Watts Sugar Loaf VK5/NE-087

Watts Sugar Loaf is in The Blackjack Range near Hawker it was a new summit for Hugh and I to activate this year. We had to visit and meet the land owner for a while first to get directions on how to get close to the summit.

We had to 4 X 4 about 5 km along an old track that follows the boundary fence line between two properties so permission was obtained from both land owners last year but we could not get a convenient time to visit then.

When we arrived at the park spot we could see that it was going to be quite a hard climb with lots of scratchy bush and a very rocky steep surface. We did our best to contour and climbed in a zig zag to the saddle on the southern edge of the hill. Amazing how these Native Pine trees can survive in such a harsh environment of just rocks and dry dirt.

Once on the saddle we found this stone wall running along the top of the range and can only imagine how hard it was to build it up here, and did the builders descend the hill every day or stay on the range for several days at a time. The logistics of such projects must have been quite tough back in the day. The wall was not very high but very well built.

Hugh and I made our way to the trig point which had seen better day to save the summit in my GPS then we went to find a nice place in the shade to activate.

Way off to the south is The Horse Shoe Range and the area below is where we had to 4X4 to get to the summit.

This view here is to the north east direction across to Cradock.

Several summits to the south in view around Quorn.

Sorry about the lilly white legs, tested the Keen Hiking sandals on this hike and they are very stable and light to hike in even in this stoney country.

We did not make very many QSO as it was lunch time by the time we got on air. Hugh got 5 QSO on 40m SSB and I had 2 SSB and 3 CW QSO on 40m. Did quickly call CQ on 15m 20m but got no answer so headed down for lunch ourselves.

Probably the only other thing to mention here is this property owner owns another summit and he has granted permission to visit there some time this year. That make 5 summits around Hawker and last year we only had one. Ground work and just asking people has really paid off this time and thanks to Mark and Ben for access to Watts Sugar Loaf.

Thanks to the SOTA chasers.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Ian vk5cz ..

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.

Coldest SOTA Season

This winter 2022 SOTA has been the coldest time Hugh and I have had activating summits. The only saving thing has been the very dry winter and we have not been caught in rain at all so far.

2m activation .

When Hugh and I arrived at Mt Cone early in the morning for our first activation of 3 for the day we parked the Ute behind the comms building up there and the wind was raging from the Southwest.

We had arranged with our local group of chasers to join in on the 80m SSB net and quickly get a score before heading off to our next summit. We could not find much shelter at this site as the other building at the top of the summit has been removed. I was lucky enough to hear some chatter on my 2m radio so decided to make 4 QSO on 2m FM instead. Ian vk5is was a very clear signal and as soon as we called out on the 2m simplex frequency we had enough QSO’s to make a score. The hand held was passed between Hugh and I and a quick activation was scored in about 10 minute and we could get back in my Ute and turn on the heater. It was 5c that morning with a strong wind.

The next summit in mid morning was Brown Hill Range.

By this time it was nearly 10:30 am so at least the sun had come out and it had warmed up a little. Travelling to this summit among the wind towers we got mobbed by about 300 Ewes and lambs thinking we were the farmer bringing out some grain for their breakfast. Hugh had to walk in front of my Ute to stop them crowding around. We set up behind this stone wall on top and went about making contacts, Hugh getting a score on 40m ssb first them I got my score on 40 CW then some DX on 15m CW to ZL JA and KT5X whom I had not heard for quite a few years.

The last activation was New Mount Campbell in the afternoon so Jamestown Bakery became the obvious stop over for lunch before the hike up. Its a reasonable hike of about 2 km with a graded fire road to the top and a couple gates to get through. This was our first Hike after Covid 19 so we took it easy but did it without too much puffing. The wind was still quite strong but the sun was out and we set up behind yet another stone wall to get out of the wind. This summit was a bit harder to get a score Hugh just managed to get a few on 40m SSB and I made 4 CW and one 2m FM contact but a score none the less.

