Wednesday, 31 December 2014

SOTA VK2/SM-065 Box Ridge

This summit was suggested to me by Andrew VK3BQ as a nice easy one to activate close to Jindabyne. From Jindabyne drove South on Barry Way, turning off to the left into Gullies Road. Initially sealed, turns to dirt later. Note this road runs past another SOTA peak, VK2/SM-064 Jillamatong Hill. This looked like it was on private property. Came to a junction, took Thorneybush Road on the left. This is marked as a Private Road.

A short distance later reached an unlocked property gate. A warning about No responsibility from owner no insurance. Also a warning about a locked gate 3 Km ahead. Andrew had advised me this is not locked.

After passing a property and climbing up a ridge reached the gate, open.

Continued on the road. A sign indicating entering Paupong Nature Reserve. Here I encountered a couple of young trail bike riders, they seemed surprised to see me...Also a 4WD driving up. The road down the hill was rough, lots of large rocks, but not too bad to need 4WD. It improved at the bottom.

Passed the park ranger, who also looked surprised to see me. Think this road does not get much traffic...Reached a road junction, Thornybush Trail with Paupong Trail. and Ventnor Trail. Parked and walked down Thorneybush Trail and back up to leave and enter the activation zone, only a short walk from here to the summit.

Followed Paupong Trail to the top of the hill. Not that steep.

The activation zone was quite large with the road running over the highest point. Used a Telstra cable warning sign on the side of the road for squid pole and dipole support.

Forgot to actually photograph the antenna! Anyway this is where it was, dipole parallel to the road

Got on 40 m. The band was in good condition, signals from VK1, VK2 and VK3 very strong, with even VK5 and VK7 good copy. I had Justin VK7TW a good 58 from Hobart! No S2S contacts though, a bit late in the day.

Tried 20 m, only 1 contact, Andrew VK3BQ/2 at Thredbo Diggings nearby.

Packed up and headed back to Jindabyne for New Years Eve celebrations.

SOTA VK2/SM-014 The Cascades

Left Jindabyne at 8:30 am, drove up the Alpine Way to Thredbo, stopping to pay $16 for the Kosziusko national park one day entry fee. Just past Thredbo stopped at Dead Horse Gap, a car parking area for several walks in the area. Quite full at 9 am. Took the Cascade Trail.

This follows the Thredbo River up the valley. Quite scenic.

After 2.5 Km the track crosses the Thredbo river. NSW Parks have provided a good foot bridge here for walkers.

The crystal clear Thredbo River

After the river crossing the track climbs steeply up Bobs Ridge. To get to the Cascades peak, cut off cross country to the left of the track for about a 400 m bush bash.

Not very hard, some marshy bits and a few rocks to navigate around.

Reached the top. There is a trig here, a simple post on the highest rock.

Just below the trig to the South a pleasant grassy area in the activation zone

Set up the squid pole on a dead snow gum, with the dipole legs strung out to some trees

Set up the SOTA shack in the grass in the shade of the trees. Quite pleasant, apart from the odd March Fly...

Got on 40 m about 20 minutes before UTC rollover, got swamped by chasers...from VK1, VK2 VK3 and VK5. All good strong signals, even VK5s quite good. A S2S with Peter VK3PF on VK3/RI-033 Hamilton Hill. Post UTC rollover another S2S with Peter, also Matt VK1MA/3 on VK3/VE-105 Mt Big Ben

Tried switching the dipole to 20 m. Worked Ernie VK3DET with a good signal, Andrew VK3BQ/2 with a weak signal from nearby Thredbo Diggings. He invited me to say hello after activating. Went on to work VK7YP, VK2UH and VK2KTT, before packing up and heading back down for lunch in Thredbo. It took me a bit over an hour to get back down.

