Trip to Leura Garden Festival.

Thanks to Joy, Eric and Darren from Greenock Creek Charter, Halima and I sent the Hounds to my sister’s for a few days and hit the road early on the 8th of October heading for Leura in the Blue Mountains New South Wales for the Open Garden Festival.

Long old road trip across the drought stricken lands from South Australia was pretty sad to see the old place in such a state of drought.

We made Leura by Wednesday afternoon quite late and a totally different scene of very busy roads climbing up into The Blue Mountains area, Darren had a good GPS system to find a way.

 

We were staying in a very nice Hotel in Leura very close to most of the open gardens we intend to visit over the next few days.

   

   

 

 

First day here started with a local historian as our tour guide showing the properties and houses of the rich politician’s and business folk who set up their summer or holiday houses in Leura from the early 1920s. After the Guided tour and a lunch break at Everglades Historic House we went to the Blue Mountain Botanical Gardens to wander among nicely landscaped gardens there.

     

     

Some amazing Stone walls and buildings here and of course gardens too.

     

     

Day two at Leura was a bus trip to Scenic World and everyone enjoyed a ride on the steepest rail system in the world descending to Jamison Valley into the cool climate forest below the sandstone cliffs, a great experience as some of the journey goes under ground then rejoins the daylight to a fantastic view out into the Valley below.

    

View inside the Rail Car descending sometimes underground.

    

Views from the cliff top hike after crossing this valley in the Skyway cable car, Halima and I walked for about 2 km along the cliff edge and down into the forest below.

    

View of the valley below from the Skyway and another crossing for others in the Skyway cable car.

Saturday finally arrived as the first day of the Leura Open Gardens, Halima and I were ready to go to work on the 10 gardens open on the list. It was cold with a few showers of rain on the day but we had some wet weather gear plus a simple plastic poncho that did a good job keeping us dry.

   

Really spectacular gardens in such a great cool climate environment, nice garden walls and borders everywhere.

Flowing water in the middle of a drought I suspect it was pumped around the garden but the rain added to the amount of water. Nicely made stone walls and steps joining the terraced paths in these gardens.

Looking out from the out doors area of this house into Jamison Valley below, and another terraced path leading to a grotto type water feature flowing from above.

This was our last garden for Saturday we managed to get around to 9 gardens and hiked about 7 km in the process. We missed a visit to two gardens as we run out of time but managed to visit one the next afternoon after the bus trip to visit a museum on Sunday morning.

Monday morning early we left Leura to start the road trip for home, via Oberon where we visited Mayfield Gardens a magnificent 70 hectar garden established on what was part of a cattle property some years ago and is being added to all the time.

Mayfield Gardens are in a rural setting so on arrival for the first time and not knowing what to expect you only see the Reception area and Restaurant area first. You take a short walk through an avenue of existing trees to arrive at the unassuming path leading into the first section of a spectacular garden.

Water features Lakes and Bridges link the gardens together, there is a spectacular Grotto water fall as well.

Along a path leading back to the Reception area is another water feature and water fall, you can use the stepping stones to cross the stream.

A truly special place is Mayfield Gardens it would be good to visit again with more time to see more of what is already there and being developed for the future.

Our over night destination was Cowra then a visit to The Cowra Japanese Garden the next Morning before a 5 hour drive to Hay our last overnight stay for the trip.

Central Lake and large bell if you want to wake Old Buddha before you start your walk.

Views from the higher advantage points in the Garden.

Some of the very tame lizards and a snake who cruised by while I was taking a rest on a bench. He did not seem afraid of people who were watching him and taking photos as he went about his day.

Weethalle Silos painted with a theme of the area somewhere between West Wyalong and Hay I suspect not much grain will be stored here this season.

After another over night stay at Hay we headed for The Barossa Valley then on home to Clare in our own vehicle. A great holiday for our first time Bus trip met some really nice people on the bus and along the way.

One very important thing I will say is to commend Joy from Greenock Creek Bus Tours for coordinating a very successful trip. Accommodation, Meals, Garden tours not only at Leura but along our journey there and back. Darren for all the driving and making sure our drop off and pick up points were as close as possible to the venue we were visiting at the time and loading and unloading our luggage as we went from place to place. The accommodation staff and food venues we frequented were all very helpful and professional at the hospitality trade. Also the 24 other participants on the tour were all very nice friendly folk making it a great experience I say thanks you one and all.

