Activation 400 +10 Years of SOTA.

At last after a restless night away from home I hit the road at 5am to drive the 70km from Cradock to Quorn then out the Richman Valley to hike to Mt Brown VK5/NE-014. After a breakfast stop at Quorn I headed for the summit starting my Hike at 7:30 am. This is a 6.5 km hike and gets harder as you near the last 1km or so it just seems to ramp up in spite of the benched walking track around the contours of the hill. Roughly 420 metres of gain from the car park to the top so its a steady climb all the way.

I stopped for a drink and rest at Sugar Gum corner on the trail and Hugh and Kate came along and we continued on to the top together.

Morse Key in Action

Once on the summit and a few photos taken it was after UTC roll over and time to hit the air waves. I started on my favourite mode CW on 40m first and made 9 QSO’s with VK’s and ZL ops. I had 4 Summit 2 Summit QSO with VK1ACE on VK2/SM-005 then VK1DA on VK2/ST-005 then VK1AD on SSB also on VK2/ST-005 then another quick chat with Andrew VK1DA on SSB as well.

Changing to 20m CW I made contact with more VK’s and ZL ops some who could not hear me on 40m and a couple new Chasers gave me a score so good to get you in the log.

Hugh VK5NHG went next on 40m SSB to get his score for the activation then we both had a chat on SSB with brother BoB VK5FB who was very strong on SSB.

I got 16 QSO’s to count and a couple double ups on modes, then we hiked back off Mt Brown with activation number 400 in the log and another milestone of 10 years of SOTA in South Australia vk5.

Once back to the Ute I found a spot still in the conservation Park to set up my antenna and stuff again to Qualify the VKFF for the parks award. Needing 44 QSO’s for parks I set out on 40m SSB first getting 11 willing Hunters then switching to CW I got one U.S. station then a great pile up of Europeans getting most of them in my log being 7 more. Then I hooked up the FT817 and Laptop for digital modes and topped up the rest of my score with FT8 and a couple JS8 contacts. So 10 Data mode scores where logged making it 44 counting my earlier SOTA contacts as well. Mt Brown Conservation Park VKFF-0914 has 2 SOTA summits as well so a good area to play portable radio and hike.

Such a great feeling with all those activations behind me and finding another 3 new summits for me to activate is great. Over those 10 years there are a few summits access is no longer possible due to mostly change of land ownership and they deny access for their own reasons. You just have to live with that and find some new summits its their prerogative in the end. I really appreciate the land owners who do still grant access other wise this program would be fairly restricted in summits to visit. I always get nervous even today after 10 years and 54 different possible summits to access when ringing up to ask for access. I always ring up well before I go out to make sure circumstances are the same and I am not interfering with what is happening on their working properties. I also buy a seasonal Park Pass every year as to do the right thing there. Its just what I have to do and really enjoy SOTA along with Ham radio as a hobby come obsession. I get to visit places I would have otherwise never been and meet folks I would have probably never met. I say a big Thanks.

Amazing views from Mt brown and it is so good to see the season will be much better this year from many previous years of drought.

Thanks to my SOTA Chasers and VKFF Hunters for all the contacts on this special day.

Thanks for reading my Blog.


Ian vk5cz ..

Build Up To 400 Summit Visits.

The next goal for me in SOTA was to reach 400 activations and celebrate 10 years of SOTA in VK5 on 1st of October 2022.

I had a plan to visit Hawker on the 30th of September and activate summit 399 Yourubulla Ridge VK5/NE-093, a popular tourist hike and lookout west of Hawker. I had accomms booked at the Cradock Hotel so it was a good chance to drive around and investigate who owns 4 other summits in the area. I got some information from a guy digging post holes on the side of the road and he pointed me to a place he thought I might find access permission to visit Black Jack range. After a nice chat with the lady who was home it turns out the summit is on her neighbour’s property. But without hesitation she gave me a couple phone numbers to call when I get home. I then drove north of Hawker 15 km to Wonoca Station to see about Wonaca Hill to be met at the gate by a workman who told me no one was home but gave me yet another phone number to call.

The time was ticking by and I was due to be on the Yourubulla Ridge summit so I gave up on logistics and headed for the summit. This hike is quite an easy one about 1.5 km from the car park and is on the Heysen trail so well sign posted.

Looking South.

