Seeing there is a lot more rainfall this Winter so far and most of the local sheep have all finished lambing it was time to get out into the farmland summits for some more SOTA. Leaving Clare in the frosty minus 2c mornings always ends up a nice sunny day out on the hills a bit later in the day.
Most of these summits are a shorter trip and a couple are drive ups so no need to rush out too early I planned to get my Activations under way around UTC 00:00 or roll over. Saves messing up the logging process in the data base although it probably would be good to give my chasers some double points for the first activation. Then again quite often its harder to make a second QSO after roll over with everyone you can normally work first time round.
Hallett Hill was first for this day then over to Brown Hill Range for the afternoon. The old track the back way to Hallett Hill from Booborowie was in good order and had been graded recently, the reason I have found this way to get to the summit is only one gate to open to enter the wind farm.
Never disappoints if you like the look of these big machines churning out the big Watt.
When I arrived at the summit it was still quite windy so My first set up was behind a native bush that conveniently grows among the rocks right on top and I can use the blue trig markers to hold up the Squidy. Reasonably comfortable in this spot with some flat rocks set up to place the radio on and of course my cushion for a seat.
Hallett Hill vk5/se-003 a 4 pointer yielded quite a pile up of locals on 80m ssb to get started and this time I even made 4 qso on 80m cw which I think is the first time I have qualified on 80m with cw. But before I started to call on 80m I noticed JP1QEC had a Spot on SW3 Alerting an activation on a summit in Japan JA/ST-014. Oh well give it a go I tuned the 80m dipole with the kx3 and worked Mot on 17m cw with a bit of difficulty but we eventually got the swap done and S2S in the log. After working the locals on 80m I tried 40m cw and made several VK and ZL qso on that band and ZL2ATH on 20m cw to end my activation 1 hour later. Time to pack up and head to Brown Hill Range about 40km away. The road to my next summit was an experiment and lots of gates to open on the northern side of the wind farm but a nice drive across to Willalow then on to Brown Hill Range wind farm for more gates.
The north wind was quite strong on this summit so I set up just below the trig point on the western side behind the stone wall there.
As you can see the Squidy had quite a bend holding up the link dipole in the wind and this wind turbine always creates lots of noise in the kx3 on this summit.
Brown Hill Range vk5/se-004 was a bit less active for chasers I only made 3 qso on 80m ssb but got a good score of VK chasers on 40m cw with 2 ZL’s as well this time. A pleasant surprise on 40m ssb, I was able to qso with VK5AYL with some shorter skip conditions for a change and ending up with VK3SQ and VK2LX on 40m ssb.
Always a pleasure to visit these summits and see the farm land below nice and green not so drought stricken as they have been in the last few years. A great day out on the summits and I took another scenic drive back to Spalding via Canowie over Brown Hill Range and down the western valley on some nice winding tracks into Spalding. I did notice a lot of the cereal crops in the lower parts were frosted so I hope the next rain will help pick them up again and settle the dusty roads.
My next Mid North SOTA day out was a week later taking in New Mount Campbell and the Bluff as my afternoon summit. Both of these summits are 3 km hike ups and I did a few dog walk hikes and a bit less bike riding to prepare for the inevitable pain. The Bluff in particular is relentless as far as pain goes for me 240 odd metres of gain in 3 km and it hurts right to the top from the parking spot.
Now that Bundaleer Forest has been sold off to local farmers and I was granted permission to access the summit by the new land owner I was able to hike there via the shortest possible route. Checking and a measure on Google Earth put the shortest path of about 3 km off Springs Road on the eastern side of the last pine plantations left. When I arrived I was a bit confused but my way point was correct and there is a lot more pine plantations there than the satellite photo shows on GE. I set off fully loaded and not long after the first small climb I can across some Heysen Trail signs on the fence posts which was reassuring that I was in the right area. I could see the summit up ahead and after crossing the old stone wall I ended up on a fire track that went right to the top.
This forest was almost completely destroyed by fire a few years ago and it was the first forest planted in South Australia in the 1800’s.
The hike is hard but if you have a few rests along the way it took me about 1 hour to get to the summit.
At last arrived at the trig point and got my station set up for 80m first to qso with the local chasers all waiting for me. I made several ssb qso again on 80m and 2 cw qso on 80m this time, checking SW3 I noticed ZL1BYZ had just spotted on 17m on his summit so the kx3 tuner was used again tuning the 80m dipole to 17m. Much to my surprise John gave me rst 559 so the 80m dipole radiates pretty good on 17m but the kx3 tunes it easier as an OCF dipole by unclipping an 80m extension on one leg, but not wanting to miss the S2S chance with John I did not bother with that configuration. S2S in the log time to swap links for 40m cw working only 3 chasers this mode and 4 callers on 40m ssb. Being morning SW3 was Spotting a few USA stations on summits so I tried 20m cw as well and after a few cq calls W6JP and ZL1TM answered me, my first USA dx for a long time.
A quick activation as I run out of chasers in about 40 minutes so I packed up and headed back off the summit this time via a slightly different path which should be an easier way to access the high contoured fire track to the summit for next year. I got back to the SOTA transporter had a coffee break then headed off towards Wirrabara Forest the parking spot for The Bluff summit.
This one hurts even though it is a sealed road to the top it is very steep and just keeps going up for 3 km. I was running a bit late to meet my Alert time I did not allow enough travel time between summits as I have never done these two summits together before. I had the pressure on to get to the activation zone so I hiked it in 43 minutes man it hurt.
One phot look much like the other up here as this area is also recovering from bushfire and drought so the bigger trees are over taken by under story at the moment and it is really thick. This is my view to the East as I walk up once the road heads south along the top of the range.
This is that steep road which doesn’t look that hard in the photo but with 240 metres of gain over 3 km it is a steady grade of at least 10% if not more in places. Sorry a senior moment I forgot to take a photo of my radio set up on this one but it consisted of a kx3 and link dipole on a 7m Sqid Pole on a burnt out post about 1 km further on up this road from here.
This activation was done in about 30 minutes of air time there were 5 80m ssb chasers 6 40m cw and 3 40m ssb chasers ZL2ATH being my last contact for the day. I did get the opportunity to show case Ham Radio as a bush walker came along and wondered what I was doing, lucky I was on my last qso with ZL2ATH so he could see for himself. We had a chat for a while as he was heading for his camp I packed up and headed back down to the Ute and off to Laura for a cuppa and catch up with Gordon VK5GY.
Watch this space this Bluff activation was summit 299 for me so hope to Blog about Summit 300 very soon. Thanks to all the chasers over this period of Mid North Summits and thanks to the land owners for access to the summits.
Thanks for reading my Blog.
Ian vk5cz ..