Sunday, 31 May 2015

SOTA Pigeon House Mountain VK2/SC-033

Pigeon House Mountain is an historic mountain on the NSW South Coast, close to Milton/Ulladulla. Captain Cook named Pigeon House Mountain as he sailed past in 1770 - "a remarkable peaked hill which resembled a square dovehouse with a dome on top and for that reason I called it Pigeon House".The local aboriginal tribe called it Didthol, a word meaning "woman's breast".

Fairly obvious when viewed from a distance. Here is a an old photo I took from the side of "The Castle" nearby

I've climbed it a few times before bushwalking but had not climbed it as a SOTA activation. I knew the top did not have a lot of room for antennas, however having worked Phil VK2FPJR on the summit a few years ago knew it was possible to get something strung up.

Stopped overnight at Ulladulla. Drove down Croobyar Road to Pigeon House Mountain car park, the road is unsealed. In wet weather a 4WD would be advisable as it is unsealed and steep in places.

Sign at the start of the walk. It is 2.5 Km each way with about a 500 m climb. The 3-4 hours is a bit generous, about 1.5 hours to get up and about an hour to get down. The mountain is in the Budawang Wilderness Area, part of Morton National Park. The track climbs steeply as soon as you leave the car park...

The first park of the walk takes you steeply up a ridge, up through some cliffs and onto a plateau.
The top of the mountain visible through the trees ahead.

Then a bit of a break walking on a flat ridge before the next climb.

The final climb to the base of the cliffs is steep, took a few breaks. At the cliffs a series of steel ladders to be climbed. The first ones fairly easy.

Got progressively steeper as you climb up to the top through a gap in the cliffs

Nearing the top

Once on the top you wander past a rocky overhang, then ascend to the summit

Reached the trig on top. Not a lot of room here.

Looking to the North West. Byangee Mountain, VK2/SC-046 is the multiple cliffs plateau, "The Castle" VK2/SC-019 behind it.

Nowhere to put an antenna at the lookout, sheer cliffs beyond the railing...

Came down from the trig into the bushes to the South. Found an old stump, lashed the squid pole to it and ran one dipole leg through the trees. The old wooden trig can be seen abandoned on the ground. The trig is just behind the rocks on the right. Just past the trees on the left was a cliff...

The other leg ran out the other side to another tree, again a sheer cliff close by...

Set up the SOTA shack at the base of the stump. Nice spot away from the crowds of walkers heading for the lookout, although still got a few people come down to take a look at the view here. Note this walk is very popular with families, despite the difficulty.

Got on 40 m. Despite my antenna running close to trees, some strong signals from VK1, VK2, VK3 VK5 and VK7. A couple of S2S contacts with VK3HN/P on VK3/VC-011, VK7BO/P on VK7/NC-015.

Briefly tried 20 m but no chasers. Returned to 40 m, worked a few more chasers before packing up at noon.

Worked 33 chasers. The summit is also in Morton National Park, VKFF-334, a new park for me.

Going down a bit of a pile up on the ladders, as having to wait for ascending walkers to climb up before descending

Got back to the car by 1:00 pm. Had lunch and drove home.

Track log of walk

Saturday, 30 May 2015

SOTA Durras Mountain VK2/SC-051 VKFF-0371

After activating Clyde River National Park VKFF-102, drove down to Batemans Bay on the Kings Highway, North on the Princes Highway, then took Dam Road on the right. This is unsealed but okay for 2WD. Turned off onto Mountain Road

This ends at a small car park and the start of the walk to Durras Mountain. Parks Information sign

Start of the walk

A fairly easy walk, not steep, had some seats along the way for a rest

The walk joins the main walking track from Pretty Beach to the summit. After 20 minutes walk reached the water tank near the summit.

Just behind the tank the summit and picnic table. My last activation here I had come from the Southern direction to here. Think the Northern route is a bit easier, not as long or steep.

Set up the squid pole and SOTA shack on the picnic table

Radio shack on the table. Comfy, pleasant in the late afternoon sunshine

Got on 40 m. Started with a park to park contact with Peter VK3PF in VKFF-771 Mt Worth State Park. Worked VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5 chasers with good signals.

After 40 m dried up switched the links to 20 m. I could tell Europe was open long path, as my first contact was DK4RM. I think someone had spotted me on the DX cluster, as a massive EU pileup followed...

A bit hard to pick out calls as the band was in great shape, signals peaking up around S8 and many calling repeatedly. Several German, Belgium, Italian, French, Spanish calls. Recognized some of the regular park hunters, S58AL, IK1GPG, ON4VT. Most were signing 73 44 so more park hunters than SOTA chasers I think.

One of the regular SOTA stations G4OBK Phil called me. All quite strong and giving me good reports, 55 despite only running 5 W... Suspect the location, right on the Pacific, helping as a clear shot to Europe on the long path.

Also worked a couple of VKs, VK4HNS Neil and VK5NIG Nigel. N7VF from the USA as well.

The band eventually died down, still had to pack up as getting dark and had the walk back.
A total of 37 contacts. With the 17 contacts in the past activations I have 54 contacts total, now qualified VKFF-371 Murramarang National Park for the WWFF award.

Made my way back to the car. A few of the locals keeping the track grass trimmed...

Track log of walk. About 1.5 Km each way.

Clyde River National Park VKFF-0102

Heading down the NSW South Coast for the weekend, decided to activate Clyde River National Park, VKFF-102. This park has not been activated before. It is located to the NW of the town of Batemans Bay, around a bend in the Clyde River. There are also some smaller sections on some islands in the river and the West bank of the river.