After lunch drove to Thredbo Diggings. Found Andrew by his Antennas :) He was camping there with the family, his wife Christine VK3FCEK and his 2 boys Toby and Nathan. Had a good chat about SOTA and a cup of tea. He suggested an easy nearby summit to try in the afternoon, Box Ridge VK2/SM-065, with instructions on getting there. Thanks Andrew :)

Track log of walk.

Track profile. About a 4.8 Km walk each way with a 300 m climb

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

SOTA VK2/SM-053 Unnamed peak near Jindabyne

With some time off work decided to do a few SOTA peaks in the Snowy Mountains (SM) region. The weather at altitude is cooler and more suited for summer walking. Drove from Canberra to Jindabyne, which was to be my base for a few days. My first summit was VK2/SM-053, an unnamed peak. After Jindabyne took the Alpine Way, a few Km out of town took Wollondibby Road on the left. There are signs for the Wild Brumby Schnapps Distilllery so easy to spot...

Drove past the distillery, very popular with lots of cars parked outside. The road is unsealed, and does have a few potholes to look out for but would be okay for 2WD vehicles in the dry.

Got to the top of the ridge. One road continues down, a rough road straight ahead to the peak and another to the right. As only 600 m from the peak parked here and walked up the rough road ahead.

It didn't look like it gets much use...

Found it actually joined the road that went to the right...Anyway enjoyed the walk.

Reached the top, really just a high point on the ridge. Summit on the right off the track, although a large activation zone so plenty of places to operate.

Set up the squid pole on a stump just off the road. This was a pleasant spot, in the shade and the breeze which had been strong all day was not too bad here.

Set up the SOTA shack on a large rock. I initially used the blue tarp on the rock, but found it attracted March flies like a magnet! So left it on the ground nearby for the March flies to do whatever they do with blue tarps and leave me alone...

Got on 40 m. Found Peter VK3PF portable in Chiltern-Pilot NP with a good signal. Also called Julie VK3FOWL portable in Alfred NP. She kindly let me continue on the frequency. Proceeded to work several of the regular chasers from VK2, VK3 and VK5. Briefly tried 20 m but no replies to my calls.
Saw one spot for VK3ANL Nick on a SOTA peak, I could hear his chasers but not him, so no luck with an S2S today.

Packed up and drove back to Jindabyne for the evening.

Track log of walk

WWFF 44 Parks Award

While checking my WWFF Hunter tally recently on World Wide Fauna and Fauna Website noticed I had 48 parks confirmed. This means I could apply for the next WWFF level award, which requires 44 parks. Applied online, received soon after from the awards manager, Pit YO3JW

Here it is. Nice Santa touch :)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

SOTA VK2/SM-093 Livingstone Hill

While chatting to Andrew VK2UH on my Cathcart Trig activation, he suggested I try Livingstone Hill, VK2/SM-093 on the drive home. This is located close to the Monaro Highway, near the town of Michelago. Turned off the highway onto Mt Livingstone Rd

This is unsealed but okay for 2WD cars. Communication towers on top

Drove up the road to a gate with the access track to the towers behind. This is private property, as per instructions from Andrew VK2UH I left a note on my dashboard that I was doing a SOTA activation, with my name and mobile number to call for the owner. Set off along the access road, about 500 m from the summit

This is a sheep property, struck a mob of sheep on the track who moved on to let me continue

Reached the top. Terrific views from the trig. Looking East to the Tinderries Range. Some 10 point summits there...

Looking North past the communications towers towards Canberra

Looking South towards Cooma

Set up the squid pole on the trig. Not a lot to tie the ends of the dipole to, used a small bush for one end and a rock for the other

Dipole on the squid pole with the Tinderries behind. A great peak with nothing in the way

Some wind had come up so set up the shack on the tarp behind the trig, out of the wind.

As a prime antenna site and late in the day 40 m was excellent, most signals 59+ from VK1, VK2 and VK3. Also worked a couple of VK7s, VK7TW and VK7PAK with good signals. 

Tried 20 m, after working my regular 20 m chaser, Nev VK5WG got called by EA2IF who gave me a 43 signal, he was 55, not bad for 5W! Also a very strong signal from Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs.

