My Quest Is Nearly Done.

How lucky am I ? I am now so close to Mountain Goat I can smell me.

2 points to Mountain Goat.

I have done a few more summits in the last couple of weeks bringing total to 19 for this year so far. We have had some good rain and this poor old land is looking much better now and it is not so distressing to venture out on the summits and see the wildlife dead and half starved. Properties destocked and dust and rocks is all you could see, but I noticed some green grass pushing through and the bush looking much better.

I featured my new bag in my last Blog and I must say now that my left shoulder is healing from my operation it is very good to wear over my left shoulder and it sits nicely in place for hiking. I had a few issues when I wore it over my right shoulder it would slowly work it’s way around in front of my hip making it uncomfortable, but at the time it was the only way I could carry it and continue hiking to my mission.

The first big hike with the new bag was Mount Brown  with Ian vk5is who came on the 13 km round trip with me to gain 8 points.

   

Great View of Dutchman’s Stern and Devils Peak, Ian hard at work and a threat of rain.

We found the hike quite hard this year, we are both another year older but we still made 16 minute kilometres on the hike so not too bad. There were not many chasers on Mount Brown this time and we had a rain storm threatening over head so we went tag team on the mike on 40m ssb to hurry it along. A few happy snaps then get underway back down off the mountain but the rain did not really eventuate, just a few spots.

 

Raining in the South and Dust storm in the North.

Next two summits were with Hugh vk5nhg who is getting into his new season 2019 with a trip to Mt Cone first on the way to Mount Bryan. We headed out from home to arrive at the bottom of Mt Cone to find it covered in low cloud and mist. It was quite cold and a little windy so we set up behind the comms hut at the top. The radio for this summit was my kit and the FT 817 which suffered badly from interference from the other services up there but we managed quite a good score as the chasers gave us really good report on 5 watts. Hugh went first before utc roll over then I went second after roll over, doing it this way makes it more interesting for the chasers as they can score both activations as a separate day.

 Hugh had a good pile up of chasers on 80/40m ssb and I had a mix of 80m ssb and 40m cw, amazing how that FT 817 gets out at times just using a low dipole.

We drove off Mt Cone in bright sunshine to head to Mt Bryan to arrive at the gate and found it locked and the secret key missing from the hide e hole. This meant we had to back track around to the Eastern side of the Mount and hike up. Arriving at the hike entrance we had a coffee break looking up at the Mountain completely covered in cloud and mist, Hugh put on his rain coat and off we went. Its a 3km hike from the carpark at 600m asl to 936m asl at the top and I recon the last kilometre has the most gain so it really hurts for me to walk up. With lots of short bursts and spells we made it in good time really, about 1 hours. It was very windy right on top and of course Hugh’s rain coat did the trick it fined up.

 

We both had some good contacts on 40m Hugh working all the ssb chasers and I cleaned up on ssb and cw chasers with a ssb s2s with vk1mcw. We had trouble on 80m getting over the high noise levels into vk5wg but managed to do a swap eventually. It turned out there was a loose connection at one of the links in the dipole and all that really helped us get out at all was the antenna tuner in Hugh’s mighty KX2.

 

Usual great views from Mt Bryan but not a very nice place to visit on a windy day.

 

Great sunrise on my hike to The Bluff vk5/ne-065

Which was a 3 km hike up the road this time. I met with the Park Ranger and he said it is ok to hike up the road these days making it much easier and a shorter overall hike by about 4 km.

 

Rig of choice this activation is the fT817 as it fits in my new bag easier than the KX3. The bush is recovering nicely from the bushfire that decimated this area a few years ago. I have to set up here on the road side as the new young bush is just too thick to penetrate let alone hang up an antenna. This spot is about 20m below the summit. Very good band conditions today I was able to make a S2S with Mot JP1QEC/0 on 17m band. My antenna for 17m is my link dipole as the accidental ocf, having one of the 20m links open and the long end being set up for 80m it is close to a 37 metre long ocf dipole fed 9 metres in from the short end. Once Mot was in the log I set up and worked Nev on 80m and he was my only contact on that band. Making 14 qso’s on 40m ssb and cw and the S2S before utc roll over I was able to reset and work most of the chasers again and some new ones after role over. A good mix of ssb and cw on 40m then changed to 20m and worked 3 zl stations on cw but got no answer on 20m ssb even though i did spot my intentions. Today zl1bwg worked me with his new FT818 which is my first qso with this model rig that I know of, a great two way qrp qso.

