Road trip to the 2017 WIA AGM in Hahndorf – the trip to Adelaide

The WIA AGM was to be held in Hanhdorf in the Adelaide Hills on Saturday 20 May 2017. I was planning to attend, combining the trip with some Summit and Park activations.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

I headed off on Wednesday morning, with the weather forecast not looking promising. Neither was the space weather forecast. My basic plan was to get through to Ballarat and then consider options beyond. As I approached Ballarat, the sky was becoming darker grey. I decided on an easy option and continued on to Ararat and then south west to Moyston.

Point 599/Mt William Range VK3/VS-032 599 m 2 points
Grampians National Park VKFF-0213

From Moyston, I set the vehicle GPS for the junction of Yarram Park Road and Jimmys Creek Road, Mafeking. All was okay until getting close, with the direct route of Emmett Road having a Road Closed sign, so a minor diversion was required.

Having looked at the Google Earth images, the likely access route appeared to be via the unnamed track which heads off Jimmys Creek Road roughly 630 m east of the junction with Yarram Park Road. I headed carefully along the road and all was okay, with some overhanging branches and encroaching scrub in places. As the track started to climb, some large spoon drains were encountered and became more frequent. I eventually attained the top of the ridge and then turned left to head toward the summit.

About 100 m west from the desired parking spot, there was a tree across the track, with a tight diversion around. I parked here and walked the final short distance to set up close to the track bend, from which the track headed north with a steep descent. The track corner is above 580 m altitude, so well within the AZ, and still inside the National Park. The summit itself is on private property beyond the Park boundary.

The weather was threatening – it had been raining and it lokked as if more was to come. A quick activation was the result, with five contacts made in 5 minutes, with no close in contacts. After the fifth contact, the rain resumed, so it was time to quickly pack up and retreat. A new Unique and Complete in the log.

I followed the same route back to Jimmys Creek Road, and then headed west towards the Grampians Road (C216). It was then south to Victoria Valley Road and then travel around to Cavendish, then north west towards Balmoral before heading south on Dundas Gap Road.

Mount Dundas VK3/SE-045 459 m 1 point

Near the crest of the road, watch for Mt Dundas Road to the right. Travel up it and turn right to access the summit, which has significant RF infrastructure on top.

I quickly set up on 40 m ssb, and checked ParksnPeaks. First in the log was Paul VK5PAS operating VI5WOW in Mount George Conservation Park. I bagged a total of 8 contacts in 10 minutes before the rain started falling again, prompting another quick pack up and retreat to the car. A new Unique and Complete in the log.

I returned to the bitumen and headed SW to Coleraine, then basically west to Penola. There was not much open in the main street, so I dropped into the Prince of Wales Hotel, organised a motel room for the night and then dinner.

After dinner I made a call to arrange access to Mt Burr the following morning: The Summit information page indicated that approval was required from the local Broadcast Australia District Supervisor. I had made some email enquiries earlier in the week, so expected few issues. During my conversation with the appropriate person, I was also advised that approval from Forestry SA was recommended. I was given a contact number – a call to be made the following morning.

Thursday 18 May 2017

After packing the car, I headed down the street to call into the Bakery to grab some food. A little after 0830 local time, I called the ForestrySA number. A minor problem when the call dropped out, but contact was re-established shortly afterwoods. I spent some time explaining who I was to the local Ranger and discussing my plans to access Mt Burr. I was given verbal approval, plus an indication that the Ranger would meet me on the hill, as he was planning to be on-site at a similar time to myself.

Mount Burr VK5/SE-019 240 m 1 point

I had arranged to use the VI5WOW callsign for the activations today – Mt Burr and a planned later Park activation. After driving out to Mt Burr, I drove up to the summit and then retreated about half way down the access lane. I have added some additional notes to the summit page, as outlined below.

MtBurr

Looking up hill to the Mt Burr summit

I was just completing my fourth contact when the farmer and the Ranger drove up the access lane.

I had a long discussion with the Ranger, who then went up to the summit. He stopped again on his way back down, taking my details on the day and forwarded an approved application form later in the day via email.

The cleared & fenced area around the Mt Burr summit, plus the surrounding forests, are managed by ForestrySA. The surrounding pine forests are leased to forestry company OneFortyOne. There are several site leases on the summit, including Broadcast Australia. As noted elsewhere for this summit, the top of the summit is RF hot. There is an access lane to the summit area from the bottom gate, which has signs noting that you must be authorised to enter beyond the gate.

The cleared area surrounding the access lane is leased to a farmer to graze sheep.

I set up and operated from the edge of the access lane way, about half way between the summit and the access gate – well inside the AZ. To operate in this area, technically one needs approval from ForestrySA. You can apply on-line for a “Forest Access Permit” – see below.

To quote from the email I received from the local Ranger after the activation:

ForestrySA now has an online permit application form on our website at: http://www.forestrysa.com.au

Once the page has loaded, drag your mouse over the Recreation tab, then click Green Triangle.

Please have a read through the page as it has important information regarding your visit.

The page has information on general access to both ForestrySA’s Native Forest Reserves, and also Plantation areas managed by OneFortyOne Plantations.

Most activities do not require a written permit, but those that do are mainly for plantation areas, and include those such as Horse riding, Caving, or Christmas tree collection.

The page has links to electronic permits, please fill out the form electronically, stating what you wish to use the permit for, save a copy onto your desktop and email through the completed application to conservationandrecreation@forestrysa.com.au

We will approve the application and forward by return email.

Both the Bluff summit and Mt. Burr summit are ForestrySA properties, so the application form & Green Triangle Forest Access Permit ForestrySA, should be completed for those sites.”

The “Activity” on the form was noted as “Radio communications exercise”.

All wishing to activate Mt Burr are strongly encouraged to complete and submit an application for access to the site at least a few working days prior to your planned activation. You are unlikely to have any issues if you have the appropriate permit!

The Ranger was friendly and extremely helpful.

Despite the interruptions to discuss matters with the Ranger, the activation was a success, but with only 7 contacts made. A new Unique and Complete in the log.

I headed back to the main road, and then west to Millicent, where I stopped to grab some tourist brochures and a map.

I then headed north to Robe to buy some lunch, then headed back to Old Naracoorte Road.

Lake Hawdon South Conservation Park VKFF- VKFF-1045 5CP-110

Whilst in Robe, I quickly checked ParksnPeaks: it appears that this Park had not yet been activated. There are several other Parks in the area, but I decided to activate this one for a little while.

Travelling along Old Naracoorte Road, I was looking for a small entrance way to a farm gate which is located adjacent to the northern boundary of the Park. I parked the vehicle here and climbed the fence to set up just inside the Park boundary.

The Park appears to be partially old grazing land, but also very swampy ground.

I worked 10 stations on 40 m SSB over about 25 minutes of calling, before switching to 80 m SSB to give some VK5 stations a chance to work the Park. The move yielded only John VK5BJE and Paul VK5PAS/m. I then went to 20 m to work another 8 stations, including one JA, before returning to 40 m for another 4 contacts before I closed, just over an hour after starting calling. A total of 24 contacts in the log, thus well qualified for VKFF.

I packed up and headed east and north, making my way to Woolmit Road.

Kungari Conservation Park VKFF-1044 5CP-106

This was another Park which had not yet been activated. I found the track that enters the Park, together with the locked gate at the Park boundary with a very new looking sign just beyond. I climbed the fence and set up near the sign.

Kungari

The Kungari Conservation Park sign

First in the log was Liz VK2XSE/5 in VKFF-0778 on 40 m SSB. In about an hour and 10 minutes I worked 31 stations on 40 m. I switched to 20 m, working Rick VK4RF. With no further calls, I tried 30 m SSB, again working Rick VK4RF plus Cliff VK2NP. I returned to 40 m to work another 4 stations, and then tried 80 m for another 5 calls in the log. With 45 in the log, I closed down as the rain spots were getting heavier.