As starting to get cold in the wind and very late in the day packed up and headed home. Made it home around 8 pm

Track log of walk

SOTA VK2/SM-090 Cathcart Trig TS1437

After spending the Christmas break at by brother's place at Pambula Beach, I checked the SOTA map for likely peaks to try activating on the way home. I initially went to activate VK2/SC-022 Wolumla Peak, but managed to miss the road turnoff. Suspect it was a road that had the sign removed, but didn't try it as not not sure where it would take me.

So continued on to the next one I had planned, VK2/SM-090 Cathcart Trig. This is reached via the Cathcart Trig Road off the Mount Darragh Road

Cathcart Trig Road is unsealed but okay for 2WD vehicles. Despite the name it does not go to Cathcart Trig...Drove as close as the road got to the peak, around 400 m, and parked and walked.

After a cleared bit of scrub entered the bush. Light scrub, easy walking

My GPS had problems getting a lock, however navigation easy enough, just headed  up the highest hill...

Reached the trig, a large pile of rocks and a post with a large black disk on top. My GPS finally locked in satellites after arriving...

Set up the squid pole on a nearby stump. Dipole legs strung out to trees

Shack on the tarp

Got on 40 m. After sorting out the antenna (I had the links set to 20 m, doh...) good signals from chasers in VK1, VK2 and VK3. No S2S contacts though. As getting late in the day and still some distance to drive home packed up after 18 contacts.

Track log of walk

Sunday, 21 December 2014

SOTA VK2/ST-044 Bobbara Mountain

Bobbara Mountain, VK2/ST-044 is located near the town of Binalong, to the North West of Yass. Had chased Andrew VK1NAM on it so thought I would check it out.

It is about a 100 km drive from my home in North Canberra. Drove on the Barton Highway to the Hume Highway, heading towards Gundagai. Turned off at Bowning, then on to Burley Griffin Way. Just after leaving the town of Binalong turned off onto Bobbara Road on the right. This is unsealed but fine for 2WD cars. View of Bobbara Mountain from the road. The access road can be seen winding up to the top.

The summit is on private property, however the sign on the gate indicated you can enter at your own risk. Access road to the communications towers.

Started walking along the road, however like Andrew decided could take a short cut up using animal tracks, most likely sheep as this is sheep country. Note that due to the animal dung there are lots of flies on this summit. I used repellent but they kept hovering around me all the time, annoying...At least they were not march flies, only little ones.

Joined back up to the road not far from the towers. Air navigation radar visible spinning away on top.

Walked around and past the tower enclosure to inspect the trig at the Northern end of the summit.

Bobbara Mountain trig. Not much shade...

Name plate on trig, "Bobbara"

Wandered around the Western side of the tower enclosure. Noticed the radar platform, being quite large, cast a good sized shadow, with an old tree stump nearby for squid pole support. Perfect! 

Nice cool operating spot in the shade on the tarp. Got set up by 10:30 local time and spotted myself okay.

Got on 40 m on 7.090, got a massive pileup of chasers after me...Good signals from VK1, VK2 and VK3, the VK5s lots of QSB and low down though. Despite some other activators also out at the time managed to miss most of them, only 1 S2S with David VK2CDS on VK2/HU-013. After UTC changeover Andrew VK1DA/2 came up on nearby Mt Mundoonen VK2/ST-053. Worked him on 40 m and also on the 2 m hand held on the whip, a good copy too on 20 m. Besides Andrew only one other contact on 20 m, Nev VK5WG with a good signal.

As starting to lose my shade with the sun getting higher gave it away at 11:30 local time

Heading back down the road. Mt Bowning, VK2/ST-042 visible, the large hump in the distance to the right of centre.

Heading back down the animal tracks short cut to the car.

Track log of walk. About 1.2 Km each way, with animal tracks short cut.

Track profile, about a 200 m climb.