2020 Christmas trip to Wodonga – Days 13 to 15

28 December 2020 – Boxing Day Public Holiday

I decided to spend the morning in a Park and headed to Hume Weir and onto the Murray River Road, with the mandatory permit check at Bellbridge. I drove to the target park and drove up to the top of the small hill to park and set up the station.

Wises Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2487

The Park sign on the edge of the Murray River Road

As soon as I opened the logging app, spots started coming through. I quickly started working stations that had been spotted: VK2IO/p in VKFF-2005 and VK3ANL in VKFF-2103. I moved to a clear frequency and spotted. I worked 10 stations in 11 minutes.

I moved to 40 m CW to chase Gerard VK2IO/p and Nick VK3ANL/p. I returned to 40 m SSB and worked one station before moving to 20 m SSB to again chase Gerard VK2IO/p before and again after UTC midnight.

Next I moved down to one of the regular Activity Marathon slots to work John ZL1BYZ. I moved up in frequency, spotted and started calling to work two stations, including Nick VK3ANL/p. I then moved down and again worked Gerard VK2IO/p.

I moved down to 40 m SSB and worked 10 more stations, including Gerard VK2IO/p once again. I jumped up to 20 m SSB and managed to work Nick VK3ANL/p in another band slot. I returned to 40 m SSB and worked five more stations.

I moved to 20 m CW to work Chris ZL4RA on ZL3/OT-247. I then moved to 40 m CW to work four stations, including Gerard VK2IO/p in another band slot. Another spot came through for Nick VK3ANL/p on 40 m SSB, so I moved up to make the contact. I moved to a clear frequency on 40 m SSB and worked eight more stations. I moved to 20 m SSB and worked two stations. I moved to 30 m SSb and worked Nick VK3ANL/p once more. Another spot came up for 40 m SSB and I worked Adam VK2YK/5 in VKFF-1707.

I packed up and headed back down to Murray River Road and headed back to Wodonga.

As I driving back to Wodonga, I noticed that I had snapped the “stinger” section of my Hampark antenna. I stopped at the big green hardware warehouse-style outlet. The stocked welding rods were only short. When I arrived at my base, I browsed online for welding supply houses. It looked as if Total Tools might have something suitable, so I made a dash to Albury. The stock of rods was low, so I was out of luck….. That meant another visit to Albury the following morning. It also meant another passage through a Victorian border check point.

Day 14

29 December 2020

I drove across to Albury and had success at my first stop, finding a 1 kg pack of 3.2 mm diameter 1000 mm long stainless steel welding rods. I also purchased a hacksaw, which now resides in the vehicle. I crossed back into Victoria via Hume Weir, with no vehicle queue at the check point. I then headed to Sandy Creek and climbed up the road to Lockharts Gap.

I turned left into Lockharts Gap Track and headed out to the first summit.

VK3/VE-159 (unnamed) 892 m 4 points

The track runs over the summit. I found a spot to park and tossed a line over a tree branch and soon had the doublet in the air and the station set up a few metres away from the car.

The Spots showed that Adam VK2YK/5 was in a Park, and Tony VK3CAT was setting up on a summit. I worked Adam in VKFF-2887 on 40 m SSB. I listened for ZL3GA on 40 m CW and SSB, without hearing him. I spotted on 40 m CW after checking that the focus frequency was clear. Garry VK2GAZ was the first to call, followed by Tony VK3CAT on Mt Ritchie VK3/VC-003. Next was Allen VK3ARH, followed by Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0550.

I moved to 20 m CW to chase Geoff ZL3GA on ZL3/CB-574. The began a series of jumps around the bands as several Activator spotted on HF: Andrew VK1DA/p on Mt Ginini VK1/AC-008 on 40 m SSB, Bill VK1MCW/p on Mt Ainsley VK1/AC-040 on 80 m CW, Ian VK1DI/p on Mt Stromlo VK1/AC-043.

I moved to 20 m CW and worked two ZL regulars. I next moved to 40 m SSB and found a clear frequency and spotted. I worked four stations before UTC midnight, including Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0550.

After UTC midnight, I worked three more stations including Adam VK2YK/5 in VKFF-1739. I moved to chase Glenn VK3YY on VK3/VT-026. I was called as Glenn was signing off and I moved down the band. I worked Andrew VK1AD/p on VK1/AC-008. I then moved to 80 m SSB and worked Rik VK3EQ, followed by Tony VK3CAT on Mt Ritchie VK3/VC-003. I spent a few minutes listening around the bands before I worked Bill VK1MCW/p on 40 m CW from VK1/AC-040. I closed down, packed up and retraced my route back towards Lockharts Gap, before swinging left onto Powerline Road. I travelled to the sweeping left hand corner before the road descends off the ridge and found a spot to park.

VK3/VE-242 (unnamed) 842 m 4 points

I loaded up the rucksack and walked through the bush until inside the Activation Zone, only about 230 m horizontally. I again tossed a line over a tree branch and soon had the antenna erected. I set up the station and was soon listening.

I managed to work Andrew VK3ARR on Mt Alexander VK3/VN-016 on 40 m SSB. I moved down in frequency, spotted and soon worked Andrew VK1AD/p on VK1/AC-008, followed by Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0550, followed by six other callers.

I moved to 40 m CW and worked five stations, including Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0550 and Tony VK3CAT/p on Mt Strickland VK3/VN-030.

A spot came up and I spent several minutes 40 m SSB trying to call Glenn VK3YY on Mt Horsfall on VK3/VT-028 before finally making the contact under marginal conditions. I then moved up the band to work Adam VK2YK/5 in VKFF-0889.

I moved to 20 m CW and worked two ZL regulars before I closed down.

I packed up and walked briskly back to the car and headed back to Lockharts Gap, crossing the road and driving up Eskdale Spur Road. I then swung right into McGrath Track and climbed up to the summit, dodging a couple of fallen branches.

VK3/VE-241 (unnamed) 926 m 6 points

I parked at a wide spot just off the summit and soon had the station set up for the third time.

I started calling on 40 m CW after posting a spot. I quickly worked three stations, including Gerard VK2IO/p yet again. I called for a few minutes and moved to 20 m CW, where I again worked two ZL regulars.

I moved to 40 m SSB, where I worked six stations, including Andrew VK3ARR now on Mt Tarrengower VK3/VN-023. I moved to 20 m SSB and worked Nev VK5WG. Several minutes of calling yielded no results, so I took a break. I was aware that Tony VK3CAT was heading to another summit.

During the break, I started to prepare one of the welding rods as a new stinger. I also tried working Allen VK3ARH in Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964. We eventually managed to work Allen on 40 m CW.

I took another break and fitted the new stinger to the Hampark antenna. Tony VK3CAT/p spotted. I listened on the spotted frequency, but heard nothing. I eventually worked Tony on 15 m CW from Mt Donna Buang VK3/VC-002.

I again packed up and retraced my route back to Lockharts Gap and then headed back to Wodonga.

It had been a hectic day. Thanks to all who worked me.

Day 15

Wednesday 30 December 2020

The day was almost a write off for radio activity. I did manage to chase two Park activators later in the day from the car.

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