Thursday, 18 January 2018

SOTA Mt Kosciuszko VK2/SM-001 Australias Highest Mountain

With a few days off work decided to do something probably a lot of SOTA activators plan to do at some stage, activate Australia's highest summit, VK2/SM-001 Mt Kosciuszko. At 2228 m its hardly an epic climb but still a challenging 13 Km return walk.

I drove to Jindabyne and stopped there overnight, leaving after breakfast to drive to Thredbo. Note when entering Kosciuzko National Park there is a park entry fee of $17 for 24 hours stay.

Got to Thredbo around 8:15 and purchased a 1 day chair lift ticket to take me up to the Eagles Nest Restaurant and the start of the walk across the Kosciuszko plateau, this cost me $37. Then waited for the chair lift to start up at 8:30 am.

Got on the chair lift, a little tricky with a pack and squid pole but managed it. Ascended the mountain in the lift. Could see cloud at the top.

Reaching the top is was quite foggy, and cold, temperature around 10 c.

Fortunately the fog seemed to be only around the edge of the plateau, once I moved away from the lift terminus it cleared up. Still cold but felt warm in the sun.

Start of the Dead Horse Gap walking track. 6 Km to the summit.

The walk is fairly easy, on cobbled stones and raised metal walkways. It is a very popular walk with both Australian and overseas visitors, and is well maintained for the large number of walkers who use it. Reached Kosciuszko Lookout after 1.5 Km. Mt Kosciuszko is the one in the middle, with a long narrow patch of snow below it.

After 4.5 Km reached Rawsons Pass. There are public toilets near here. Mt Kosciuzsko now only 1.67 Km away.

A sign and map at Rawsons Pass on Mt Kosciuszko.

Continued along the track to the summit. Sign at the junction with the main range walk. You can also do this walk from Charlotte Pass but its quite long.

There was a bit of cloud around the summit. The track curves around it.

Reached the summit. As is usual for this popular walk crowded with people. It got a lot worse later...

Another sign near the trig explaining some of the history of the summit.

With so many people around the trig there was no way I was going to operate there... plus the park rangers had advised me to move away from the top to avoid problems with the public. After wandering around for a while I decided to operate from behind a rocky outcrop, hidden away from most of the crowd at the trig. Even so still got groups on the nearby rocks taking selfies...Put up both the linked dipole and 2 m ribbon antenna.

Squid pole jammed into a gap in between 2 large rocks and secured by ocky straps. I had a little hidey hole to operate from out of the wind :)

FT-817 on my lunch box. Had a mini log book, trying to keep weight down :)

Got on 40 m. Not surprisingly phone coverage good here, able to spot myself on parksnpeaks.
The wind decided to bring down my squid pole just after spotting, could hear several callers so quickly hoisted it back up...

Worked the following chasers

VK2YW John
VK7CW Steve

A park to park with VK3ZPF/p Peter in VKFF-2200 Sweetwater Creek NR. I was in VKFF-0269 Kosciuszko NP.

VK3ARH Allen
VK2DO Chris
VK2NP Cliff

A summit to summit with VK3ANL/p Nick on VK3/VC-007 Mt Macedon. Also a park to park as this is in VKFF-0972

VK2IO Gerard
VK2VW Brett.

While operating on 40 m my phone was also being sent text messages from both VK1AD/p Andrew on Mt Ainslie, and VK1RX Al at home. They were looking for contacts on 2 m. I tried both 2 m FM and SSB with no luck. I could hear a few beacons on SSB but no luck hearing you guys, sorry. I suspect might be a problem with my 2 m antenna as thought would have been a good path back to Canberra.

Had lunch. After lunch a large group of school children arrived and sat close by to me to have their lunch, figured a good time to pack up...

Walked back the same way. The fog had cleared for the chair lift ride back down to Thredbo

Track log of walk from the chairlift to the summit.

Profile of the walk, a 6.5 Km walk with a 400 m climb.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Monday, 1 January 2018

SOTA Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 end of year activation

In Australia we have UTC rollover in Eastern Australian Summer Time at 11 am, meaning you can activate a SOTA summit in one year, then claim it again in the new year for another lot of points, and not be in the dark.