From the Kings Highway midway between Nelligen and Batemans Bay, turned off onto Rotary Drive. Headed for Holmes Lookout, a lookout and picnic area at the highest point in the park.

Arrived at Holmes lookout. Good view of Batemans Bay, including the bridge and the Clyde River

Several picnic tables, although trees above some making them unsuitable for a squid pole. Used the table nearest the road for squid pole support and radio shack.

Shack on the picnic table. A comfy operating spot

Got on 40 m. Worked Andrew VK1NAM who spotted me on ParksnPeaks. A steady flow of hunters called me, including a SOTA contact with Marshall VK3MRG/P on VK3/VN-011.

Good signals from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. A strong signal from one of the locals, VK2ONE Peter in Batemans Bay. Tried 20 m but no contacts. Packed up around 1 pm to continue on.

A total of 17 contacts. Enough for the 10 needed for the VKFF award point but short of the 44 contacts for WWFF. A nice easy park to activate, I'll return to finish another time.

WWFF Hunter 88 Points Award

After several logs uploaded by Paul VK5PAS noticed I now had 89 WWFF parks worked, giving me the 88 points needed for the next level of the WWFF Hunter award.  Applied online on the WWFF logsearch website, and received the award promptly from Pit YO3JW.

The next award will be at 44+88 or 132 parks, may take a while, although seems to be more park activations nowdays.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Mount Painter Nature Reserve VKFF-0853

After returning home for lunch from my Gossan Hill Reserve activation decided to do another newly added WWFF park nearby, Mount Painter Reserve VKFF-853

Mount Painter is close to the Canberra suburb of Cook. There is a dirt road off Coulter Drive, took this and parked. Popular place with horse owners.

Walked up the road to a locked gate and access point for walkers and horses. Noticed a new sign on the gate.

A closer look at the sign revealed the park would be closed from 5 pm to 7 am daily to the public, until 31/7/2015, due to "Firearms in Use".

I knew what this was for, the ACT Government is currently doing a Kangaroo cull to reduce the numbers, there are too many and they are bringing in shooters. Looks like my activation will end at 5 pm to avoid getting shot...

Headed up the hill. Entered the Mount Painter Nature Reserve

After a steep climb up reached a turnoff past water reservoirs to the summit

The track climbs up to a saddle, then a small hill and the final run to the top. Sign describing the re-vegetation of the hill by Friends of Mount Painter group.

Reached the top. Usual square trig point. Terrific views. Looking South

Looking to the South East, Black Mountain and tower, Lake Burley Griffin and Canberra City visible

View to the West. Good sign describing the mountains in the distance. Mount MacDonald and Mount Coree are SOTA summits.

The summit area was fairly exposed, and Mount Taylor, lots of joggers, dog walkers and fitness fanatics coming and going. Not really suitable to operate from. without the public getting tangled in antennas... As this is a park activation, not SOTA, no need to operate from here, just need to be in the park, so walked down to the saddle where there was a wooden seat suitable for a radio shack. Strapped the squid pole to the seat and laid out the 20/40 m linked dipole.

Radio shack on the seat

Got on 40 m. Signals quite good, strong from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. Made Park to Park contacts with VK3MTB/P Tim in VKFF-745, and VK3FQSO/P Amanda in VKFF-759.

Changed the links to 20 m. Headed for 14.310 Mhz where I usually operate, to find it already in use, a huge pileup of EU stations after OT4V/P Danny on ONFF-297...

I joined the pileup. With my puny 5 w FT817 took several calls, being drowned out by high powered EU chasers, but eventually Danny heard me! He was peaking S5 and quite readable once the callers stopped. After working him Albert S58AL called me and asked me to go up 5, worked him with a good S7 report. After working Albert Franz ON5SWA called me coming in at S8.

As almost 5 pm and the sun setting, getting cold, and didn't want to get shot...packed up and headed home.

Track log of walk. Only logged from where I operated. It's about a Km to the summit from the parking spot.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Gossan Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0842

With 33 Canberra Nature parks added to the World Wide Flora and Fauna Award list recently decided to activate one of the local ones, Gossan Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-842

From my home in Belconnen drove to the end of Weatherburn Place in Bruce and parked. There is a short lane way here that leads into the reserve.

The paths have an interesting naming convention...Took Gossan Four up the hill

Took Gossan Six up the hill.

Reached Gossan Hill cairn, a large pile of rocks. Nice view to the West.

Just down the hill from the cairn was a signpost, the junction of Gossan Six and Five. used this for squid pole support. An old fence post used to support one end of the dipole, the other end tied to a rock on the summit cairn.

Got on 40 m on the WWFF calling frequency 7.144 Mhz. Worked several chasers, but slow going even after someone spotted me on the ParksnPeaks website. Found the Android ParksnPeaks App on my phone didn't have the new ACT parks added yet so unable to self spot.

Saw a SOTA spot for Andrew VK1NAM/2 on 10 m on VK2/RI-016, so quickly set up my 10 m dipole and worked him. Signal not real strong as too close for skip, probably getting on backscatter, but made it. Also another SOTA contact with Gerard VK2IO/P on VK2/RI-006 on 40 m, very strong.

Continued on 40 m, managing 25 contacts in all across VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. Packed up and headed home for lunch at noon. Need to return and get the contacts up to the required 44, anyway a pleasant place to revisit.

View to the North out to Lake Ginninderra

View West to the Brindabellas. Large green building is Bunnings hardware store.

Track log of walk