Monthly Archives: September 2015

25 & 26th September – Not a forgettable day!

The plan was a repeat of a jaunt last year. 5 summits, 4 of which have winter bonuses plus an easy 6 pointer on the way home. 50 points in a day is good going but not difficult as there is easy 4WD access to all the summits.

My Alerts were as follows:
VK3/VC-001 @ 23:15 hrs
VK3/VT-013 @ 01:30 hrs
VK3/VT-022 @ 03:00 hrs
VK3/VT-016 @ 0415 hrs
VK3/VT-034 @ 0545 hrs

I departed home a bit before 6:00 am, fueled up at Lilydale and was on the Mt. Matlock Summit by 9:00 AM To remain on schedule, I would have to keep an eye on the clock. Fortunately the SOTA propagation gods seemed to be onside for today!

Date:25/Sep/2015 Summit:VK3/VC-001 (Mt Matlock) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 8 Bonus: 3 
Summit height 1372 Metres. Good Phone Coverage
Set up just south of the Trig Point

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:04z VK3YY/P 144MHz FM Glenn 5×7, 57 S2S VK3/VC-001 to VK3/VE-067
23:17z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB Rod 5×7, 57 S2S VK3/VC-001 to VK2/SM-070
23:19z VK3HRA 7MHz CW Allen 599, 599
23:23z VK7CW 7MHz CW Steve 559, 599 not crisp?
23:25z VK3PF/P 7MHz CW Peter 579, 579 S2S VK3/VC-001 to VK3/VT-026
23:27z VK2YW 7MHz CW John 599, 599
23:33z VK3YY/M 144MHz FM Glenn mobile to Mt Terrible
23:33z VK2IO/P 7MHz CW Gerard 579, 579 S2S VK3/VC-001 to VK2/SY-001
23:50z VK2YK 7MHz SSB Adam 5×8, 56
23:52z VK3LED 7MHz SSB Colin 5×7, 57
23:54z VK3XL 7MHz SSB Mike 5×9, 57
23:54z VK3ZPF 7MHz SSB Peter 5×9, 57
23:55z VK3WE 7MHz SSB Rhett 5×9, 58
23:56z VK2NP 7MHz SSB 5×6, 33

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2 metres FM was to play an important role today as there were a number of other activators expected to be within simplex range and thus S2S opportunities. The first contact in the above log was actually the last, being on the next UTC day. SOTA logging over the UTC role over is a PIA and not conducive to keeping accurate logs!

Like last year, I departed Mt. matlock and took the most direct route to Matlock Township. This is definitely 4WD territory, not hard but best with some low range and good ground clearance. It is than a continuation on the main road to Matlock then keeping to the right on the Walhalla Rd instead of veering left to Woods Point. I had noticed the roads thus far quite a bit rougher than last year. This lesser used road was still reasonably good but, on turning to the east on Mt. Selma Rd towards Fiddlers Green, it got quite chopped up again (and was like this to the junction of South Rd) 
The track up to Mt Selma is sign posted. The track clearing is quite wide but can be slippery. There is a large clearing that is very muddy near where the Mt. Selma FWD track joins in. As per last year, I continued right up to the Trig point. There is a track right across the summit that should go back down to the Mt. Selma Tk. The maps show a link track from the large clearing back on to Mt. Selma Rd. (this track no longer exists).
There were very small patches of snow remaining at the summit Trig.

Date:26/Sep/2015 Summit:VK3/VT-013 (Mt Selma) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 8 Bonus: 3

Summit height 1464 Metres.
Phone access reasonable.
I had been putting out occasional calls on 146.500 FM whilst mobile and, I picked up a call from Peter VK3PF/M enroute to Mt. Matlock while driving up to the summit. I learnt that Peter was going to be following my route. This meant I could get not only S2S points but also chaser points for sumits I had activated. A win / win for both of us! I worked Peter from the hand held prior to setting up the HF station. I also worked Glenn VK3YY/P and David VK3IL/P later on 2 metres for more S2S contacts.

