Well Hugh and I have been quite busy working through the list of Summits over the past couple of months.
Checking the photo’s on my phone reminded me to maybe write another Blog about this lot of Summits that we got done during Winter.
It was much more pleasant and less stressful up north this year as its been quite wet with some good rain events to green things up much more than the last 5 years of drought death dust and mayhem.
The environment is slowly recovering and we even heard some birds singing on Dutchman’s Stern I don’t think I have ever heard that bird call before. Such small birds in the bushes you can never get to see them for very long as they dart about. Dutchmans was a single summit for the day we arrived at lunch time to start the walk which was a first time to do it this way. Hugh had not been to this summit before and the walk time was about 1 hour 20 minutes this time. We managed to make a few contacts as it was later in the day and the 80m crowd saved us this time to make a score, there were not many SSB chasers for Hugh on 40m and I made a few contacts on 40m CW as the rain clouds gathered we packed up and headed for the car park 6 km away.
Next day was a 3 summit day with a plan to be on Mt Benjamin early and just pick up the 80m gang at 7.30 for the morning sked time then go onto the other two summits for the rest of the day. A quick activation on the first summit and we were off the hill and ready to start the hike to Richman Hill after morning coffee break at the parking spot. Richman Hill is a tough climb with more than its prominence from the car park side to make the top. After the ankle burning climb and thick bush to get through we made the top around 0215 UTC or close to lunch time local time.
Good amount of contacts for Hugh on 80 and 40m SSB and I made some good contacts on 40m CW and also got into ZL and VK2 on 20m CW this time. I did not hear my usual ZL chasers on 40m probably because they could not hear me well enough so I called a couple times on 20m and like magic 3 ZL regulars in the log.
After we got off the Summit it is only a short drive to Devils Peak where we had a lunch break in the car park before tackling the next Ankle burner with a rock climb to make this summit.
This was a bit hard for us old fellas and lots of erosion has gone on here this year on the so called walking track. Its a bit tricky and slippery on these rock slopes and probably more dangerous on the way down than up but we made the summit in good time to meet our Alert time.
That reminds me the fT817 has been my tool of trade for quite a few summits on these trips. The microphone on the KX3 has been playing up and good friend Gordon VK5GY volunteered to fix it for me which turned out to be a mic cord issue of course. At the time of writing I now have a fixed KX3 mic but the FT 817 did maybe 10 summits with us lately and it reminds me of what a great radio they are and I enjoy using it every time, amazing where you can get with 5 watts of power.
We both had a good round up of chasers on 80m again in the middle of the afternoon in spite of the antenna for 80m not really fitting very well on our rocky perch on the Peak. The extensions are run out as far as possible off the ground then the ends thrown over the edge on both ends. I had some good contacts on 40m CW this time and no need to go to 20m my ZL chasers were all worked easily on 40m this time. After a very careful accent of Devils Peak we made it back to the Colorado and and headed to the caravan park for a good nights rest up for day 3 of SOTA.
Day 3 rolled around and we set of to The Argadells homestead quite early as we had an Alert time on SW3 for UTC roll over so Hugh could hand out scores to the chasers before UTC roll over and I went on air after UTC roll over that way the chasers get a double score as we are worked on differing calendar days.
We had an un eventful drive up to Mt Arden I recon its the best I have ever seen the track to the top, it can be a bit daunting to drive this track as on the way up in places all you can see out front is the bonnet of the vehicle and blue sky. No problems for my trusty Colorado in low range second gear all the way pulling nice and low down, made it look easy.
Checking my log for this summit I see we only found 3 QSO on 80m SSB so Hugh would have made the rest of his score on 40m SSB. I had a good number of chasers on 40m CW and some others on 20m CW.
That was a great time away the weather was nice, not too hot and it did not rain on us even though it came close on Dutchman’s Stern. Back to the caravan park so Hugh could hook up his caravan and I headed to Laura to drop off my KX3 Microphone to Gordon.
