New Years Day Activation 2023 VK1/AC-002 Mount Gingera and VK1/AC-008 Mount Ginini

Mt Gingera Summit

I first activated Mt Gingera on New Year’s Day 2018. Since then, life, and bushfires leading to the national parks being closed, have conspired to prevent me repeating the NYD double act. My plan – to activate and qualify (minimum of 4 contacts) Mt Gingera well prior to 1100 hours local time which is midnight UTC (Greenwich Mean Time) on 31/12/22, and then repeat the process to qualify the same summit for 2023, thus adding 20 SOTA summit points to my tally in the one visit. Following Mt Gingera, activate Mt Ginini (an eight-point summit) on my way home. I activated Mt Ginini in October 2022 with the added three-point Winter Bonus.

Mt Gingera is the second highest peak in the Australian Capital Territory at 1855 metres ASL….. (My Suunto watch reckons it is 1857m). Access is gained by driving to the Mt Ginini car park via Uriarra Rd, Brindabella Rd and Mt Franklin Road.

I departed home at 0530 local AEDT for the 84 kilometre drive (via Macca’s breaky/coffee) arriving at 0730. For the final 20k or so heading to Ginini along Mt Franklin Road I was in cloud and visibility about 40m but looking up I could see whisps of blue sky.

The hiking distance from the Ginini carpark to the Gingera summit includes 6.6 k along Mt Franklin Road and a 1.2k climb up a narrow but well-established path …. a one-way journey of 7.8 kilometres.

Walking route to the summit in red. Mt Franklin Rd in white

Along the way I spent a couple of minutes at Pryor’s Hut for a rest. I encountered 9 other people during my hike to and from the summit – all but 2 were heading for the summit. So, my hike did take a little longer than planned, but meeting people in such a remote area, it is advisable and nice to say hello and that usually leads to a short chat!

Start of summit path. 1.2 ks distant

The Activation

As is tradition, I opened up on 2m FM and quickly qualified the summit for 2022 with 10 minutes to spare – time I used to set up my HF antenna. Post roll-over I had a quick-fire five 2m FM contacts and one HF 15m CW into New Zealand (Geoff ZL3GA – another S2S).

The weather in the mountain ranges can and does change rapidly. Before I knew it I was getting wet and decided to pack up. Unfortunately, the views were stolen by the weather.

The long trek back to Ginini seemed to last forever but walking in the occasional sun-shower was better than sweltering heat!

A most welcome sight!

I drove to the summit of Mt Ginini to find several families packing up their NYD picnics – but I found a place to quickly set up. I posted a Spot on SotaWatch for 2m FM simplex… but no replies and I assume most chasers had moved on to post NYE recovery mode 😉 So, I threw a wire up and placed a Spot for 40m CW – knowing that I really should be thinking about heading home. No need to worry, 12 minutes later I had easily qualified the summit with 8 contacts logged and thus bagged Ginini’s 8 points for 2023. I headed for home – 28 Sota points in total for the day.

Lessons learned.

I am not getting any younger – so if I do Mt Gingera again, it most likely will not be on NYD. I can take my time and make a day of just one beautiful summit…. but it is a long way there and back!

Find a better insect repellant! What I had seemed to attract man-eating flies the size of Christmas Beetles with long pointed noses out of some SciFi horror movie! Yes, March flies – often encountered, but these seemed particularly persistent! – So – hot, or not, long sleeves are the way to go!

My thanks to all who helped make New Year’s Day one of, if not THE greatest highlight of the SOTA year.

Not as many contacts as made by some others, but mission accomplished. I haven’t calculated it accurately, but I was away from home for 13 hours, four of which were driving, about 6 hiking (with a few ‘how do you do’ chats along the way with other bush-loving folk out in the remote areas of the ACT.)

Happy New Year!

Mt Tumorrama VK2/SW-027 & Snow Gum Mountain VK2/SW-028 Saturday 26 November 2022

Mt Tumorrama
(Image captured from my dash-cam.)

With some long-awaited clear weekend weather forecast, I decided to complete a double summit activation beginning with Mt Tumorrama VK2/SW-027 which is worth 8 points followed by Snow Gum Mountain VK2/SW-028 worth 6 points. 

I posted my alerts 5 days prior and, given the welcome arrival of decent weather I was surprised to note that no other VK operators had posted an alert for the weekend.  This was perhaps explained shortly after I had also posted my plans on the VK1 Sota email group. I was made aware that the VHF UHF Spring Field Day was also happening that day and that I would have some company on Snow Gum. The more the merrier, and as I operate mostly HF there would be no major interference issues, and the summit has plenty of space…it is the size of football field!