Time Call Band Mode Notes
01:10z VK3PF/M 144MHz FM Peter 5×9, 54 mobile to Matlock
01:29z VK2IO/P 7MHz CW s2s vk3-vt 013 to vk2/sy-001 Gerard 579, 579
01:32z VK3WE 7MHz CW Rhett 599, 579
01:36z VK2NP 7MHz CW 559, 559
01:39z VK3DBP 7MHz CW Paul 599, 599
01:42z VK1EM 7MHz CW Mark 599, 599
01:43z VK2MWP 7MHz CW Andrew 579, 579
01:45z VK3PF/P 7MHz CW Peter 599, 599 S2S VK3/VT-013 to VK3/VC-001
01:47z VK5EEE 7MHz CW Lou 599, 569
01:53z VK3LED 7MHz SSB Colin 5×9, 58
01:53z VK3ZPF 7MHz SSB Peter 5×9, 55
01:54z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB Amanda 5×7, 55
01:55z VK5WG 7MHz SSB Nev 5×5, 44
01:56z VK3AV 7MHz SSB Bernard 5×9, 55
01:58z VK3DBP 7MHz SSB Paul 5×8, 59
01:58z VK1MA 7MHz SSB Matt 5×9, 57
01:59z VK3YY/P 144MHz FM Glenn 4×5, 45 S2S VK3/VT-013 rto VK3/VE-134
02:03z VK3IL/P 144MHz FM David 5×9, 59 S2S VK3/VT-013 to VK3/VT-006

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A quick pack up then back down the hill towards Conner’s Plain. On hitting Mt. Selma Rd, I was stopped by a couple in a Nissan.
They enquired on the route to Licola, “was I going there? Could we follow you?”
Well I was not going to Licola but it was obvious they had no idea of the roads in this area. They can be confusing at the best of time, particularly where Mt. Selma Rd. joins up with South Rd so I lead them onto the Jamieson Licola rd where they headed south and I north. Conners Plain summit is just past the Conners Plain clearing. Access is off N7 road and a few hundred metres in is a track to the left leading to the actual summit. Part way along, this track gets a little rough and boggy. A 4WD with reasonable ground clearance is recommended. The summit is also a little boggy. last year I found an old timber post west of where I stopped the car. This time I activated from the east side of the track overlooking the Jamieson Licola Rd.
There were lots of little ants around so I had to watch where I set up. Escorting the Nissan cost me some time, I was now running a little but not much behind schedule.

Date:26/Sep/2015 Summit:VK3/VT-022 (Conners Plain) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 8 Bonus: 3 
Summit height 1305 metres. Good phone access

Time Call Band Mode Notes
03:11z VK5CZ 7MHz CW Ian 579, 519
03:13z VK2IO/P 7MHz CW Gerard 579, 579 S2S VK3/Vt-022 to VK2/SY-001
03:16z VK2GAZ 7MHz CW Gary 559, 559
03:23z VK3HRA 7MHz CW Allen 599, 579
03:25z VK3IL/P 144MHz FM David 5×9, 59 S2S VK3/VT-022 to VK3/VT-006
03:26z VK3PF/P 144MHz FM Peter 5×9, 59 S2S VK3/VT-022 to VK3/VT-013
03:28z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW Wayne 579, 579 QRL what?
03:30z VK2HRX/P 7MHz SSB Compton 5×5, 55 S2S VK3/VT-022 to VK2/CT-032
03:32z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB Amanda 5×6, 59
03:33z VK3UH 7MHz SSB Ken 5×9, 59
03:34z VK2YK 7MHz SSB Adam 5×9, 56
03:35z VK3FJOS/P 7MHz SSB Josh 5×8, 57 Eildon caravan park
03:37z VK3FPSR 7MHz SSB Peter 5×9, 57
03:37z VK3FMPB/P 7MHz SSB Johnno 5×8, 57 You Yangs N.P

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En Route to Mt. Useful

Caught up with Peter and David again on 2 metres. Discussed progress with Peter who decided to
pull out from Conner’s Plain and head direct to Mt Useful. This would save a fair amount of time as Conner’s Plain is an out and back detour from the direct route between Mt. Selma and Mt. Useful.
On departure from our summits, we kept in contact on 2 metres and it worked out that Peter was now about 10 minutes ahead of me. We arranged to meet at Mt. Useful.
Part of our discussion whilst mobile was on Sota Summit access and suitable vehicles. Peter thought it about time to upgrade from the Subaru Forester.
Was this an omen? Were the SOTA Gods disturbed and demanding a sacrifice?
We will never know for sure!

