An afternoon out near Mirboo North

Sunday 10 May 2021

After a very dull morning, the sky cleared up early on Sunday afternoon. After checking the weather RADAR, I decided to head out for another dose of radio fun in the field.

On Thursday afternoon, I had been checking the details for the Moorabbin & District Radio Club Hamfest on the Saturday (see my previous report). I noticed a new issue of the Club News was published on the Club’s web page, so spent some time reading the newsletter.

I found an article by Ron VK3AFW which announced that Humps had been added for VK3. Humps? More correctly, HEMA – Humps Excluding Marilyns Award. Humps are broadly similar to SOTA summits, but they require a prominence of only 100 metres. Therefore, the Humps are excluded from SOTA but are included in HEMA. The scoring is different than the SOTA scoring, with the activation of a Hump earning the Activator one (1) point. There are some other rules to consider, so check out everything at the official website:

Exploring the website, I found that there are 42 peaks in VK1, 89 in VK3 and 86 in VK6. The only region mapped to date in VK3 is the Victoria Central region. I found that there was a hump near Mirboo North, adjacent to a possible access route to a section of the Mirboo North Regional Park.

Early on Sunday afternoon, I loaded the required gear into the car and headed out towards Mirboo North and around to Old Thorpdale Road. I drove around the peak of the Hump and along an unsealed road which rapidly deteriorated once past a house located to the west of the peak. The “road” on the map became damp, very bumpy, narrow, slippery and was steepening. I aborted any attempt to reach the Regional Park section to the west and headed back to the corner of the access road to find a spot to activate.

VK3/HVC-074 (unnamed) 408 m

The high point on Old Thorpdale Road passes across the shoulder of the Hump above the 400 m contour, clearly well within the Activation Zone. I found a spot just off the road on the eastern side to park the car near the edge of a pine plantation. I soon had a line over a tree branch and hauled up the ZS6BKW doublet. I set up the station on a folding table a couple metres from the rear of the vehicle.

I spotted myself on 40 m as a QRP station. Perhaps Allen VK3ARH might add HEMA support to the ParksnPeaks website….. I called for several minutes before I had my first response – Paul VK5PAS. I worked Paul and explained the concept of Humps. I next worked Marija VK5MAZ. Several of the SOTA and Parks regulars also called. I worked 10 stations in less than 20 minutes, thus easily qualifying the Hump (four (4) contacts required). With no further callers, I closed down and packed up.

I then headed back down to the Strzelecki Highway and around onto Ricardo Road and drove up the hill to find a spot to set up within the target Park for the afternoon.

A Google Earth view looking north from near Mirboo North showing the two operating sites.

Mirboo North Regional Park VKFF-1876

I again set up with a line over a tree branch to haul up the centre of the doublet. I ended up with the centre at around 14 m above ground, with the ends at around 6 m height. I set up the station on the tailgate of the Ranger and used the IC-7300. I spotted myself on ParksnPeaks for 40 m SSB and worked 10 stations in only 20 minutes. I then moved to 20 m CW to see if I could hear a Japanese SOTA station, but had no success.

I moved to 40 m CW and spotted. Several minutes of fruitless calling CQ was finally rewarded with a contact. I then moved to 17 m CW, to see if the Japanese SOTA station was audible. Success – I could hear him and I soon had Seiji JG4LCS/4 on Daigasen JA/OY-152 in the log!

I then returned to 40 m CW, spotting myself once I found a clear frequency. I worked four chasers in five minutes. I moved to 40 m SSB, where I worked 20 chasers in only fifteen minutes. I then made some contacts with some locals on 2 m FM and 40 m and 80 m SSB, boosting the number of contacts. I returned to 40 m SSB and worked John VK5HAA on SSB and CW before moving down to 7.144 MHz. I could not hear Chris VK1CT clearly on SSB, but thanks to assistance in message relay from John VK5HAA, I did manage to work Chris VK1CT on CW for a Park to Park (VKFF-0853).

With 55 contacts in the log and the sun well behind the trees, I closed just before 0700 UTC. I packed up and then worked my way out to Darlimurla and headed home via Boolarra.

Thanks again to all the Chasers.

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