Mt Tumorrama is a 108-kilometer drive from my home. Departing at 7am and yes – with my usual detour for a travelling large coffee, I was quickly back on track. I made my way to Uriarra Road, then to Brindabella Road, Cockatoo Road, to Tumorrama Trig Road and up the short “Lookout Road” track to arrive at the summit at 0930. After so much rain, and little to no road maintenance, the roads were rough, potholed and littered with roadkill. I lost count of dead wombats – grateful that I did not contribute to that count… and not just for welfare of our wildlife. So, I drove to the conditions making the trip just a little longer than planned. To be fair, some ‘road maintenance’ was evident – Lookout Road up to the summit of Mt Tumorrama had recently been dug up – you know, ploughed, ripped up… There was a sign ” Part Road Closed”… OK. just where was it closed? Having spent two hours of my life I will never get back just reaching this point, I decided to engage 4WD and carefully made my way to the summit. It was rough – but a few other vehicles had been over it recently, so it was easily navigable.

The entrance to Lookout Road – at the intersection with Tumorrama Trig Road.

I began my activation on 2m (146.5 MHz FM) and was immediately rewarded with a Summit to Summit (S2S) with Mat VK1MF who was activating Bobbara Mountain VK2/ST-044 …. but that was that. No other replies on 2m (including 2m SSB). So, I moved to HF 40m CW and gained two relatively quick contacts – but a similar story – the band was not helping at all… nothing more… the pre-rollover hour – gone. I did not get the four contacts required to qualify my summit pre-rollover. After rollover I heard Andrew VK1DA who was working Matt VK1MA on 2m SSB. Andrew was operating from VK2/ST-001 Mt Cowangerong, so on the new Zulu day, there was my first contact and 2nd S2S for the day… the next three contacts were definitely hard work! Andrew had good 2m communications with Matt who was down on Livingston Hill VK2/SM-093, Matt’s signal to my summit was (unusually!) very weak and unreadable. Neither of us was working with much power – I was QRP…. With hindsight I should have taken my FT-857D… but I decided against it…it just was not to be. I even switched from the Oblong Loop to a 3 element yagi……crickets. So, an easy decision to switch back to HF.

Two 40m contacts -VK3BEZ which is the club callsign for the Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club in Morwell VIC (a town I drove through many times when I first joined the RAAF and was based at Sale in Victoria). My other 40m contact was Jeff VK5BJF. I tried 20m but the RF noise was S5 to S6 and nobody around. Fearing again that I was not going to collect the 8 points, I tried 15m – nothing. So, I went to 10m.,,,, and thank goodness. My very first call was answered by Kaz 7N1FRE who is located to the east of Tokyo and at an approximate distance of 8000k from my summit. With time being of the essence, I had my four contacts and 8 points, I packed up and headed to Snow Gum Mountain a 35-minute drive away.

The journey took me back to Brindabella Road – backtracking to turn left on to Nottingham Road.. I did not see any outlaws or merry men….. or the Sherriff… little wonder… but more on that road a little later.

Al VK1RX – fully emersed in the VHF UHF Spring Field Day

I arrived on Snow Gum where Al VK1RX was set up for the VHF/UHF Spring Field Day. Of course, there were no surprises here – Al and I had been in contact during the week. I was happy to ignore 2m and just operate HF and there was ample room for “social RF distancing”!! I did not have my 23cm and 13cm gear with me anyway. No hassles and I was most impressed with his set up, and I also enjoyed listening to him work his way through 6m 2m 70cm, 23cm and maybe 13cm… It looked like fun…but I am not sure of the appetite for CW on those bands! In my previous SOTA outings I have CW S2S points on each of those bands except 13cm (SSB) …. Definitely food for thought, but I will need a bigger 4WD!!!

Photo – courtesy of Al VK1RX

Anyway – back to why I was there… 😊

I set up right on the edge of the summit – as far away from Al as I could. Much more success this time – and I quickly had my four contacts… and a few more – with 10m featuring again.

Five contacts on 40m, Wal VK2WP, VK3BEZ, John VK4TJ, Gerard VK2IO/P (S2S Vk2/CT-032) and Jim VK2TER, two contacts on 15m – another JA station Hatori JH1MXV, and Wynne ZL2ATH, and my one contact on 10m, Andrew VK1DA with a second S2S with him – one from each summit.

My rig for both summits: 2m FT-817 ND through the popular Oblong Loop antenna. For HF I used my Elecraft KX-2 with an 80m to 6m EFHW 9:1 I love this antenna for SOTA. It is short (50′ wire), light weight, compact and very easy to deploy with inverted L configuration and, the huge time saving bonus, not needing to swap antennas or alter connections switching between bands.

