SOTA – Devils Peak Brindabella National Park

Saturday 3 December 2016.  It’s a warm summer day in Australia’s Capital Territory Canberra with a top of 30 degrees C, a perfect day to tackle two summits in the Brindabella Ranges 30 km west of Canberra.  At higher altitudes the ambient temperature will be 5 to 7 degrees cooler.   My aim for today is to activate Devils Peak VK2/ST-004 followed by Dingi Dingi Ridge VK2/ST-004.  My last activation of Devils Peak in May 2014 with Ian VK1DI turned out to be an adventure we both didn’t expect.   Having learnt not to venture into a large swamp, today I am taking a direct route to the summit, 300 metres south-east of the swamp following a spur line heading south-west.

From my QTH in Canberra the drive to Two Sticks Fire Trail is about 1 hour taking Brindabella Road followed by Blue Range Fire Trail.

Photos: Β© Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD

Track routes to Devils Peak and Dingi Dingi Ridge overlay on Oz Topo.  Devils Peak is a 157 metre ascent over 1.5 km taking 1 hour to walk.

Devils Peak and Dingi Dingi Ridge Brindabella NP

Devils Peak and Dingi Dingi Ridge Brindabella NP

Devils Peak GPS Track Log overlay on Oz Topo

Devils Peak GPS Track Log overlay on Oz Topo

Devils Peak track profile

Devils Peak track profile

Devils Peal ascent data

Devils Peak ascent data

Blue Range Fire Trail

A cool morning as cloud descends on the Brindabella Ranges

A cool morning as cloud descends on the Brindabella Ranges.  Blue Range Fire Trail

Entering Brindabella National Park

Entering Brindabella National Park.  No dogs and no firearms!

Start of the walk – leaving Two Sticks Fire Trail heading south in to the eucalypt forest.  There are no formed walking trails, this is an Aussie scrub bash to the summit of Devils Peak.   What do we do to ensure the safety of activators in terrain like this?  First wear clothing to match the environment, make sure you have ample water, food and some form of emergency shelter.   I wear ankle high boots and gaiters, I have a first aid kit on hand, two litres of water, a high vis yellow emergency shelter plus food for the day.   In the top section of my backpack is an emergency signalling mirror (heliograph).   In an environment like this it’s important to have an emergency communications plan.  In VK1, local SOTA activators/chasers often volunteer to monitor the progress of fellow activators en route to summits in difficult or dangerous terrain.  Not to make a big deal out if it, this environment is known for snakes.  I am not afraid of snakes, however 300 metres to the west of my planned route is a saddle formed as a swamp teaming with frogs!  Snakes love a diet of frogs.  Whether or not the terrain or fauna presents potential risks, having a communications plan is an important aspect of safe bush walking anywhere in Australia.  On this occasion Al VK1RX offered to monitor my progress via Mt Ginini 2m repeater VK1RGI on 146.950 MHz.  I checked in with Al when departing from my car then each half hour, on arrival at the summit, departing the summit and later on returning to the car.  Accidents can happen while driving along narrow 4WD trails and walking or hiking in the Australian scrub, its good to know your mates and friends are looking out for you.  πŸ™‚

start of the walk

Start of the walk.

scrub is closing in

scrub is closing in

eucalypt forest

eucalypt forest, 1st km completed

400 metres to go the terrain is now quite steep and the scrub is getting heavier. Difficult to see 50 metres ahead

400 metres to go – the terrain is now quite steep and the scrub is getting thicker and wet.  Difficult to see 50 metres ahead, I pause each 10 to 20 metres to plot a route of least resistance.

thick scrub, very pleased to be in a cool climate.