Thanks to our chasers and property owners 3 more done from the list. Because of Covid 19 we have lost almost 2 months of activating time so the pressure is on to get out and complete the projected list of 46 summits we normally visit each year.

Yunta Trip 5 Summits.

Now that we can get accommodation at the Yunta Pub again Hugh organised the next lot of property access and we set about getting 5 summits with an over night stay in Yunta.

First stop over was Nackara Hill with another quick fire activation on the 80m morning net and this time we both made 7 QSO’s and continued on our way to Yunta.

The second summit is Waroonee Hill on the southern end of the pastoral lease which is about 10km in from the road but good tracks to drive out here and a nice hike up. As we had arrived at almost lunch time it can be a bit tricky to get contacts so 40m SSB for Hugh netted a few and I got 7 on CW.

We had a quick lunch break back at Mitsi this time and headed about 30km north on station tracks to the next summit. This summit is a 1 km hike up but Hugh wanted to try a different way to get there which was a bit difficult because a lot of the lower track was washed away. But with some walking out and some shovel work we got around the wash outs and made a 4×4 climb to the top instead. Mitsi handled it with ease in low range and we got on with the activation.

The band to use this time was 40m Hugh had some really good SSB contacts with vk5’s or locals as well as interstate contacts. Its always nice to get both sorts of propagation on 40m at times. A stand out QSO was with Grant VK5AMC / tractor mobile. Unfortunately he was too busy driving his spray rig to work me on CW but Hugh and I had a quick chat on SSB with him. That was Karkala Ridge done and back to Yunta to refuel and a nice pub meal and sleep.

More logistical problems to deal with. The land owners out east of Pitcairn Station did not want us crossing their property during lambing time so Hugh had organised another way to Pualco Range. This was quite involved and we needed to visit another property and pick up then return a key to a remote gate then drive back to Yunta and start our journey to Waite Hill summit. This would have involved about 100km of extra driving, gates and station tracks. To get to Pualco normally is about a 40km drive across from Pitcairn so much easier then head down a shorter 4×4 track to Waite hill.

I had a brain storm once again and we decided to not go to Pualco for 2 points but call by Mt Nadguri on the way home and get 4 points. A quick TxT to the land owner sorted permission so we had a plan for the day.

After an ankle burner Hike up we got to Waite Hill is good time but too late for 80m contacts 40m was still in good shape and we both got a good score of contacts. Hugh on SSB then me after on CW.

We spotted these emu eggs and nest right on the edge of the track the Old Man Emu run out and startled us as we drove by.

That’s my view of Waite hill summit on the way up.

We got off Waite Hill then headed west for about 100 km to Mt Nadguri arriving late in the afternoon but still in good time to do the quick hike to the summit.

Hugh operating on Mt Nadguri behind this Box Thorn bush trying to get out of the freezing wind. This time we used my End Fed Half Wave for 40m and was able to set it up between the two bushes.

By this time of the trip Hugh’s second flu was raging so he made a score and headed back to his Ute to get warm. I stayed a bit longer and made some 40m CW and 20m DX contacts this time. The antenna worked very well even this close to the ground so it is a keeper for certain circumstances on SOTA.

This is my view from the pole end of the antenna.

All packed up 5 more summits in the log, heading back to the Ute.

Nice evening at sunset hiking back to the Ute ending a great trip to get 5 summits.

We headed home in the dark as usual and it was 600km for the trip to Yunta, if we never dropped off Pualco it would have been further and well dark before we got off the last summit.

Great brain storm.

Thanks to Chasers and Land Owners

Thanks for reading my Blog

Ian vk5cz ..

Last Summits Up North 2021

After the 6 summit marathon out of Benbleby Ranges Hugh and I did a day trip to Yunta for 3 summits.

