SOTA Activation – Gourock and the nasty Lawyer Vine :(

Gourock VK2/ST-012 1180 metres ASL, Tallaganda State Forest 

Friday 10 April 2015.  Today I plan to operate my amateur radio gear from the summit of Gourock VK2/ST-012 in the Tallaganda State Forest (NSW).  Possible SOTA summit to summit (S2S) contacts with activators Dave VK4DD on Tennison Woods Mountain VK4/SE-117, South East Queensland 960 km north and Adan VK1FJAW on One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035, Canberra 65 km north-west are likely.  Before I left home I received an email from Ian VK1DI warning me about a plant growing in the area known as the Lawyer Vine!  Hmm the vine sounds nasty..  😦

Getting there:  From Rossi take Rossi Road then Lowden Road to the end of Lowden Road.  See Map. Lowden Road turns into a 4WD fire trail which later terminates in a clearing below Gourock.   While you are in the area visit the Lowden Forest Park campground, a former logging camp where you will find a historic waterwheel and parts of a steam engine.  More info can be found at  http://www.forestrycorporation.com.au/visit/forests/tallaganda

The walk: 1.9 km scrub bash to the summit taking 1 hour 15 minutes, 3.8 km return.

Equipment:  Dual band 2m/70cm HT, QRP HF/VHF/UHF Yaesu FT-817 transceiver, antenna 6/10/20/40m homebrew link dipole, battery 4S 4.2 AH Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4).  Food, water, clothing, emergency shelter, GPS, topo map and compass.  Boots and gaiters suitable for a scrub bush.  🙂

Mobile Phone Reception: On the summit a good signal, 3 bars on the iPad with Telstra 3G.  No reception during the ascent on the west face.

Activation.   Weather conditions chance of rain and a top of 18 C.  On the summit at 0005 UTC (10:05 local) and no sign of rain.  🙂      Found a suitable stump to support the squid pole, 40 metres north of the Trig station.  Set up the SOTA gear on a nearby fallen tree.

Chasers on 20m. I started the activation on 14MHz at 0025 UTC, first contact was a S2S with Dave VK4DD followed by Paul VK5PAS, Nev VK5WG and Andrew VK2MWP to qualify the summit.  The chaser group continued on 20m with South Australian chasers Tom VK5EE and Ian VK5CZ.  4 out of the 6 20m chasers are from South Australia, well done fellas.  😉

Chasers on 40m.  QSY to 7 MHz at 0035 UTC for 18 chasers, Gerard VK2IO, Dave VK2WTY, Paul VK3DBP, Rob VK3EK, Amanada VK3FQSO, Bernard VK3AV, Julie VK3FOWL, Fred VK3DAC, John VK2WY, Andrew VK3JBL, Peter VK3PF, Brett VK3FLCS, Tony VK3CAB, Rob VK3FAAA, Pete VK2FPMC, Adan VK1FJAW on One Tree Hill, Andrew VK2UH and Nick VK2AOH.

Summit to Summit contacts.  Dave VK4DD on VK4/SE-117 and Adan on VK1/AC-035.  I also worked Adam (65 km NE) on 2m simplex 146.5 MHz FM mode using a Yaesu FT-60R dual band HT.  The radio has a full size 1/4 wave whip antenna.  Adan was experimenting with the directional properties of his homebrew 2m Moxon.

Hazards
Watch out for the Lawyer Vine!  Smilax australis is prevalent around re-entrants and natural water courses.  The vine has a prickly stem about 4 to 5 metres long. In places the vine grows horizontal to the ground about 100mm (4 inches) above ground cleverly disguised by the thick undergrowth.  The height above ground is perfect to snag your feet and trip you.  In places I found the stem to be 6mm (1/4 inch) thick other places even thicker.  I snagged my feet a couple of times on the vine and one occasion the vine whiplashed and hit me on the face. If you plan to visit the summit, I recommend navigating around the creek lines (see map) best option is to follow the ridge lines. (see track log)

Lawyer Vine

Lawyer Vine  😦

Lawyer Vine

Lawyer Vine

Lawyer Vine

Lawyer Vine plant found in the open

GPS track log – drive along Lowden Road to a clearing then on foot to the summit.

Gourock GPS track log

Gourock GPS track log

Section on foot – 310 metre ascent over 1.9 km, see red track.

Gourock track profile

Gourock track profile

Gourock on foot track log

Gourock on foot track log 1.9 km

Gourock ascent data

Gourock ascent data

Gourock ascent data – red segment marked above

Photos of the environment and ascent

clearing at the end of the 4wd trail

The fire-trail terminates in a clearing,  ample space to park your car

start of the walk

start of the 1.9 km walk, no the ascent isn’t easy

pink tape, signature of a well-known bushwalker

thick scrub – pink tape, signature of a well-known Canberra bush-walker

heavy scrub

heavy scrub bash – watch out for the vine

approaching the north knoll - 450 metres to the summit

approaching the north knoll – still 450 metres from the highest point at the south knoll

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Gourock

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Gourock south knoll

Gourock stone cairn

Gourock Trig stone cairn on the peak

Gourock Trig Station

Gourock Trig Station

Gourock Trig Station

DSCN3479

Gourock Mountain local fungi – timeout to smell the roses

Lowden Forest Park campground

Lowden Forest Park water-wheel

Lowden Forest Park water-wheel DC generator

history of the former logging camp

history of the former logging camp

rusted steam engine

rusted steam engine

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