Once on the Summit I deployed the EFHW again inverted L config this time and gave my FT817 a run. I did take my laptop and interface to the summit as well for digital modes but run out of time to give it a go. I did however make lots of contacts from the summit with first a simplex 2m QSO with Hugh VK5NHG who was in the area with our hand held rigs. Once my Spot went out I made 3 SSB 40m QSO then a good tally of 40m CW as well. The band gave very good coverage this day and I was able to work VK5 VK3 and VK2 with 5 watts nicely. Changing to 20m CW I made 8 QSO 3 VK and the rest into Europe with a bit of a pile up to start but worked through them in the end. Ed DD1LP had emailed me a few days before my trip and was waiting for me on his local summit to try a long path SSB contact. I checked for his Spot on SW3 and found him calling on 20m SSB and we made an easy contact for the S2S with DD1LP on DL/AM-180. I called CQ on SSB as well and made contact with Andrew VK1AD/M on his way from work. Then Gerard VK2IO called me as we could not make contact on 40m CW so that worked out well. After my chat with Gerard OH1MM,DJ2MX and DJ5AV called me for a score. It was good to hear some of these DX guys again after many years of no DX to Europe from Summits.

View to Wilpena.

With all the contacts in the log and packed up I quietly hiked back to the Ute trying APRS with my VX8 and getting a few hits with Mt Arden repeater. Being a duel watch Handy rig VK5KLV came on the voice repeater and he kept me company on the walk back down.

On to Cradock for tea and accomms, I had a very nice visit with other tourists in the pub filling them full of SOTA stories, funny none of them had even heard of SOTA which I find unusual. HI .

Sitting opposite to me under the veranda a fellow heard me talking about what I do and joined in the chat, I asked him if he knew the owner of Windy Hill a summit near Hawker turns out he said “I do”. I nearly fell off my chair but promptly shook his hand and asked his permission to climb Windy Hill. Phone numbers exchanged and more chat ensued until closing time.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..

The Pinnacle Of Summits Hill/NE-041.

Hiking Lightweight.

The hike to this summit is the hardest one I do all year, so thought I would carry minimal gear and do a CW only HF activation with my HB-1B CW only rig and my VX8G as a 2m FM option. Using my Mountain bike bum bag to carry my food and water with the antenna stuffed in as well and my Camel Pack water bag with the rest of my radio kit in it ended up being 4 kg to carry. This summit is not named on the SOTA summit list it’s just Hill VK5/NE-041 but I have later found out its called The Pinnacles, a range of hills west of Mount Remarkable in the National Park. Access for me was from the western side of the lower Flinders at Mambray Creek. I have now done this hike several times and am well aware of the pain I will feel hiking the rough track to the top. Lots of rolling surface and very steep in places. Considering the car park is 124 metres asl and the summit is 804 metres asl its guna hurt somewhere in that lot. The first 1.5 km probably has the most gain to make the top of the first range above Davey Gully but its a well worn track and you just have to put up for about an hour. Once you reach that point its up then over and down some what for 3 more hills which is mentally draining having to give away your gains three times. Luckily a walking club many years ago benched some of the trail about 2 km from the top so its a bit easier to walk but you still are 100m altitude below the saddle. Once at the saddle Mt Cavern is to the north, another ankle burner, and I follow an animal track to the east for a while until I reached the eastern edge of the saddle then turn to the southeast and follow another animal track for about 1.3 km to make the AZ. I had lots of thick bush to go through here it looks like all the smaller wattle trees that got to about 3m tall died in the drought and there was fallen sticks and stuff all over the track. However I made the summit about 30 minutes late for my Alert time but found Gordon VK5GY on 2m using the home brew flowerpot antenna on my VX8. He was the only one on 2m so I set up the EFHW and the HB-1B CW rig on 40m. It was a very short on air time really finding Jeff VK5BJF and Peter VK3PF on 40m CW then a quick Re Spot to 20m I contacted Rod VK1ACE, DL2TM and VK2IO. That was it and it took me longer to put up the antenna than make the contacts but SOTA can be like that sometimes. I could see the clouds building up in the west and it was quite windy on the hill so just a quick CQ on 15m CW but no answers after a minute or so I rolled up the kit and headed down.

View West

After something to eat and drink I started the hike back to the car park which took me close to 2 and half hours to get off this hill. I did not really have enough water and got some cramps on the way down and probably should have had at least another Litre of water with me. Stuffed a few jelly beans in and sipped some water and eventually got back to my Ute. I was away from the Ute for 8 hours and I was either walking, taking a quick spell or on the radio, full bore all day. Think it was my 8th visit to the hill and every time I say never coming back here again, next year we will see.

This was the Garmin GPS on Time moving and Distance for my hike when I got back to the Ute shattered.

But 6 more points to my tally for Goat 2 so that is the only reason I might go back.

Why not.