Because there was road works on The Barrier Highway, Hugh found a way via mostly dirt roads to Peterborough from his home to try to save hold ups at the work sites. Once out of Peterborough we headed for Dawson then a back way into Nackara Hill which turned into some back tracking to find a way. When we got to the western end of the old road we normally take from the Eastern side we found a brand new fence across the roadway and no gate near by. We had to drive North towards Yunta then take another station track to get to the Summit. Being about 40 minutes late we were lucky enough to have a small group on 80m waiting for us after their normal morning Sked. Hugh and I went tag team on 80m SSB then got off the summit and headed to Yunta still another 90km away. On the way to Teetulpa Station we usually go to Waroonee Hill first it saves time getting there and we need to drive about 12 km of station tracks to the parking spot. Un eventful hike up probably the greenest we have seen it for a few years, we got on 80m SSB to find some chasers waiting then Hugh topped up his score on 40m SSB and I worked a few more on 40m CW.

SOTA flag full of wind VK5CZ on the Morse Paddle.
View out East from the Summit.

The poor old land scape is still not recovered from years of drought but it’s better than we have seen it for a while. Hugh and I got off the hill and then had to travel about 35 km to the next summit north of the homestead. Karkala Ridge is a 1.2 km hike up from the parking spot which is not a hard slog but quite rocky under foot.

Hugh on Air on Karkala Ridge.

The wind was very strong on this afternoon summit so we only put the Squid pole up 6 metres and leaned it into the wind to keep it up. The bush we used to tie to is broken down by hungry goats so is no longer a viable support therefor we bungeed the pole around the rock shelf and packed extra rocks for support. No shortage of rocks up here.

Nice afternoon activation with plenty of chasers then the long drive back to Clare through lots of road works to make the journey even slower. Just an easy 600 odd kilometre day out on SOTA.

Hawker Summits.

Some time later I have been researching access to more Summits around Hawker probably inspired by our visit to Mt Arden where you can see all the summits near Hawker, I made it my business to find out land owners contact details in that area. Of course its never easy but Mr Google did shed some light for me, I did a search on the Pastoral lease name and sure enough they had won some prizes in a Ram show with their prize Merino Rams a few years ago. Another search for the family name in the White Pages gave me a phone number. I ring this number some what nervous to the reaction at the other end of course, a total stranger calling on the phone to ask access to his hill so I can talk on the radio. It takes a bit of work explaining what this is all about assuming he has not hung up the phone by now. I would say in my case this is the hardest part of SOTA, asking and working with land owners for access to their properties, the hikes up are tough in some cases but this is harder than that I think. Up shot was the Summit I was talking about turns out not to be on his land but another fella owns it. OK well what about this other hill over here, that one was on his property and another hill over the other side of the road is too. It’s getting better all the time up until the let down of course, He wants more information about what I want to do and do I have public risk insurance and so on . He was a bit astounded why anyone would want to hike up his hill and talk on a radio and I was slowly giving up altogether when he said to call around one day and show him my gear and how I plan to go about it. So an appointment booked in advance sometime next year in winter should be good enough fingers crossed to grant access then. We ended up friends I think, time will tell. The good part about getting access to more summits around Hawker makes it more worth while to go and stay there for a couple days to do them all, at the moment I have only two summits on my list and a possible 6 others if permission could be sorted. That means money spent in Hawker for Food, Fuel and Accommodation and the land owner gets free premium wine from the beautiful Clare Valley. Sorry I diverge.

Evening view of Mt Elm the summit I would like to visit.

Turns out west of Hawker town is a summit that permission is already granted to bush walkers so I made an evening visit just to find the activation zone ready for the next day.

Yourambulla Range Summit was my first time to activate there so exciting day for me first new summit in many years.

A great well marked hike not that hard just a couple rock scrambles and I saw 1 Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby pretty rare around these parts no picture he scampered off well before I had a camera ready.

I got to the summit just before UTC roll over and was able to hand out two lots of chaser points for this summit as it is only a 1 point summit helps double the chasers score. I did not make any QSO on 40m SSB which surprised me but I had a large pile up on 40m CW so that was good.