 

I managed to climb to the top of the summit through the thick bush and get some photos of the Western side of the range. Looking down you can see Port Pirie and Point Lowly on the other side of Spencer Gulf.

That’s me all caught up for now, and I am very excited about my next activation which will be a 2 pointer from Mt Horrocks which was my first summit when SOTA first started in vk5 in October 2012. I need to get in touch with my faithful chasers and get a good party type activation going with as many other SOTA ops as possible.

I do intend to keep SOTA going and will be heading out again soon to keep Ian or Hugh going on activating and add to my own log also.

Thanks to the chasers and land owners.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

 

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2019 SOTA trips Underway.

With the long hot summer this year I have done a lot of my SOTA chasing from the back yard using several antennas so I decided to revisit the 52 foot end fed random wire. The MT1 You Kits LC tuner tunes this combination easily and it seems to work very well on bands above 40m with the FT 817. Just using my shortest 5m squid pole as a support it makes a very light weight combination for portable work. I set up with about 15 feet vertical up from the ground and the other 37 feet horizontal across the yard in an inverted L config. Straight into the MT1 and the tuner works nicely with the FT 817 combo giving good results chasing VK ZL and JA activators from 40m to 15m, and the rig seems happy to give full power on all bands. I even worked Tom M1EYP on a summit in UK on 30m cw with this antenna during the EU SOTA Party.

 

Set up in the Yard to chase SOTA and VKFF Parks.

My first solo SOTA was for the VK S2S QSO Party organised by some of the VK1 activators so it was a good opportunity to score some S2S points. Tothill Range vk5/se-010 was my choice for the activation, not far to drive there and about a 1 km hike to the summit. My time on the summit was limited but I scored 5 S2S qso and several other chasers on 3.6 ssb 7 ssb and cw, best qso was with Wade vk1mic on 3.6 mhz ssb during the afternoon.

   

Views from Tothill Range.

Next SOTA trip was to Brown Hill Range vk5/se-004.

During my cycling or walking on the Riesling Trail I have got to know some of the regular walkers who use the trail. I have come to know M&M or Michael and Margret who are regular walkers and of course I tell them of my SOTA exploits, so they came with me to Brown Hill Range to see what’s involved in a SOTA activation. It was quite cold at the summit and we spent some time behind the rocks out of the wind and M&M enjoyed the views from up there and I was able to point out the surrounding distant summits.

Another S2S with JP1QEC on 18 mhz which is proving to be a good band to Japan during the mornings, then lots of regular chasers on 80/40m ssb or cw.

   

View to the north and hard at work on cw.

Hogshead vk5/ne-051 and Coomaroo vk5/ne-088 were the next two summit trip and this time Ian vk5is joined me for the joint activation for both summits. Ian went first before utc roll over that way we could count both activation’s as separate days on the hill enabling the chasers to score us both. We both made  an S2S qso with Glen vk3yy on vk3/ve-004 before roll over then after Ian finished working everyone it was the new utc day so I worked them again. No dx this time but a good score on 80/40m. Hogshead is a tough climb to get to the top even though it is only about 1 km to hike up it’s a good to test our form on our summit climbs.

 

Ian vk5is at work, very dry up north still.

After a nice coffee and lunch break in Orroroo we headed for the afternoon activation at Coomaroo vk5/ne-088. This summit is a steady 2km hike to the top but not too hard so good to have some quality hiking instead of a slog to the top.

We only managed a few qso’s in the afternoon but enough to qualify then hike back to the SOTA transporter to meet a dead line invitation for coffee and Cake at The Fullerville Coffee and Radio Store.

Down out of the wind on Comaroo.

I had a STOP!! to my SOTA activities for a while as I needed to go to Hospital and get a Pace Maker fitted, I have been in denial for some time over my dizzy spells and really low heart rate. But now all fixed so next thing to do is test myself out on a steep climb to see how I go. First activation was only a 1km hike easy to vk5/ne-058 Mt Nadjuri. While I was having coffee before I headed off on the hike I checked SOTAWatch2 to see if Mot was on his summit and found JP3DGT out on a summit and I was able to work him from my Ute radio and the whip on 20m. Did not score a S2S if you’re wondering. Seeing Mot was on 20m I had the pressure on to hike over and set up antennas in time to catch him. The wind was very strong so I set up behind a rock shelf and got the antenna on top. Mot was a very good signal on 17m again and I worked him with the Accidental OCF antenna I discovered one other time which works very well on 17m.

