Early September trip to Wodonga via Omeo

7 September 2018

The next issue of Amateur Radio magazine had been finalised, printed and was with the distribution house. The weather forecast was looking reasonable and the Shepparton Hamfest was scheduled for Sunday – it all looked like a good opportunity for another visit to Wodonga to catch up with family, plus hopefully activate some summits.

My departure was a little later than planned, but I was on the road at a reasonable time. The idea was to be on a summit to work Mitch VK3XDM/p in the Grampians for a S2S at around midday local time. The Princes Highway had road work speed limits in several areas, so the trip was a little slower than expected: nothing to do but obey the speed limits and take your time.

I received a message from Mitch that he was running early. I started the long winding climb up the Tambo River valley on the Great Alpine Road / Omeo Highway. Mitch was finally on his summit when I was around Ensay, about 40 km south of Omeo. I replied that I would keep travelling towards my target summit. Several minutes later, Mitch indicated that he would have lunch on the summit and wait for me. I headed up to Tongio Gap Road and then negotiated the two gates on Splitters Range Road and started the climb to the summit. Some corners were slippery and there was plenty of fallen timber to dodge.

VK3/VG-036 unnamed summit 1285 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus

When I opened the first gate, I set the car radio to search for the local ABC AM transmission – the transmitter site is opposite the start of Splitters Range Road. I was listening to the radio as I climbed to the summit. The day was bright and sunny, with little cloud. I knew that I was approaching close to the summit with its solar powered transmitter site, as I could hear the inverter crud starting to interfere with the AM station, wiping it out was a got closer. I drove further along the road until the interference disappeared – I was still well inside the AZ, which extends around 900 m long along the road.

I set up with a line over a tree branch and hauled up the inverted V. I alerted Mitch that I was setting up and then spotted for 80 m SSB.

When I switched on the radio, Mitch was calling CQ. A S2S contact first in the log! Mitch was on Mt Rosea VK3/VW-003. I checked that Mitch had qualified his summit with a positive answer. Mitch closed down and I took over the frequency. I had heard Compton VK2HRX calling me, but he did not reply when I called him. I swapped to 40 m CW and worked Gerard VK2IO. Further calls yield no responses, so I QSYd to SSB and worked four more. Things were slow! John VK4TJ was willing to try CW, so we simply changed modes and worked. I had no responses to call on 20 m. In the end, I had 10 in the log, with four on CW.

I packed up and retraced my route back to Tongio Gap Road and headed north to Omeo to the Bakery for some lunch. I then travelled to the next target summit.

Mount Sam /Sam Hill VK3/VG-049 1206 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus

Access to Sam Hill is simple: travel north out of Omeo a short distance and turn into Bingo Tice Road which becomes Connleys Road. At the top of the climb, turn left into Mount Sam Road and drive to the summit with its transmitter sites and fire watch towers.

I again set up with a line over a tree branch and hauled up the inverted V. I was ready about an hour ahead of schedule. I spotted myself on 40 m CW and soon had five callsigns in the log: John ZL1BYZ, John VK4TJ, John VK4/AC8WN, John VK4/VE6XT and Andre ZL1TM. I sent ? a few times and another CQ with no responses, so went up the band to SSB.

A few on 40 m SSB, then I tried 80m SSB. Then up to 20 m SSB where I worked John VK6NU. Mitch messaged that he was about 30 minutes form the summit, so I decided to remain on location and kept calling. I changed from 40 m SSB down to 80 m SSB where I bagged Ron VK3AFW and Tony VK3CAT, followed by Mitch on Mt William VK3/VS-001. I thanked Mitch for the contacts and left the frequency to him. I packed up and headed back into Omeo, then up and across Mount Hotham and on to Wodonga. The views were excellent, with plenty of snow higher up.

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