SOTA – Riverina Region VK2/RI

Saturday 20 December 2014. Today I am driving from Canberra to Melbourne via the Hume Highway, I plan to activate three VK2/RI summits en route to Melbourne. To assist chasers with my tracking, I have enabled APRS on the mobile phone using APRS Droid SSID VK1NAM-5.  The peaks I have chosen are:

  • VK2/RI-016 Mount Burngoogee, Murraguldrie State Forest,
  • VK2/RI-035 Black Range in Albury, incorrectly named on the SOTA database as One Tree Hill; and
  • VK2/RI-033 Hamilton Hill north-west of Lavington at Jindera Gap.

I am keen to try 6 metres 52.2 MHz and 10 metres 28.510 MHz after a successful 10 metre activation of VK2/ST-053 Mt Bundoonen last Saturday morning.  The plan is to open each activation on 6m followed by 10m.

Mount Burngoogee, Murraguldrie State Forest

From Canberra take the Hume Hwy south to Tumbarumba Road roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes from Canberra.  Drive 6.5 km along Tumbarumba Road to Burngoogee Fire Trail.    Take Burngoogee Fire Trail and Tower Road for 4.5 km to a locked gate.  From the locked gate the ascent to the peak is 97 metres over 1.7 km taking 25 minutes to walk.

Previous activators: Nick VK3ANL, Ben VK5TX, Ian VK1DI, Al VK1RX, Justin VK2CU and John VK2YW.   Check out Ian’s blog for his trip report.

Mt Burngoogee GPS track log

Mt Burngoogee GPS track log from Tumbarumba Road

Mt Burngoogee track profile.  The marker refers to the locked gate position

Mt Burngoogee track profile. The marker refers to the locked gate at 4.3 km

locked gate on Tower Road. 1.7 km walk to the summit

locked gate on Tower Road. 1.7 km walk to the summit

summit profile is a plateau

summit profile is a plateau

VK1NAM operating position 110 metres away from the communication compounds

VK1NAM operating position 110 metres north-east from the trig and communication compound.  Found a suitable small eucalyptus tree to support the squid pole.

Opened the activation at 2240 UTC on 6m 52.2 MHz USB.  First and only chaser on 6m was Al VK1RX in Canberra 133 km due east, thanks Al for the 6m contact.  Changed to 10m 28.510 MHz to find the band open to Gippsland in Victoria and McKay in North Queensland.  Chasers on 10m were Rhett VK3WE, John VK2YW in Wagga Wagga and a long haul contact with Clive VK4ACL in McKay signal report 5-9.  I did hear Steve VK3MEG calling from Melbourne and returned his call, somehow I didn’t have a favourable return path.

On 40m worked 26 chasers including new to SOTA chasing Adam VK3HAD, Christine VK3FCEK and Gary VK7JGD.  Andrew to Andrew contacts were a feature of this activation and included Andrew VK3ARR, Andrew VK3BQ/2 and Andrew VK2UH.  🙂

The summit noise floor is low, no apparent QRM from the nearby communications infrastructure.  I will be back in 2015.

Mount Burngoogee Trig

Mount Burngoogee Trig

Geodetic Station: Burngoogee

Geodetic Station: Burngoogee

Black Range overlooking the city of Albury, NSW

Previous activators: Heaps…too many to list

Thanks to Russ VK2BJP for posting access details on the SOTA summit reference page.   Access to the summit is via Shaw Street in Lavington, drive along Shaw Street to Tower Road.  When I arrived at Tower Road gate the temperature was 32 degrees at 12:25 local.  With the sun directly overhead there is little to no shade and the heat reflecting off the track was just bearable.  Wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a generous coating of sunblock, I consumed two litres of water over a 90 minute period, it was hot.

The ascent is 165 metres over 1.3 km taking 35 minutes.

Public access gate to the summit.  All other nearby tracks are on private property

Tower Road gate public access to the summit. The track is washed out in parts from recent heavy rains.  All other nearby tracks are on private property.

Black Range GPS track log. Note the SOTA database has the name as One Tree Hill

Black Range GPS track log. Note the SOTA database has the summit name as One Tree Hill

Black Range track profile

Black Range track profile – at 800 metres the track is steep to the top

white t-shirt to keep the radio case cool and to prevent the radio from overheating.

No shade from the sun – white T-shirt to keep the radio case cool and to prevent the radio from overheating.

On the summit at 0200 UTC and ready to go 10 minutes later to open on 6m 52.200 MHz USB.  I checked SOTAWatch for other activators.  John VK6NU had an alert in place for VK6/SW-060 Cape Leeuwin in W.A and Gerard VK2IO was due to activate VK2/CT-080 near Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.   First and only contact on 6m was Bernard VK2IB operating a FT-817 portable in his back yard, thanks Bernard for the 6m contact.  By now the radio and I were very hot, I covered the radio with a white T-shirt it helped a little but the radio’s cooling fan was running flat out.  Moved to 40m 7.090 MHz to find QRM at S6, worked 14 chasers including a S2S with Gerard VK2IO on VK2/CT-080 unnamed.  John VK6NU had posted an alert on 15m, I lowered the squid pole changed the dipole link and made a successful 5-5 contact with John.  Thanks Gerard and John for two unique summits and 6 points towards the S2S log.  😉

Had to get out of the sun, packed the gear away and was back on the track at 0240 UTC for a hot descent back to the car.  This peak is for the cooler months, happy to come back in winter.  🙂

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Black Range VK2/RI-035

VK1NAM SOTA shack on a hot Black Range VK2/RI-035

Geodetic Station named Black Range

Geodetic Station: Black Range

Back at the car, I cancelled the activation of VK2/RI-033 Hamilton Hill, far too hot for a 1.8 km climb.  I will attempt the activation on the return trip.