 

SOTA Flag flying in the wind, Good qso with JP1QEC S2S again.

 

Rain Clouds first in a while.

I headed to Jamestown for a lunch break then off to hike to New Mount Campbell my test for the heart rate. Lots of sheep lambing in the pine forest so I made a detour around them as best I could before getting back on track. Now this Forest area has been split in half and sold I need permission from the new land owner who was good and granted permission to hike my similar track to the summit. Because the land has been split the new fence is hard to cross so I needed to hike up the fence line to a gate right on top of the ridge. This was the test for me but with lots of recovery stops I made it and did not seem to feel so much pain in my legs as usual. I had a chance also to test and use my new Man bag as I can’t have a back pack strap over my left shoulder where the pace maker is until it heals up more. I need to modify the wrap around strap as it seems to be in the wrong place to stop the bag from sliding around to the hip side of my body. More experimenting. I managed to fit enough gear in my bag for the activation but need to cut down on some spares and a smaller water bottle to fit. Coax and wire winders do not fit very well so I wrapped coax and antennas up differently to pack without the winders. I only took 1 battery, no rest board and a separate clock for timing, cw key and leads and mic in a bag of their own. It all fits nicely with these changes so once I get this strap issue worked out it should be good. I found out it is not really water proof as it rained when I was hiking back to my Ute but nothing got wet inside the bag.

 

This is the Steepest part and that’s the goal along the stone wall to top.

Rain clouds building and I just managed to get some qso’s in the log then quickly pack up, sorry to any chasers I missed I did not want to get my gear too wet. I had a heavy shower of rain to walk back to the Ute, can’t remember the last time it has rained me out, this drought has been so long.

 

R&D on the perfect SOTA Man Bag goes on. She’s right not guna rain.

This Summit is a great place to visit but I recon next time I will do it later in the year when all the sheep have finished lambing so they are not disturbed by me walking through the paddock. The Farmer made a visit to fill there feeders while I was there so they are used to having people around them but I would feel better not to disturb them while they are doing it tough in this drought.

Thanks to the land owners and chasers, thanks for reading my Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOTA Start for 2019

Running out of cliche’s for SOTA Blogs but here goes, getting year 2019 off to some sort of start and yes still on the original quest for Mountain Goat. As I write today I am only about 14 more summits from the ultimate Award running at my 3.8 points per activation. I am still excited about achieving the goal and keeping my body in good order to take up the challenge for this year. Did a lot more cycling over the off season from SOTA and with the help of Mot JP1QEC developed a new style of end fed antenna which seems to work quite well. Mot made and sent me a version to try as a link end fed half wave  with a transformer to reduce the high impedance of the end fed half wave. He wound the transformer on a snap on ferrite of all things then fed some coax on the second turn of the winding and a counter poise on winding one joined with a short run of coax back to the rig. The ft 817 is happy to load to full power with no VSWR to register, as does the kx3.

 

This is My Version.                                          Mot’s version.

Mot’s SOFT antenna, the acronym is Snap On Ferrite Transformer with a counterpoise and a Link Endfed Dipole from 15 metres to 40 metres. I have used this antenna several times testing in my usual yard site under the big gum tree. I hung it as an inverted L with the vertical part bending off after the 20m link so all of the high bands were vertically polarized and the 30/40m section being horizontal across to a 6m end support. My version was made differently with out any band links starting out with 16m of wire hung in the tree in a similar IVL config. Using a similar counterpoise and coax feed I found after trimming the radiator I could achieve a good swr on 7mhz and a reasonable swr on 14mhz and another low swr point in 20 mhz  which gave a 3 t 1 swr in 21 mhz. The test is, will the FT 817 load to full power without a tuner which it did easily on 7/14 mhz and reduced power back to about 3 watts on 21mhz, good enough in a pinch. No issues with the kx3 off course having an atu I decided to take this antenna on an activation and give it a try. I need to work the local chasers on 80m still as there is no short skip on 40m still so I hatched a plan to add onto the antenna with one of my link wires I use to extend my 40/20m link dipole to work on 80m. This is an add on of about 9.3 metres of wire to get the link dipole on 80m, well to my surprise the kx3 tuned it easily and I made 4 qso’s on 80m during the morning activation the furtherest chaser was about 200km from the summit. I consider this antenna a keeper. Getting back to Mot we have managed to make a qso several times over summer using the SOFT antennas with Mot on SOTA and Me either chasing from my Yard or S2S contacts mostly on 20m or 17m even in these low times of propagation.