I take no responsibility for not knowing the names of any of the plants or trees featured in these gardens.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Summits for 2019

Hugh and I tried to get to Wilpena Pound and tackle some of the higher scoring summits on the Rim but due to a couple health issues it never happened.

The next best option was cram 6 summits into 3 days before it gets too hot to be doing SOTA in the northern areas. Making Bendleby Ranges our proven accommodation somewhere closer to the summits we headed off early on Friday morning in our own vehicles and met up for a quick coffee at the Jamestown Bakery. This trip the sheering quarters was all booked out but we liked the cabin that was available with better amenities in the one house.

Hugh and I continued on to Bendleby property making the park spot by about 8.30 am where I left the Colorado and jumped in the Mitsi to go out to the first summit Eke Hill. It’s a straight forward trip out to this summit with 1.5 km hike to the top up along a nice creek line then once on the rock ledge you just puff to the top.

   

Great Views from up here just needs rain and it would be better.

    

Hugh on the air on 80 and 40 metres, I made some cw qso’s after Hugh.

   

Off Eke Hill and back to Bendleby Ranges camp ground and after booking in and have some lunch we headed out to the northern property to activate on Marchant Hill.

   

It was extremely windy on Marchant Hill we needed a guy rope on the squid pole as it fell down once as we were trying to get the antenna up. We only made a few contacts on this summit but enough to qualify before hiking back to the Mitsi parked at dinner time springs.  The morning hike was 3 km and the afternoon hike was 7 km a warm up for the next two days.

Up early on Saturday morning Hugh and I headed off to Hill vk5/ne-031 out on Worumba Station 75 km from Bendleby on station tracks and quite good roads through Pamata Station.

We park on Hollowelina South Station property and hike up from the creek to the summit which makes it easier to access from the east.

   

These shots are looking back Northeast and Southeast from about halfway up the first range we cross over on way to Hill 031.

   

Views From top of Hill 031 looks pretty flogged out from the drought.

   

Hugh and I went tag team on 80m ssb to work our local chasers and this time, they did not disappoint we had 4 waiting for us this time. Then after we made some 40m qso as well to give our farther away chasers some points. This summit I was able to qso with Ian vk5is/3 on 40m cw, you may see the size of the big rock we hook the squidy on it’s the only support on the hill and we need lots of bungy cords to hook it all in place. Being Grand Final day we got off the hill and headed for Pamata Station and had a lunch stop under a tree once we arrived. It’s always a worry on this day if we are going to make enough qso to qualify but the chasers came through.

   

The first photo is looking back to the creek where the Mitsi is parked and Hugh discussing the best line from here on. I found this waterway the best way to get to Price Hill. its about 3.5 km to hike with a lot of gain near the top, but its a big hill so we have to expect some hard work to get there.

   

This was our shack on Price Hill behind this rocky outcrop to keep out of the wind and the temperature was probably 30c out in the sun. We both had to work hard to make a score, we got 3 locals on 80m quite quickly then Hugh spent another 20 minutes on 40m ssb to round up a couple more as it was right on kick off as we finished with the 80m group. Eventually after another spot on SW3 we started to get some chasers. I made a nice score of CW chasers at the end of the activation and we headed back to the Mitsi via another waterway to test another line from the hill. Back to the Ute another 7km round hike then 40 odd km back to Bendleby Ranges camp for the night and get those logs in csv form at least.

Sunday Morning a bit sore footed we had a drive up summit as the first one today Maurice Hill, I had already been to today’s summits this year but it was Hugh’s first visit. I forgot to take some photos on this summit but we had a good roll up of chasers on 80m ssb this early in the morning. VK5BJF was there trying out his new FT 818 he intends to use on some of his bicycle trips around at some time. We had to move on early as we were heading home and we rolled down off Maurice hill and went across the valley to Hogshead Summit a few kilometres away.

   

Hugh’s first visit to Hogshead, things look bit greener here inside Goyder’s Line.

   

Views to the the North and South.

  

Me standing by a very tall Cairn and Hugh enjoying some shade with green grass luxury.

Being a bit later in the morning not as many chasers on 80m this time but Hugh got some extra qso on 40m ssb then I made 7 qso on 40m cw to top off a great 6 summit trip.

