2020 Christmas trip to Wodonga – Days 16 and 17

Day 16

Thursday 31 December 2020

I still needed at least two more contacts to make the minimum four contacts for the Activity Marathon.

I headed out from Wodonga relatively early and headed to Rutherglen and then out to the first target Park for the day.

Moodemere Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2145

I drove to the locked gate on McDonald Road and found a spot to park. I double checked my location with the Park boundary file and confirmed that my chosen location was inside the Park. I set up once again with a line over tree branch to haul up the centre of the doublet.

I spotted and started calling on 40 m SSB. I soon worked Bob VK2BYF and Andrew VK2PEZ, both in VKFF-1903. I then worked another 11 contacts over the next 20 minutes. I then moved to 40 m CW, where I worked 10 stations over the next 20 minutes.

I moved to 20 m CW and worked only two stations. I then moved to 20 m SSB and worked one station before UTC rollover. I then worked 15 stations in the first 10 minutes of the new day. I moved to 20 m CW to work one station in a usual Activity Marathon slot.

I moved to 40 m CW to work six stations before moving to SSB, where I worked eight stations before I decided to close.

I had 55 contacts in the log for the Park.

I packed up and travelled back to Rutherglen and then to Chiltern to stop to grab something for lunch.

I headed out into the nearby Park to find a spot to operate.

Chiltern – Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620

I checked a couple of possible sites, but found only marginal mobile phone coverage. I settled on a parking area at the old State Battery, off Battery Hill Road. I was not far from Chiltern-Barnawartha Road, with the main rail line just beyond and then the Hume Highway.

I again tossed a line over a tree branch to haul up the centre of the doublet.

I spotted for 40 m SSB and was soon responding to Hunters. I managed to work 10 stations in twenty minutes. I moved to 40 m CW and worked four Hunters. A move to 20 m CW produced only two Hunters. 20 m SSB resulted in five contacts.

30 m CW resulted in two Hunters, plus one on SSB. I then jumped around a bit, working four more stations between 40 m SSB and 20 m SSB.

Just for fun, I pulled out my laptop and the rarely used IC-705, plus an Elecraft T1 ATU. I assembled the station and started listening on 17 m FT8. I soon had the system working in receive and then managed to get the station working in transmit – my first attempt at using the combination. Yes, I really should have tried the system out at home before the trip to check that it was all working okay. I managed to work J79WTA on Dominica Island NA-101. I listened around some of the bands on FT8, but did not manage any further contacts. I packed up the system and returned to using the KX2.

I tried 20 m CW once again, yielding three Hunters. 40 m CW yielded eight Hunters. I then managed to chase Ron VK3AFW on VK3/VE-191 on 80 m CW. I returned to 40 m SSB and worked eight stations. I finally moved to 80 m SSB to work John VK2YW in Wagga Wagga for my last contact for the day.

I worked a total of 49 contacts in the Park.

I packed up and returned to Wodonga for the night.

Day 17

Friday 1 January 2021

Despite plans to the contrary, I ended up seeing in the New Year at my brother’s home. The highlight was probably the fireworks display at the Albury Trotting Club across the river. The display went for over 20 minutes, compared to about seven minutes on the TV for the Sydney fireworks.

I was a little slow off the mark, but had plenty of time to reach my target Park and summit. I had considered other operating sites, but the weather forecast favoured a site at lower altitude and closer to Wodonga.

UTC midnight at the end of each year has become very popular for SOTA Activators and Chasers alike. It is the one time when a single trip to a summit can yield the Activator points twice – once for the old year and again for the New Year. The Activator needs to remember to submit separate logs for the two days, otherwise the SOTA Database will only give you the points once.