I headed east to the Princes Highway and then made my way north, with the rain becoming heavier. I stopped at Meningie for some dinner, and then headed for Mount Barker for the night.

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2 summits north of Heyfield

Friday 12 May 2017

The weather forecast was good, but the day would be cool. The electricity supplier was due to being undertaking works near home, so I was scheduled to be without power for most of the day. It left only one obvious decision: head for the hills.

From home I headed to Heyfield and then north to Coongulla. It was then a matter of navigating the network of tracks to get to the junction of Ben Cruachan Road and Avon Track and then on up Ben Cruachan Road to the end of the road.

Ben Cruachan VK3/VT-042 836 m 4 points

This summit had only been activated once previously by Wayne VK3WAM, using CW only. It would be in demand as a new Unique for many Chasers. Unfortunately, I had not worked Wayne, so this activation was simply a new Unique for me as an Activator.

Wayne noted that Ben Cruachan Road appears to traverse private property. Prior to leaving home I checked Forest Explorer for access details and road restrictions: it appears that the road can be traversed by the public.

After the junction with Avon Track, the road becomes narrower and rougher. 4WD was preferred, with higher clearance required in a couple of spots. There are a couple of tight switchbacks as you near the top, and then a good sized car park with a rustic picnic table built from local timber. Only about 30 metres or so beyond the end of the road is the summit trig and what appears to be the remains of an old rock cairn, with a viewing compass.

BCrauchanViewN

View north from Ben Cruachan summit

I set up at the picnic table, well inside the AZ. First in the log was Ian VK5IS, after I had tried calling Mitch VK3XDM/p on Mt McKay VK3/VE-007 – I could hear Mitch but it was not reciprocal. After working Ian, I placed the power amplifier in circuit and managed to be heard by Mitch for a S2S. With Mitch was Perrin VK3XPT/p. Several of the regular mid-week Chasers were worked, including John ZL1BYZ on 40 m. I then switched to 20 m, to again work John at a slightly stronger level, followed by John VK6NU and Fred VK44FE. With no further callers, I shut down and headed back toward Coongulla.

Once back at the junction of Geoghegans Rd and Hodges Rd, I headed east and around to Huggetts Road and on to the picnic area at Mount Hedrick car park.

Mount HedrickVK3/VT-069 459 m 1 point

Opposite the car park is the start of a reasonably well-defined walking track.

HedrickStart

Start of the walking track

The walking track is later joined by another track which starts a little further south off Huggetts Road which appears to have plenty of motor bike traffic – perhaps it was a good idea to be attempting the walk late on a week day afternoon!

The sign was correct – some steep and rocky sections were encountered. The summit itself is obscured by thick scrub – I could not see a trig or other marker. I continued on to the north of the summit to a rocky area and set up there – less than 10 metres vertical below the true summit.

This is another rare summit, activated previously by Wayne before he went to Ben Cruachan, again CW only.

Ian VK5CZ was first in the log this time, followed by VK5IS and ZL1BYZ. I had 8 in the log on 40 m within 10 minutes. I switched to 20 m and was called by Pit YO7MPD followed by Rick VK4RF. Also worked on 20 m were Ralph KP4RV and Damiano IZ7UNJ. With no further responses to CQs on 20, I switched back to 40 m to work another 9 stations before closing about an hour after I arrived.A total of 22 contacts were made.

I headed back down and followed the motor bike tracks down to a point where the 2 tracks almost meet again, requiring only a few metres walk to get back onto the walking track.

Once back at the car, it was a simply matter to head south, following “my nose” to get back to the bitumen and to then head for home, arriving after power had been restored and then spending some time resetting various clocks!

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A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: Some new Victorian summits

Saturday 29 April

I decided to head off to attempt to activate a summit for another complete. I headed south east from Wodonga to Dartmouth and up to the obvious first summit for the day.

Mount Benambra VK3/VE-041 1472 m 8 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

South of Dartmouth, take Mount Benambra Road and then Benambra Summit Track. Note that there is limited parking and turn around space at the tower at the summit.

The summit was clear, with almost all surrounding terrain obscured by low cloud. I could see the Main Range to the east and Mount Bogong to the west. The sun was beating down.

LookingtoBogong

Looking towards Mt Bogong from Mt Benambra

I set up near the trig and was greeted with S8 inverter noise when I switched on the radio. I could only hear the loudest of callers attempting to make contact with Wade VK1FWBD/p. I quickly pulled the station down and headed about 100 m down the track, hoping that a little distance would be sufficient to lower the QRM. I set up with the antenna parallel to the track, right on the edge of the track, with space for me to sit just off the track.

I could not hear Wade on switching on. First in the log was Wynne ZL2ATH on ZL1/WL-103. I ended up with 24 in the log, including several S2S contacts:

VK1FWBD/p on VK1/AC-044
VK3BYD/5 on VK5/SW-039
VK6MAC/p on VK6/SW-036 in VKFF-0645
ZL2ATH on ZL1/WL-103

I packed up and headed off to the main target for the day.

Mount Cravensville Range VK3/VE-058 1390m 8 points

I travelled back to Mount Benambra Road and followed it north west to the junction with Benambra Spur Track to climb up to the saddle between the SOTA summit and Mount Cravensville. I parked and climbed up the slope through moderate scrub until inside the AZ.

First in the log was Mark VK4SMA/p in VKFF-VKFF-0471. I worked 22 stations, including two more Park activators: VK7JON/p in VKFF-0322 and Greg VK4VXX/2 in VKFF-0470. After 30 minutes on the summit I packed up and headed back to the vehicle. A new Unique and Complete.

I headed east along Benambra Spur Track to exit the area. The approach to the summit might be a little easier from the east side of the summit, from around 36.478705° S 147.609168° E – the undergrowth looked thinner here.

Benambra Spur Track joins Gibb Range Road about 2 km south east of the access point for Gibb Range VK3/VE-069, but I decided not to activate the summit. I headed out to the east to the Corryong-Benambra Road and north before heading back to Wodonga for the night.

Sunday 30 April

I was underway a little before 0900 from Wodonga and headed down the Hume Highway to Benalla then south to Mansfield. From there I headed to Merrijig and Merimbah, then up the Mount Stirling Road to Telegraph Box Junction. From there, I headed north on the Circuit Road and then out along No 3 Road to reach my first target for the day.

Mountain No 3 VK3/VE-033 1548 m 10 points

The alternate approach is via Carters Road, which requires a steep climb up to the summit from the winter road closure gate. I decided to attempt via my access route to see what the road was like: all was OK, with some bumps and spoon drains over the last kilometre or so. I drove up onto the pleasant snow plain area close to the summit via Weston Track. I set up at the northern limit of the snow plain, using a tree branch to support the antenna.

First in the log was Andrew VK3ARR/p on VK3/VC-002. Other S2S contacts included Wade VK1FWBD/p on VK1/AC-040, and Andrew VK1AD/2 and Al VK1RX/2 on VK2/ST-017. I also worked Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1410 and Ian VK1DI/p in VKFF-0842. With 20 calls in the log and no replies to a final CQ call, I packed up and headed back along No 3 Road. A new Unique and Complete. I parked at Razorback Huts.

Mount Winstanley VK3/VE-036 1523 m 10 points

Access to the summit is straightforward: follow the Hut Trail ski trail to the start of Razorback Trail, then climb a short distance to the top of the spur just to the west of the trail junction. From here, follow the walking track north along the spur until you reach the summit cairn, a distance of about 1.9 km from the Huts with a climb of about 165 m. The walking track appears to continue north from the summit along the spur, presumably to join Razorback Track near its northern end. This may provide a slightly shorter access route during summer when you can access No 3 Road – the climb would be similar, but about 400 m shorter.

