Andrew White ZL3CC Memorial SOTA Activity Day

Saturday 15 September 2018

Warren ZL2AJ, the Association Manager for ZL, organised an activity day to remember Andrew White, who had died suddenly earlier in the year. Several VK operators were planning to participate by activating summits locally.

It was unfortunate that a significant cold front was due to traverse Victoria on the day, with strong wind and graziers warnings and snow forecast for the higher peaks initially, lowering to as low as 500 – 700 metre later in the day. I did not make a decision until breakfast, when I looked at the latest weather radar and satellite images. I decided to risk it, and posted an Alert for my target for the morning.

Mount Granya VK3/VE-165 863 m 6 points
Mount Granya State Park VKFF-0767

The drive out was uneventful and I was on site well before UTC rollover. I set up at the fixed picnic table, lashing a squid pole on one side between the table top and the seat.

MtGranyaS

Picnic table & fire tower at Mt Granya

Once set up, I listened around for the various stations already spotted, but could not hear them. I set the antenna for 40 m and spotted myself for CW. First in the log was John ZL1BYZ on ZL1/WK-139. There was a caller who was weak with QSB and I could not get the callsign – I suspect that it was John VK2YW, but the QSB took him out. Next was Dave VK2NU/p on VK2/HU-080. Next was Ian VK5CZ and Jerry VK7EE – summit qualified!

I went listening on the SSB segment. I could hear ZL3X but he did not respond to my calls. Shortly after trying to call him, I spotted myself and started calling. But suddenly something in the communications facilities fired up, producing S7 noise across 40 m! After 15 minutes of calling and listening on the band, I swapped down to 80 m CW and started calling. Amongst the callers was Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/SY-001 in VKFF-0307 – in the log. With three CW callers in the log, I moved up the band for 2 SSB and one CW contact. More calls were made with no responses before I saw that Warren VK3BYD/p was spotted on 80 m CW. I dropped down the band and soon had Warren in the log from VK3/VE-230 and VKFF-0742. Several of the ZLs were now on 20 m, so changed the antenna links. In less than 10 minutes I had five ZL SOTA stations in the log. I spotted myself on 80 m CW again. I sent CQ a few times and rain spot started falling. I gave up and quickly packed up and left the summit in a shower. I drove down the hill and decided to drive across to Jarvis Creek Plateau – the showers were intermittent, so I might be able to set and operate between showers. I took a route I had not used previously – I dropped down off the ridge via Bridle Track to the south west, reaching Georges Creek Road. I then headed NNW to Langhiems Road and up to Plateau Road, then to a high point south of the current summit location.

Jarvis Creek Plateau VK3/VE-208 “694 m” 2 points
Jarvis Creek Plateau Regional Park VKFF-0969

The summit location for this reference is, in my view, in the incorrect position. Google Earth shows that there are a couple of higher points to the south at just over 700 m, so it should retain its reference, move to a new location and become a 4 point summit, provided the height data is confirmed.

I set up on one of the high points just above the 700 m contour, about a kilometre southeast of the summit and still in the activation zone of the current summit location. I tossed a line over a tree branch and hauled up the dipole. I was about to spot myself on 80 m CW and saw a spot for John ZL1BYZ on ZL1/WK-139, so quickly changed the links to 20 m and worked John for a S2S. I then reconfigured for 80 m and starting calling on CW after spotting myself. I had two more S2S contacts: Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/SY-001 and then Warren VK3BYD/p on VK3/VE-230. Warren had quickly reassembled his station when I saw my spot – thanks Warren.

After several minutes with no further replies to CQ calls, I swapped 40 m SSB and worked Rob VK2QR/5 in Maize Island Lagoon Conservation Park for a Park to Park. I worked eight more on 40 m SSB, including Jon VK4ALE in Bunyaville Conservation Park VKFF-1493. I then dropped to the CW end of the band to work two more stations, making a total of 15 in the Park. The temperature had dropped significantly and the wind was getting very strong, so I packed up and headed out along Plateau Road and then Jarvis Creek Road to Old Tallangatta and the Murray Valley Highway, then back to Wodonga.

In the early evening, I drove to Beechworth to join Rob VK4AAC/3 and Doris, and Geoff VK3SQ and Liz for dinner the Hotel Nicholas for dinner. Lots of interesting discussions occurred over good food. It was good to catch up face to face. Also a slight distraction during the evening: the rain changed to snow for several minutes. The HASL is about 550 m, so the weather forecast was correct – the forecast said snow down to 500 m was possible.

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