Sunday, 29 June 2014

SOTA Activation Mt Dromedary

Mt Dromedary is a famous landmark on the NSW South Coast. Named by Captain Cook on his discovery voyage of the East Coast of Australia in 1770, it is now known by the Aboriginal name of Mt Gulaga in Gulaga National Park. It is the remnant of an old extinct volcano that used to be over 3 Km high. Now it is around 800 m so a little easier to climb...Although not too easy, as you start from around 50 m you have over a 750 m climb!

From Narooma headed South on the Princes Highway, turning off to the historic town of Central Tilba, then onto the road to Tilba Tilba, and Pam's Store.

Note the sign on the side, "Tilba Tilba Walking Track". The lane is the start of the walking track. Opposite the lane is an area for walkers to park.

Followed the lane towards the mountain. There is a sign indicating this is a private road, and other signs indicating unauthorized vehicles will be towed away, so you really must park at the store...

Continued along the road on foot towards the mountain.

After 500 m reached the end. You used to be able to park here years ago, not now...

Start of the proper walking track. Note the 5 hours return...Took me about 2 hours each way.

Reached a gate and entered Gulaga National Park. This is WWFF number VKFF-221

After this just a long, steady climb up. Track is narrow in places but well defined.

After about an hour reached a saddle, with a picnic table, pit toilet and also a 4WD track coming in. I think you can drive part of the way to here in a proper 4WD, but not all the way.

Followed the track on the other side of the saddle. Came to a junction where you can take a short cut up to the summit, or via the rain forest walk. Having done this walk years ago remembered the summit walk was very steep and narrow, not well defined, so took the longer but easier rain forest trail.

The rain forest trail actually takes you down for a bit, thankfully heads up again after getting to a junction

It was fairly dark in the rain forest, so no photos. Climbed up to where it joins the summit track.

From here just a short walk to the summit. Typical lollipop type with a welcoming sign...

The views were limited, too many trees to make out much...

Set up the squid pole on the summit sign.

One leg of the 20/40 m linked dipole ran out to a nearby bush, the other to a small shrub. Due to overhanging branches could only extend the squid pole up to about 5 m.

Like Saturday it was very windy, although the tree cover helped shelter me. Set up the shack on nearby rocks, out of the wind and in the sunshine.

Got on 40 m. Usual chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5, many with strong signals. No S2S contacts though. Tried 20 m and got my usual chaser, Mike VK6MB, low signal. 24 contacts all up. Packed up around noon.

I did try returning via the summit track, lost it as not well defined, so turned back up and down the rain forest trail again. Stopped at the picnic table at the saddle for lunch. Met and chatted to a few other walkers here.

After about another hour reached the road. Little Mt Dromedary on the left.

Got back to Pam's store around 2 pm. Drove back to Canberra, getting home by 6 pm. Weather once getting to Braidwood was awful, cold, windy and wet, glad I missed it for the weekend.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

SOTA Activation Wandera Mountain

With cold stormy weather forecast for the weekend in Canberra, decided to check out the South Coast forecast. Considerably warmer, 18 c for Batemans Bay instead of 10 c at home so set off down the coast.

Plan was to activate a summit driving down to stop overnight at Narooma, then activate Mt Dromedary Sunday morning and head home. Wandera Mountain, VK2/ST-042 looked like a good choice.

After driving down to Batemans Bay via the Kings Highway, followed the Princes Hwy to just before Moruya, then turned off at Larrys Mountain Road. Then turned off onto Ridge Road.

Followed this for a while. Unsealed but not requiring 4WD. This ends at a junction with Heffernams Road. This heads towards Wandera Mountain

At the base of the mountain came to a stop sign, advising authorized vehicles only. As only a 500 m walk from here parked and walked up the mountain. Some good views to the West through the trees.

At the top the road joins a junction, Wandera Trig Road. Turned right and up.

Reached the top. Lots of communications towers.

A good view from this point to the North, can see as far as Pigeon House Mountain near Ulladulla

Headed for the top and the trig

Wandera Trig name plate

Set up the squid pole on a nearby stump. It was a howling gale! As the squid pole had a crack in one of the sections I didn't want to stress it too much, so extended it to only 4 m.

One leg running up to a pole near the compound.

The other leg down the slope to a tree. Both legs flapping about like crazy in the strong wind!

I found a log offcut that made a hand seat. Got on 40m, found noisy from the nearby transmitters on 7.090 Mhz, so dropped down to 7.085 Mhz. Worked a couple of stations but they didn't spot me, eventually got Matt VK1MA to spot me and the pace picked up a bit.

Managed to make 17 contacts, with some good signals from VK5 stations. Tried 20 m but no luck. Couldn't even hear that many signals on this band, poor conditions.

Packed up and headed down to the car. Found I had a eventually got going with the spare tyre and headed off to Narooma for the night.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

SOTA Activation Mt Foxlow

Mt Foxlow is an 8 point summit close to the town of Captains Flat. It is also in Yanununbeyan National Park, VKFF-555, so counts towards the VKFF/WWFF awards.