Essentially just an excuse for a National SOTA summit to summit party... I picked VK1/AC-040 Mt Ainslie as it is an easy drive up to and set up.

I had a late night with my partner for the traditional new year, and we ended up sleeping in. By the time had breakfast got and all my SOTA gear ready, and drove to Mt Ainslie and set up, I had 8 minutes left of 2017 to make 4 contacts!

Squid pole on Mt Ainslie, looking North.

Looking South.

Shack on the concrete base, my FT-857D running 40 W.

Got on 40 m at 23:52 z as this had the most activity. Pounced on other activators, making the following summit to summit contacts:

VK3ARR/p Andrew on VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip
VK1MA/2 Matt on VK2/ST-005 Webbs Ridge
VK1FWBD/p Wade on VK1/AC-043 Mt Stomlo

and the 4th contact as 23:57 z VA3OZI/VK Mathew on nearby VK1/AC-042 Black Mountain.

Just for good measure I managed a 5th contact for the year with
VK1ATP/p Paul on Yellow Rabbit Hill at 23:59z

Probably the fastest I've qualified a SOTA summit...

After 11 am and UTC rollover into 2018 I could relax and take my time.

Worked the following:

VK3AFW/p Ron on VK3/VE-031 Mt Skene
VK3ARR/p Andrew on VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip
VA3OZI/VK Mathew on VK1/AC-042 Black Mountain
VK1AD/2 Andrew on VK2/ST-006 South Black Range
VK3OAK/p Mal on VK3/VS-008 Mt Cole
VK1MBE/2 Andrew on VK2/ST-008 Baldy Range
VK5PAS/p Paul on VK5/SE-013 Mt Gawler
VK3BHR/p Phil on VK3/VN-016 Mt Alexander
VK3HN Paul
VK7FAMP/p Angela on VK7/CH-057 Mt Dromedary
VK7CW Steve
VK3SQ Geoff
VK3GGG/p VK3PMG/p Mick on VK3/VS-015 Blue Mountain
VK3PF/p Peter on VK3/VE-126 Mt Stanley
VK2SG/3 Leigh on VK3/VG-001 Mt Cope

Started to get warm in the sun, and had qualified the summit so gave it away.

This was also a WWFF activation as the summit is in VKFF-0850 Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

WWFF Activation Mulanggari Grassland Nature Reserve VKFF-0856

As had the morning free, decided to activate a park close to home that I needed some more contacts to get the 44 needed for WWFF, Mulanggari Grassland Nature Reserve.

This is close to Gungahlin in NE Canberra, as per last activation parked at an entry point off Gungahlin Drive. Locked gate, need to enter the park on foot.

 Sign showing some of the endangered flora and fauna in the reserve.

Set up the squid pole on the reserve sign, dipole legs to a stake and the fence nearby.

Shack on the table near the reserve sign

Got on 40 m. Worked the following park hunters

VK2USH Steve
VK2NP Cliff
VK3ZPF Peter
VK2IO Gerard
VK2GAZ Garry
VK2PKT Keith
VK4TJ John
VK3NLK/p Nick
VK3ARH Allen
VK2HMS/p Mick
VK4NH/2 VK4DXA/2 Ray

Tried 20 m. Worked the following hunters there

VK6XN Hans
VK2PKT Keith

VK2PKT was a surprise as he is in Parkes, only 250 Km away... short hop for 20 m.

As getting warm in the sun, and had enough contacts, gave it away after 12:30 pm and headed home for lunch.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

WWFF Activation Mount Painter Nature Reserve VKFF-0853

As had time off work decided to activate a local WWFF park. I picked Mount Painter VKFF-0853 as it is only a few minutes drive from home, and only needed another 8 contacts to complete the 44 needed for WWFF.

As per previous activations parked off Coulter Drive in Cook and walked up the hill into the park.

Some good views over Belconnen to the North.

Reached the saddle before Mount Painter itself. Didn't climb it today as a bit warm.

As per other activations used a seat at the saddle for squid pole, radio and operator support. Black Mountain and Telstra Tower behind.

Shack on the seat. Set my FT-857D to about 30 W output.