Although the scrub is thick scrub and difficult to navigate through, it’s nice to be in a cool environment.  πŸ™‚

On the summit 1 hour after leaving the car, sorry folks no views to be found just thick Aussie scrub.  Cloud has evaporated, it’s rather warm in the direct sunlight, shade is important!  My presence has come to the attention of Australia’s most annoying blood sucking insect, I’m being bitten by hundreds of mosquitoes. I had one bite me on the ear, others were biting through my trousers.  If Andrew VK1DA was here now his comment would be something like “there are so many mozzies they need a flight plan and final approach approval to land”   πŸ˜‰

After pushing my way through the scrub I found a small clearing to deploy a 40m 1/2 wave Inverted V dipole. The blood sucking mosquitoes are waiting patiently on the underside of the small fern leaves. 😦

VK1AD SOTA Shack at Devils Peak

VK1AD SOTA Shack at Devils Peak.  My operating position is on the log

FT-857D resting on a log

FT-857D perched on a log

6m contacts included Al VK1RX, Matt VK1MA, Andrew VK2UH and Rhett VK3WE over 302 km.  That’s the summit qualified on 6m!

Sporadic E on 20m gave rise to 15 chaser QSOs within 400 km out to 3100 km.  DX chasers on 20m included John ZL1BYZ and Warren ZL2AJ.

Two Summit to Summit QSOs:  Bernard VK2IB on VK2/RI-004 Mount Jergyle on 28.480 MHz and Glenn VK3YY on VK3/VT-010 Talbot Peak on 7.095 MHz

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log:  3 December 2016 – Devils Peak VK2/ST-003

Time Call Band Mode Notes
22:28z VK1VIC/2 144MHz FM Tony S57 R53 60 km east
22:29z VK1MA 144MHz FM Matt S59 R59
22:31z VK1RX 50MHz SSB Al S55 R51  50.160 MHz
22:34z VK1MA 50MHz SSB Matt S59 R59
22:40z VK3WE 50MHz SSB Rhett S52 R41  302 km south-west
22:41z VK2UH 50MHz SSB Andrew S58 R57  50 km north
22:51z VK1MA 28MHz SSB Matt S59 R59  28.480 MHz
22:52z VK1KW 28MHz SSB Rob S59 R59
22:53z VK4RF 28MHz SSB Rick S59 R57  1000 km north-east
22:53z VK4HA 28MHz SSB Rick S59 R57
22:55z VK2IB/P 28MHz SSB Bernard S2S VK2/RI-004 S55 R55 143 km
23:02z VK1EM 28MHz SSB Mark S59 R59
23:06z VK7CW 14MHz SSB Steve S59 R59  800 km south-west 14.315 MHz
23:08z VK6MB 14MHz SSB Mike S52 R55  3100 km west
23:09z VK3LED 14MHz SSB Col S59 R59  440 km west
23:10z VK5IS 14MHz SSB Ian S59 R59  1000 km west
23:11z VK4RF 14MHz SSB Rick S59 R59
23:11z VK4HA 14MHz SSB Rick S59 R59
23:11z VK5EE 14MHz SSB Tom S58 R57  770 km west
23:11z VK3CAT 14MHz SSB Tony S59 R59  440 km south-west
23:12z VK3AFW 14MHz SSB Ron S59 R59
23:13z ZL1BYZ 14MHz SSB John S55 R55  2200 km south-east
23:15z VK1MA 14MHz SSB Matt S59 R59
23:15z ZL2AJ 14MHz SSB Warren S58 R55
23:16z VK3EQ 14MHz SSB Rick S58 R55
23:17z VK2LX 14MHz SSB Grant S59 R55
23:18z VK3HRA 14MHz SSB Allen S58 R55
23:23z VK2IO 7MHz SSB Gerard S58 R55  7.095 MHz
23:25z VK3GGG 7MHz SSB Mick S59 R57  620 km west
23:26z VK2EXA 7MHz SSB Greg S59 R58
23:28z VK3PF 7MHz SSB Peter S58 R47  400 km south-west
23:29z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB Glen S2S VK3/VT-010 S58 R58  364 km

I will revisit this summit in the winter months of 2017, no mosquitoes!   πŸ™‚



4 thoughts on “SOTA – Devils Peak Brindabella National Park

  1. Another excellent post both radio and cartographically! It was also very good to read about the safety/backup plan you hold, with more and more people venturing out to activate this aspect can not be overemphasised.


  2. Great post, Andrew. Sounds like quite the adventure with many rapid contacts. Well done!

  3. Nice post with excellent pics, Andrew. I tried to work you but with only 5W available (FT-817 and endfed antenna) I didn’t expect you to hear me. I could only just hear you. Maybe next time …

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