Big Badja Hill VK2/SM-059 1362 metres ASL, Deua National Park VKFF-138
So where is Big Badja Hill? Big Badja is on the western edge of Deua National Park 20 minutes from Numeralla. Big Badja qualifies for the WWFF VKFF National Parks program.
The drive from Canberra is via Cooma and Numeralla, an alternative route is the Braidwood – Cooma Road known in parts as Snowball Road or Badja Road. The Canberra – Cooma – Numeralla – Big Badja drive is 2.25 hours.
Big Badja Firetrail intersects Badja Road at Pikes Saddle. The firetrail is rough in parts with a couple of deep spoon drains, not so bad as to prevent access to the car park.
Arrived at the car park at 11:15 local (01:15 UTC) followed by slow walk up the hill to be on air by 11:45, 15 minutes later than the planned time. Happy with the planning for a first visit to the area.
The summit area is exposed to the weather, vegetation on the summit is the ‘Wadbilliga’ a low growing shrub that tangles antenna wire and string on touch. After laying out the antenna and extending the squid pole, I spent 5 minutes or so untangling the antenna from the shrub, it’s like Velcro.
A cold south-easterly wind, 25 km/h was constant across the summit. The XYL and I took shelter on the north side of the rock cairn tucked in against the bush. Having found a comfortable position between to rocks, the squid pole collapsed due to flexing and vibrations introduced by the variable winds. Bugger, back up to the trig to fix the pole.
First contact was a S2S with Ian VK1DI on VK2/RI-026 The Rock near Wagga Wagga followed by Al VK1RX on a local VK1 summit Castle Hill VK1/AC-032. 3rd and 4th chasers were Rob VK3EK/M and Matt VK1MA. After 19 more chasers and towards the end of the activation, Bernard VK2IB joined in the chase for a 3rd S2S contact. Bernard was on an unnamed summit VK3/VE-154 near Granya east of Wodonga.
Low power QRP chasers were Peter VK3PF, Amanda VK3FQSO, Paul VK5PAS/P, Gerard VK2JNG/P and Peter VK3FPSR.
Paul VK5PAS was operating from the Tantanoola Caves Conversation Park. Here is a link to Pual’s blog.
After 20 minutes on the summit a voice broke through the scrub ‘QRZ VK2TWR’, to our surprise there was Rod VK2TWR walking up the track. Rod had plans to activate three VK2/ST summits further north, he went on to explain he had set himself a major challenge for the day by leaving the radio on the kitchen bench. Instead of activating Rod spent the morning visiting future activation sites and calling on property owners to seek agreement to access summits on private land.
At 02:25 I checked 7.144 MHz for Tony VK3VTH/5 activating Coorong National Park VKFF-115. Although Tony wasn’t on air I did make a National Park to National Park contact with Richard VK2BO in Willandra National Park VKFF-536.
With 24 contacts in the log and operating for 45 minutes the activity qualified for the VKFF National Parks award program. Having completed one summit and one National Park and plenty of daylight for a second activation, it was off to Bald Mountain in the Gourock National Mark. Lowered the squid pole for instantaneous entanglement of the antenna wire in the Wadbilliga bushes. Spend another 10 minutes unpicking the antenna from the jaws of the thieving bush.
Narrow trail back to the car park. Magnificent views to the NSW south-east coast.
next Bald Mountain.
Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052 1469 metres ASL, Gourock National Park VKFF-212
Previously non-activated due to a typo in the summit Longitude, Latitude coordinates on SOTAWatch. The coordinates were recorded as -36.94820 149.51111, should be -35.94820 149.51111. The typo is one (1) degree which incorrectly places the map coordinates 106 km south near Bombala where the ground height is 400 metres ASL. The correct Longitude, Latitude coordinates have been reported to Andrew VK2UH, VK2 SOTA Association Manager.
From Pikes Saddle, take Badja Road south-west for 2 km then turn right into Slap Up Firetrail. The drive from Pikes Saddle to the summit will take 15 to 20 minutes.
Bald Mountain qualifies for the WWFF National Parks program, in the boundary of Gourock National Park VKFF-212.
On air at 13:50 local (03:50 UTC), called CQ on 7.090 MHz first contact was Peter VK3FPSR who helped us out with a spot on SOTAWatch, thanks Peter. Next three chasers to qualify the summit were Nev VK5WG, Andrew VK1MBE/2 and Phil VK3BHR. 23 more chasers joined in on the chase for a new unique activation. After working 10 chasers I handed the microphone to Rod for his opportunity to qualify the summit.
10 minutes later I was back on the microphone to work Andrew VK3ARR and 15 more chasers.
On 20m 14.310 MHz Mike VK6MB responded to my CQ call for an excellent 5-7 report. Continued to call for 15 minutes and no takers.
Low power (QRP) chasers were Peter VK3PF, Amanda VK3FQSO, Andrew VK1MBE/2, Peter VK3FPSR, Martin VK2FMUD and Gordon VK5GY/P in the Flinders National Park VKFF-176.
One Summit to Summit contact – Ian VK1DI on Galore Hill VK2/RI-047 in the NSW Riverina region.
The clear sky was misleading, a cold southerly was blowing around 30 km/h. At 15:00 local (0500 UTC) the ambient temperature had dropped below 5 degrees Celsius. Feeling the cold and starting to shiver, it was time to head back to the car for a hot brew and lunch.