

Monday 9 July 2018

The GippsTech weekend had been rather busy in itself, but it also coincided with AR magazine proofing dates. I managed to complete the first round of proofing tasks on Sunday afternoon prior to sending them off to our layout person together with a warning that I would not be tackling the final checks until Monday evening. With the arrangements confirmed, Andrew VK1DA and I organised to head off from my home on Monday morning.

The trip to Licola was uneventful apart from several areas of roadworks and the associated speed restrictions. From Licola we climbed up the Jamieson-Licola Road until kilometre 21 where we found a large tree across the road in addition to about 10 cm of snow. I did not have a chainsaw and we decided not to tackle the clearing task with the bow saw and axe. Instead, we backtracked a short distance to Black River Road and on to N7 Track. The route had snow all the way. Shortly after swinging on to N7 Track we encountered another tree across the road, this time about 12 cm diameter. After trying to move the tree and only succeeding to finish the break at about 80% of the road width, I grabbed the bow saw and I quickly cut through the tree. The rest of the approach was uneventful apart from the occasional slippery surface and fallen trees to navigate around.

Connors Plain VK3/VT-022 1305 m 8 points + Winter bonus

I managed to drive up the access track and into the activation zone. Andrew was impressed with the ease of the approach, despite the minor detour and a bit of work with the tree across the track. I quickly tossed a line across a tree branch at about 7 m and we soon had Andrew’s ZS6BKW antenna in the air. We shared Andrew’s FT-817 for contacts. The station heard on 40 m SSB was Mick VK3GGG/p at Dunolly, but Mick could not hear us. We quickly had VK2IO and VK2HRX in the log but not further callers. We dropped down to 80 m and worked Mick and Allen VK3ARH, qualifying the summit. We returned to 40 m to work Bill VK4FW/p using the VI50IARU3 callsign from Bulburin National Park VKFF-0668. Andrew continued working stations as I walked down the track to exit the AZ and worked Andrew still on the summit. Once we had no further callers, we started packing up. Just after we had the antenna packed, my ‘phone rang – it was Ron VK3AFW/p on Mt Worth. We quickly raised the antenna once again and each made an easy S2S contact on 80 m SSB. Packing up again, we finally exited the hill and retraced our access route after checking that there were no new tracks on the main road – hoping that perhaps someone had come through and cleared the big tree, making for an easier exit.

I made it back to the Jamieson-Licola Road and proceeded to South Road and around to Mt Selma Road and up to close to the summit. There was snow on the road for most of the route.

Mount Selma VK3/VT-013 1464 m 8 points + Winter bonus

The approach had some muddy sections together with lots of tracks off the main road had been dug up by the “mud-puppies” with aggressive mud tyres on their 4WDs….. We set up close to the start of the track that goes around to the Trig point, again using Andrew’s antenna and gear. We had around 30 cm of snow on the ground.


Andrew on Mt Selma

We started on 80 m SSB, working Mick VK3GGG/p followed closely by Ron VK3AFW/p, still on Mt Worth for S2S. We both qualified the summit on 80 m SSB before we moved to 40 m. We chased Gerard VK2IO/p and Alan VK2MG/p, both in Parks. A little later we worked Gerard VK2JNG/p in a Park. During the activation, we were “buzzed” by a small drone, which was being operated illegally, as the operator could not possibly have kept visual contact with device, as required by the rules, due to the trees. When we had no further callers, we packed up and then had a late lunch.

We retraced our route back to South Road and headed south. The first half of the route south had snow patches on the road together with plenty of pot holes to dodge. Closer to Mt Useful, the road had been resurfaced at was in excellent condition.

Mount Useful VK3/VT-016 1434 m 8 points + Winter bonus

We drove up to the summit and set up near the summit “cairn” – really just a pile of dirt. This time we used a squid pole to hold up the ZS6BKW antenna. We again started on 80 m, working 2 stations fairly quickly, but then no more callers. A change to 40 m brought a fresh bunch of callers. Once I had the summit qualified, I left Andrew to work the callers. The temperature on all the summits so far was around 2 degrees, but we had significant wind on this summit, so we were getting cold very quickly despite adequate clothing. We were also in the cloud, making conditions feel even colder. Needless to say, we decided to pack up as soon as there were no more callers. It was a quick activation, but chasers must accept this when Activators are attempting a multi-summit day.

We packed up and headed back to South Road and down to The Springs and onto Williamsons Spur Track and around to our last summit for the day.

VK3/VT-034 (unnamed) 1019 m 6 points

This summit is likely to be replaced with a new summit a little to the southwest at the next VK3 update. We again used Andrew’s gear, using a line over a tree branch to lift the antenna. I am not sure why, but my aim was a little off and I missed the target branch on the first few attempts. We started off on 80 m SSB and soon had the summit qualified. My last log entry on 80 m was Sean VK1FMGG having his first contact from his station. Andrew continued calling on 40 m until he had no further callers. Our last contacts were at about 0630 UTC, with about 35 – 40 minutes of daylight remaining. We packed up and headed back to South Road and then headed to Seaton and then back to Traralgon and on to home.

Fortunately we had no rain whilst on the summits, but with the unsealed roads all very wet, the vehicle needs to be cleaned…..

We had a great day out with plenty of discussion whilst driving between summits. Plus a very useful 39 Activator points for each of us and two new Activator Uniques for Andrew.

After a bit of recovery time plus some dinner, I tackled the final proofing of the magazine and sent that off for processing, with final approval a little later in the evening. Finally it was time to relax after a very busy few days.

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