View to the North
Antenna is up now for rest of my Kit.

I finished up in good time on Yourumbulla Range and headed for Hawker to refuel then out East to Worumba Station to visit Mt Plantagenet one of the 8 point summits I visit but its a drive up. After a nice chat with Mary I headed for the summit being by myself I had to open and shut several gate to get there. This summit has a well made track to the top it is possible to drive up in high range 4×4 as the road is in very good order these days.

Stone Cairn on Mt Plantagenet.

I had a good amount of QSO’s once set up and the weather was really nice not much wind and very sunny.

A large group on 80m although the band was not so good this time during middle of the day but I worked everyone who heard me. Several callers on 40m SSB and even more on 40m CW turns out to be a great activation the only thing now in to get off the hill deal with the gates and head for home.

Black Rock Peak and Stokes Hill

Another day trip to a couple summits around Orroroo this time a bit closer in but still a 460 km trip.

We left Hugh’s place right on 6am and hit the usual dirt roads north taking a new way from Peterborough this time to reach Black Rock peak probably an hour before Alert time. That’s OK good to be in front for a change. This summit is a 4×4 up to near the top, we went about half a kilometre further on the track this time to a new closer park spot from the Activation Zone.

Because we were early a quick TxT msg to VK5IS who got on 2m to a few local stations we were away getting a score tag team on 80m SSB then Hugh did the 40m SSB chasers and I handed out some 40m CW before roll over then again after roll over as well and a few ZL ops on 20m CW.

Hugh at work on Black Rock Peak

Hugh had a good score on 40m SSB even making it to ZL.

VK5CZ on the Old Corse Mode.

I made several CW contacts on 40m after Tag team on 80m SSB with Hugh several regulars were not on 80m but still found 4 QSO’s on 80m.

After UTC roll over I got several more stations giving me a total of 15 contacts for the Activation.

On the way to Stoke Hill which is about 65 km away we dropped some wine off to our farmers then hit the dirt tracks again to make Stokes Hill in good time. We had a lunch break there and I let some air out of my tyres to tackle the steep rocky accent of Stoke’s Hill. It takes about 40 minutes in low range 1st and 2nd gear on this track, Hugh had to clean a few fallen logs and some diff banger rocks out of the way but all went well on the climb.

Hugh on 40m SSB. WOT a chair and table ??

The Chair and table were still in the back of my Ute from a recent VKFF parks visit so we set up in style this time.

Only 3 stations on 80m but we did work some local VK5’s on 40m SSB and CW with really strong signals good to have some short skip for a change.

Love Morse Code.

Nice group of chasers on 40m CW a S2S with VK3ARR on VK3/VS-048 and a new chaser on 40m CW VK2LI first time caller for me. Got 2 extra ZL stations on 20m CW as well.

Great weather again hardly any wind and Spring in well on the way up there, another good rain soon would be good.

Slowly ever so Slowly back off the Mountain on the down track taking about 30 minutes to get back to the roads and head for home.

Views North form Black Rock Peak
View South from Stokes Hill some of the up track below.

Managed a QSO with VK5AMC/ tractor mobile via VK5RLH 2m repeater at Lochiel 167 km away from my Ute rig on 50 watts.

Thanks to the Chasers and Land Owners for another lot of SOTA fun.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz ..

Winter SOTA Summits 2021

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.

On the Way to Richman Hill

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.

Hugh on the Rock Face on the way up.

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.

VK5CZ on the Morse paddle FT817 is the radio.

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.

View out to the North East from Mt Arden.

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.

View to the South from Mt Arden.
Hugh is hard at work Luxury he had a chair.

Done away with the clip board for my log.

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.

Hugh on air on Peaked Hill.

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.

Stone Cairn on Eke Hill looking out to the East.
Operating Position On Eke Hill.

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.

Hugh on the hike to 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.