   

This was the activation on South Hummocks vk5/se-017 using the SOFT antenna.

Back to mid summer M1EYP has been promoting FT8 digital mode for SOTA in UK so just for fun I went to Illawara Hill vk5/se-014 to try a digital activation. Being an easy drive up summits I took my ic7200 and a good battery to run it and my laptop link dipole all the usual kit. The temperature was 37c very hot but there is one small tree on the summit so at least some shade. Well once I was set up and all the Alerts put out I realised sitting under the tree I could not read my Laptop screen very well. The solution was my rain coat over my head the irony was sitting on a summit in a drought on a 37c summers day under my rain coat. I did manage to make 4 qso’s on ft8 and topped up my activation with some of the usual chasers I work in more normal times and modes. It was interesting to give it a try and it did work very well as I got a FT8 S2S with JI3BAP.

The next activation was a joint SOTA and VK5RLH repeater trip to inspect the hut and replace a power supply for APRS which Grant VK5AMC kindly loaned for the job. Another S2S with Mot on 14 mhz this time and just a few other vk chasers as it was Tuesday again. We were happy to find at the repeater hut this time no mouse invasion and Dale’s door fix stopped them getting in so a quick sweep out was all required this time.

I visited Hallet Hill next with a big plan to set up two antennas this time and try for another S2S with Mot on his usual activation. It was quite cold and windy giving some relief to the usual summer we have had this time.

  

Hallet Hill vk5/se-003 two link dipoles 40/20 and 15/17 and shack behind the rocks out of the wind.

 

This poor old land needs a good rain.

Very poor conditions on Hallet Hill but I did managed to make a S2S with Mot on 17m this time with a big surprise qso with AL7JX on  17m cw. Good qso’s on 80m ssb and 40m cw/ ssb to end up with 14 qso’s.

Time to crank up the hike distance to build that base for what is to come Ian vk5is and I went to Mt Remarkable next for SOTA. Taking the North walking trail to the summit it was a gentle 2 hour hike early in the morning to make our Alert times and to be there to work Mot again for a S2S.

 

What a great team.

  

Dust Inversion on Willowie Plains.                  A great day to Hike.

 

Screed Slopes at 4km into hike.

Set up on the Summit vk5/ne-010 995 m asl 5 metres short of a 10 pointer.

Checking the bands we Found Mot JP1QEC on ja/gm-039 on 18.081 on cw

We had already set up the dipole with all extensions to be on 80m first to work the local chasers. To save time resetting the antenna I tuned it with the kx3 to see if the 80m dipole would hit Mot for the S2S as he had a loud signal with me. I had a good signal and reference swap on 17m so I decided to go up the band and call cq myself. To my surprise K0RS and K5CM called me giving good reports up to 559 which were both great contacts and a S2S with ZL4DVG on zl3/wc-575 then  ZL1BYZ VK3PF VK4TJ. With UTC roll over approaching it was time to go to 80m and work my local chasers waiting there. When i call VK5WE on 80m he said he could hardly hear me which surprised me as we had the 80m dipole set up and we could work him on a 2m hand held.  On closer inspection I noticed a link for 20m was still open giving the problem for 80m, but it surely made a great OCF for 17m which was probably my best “accidental antenna” ever. Reset the link and the locals VK5WE VK5WG and VK5MJC were nice strong signals on 80m and I just got everyone worked before roll over.

  

Ian VK5IS Activated once UTC roll over to the next day took place, having good local contacts on 80m ssb and 40m ssb and made a score of 7 qso’s and I did a few calls on 40m cw as well after roll over but only got 1 qso with Gerard VK2IO.

Time to pack up and try the decent on the South Trail for a change.