Next big SOTA was what we call The Bendleby Ranges trip where we stay as accomms and travel out from there to do 6 summits. This trip takes in about 700 km of driving and 30 odd km of hiking to get around them all.
Peaked Hill was the first summit in the morning on the way to Bendleby Ranges, some contacts on 80m first then Hugh made a couple 40m SSB QSO and I made 2 CW QSO to have the KX2 die mid activation. Turns out the battery was flat, ok I will put my battery on whoops the Anderson pole connector pulls off Hugh’s power lead. Bugger can’t fix it here so we gave up and moved on. Eke Hill is the southern summit on Bendleby property so we booked in to the accomms first them went out to the summit after lunch. A great summit with a nice walk up along the creek then up a long rock shelf to make the summit in about 30 minutes for 1.2 km.
We had a good group of 80m Chasers this time and Hugh made some 40m SSB QSO and I had 3 40m CW QSO.
Off the hill in good time and a good training walk around the camp ground getting ready for a gut buster the next morning on Black Hill.
The next morning we were up and on the road by 7am for a long dirt road trip of 100km on station tracks to make Black Hill summit for a morning activation. This is one of the harder hikes we do in our program and Hugh had only been there once before so he was keen to try my proven track to the summit.
We worked hard in hard terrain to make the Alert time and tried to make the before roll over time again but missed out. Its such a hard climb I like to try to walk about 16 minutes per KM but on this hike it took 30 minutes to do one of the KM’s in the middle so more than an hour to go 3.2 km. But we did our best and got 5 QSO on 80m SSB and no QSO on 40m SSB I worked VK1DA on 40m CW that was it this time. Probably only spent 20 minutes on the summit, just seems crazy sometimes, to do all that driving and slog to have around 5 minutes each of on air time.
This photo is taken on the way off the summit we came down a different way, on the way up we climbed that slab to make the top. It’s pretty tough going, the SOTA transporter is parked in the bare area out east by the creek line.
Back to the SOTA transporter to back track for 40km to the next park up spot for unnamed summit VK5/NE-031 on Worumba Station.
Being late afternoon by the time we arrived on Hill 031 as we call it there were only 3 chasers on 80m SSB and Hugh made some 40m QSO on SSB and I gave out some points to 8 CW chasers on 40m so a good round up in the end. We had an uneventful hike back to the Mitsi and a 60km drive back to Bendleby accomms and another rest up for the next day.
Day 3 of this Adventure had the most hiking of the 3 days away.
Morning summit was Marchant Hill a 6 point summit with a 3.5 km hike around several hills and gullies as the easiest way we have worked out to get there. It been several attempts to get this path worked out over the years.
This time the weather was quite pleasant other times we have been there the wind has been really strong.
Hugh and I had 6 Chasers on 80m SSB this time handing out a score before and after roll over again this time, then I made 4 quick QSO on 40m cw as Hugh rolled up the kit so we could get off to Price Hill.
Price Hill is a great summit right in the middle of Hawker, Carrieton and Bendleby Ranges with nothing in its way. This is a park and hike in from the East of 3.5 km following a water way for some of the way then just hard slog to the top.
Once again we took a different path around the side of a smaller hill trying to make a more direct line to the saddle that takes you to the top. Seems sometimes it ends up being not much easier anyhow but It pays to experiment on this hobby.
The views from up here are an amazing vista full circle but the wind was very strong so we only had the pole up 6 metres but the antenna still worked ok. We only made 4 80m QSO this time but had a good score on 40m this time, Hugh had a lot of SSB contacts and I scored 10 CW contacts with a couple new chasers this time. Always nice to work a new chaser.
We got off the hill late afternoon and a quick Coffee break Hugh headed home via Orroroo and I took some dirt tracks ending up in Laura to pick up my KX3 Microphone from Gordon. It was a very good time out on the summits with a few tough climbs now behind us until next year.
Thanks to all the Chasers and the Land owners who have been a great support to Hugh and I and the SOTA program granting access to their properties and Summits.
Thanks for reading my Blog.
Regards Ian vk5cz..
Great write up as usual and stunning views.