The climb took me about 50 minutes. First in the log was again Andrew VK3ARR/p, this time on VK3/VN-027. I also worked Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1410, Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-0690 and Tony VK3CTM/p on VK3/VN-016. I ended up with 25 contacts in the log, all on 40 m. A new Unique and Complete. The return to the vehicle took 22 minutes.

Winstanley summit

The summit cairn on Winstanley. Mt No 3 visible to the north.

It was then back down to Telegraph Box Junction, then south on the Circuit Road to Howqua Gap and to drive up Howqua Gap Trail to the saddle just below the summit.

Mount Stirling VK3/VE-011 1747 m 10 points

I set up just south of the summit, seeking some protection from the wind. First in the log was Tony VK3CTM/p on VK3/VN-016. I ended up with 27 contacts in the log in only 20 minutes. A new Unique and Complete. I was getting cold and was still considering another summit, so packed up and headed back down to Howqua Gap.

From Howqua Gap, I took Corn Hill Trail and Corn Hill Road up to the Mount Buller village and made my way to the end of Summit Road, only a short distance from the edge of the AZ.

Mount Buller VK3/VE-008 1805 m 10 points

I climbed up until just inside the AZ to set up with a solid breeze and inside the cloud. This was to be a short activation! First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/m. With 8 in the log and without any replies to the final CQ call, I shut down and packed up.

It was then a case of driving down to Mirimbah, out to Mansfield and then to return to home. I arrived home at around 2000, having put a total of almost 6000 km on the odometer.

Trip Summary

23 summits activated for a total of 178 Activator points.

40 Chaser contacts made, for 149 Chaser points.

21 new Activator Uniques.

19 new Complete summits.

Reached 2500 Activator points on 24 April.

Reached 250 Complete summits on 26 April.

A total of 9 VKFF references activated.

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A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: the trip south

Monday 24 April

I departed Yugar a little after 0700. I followed the recommendation to travel back over Mount Glorious to Wivenhoe-Somerset Road (thus avoiding Monday morning Brisbane traffic), then to Ipswich, Warwick, Stanthorpe and across into NSW and Tenterfield.

Mount Mackenzie VK2/NT-025 1296 m 8 points

Mount Mackenzie is just west of Tenterfield and is very obvious as you approach the town from the north. I followed the signs out to the summit and set up mid-way between the actual summit and the lookout.

First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/p on Barraba Trig VK2/HU-065. I quickly worked another 4 stations and then shut down when I had no further replies. With the summit qualified, this was another new Unique and Complete.

ViewAcrossTenterfield

Looking across Tenterfield from the lookout

I drove back down to Tenterfield and then headed south on A15.

I explored a possible approach to The Magistrate VK2/NT006, via Rockdale Road, which looked to be a potential approach route. It was not to be: I reached a locked gate with a sign “Private Property No trespassers”. So I aborted this attempt. Alternate approaches would require a significant detour. Unfortunately, no information has been added by previous activators to the summit page. I did not really go search for information, rather simply looked at some maps. The NSW National Parks website has little useful information on the Park.

Back on the main road, I headed south through Glen Innes to Grahams Valley Road and Maybole Road to the junction with Whites Road. From Whites Road, there were clearly tracks up to the target summit, but without any obvious entrance.

Mount Rumbee VK2/NT-005 1503 m 10 points

A short distance east of the Maybole Road Whites Road junction, there is an entrance into a farm – “Koala”. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I drove quietly up the drive to near the farm house at base of the summit. Exiting the vehicle, I heard sounds from sheds, so walked over. I found activity – several people were shearing. I introduced myself and explained my mission. The lady said that my request sounded reasonable and sought out her son. I explained my request briefly and he offered to show me the way to the summit.

The summit itself has an area of Crown land, but is surrounded by the farm apart from a possible public access route which shows up on the NSW SIX maps. There is a comms installation on the summit and another on the lower hilltop just to the north. The family are concerned that additional comms sites are not established.

I was guided through the various gates and had the final approach route outlined. I was able to drive to the top of the hill.

OnMt Rumbee

On Mt Rumbee

I set up at the trig. Tony VK3CAT was first in the log. Within 11 minutes, I had 14 in the log. With no further responses, I switched off and headed back down the hill after packing up. This time I had to open and close the various gates – not a difficult task. I called in to the shearing shed again to thank the farmer for permitting access and informing them that I was heading out.

Back on Maybole Road, I headed to the hamlet of Ben Lomond, and on to Inn Road.

Ben Lomond VK2/NT-004 1512 m 10 points

I approached the summit using the same route as Ian VK1DI, reaching a locked gate within the AZ. I also set up using the fence to support the squidpole. First in the log were Helen VK7FOLK/p and Jon VK7JON/p in VKFF-1139. I had 17 callsigns in the log within 21 minutes, but was unable to complete a contact with Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-004. Thanks to Bill VK4FW, we coordinated a QSY to 80 m where I completed contacts with both Bill and Gerard. I switched back to 40 m to work friend Sergio VK3SFG and then packed up in developing gloom – the sun was below the horizon. This was a new Unique and another Complete for me.

ViewWBenLomond

Looking to the east. Mt Ben Lomond in shadow on the right.

I returned to Inn Road and Ben Lomond, then drove west and south to Narrabri, arriving a little before 2100. I indulged in a meal at a Chinese restaurant and then sought somewhere to sleep for the night. I ended up driving up into Mount Kaputar National Park to set up camp quite late.

Tuesday 25 April – ANZAC Day

Mt Coryah VK2/NW-004 1409 m 8 points
Mt Kaputar National Park VKFF-0353

I had camped in the Coryah Gap car park – perhaps not permitted, as it is not an official campsite. I packed up the camp and started the climb up the well-marked track. It took me 60 minutes for the climb.

First in the log was Rod VK2ZRD in Ulladulla. In just over 30 minutes, I worked 15 stations on 40 m. I switched to 20 m CW and attempted to contact JP1QEC on JA/YN-081. The contact was not completed – signals were marginal both ways. I spent a few minutes calling on 20 m ssb with no responses, then 30 m yielded another 2 stations. I moved back to 40 m, working several more stations, bringing the total to 26 for the activation. So another Unique and Complete in the bag.

I decided to continue the circuit walk, taking 40 minutes for the descent via longer route.

Once back at the vehicle, I descended to Narrabri to grab some brunch after taking a short detour to avoid the ANZAC commemorations outside the local RSL. I decided to head to the Australia Telescope Compact Array radio telescope (Paul Wild Observatory) for a quick look.

RadioTelescope

3 of the dishes at the Australia Telescope Compact Array

I then decided to head further west to Pilliga, given that it was only about 50 km away. Whilst researching the trip, I had noted that there were several abutting Parks north of Coonabarabran, with only a couple having been activated for WWFF.

Pilliga West National Park VKFF-0604

Logsearch reports one previous activation for this VKFF reference, with 11 contacts made. I headed into the Park via Yathella Road and found a spot on the southern side of the road. I threw a line over a tree branch to haul up the dipole centre and strung out the dipole. Just as I was finishing rigging the antenna, it started to rain, so I connected the antenna to the IC-7000 in the car.

First in the log was Bob operating VK5WOW/p in Para Wirra Conservation Park VKFF-1739. Calls came quickly – much faster than in the morning. Park to Park contacts included VK5FMAZ/p and VK5PAS/p in VKFF-1752, VK2IO/p in VKFF-0196 and AX3ANL/p in VKFF-0773. I ended up 52 calls in the log in under an hour.

I packed up and headed back to the bitumen, then down the road to find an easy access into the Park to the east.