We had a few rig problems this trip with a blown fuse to start off and filter problems turned on in the kx2. We had to swap out the kx2 on Marchant hill because the Noise reduction and Passband filters were closed down to about 30 hz and made it impossible to receive ssb signals.  We think these filters were inadvertently turned on when the antenna tune button was pushed. Quite difficult to trouble shoot out in the elements with out the hand book and not easy to see the screen in the dust and bright sunlight. On Hogshead I discovered on cw that the rf power of the kx2 was set at 4 watts which may have been like that for a couple of the activation’s as well. These things are sent to test our skills.

Thanks to all the chasers and land owners for access to the summits and Bendleby Ranges for a great place to stay.

Regards Ian vk5cz Hugh vk5nhg ..

 

 

 

 

SOTA Peaks and VKFF Parks

Now the Mountain Goat Award is on my shack wall and the Trophy is proudly on display on the shelf in my shack I can relax a bit on all the travel to Summits and activate some parks in the World Wide Flora and Fauna award VKFF and SOTA as well.

Now some of Woods and Forests have been sold off by the previous Government and the Pine forests are farmed out some of the hardwood sections have become conservation parks. Two such new parks are in the Wirrabara Forest area so I thought it appropriate to be the first to activate these parks as one of the new parks Spaniards Gully CP is the neighboring property to Emu Springs which was my family’s property for many years.

   

Operating from Spaniards Gully and Wirrabara Forest Range parks on the same trip, making 44 qso’s for each park is the biggest challenge for VKFF but I managed to make the score in both parks.

Table and chairs and a bigger heavy battery can all be taken in the vehicle as long as it is set up inside the park boundary. Using my new FT 891 at 30 watts is quite adequate power with my 8m squid pole to hold up the link dipole.

Some time later Ian VK5IS and I had a chance mid week to head to Quorn and do two summits to get back to SOTA activating after the Mountain Goat Summit a few weeks before.

   

VK5CZ on Richmond Hill and my view to Mt Brown.

   

VK5IS on the climb to Devils Peak and the view out north from the summit.

We both made a conservative score on these summits it had been a while since we were out and about plus being a work day some of our regular chasers were not around or doing other things.

Back to parks again I found a couple more parks that had not been activated up northeast from Orroroo, this time the wife and dogs came for a trip to get these parks in the log.

   

Set up at Yalpara CP in the shade and Halima is organising the hounds to go walking on the roadway along the boundary fence. Really nice wx that day and being a new park in 1 hr 40 min I had my 44 qso’s so it was quite a busy air time for me. Pack up and head to Black Rock CP about 30 km away.

   

Sorry about all these park signs and me sitting at a table out in the middle of nowhere but that’s what it is, Black Rock Peak off in the distance.

   

Red Banks CP was the next park east of Burra.

   

More cw and ssb at coffee time in Caroona Creek CP.

I like the rule in vkff where working a station on a different mode or band can be a score instead of just one qso per activation. It is good to be able to work Hunters on cw and ssb to help with the qso tally, then score them again on a different band makes 44 qso’s more achievable. So far the quickest time to qualify a park is 1 hr 20 minutes.

Hugh made a plan to go to Wilpena Pound and get some of the summits up there, he planned 2×10 pointers and an 8 pointer on the Wilpena Rim and another 2 point summit near Hawker over 3 days.

I decided maybe I should do some hiking as training for this trip and did lots of gym work and some hikes around home with the hounds. The weekend before Wilpena I went to Dutchman’s Stern summit a return of 13 km which was perfect training for this event coming up.

   

Some views off the walking track heading back down from the summit. I had only 9 qso’s this time with a couple new cw ops on 40m cw I had not worked before on SOTA and only 3 on 80m ssb, no answer to my cq on 40m ssb but a great hike all the same one of my favourite summits to visit.

The Training was good gym work done, all fit ready for Wilpena and a couple days before we went the old heart problem turned up again and miss fired a few times again. This time the new pace maker did it’s job but it left me wondering if I should do such strenuous climbs later that same weekend. I am usually very tired after such events and just need to sleep a bit more so I think not going was the right thing to do.

Not wanting to lose any SOTA opportunities Hugh and I decided to do some of our drive up summits with shorter hikes instead. Black Rock Peak in the morning then Mt Nadguri on the way home.

   

View of Depot Hill to the South and view to the Northwest on the way up to the summit.

   

Hugh’s new 3 band link dipole and 6m collapsible pole. Hugh working 80m ssb.

   

Me working some 40m cw not many chasers today. Trig point photos.