I said farewell and thanks to Al and headed for home. My GPS route was via Nottingham Road to Wee Jasper – then home via Wee Jasper Rd, Mountain Creek Rd back to Uriarra Crossing. A few years ago, I traversed the same road in a 2WD XR6 Turbo without issue. Don’t even think about trying that now. You need something with good clearance, and I recommend 4WD. This time I was treated to ruts and washouts all the way from Snow Gum to Wee Jasper. The roads are in urgent need of repair.

Home safely by 5.40pm. A great day in the beautiful and unforgiving mountain ranges and bush country to the west of Canberra doing what I love…Amateur Radio and SOTA. If you haven’t tried it, DO IT!

Mt Cowangerong VK2/ST-001 Sunday 7th August 2022

The BOM weather radar located on Mt Cowangerong – aka Captains Flat Radar.

A long anticipated activation…. No, not necessarily for the 8 point ( plus winter bonus) summit, but how I got there! My “new” SOTA chariot, a 2012 T31 turbo diesel Nissan XTrail…. This is the first of I hope many similar activations over the coming years…

The drive to Mt Cowangerong is just over an hour – plus a couple of minutes for my much-needed caffeine boost ‘Drive-Thru’ diversion en-route. From the south side of Canberra I drove through Queanbeyan to the Kings Highway, then turned right on to Captains Flat road… With a massive storm and torrential rain for much of Thursday, I did wonder how Captains Flat Road which had been closed due local flooding, and the Mt Cowangerong Fire Trail, would hold up. Captains Flat road is currently in terrible condition but is thankfully undergoing much needed repairs… A good 10 to 15 minutes was added to the trip thanks to reduced speed limits and roadworks… and the watchful eye of the NSW Highway Patrol who observed me from their not so stealthy vantage point….. no tickets! Once through the village of Captains Flat you continue along Captains Flat road towards Braidwood and then turn right onto the Cowangerong Fire Trail. Though somewhat eroded due to the recent rain, the fire trail is in quite good condition – though I do recommend a 4WD.

I was joined on the summit by Andrew VK2ZRK…. I was the first VK1 Sota activator that Andrew has met who is NOT called Andrew!!! Sorry to break the trend! – Thank goodness for individual callsigns! 🙂

Despite the forecast of possible showers, we were spared that annoyance – however at a tad over 1300m ASL, it was on the cool side.

Brief Activation Summary

2 metre FM back to Canberra was remarkably good. I used my Yaesu FT-60R hand-held for the local callbacks immediately following the weekly WIA broadcast via the VK1RGI Ginini repeater, and then swapped to the FT-817 and the increasingly popular “oblong loop” antenna for the 2m simplex part of my activation. On the downside, the VK1 Winter SOTA QSO party was not well supported by local activators but we still managed a couple of welcome 2m S2S both sides of roll-over.

Here is a link to Andrew VK1AD’s invaluable web site and the oblong or rectangular-loop. https://vk1nam.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/antenna-project-2m-145-mhz-rectangular-loop/

“Oblong Loop” – look closely at the squid pole on the right – hi-viz straps to assist you find it!

With no other 2m chasers or activators about I chopped to HF.

HF was all CW with success on both 40m and 20m. I had a fleeting contact with VK6NU on 15m, but he vanished mid exchange – so it was not logged.

My thanks to Andrew VK2ZRK for joining me at the summit after working all night. Andrew VK1AD for his efforts in organising and promoting the VK1 Winter SOTA party and to Andrew VK1DA also for promoting the event as well the 2m FM and 20m CW S2S and , Andrew VK1MBE….. Gerard VK2IO, Wade VK1MIC and Rod VK1ACE for the S2S contacts.

Thanks also to chasers ZL1TM, ZL3RI, VK2WP, VK2YW, VK3BEZ, VK5IS.

73 and safe travels to your next summit!

Bill

VK1MCW

Mt Mundoonen VK2/ST-053 Sunday 19 June 2022

A cold foggy morning greeted me as I set off on the one hour drive to Mt Mundoonen – VK2/ST-053 which is just outside the NSW township of Yass. ( Of course I grabbed a coffee enroute!). I welcomed the reports from recent activators that the washed out/rutted dirt access ‘road’ to Mt Mundoonen had been upgraded and was now an easy drive for a standard sedan. Luckily for me the fog lifted as I approached the access point off the Hume Highway. The above photo – yes a bit grainy, is a screen capture from my dash-cam. I wish I had stopped to take some decent photos of the upgraded track to the summit – but…… hindsight is a wonderful thing!