Pilliga West State (Coordinated) Conservation Area VKFF-1373 Not previously activated

I headed into the Park via Vale Road and found a side track junction that allowed me to be off the main track. I again threw a line over a tree branch to haul up the dipole centre and strung out the dipole, connecting to the IC-7000.

First in the log was Nick AX3ANL/p in VKFF-0773, followed by Marija AX5FMAZ/p and Paul AX5PAS/p in VKFF-1752. Other notable contacts included Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/MN-047 in VKFF-0196 and Dave VK2ZK/p in VKFF-0041. In 1 hour and 13 minutes, I had 52 calls in the log.

I retraced my route to Pilliga, then SSE to Baradine and north and east into Timmallallie National Park.

Timmallallie National Park VKFF-0609

By time I found my way into the Park and set up, it was getting late. I set up in fading light. Fist in the log were Paul AX5PAS/p and Marija AX5FMAZ/pin VKFF-1752 on 40 m. In ess than 20 minutes I had 12 contacts in the log. I then changed to 80 m and ended up with a total of 41 contacts in the log.

I packed up in the dark and then returned to Barradine and headed south to Coonabaraban and booked into a motel for the night – the afternoon had been wet and I decided against camping.

It rained overnight and in morning, but the weather radar showed it looks as if it would clear. I posted an Alert for 0001 Z.

Wednesday 26 April

After grabbing some food at the local bakery, I headed out to Warrumbungle National Park. I dropped into Visitor Centre to pay the entrance fees and headed around to Split Rock car park / picnic area. I loaded up and started the Split Rock Circuit in the recommended direction. I forgot to turn on my GPS until I was a little up the fire trail… The Parks team have been working on the track, but it was still slippery in places, with almost 7 mm of rain overnight. Finally make around to the start of summit climb. It was very steep in places!

Belougery Split Rock VK2/CW-017 749 m 4 points
Warrumbungle National Park VKFF-0520

I loaded up and started the Split Rock Circuit in the recommended direction. I forgot to turn on my GPS until I was a little up the fire trail… The Parks team have been working on the track, but it was still slippery in places, with almost 7 mm of rain overnight. Finally make around to the start of summit climb. It was very steep in places!

Once I had climbed up enough to have mobile coverage, I updated the Alert for later, as the climb was taking longer than my initial guess.

I climbed to the summit cairn for some photos. The breeze was stiff, so I descended to a spot out of the wind but still in the AZ. I started calling on 7.090. Got 10 in the log, and then switched to 20 m, finding significant noise on 14.310, so I moved up to 14.320. Here I worked Andrew ZL3CC and John ZL1BYZ. With no answers to further calls, it was time to pack up and descend carefully back to the Circuit Track. Another Unique and Complete in the log.

View toSE

Looking SE towards the Breadknife and Needle Mountain

I decided to complete the circuit, which involved more ups and downs. I finally arrived back at the vehicle feeling a little tired. After loading the gear, I headed back towards Coonabarabran, then up to Siding Springs Observatory.

At the Observatory, I checked out the Café and looked in the door of the visitor centre, but decided against a detailed inspection. I then had a quick visit to the Anglo Australian Telescope.

Mount Woorut VK2/CW-003 1155 m 6 points

I set up on the top picnic table, with the sky looking rather threatening. The wind was significantly stronger. On switching on, I heard Gerard VK2IO/p in Myall Lakes National Park on Winns Mountain VK2/MN-067 working Rick VK4RF. They were discussing going to CW. I called in and quickly worked Gerard before dropping down to 7.085 to call CQ. Steve VK7CW called in – not strong but we completed the contact. Steve posted a spot for me and callers started to appear. So did a brief shower with hail. I got 10 in the log before the hail really hit, when I quickly packed up and headed down the road to Coonabarabran.

I had been looking at the maps for access to a 6-point summit which had not yet been activated.

Needle Mountain VK2/CW-036 1168 m 6 points NYA

Access looked possible via Cenns Cruaich Road off the Newell Highway. The road is initially unsealed. About 6.5 km along, I found out why it has not yet been activated: a gate with a large sign: Private Property. Gate to remain locked. Access only by Authorised Key Holders. I did not even bother to try to ask at the house nearby for permission, given the sign. I headed back out to the highway and then south to Dubbo and then on to Orange for the night.

Thursday 27 April 2017

After grabbing some food at a Bakery, I headed out of town to the SW.

Mount Canobolas VK2/CT-001 1397 m 8 points
Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area VKFF-1353

I encountered a couple of sections of road works which slowed the approach, but safely arrived at the car park at the summit. It was cold – only 0 degrees, with a breeze making the apparent temperature lower. I set up using one of the sign supports to hold the squid pole, only metres from the trig. As I was setting up, I visitor arrived and was interested in what I was doing. I explained as I finished setting up and he listened to the first few contacts. First in the log was Rick VK4RF, followed by Steve VK7CW and Nev VK5WG. With 11 contacts in the log, I had no further callers, so reconfigured the antenna for 20 m, working only John ZL1BYZ despite calling for nearly 10 minutes. I switched back to 40 m for only 2 more contacts. I was getting cold and a bus load of tourists had arrived. I explained what was going on to some of them and then the squid pole de-telescoped: a sign to pack up and go with 14 in the log. Another Unique and Complete.

OperatingMt Canobolas

Operating on Mt Canobolas

I drove back to Orange via the alternate route, thus avoiding the road work areas, then passed through town and out to the north east.

Mount Bulga VK2/CT-031 1060 m 6 points

The approach to Mount Bulga is relatively straight forward, but the track to the summit is 4WD with a steep gutter at the start. I was able to drive a few hundred metres up the track until I came across a tree half down across the track, but low enough to question if I had clearance. I parked, loaded up and climbed into the AZ. I had been listening to Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-094 in VKFF-0375 calling on the approach and decided not to make the final climb to the actual summit in favour of a S2S contact.

Gerard was first in the log, followed by Steve VK7CW. I ended up with 13 in the log before deciding to pack up and head back down. Cliff VK2NP was lucky last – I was about to disconnect the antenna when he called.

Another Unique and Complete.

I drove back to the edge of Orange and then headed south to Blayney and on to Carcoar.

Mount Macquarie VK2/CT-011 1205 m 8 points

There are a couple of traps if approaching from near Carcoar: the first is that Mount Macquarie Road cannot be entered from the main road – you must enter into Carcoar and then drive under the main road. The second is that the first obvious track leads to a very steep track to the summit, which was very slippery after the overnight rain. I decided to explore further around and found a logging road with reasonable surface from on the south side of the summit. There were some ruts and wash outs, but all could be negotiated with care in a 2WD vehicle. You can drive to the summit, with a large and a smaller tower. As I approached, I could hear the noise level rise on the rig in the car. I drove around the main tower, noting the mess left by the logging of the pine trees. I drove about 150 m back down the access road and set up on the side of the road, about 10 m vertical below the summit. Once set up, I posted a Spot.

Col VK3LED was the first to call. After about 10 minutes calling, I had 6 in the log and no replies to further calls. I reconfigured for 20 m and called for at least 10 minutes with no responses. After going back to 40 m, I worked another 7 calls.

Another Unique and Complete.

After packing up, I head back to the main road and headed SW to Cowra and Grenfell. I had explored the maps and Google Earth for possible approaches to VK2/CW-048. An approach looked feasible off Grimms Lane, first going through the State Forest. That worked OK – a gate to pass through with no signs or lock. But the gate at the National Park boundary had a heavy chain with a large lock. Summit was therefore aborted. There is little information on the NP website about the Park. There is access from the east into the Park – perhaps next time!

I headed east and south, making my way to Temora, Wagga Wagga and south to Wodonga to spend three nights catching up with family.