  

The South Trail is 7.5 km so 1 km further than the North Trail and gives nice views to the south on the way down but it is a much harder trail to walk due to the rough rocky surface. We took 10 minutes extra time to walk down so made a good time but had to be careful not to slip or trip on the rocky surface. The hike total was 14 km distance and we averaged 16 minute kilometers for the hike.

Both of us were sore and tired by the time we made the SOTA transporter and enjoyed a nice lunch and coffee break at The Fullerville Coffee and Radio Shop. Thanks Roger.

Regards thanks for reading my Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

Good SOTA Season 2018

Now that my SOTA season is coming to an end I must say my Quest to make Mountain Goat is getting shorter.

After this last season I should be able to make Old Goat with 75 more activating points.My average is 3.8 points so 20  more summits should be enough next year.

I kept a travel and hiking log this year as I was activating without Hugh who was over seas for five months and there was no one to share the travel to summits. Travel distance for the year to and from Summits was 8723 km and I hiked 157 km from the parked SOTA Transporter. I remember the longest trip was 975 km over two days because of an access misunderstanding and with no accommodation at Yunta anymore I had to drive home to sleep then start out early for the next day. A good thing did come from all the driving that trip I was able to catch up an extra summit on the way to Yunta by being near by the summit early enough to quickly hike up and be ready for the early morning group who are on 80 metres at 7.30 am. The gamble was if at least 4 ops would be on air and as it turned out 5 came on that morning so I could qualify, then hike back down for breakfast and get on with the rest of my trip to Yunta. Most times when I am planning my trips away I need to contact land owners and it is always a nervous time for me ringing around pestering then for permission. I must say they always say yes and sometimes help me with further information about other property owners I may be looking to contact about different access or new summits. Because Hugh was away I had to ask several land owners on his access list as well so I did meet some nice new people Hugh normally deals with.

The sad part about this season is the on going drought up north with every property in trouble with no rain or feed for their animals and the badly stressed wildlife made me feel sad every time I went out activating. I was on Mt Stokes in the middle of winter season and I picked up a rock to hook my antenna support strings to run out the dipole. Nothing living under the rocks hardly any birds singing like you usually hear no small lizards that you would normally see. On the way home from Waite Hill I unhooked a full grown Kangaroo out of the fence and to try and help her get going again I had to pick her up so she could try to stand, I recon she might have weighed 25 to 30 kg just skin and bones. I gave her a drink of water from a bottle and she drank the lot which would have been a first time experience for her to drink like that. I did all I could for her and left hoping she would survive a bit longer.

My activating scores this year were probably less contacts than other years especially DX although I did make some DX S2S to ZL and JA this year. I am lucky to have a group of faithful chasers who I can contact on 80m and thanks to them I always qualified the summits. Ian VK5IS and Roger VK5WE came with me on a few trips this year again to do some activating and keep me company so I was not totally alone for every trip. After I worked the few chasers on 80m I could always count on regular chasers from other vk zl states to find me on 40 ssb and cw and sometimes on 20m cw as well. I should mention the owners of Quorn and Orroroo Caravan Parks who always provide good accommodation with discount mind you so I can sleep well and feed myself when away from home. A special mention to The Bendelby Ranges too as they provide good accommodation at the Sheering Quarters and let me use the 4×4 tracks for free to travel out to the summits.

This October Long weekend as I write this Blog is 6 years now since SOTA started in vk5, its been a long journey and still more to go to make old goat . This year I made more day trips from home early starts and late back home again as now I know how long the trip will be and the hike up to be ready for my Alert times. Mostly I stuck to the plan with no issues, lots of Kangaroos to miss on the sides of the roads in the early hours, then weary times driving home again.

     

Mt Plantagenet shack.                                      Hill VK5/NE-031 shack.

     

View from hike to hill NE-031 new found way to access via Holowiliena South.

     

The Greenest Summits for the year Mt Horrocks and Hallett Hill

     

Waite Hill

     

4X4 fun on Mt Arden.

     

Hugh is home from Europe and Luxury first chair on a summit.

Thanks to the chasers and land owners for season 2018 of SOTA .

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..

 

Last Two Days Up North.

It just goes to show how many kilometers I need to travel to take part in SOTA here in South Australia, just to get on with my Quest and do 4 summits over two days, I traveled 975 kilometers.

