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

20150926_101230[1]

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

20150926_112625[1]

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

20150926_135608[1]

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.
20150926_142840[1]

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!

20150926_162954[1]

There was nothing left salvageable.

20150926_164344[1]

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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2 thoughts on “25 & 26th September – Not a forgettable day!

  1. Pingback: An unpleasant surprise during a day of SOTA | vk3pf

  2. Pingback: Winter Sota activations for 2015 | vk3cat

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