The start up to the summit.. some blue metal road base. I am not certain how long it will last – a few sections have already been washed out thanks to recent rains – but still very manageable.

Have wheels, take shack! Leave nothing behind!

A lovely sunny winter’s day, slight breeze.. Perfect. I opened proceedings on 2m simplex – having first joined the post WIA broadcast call-backs on the Ginini repeater( VK1RGI) and announcing my presence… Yep – this was a short-notice activation with my alert posted less than 48 hours in advance…. so I was not expecting a rush….. (My expectations were met.. because of my lack of sufficient notice!). I was also using a brand new tablet with VK Port-a-Log and Yours Truly here had not configured my SotaWatch login details – so of course my initial attempts to spot were thwarted…. P6….

Radio of choice for 2m is my FT-817ND operating on its internal battery. Sure I could connect an external battery – but as my usual SOTA summit is a walk up, I stuck with what has worked very well. While I did receive some 59 reports – others not far away in VK1 could not hear me….. For the antenna I used the very popular “Oblong Loop”. As I was probably, at best, only producing 4w, I quickly decided to connect the FT-857D set to 20W, powered by a 12.8V 7.5 Ah LiFePO4…….. and things improved markedly! I only had time to grab four 2m contacts prior to roll-over.. and a similar collection after 0001UTC.. All good.

HF …. Still with the 857. When I first set out on my SOTA journey over 5 years ago I collected a few antennas (off the shelf) – one being a linked dipole covering 80, 40, 30 and 20m… I quickly recalled why it has spent the last 4.5 years on a shelf in my shack. It is cumbersome, long, and a PITA to change bands… If I was on 40m but could see someone spot on 20m if I wanted to get that important S2S , it meant stuffing around altering the configuration of the antenna… by which time my target had shifted to another band!…. So down came the linked dipole and, not going to bother with 80m* I put up my HyEnd EFHW 40-20-15 &10m.

Look closely you can see my HyEnd EFHW -yep that’s a 7m squid pole.

No tuner required (though yes, there is an LDG tuner on the table)… The 20 or so feet of coax along the ground serves as a counterpoise….

* I do have an EFHW that covers 6m to 80m ( tuner needed for 15m) but it stayed in the car!

32 contacts including 5 S2S.. I worked VK1,2,3,4,5 and 6, ZL1,2 and 3.. I had hoped to grab a couple of JA stations – but it was not to be…. I think I surprised a few VK activators when I came up on SSB !

All in all a great day – My thanks to all the chasers and fellow die-hards who ventured out to a summit!

73

Bill VK1MCW

Mt Stromlo VK1/AC-043 Sunday 23rd January 2022

Mount Stromlo is a popular Canberra destination for space nerds and cyclists, tourists, hikers and, amateur radio operators who enjoy SOTA. Today I had planned to activate this easy, drive-up summit at 8am local – so that suggested I be there by 0730 to 0745 in order to set up. Hmm…. the boom gates to the grounds were down, with a temporary (A4 sheet of cardboard) notice stating the opening hours were 8am to 4pm…. so I sat in my car and waited. Good old ANU, at precisely 8am the boom gates opened.. not a security patrol in sight!

On this activation I wanted to renew my interest in operating in the 1.2 GHz ( 23cm) and 2.4 GHz ( 13cm) bands.

I opened up on the 2m VHF band 146.5 MHz FM and quickly found myself on 144.2 MHz ssb. From there I enjoyed a couple of Summit to Summit (S2S) contacts with Andrew VK1AD who was not far away on Mt Coree VK1/AC-023 and Al VK1RX who was on Spring Hill VK2/ST-036 and Andrew VK1DA on Mt Mundoonen VK2/ST-053. From there we jumped up to the 23cm band SSB and repeated the exercise! We also added 13cm SSB to the S2S tally. In addition to the S2S, some local chasers added to the fun. Unfortunately I was unable to make contact with Andrew VK1DA on 23cm or 13cm.

To operate on these 1.2 and 2.4 GHz bands I need transverters which can just be seen on the feed end of each antenna. These are fed an intermediate frequency (IF) by the FT-817 which is top-right of the table. Also visible on my table – the KX-2 transceiver for HF and, a bit of SOTA class, a Begali Camelback Morse key which ONLY goes on drive-up activations, a Lenovo tablet for my logging app, and some solar panels to keep said tablet fully charged and also my phone. Normally such little luxuries are left at home – they pack a bit of weight for long hikes.. My backup log of course is the trusty Staedtler clutch pencil and note pad!