   

That is the hard way to the top.                        This is the easy way down just be careful.

We had plenty of spare time so once off the summit we went to Orroroo for lunch and tried to catch up with a owner of another summit but was unsuccessful so headed for Mount Nadguri along a back road tour to kill some time.

   

Mt Nadguri is a wind farm summit and this turbine right here makes lots of noise on the kx2 it was quite hard to hear the few chasers on 40m. My Sqid pole fell over once from the wind and we had to set up two antennas as Hugh’s seemed to be a failure on its second outing. Turns out the bnc antenna plug was loose at the chassis nut inside the radio. Hugh made three 40 m ssb qso and I made two 40 m cw qso, Nev vk5wg and Ian vk5is were chatting on 2m fm and we were able to work them to top up the scores with my hand held on 2m simplex otherwise it may have been a fail.

Back home for the Saturday and Hugh had a chance to work out his antenna or rig problems we went separate ways on the Sunday. Hugh went to Lagoon Hill and I went north again to do two more drive up summits Mt Jay South them Maurice Hill in the afternoon.

   

Slowly making my way to Mt Jay South with 5 gates to deal with I was pleasantly surprised at how green it was in the hills. Still needs a good rain but greener than last year for sure.

   

My shack for this summit, lots of call signs worked on 80m ssb this time and an S2S with vk5flea on 80m cw from vk5/se-005. Only 3 qso on 40m ssb and a few more on 40m cw with a S2S with zl3x on zl3/cb-574 so conditions were quite good.

   

Great views all around from up here and good to see Spencer Gulf for a change. Colorado runs well in this terrain, the track is quite stony and steep in a few places needing steady slow gears to keep things in order. It takes about 40 minutes to get off this summit with all the gates and rough track but a great place to visit for SOTA.

   

Maurice Hill summit. Steady 4×4 climb up quite stony and very dry of course I think it has forgotten how to rain in these parts. The wind was very strong and lots of loose dust and dirt flying in the wind getting my gear dirty, so I got on with it as quick as I could get set up.

   

Shack behind this rock shelf was ok but my squidy was only up at 6m as it was bending in the wind and it fell down soon after i put it up. More rocks and reset my bunji straps helped hold it firm for the activation. Nev and Ian were the only chasers on 80m this time as I was able to lias via 2m to let them know I was ready to go. Most qso was on 40m cw this time and again made it to zl and I heard a 9a calling me but he did not respond to my answer. Worked Rob vk4aac/2 a famous parks operator and a very nice surprise call from Amanda vk3fqso whom I have not heard for a long time. Keith vk3mke was my final caller who also hunts park operators and was my first qso with him from a summit.

Glad to be able to catch up these summits while missing out on the Wilpena trip but that’s how it goes and I hope to keep going as long as possible at this great activity.

Thanks to the land owners and all the chasers/hunters out there.

Thanks for reading my blog

Regards Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOTA Mountain Goat and Beyond

After six and half years roughly I have accumulated 1000 activating points in the SOTA program to make Mountain Goat the top Award in the program. Starting out in October 2012 I was very keen and excited to take part in this great activity. First things to get right in SOTA is access permission from the owner of the Hill or Mountain which is the designated summit, some are in Parks or Forest department lands but most are on private property. As I went around working out these issues I had a couple unfortunate experiences of not asking the right person for access and was challenged by a land owner who ended up happy with me being on his property once I explained the mistake. Only 4 land owners of the 50 summits I have visited have decided maybe its not a good idea to grant access again for SOTA, the rest of the farmers I deal with are very good and always grant permission, but I phone them every time before heading out. Another issue is land ownership can change and I have to ask the new owners for access permission all over again, two such properties have differing circumstances and access in no longer available to me or anyone else. To make Mountain Goat in South Australia access to low scoring summits is normal because the summits are not really that high in altitude in the general areas within 200 km from my home. Expect to do lots of travelling and lots of hiking as there are not many summits with access roads to the top. As a rough idea in year 2018 I drove to 43 summits with a total of 7,800 km of travel and total hike distance of 160 km with only 10 summits I could drive to the activation zone. Several over nights accommodation was required either at Quorn, Orroroo or Bendelby Ranges to save even more travel time and distances. My final activation points average was 3.8 points per activation making a total of 263 summits visited and roughly 43 summits per year depending on my time available,access and the seasonal conditions.