I had a hick up with land access and accommodation on the first day and had to travel back to home then head out again the next day. It worked out good in the end as I was able to make contact again with the land owner and reassure myself of access to their property. It went a bit like “i will call you if it’s not ok to go there” and I read that a bit differently to be I will get back to you if it’s ok to go there which did not happen. That is why I came back to Clare after the first day only doing one summit.

Day One.

I headed out early for Price Hill vk5/ne-056 on Pamatta Station quite early about 5.00 am wanting to be north of Orroroo after daylight because of Kangaroos on the road. Had my porridge at 7.30 am about 40 km north of Orroroo with the 3.680 group sked using the mobile rig and Hustler antenna to report my progress. Sometime later I left my vehicle parked at a windmill and tank at 9.00 am to start the hike to Price Hill which is about 3.5 km on the map but taking into account the gain of the hill it turns out to be 3.7 km following a couple way points I had saved in the E trex 30 to keep on track. Its a rocky climb and mostly Spinifex Grass as the only ground cover. There must have been some rain because I noticed a small pool of water in the creek I walked along to start out.

     

When there is a Drought it exposes how many rocks are really here.

     

My path is up that valley with a gradual climb all the way, the small tree is the Ridge top.

     

Always good to look back and see how far you have come, and the last ridge before the top.

     

Nothing in the way on this Summit. Solar Powered uhf cb repeater no beer in the fridge.

     

I set up behind this rock ledge and only put the squidy up 5 metres it was very windy.

Amazing band conditions on 80m even though the extensions were almost on the ground I was able to make 6 ssb and 2 cw 80m qso before changing to 40m.

Made 4 ssb and 3 cw qso on 40m then did some vhf experimenting with vk5we on 2m who was probably 80km south of me. I had the vx8 handy rig and he had  his yagi pointed at me to give the contact a good chance. I got a readable 5 report and he was full scale to me .

Walking back to the Ute I saw this old Sleepy Lizard getting some sun.

     

Great day out on Price Hill thanks to the chasers and land owner for access.

Day Two.

Heading out from Clare this time at 4.00 am the next day I was on track to Yunta for 2 summits on Teetalpa Station. I had a tentative plan to fit Nackara Hill in at some time during the day also now I had permission sorted and if I had time. Well after 2 hours on the road and not hitting any Kangaroos I saw the sign to Nackara and a light bulb moment made me wonder if I could get on top of Nackara Hill summit before 7.30. to catch the 80m sked. It was a bit hard to find the summit gate in the dark as I had only been there during the day, I had a walk up ahead at the property to check out a creek crossing before going any further. It tuned out to be ok so I was on the property track and driving as close as possible to the hike point. Loaded a banana and Snickers in my back pack and did a swift “fasting” hike to the summit which took about half an hour of mostly puff and ankle pain with no warm up. It it less than a kilometre to hike but the gain is pretty much the summit’s prominence plus some .

However some times it pays to have faith, I was on top hiding behind a rock reef with 15 minutes to spare for sked time. I made contact with Ian vk5is first off who thought I was mobile naturally as that was our original plan, I usually drive until 7.30 then call in from the mobile at what I call porridge time.

The big gamble was at least 4 people were going to call in and I was in luck 5 called in to make the activation.

     

This was my veiw as I left the Ute and my set up behind the rock reef as the wind was cold.

 Kangaroo Breakfast time on my way back to the Ute.

Bonus Nackara Hill in the log I got back on the road to try to get to Waroonee Hill vk5/ne-102 on Alert time. This Summit is on the southern part of Teetalpa Station which is probably 15 km of tracks once you leave the Arkaroola Road 10k west of Yunta. 4X4 is not really needed on these tracks but you need to exercise care on the rocky parts to avoid punctures and belting your suspension too much.

  

This monster is always watching, an amazing uplift .

     

Always enjoy this hike along the bottom of the Rock ledge the up around the end to the top.

     

What a great work of art and skill these cairns are surviving here for many years. Notice the Lichen only grows on the side any rain hits which is not much.