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A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: some SOTA and Park activity in SE VK4

Friday 21 April

I left Gatton and allowed the car navigation system to lead me to my first activation for the day. I used the simplest option of the “Town Centre” and entered a locality name I had seen when looking at my digital mapping the evening before. It wanted to take me on a narrow “Dry Weather Only” track, so I headed back a short distance and north about a kilometre to reach a sealed main road.

Mount Perserverance VK4/SE-024 805 m 6 points Not previously activated

The GPS system recalculated the route and had me coming in to the west of the summit, but then wanted me to go further west, so I cancelled the route and checked my mapping application on the laptop. A quick U turn and backtrack about 200 m took me to a linking road to get back on National Park Road, Palmtree School Road and then Perseverance Trig Street. As I approached the summit, the road condition slightly deteriorated as I passed a couple of signs for Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427. My earlier investigations suggested that it might be possible to be in both the National Park and the summit AZ.

The simple approach to the summit is from Esk Hampton Road (Highway 85): Take Shearer Road and National Park Road to Palmtree, and on Palmtree School Road and then Perseverance Trig Street. When you see the steep rutted track, swing right onto the newer track, which joins Diamond Road east of the summit. Turn left to follow the sign up to the comms facilities at the summit.

I came to a junction of the old road and a new track which ran around the south side of the summit. The direct approach on the old road was steep, rocky and rutted, so I thought I would look at the southern track. When I got almost around to the east side of the summit, there was a truck half blocking the track. It had a load of sawn timber on the back, but I managed to sneak around the front of the truck, the rear of which was well off the road. Once past the truck, I saw a sign pointing up to summit – an easy approach.

I set up on the northern edge of the cleared area, hoping that it might just be inside the National Park. When I was making contacts, I mentioned that it may be a Park activation, but would need to confirm my location in relation to the Park boundary on my return home. Checking the CAPAD outlines in ArcGIS Explorer, the boundary is a short distance further north, so this was not a valid Park activation. Sorry folks!

Geoff VK3SQ was first in the log on 7.090. I worked 11 stations on 40 m and then switched to 20 m after having no replies to a few CQ calls. I worked a further 7 stations before calls dried up and I shut down and packed up. I retraced my route back to National Park Road and along to Shearer Road and out to the bitumen of Esk Hampton Road/Highway 85. I then followed the vehicle GPS to next possible target – Mt Sevastopol VK4/SE-058. All was fine until Sebastapool Road, where I found a locked large gate, so the summit was aborted.

I entered the overnight destination into the navigation system, which directed me north and east to Toogoolawah, for a stop to grab a late lunch. The route then took me through Mount Beppo, Caboonbah and Bryden to route 31: Northbrook Parkway. This is a scenic and twisting climb up into D’Aguilar National Park. The road takes you through the AZ of Tennison Woods Mountain. D’Aguilar NP

Tennison Woods Mountain VK4/SE-117 770 m 6 points
D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129

Although I was expecting the track junction, I missed it near the top of the climb, so I needed to pull over at the next road junction and turn around. Traffic and the angle of approach were awkward, so I headed back over the top until I found a spot to again turn around. This time I was able to pull up and reverse in to the start of the track to the summit. I grabbed the gear and set up close to the locked gate to the summit: the track junction with the main road is inside the AZ.

I switched on a called on 7.090, with Gerard VK2IO first in the log. I ended up with 21 calls in the log from 40 m. Much of the activation was completed under a large umbrella, with heavy rain at times. I then packed up and headed around to the home of Kevin VK4UH, who had offered to host me for the weekend. Yet another Unique and Complete in the log.

Saturday 22 April

Redfest & Q-Tech

Kevin and I travelled separately to the event, with me arriving about 30 minutes later than Kevin, but still early. Traders at the Redfest hamfest were still setting up. I had a quick look around and managed to score some goodies: 2 x Omni Spectra 8-18 GHz power dividers, a 6 position SMA relay and a 800 – 2500 MHz 30 dB coupler, all for the grand total of $1.

The conference sessions were due to start at 1000, so I took my USB memory across to the venue at 0945. Minor issue – the computer refused to recognise the device. So I made a quick trip back to the car to get the portable hard drive, with its original copy of the file. Thankfully, that file worked.

The Conference session were an interesting and informative mix of topics:
ARISS School Program by Shane Lynd VK4KHZ;
Portable operating, Summits On The Air (SOTA) and Parks Award Programs by me;
Amateur Satellite Operation by David Hopkins VK4ZF;
Meteor Scatter by Kevin Johnston VK4UH;
EMR compliance and your Amateur Station by Doug Hunter VK4ADC.

It all went well. I returned to Kevin’s home.

Sunday 23 April

3 summits in D’Aguilar NP

I departed Yugar before 0800 and drove through Dayboro and up Laceys Creek road to the top of the range. I parked close to the locked gate and loaded up.

South of Mt Sim Jue VK4/SE-045 659 m 4 points
D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129

The climb of 2.8 km with a climb of about 220 m took me 55 minutes. I chose not to walk around to the summit itself but set up just north of the junction with the road to Mount Sim Jue, within 10 m vertical of the summit. Gerard VK2IO/p on Mount Elliott VK2/HU-093 was first in the log. Other notable contacts included Andrew VK1AD/2 on Bobbara Mountain VK2/ST-044, Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-1552, Ian VK5CZ/p on VK5/SE-010 (15 m CW), John VK5BJE/3 in Snowy River NP VKFF-04555, Tony VK3CAT/p and Allen VK3ARH/p, both on Big Hill VK3/VE-059 (40 m CW), Wade VK1FWBD/2 on VK2/IL-005 and Grant VK4JAZ/p in VKFF-0179.

I packed up at around 0235Z, with a second group of motor bike riders disturbing the peace as they roared up the road – it is apparently common for motor bikes to find ways around the locked gates!

The return trip to the vehicle was much faster. I then headed north along the ridge line to the next summit.

Kluvers Lookout VK4/SE-039 683 m 4 points
D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129

Range Road travels largely along the top of the ridge line and takes you past the summit. There is a comms site with an impressive array of solar panels on the summit. I set up at the edge of the car park.

Wade VK1FWBD/2 on VK2/IL-005 was first in the log. I then worked John VK5BJE/3 in Lake Tyers State Park VKFF-0761. 3 more in the log then I paused to explain what I was doing to a couple that had arrived. I then worked Paul VK5PAS operating VK5WOW/p in Cooltong Conservation Park VKFF-0823. A quick CQ call yielded no responses, so I packed up and headed north. Yet another Unique and Complete in the log.

North of Mt Byron VK4/SE-043 662 m 4 points
D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129

I continued north along Range Road, then west along Sellin Road and into the Mount Mee section of the Park. Follow Lovedays Road, K Break, Army Road to Escarpment Link Break and south onto Western Escarpment Road. The summit is just north of Somerset Lookout.

Dennis VK4SX was first in the log, followed by Kevin VK4UH. Notable contacts included David VK5HYZ/p in Scott Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0788, Tony VK3CAT/p on Mt McKay VK3/VE-007, Marija VK5FMAZ/p and Paul VK5PAS as VK5WOW/p both in Coolton Conservation Park VKFF-0823, Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-0701 and John VK5BJE/3 in Lake Tyers State Park VKFF-0761.

ViewFrNearSE-043

Looking SW from close to VK4/SE-043

I again packed up and headed back to Yugar, with yet another Unique and Complete in the log. The total number of callsigns in the log from the four activations should comfortably qualify the Park for WWFF.

ViewOfDAguilarRange

Looking west to the D’Aguilar Range on the trip back to Yugar

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A trip to VK4 for the inaugural Q-Tech meeting: Heading north

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Having seen a message to one of the Groups several days ago, I emailed John VK5BJE suggesting that we might meet up on his travels east to Lakes Entrance. On the day, I met John VK5BJE & wife Judy in Traralgon for coffee and a chat. Of course, the caht continued for longer than it should have. I finally left Traralgon at about 1230 K and head east to Cann R and then north on the Monaro Highway to Bondi Forest Way. I made my way around Cairnlea Road and Mount Tennyson Road.