Peter called up on the radio announcing car problems, he had stopped dead and there was smoke coming out from the bonnet. As a precaution, Peter began to get any gear out of the car – unfortunately no fire extinguisher. Peter informed me that he had stopped just inside the Mt. Useful Scenic Reserve so, when I passed this sign, I slowed down incase he was stopped in a perilous location.
This proved not to be the case but I could see flames from the bonnet on the drivers side. I quickly grabbed my shovel and extinguisher and raced over. After first confirming Peter was OK, I had a look at the fire. I really did not want to open the bonnet for direct access nor do I think I could have. There was lots of black smoke inside and flames coming out from the side and front. Would really  have wanted flame proof clothing and a face shield.
I gave the fire a blast through the front that slowed it down until the extinguisher ran out. From there on in all we could do was watch the show. I did clear some debris from around the car to try and stop the spread of fire but had no control over the height of the fire when it got into the tree.
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The concern now was the possibility of a bushfire, the adjacent tree had started to burn. Both of us tried calling 000 on our Samsung Galaxy S5 phones but there was no service at the scene nor the immediate vicinity.
I went back to my car and reversed further away from the fire. Also put my orange hard hat out on a tree juist around the corner from the approach side to warn any approaching traffic of an incident.
Then, I jumped in on 40 metres 7.090 between overs from Johnno VK3FMPB/P and Andrew VK1DA/P and requested assistance. It turned out that Johnno was the best placed although I would have prefered someone with a landline connection and home station.
The biggest issue was determining our location, not due to GPS coordinates but the variable names the road we were on is given. Mt Useful Spur Rd, South Rd, McEvoys Track, Springs Rd. Johnno was able to pass our predicament on to the 000 handler but we were not confident of the results. It was not long after that Colin VK3LED (CFA communications officer) came to our assistance.
We were able to confirm our exact location and Colin was able to communicate directly with the CFA and give us updates as to their ETA which was very reassuring. (Silly me forgot that I had my SPOT tracker running, this may have sped things up a bit?)

Anyway, peter and I had a cup of coffee and kept an eye on the fire. It was starting to cool off but neither of us were that keen to warm ourselves from over near the car. Things were still exploding and someone had to monitor the HF radio!

The CFA arrived two hours after I first tried to extinguish the fire. By this time most of the fire was out and the tree had stopped burning. The Forester fuel tank was still intact. The CFA gave the car and surrounding bush a good douse!

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There was nothing left salvageable.

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The Heyfield CFA crew were terrific. Originally three tankers had been called out but two were sent back. Upon their departure it was noted the side wall of a rear tyre had been torn out on the rocky road. With no means to change it, they were in for a slow trip home in the now cold and foggy conditions.

Prior to our departure I asked. “Peter, do you still want to do Useful?”
Reply, “may as well, we drive right past it!”
“Single station, two operators”, said Peter.
“Sounds good”, I replied!

We continued up to the summit turn off, the track entrance was very boggy; the summit tower was barely visible in the fog. At least there was no wind!

“I’ii set up the KX3 and my antenna. Can do 80 metres if needed!” I said
“Put up a spot for qrv in 5 minutes”, I followed.
“Already done”, said Peter. “We will try 40 metres first then see how it goes. Do you want to use CW?”
“No, I replied, just keep it quick and simple.”

On turning on the radio, there was already someone calling us – not sure who? Peter put out a CQ and we had a steady flow of callers and easily qualified the summit on 40 metres.
Date:26/Sep/2015 Summit:VK3/VT-016 (Mt Useful) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 8 Bonus: 3 
Summit height 1434 metres. Good phone coverage

Time Call Band Mode Notes
07:13z VK3AV 7MHz SSB Bernard 5×6, 56
07:15z VK4RF 7MHz SSB Rick 5×7, 55
07:16z VK4HA 7MHz SSB Rick 5×7, 55
07:17z VK2IO/P 7MHz CW Gerard 599, 599 S2S VK3/VT-016 to VK2/SY-001
07:19z VK3LED 7MHz SSB Colin 5×9, 59
07:19z VK3DBP 7MHz SSB Paul 5×9, 59
07:20z VK2NP 7MHz SSB 5×7, 59
07:21z VK2YK 7MHz SSB Adam 5×9, 59
07:22z VK5GI 7MHz SSB Norm 5×7, 56
07:22z VK2LEE 7MHz SSB Lee 5×9, 57
07:22z VK3OF 7MHz SSB Rex 5×8, 58

