Mt Donna Buang VK3/VC-002 1259 metres ASL, Yarra Ranges National Park
Equipment a simple SOTA station set up:
7 metre squid pole
2m Slim Jim
40m half wave dipole, feed line 9 metres of RG174.
Today is day 2 of the VK3 trip and I plan to activate, in the following order, Mt Donna Buang, Mt Bride and Britannia Range. All three summits are in the vicinity of Warburton (Warby) 35 km east of Croydon. Warby is a popular tourist destination particularly with motor cycle riders. The township has scenic walks, restaurants and cafes while the fast flowing Yarra River meanders through the town. Travel time from Croydon to Warby is about 1 hour. Joining me for the day’s SOTA activity is my sister and my 2 kids. Had to change the planned activations times to accommodate my daughter who had a 4 pm meeting to attend at Chadstone.
Mt Donna Buang is a further 20 minutes from Warby along the Mount Donna Buang summit road. The road to the summit was open permitting vehicle access to the summit car park. In keeping with the spirit of SOTA I parked the car in Car Park #1, 750 metres below the summit about 60 vertical metres well outside of the 25 vertical metre activation zone.
Weather conditions were fine with a 20 km/h breeze , temperature outside of the car was 5 degrees. I am guessing the windchill reduced the temperature closer to zero. Claiming the seasonal winter bonus points was reasonable.
At the summit is a lookout tower about 40 meters high clearing the tree tops offering panoramic views across the south and south-east Victoria. The tower is in the picnic area, facilities include BBQs, tables and a large picnic shelter.
Click on any picture to zoom in.
Started the activation on 2m 146.500 MHz at 22:40 UTC (8:40 local) 40 minutes earlier than the planned activation time. Not having a mobile signal (Optus) I couldn’t self-spot. Called CQ SOTA for a minute or two when Kevin VK3KAN responded, Kevin mentioned he was passing the radio shack and heard the call. Kevin posted a spot on SOTAWatch and the chase was on.
The first four contacts were on 2m Rik VK1KAN, Craig VK3FZAA, Tony VK3CAT and Andrew VK3BQ at Melbourne Airport. 10 minutes later I moved to 40m for 28 chaser contacts on HF. Peter VK3YE was operating portable with the magnetic loop on Carrum beach.
Operating conditions on 40m were excellent, contacts with VK SOTA associations included VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7.
Low power (QRP) chasers were Craig VK3FAZZ, Tony VK3CAT, Raffy VK2RF in Centennial Park Sydney, Peter VK3YE/P, Marcel VK3FAAJ, Peter VK3FPSR and Shaun VK5FAKV in Renmark S.A.
Having commenced early and operating for 45 minutes (it was very cold on the exposed summit) I didn’t stay around for the planned summit to summit (S2S) contacts with Glenn, VK3YY, Peter VK3ZPF, Marshall VK3MRG and Allen VK3HRA.
After completing the summit activation we drove back to Warburton for coffee and a snack at a local bakery.
Mt Bride VK3/VC-009 898 metres ASL, Parks Victoria
From Warburton township the route to Mt Bride is along Park Road, La La Avenue, Clarke Avenue and Old Warburton Road to Mt Bride Road. Drive along Mt Bride Road to Burns Road. Burns Road gate was open for a 0.75 km drive to the start of the walking track.
The walking track is a 80 meter ascent over 900 metres. The start point is difficult to find, I drove past it once.
Start of the walking track – looks like a typical down-hill cycle track. Click on any picture to zoom in.
The walking track is overgrown but easy-going and aligned to the summit peak. I found a small clearing on the edge of the track suitable as an operating position. The summit is heavily wooded, I secured the squid pole to a small tree and positioned the elements of dipole along the edge of the summit track. My son found pieces of wood to make a seat elevating the bum off the wet foliage.
Started the activation at 01:30 UTC (11:35 local) for a 25 minute activation, with 18 chasers hot on my heels. After contacting Tony VK3CAT I requested his help with a spot for 2m simplex 146.500 MHz FM. Rob VK3MQ and Ron VK3AFW responded both using multi-element yagis. Tried working Tony using a HT. I could hear Tony 5-1 but at Tony’s the reception was scratchy due to the short HT antenna. The number of low power (QRP) SOTA chasers was down a little. QRP chasers included Andrew VK3ARR, Peter VK3FPSR, Tony VK3CAT and VK2IB/P Bernard.
Checking SOTAWatch for potential S2S action. Mobile phone coverage with the Galaxy S3 on Optus was intermittent, my son had better coverage with his iPhone. Made S2S contacts with Ian VK1DI on VK2/ST-015, Peter VK3PF on VK3/VT-046 and Marshall VK3MRG on VK3/VT-010. Missed a S2S with Glenn VK3YY and Peter VK3ZPF who were busy on 24 MHz (12m).
VK SOTA associations in the chase were VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK7.
Britannia Range VK3/VC-011 815 metres ASL, Parks Victoria
From Mt Bride summit return to Mt Bride Road via Burns Road. Turn left in to Mt Bride Road, follow the road for about 3.5 km to Britannia Range track. Britannia Range track was closed and not suitable for 2WD vehicles. The track has deep wheel ruts and large spoon drains requiring very high axle and body clearance. Although there were ample signs notifying drivers of the track closure, 3 massive 4WD vehicles (with big hunting dogs in cages) roared passed us easily negotiating the poor track conditions.
The ascent was 200 vertical metres over 1.8 km taking 40 minutes.
Started the activation at 03:30 UTC (13:30 local) for a 12 minute activation. Checked up and down the 40m band for SOTA activators, I didn’t bother with 2m. Found Brenton VK2MEV on VK2/HU-047 operating on 7.100 MHz the only summit to summit contact for this activation.
Moved to 7.090 MHz and 14 SOTA chasers joined the pile up, Terry VK3UP/M, Mark VK1MDC, Fred VK3JM, Peter VK3FPSR, Tim VK5AV, Col VK3UBY, Al VK1RX, Brian VK3MDC, Peter VK3PF/M, Matt VK2DAG, Andrew VK3ARR, Ian VK5CZ and Ron VK3AFW.
Low power (QRP) chasers were Peter VK3FPSR and Andrew VK3ARR. Today 40m band conditions were excellent and the Yaesu FT-817 and 40m half wave dipole performed to expectations.
With a wish to get my daughter back to her home and with time to shower and change for her meeting at Chadstone, we packed up quickly and ran back down Britannia Range track to the SOTA mobile.
The weather forecast for the rest of the week is deteriorating. From Monday afternoon the BOM is forecasting stong winds 110 km/h, showers and possible thunderstorms. Tomorrow Monday 30 Sep 13, I will heading out with Glenn VK3YY for a joint activation of Mt Torbreck (a must do) and Mt Pyramid.
That’s it folks for another day on the summits of VK3, three more summits bagged and tagged for the SOTA completed list.