Mt Tennyson VK2/SM-087 1056 m 6 points

Mount Tennyson Road heads south and east around the edge of a pine plantation and climbs up to a high point on a ridge. I failed to record the name of the track at the junction – simply turn right and climb the track along the ridge to the summit, which has some comms installations.

I set up using a tree to support the squid pole and started calling on 7.090 MHz. Col VK3LED answered my calls and kindly posted a Spot. At about 0708Z, I heard Bill VK4FW call me, but he did not respond to my calls to him: sorry Bill. I ended up with 13 contacts in the log, including 3 ZL stations. I changed bands to 20 m for about 10 minutes of calling, yielding only one contact with Hans VK6XN/p in Ngari Capes Marine Park VKFF-1450 for a new Park.

The activation was a new Unique and Complete for me.

I then packed up and headed north, reaching my destination in Nimmitabel at a reasonable hour.

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Departing Nimmitabel at around 0800 local, I drove north through Cooma, Canberra and then on to Boorawa, Cowra, Canowindra, Molong, Cumnnock, Yeoval, Obley and along Gundong Road to the eastern edge of Goobang National Park. It was then south along Keen Trail and Wandoo Wandong Trail to Caloma Trig.

Caloma Trig VK2/CW-050 774 m 4 points
Goobang National Park VKFF-0204

I set up about 170 m north of the trig, but still inside the AZ: the trig itself is located in a reserve which is not part of the National Park! I spotted myself on 7.090 MHz a few minutes after 0500Z. First in the log was John ZL1BYZ, followed by Gerard VK2IO and Andrew VK2MWP. The fun continued until I decided at around 0600Z to try 20 m, when calls eased off on 40 m. 20 minutes of calling was rewarded with only one contact: Tadashi JA1VRY. The contact was tough, with lots of QSB.

I returned to 40 m, initially on 7.088 and then 7.085. Last in the log was Rob VK2QR in Talbingo.

48 contacts in the log over 1 hour 35 minutes: A new Unique, Complete plus the Park qualified for WWFF.

CalomaTrig

The Trig station at Caloma Trig – in poor repair

I retraced my route back to Gundong Road and headed North West to reach the Newell Highway A39, and then north to Coonabaraban to grab some food. I headed north on A39 to Number One Break Road, then east to Top Crossing Road to head south to Dandry Gorge Road to Sculptures in the Scrub camp area in Timmallallie National Park for the night.

Timmallallie National Park VKFF-0609 Not previously activated

I quickly set up the tent and an antenna. However, time was late and I had no mobile coverage, so could not spot myself. I searched around on both 40 m and 80 m, but had no luck with Calls. I did manage to work 10 stations on Thursday morning, all on 80 m. Time was getting on – it was after 2120Z and I wanted to head north to be on a new Summit at around UTC rollover. I packed up and headed back to the Newell Highway.

Thursday 20 April

The drive to Narrabri was uneventful. I headed out of town following the large brown sign for Mount Kaputar National Park. Be careful, the small sign at the correct intersection (Kaputar Corner) is NOT in the typical brown used for tourist signs! Head along Kaputar Road, enter the Park and climb up to Mount Kaputar car park.

Mount Kaputar VK2/NW-001 1500 m 10 points
Mount Kaputar National Park VKFF-0353

The final climb to the car park is sign posted as 4WD recommended. It was a little rough in places…. I parked in the top of the car park, well and truly inside the AZ, loaded up the gear and climbed the stairs and boardwalk to the summit marker. I took some photos on the summit and then climbed part way down the approach to set up using the guard railing to support the squid pole and antenna ends, sitting on the top of a short section of steps for the activation.

KaputarView

Looking west from Mt Kaputar summit

I spotted myself and started calling at 0013Z, with Rick VK4RF first in the log. I had 14 calls in the log by 0027Z. I changed the antenna configuration to 20 m and worked John ZL1BYZ and John VK6NU. After another 10 minutes of calling, plus explaining what I was doing to a couple of tourists, I switched to 15 m and was rewarded with Nigel VK6NI and Neil VK8ZCU.

I packed up, happy with the 18 contacts. I was about to head off back down the road when I heard RRT announce a new activation. I checked to find that it was a nearby summit, also in the same Park. I could barely hear the calls being made using the mobile whip in the car, so quickly strung out the SOTA antenna away from the car and set up the SOTA station. This time I could just hear Brett VK2BNN/p on Mount Yulludunida VK2/NW-020 at 0129Z – we exchanged 51 reports. I improved the antenna height and made a repeat contact at 0135Z, this time with 58 reports both ways. I then heard John VK2YW calling Brett and waited to work John. That brought another contact: Julie VK3FOWL/p, but with a weak signal received by Julie. A total of 20 contacts were in the log for the summit and Park. Yet another Unique and Complete for SOTA, plus a new Park for VKFF, but needing more contacts for WWFF.

I then headed back to Narrabri before heading north on the Newell Highway to Moree, Goondiwindi and on to Toowoomba. Finally in VK4, I ended up in a Gatton motel for the night.

The story will continue in the next entry.

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SA National and Conservation Parks Award anniversary weekend 2017 Day 4

Gunbower National Park VKFF-0740 continued

In the morning I awoke early and spent some time listening around 80 m. I ended up with 17 contacts in the log – much better than the one contact achieved on my last activation here, when I had a huge thunderstorm headed toward me. So Gunbower National Park qualified for VKFF, plus Gannawarra Shire qualified.

After packing up, I headed back to Cohuna for fuel and food, and then headed south to Pyramid Hill and Mitiamo, initially on C267.

Terrick Terrick National Park VKFF-0630

Head north on Mitiamo Forest Road and then Sylvaterre Tims Lake Road to the National Park. I headed in to the day visitor area and set up the station.

The first contact was again Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0581. On switching on, I heard Gerard working Ken VK3ALA/7. Having not chatted with Ken for some time, I called in and asked Ken to stand by. After working Gerard, we moved down in frequency to have a chat. I worked 4 stations on 40 m, then tried 80 m for some more local stations, working 5. I then returned to 40 m to work another 5 stations, including a couple of repeats on the new UTC day. The end result was 14 contacts in the log and a successful activation of Shire of Loddon.

I retraced the route to Mitiamo, then headed south on C336 to C341, east to C338 and then south to about 1.4 km past C337.

Greater Bendigo National Park VKFF-0623

From C338, I turned west into Camp Road and travelled around to the Mulga Dam camp site. I found a spot away from others and set up the station. I tried to spot myself, but had no phone coverage. I tried calling CQ on 7.090 for about 15 minutes without any replies. The only signals that I could find was a group of three VK4 amateurs a little lower in frequency, so I ended up breaking into their discussions. Two of the stations could hear me okay and were willing to exchange reports. I considered trying 80 m and lowered the squid pole in preparation to run out the extra antenna wire. As I was doing this task, attacked I was by a small group of bees. One stung me on the forehead: that was it! I packed up as quickly as possible and departed.

At least the two contacts gave me the Shire activation: City of Greater Bendigo ticked off.

I retraced my route back to the bitumen, then headed north to C337, then headed east to Elmore and then onto A300 to head east to Stanhope. Here I stopped at the Recreation Reserve to use the toilet and also made contact with Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0611. Shire of Campaspe activated.

I then headed on toward Shepparton, then north to Mooroopna North and into the Lower Goulburn National Park.

