Nursery Hill VK1/AC-022 1438 metres ASL, Namadgi National Park
Forecast: Sunny, overnight low -2 and a top of 16 degrees
Navigation: Compass, Map Rendezvous Creek 1:25000 topo and the new Garmin 62s and John Evans Walkabout blog
Antennas: 2m Slim Jim and 40m 1/2 wave dipole
Antenna support: Squid pole 7m
Power: 5 Ah 4S LiPo
Walking distance: 18 km return. With the easy VK1 summits completed the remaining summits involve long walks and difficult ascents in thick scrub. With the exception of 2 summits the rest may include overnight camping.
Today’s activation of Nursery Hill is a dual activation with Al VK1RX. Access to the summit involves a 9.3 km hike one way from the Nursery Swamp car park off Orroral Road at E677499 N6052824. The drive to the car park is via Tharwa, Naas Road and Orroral Road. Nursery Swamp car park is 3.5 km beyond the Orroral Valley Campground and well sign posted.
Picked up Al at 7 am and headed south to the Orroral Valley. When I left home the outside temp was minus 2. The further south we travelled the colder the outside temperature. Crossing Tharwa Bridge is an everyday event however this morning the bridge surface was covered in ice. Arriving at Orroral Valley all we could see was a cover of frost, not only on the ground but also covering the foliage of native eucalyptus trees. The valley and the two mountain ridge lines were a white wonderland. The car’s external temperature sensor was reporting -5.5 degrees, yes minus 5.5 degrees. Looking at the foliage I guess it was fairly close. Ready for the long walk ahead, we left the car at 7:40 am.
The first part of the walk follows a dry creek bed which is a climb of 200 metres over 2 km, it’s a pleasant climb along a formed track with a few rock stairs. After reaching the top of the first hill we continued south-east along the track as it descends down to Nursery Swamp and the flowing Nursery Creek. Once in the valley some sections of the track are elevated on ‘hardwood’ boardwalks. The formed track stops at a picnic site 4.25 km from the car park. From that point we navigated down the right side of the swamp about 2 metres above the swamp level. The swamp is boggy and wet.
Having completed 5.7 km it was time to leave the swamp heading south-west for a 2 km climb to meet the ridge of Nursery Hill at 677150 6048927, along the way we crossed two running creeks and bulldozed our way through thick scrub. Once on the ridge the summit is a further 1.6 km up the ridge line. The ridge is covered in regrowth similar to the scrub on Orroral Hill. The not so favourite ‘Green and Brown’ shrub is in abundance at 2 metres high and presents the same challenges as it did on Orroral Hill. The route to the base of the ridge line adds 1.4 km to the climb which was deducted on the way out. Arriving at the summit around 11 am, one hour longer than expected, we were reasonably happy considering we had just completed 9.3 km with no injuries.
After completing the activation we surveyed the north face of the mountain and decided to descend the face, 300 vertical metres over 1.4 km. Gravity and close spaced contour line are just wonderful, along the way I got close and personal with a few trees and large granite boulders. At the base we had to deal with a 40 metre section of the swamp. We successfully navigated across the swamp by standing on thick clumps of grass. If you miss the clumps you will be up to your knees in mud. The return route was 7.9 km.
Al has a good feel for the environment and conditions he will experience when he decides to take on Orroral Hill AC-012 and the unnamed summit at Honeysuckle Creek AC-027.
So on to the activation.
We found a small clearing among the massive granite tors a few metres below the summit spot height. When you can’t find a support for a squid pole the next best thing is a tree branch. I threw a weighted rope over a tree branch at about 6 metres and hung the EFHW and Slim Jim from a center support. Al managed to find a small tree to strap his squid pole to.
Started the ball rolling at 11:15 local (0115 UTC) on 7.090 with Peter VK3PF and Duncan VK3XBC on VK3/VE-165. Being 45 minutes late I called Andrew VK2UH on the mobile to let him know we were active. The lower part of the 40m band was busy with the Shires contest so I suggested 7.150 as a suitable frequency. Worked Andrew then Bernard VK3AMB and Ernie VK3DET in quick succession. Having qualified I changed to 2M FM while Al worked 40m. On 2m I worked 3 stations Matt VK1MAT, Mark VK1MDC and Matt VK1FMDH, I suspect VK1s had left Canberra for the warmer climate of the NSW south cost.
I switched back to 40m and Al and I shared the FT857D for a further 14 contacts including S2S with Glenn VK3YY/p, Ron VK3AFW/5 and Peter VK3ZPF/p. Glenn and Peter were on the same summit.
HF contacts came slowly which was a refreshing change from the usual pile up. Finished the activation at 1250 local, had a bite to eat and thought about the scrub bash on the way back.
Thanks to the activators for S2S contacts and the blood hound chasers (Bernard and Ernie) who can sniff out a SOTA contact 60 KHz away from 7.090