Today being Sunday, the usual steady flow of curious tourists, hikers and cyclists, ….. and a mob of over 30 kangaroos who came in quite close for a look! https://youtu.be/S_RY0rI4Y10

A fun day on an easy summit. A total of 31 contacts of which 15 were Summit to Summit ( some with repeat operators but on several frequency bands and operating modes). I made just one contact into New Zealand which was a little disappointing. On the home front there were chasers from the ACT, NSW, VIC, QLD and SA from 7MHz up to 2.4 GHz, covering FM, SSB and of course CW.

Pre UTC rollover (21 Jan)

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
21:45VK1AD/P2mFMAndrew s59 r59 S2S VK1/AC-023
21:47VK1RX2mFMAl s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-036
21:56VK1KW2mSSBRob s59 r59
21:57VK1DA2mSSBAndrew s59 r59
22:02VK1AD/P23cmSSBAndrew s59 r59 S2S VK1/AC-023
22:03VK1RX/P23cmSSBAl s53 r59 S2S VK2/ST-036
22:30VK1AD/P13cmSSBAndrew s59 r59 S2S VK1/AC-023
22:33VK1RX/P13cmSSBAl s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-036
22:46VK5HAA20mCWJohn s589 r599
22:48ZL1BQD20mCWs559 r559
22:48VK5IS20mCWIan s579 r559
22:50VK3PF20mCWPeter s589 r559
22:51VK5CZ20mCWIan s589 r559
22:53VK2IO/P20mCWGerard s529 r529 S2S VK2/SY-001
23:03VK1DA/P40mCWAndrew s559 r579 S2S VK2/ST-053
23:07VK4TJ20mCWJohn s589 r559
23:30VK3UA10mCWMark s558 r419
23:34VK1CT10mCWChris s589 r559
23:37VK3ARH10mCWAllen s559 r539
23:56VK1AD/P2mFMAndrew s53 r55 S2S VK1/AC-005
23:58VK1MA2mFMMatt s59 r59

Post UTC rollover (22 Jan)

00:01VK1DA/P2mFMAndrew s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-053
00:10VK1AD/P2mFMAndrew s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-005
00:26VK1AD23cmSSBAndrew s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-005
00:27VK1MA23cmSSBMatt s55 r59
00:31VK1RX/223cmSSBAl s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-036
00:40VK5CZ15mCWIan s599 r539
01:00VK2GAZ40mCWGarry s579 r579
01:02VK2YW40mCWJohn s599 r579
01:06VK2IO/P40mCWGerard s559 r579 S2S VK2/SY-001
01:22VK1DI/22mFMIan s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-006

Bullen Range VK1/AC-033 Saturday 1st January 2022

Bullen Range looking west from Greenway Tuggeranong.


The summit in the distance. Still a few kilometers ahead, (with a similar number behind!)

Arguably the biggest day on the SOTA calendar. A day when many take advantage of the New Year roll-over at 1100 AEDT or midnight UTC ( Greenwich Mean Time, or Zulu time ) where the summit points count for, in this case, calendar years 2021 and 2022……. making the one 10k round trip hike to the summit worth the effort!

Bullen Range lies to the west of Tuggeranong/Kambah. Access via a fire trail hike from Tidbinbilla Road. The distance from my home to the parking spot at Tidbinbilla Road is about 20k … then, of course one needs to add the inclusion of the nearest drive-through McDonalds coffee.

A summary of the hike from my SUUNTO watch.

Some pundits suggest that this hike should take about 90 minutes… they probably don’t factor in a warm day (it was 35 degrees for the return hike), add to that, about a 20kg load of radios, first-aid kit, and a couple of litres of water, oh, and did I mention six ( 6) gates to get through/over/around? Only one gate was not locked.

It is a challenging hike. I was somewhat envious of many other activators telling about their 4WD journey – but then having to make several trips to unload all their kit – table, chair, sunshade, esky…. I wish……sigh! 🙂 I have activated this summit four times previously and this year I am 10kgs lighter and considerably fitter than in October 2020, being my previous visit to Bullen Range….. it is still a good slog workout! One previous visitor suggested using a pushbike would be a good idea…… SIX GATES!! It’s very steep in sections, I will let someone else give that mode of transport a try!