That’s what you call a Slab.

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.

Hugh on Price Hill.

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.

Old Dry Bore on Pamatta Station.

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..

Lagoon Hill S2S DX to USA.

Lagoon Hill is a nice Summit located in The Julia Ranges about 50 km from my home town of Clare, its one of those summits I save locally for a quick visit on a Sunday.

Hugh was off bush walking so it was time to get some ankle burn on Lagoon Hill and it does not disappoint once the accent starts. Farmer Jeff has the neighboring property and he lets me walk across his paddock to get to the boundary of Lagoon Hill property. Another difference with this summit is it’s a Heritage Trust private conservation area, but I have permission from the Trust Director to access the Trig point via a Crown Land easement that ends in a 1 acre area around the trig point ideal amount of room to set up my SOTA station.

Now to access I need to follow the easement along a fence line at the bottom of the hill for a while then once I come to two large stones in the fence line, these are the original survey markers placed there many years ago. With my cap on backwards I head east up to the top of the summit in about 400 metres of distance with roughly 160 metres of gain in the land to the top. Its a killer for sure but with plenty of rests you eventually make the top, this time it took 43 minute to go about 2 km from the parked Ute.

Lots of Yacka Bushes Rocks and Sheoaks on the way up.

Now once on the summit and recovered a bit I set up my 20/40/80 link dipole on a 7 metre telescopic pole getting ready to start the activation and on my Alert time too for a change.

The first contacts are on 80m SSB with some local chasers from around country SA. I then changed to 40m CW and worked into VK 2 3 4 5 with good signals and also got a good report from ZL1BQD in New Zealand.

While on 40m I went to SSB and worked more VK stations in VK 2 3 then Hugh called me on 2m FM while he was on his bush walk some 30 km away from me.

SOTA Flag Flying

The dipole runs out nicely along the ridge line and all bands can fit in between the Sheoak trees.

The old log serves as a good support for my pole and of course I have a cushion to sit on and operate the radio.

My SOTA Shack KX3 radio at 10w of power out, I use a paper note book and pencil to log the calls.

Once I had run out of Chasers on 40m I took down the bigger Dipole and put up a 20/17/15 metre 3 band link Dipole I made so I could try some higher bands.

On 20m CW I worked VK2IO and YC1RIK in Indonesia but no response to a quick CQ on 20m SSB.

Time to change bands and try 17m on CW, I heard a couple beacons quite well on 18.110 so I though conditions should be ok. After the first CQ JH1MXV and ZL1BYZ answered me straight away so the Spotting was working on the net ok. It was getting windy on the hill and I put in my ear buds so I could hear the radio better and I noticed when I called CQ on CW I could hear the tail end of my CW characters in my ear buds like an echo sound. It shows the great Receiver and Full Break In on the KX3 works well. It was a bit off putting to start but I have had this experience before and I thought if there was this sound my signal was being propagated some where out there. Listing for a while I heard a faint signal sending S2S S2S meaning Summit 2 Summit. I had checked my phone before and thought I did not see any other VK ops out on SOTA today, then NN7M put in his callsign. WoW USA S2S its only happened to me once before in 9 years of SOTA. I slowed my CW speed a little to help with the QSB on the path but we managed to make a RST swap plus Summit Reference swap quite easily in the end. NN7M was on W7W/SK-173 and the copy was so good I even heard him correct a mistake he sent in the Reference. It is so cool to make these Summit 2 Summit contacts on low power, Ryan sent a comment in his signoff Spot on the SW3 page he was running 5 watts and I had the KX3 at10w for the activation. Having the proper resonate link Dipole is also a big help rather than some compromised tuned up antenna that might work ok in some circumstances but not as efficient or consistent when making DX contacts further than one would expect.

Great View out to the East from here.

One last try on 15m CW I worked YC1RIK again with a slightly better reception than our QSO on 20m earlier but good of him to chase me on other bands.

