SOTA Activation Huon Hill Wodonga – 31 May 2014 – Summit to Sea

Huon Hill VK3/VE-237 425 metres ASL, Wodonga

After spending two days in Melbourne for a family gathering (birthday celebration) it was time to return to Canberra for the XYLs birthday.  The question is can I fit a SOTA activation into the return journey and arrive in Canberra just in time  for the Canberra family gathering? My thoughts turned to an easy access 1 point summit in Wodonga, Huon Hill VK3/VE-237.  With a slight diversion off the Hume Freeway I could activate Huon Hill for 45 minutes and still be in Canberra for 5 pm.

I had previously chased Huon Hill in April this year with Erwin VK3ERW as the activator.  A successful activation (making contact with 4 unique chasers) will make this a completed summit.

Access is via Thomas-Mitchell Drive, Kenneth Watson Drive then Huon Hill track.  The public access track winds through lush green farming land and steep rolling hills.  Drive slowly and watch out for cows occupying the track.    Parked the car below the activation zone and walked in.  Being a weekend day there were other visitors on the summit, some curious at the sight of a 7 meter squid pole walked over to the lookout for a chat.

Huon Hill map

Huon Hill map

The summit is marked by a Royal Australian Army Survey Corps survey marker.

Huon Hill - Royal Australian Survey Corps Survey Marker

Huon Hill – Royal Australian Survey Corps Survey Marker

Huon Hill Parklands stone cairn

Huon Hill Parklands stone cairn

Huon Hill Lookout platform 1 of 3 platforms

Huon Hill Lookout platform for a view of Wodonga.  There are three separate platforms each providing a different view.

VK1NAM SOTA shack at the lookout platform

VK1NAM SOTA shack at the lookout platform.  The wide hand-rail makes and ideal operating table

Started the activation 10 minutes ahead of the planned activation time @ 12:30 local (0230 UTC).  First chaser contact was Nic VK3ANL as a summit to summit activating ‘Andrew’ Hill VK3/VN-020 in the Kinglake National Park.   Checked SOTAWatch for other SOTA activations, there didn’t appear to be any planned in the next 30 minutes.

Scanned 40m for a clear 5 KHz slot, found 7.100 MHz clear and posted a self spot using RRT.  It was refreshing to have Optus 3G mobile reception on a summit, makes a nice change, who should I thank at Optus?

Next 3 contacts were Matt VK1MA, Larry VK5LY and Amanda VK3FQSO to qualify the summit.  During the 40m contacts the antenna SWR suddenly changed and signal reports dropped to 5-3 and 5-4.  Looking up at the antenna one of the 20m spade-link solder joints had failed.  I dropped the antenna to complete emergency repairs by striping back the insulation and jamming the copper wire into the spade socket.  Signal reports were back to the usual 5-7 to 5-8 for 20 more contacts on 40 m.

The next surprise was a contact with Peter VK3YE pedestrian mobile on Carrum Beach testing a new addition to his range of portable antennas, a center loaded 40m antenna on a 5.4 meter squid pole, known at the Wadetenna (wading in water antenna) operating against a sea-water counterpoise.  Check Peter’s YouTube video link below, Peter has included the audio of our Summit to Sea contact.

Having exhausted the 40m chaser group I called on 20m 14.310 MHz looking for chasers in VK6.  John VK6NU checked in for a 5-6 report, continue to call on 20 m for 5 minutes with no more contacts.  Having spent 40 minutes on the summit it was time to pack up and make my way back to the Hume Freeway.

view to the summit marker

view back to the summit marker

view south to a lower hill

view west along the ridge line to a lower hill

view east to Mt Big Ben VK3/VE-105 on the horizon

view south to Mt Big Ben VK3/VE-105 on the horizon

Peter VK3YE portable at Carrum Beach, wading in ankle deep water.  Peter’s video includes our Summit to Sea contact.