Mount Baranduda VK3/VE-189 775 m 4 points
Baranduda Regional Park VKFF-0969

I travelled out from Wodonga towards Beechworth to Leneva and took Bantik Track to access the Park. I ignored the ostentatious brick structures at the start of the track – the owners of a very large house built up the hill appear to think that the Track is their private driveway. A Parks Victoria sign just metres away from the structures indicated to me that the access was valid. Climb up the track until the main track appears to swing into the private property and the “driveway” really begins. Here you will find a gate into the Park which is subject to Seasonal Closure during winter.

Once through the gate, Bantik Track soon starts to climb up the side of the hill. It meets Darmodys Track and swings right for the steep climb up to Baranduda Range Track. 4WD is recommended due to the surface, large spoon drains and some large ruts. Swing west onto Baranduda Range Track and continue on to the area of the summit.

I parked near the branching of the track just south of the summit. The track continues ahead to a locked gate and the Park boundary, with the branch to the right travelling the short distance up to one of the communications sites on the summit. My chosen operating spot was at approximately 760 m HASL, well inside the Activation Zone.

I soon had a line over a tree branch at about 12 m, so the doublet centre was at a good height. I set up a small folding table and the camp chair at a convenient spot and soon had the station assembled.

I noted that some stations were already operating. I quickly tuned down and waited for a chance to call Paul VK5PAS on VK5/SE-016. Paul was soon in the log, followed by Marija VK5MAZ. As I was in a Park, I decided to move up to the VKFF focus frequency and spotted myself. Stations started calling me, including a string of other SOTA Activators: Andrew VK1AD/p on VK1/AC-039, Nick VK3ANL/p on VK3/VN-015, Peter VK3ZPF on VK3/VT-026, Brian VK3BCM on VK3/VC-038, and Compton VK2HRX on VK2/CT-002.

I jumped to 20 m CW to work Geoff ZL3GA on ZL3/OT-493. I then moved to 40 m CW to work several callers, including Ian VK5CZ on VK5/SE-013 and Nick VK3ANL/p on VK3/VN-015. A spot came through and I again jumped to 20 m CW to work Chris ZL4RA on ZL1/NL-002. I returned to 40 m CW and worked only one more station before UTC midnight. I had 22 stations in the log at that time.

I had many callers after UTC midnight, including VK5HAA/p on VK5/SE-005, Allen VK3ARH and Andrew VK3ARR, both on VK3/VE-014, Bill VK1MCW/2 on VK2/ST-053, and Paul VK3HN/p on VK3/VC-032.

I jumped to 20 m CW to chase John ZL1BYZ on ZL1/MW-034. I then moved to 20 m SSB to again work Paul VK5PAS/p on VK5/SE-016.

I moved back to 40 m SSB to work 11 stations over 20 minutes, including Ron VK3AFW/p on VK3/VE-033, Compton VK2HRX on VK2/CT-002, Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-093, John VK5HAA on VK5/SE-005, Andrew VK1AD/p on VK1/AC-039 and Nik VK3ZK/p on VK3/VC-031.

I moved to 20 m CW and spotted. I worked two stations, including Wynne ZL2ATH on ZL3/TM-116. I moved to 20 m SSB and worked Matt VK1MA on VK1/AC-008. I then closed down and packed up the station, with a total of 49 stations in the log.

The morning had been hectic. There were many Activators operating and it was difficult to chase them all – sometimes the propagation was not there, or I was busy trying to call and missed the Spots. But it was an enjoyable activation. Thanks go to all who worked me.

I retraced my route back to the start of Bantik Track and then drove to Yackandandah to buy some lunch.

As I was driving back to Wodonga, I pulled over and managed to work Andrew VK3ARR and Allen VK3ARH on VK3/VE-019. I also chased David VK3KR/p on VK3/VC-019, Andrew VK1DA/p on VK2/ST-010 and Pete VK2FPAR/p in VKFF-2781 during the afternoon.

Later in the afternoon I chased Brian VK3BCM on VK3/VN-030, Paul VK3HN/p on VK3/VC-018 and Peter VK3ZPF on VK3/VT-040.

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