This is a view from Tothill Range Summit looking back to Lagoon Hill this Summit gave me my first S2S with USA NJ7V 23/04/2017, its been a while.

Great view all around this area and the Farmers could sure use some rain so they can make a start on cropping for season 21/22.

View out to the North Tothill Range Summit and many others out there.

Thanks to all the chasers for 20 QSO’s in a 3 hour period of living the dream on SOTA.

Thanks to the land owners

Thanks for reading my Blog.

See you on the next one ..

3 Summits in One Day and 2 Long Hikes.

Middle of May already and Hugh and I have several summits in the log for this year. The cooler Summer and Autumn gave some opportunities to get out on Summits much sooner this year. April 17th was good for getting a 3 summit day trip done so we chose Hogshead, Coomaroo and Maurice Hill as a big day out on Summits.

Hogshead VK5/NE-051 is near Pekina and a rather steep climb up in a very short distance of about 900m from the parking spot.

Great view out to the South from Hogshead Summit

On this Summit is a great example of a Stone Cairn that are on many of the summits we visit.

Hugh worked on 2 metres this time with his home made Flower Pot antenna with good results having good coverage to several local chasers on 2m FM.

I had several contacts on 80m SSB with the local group of chasers then made contact with some interstate chasers on 40m CW to give me 9 QSO in total.

Hazy day being so dry up here but nice weather for us on the hill.

This one in the log Hugh and I headed off to the next summit via some dirt roads near Mt Robert and hitting the bitumen road near Morchard before turning off to the Coomaroo Summit. It was Hugh’s first visit to this summit so he now has a new one to his list and it’s about a 2km to hike up from the parking spot.

Once again Hugh was able to work several 2m FM contacts from here but had to resort to 40m to find a couple extra contacts to make a score of more than 4 QSO.

It was hard to find chasers on Coomaroo as it was around lunch time by the time we got there and the bands were a bit quiet but we managed to find a mixture this time of VK and ZL stations I could work on cw. Hugh had a couple chasers on 2m FM and lucky to find a couple more on 80m SSB. We did not stay long as it was another 40 km back to the next summit along some more back roads. This activity lets you find a way on roads that would never be travelled by me other wise.

Next Stop Maurice Hill VK5/NE-049

Maurice Hill is a drive up summit so a good reason to leave it until last for the day when the old legs might be a bit sore from the mornings hikes.

Operating on Maurice Hill behind this rock shelf out of the wind.

This was a bit of an unusual activation for us as Hugh found enough contacts on 2m FM but we could not get much sense out of 80m SSB with the locals this time. I did however work VK5PAS VK5MAZ mobile in VK3, VK3PF at home and VK7QP in Tasmania on 80m during the day. It seemed the further away the caller was the better the signal.

A good amount of 40m SSB and CW chasers from VK 2 3 5 6 and some ZLs as well. My contact with VK3YE appeared on one of his portable operating You Tubes I noticed the other day on 40m CW.

Back to Clare and fill in the logs after a big day out on summits with Hugh.

With a few rest days but not wanting to lose any fitness Hugh and I headed for Mount Brown VK5/NE-014.

It was a mid week activation this time and really nice weather as it can get pretty windy on Mount Brown as it is over 900 m ASL. We left the SOTA transporter at 9 am thinking it would be about 2 hours to the top but we were suffering a bit on this hike and it ended up being 2 and a half hours to make it. We had the pressure on to make our Spot time on SW3 but lucky for us there were plenty of chasers waiting.

I set up HF on the side of the walking track and Hugh climbed onto the viewing platform and set up his Flower Pot antenna again for VHF 2m FM.

Being so high above sea level Hugh had very good coverage on 2m working as far south as Moonta Bay on FM voice with the signal path being over water in Spencer Gulf for most of the time.

Hugh made a good score on 2m FM then also worked some chasers of 40m SSB to top up his score.

