A trip to Sydney – Day 2

Friday 24 May 2019

The bed in the hotel was comfortable, but there was plenty of noise from around 0530 local. I gave up at around 0630 and started getting organised and was on the road reasonably early. After grabbing some breakfast, I headed for the Federal Highway via Sutton Road and then northwards to the Hume Highway and on past Goulburn. There was some fog around early on, with temperatures in the low single digits – around 2 if I remember correctly.

I continued toward Sydney and took the Mittagong turnoff and worked my way around to the first target for the day.

Mount Gibraltor VK2/IL-001  866 m 4 points

I drove up Oxley Drive and completed a circuit of the road loop at the summit. Looking at the topo maps, I picked a spot to park near one of the lookouts to the north of the summit, judging it to be inside (just) the Activation Zone, confirmed later on Google Earth. I tossed a line over a tree branch and set up the ZS6BKW parallel to the edge of the road. I set up the rest of the station using the folding camp chair and started calling after posting a spot, enjoying the warming sun.

First in the log on 80 m CW was Gerard VK2IO, but I could not raise any other callers. I moved up the band and started calling on SSB, working Gerard again, plus Geoff VK3SQ. I then moved up to 40 m CW and worked seven stations – summit qualified! I then moved up to 40 m SSB and worked another six stations. I had plans for another summit, so I closed down the station, packed up and headed for the next target, less than four kilometres away in a straight line. A new Activator Unique summit and Complete.


The view north from a lookout at Mount Gibraltar

Mount Alexandra VK2/IL-005  803 m 4 points

I worked my way down to Mittagong and then drove up Victoria St and on to the road to the parking area. I checked the mapping and the time and decided that I had time for the climb and activation.

I loaded up the pack and started the walk up to the summit – around 600 m horizontally with about 80 metres vertically. I found a spot to set up away from others on the summit and strung out the antenna. Whilst I was attempting to set the antenna, I heard a crack – the squid pole had leaned over and actually snapped above the bottom section. I managed to fix the pole at a reasonable angle and soon had the antenna at a usable height.

I assembled the rest of the gear and was about to spot myself and saw that Andrew VK1DA/2 was on Mt Gibraltar. An easy 599 both ways contact on 40 m CW was soon in the log. I moved off Andrew’s frequency, spotted myself and soon had another four CW contacts in the log. I then moved up the band and soon had four SSB contacts before I closed down and started to pack up.

The hardest part of packing was collapsing the squid pole, with the second bottom section shattered. Care was required to avoid puncturing myself on the carbon fibre shards….. Another new Activator Unique summit and Complete.

I quickly walked back down to the car, loaded up and set the navigation system for my destination. I worked my way across Sydney’s suburbs to my hosts for weekend, arriving at around the planned time.

Friday evening saw us travel by train into Town Hall station and work our way around to the Marconi Room for the opening function of the WIA AGM and Conference weekend, including a Welcome and Waverley Amateur Radio Society (WARS) centenary. John Buckley VK2LWB welcomed all to the event. John Harper VK2LJ took the audience through the early years of the Waverley club. John then introduced Dr David Dufty, author of the book “The Secret Code-Breakers if Central Bureau – How Australia’s signals-intelligence network helped win the Pacific War“.

David introduced the audience to some key figures who set up radio listening posts in the Mediterranean to collect signals intelligence. These men became key figures in Central Bureau upon their return to Australia when the Pacific conflict began. The decryption of intelligence information from the Japanese signals led to key victories in the Pacific theatre during World War 2. David then outlined the part that Florence Mackenzie – “Mrs Mac” played by training the Morse code operators that received and transmitted those encrypted signals.

Saturday  25 May 2019

Saturday saw those attending gather at the Park Royal Hotel Darling Harbour, with the running of the WIA AGM and Open Forum in the morning. The afternoon saw two streams of technical talks, including one on SOTA by VK2 Association Manager Andrew Davis VK1DA/VK2UH. Andrew gave an overview of SOTA and outlined the synergy with Parks activations for the various award schemes. After a break, the Conference Dinner was held in the evening, with the guest speaker Professor Fred Watson, Astronomer at Large for the Australian Government, speaking on the Apollo program and the information gained from the flights and the results from the measuring instruments left in place on the moon. One lucky Dinner attendee went home with a new IC-7300 transceiver, the prize in a raffle draw conducted at the dinner.

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