On packing up, Peter asked me “Do I want to bother working each other on 2 metres on either side of the activation zone to work the summit?”
“Of course” was the reply. What would you expect when two SOTA tragics get together? Can’t let the inconvenience of a car fire impact on the activator and chaser scores!
Having finished with Useful, we proceeded towards Peter’s home near Traralgon without further thought of activating VT-034 – I don’t think we would have been able to see through the fog anyway!
Got back to Peter’s home safely where we unloaded and I headed back to Melbourne. A long day from 5:00 Am to 10:00 PM and 470 kilometres on the clock.
So there you are, not a day to forget. The location of Springs Rd and Green Hills Track will forever be known by the SOTA community as “Peter’s Point”

Peters Blog 

Thanks again to Colin and Johnno plus everyone else who kept 7.090 clear of traffic. Many thanks to the Heyfield CFA and 000.
Only regret was not getting a signal report from VK1DA/P and getting the summit points!
Who said SOTA was addictive?

Cheers for now, Tony VK3CAT

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Mt. Ritchie and Mt. Donna Buang Pilgrimage

Tough day at the office today. The walk up to Mt. Ritchie was very pleasant in mild sunny conditions. It was either my new boots and poles or else I am a bit fitter than last year – the trekking in the Rockies may have paid dividends?
Saw a number of wallabies on the way up. This trek is a very pretty one at this time of year.

Looking north on Road Ten on the way to Mt. Ritchie

Looking north on Road Ten on the way to Mt. Ritchie

From the car parked on the Acheron Way at Road 15 it is a 7.5 kilometre walk to the Mt. Ritchie summit. The steepest parts are the first 3 kilometres that includes Road 15 and the first bit of Road 10. After the 3 kilometre mark, the grade gets a bit flatter. From car to summit is an elevation gain near to 550 metres.
Click here for a Garmin Mt Ritchie Adventure

Anyway, activity started off smartly with a S2S and two further 40m CW contacts then nothing. Liased with Ron VK3AFW on the VK3REC repeater for an 80 metre sked but still nothing, Ron was 5×5. In the end, worked Ron simplex on 2 metres.
Qualified the summit on CW with John running the Wagga Club station then two solid contacts on 40m SSB with VK5PL and VK5BJE/P

Date:12/Sep/2015 Summit:VK3/VC-003 (Mt Ritchie) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 8 Bonus: 3
Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:40z VK3BYD/P 7MHz CW Warren 559, 559 S2S VK3/VC-003 to VK3/VE-014
00:49z VK2IO 7MHz CW Gerard 579, 449
00:52z VK3HRA 7MHz CW Allen 559, 339
01:04z VK3AFW 144MHz FM Ron 5×7, 55 to 7 QSB
01:32z VK2WG 3.5MHz CW John 559, 519, long protracted contact due to qsb (0127 to 0132)
01:37z VK5PL 7MHz SSB David 5×8, 58
01:39z VK5BJE/P 7MHz SSB John 5×7, 57

Phone coverage was mostly good, New Samsung S5 is much better than the Galaxy Nexus!
Also good access into VK3REC 147.175 repeater. I used this to coordinate a qso with Ron VK3AFW.
Summit height is listed at 1255 metres. This confirms with Forest explorer but not with my GPS or Garmin Oz Toppo that mates it 1269 metres.

Back at the car 90 minutes later. No problems getting over the gate this time as the big concrete barrier was gone, meaning I could go through it. Last time I fell off!

A smattering of rain heading up to Mt. Donna Buang,
No phone coverage until arriving at the top carpark. Text message from Warren VK3BYD, looks like I may have missed him at the Hump but no…
Must have a pipeline to Gerard VK2IO as I worked him plus VK3PF Peter and Ron VK3AFW in quick succession. Then again nothing. I was lucky to catch Warren VK3BYD on the Hump – warren set his station back up to enable the contact – Thanks Warren 🙂

Finished of working Peter VK3ZPF/P on 40m ssb and 2 metres FM from near Drouin.

Date:12/Sep/2015 Summit:VK3/VC-002 (Mt Donna Buang) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 8 Bonus: 3

Time Call Band Mode Notes
04:21z VK2IO 7MHz CW Gerard 559, qsb, 419
04:25z VK3PF 7MHz CW Peter 579, 339
04:26z VK3AFW 7MHz CW Ron 579, 439
04:46z VK3BYD/P 7MHz CW Warren 339, 519 S2S VK3/VC-002 to VK3/VC-019
04:49z VK3ZPF/P 7MHz SSB Peter 5×8, 55
04:50z VK3ZPF/P 144MHz FM Peter 5×5, 51 VX7r + standing on table

I am pretty sure I heard VK2AOH calling and may have heard VK2YW?
Generally signal reports were beyond that being workable on SSB.
All up, some of the worst propagation I have experienced but there are some advantages:
Firstly the bands were relatively quiet.
Secondly, only small logs to submit.
Third, time to have a leisurely lunch and enjoy the views!