Platform on top of Mt Brown.
The Flower Pot Antenna

Great take off point on VHF from on the Platform we both had plenty of contacts while on Mt Brown.

The hard walk up was worth it as we were both pretty sore and tired by the time we got back to my Ute with 12.5 km in the legs and feet.

Devils Peak and Dutchman’s Stern across the Valley.

Amazing views from the platform above the trees on Mt brown.

Next Summit in view Mt Remarkable off to the South.

Next big hike is Mt Remarkable, Hugh and I and a local non ham friend Garry started from Melrose early to make the 2 hour hike to the summit which is 6.2km on the North track.

Screed Slopes site of a plane crash.
Having a rest near plane crash site at 5 km mark on the trail.
Farmers Dry Seeding on Willowie Plains.

Once we arrived at the summit and got set up the weather was really nice and warm with hardly any wind on the summit. Hugh set up his Flower Pot again and made some VHF 2m FM contacts. I set up the HF and made lots of contacts on 80m SSB with local VK5 chasers and the Special Event call sign VK100AF for 100 years of the Air Force.

Garry Chilled out on the bench while Hugh and I did the SOTA thing then we headed off back down the Mountain on the new South track as a different way down.

Link Dipole set up on a bench quite handy as a resting bench too.

All I can say about the South track is it meanders for a lot longer and is steeper and a very rough surface making it a harder way to get off the Mountain and it’s at least 1 km further if not more.

Great day for a hike and nice to get some long hikes done for this year I only have Dutchman’s Stern Summit to do some time later.

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


Ian vk5cz ..

3 More Autumn Summits

I can drive another km closer from here but just having smoko before I head off to activate the summit.

I only need to hike for 1 km once parked up and its a steady climb to the top.

Once set up and ready to activate I had a good pile up on 80m SSB with 6 QSO then onto 40m 5 QSO on CW and 3 on SSB. Swapping to 20m CW I made 6 QSO and no answer to my CQ on 20m SSB or 17m CW .

I run out of shade quite quickly under this small tree so did not stay on the summit very long as it was getting quite hot.

Thanks to the chasers on this one.

Next chance to do some Summits with Hugh came up on 5th April or Easter Monday.

With all the access permissions granted Hugh and I made an early start from his place to beat the UTC roll over again on New Mount Campbell. This proved a bit tricky as the hike was quite hard for us through the long dry grass and steep pinch to the top. Hugh had not done any hiking for quite a while so we took it easy and arrived at the top in an hour or so.

Hugh inspecting a shepherds hut from a by gone era.

Hugh gave his 2m Flower Pot 2m antenna a run this summit and made plenty of VHF qso’s to qualify the summit before making some QSO on 80m SSB.

I had a lot of chasers on 80m SSB this time working 8 chasers before going to 40m where I scored 6 QSO on CW then no answer on SSB I went to 17m and worked JA ZL and K0RS again.

After a hike back off the summit we headed north of Jamestown to Mt Nadguri VK5/NE-058 a drive up summit we can access. It was getting quite hot the temperature was 31c by lunch time so we did not drive all the way to the summit as the grass was very dry in the middle of the track and I was worried about my hot vehicle in this situation. Hugh and I decided after a short walk instead to set up under an old tree with some shade but I could not extend my pole up to 7m so the dipole was up at about 5.5 metres for my link dipole. It did not seem to make a lot of difference as far as working went the lack of 80m chasers was mostly due to being there at lunch time probably. Hugh just managed to get 4 QSO on 2m FM and I got only 2 80m QSO this time. I noticed on SW3 a couple on summits active in vk1 so I was quick to track them down on 40m SSB working VK1MIC on VK1/AC-039 then VK1AD on VK1/AC-043 for 2 S2S in the log. 40m CW in the afternoon seemed better than the morning this time and quickly rounded up 6 QSO on CW and 7 QSO on SSB on 40m then ZL VK4 VK5 VK6 on 20m CW.

Thanks to the chasers and land owners for access.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz ..