The trip back to home base

Sunday 16 September 2018

It was a cold but sunny morning. I checked the reports for Mount Hotham and saw that they were requiring 2WD vehicles to fit chains. I decided to head home via the Great Alpine Road and to assess the weather and snow levels as I traversed Mount Hotham. I packed my things in the car and headed off for Bright, Harrietville and up to Hotham. There was a bit of cloud about but it was mostly sunny. I decided to go for two more summits.

Almost into Omeo, I swung into Cassilis Road and then Upper Livingstone Road. It was then a right turn onto Birregun Road and a steady climb up to the junction with Mount Phipps Track. There were lots of slightly rutted areas and some snow beside the road in the shady gullies and southern slopes. I engaged 4WD when I entered Mount Phipps Track.

Mount Phipps VK3/VG-015 1536 m 10 points plus seasonal bonus

I quickly set up after responding to a message from Mitch VK3XDM – he was on Mount Saint Phillack VK3/VT-006. Mitch responded that he would swap back to 80 m from 40 m when I was ready. His timing was almost perfect: I was about to spot myself when Mitch called CQ on the 80 m frequency he had used earlier. An easy S2S was quickly completed, along with Duncan VK3XBC/p who was with Mitch. Mitch then closed down and I started calling. Next in the log was Warren VK3BYD on both SSB and CW. I soon had four more callsigns in the log on CW. I returned to SSB but had no responses to calls, so I changed the antenna to 40 m. First in the log was VI5MARCONI from VKFF-0788 Scott Creek Conservation Park. John VK5BJE/VK5PF was at the key. I moved up a couple of kilohertz and spotted myself.  I soon had three more CW contacts in the log. With no more responses to my CQs, I moved up the band to the SSB segment to again work VI5MARCONI, this time with Paul VK5PAS on the microphone. Rob VK4AAC/3 was the next station worked, with Rob in the Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620. We were at the limit of ground wave propagation – Rob was clear to me but was having trouble hearing my 10 W from the KX2. We completed the contact. I moved down to the usual SOTA frequency and worked two more callers. I then switched back to 80 m and worked four more. The summit was comfortably qualified.

Before packing up, I listened on both 40 m and 20 m for Greg VK4VXX/6, but heard nothing from him. On his nominated 20 m frequency, I found VI4MARCONI, but he apparently did not hear my calls. I packed up and headed back to the car and headed back down Mount Phipps Track to Birregun Road, then turned right to head down to Mount Birregun. There were more damp and rutted sections on the road, but I made steady progress.

Mount Birregun VK3/VT-020 1363 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus

With the sun shining, I set up away from the actual summit but well inside the activation zone. I wanted to avoid any QRM from teh solar panel array on the comms facility on the summit. Once set up, I spotted myself and started calling on 40 m CW. First in the log was Allen VK3ARH. In less than 10 minutes, the summit was qualified on CW. I moved up the band to the SSB segment and started calling after posting a spot. Ten minutes brought another five contacts. I changed to 80 m CW, working Tony VK3CAT and Allen VK3HRA. Moving up the band brought another three SSB contacts. It was now 1530 local and I had a long drive to get back to sealed roads: either retrace my route back towards Omeo, or to proceed south on Birregun Road towards Dargo. I chose the latter. Along the way, I drove past several summits but decided against any further activations – time together with the cold and wind helped with the decision. The route down Birregun Road takes you quite close to VK3/VT-033 and Mount Steve VK3/VT-036, both 6-point summits. There are also summits requiring short detours south of Dargo.

I was finally home at around 0900 UTC and was feeling rather flat after another long day.

Many thanks to all the chasers/hunters over the past 11 days.

Overall summary

Since I left home on Friday 7 September, I achieved the following whilst on activations:

  • 20 SOTA summits activated, including a first activation (VK3/VE-079).
  • 203 Activator points earned (including the seasonal bonus points).
  • 28 Summit to Summit contacts for 203 S2S points.
  • 7 VKFF references activated, including a first activation.
  • 5 Park to Park contacts that will count towards my Park to Park score. P2P contacts made from other parks will not count for me, as I did not reach the 44 contact quota from six of the Parks.
  • About 3500 km driven
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