I arrived at the summit at 1020 local time… about 20 minutes later than planned – but things were only just warming up! There were many local VK1 SOTA activators out on summits – some were already driving to their second summit – others, like me, just had one summit planned.. I chose to restrict the time prior to “roll-over” to the GMT New Year to just 2m (VHF) FM operation – it was fast and furious! In less than 30 minutes I made 15 contacts of which 12 were ‘summit to summit’ (S2S). I probably could, and should have made more contacts, but it was very congested with so many people attempting the same thing. I also gave up trying to log each call using an app on my phone (alternatively on a 7″ tablet), however it was quicker and easier to simply log with pencil and paper – the way I did it for years in a previous radio life!!

At the stroke of midnight and Happy New Year ( GMT ) the chaos continued – everyone doing it all again to grab as many S2S contacts and chaser contacts as possible before slowing the pace and moving to HF. I logged 22 contacts post roll-over including 18 S2S – so that is 30 S2S contacts for the day.

Most contacts were local VK1, however once I chopped to HF, I logged good contacts into VK2 VK3 VK4 VK5 and ZL ( New Zealand) and an unsuccessful attempt to grab an S2S with a CW operator in Japan on 20m. I could hear his call quite well – but, not to be… I wont list his callsign publicly, but he was using a programmed keyer call of CQ and it was set to repeat – he would only stop if he heard a reply…. I doubt he was paying much attention or allowing more than 2 to 3 seconds between successive calls.. very frustrating! Put some headphones on and work your radio!

My radio for the day was my Yaesu FT-857D which is HF and 6m (52 MHz) plus VHF and UHF capable, and considerably more powerful than my FT-817 and KX-2 that are my SOTA regulars.

The treck back to the car was every bit as demanding as the climb… By now it was hovering around 35 degrees C. The steep downhill sections were quite treacherous with loose gravel ( again I stress the importance of using hiking poles!) and there were a few unwelcome climbs along the way….. and those six damned gates!

Taken on the return trip this is one of the six!

I was too tired to think about a photo of the car and where it was parked. I was glad to get back into it, get the airconditioning going flat out and head for the nearest shop to buy a large bottle of Solo lemon drink!! Did I carry enough water? Yes, I kept hydratred and only finished what I carried at the final gate heading back to the car.

Happy New Year everyone — This was a fantastic way to welcome in 2022!

Bill VK1MCW

One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 Sunday 5th December 2021 – a shorter way to the summit!

Until recently, SOTA activators have been advised to park some 4.5 kilometers from the summit of One Tree Hill in Hall Village and hike along the ACT Centenary Trail…. Now, the purpose of this report is NOT to disuade people from taking that hike along the Centenary Trail at least once – it is a most enjoyable walk – or if you are so inclined, to cycle!

However, sometimes I would prefer to spend more time ON the summit, than that taken to get to, and from the summit! In August this year Matt VK1MF told the local VK1 Sota community about a much shorter hike. A new suburb called Taylor is being developed right at the base of the ridge line on which One Tree Hill sits.

So the start point for this 1.8 kilometer hike is in Harry Seidler Crescent – Taylor.

Satellite imagery has yet to catch up with the rapid suburb development. Here my car is parked where that orange “Start” point can be seen in Harry Seidler Cresent.

The hike takes anything from 30 to 45 minutes…depending on what size backpack you are carrying and who you are!! There are four gates along the way, three of which are designed for hikers to get through easily. The 4th gate was open!

The path is well developed and easy to walk. You can see why it zig-zags up quite a steep gradient. I guess, for the ambitious and very fit it would be possible to hike directly up to the summit – I chose to stick to the path – no trip hazards or loose rocks to ruin your day.

From the summit – looking back at where I parked .

I reached the summit just as the WIA National Broadcast on our local 2m repeater was ending (0930 local) and managed to call in for the “call backs”. It was VERY windy, and I delayed putting the HF antenna up. The wind was doing its level best to knock over the tripod and 3 element 2m yagi. Andrew VK1AD was activating a summit in VK3 and I hoped to make a 2m ssb contact – however conditions were not in our favour, and not many aircraft were about for “aircraft enhancement”… I only managed three local 2m contacts prior to rollover.

To the amusement of the many curious hikers and park runners, and despite the incessant wind, I managed to get the EFHW 53′ random wire HF up ( 6m through 80m ) attached to my KX2.

Pre Roll-Over (FT-817)
Chris VK2DO 144.2 SSB- great contact to the south coast!
Matt VK1MA 144.2 SSB
Chris VK1CT 146.5 FM

Post Roll-Over (KX2)

7m all CW
VK3PF/P S2S VK3/VT-046, VK2IO, VK3XU, VK1MIC ( yes CW 😉 ), VK2YW, VK1CT, VK1DA

20M CW

ZL1BQD, VK5IS, VK4JJ

146.5 FM Matt VK1MA

One Tree Hill is now a very accessible summit – be prepared for many on-lookers and watch AND LISTEN out for push-bikes – there is no overtaking lane, so one needs to step off the narrow path to let them pass.