Lots of chasers here on vk5/ne-102 with 3 stations I have not worked before on SOTA making it 5 qso on 80m and 9 on 40m ssb and cw. When I got back to my Ute it seemed like mid afternoon to me not midday, probably because I had been on the go since 3 am. But can’t hang around I still had another 30 km of Station tracks to reach the last summit for the day vk5/ne104. Being by myself for the first time on these summits I did not have my gate opener who is still swanning off on his European trip, it takes a bit longer to get anywhere. Lucky me because of the drought most gates on the property were already open probably to allow stock an easier path to water. The track was very dusty and dry but taking it steady where necessary I made the parking spot at about 1.30 pm and I made that porridge time, only 5 hours late.  Snickers are great SOTA hike food to keep you going. It only takes about 20 minutes to hike to the summit from the Ute so no pressure really nearly on Alert time.

     

Very windy summit this one another uhf repeater site, my set up off the eastern side out of wind.

     

Very harsh landscape made worse by Drought.

     

One picture blends into the other, I try not to think how wildlife, stock and the people are hammered to death by this environment during drought and this is winter time not summer. To say you gota be tough out here is an understatement.

3 ssb and 2 cw qso on 80m and 3 ssb and 4 cw qso on 40m . Good to hear vk5we giving cw a go on 80m and nice to work zl1byz on 40m cw and all the other faithful chasers who worked me on every summit for the trip . Thanks to all my chasers I am now at 899 points towards old goat.

Back to Teetalpa Home stead to say thanks for the access to the summits then off on the road journey home for 240 km. Got a nice surprise when on the road home south of Yunta to pass 27 road trains a convoy of truck/trailers loaded with medium bales of hay heading out to drought stricken areas of this great land. I heard later on the news that they came from Western Australia WoW.

Get out and do a rain dance please.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOTA In The Drought

Quite sad and upsetting to travel out to some of my regular summits this last trip to see this poor old land and it’s wildlife and stock in such trouble from the Drought gripping many parts of Australia this year. We know that all these areas are very remote and marginal areas to carry on any type of agriculture but these hardy people and their live stock struggle on trying to survive until the next good season.

     

Carefully making my way along the dirt tracks avoiding Kangaroos who like to jump out in front of you I paused to get these photos of the only source of water for quite a way in these parts on my way to my first summit Black Hill vk5/ne-062. This summit is a very rugged range on hills with some trees and bush with spinifex grass as the only ground cover very prickly as it sticks through your jeans and socks if you step on it.

     

As you can see very rugged country.

     

This is my portable station on Black Hill lots of bush to tangle my antenna and rocks to stumble on when erecting it too if you are not careful. I had a nice group of chasers waiting for me this time and vk5is vk5we and vk5mjc made the effort to go out portable with their FT 817 s to make the chase on 3.6 mhz.  Nice to see John vk5pf chasing on cw only these days.

     

Just out of interest and with the rest of my morning to kill I decided to head back to my vehicle a different way which took me longer but it was mostly down hill but still very rugged.

I wonder how long ago it was wet enough to cause this great erosion event half of the side of the hill is missing. It made a great echo chamber as I sung out a couple E OR KEE like Porky from Lassie on the old TV program. Lassie did not hear me of course nor anyone else for that matter ! pretty dang lonely out here. I heard one bird singing they seem to be attracted to the sound of my cw and two pure white goats across the valley from the summit.

After 95 km of Station Tracks I arrived at my nights’ Accommodation to rest up for two more Summits

The Bendleby Ranges my nights’ Accommodation at the Sheering Quarters

Jane and Warren are very helpful to grant permission to hike to the two summits on their property every year. Marchant Hill vk5/ne-043 is an easy 4×4 drive to the parking place near Dinner Time Springs then a 3 km hike along the sides of the hills gradually gaining altitude all the way.

     

The walking track follows up the gully until you reach this saddle then it is easier along the sides of the hills until the final climb to the summit. The track was marked with pink ribbon but I think the goats chewed on them and some are missing or have been eaten.

     

First photo is my view to the west and second photo is my view to the south and a goat pruned Native Pine in the foreground.

     

View out to the east and that Native Pine came in handy to hold up my antenna pole for my portable radio station on Marchant Hill. I had a lot of Chasing Stations this morning with 7 stations worked on 3.6 mhz ssb and 1 on 3.6 mhz cw [morse]. 3 stations from vk3 on 7 mhz ssb and vk 2 3 4 7 on 7 mhz cw.

After a nice walk back to my Ute I had a total of 6 km for the hike taking about 2 hours walking time.