Packed up in a rain squall, bright sunshine back towards home.
Thanks to all who enabled me to qualify the summits.
With a bit more time, I will have the 2m CW/SSB setup working.

Travel notes from East Brighton:
Depart 6:40 AM, Montrose roundabout 7:20 AM, Seville 7:30 AM, Yarra Junction 7:52 AM, Warburton 8:02 AM
Mt. Donna Buang Rd 8:10 AM, 15 Mile Rd 8:27 AM (11 kilometres from the Donna Buang Rd).
Departing from the parked car @ 08:37 AM, I was on the Mt. Ritchie Summit by 10:25 AM (UTC 00:25hrs). I took the time to have a look at an area off to the west of the summit.
Ready to activate 00:38 hrs utc, last contacts 01:39 hrs utc

Departed summit 12:00 Noon, back at the car @ 1:30 PM. At 2:05 PM I was on the summit of Mt. Donna Buang.

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Mount Concord VK3/VN-018 Activate it while you still can!

This summit is located off the Melba Highway just south of Yarck. It is quite a prominent summit with a working pine plantation on its eastern side. It is also the site of the UHF CB Channel 6 repeater.

The actual height by my reckoning is 649 metres and definitely not 697 as documented in the Sota summit reference. That said, if fails the 150 metre prominence requirement as there is a 680+ metre summit along the same range at  9.83 kilometres on a bearing of 11 degrees true that appears to fill the prominence requirements.
(S37° 02′ 45.6″ E145° 34′ 17.3″)

For access maps, I used my Garmin with OZ Toppo, Forest Explorer with 10m contours and spot heights plus a Vicmap Property map with 10m contours, property boundary plus the all important public road reserve.

I followed the access notes of Wayne VK3WAM. I had a look at this previously, turning off the Melba Hwy onto Nicholsons rd but stopped where it gets rough at the intersection of Henkes lane as it was not suitable for my VW Caddy work van. This time with the Landcruiser, it was a piece of cake. It is well worth driving the 1/2 kilometer up from Henkes Lane.
I drove all the way to the private property gate then reversed back down as there was insufficient level ground to execute a U turn. I then reversed back up Nicholsons Rd and parked just short of a minor track (with locked gate) heading off to some old huts on the north side of the road.

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Now on foot, I walked towards the private property gate then headed off to the right along a foot track that went through a gap in the wire fence. and onto what could once have been a vehicle track (aligning with the public road reserve).
This climbs steeply from 300 metres to 600 metres over a 1.2 kilometre distance. Many short stops on the way.
Once at the 600 metre point, there is an undulating ridge that heads south west to the summit. The route however is not so straight forward due to a fence.
There is a foot track and some vehicle tracks associated with the pine plantation on one side of the fence and cleared land on the other side. (My map appears to show a fence centred on the road reserve which generally follows a straight line between high points and thus deviates some what from side to side – thus I changed sides a few times. Watch out for an intersecting electric fence closest to the trig point.)

Looking north

Looking south

Looking south

Date:06/Sep/2015 Summit:VK3/VN-018 (Mt Concord) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 2 Bonus: 0

Phone access is excellent. Very RF quiet. Saw Kangaroos, a Wombat, Cows and some Deer Shooters.

Time Call Band Mode Notes
05:14z VK2AOH 7MHz CW Nick 599, 599
05:16z VK2YW 7MHz CW John 599, 599
05:19z VK5BJE 7MHz CW John 599, 588
05:20z VK4RF 7MHz CW Rick 599, 599
05:21z VK4HA 7MHz CW Rick 599, 599
05:27z VK2IO 7MHz CW Gerard 599, 559
05:27z VK3BYD 3.5MHz CW Warren 579, 579
05:32z VK3AFW 3.5MHz CW Ron 599, 559

After a burst on CW, I had a quick look on 7.090. Here all i could hear was a booming EA station. It being cold and extremely windy I packed up and was down at the car inside of an hour; compared to 85 minutes to ascent and setup. Now just 2 hours to drive home, a bit hungry as I did not have time for lunch other than my orange and apple.

Property boundary and public road reserve map. maps.land.vic.gov.au_lassi_print

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