I have said this before – if you are hiking – I strongly encourage the use of hiking poles!

Stay safe!

Bill VK1MCW

Booroomba Rocks VK1/AC-026 Sunday 31 October 2021

There is hardly a square inch of this area that was not impacted by the fires of 2019-2020. Booroomba Rocks summit is in the distance.

When I last activated Booroomba Rocks in September 2019, little did I (or anyone else) know what was coming. Since then – save for Andrew VK1AD in November 2019, and he again just one week ago, it has been off limits.. It was completely burnt out. The damage is still clearly evident…..

Today’s activation started in the usual manner…. The Booroomba Rocks carpark is about a 45 minute drive ( allowing for….. yep, coffee!) The hike is quite steep – but there is a well established access path with (I did not count them) MANY rock steps/stairs. One further risk caused by the fires …. falling trees and or branches. One of these was very recent – the other maybe within the last week.

The bushfires went all the way to the summit. Little is left, except for one small lonesome tree that bravely lives on.. On the ground there are more signs of a slow recovery.

Aside from the radio activities, when one goes through all that effort to reach a summit one should take advantage of the situation and appreciate the beauty of this great country…. Even with the devastation left by the bushfires, it is breathtaking.

Oh that’s right – this is about my SOTA activation..

There was no way I would even consider using that sole surviving tree as an antenna support – so I took advantage of those poor unfortunates that did not survive the fire. For HF and 6m (52 MHz) I use an end fed “random wire” 9:1 dipole purchased from Nelson Antennas in the US ( they have an eBay site). One antenna to cover 80m to 6m – the ideal SOTA companion! Before anyone mentions home brew I have plenty of those. For 2m (VHF) I use a home brew “oblong loop” (right of picture), and my thanks to Andrew VK1AD who sets the bar at a very high level for antenna design and very generously shares his designs and ‘how to’ information. The antenna is a very simple design and very easy to make. It works incredibly well, and is light-weight and very compact – essential criteria for SOTA operations. Check out Andrew’s brilliant work here. https://vk1nam.wordpress.com/

My radios – HF Elecraft KX2, and for VHF and 6m Yaesu FT-817ND – which is also HF capable. I also carry a hand-held dual band Yaesu FT-60R.

There were several other local SOTA operators out and about. We all managed to grab valuable local Summit to Summit (S2S) points. My results below:

Tait VK1TRL S2S on Mt Gingera VK1/AC-002 2m FM / again after UTC rollover

Andrew VK1AD S2S 2m FM on South Black Range VK2/ST-006 and again after UTC rollover

AndrewVK1MBE S2S on Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 2m FM and again later 6m SSB

Matt VK1MA 2m FM / again after UTC rollover, also a 6m SSB

Peter VK1PDW S2S on One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 2m FM

Mat VK1MF 6m SSB

Wade VK1MIC 6m SSB

Andrei ZL1TM 20m CW

Ian VK5CZ S2S 20m CW VK5/SE-010

Roly ZL1BQD 20m CW

John VK5HAA 40m CW S2S VK5/SE-010

Garry VK2GAZ 40m CW

Paul VK3HN 40m CW

JA5QJX/0J 15m CW

JH1MXV 15m CW

I packed up and made my way back to the car.. Along the way I encounted many small groups of hikers out taking advantage of the glorious weather… One was a young couple with their very young daughter (early primary school age) and it was so good to see the enthusiasm from someone so young after the long hike up from the car park. Her mother told me that kids gain far more from walking through the bush, avoiding trips and falls, than going for a walk along some suburban bike path or around the block…. and hopefully maybe both parents might look into ham radio!

Another great day – it was good to be back in the Namadgi Natonal Park.

Mt Gillamatong VK2/ST-034 Sunday 24 October 2021

With the ACT coming out of lockdown this week it was great to get back out in clean fresh air and head to a nearby summit. Mt Gillamatong is just outside the town of Braidwood on the Kings Highway… The town is within “the bubble” surrounding the ACT in which we are free to roam without the need for permits or going into quarantine on return…..

I left home at 0800, and yes, along the way, I enjoyed the requisite caffeine hit via a drive through Maccas at Queanbeyan. An otherwise uneventful easy drive to the foot of the summit taking about an hour and 15 minutes (including the coffee stop!)

