Mt Tennent 1384 metres ASL, Namadgi National Park, Grid QF44mk
Monday 10 March 2013 is a public holiday in most states of Australia and SOTA activators in VK3 and VK1 have planned a number of activations strategically coordinated to gain Summit to Summit (S2S) points. Yesterday I activated Mt Gingera VK1/AC-002 a 14 km return walk from Mt Ginini car park and today I planned to activate Mt Tennent VK1/AC-026 a 12 km return walk from the Namadgi Visitor Centre. Namadgi is the Aboriginal word for the mountains south-west of Canberra. The park was declared in 1984 and has an area of 106,095 hectares, making up 46 per cent of the Australian Capital Territory.
The drive to Mt Tennent is 32 km via Tharwa and Naas Road to the Namadgi National Park Visitor Centre. You can leave your car at the Visitor Centre, plenty of off-road parking available. The walk to the summit of Mt Tennent is via the Australian Alps Walking Track rising 780 vertical metres above the Visitors Center over a distance of 6 km.
Weather: Forecast temperature of 30 degrees, the temperature on the summit will be a comfortable 20 degrees. The UV rating was high so I lathered myself with 30+ sun-block. I have climbed to the summit on three previous occasions.
Mt Tennent is a physical and mental challenge particularly the last 1km where the mountain attempts to break your spirit. With my pack weighing in at 15 kg the ascent was 2 hours and 15 minutes. Read (Dominating Mt Tennent)
At the summit 10:15 am (23:25) UTC, 15 minutes later than scheduled I quickly raised the 40m EFHW supported by the squid pole. First contact was a S2S with VK3ZPF Peter on VK3/VC-006, followed by 14 HF contacts including S2S with VK3HRA Allen on VK3/VC-012 and a local VK1IRC Peter on VK1/AC-041. Whilst working VK2UH Andrew on 40m I assembled the 2m 3el Arrow beam and pointed it south-west towards VK3, who said blokes can’t do two things at once? Andrew posted a spot for me on 2m 144.200 MHz, thanks Andrew! At 10:48 I switched to 144.200 called CQ SOTA and immediately worked VK3GHZ Rhett in Bairnsdale via Aircraft Enhancement (AE) and locals VK1RX Al and VK1AI Greg on the back of the beam. Staying on 2m for UTC change I continued calling CQ when I heard a morse call twice. I realised the signal was off the side of the beam so I pointed it east. Called CQ again and VK2BHO John at Shellhabour, 80 km south of Sydney answered. Thinking the signal might have been AE I gave John a quick RST, but then realised his signal strength was a consistent 5-1 to 5-2. That meant we had a direct path between QF55kk and QF44mk, 200 km. Chatted to John for 8 minutes then turned the beam back to VK3 calling CQ. Rhett answered a second time and said he could hear me talking to John on the rear of the yagi. At 11:16 I switched to 40m worked 18 stations including Allen and Peter (ZPF) S2S for the new UTC day.
At 11:45 VK3DET Ernie in Ballarat, suggested we try a 2m contact on 144.200. Pointing the beam due west called for a few minutes without a reply. I suspect the timing was a little late in the morning for 2m DX. Took a break from the radio to have lunch and chat to people on the summit interested in the squid pole and the yagi.
After packing up the HF and VHF gear, I grabbed the FT60 HT, called CQ SOTA on 146.500 for any local chasers looking for chaser points. VK1MA Matt returned the call and was grateful for the 4 points.
The descent back to the Visitor Centre was 1 hour 30 minutes. After yesterday’s success on Mt Gingera, I was very pleased with the VHF DX contacts and the S2S action on HF. It’s fantastic to see interest in SOTA growing as per the number of chasers. This long weekend I have walked 26 km to activate 2 VK1 summits, the SOTA bug has bitten!