Lower Goulburn National Park VKFF-0741

I again set up and managed to spot myself on ParksnPeaks. First contact was again Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0611. Over the next 50 minutes I worked a total of fifteen stations, all on 40 m SSB. By time I had packed up, it was 1430 local time, so I headed into Mooroopna to grab another late lunch.

It was then into Shepparton for fuel and head south toward Melbourne, ultimately headed to friends in Sunbury to catch up again. En route, I heard on ABC Local Radio that Mount Eccles is officially no more: Monday 3 April saw the mountain and the National Park renamed to its aboriginal name: Budj Bim. So I was probably the last person to activate the Park under the old name.

I was invited for dinner and to stay the night – an offer too good to refuse.

Tuesday morning was a leisurely start and I finally arrived home mid-afternoon, feeling rather tired.

Summary

Four days of travelling, with over 2000 km added to the odometer.

14 VKFF references activated, but most need future visits to qualify for WWFF.

7 SOTA summits activated, all becoming Completes.

24 Local Government Areas activated, several with sufficient contacts to qualify for the VK Shires Award as an Activator in the Rover category and all counting towards the VK3 2017 LGA Challenge.

The LGAs activated completed those remaining to have activated all 79 LGAs activated towards the Victorian Local Government Award, a challenge that I started (casually) back in 2012. I have submitted my award claim for that award.

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SA National and Conservation Parks Award anniversary weekend 2017 Day 3

Sunday 2 April

I was awake early the next morning, as we changed back from Daylight Savings Time to EST.

I headed west to Natimuk and then on toward Gymbowen on C213, then down Tooan Duffholme Rd.

Mount Arapiles – Tooan State Park VKFF-0765

I set up just inside the Park boundary. After spotting, I was called by Mick VK3GGG on 80 m at 2153 Z (Saturday UTC). Several more calls went unanswered, so I switched to 40 m and worked Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-0363, Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-54 and Peter VK6RZ. West Wimmera Shire activated. Further calls yielded no responses, so I packed up and headed back to C213, then back to Mt Arapiles.

Mount Arapiles VK3/VW-022 369 m 1 point
Mount Arapiles – Tooan State Park VKFF-0765

I parked in the car park, with some local walkers resting after their climb up from the gate and some rock climbers preparing to head off for the morning.

I loaded up and headed to close to the lookout just north of the fire watch tower on the summit to set up using the fence as a support for the squid pole. I decided to string up only for 40 m and above, as the area is scrubby and rocky, with a large drop to the north. Thus space is somewhat restricted.

First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/m. It took over 30 minutes to gain 5 contacts, making the summit activated and a total of 10 for the Park. Another Complete and Horsham Shire activated.

I packed up and drove back to Natimuk, then on toward Horsham, then north to reach the A8, then north to Dimboola.

MtArapiles

Looking west to Mt Arapiles

Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291

From Dimboola, I headed down Horseshoe Bend Road to Horseshoe Bend to set up. First in the log was Adrian VK5FANA/p in VKFF-0909, followed by Rob VK4AAC/p in VKFF-1218 and Peter VK5KPR/p in VKFF-0920. Other notable contacts included Les VK5KLV/p in VKFF-0920, Andrew VK1AD/p on VK1/AC-043, Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1391, all on 40 m, and Col VK5HCF/p in VKFF-0804 on 80 m. Several minutes of calling on 20 m yielded nothing. Time to again pack up and move on to the next target. 13 contacts in the log for the Park and for Hindmarsh Shire.

I headed to Warracknabeal to buy a late lunch and to fuel the car. It was then north to Hopetoun and on towards Patchewollock via C247. North west of Desert Road, there is a small track to the left which takes you into Wyperfeld National Park.

Wyperfeld National Park VKFF-0549

First in the log was Richard VK5ZRY/p in VKFF-0813, followed by Andrew VK5MR/p in VKFF-0278, Peter & Kevin operating VK2SMS/p near Lightning Ridge, Chris VK5FR/p in VKFF-0911. Other notable contacts were Greg VK5GJ/p in VKFF-0936, Helen VK7FOLK/p and Jon VK7JON/p in VKFF-0432 and Bob VK5AFZ/p in VKFF-0826. 11 contacts added for the Parks tally and Yarriambiack Shire qualified.

I packed up and again headed north, but only to Moloney Rd, then west to the junction with King Road, where I called from the mobile for several minutes, working Helen VK7FOLK/p and Steve VK7CW to activate Rural City of Mildura.

It was then back to the bitumen and north to C248, then east to Speed and on to Sea Lake. It was then about 10 km south on C244 to Green Lake Regional Park.

Green Lake Regional Park VKFF-0967

The lake was dry. I headed a few hundred metres north along the eastern shore to set up beside the lake away from the power lines that travel beside the entry road,

On switching on, I found Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5FMAZ/p in VKFF-0877, followed by Adrian VK5FANA/p in VKFF-1706. Several more stations were worked on 40 m SSB, including Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1303, Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-0363 and Andrew VK5MR/p in VKFF-0278. I packed up at around 0739 Z with 14 in the log – enough for VKFF qualification of the Park and plenty for Shire of Bulloke.

It was then back up to Sea Lake and then east on C246 to Ultima, then continuing on Lake Bolga Ultima Road to Lake Boga. I made my way to the eastern shore of Lake Boga and managed to work Andrew VK5MR/m just as he was returning to Roxby Downs. Rural City of Swan Hill activated.

Back on the road, I headed south east on B400, through Kerang and on to Cohuna to find some food. With a pizza on board, I made my way into Gunbower National Park.

Gunbower National Park VKFF-0740

It was getting quite late as I entered the Park. I spent a little time searching for a reasonable site to set up camp. I stopped a couple of times to consume some pizza…. I found a reasonably flat site just off a track without huge trees overhanging and started to set up the tent. Once the tent was up, I erected the squid pole and antenna, set to 80 m.

I got the gear for the night into the tent plus the FT-817 and a couple of batteries. I set up and started calling on 80 m SSB. The first contact was Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0581. I ended up with 8 contacts before I gave up and went to sleep.

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SA National and Conservation Parks Award anniversary weekend 2017 Day 2

Saturday 1 April

Bay of Islands Coastal Park VKFF-0743

I found a spot to bivouac for the night. The tent rattled all night, with strong gusting winds and occasional rain events, so it was not particularly restful. I awoke early, packed up the tent and moved into the Coastal Park, at the end of Buckleys Road. I set up, spotted and called on 80 m, with responses from Mick VK3GGG and Geoff VK3SQ. Several minutes of further calls yielded no results, so I went to 40 m and worked Gerard VK2IO/m near Newcastle. Again I had no responses to calls, so moved to 20 m, where I worked Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs. With 5 calls in the log, I called it quits, with City of Warrnambool qualified.

BayIslandsCP

Part of the coast with rough seas and rain on the way

I packed up and headed into Warrnambool to grab some breakfast. It was then west to Tyrendarra and NW up Mount Clay Road, then around to the locked gate at Mount Clay.

Mount Clay VK3/VS-051 186 m 1 point

I set up using one of the gate posts to support the squid pole and strung out the 40/20 inverted V. Ivan VK5HS was first in the log after I managed to post a spot. I ended up with 10 contacts in about 15 minutes. Given the agenda ahead, I closed when I had no replies to calls. Another Complete to the tally, plus Glenelg Shire activated.

I retraced my route to Tyrendarra, then headed NE to Mount Eccles National Park.

Mount Eccles National Park VKFF-0345

My access route was via C191 and C176, then some small roads to get to the Lake Surprise Picnic area. Another set up with the 40/20 inverted V. With good mobile signals, I first checked ParksnPeaks. First in the log was Paul VK5PAS/p in VKFF-0790, followed by Marija VK5FMAZ. Adrian VK5FANA/p in VKFF-0812, Greg VK5GJ/p and Norm VK5GI/p in VKFF-1038, Mark VK5QI/p in VKFF-0941 and Gerard on VK2/HU-080 followed. A short excursion to 20 m yielded Rick VK4RF. With no further calls and 11 in the log, it again time to move on. Shire of Moyne in the bag.