A half-hour climb and I arrive on the summit…As you can see, everything is lush green.. All the paths are completely hidden as I don’t think anyone has hiked up this mountain for quite a few months .. hmmm something to do with the lockdown! It was very hard going, but the obvious direction was UP!

There were four other local ham radio operators out on summits in and around the ACT region today, and we each made the most of the opportunity to claim valuable Summit to Summit or S2S points! When I uploaded my log to the SOTA Database this afternoon I was greeted with the news that I have now surpassed 1000 S2S points! No prize or reward, just one of those little things that make this such an enjoyable side of the hobby! I am also just 4 points shy of 2000 chaser points – something I hope to leap over in the coming week!

All in all, 7 VHF (FM) S2S contacts and a total of 15 HF CW contacts – with the 40m (7MHz) band keeping me busy with 12 CW contacts across NSW, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia, and then 3 contacts on 20m (14 MHz) into New Zealand.

S2S contacts all 146.5 MHz FM

Ian VK1DI on South Black Range VK2/ST-006
Andrew VK1DA on Mt MundoonenVK2/ST-053 (also 40m HF CW)
Wade VK1MIC on Mt Goorooryarroo VK1/AC-036
Andrew VK1AD on Booroomba Rocks VK1/AC-026

Chasers (40m)

Garry VK2GAZ, Peter VK3PF, Wallis VK2WP, Ron VK3AFW, Gerard VK2IO/P, Ian VK2MET,
Allen VK3ARH, Ian VK5CZ, Paul VK3HN, Ian VH5IS and Rob VK2MZ

Chasers (20m)

John ZL1BYZ, Andrei ZL1TM and Roly ZL1BQD

That was followed with finding my way back down the steep hillside in well hidden trails and lots of wildlife!

Some photos of the summit – all the communications infrastructure that is installed makes it easy for SOTA activators to just blend in!!

A great day out. Huge thanks to my fellow activators and many chasers!

Bill

VK1MCW

Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 Wednesday 30th June 2021

Wait… What? Wednesday? What the?

It is not often I have the opportunity to go bush (well… to a summit) mid week. Thanks to the quirks of working as an ADF Reservist, I found myself at a loose end with the change of Financial Year – and an opportunity to take some time off. I had hoped to head out of town, even activate a wheat silo ( look up SiOTA – Silos On The Air.. a new game in portable radio operations , but the nearest recognised silo is several hours drive away in surrounding NSW, and under the current COVID situation I decided against it…

My motivation for this activation was provided by Andrew VK1AD who made the call for others to join him on air whilst he ventured down Boboyan Road to activate Pheasant Hill. So after I put my hand up, so did many others and suddenly we had an EOFY VK1 SOTA party with at least seven of us heading for the hills… Sadly for Andrew he discovered that access to Pheasant Hill was obstructed by major road work… so, while an S2S opportunity was also denied, Andrew did find a suitable VKFF park to activate , so not all lost – and we exchanged reports on 2m simplex ..

I dared the mask wearing “public area” of Mount Ainslie – however a mask, while readily at hand, was not needed as the place was deserted. I had one person stand a respectable 5 metres away while I explained the fishing rods and dits and dahs coming from my radio… Other than that, I enjoyed a remarkably warm sunny morning.

As we all ‘Alerted’ for similar start times 146.5 FM was predictably busy – requiring a little bit of circuit discipline not to trample each other! What a great fun morning.

My log – a total of 20 QSOs including 9 S2S contacts, with a good mix of 11 FM simplex and 9 CW 40m and 20m contacts including VK2 VK1 VK3 and ZL.

Thanks to Andrew VK1AD (I was at least able to provide a Park to Park contact!), Mat VK1MF, Doug VK1DJ ( and as ZDJ), Andrew VK1DA, Chris VK1CT, Ian VK1DI, Gerard VK2IO, Allen VK3ARH, Peter VK2PET, Lilly VK2LIL, Wallis VK2WP, Wade VK1MIC, Matt VK1MA, Roly ZL1BQD, John ZL1BYZ, Andrei ZL1TM and Wynne ZL2ATH.

Radio -HF/CW the KX-2 connected to an EFHW ( 6 through 80m) and the trusty FT-817 for 2m connected to the increasingly popular, easy to build 2m ‘Oblong Loop’ antenna. Look it up on Andrew’s page here – https://vk1nam.wordpress.com/tag/2m-oblong-loop-antenna/

Only one photo ( it must be the most photographed summit in VK) and that was an afterthought during the pack up!! Sorry!!

I might have to take more Wednesdays off – these mid-week activations are a great idea! Thanks again Andrew!