There are a few ways to reach it, I chose from the West via Woolcara Lane as looked about the shortest route at around 6 Km.

Drove from Canberra to Queanbeyan, taking the Kings Highway and turning off onto the Captains Flat Road, until coming to the turnoff on the right.

The road is unsealed but okay for 2WDs. The road heads for Woolcara station, pass this and continue heading South.

From the topo map I had it looked like there was a turnoff off Woolcara Lane onto McFarlanes Fire trail, but when I got to this spot on the map could see no sign of it...

Instead of walking up the fire trail I had a "Plan B", I had downloaded the track log created by local Canberra bushwalker John Evans. Check out his blog. Continued past Silverton property and parked just past the entrance to Yanununbeyan State Conservation Area

On the left was a rough overgrown vehicle track. This went East then South, at this point left the track crossing Primrose Valley Creek

The creek is quite small and easy to step over in an erosion gully. Once over the creek crossed a fence into Yannununbeyan National Park.

Then followed John Evans route, basically he just followed ridges up through the forest. Found the forest nice and open, actually quite enjoyable to walk through as the scrub was light and the gradient not too steep.

Continued heading up through the forest for over an hour, up to and over minor peaks, until eventually reaching McFarlanes Fire Trail, about 1.7 K from the summit.

The road was steep in places. Mc Farlanes Fire Trail joins Foxlow Fire Trail coming in from the North.

Continued along Foxlow Fire Trail to the East, until reaching a cleared area where the road headed South and down, and the summit was nearby in the scrub.

Reached the trig. It is similar to some of the others in the area, like Mt Palerang, a giant rock pile with a wooden trig pole. They built them well on the old days...

At this point at was past my posted alert time of 10:30am as it had taken me 1.5 hours to get here. Got an SMS from Andrew, VK1MBE on nearby Mt Cowangerong, VK2/ST-001. Advised his was setting up. Picked a stump near the trig and set up the squid pole and linked 20/40 m dipole.

Due to the overhead trees only able to put the squid pole up to about 5 m. Set up the shack on a log at the base.

Worked S2S with Andrew VK1MBE on VK2/ST-001 on 40 m, then chased several other activators for more S2Ss.

- VK3EK Robbie on VK3/VG-127
- VK3DAC Fred on VK3/VC-006
- VK1RX Al on VK1/AC-027
- VK3MRG Marshall on VK3/VN-001
- VK2JOS Josh on VK2/HU-080
- VK2IB/3 Bernard on VK3/VE-242

Plus the usual bunch of chasers from VK2, VK3 and VK5, many with strong signals, band in good condition. Tried changing links to 20 m, only worked my regular chaser VK6MB Mike with a low signal. 24 contacts all up.

Packed up around noon. Near the trig was an interesting guyed climbable pole, an old fire tower? The nearby trees made it not worth climbing...Looks like the summit used to be a lot more open in the past.

Headed back down the same way as up, Foxlow trail, then McFarlanes trail

Then the same ridge walk back. Track log of walk

Track profile of the return walk. 6 Km with a 400 m climb.

SOTA Reactivation Mt Cowangerong

After activating Mt Foxlow drove to Captains Flat then on to Mt Cowangerong. I have activated this peak before as have several others, a nice easy 8 pointer, with winter bonus points now as well.

Despite the signs the summit is NOT in Tallaganda National Park, its only of the right hand side of the road, so can't claim it for WWFF points while activating.

Parked below the summit and walked into the activation zone. Approaching the BOM Canberra weather radar

This is known to be a noisy RF site, so set up in the scrub at the southern end of the clearing, in fact used the same stump as last time. Legs of the dipole end on to the radar to reduce noise.

Used the nearby log for a shack and seat. Caught the last of the sun for a bit of warmth, almost 3:20 pm when I finally got on air and temperature starting to drop as the sun set.

Started on 40 m with a couple of S2Ss, Marshall VK3MRG on VK3/VN-004 and Andrew VK3ARR on VK3/VC-022.

Then usual crowd of chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. VK5 signals coming in nicely. Switched to 20 m link, worked my usual chaser VK6MB Mike. Then called for a while with no luck, despite many strong signals from Europe on the band.

Gave it away around 4 pm and packed up and headed home before the sun set. 23 contacts.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

VKFF Gold Hunter Award

During my weekend SOTA activations worked 3 new VKFF National Parks.

While activating The Rock Hill VK2/RI-026 worked:

- Tony VK3VTH/5 in VKFF-115, Coorong National Park, and
- Andrew VK1NAM/2 on SOTA summit VK2/SM-059 in VKFF-138 Deua National Park.

Then while activating Galore Hill VK2/RI-047 worked
- Andrew VK1NAM/2 SOTA summit VK2/SM-052 in Gourock National Park

This takes me to 33 VKFF Parks worked, enough to qualify for the VKFF Gold Hunter Award :)

List of Parks now worked

VKFF Gold Hunter Award from Paul, VK5PAS. Thanks Paul