Got on 40 m and spotted myself on ParksnPeaks. Appeared to be the only park activator on. Usual park hunters called.

VK3SQ Geoff
VK2JDR David
VK2IO Gerard
VK2NP Cliff
VK3ZPF Peter

Tried 20 m. Worked

VK4TJ John
VK3ZPF Peter

Saw a spot for VK2YK/p Adam in VKFF-1399 Worimi State Conservation Area on 40 m, so returned there to get him for a park to park contact.

Stayed on 40 m and worked the following hunters

VK2PKT Keith
VK2HHA Dennis
VK2YW John

As getting close to lunch time, warming up, and had more than enough contacts, packed up and headed home for lunch.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

WWFF Activation Coornartha Nature Reserve VKFF-1914

Heading back home to Canberra after Christmas/Boxing Day at my brothers place at Pambula Beach. Activated Bournda National Park in the morning, had lunch at Bega and continued on to Cooma. I had seen on a map of parks a newly added one to the NE of Cooma, Coornatha Nature Reserve, VKFF-1914, so drove there via the Numeralla Road. About 10 km from Cooma reached the park gate.

The gate was not locked so could drive in. Closeup of the park sign. Coornatha Trail behind. The far sign says locked gate ahead. This appears to be the only access road into the park.

Continued along the Coornatha Trail up the hill until finding a suitable spot to operate, a dead tree that I could attach the squid pole to. Drove the car nearby and set up the radio.

Location on a map of the park. Map from ProtectedPlanet website.

Radio and antenna next to the car.

After so many activations my LifePO4 batteries were almost drained, so used a power lead I made up to connect the radio to the car battery. Basically a lead with clips on one end to connect to the battery terminals, the other end having Anderson Power Pole connectors to connect to the radio. Its a bit limiting as you need to have the car parked close to the antenna, but worked in this case. Shack on a rug near the car.

Got on 40 m. Started with a park to park with VK2IO/p Gerard in VKFF-1908 Cockle Bay Nature Reserve.

Then another park to park with VK4FMHT/p Matt in VKFF-0129 D'Aguilar National Park.

Then the usual park hunters

VK2UH Andrew
VK3ZPF Peter
VK2NP Cliff
VK2HHA Dennis
VK4TJ John
VK3SQ Geoff

After 40 m dried up tried 20 m. Worked


Saw a spot for Peter VK3PF/p on 40 m on a SOTA summit, VK3/VE-097 so returned there to work him.

And finally contacted VK/HB9DQM/p Manuel on VK2/SM-001 Mt Kosciuszko, Australias highest peak. This was also a park to park as the summit is in VKFF-0269 Kosciuszko NP.

Packed up and headed home.

WWFF Activation Bournda National Park VKFF-0050

After spending Christmas and Boxing day at my brothers place at Pambula Beach on the NSW South Coast, time to head home. Decided to activate Bournda National Park, between Merimbula and Tathra, after which I could cut across to Bega and return home to Canberra via the Bemboka-Cooma route.

Bournda National Park is quite large and covers Bournda lagoon, Wallagoot Lake and Bondi Lake, and was established in 1992. I travelled along the Sapphire Coast Drive, turning off onto Bournda Rd.

I took the first turnoff on the left to the picnic area Scotts Bay, on Wallagoot Lake, and set up on one of the picnic tables at the far end.

Location of my operating spot. Map from Protected Planet website.

Looking back at the rest of the picnic area. A pleasant grassy spot.

View of the table from the other direction

Shack on the table.

Got on 40 m and spotted myself on ParksnPeaks. A steady stream of park hunters called.

VK2USH Steve
VK2IO/m Gerard
VK2NP Cliff
VK3ARH Allen
VK3SQ Geoff
VK4HN/2 VK4DXA/2 Ray
VK4TJ John

After 0000 UTC went to 20 m.This went quite well, made several more contacts.

VK3NLK/p Nick
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2VW Brett
VK5DW Danny
ZL2AJ/m Warren

Saw a spot on 40 m for VK4SMA/p Mark in VKFF-1631 Plunkett Conservation Park, so got a park to park contact in.

Packed up and headed to Bega for lunch.