Apologies to readers, I’ve been very slow in putting this post together.
Today, Sunday 7 October 2013 I am heading back to Canberra after spending a week in Melbourne catching up with family and taking advantage of easy access to high scoring SOTA peaks. As a comparison the fire trails in Namadgi National Park ACT are accessible to ACT Parks Management, emergency services vehicles, fire tenders etc. It’s common for VK1 activators to walk distances ranging from 5 to 20 km for a one hour activation.
The plan for today is to activate Mt Strathbogie VK3/VE-132, 1031 metres ASL and Mt Porepunkah VK3/VE-098, 1185 metres ASL.
First summit is Mt Strathbogie VK3/VE-132 in the Strathbogie Ranges central to regional townships of Mansfield, Euroa, Swanpool and Bonnie Doon. Further north is the main regional city Benella. For access I reviewed the post from Peter VK3PF where he noted the track details for his activation in April 2013. The route to the summit is a slight diversion from the drive to Canberra. From the Midland Highway turn left onto Johnstons Road, then left into Ferraris Road, then right into Ferraris track, see Fig 1. Parked the car at the intersection of Harpers No 3 track and walked just shy of 1 km to the summit, see Fig 2.
It’s the start of daylight savings and I’m on the summit ready to go at 09:22 local (22:20 UTC). First contact on 40m is a summit to summit with VK5CZ on Mount Horrocks VK5/SE-012 followed by Tony VK3CAT, Ernie VK3DET and Peter VK3PF QRP. With four contacts in the log and the summit qualified, the choice to be made is cut the activation short to make up some time for the drive to Mt Porepunkah or continue with the chasers for 30 minutes. I decided to stick with the chaser group on 40m.
Next chaser was Col VK3UBY in Mildura and 16 more rapid-fire chasers in 15 minutes. In the middle of the group I made two more summit to summit contacts, Al VK1RX on Livingstone Hill VK2/SM-093 and Andrew VK1DA on VK2/ST-001 Mt Cowangerong commonly known as Captains Flat Radar. Towards the end of the chaser group I worked Glenn VK3YY, John VK2YW and John VK5BJE. After clearing with Glenn and just before the contact with John VK2YW to my surprise I heard gun-shots nearby. From the radio’s speaker John’s voice called in followed by John VK5BJE. I quickly responded to the chasers then sat silent with radio volume turned down to work out which direction the shots were coming from. Within a minute or two more shots fired from a northerly direction and some distance away, I’m guessing 2 km.
Not wanting to be in range of anyone’s gunfire I quickly packed up the SOTA gear for a fast-walk to the car. A couple more shots rang out. Noting I had 15 minutes to go before UTC midnight and fellow VK1 chasers would be looking for a second contact, I sent an SMS to Andrew VK1DA, saying ‘Shots fired nearby packing up’. Back at the car I spoke with Al VK1RX on 40m letting him know I had cut the activation short.
Issues…an absence of signs on entry to the forest to warn bush-walkers the area may be used for hunting or the shooters were operating firearms in an area that is not open to hunting. If you plan to activate Mt Strathbogie be careful, clearly there are shooters operating in the forest. To be seen you may want to wear bright coloured clothes or a reflective vest.
next Mt Porepunkah. Back to the Midland Hwy (B300) and a fuel stop at Benella. From Benella take the Hume Freeway (M31) to the Great Alpine Road (B500) at Wangaratta. Take the Great Alpine Road for a 70 km drive to Porepunkah.
Mount Porepunkah VK3/VE-098 1185 metres ASL
Previous activations: Peter VK3PF 21 Dec 12 and Ian VK1DI 31 Dec 12
Planned summit to summit activity: Trevor VK3ATB and Kevin VK3KAB both on VK3/VC-001 Mt Matlock and Matt VK1MA on VK2/ST-003 Devils Peak, Brindabella NP VKFF-054.
2 km before Porepunkah township turn left into One Mile Creek Road. Proceed along One Mile Creek Road to Mt Porepunkah Road.
Mount Porepunkah Road provides vehicle access to the summit. The day I tried to drive to the summit a tree was down across the track. Parked the car, half on the road and shoulder (and hoped to find it still there when I returned) for a 25 minute walk covering a 150 metre ascent over 1.8 km.
After parking the car I checked in with Matt VK1MA on Devils Peak
Thinking of the 6 hour drive to Canberra ahead of me and the walk back to the car, there were no compelling reasons to stay on the summit for long. The result was a short 15 minute activation. Set up a 40m 1/2 wave dipole using the Trig to support a 7 metre squid pole. From the summit signal reports ranged from 5-8 to 5-9, operation conditions on 40m 7.090 MHz were excellent.
Started the activation at 12:32 local (02:32 UTC) chasers in order were: Summit to Summit contacts with Kevin and Trevor on Mt Matlock, Ian VK1DI for a complete summit, Tony VK3CAT, Colin VK3UBY, Len VK3FB, Peter VK3PF, Andrew VK2FAJG, Brian VK5FMID, Peter VK3FPSR and finally as planned a third Summit to Summit contact with Matt VK1MA/2 on Devils Peak.
QRP chasers were Peter VK3PF, Andrew VK2FAJG, Brian VK5FMID and Peter VK3FPSR.
Admired the view south to Mt Buffalo (more SOTA summits) then packed up the gear for a 20 minute walk back to the car.
Found the car in the same place I left it. 😉