Lunch in the shade of a tree then off down south via The Springs Homestead to the next summit Eke Hill.

     

The 4×4 track is not hard to Eke Hill just a bit of ground clearance needed in places on a couple rocky parts before the parking place. You are greeted by this nice walking trail along the bed of the creek to start off. Summit of Eke Hill is about 1 km from the parking area so my Etrex 30 GPS said.

     

The adventure gets better all the time once you get into this part of the creek.

     

Out of the creek now and onto a natural path along this rock ledge, and a view back to the north which is about to get better as you get higher.

     

View with Marchant Hill in the haze to the North, and what a work of art is this Cairn.

My hike time from the Ute to the summit was 16 minutes for 1 km distance 140 m vertical gain.

     

Looking South to Black Rock Peak and a view across to the hills North East direction and hazy plains below.

     

A very convenient tree to hold up my 7m fishing pole and dipole antenna and my portable radio station set up.

Eke Hill vk5/ne-069

I was greeted once again by lots of Chasing Stations firstly on 3.6 mhz working 4 stations from vk5 on ssb and 2 on cw. Then I changed to 7 mhz ssb and worked vk2 3 5 on ssb then vk2 3 4 on cw .

Another successful time away activating SOTA summits my hike distance for the 3 summits 16 km.

Thanks to the land owners for access to the summits and the Chasers for the contacts.

Regards cheers

Ian vk5cz..

Thanks for reading my Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mid Season Summits

I have had a couple busy weeks again working through my list of summits I need to visit this year.

Mt Jay South is one of the drive up summits I visit near Wilmington in the morning then a hike in the afternoon to The Bluff near Wirrabara Forest.

     

     

Great views to the west looking over Spencer Gulf from up here.

S2S to JP1QEC on 18 mhz all other chasers were on 40m ssb and cw.

Next Summit for the day was The Bluff later in the afternoon which is a 3 km ankle burning hike to the top.

     

This is the view to the east from my set up spot, the summit is behind me on other side of the road but after the bush fire the growth is so thick it is really difficult to set up in the bush. I was able to work the Crystal Brook group of chasers on 2m simplex from here so did not bother to set up on 80m. Rest of my chasers were on 40m ssb and cw .

Ian vk5is was keen to do a longer hike to Dutchman’s Stern Summit with me this time so it was a very early morning start for me from Clare to try to meet the Alert time for the activation.

     

Great sunrise on the way to Quorn                 That is the top of the range.

     

We hiked for 5 km on the walking trail to a way point then bush bash for 1.5 km to the Summit.

     

Looking to the south you can see several other summits. That’s our goal.

     

The Two Ian’s hard at work.

Great day out with company and we managed the 13 km hike, got back to Quorn for a late lunch.

A very frosty minus 2 c in Clare when I left to head to Brown Hill Range. This time I went via Spalding then across the Range north of Booborowie,  I had to deliver a bottle of wine to the farmer who grants permission to the summit.

     

Lots of fog on the range this morning.

     

My shack and set up in the cold and fog.

Made another S2S with Mot JP1QEC on 18 mhz using the 20/40 dipole as an OCF antenna which works very well on 18 mhz. Once I got the activation under way I had lots of vk chasers on 80 and 40m with very good band conditions.

Worked  ZL1BYZ on 40m cw and several other vk stations on cw again after UTC roll over.

Packed up still in the persisting fog with all my gear wet and headed for Jamestown for an early lunch on my way to Black Rock Peak.

I can drive up a couple km in 4×4 then park and hike the rest to the summit. It was a very nice sunny afternoon on Black Rock Peak this time with great views as far as the eye can see. I counted 7 Wedge Tail Eagles all flying at once around the summit, never seen that many of these birds in the one place before.

     

That’s the hike from the ute.                            Birds eye view for this bird.

     

     

Good collection of chasers on 80m to get the activation underway, not many ssb chasers on 40m but a nice group of chasers on 40m cw. I need to do a mod on my 80m extension wires, the alligator clip broke again so I am trying to work on something more robust. I was lucky to find the clip on the ground when it flew off into the grass and I was able to set up the antenna for the activation. I gently rolled down off the summit in low range then head out to meet the land owner for the first time and give out more Clare Valley wine.

Thanks to all the chasers and land owners.

Thanks for reading my Blogs.

Ian vk5cz ..