Friday 10 October 2014. My son and his girlfriend are driving from Melbourne to Canberra for a family gathering and aren’t due to arrive until 11:30 ish. With 3.5 hours up m sleeve, I decided to head out to Braidwood to activate Mt Gillamatong in NSW. I calculate I would have 40 min max on the summit and 10 minutes to visit the Braidwood Bakery for an early lunch 🙂
Planned SOTA activations for Friday morning were; Ian VK1DI/2 for Ben Lomond VK2/NT-004 and Rod VK2TWR for Peak Back Ridge VK2/SM-037 in the Snowy Mountains.
Braidwood is a 1 hour 15 minute drive from Canberra along the Kings Hwy. Mt Gillamatong is a dominant land feature and recognised for the television and commercial radio infrastructure towers on the summit. On 40m the QRM is a constant S6, which isn’t too bad when SOTA chasers are S8 to S9, while on 20m the noise floor is low.
Arriving at the base of the mountain at 700 metres ASL, a local chap, I’m guessing in his eighties came strolling out of the bush, ‘G-day young fella what ya up to?’, I suppose I am young at 54. Anyway we had a chat for 5 minutes or so, he had been up to the summit for his daily morning walk, but wanted to tell me the local stories and history of snakes sightings on Mt G, hmm. He peered into the boot of my car and suggested I should be wearing the gaiters. I smiled and thanked him, I had every intention of wearing them. Al VK1RX had been to this summit in 2013 and spotted 2 brown snakes. As it turned out I didn’t see any snakes, the weather was cool with the mountain shrouded in fog.
Started the activation at 22:10 UTC 5 minutes ahead of my planned schedule on 10m 28.510 MHz hoping to work Walt NE4TN in Tennessee. 10m was as quiet as the birds on the summit, nothing. Changed to 40m, landed on 7.090 MHz and called to check if the frequency was clear.
Peter VK3FPSR near Cobram was first to check in for 6 points, band conditions were excellent with most chasers in the 5-7 to 5-9 reception range. Whilst on 20m after working Mike and Paul, I heard a very faint ‘Summit to Summit’ call, I recognised the voice pattern it was Ian VK1DI/2 on Ben Lomond. Reception was intermittent, I couldn’t honestly complete the exchange. I suggest we QSY to 40m and try on 7.090 MHz. After dropping the antenna and changing the links for 40m then raising it, Ian was already on the frequency calling this time the reception was 5-9 an easy copy. Thanks Ian for the S2S and 10 points towards the S2S log. 😉
Chasers in the log on 40m: Peter VK3FPSR, Nev VK5WG, Peter VK3PF/M in Melbourne, Cliff VK2CCJ, Ron VK3HAK, David VK2WTY, Tony VK3CAT/M also in Melbourne, Col VK5HCF QRP and Amanda VK3FQSO.
On 20m, Mike VK6MB in Western Australia, long haul 3500 km was S57 R57 and Paul VK5PAS in South Australia was an armchair copy at 5-9+.
Having used up my self-allocated 40 minutes, it was time to pack up and head down Mt G for Braidwood Bakery. I was back in Canberra 5 minutes after my son pulled up in the driveway, pretty good timing. 🙂