I headed into MacArthur, then on C185 to Penshurst to grab a late lunch, then up to the car park at Mt Rouse.

Mt Rouse VK3/VS-048 369 m 1 point

When I was set up, I saw a spot for Rob VK4AAC/p, so quickly moved to 40 m to work him in VKFF-0722. Adrian VK5FANA/p in VKFF-0812, Peter VK5PET/p on Mt Lofty, Paul VK5PAS/p & Marija VK5FMAZ in Talisker CP and Wade VK1FWBD/p on VK1/AC-038 VKFF-0863 were highlight contacts. With 7 in the log and Shire of Southern Grampians qualified, I headed north to Dunkeld to add fuel to the car. Bad move: the advertised price on the automated system did not include the GST charge, so the cost is actually 10% higher! I then headed east on B160. A little way down the road, I passed through a small hamlet with a petrol outlet, with a cheaper price and presumably not adding the GST as an extra. Such is life.

East of Streatham, I headed NNE on Eurambeen-Streatham Rd to Raglan.

Mount Cole VK3/VS-008

In Raglan, navigated around to Raglan-Mt Cole Rd. The start of Frees Point Road had a large sign indicating that it was a dead end. I headed further up the road to 37.33294 S 143.28293 E, to turn left, the left again and then onto Mt Cole Track. I gave up driving at about 350 m from the summit, then walked up to the high point in the track, comfortably inside the Activation Zone.

I set up and worked VK1AD/2 on VK2/ST-036, Brian VK3MCD/p on VK3/VC-019, Peter VK5PET/p on VK5/SE-005 and Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-054, plus Nev VK5WG. 5 in the log and no further responses, so it was again time to pack up. Pyrenees Shire activated and another Complete.

I retraced my route back to Raglan, then down to the Western Highway and west to Ararat.

One Tree Hill VK3/VS-036 569 m 2 points
Ararat Hills Regional Park VKFF-0958

I worked my way around to the road to the One Tree Hill Lookout, then on to close to the summit. Another quick set up with the 40/20 inverted V. My first call on 40 m was answered by Mick VK3GGG/p on VK3/VW-016 VKFF-0629. Next was Allen VK3ARH/p on VK3/VC-024 and later Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-54. It did not take long to have 10 contacts in the log, so I again pulled the plug at 0728 Z. Ararat Rural City qualified and another complete.

GrampiansFromOneTreeHill

Looking toward the Grampians from One Tree Hill

As I was driving down from the lookout, I considered my options. I decided on another summit and headed to Halls Gap.

Near Boroka Lookout VK3/VW-007 867 m 4 points
Grampians National Park VKFF-0213

From Halls Gap, I worked my way up C222 to Mt Difficult Road and up to the car park for Boroka Lookout. I grabbed the gear and headed slightly up hill to the base of the rock to ensure that I was in the AZ. I set up on 80 m and quickly worked Col VK3LED, Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-0363 and Nev VK5WG. After a few more minutes calling, I changed to 40 m and worked Paul VK5PAS/p in VKFF-0780. Summit qualified, another Complete and Shire of Northern Grampians activated. A few more contacts for the Park added to the tally. I packed up and headed down, then drove to Horsham to find a motel room for the night and some food.

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SA National and Conservation Parks Award anniversary weekend 2017 Day 1

31 March to 3 April

Several anniversary events are held each year by groups interested in Parks and/or SOTA. The weekend of 1 & 2 April 201 was to be the fourth anniversary of the SA National and Conservation Parks Award, with many planning to activate Parks in South Australia (SA).

In addition to the SANCPA activity, several SOTA operators were planning to attempt activations of summits using 160 m.

Despite the poor HF propagation conditions of recent months, I decided to head out within Victoria to support the SA activators. I decided to head to western Victoria, as I had activated very few Parks or summits to the west of Melbourne, apart from a trip south and then home from the WIA Annual Meeting in Mildura in 2012.

I still needed to activate several local government areas for the Amateur Radio Victoria (ARV) Local Government Award (LGA) to qualify for all VK3 LGAs Activated. I had completed the full set of 79 LGAs Chased some time ago. So the plan was to activate LGAs in western and northern Victoria, which would also help with the tally for the 2017 LGA Challenge promoted by ARV.

The area to be traversed covers more than half of the state, presenting too many options for activation sites. I focussed my planning around a reasonably direct route which would allow most LGAs to be activated from a Park or a SOTA summit. As you will see, some back tracking was required! A benefit of the planned route was that I would maximise the time available activating and minimise the effect of the roughly 2-hour drive each way from home to Melbourne.

Friday 31 March

After an appointment in the morning, I packed the car and headed to Melbourne, with a stop in Clayton before heading to Sunbury to catch up with friends. I finally departed from Sunbury at about 1445 local time. My initial route took me south and west: Toolern Vale, Bacchus Marsh and on to Anakie. From there, it was short trip up the Geelong-Ballan Road to Butchers Rd and then west to find an operating spot on the north side of the road.

Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055

The chosen operating site fulfilled my needs: inside the National Park and inside the Golden Plains Shire. I set up with a 7 m squid pole and the 40 m /20 m inverted V antenna and managed to post a spot to ParksnPeaks.

First in the log was Rick VK4RF, followed by Adrian VK5FANA and Bill VK4FW. Within half an hour, I had 10 contacts in the log, mainly VK4 & VK5, with one VK2 and a couple of VK3 stations. 10 contacts made the activation valid for VKFF purposes, so I called it quits and packed up given that further calls yielded no responses.

I drove back down to Anakie and pulled over to call on 146.500 MHz FM, with Bill VK3YHT in Geelong and Rex VK3FRJF in Clifton Springs calling back, thus qualifying the City of Greater Geelong. With no further responses, I resumed the drive to Geelong and then across to Point Lonsdale.

Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park VKFF-0954

PPHMNP_PtLonsdale

Looking south to Point Lonsdale lighthouse & the Heads

I proceeded to the car park at the end of Lawrence Rd to find it almost empty. I parked on the eastern boundary and set up the station as previously: 7 m pole and 40/20 inverted V. After spotting myself, first in the log was Neil VK4HNS/p followed by Adrian VK5FANA. Amongst the callers were Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5FMAZ/p in Deep Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0780. After about 20 minutes of calling, I had no further callers, so again packed up and departed. The route was back along the Bellarine Highway to Geelong, where I stopped to fuel the car and grab some food.

I then headed west on the Princes Highway to Winchelsea and pulled off onto a quiet side road to spot myself and call CQ Shires. Bill VK4FW answered the calls, thus qualifying Surf Coast Shire. Further calls yielded no replies, so the trip west resumed.

Near Colac, I again found a quiet side road to activate Colac-Otway Shire. I again spotted and was called by Adrian VK5FANA, but apparently he could not hear me. A few minutes later, I called Peter at VK3SMS, the Lightning Ridge Men’s Shed Radio Club. I then resumed the drive to Camperdown.

Mount Leura VK3/VS-050 310 m 1 point

I drove up to the summit and set up using one of the sign support legs to hold up the squid pole. The wind was picking up, so it was cool. The first callers was Steve VK5CW at 1033 Z. I had 4 calls in the log within 10 minutes, but could not raise any other responses. I was packing up when I heard Bill VK4FW calling, so I quickly strung out the anternna again and managed to work Bill, making call number 5, thus qualifying Corangamite Shire under the Rover category for the Australian Shires award. This made for a new SOTA Complete. I packed up and headed toward Warrnambool, then south at Allansford.

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