The Mountain Goat activation finally became reality on 24/05/2019, I thought it appropriate to make Mt Horrocks the summit to achieve the award. Coincidentally I only needed 2 more points to qualify so it was great to be able to visit Mt Horrocks for the special occasion.  Starting out at 23.09 for my first contact with Dale VK5LD and John VK5MJC who called me here on the first ever SOTA activation in VK5 back in October 2012, it was nice to work them again.  Another couple faithful chasers were Adrian VK5FANA then Nev VK5WG who was contact number 4 to qualify the activation for me, Nev is the highest scoring VK5 Chaser and rarely misses calling me on a SOTA activation. The small group of local chasers who always make the effort to work me especially now 80m is the more local band to use really help me qualify most summits before I need to change to 40m ssb or cw. They are VK5WG VK5WE VK5IS VK5MJC VK5WY VK5LD VK5FANA and on this occasion Hugh VK5NHG went to Tothill Range Summit for an S2S qso as well. Hugh has helped a lot with finding property owners to gain access to summits for us both and we often activate together on trips away.

   

Even though the wx was windy and very cold, it was nice to get the rain.

Thanks to all the chasers on 40m ssb and cw before and after UTC roll over making my day a great success on this special occasion.

Next SOTA post MG was the trip with Hugh to Yunta, we did hope to do 7 summits but could only get permission for access to 5 summits. The Yunta Pub is open for accommodation again so that became head quarters for this trip. On the way to Yunta we were able to activate Nackara Hill before heading out to Tetalpa Station to get the other two summits for the day. Hugh and I again relying on the morning 80m group to give us enough qso’s to qualify put us under pressure to make the Alert time when they would be able to chase us.

View south from the summit and very cold in the early morning we made 6 qso’s each set up behind a rock shelf out of the wind then hiked back to the vehicle for a quick breakfast before heading to the next summit.

   

Hike views to Waroonee Hill the second summit for this day, this area needs lots of rain.

   

A very nicely built stone cairn on this summit with an Eagle cruising near by, and Hugh working the small pile up as it was very close to lunch time. We both made contacts on 80m ssb and I worked VK3PF and VK3BYD on 40m cw.

Off Waroonee Hill and more dry bull dusty tracks to Karkala Ridge summit for the late afternoon activation.

   

This cairn has collapsed to about half size. A quick photo of Me operating on 80m ssb.

We did not stay long on the last summit for the day as we still had about 40 km of tracks to drive to get back to the Yunta Pub and take up our booked accommodation, plus it was quite late in the afternoon by the time we got off the third summit for the day.

 

Day 2 leaving Yunta was quite cold again and overcast as we headed out Southeast from the town in a reverse direction to our usual trip to Pualco Range the first summit for today. Another long dusty station track drive with several gate to open and close before we reached the Pualco Range area to start the climb.

    

Great hike this one but very hard to get warmed up as you go straight into the steep part from leaving the vehicle.

   

Hugh leading the way on the climb and this stone cairn has collapsed.

   

Hugh and I both had a nice pile up on 80m ssb and Hugh worked some chasers on 40m ssb then I made some qso’s on 40m cw as well with 2 S2S qso’s  VK1MCW and VK1AD/2 conditions seemed quite good. Once again we got a small amount of rain on Pualco Range which happened last time we were there. Down off the summit as best we could and heading for Pitcairn Station for the last summit for the day. We had about 40km of tracks again to drive a new way for us to traverse, the roads we in very good order this time and several gates to negotiate. Final lunch break at the halfway point on the track then a really rough last 10km to make the park spot before probably the toughest hike for the trip. We made the summit quite late in the afternoon with maybe one hour of daylight left we got set up and worked some chasers. Nev VK5WG was the only chaser on 80m this time so I spotted on 40m ssb for Hugh finding quite a pile up of chasers waiting for him. Once Hugh run out of chasers I made 8 qso on 40m cw plus Nev on 80m ssb,so great activation pity we had to pack up quickly and get down while it was still light.

   

Twilight views out to the west from Waite Hill heading down.

   

Almost dark on eastern side on the way down, then a slow rattle on the rough old track for about 10 km in the dark before making better made roads.

Really nice to get these summits in the log once again and we did 5 solid hikes to get them, not big distances but every summit is straight into the steep parts from leaving the vehicle. Does wonders for the heart rate.

Thanks to the land owners and chasers, thanks to Hugh for the SOTA transporter this time.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 ..

 

 

 

 

 

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 ..