Billy Range VK1/AC-028 1332 metres ASL – Namadgi National Park
Previous activation: VK1DI Ian 13 July 2013
Forecast: Temperature 10 degrees, 5 degrees overnight and strong winds 20 to 30 km/h gusting 40 km/h
Map: Michelago 1:25000, compass and GPS Garmin 62s
Actual distance: walk 11.4 km return
Actual duration: to the summit 2 hours 10 minutes
Ascent: 450 metres
Return walk: 1 hour 42 minutes
Winter Bonus: 3 points
Battery: 5 Ah LiPo and regulator
Antennas: 2m Slim Jim and EFHW with a parallel LC match
Antenna support: 7 metre squid pole
My last SOTA activation was on Saturday 13 July 2013 VK1/AC-010 Sentry Box Mountain where Al VK1RX and I endured a very long day walking 32 km.
Three weeks on and dealing with SOTA withdrawal, it was time to head out to the Namadgi National Park. BTW there is no cure to the SOTA activation bug. I once thought the worst scrub conditions are at VK1/AC-012 Orroral Hill and the unnamed summit VK1/AC-018 may have cured the SOTA bug, alas not so. Having to feed the SOTA bug, I decided to review VK1DI Ian’s blog and head out to Billy Range VK1/AC-028, 2 points at 1332 metres ASL. An interesting point to note, in VK2 and VK3 this summit height 1300 metres above sea level, will award you 8 activator points a variation of 6 points. Why should VK1 surrounded by VK2, be penalised for having 43 summits?
Okay with that distraction out-of-the-way lets look at Billy Range. Where do you start and how do you get there? Drive south down Boboyan Road to Glendale Works Depot 49 km from my QTH. On Sunday morning at 7 am the drive takes 30 minutes. Enter Brandy Flat Road for a short drive to Brandy Flat walking track. Ample car parking is off the track to the right.
The walk starts at Brandy Flat walking track, don’t forget to sign-in on the register and sign out when you return. The Brandy Flat walking track is 1.6 km and joins Brandy Flat Road. Brandy Flat Road is a fire trail management track closed off to public vehicle access. At Brandy Flat road turn left and head east for 1 km to 682907 6048225 where the management track turns right and heads south. At 682907 6048225 leave Brandy Flat Road into the scrub heading north-east up the ridge line. The ridge line is no different to others in Namadgi NP. You will encounter grassy flats moist under foot, massive granite Tors and thick bands of tea-tree, wattle and eucalyptus regrowth. The tea-tree has thorns similar to a rose thorn, I strongly recommend gloves to prevent the thorns from penetrating and breaking off under the skin.
To avoid the rocky Tor obstacles, I prefer to walk below the ridge line around 10 metres. It’s a personal choice as long as you are comfortable navigating in the scrub below the ridge line. The summit is a narrow solid rock plateau elevated above thick shrub. I recounted Ian’s pictures and found the old grey log Ian used to support his squid pole.
Car park to Brandy Flat Road via Brandy Flat walking track – 1.6 km – 25 minutes
Brandy Flat Road to Billy Range ridge line 682907 6048225 – 1 km – 15 minutes
Ridge line to the summit – 3.1 km – 1 hour 30 minutes.
GPS track log (click on pictures to zoom in)
GPS track profile
Car park off Brandy Flat Road
Typical patches of regrowth around Namadgi NP, wattle and eucalyptus .
Five occy straps securing the squid pole in 30 km wind guts
Started SOTA ops at 10:20 am on 2m FM 146.5 with chasers Mark VK1MDC, Al VK1RX, David VK2KBB and Ian VK1DI. 20 minutes later and with the summit qualified on 2m FM, it was time to face the chasers eagerly waiting on 7.085. First HF contact was Andrew VK2UH followed by Tony VK3CAT/M, Ron VK3AFW and ED VK2JI. While working the chasers the wind was ripping through the tree tops, I’m guessing 30 to 40 km/h gusts. Behind me was a partly alive/dead tree with a very large dead branch, which if snapped by the force of the wind would have landed close by or on top of me. To be honest I was very concerned and kept looking back over my shoulder.
VK5 was well represented in the chase, it was good to hear Andy VK5LA and fellow activator Paul VK5PAS and chaser Nev VK5WG. VK2 chasers were in good numbers with Andrew and Ed leading the charge ahead of Bruce VK2TJ, Gordon VK2VSI, Phil VK2MCB and John VK2FAD/M. VK3 chasers in the line-up included Ernie VK3DET, Collin VK3UB, Mike VK3XL, Peter VK3PF, Glenn VK3YY, Warren VK3BYD, Terry VK3UP, Allen VK3HRA, Peter VK3ZPF, Marc VK3OHM, Fred VK3JM and Derek VK3XY QRP.
With the main chase over Mark VK1MDC made a request for a contact on 20m 14.342 MHz to test out his new beam. I received Mark 5-3 unfortunately QRM from what sounded like a frequency hop digital burst was knocking me out. I received Andrew VK2UH at Yass 5-1 between the data bursts. Decided to call it quits at 11:15 and had a bite to eat. Left the 857 on while eating lunch. Ed VK2JI called me to suggest I try a summit to summit S2S contact with Ian VK5CZ/P on VK5/SE-014. Unknown to me, Ian was operating on 7.107. I checked-in with Ian by calling ‘VK1 Summit to Summit’ and thankfully Ian just picked me out of the noise. Signal reports improved minutes later and we exchanged 5-3 and 5-2. Thanks Ed for the heads-up.
Radio and ATU in the foreground and squid pole in the back ground. The QRP EFHW LC circuit matched the 20.1 meter wire on 40m and 20m with 1:1 SWR on both bands. Nice to have the home-brew QRP matcher performing as planned, this latest version is now a ‘keeper’.
View from the north end of the plateau looking south