SOTA In The Drought

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

     

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

     

As you can see very rugged country.

     

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

     

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

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

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

The Bendleby Ranges my nights’ Accommodation at the Sheering Quarters

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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

     

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

     

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

Eke Hill vk5/ne-069

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

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

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

Regards cheers

Ian vk5cz..

Thanks for reading my Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mid Season Summits

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

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

     

     

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

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

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

     

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

The Two Ian’s hard at work.

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

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

     

Lots of fog on the range this morning.

     

My shack and set up in the cold and fog.

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

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

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

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

     

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

     

     

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

Thanks to all the chasers and land owners.

Thanks for reading my Blogs.

Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

Stone Cairns

Here are some photos and locations of the Stone Cairns I have seen on my travels.

Sorry there are people in the photos when we visit these summits its for a radio hobby and hiking  activity called Summits On The Air SOTA .

This is Eke Hill on the southern end of the Bendelby Ranges north east of Orroroo.

This one has collapsed but is on Pualco Range.

Waroonee Hill on Tetulpa Stations west of Yunta.

Oulnina Hill east of Yunta.

Hogshead near Pekina.

Marchant Hill Bendelby Ranges .

These are the summits I visit that have Cairns some have a concrete trig others have the 3 steel post trig and some have the trig removed and 3 blue posts replace the trip point.

Price Hill.

Maurice Hill.

Mt Cone.

 

5 Year Anniversary SOTA Trip.

Hugh and I decided the weather would be good to get the last of the Summits along the Barrier Highway this weekend which is 5 years since SOTA started in South Australia. The dry winter and spring this year made it a very dusty trip along the tracks we took and there is no green vegetation to be seen. We still saw plenty of kangaroos and sheep with a few goats thrown in, but not sure what they are eating out there.

  

The first goal is to hike to Nakara Hill vk5/ne-081, It’s only a short hike from where we park the sota transporter. It was quite windy and cool when we were on the summit but managed to find a rock ledge to set up behind on the northern edge of the summit.

   

Working the pile up Hugh on ssb and me on cw.

Not many chasers on 80 m but Nev and Ian gave us both a report then Hugh went to 40 m ssb and topped up his score with 3 other regulars from vk3 then I went to cw to get my score thanks to 6 cw chasers to help me out. We packed up and headed back down for smoko then took a new way to Pitcairn Station which ended up being a shorter trip than we thought.

Waite Hill vk5/ne-066 is a great summit to visit with a big climb up the southern end of the range but to get there is a slow 10 km track which is quite rough and stoney so we have to go slowly along until we get there.

  

On the way up we have a goat track to follow much of the way.

  

Always good to see the other side of the range on these climbs, Hugh set up by the old trig point which has blown down.

  

Not many chasers this time only Nev on 80 m the rest were waiting for the Crows to lose the footy.

Hugh made his score with vk3led vk3pf and vk5wat/3 who was pedestrian mobile walking in the water on a beach in vk3 a summit 2 sea contact for us.

I was lucky my faithful chasers on cw came on before the kick off and made me a score.

  

Great view to the south on the way down.

Thanks to the chasers and land owners.

cheers.

vk5cz ..

 

 

 

Bendleby Ranges 3 Summits

Hugh finally got free of his work so we took the opportunity to hit the summits in the Bendleby Ranges.

We stayed this time at the Bendleby property which has accommodation for bush camping or cabins, we stayed in the shearers quarters with all the facilities to sleep and feed ourselves.

First summit was west of Bendleby on Pamatta Station a large pastoral lease and Price Hill VK5/NE-056 is the summit. We met James the owner at his homestead when we arrived and discussed our intentions to hike to the summit. He was busy installing new water troughs for his sheep as it is the driest winter on record and their reliance on ground water is all they can do to keep their animals alive in these really hard times. We were able to find a way to cross a washed out creek this time and got about a kilometre closer to the summit to start our hike. Price Hill is a bald range of hills with hardly any trees at all mostly rocks and spinifex grass on the top edge with a healthy population of Kangaroos . This time we found a better ridge line to get to the top but it’s still a medium to hard hike and we work on finding a better way every time we go to a summit but often you just have to slog till you get there. I recon it was about 3 km to the top this time taking about 1 hour.

This washed out creek stopped us driving any further .

 

View looking east and the CH 1 UHF CB repeater Fridge no beer. Irony is repeater is in a Fridge and the batteries are in an Esky.

SOTA station set up Hugh and I just made enough contacts to qualify this summit as it was Friday and not many chasers.

After making our way back to the sota transporter we headed 50 km back to the Bendelby’s to climb Eke Hill VK5/NE-069 a summit in the southern range of hills. More dusty tracks with a short distance in 4×4 this time to make the parking spot and tackle the next hike. Now that Hugh and I have been to this summit a few times we have the track worked out and made the summit in about 40 minutes.

 

Very nice hike up the waterfall type creek then follow the ridge line to the top, medium hike.

 

Customary pictures at the stone cairn then on with the activation great views out east from here.

Band conditions were slightly better in the afternoon and I managed to make 5 qso’s and Hugh had the pile up with 7 qso’s on ssb .  We had a really low output on ssb on the kx3 but it seemed to work to the power setting on cw and the chasers were telling us we were very low down even though some of them were over  S 9 . After some checking of the rig I discovered that over time the mic gain had been turned off to almost zero. It is the same control as for cw and power settings but when on ssb it becomes the mic gain. So problem found and much to my relief nothing wrong with the rig just operator error. At last by the time Hugh was taking his turn on 40m ssb we had a great signal again,and the rig must have been running at 1 watt or even less before we discovered the problem, and I wonder how long it has been like that.

Back to camp for a feed and cleanup ready for bed to tackle two more summits on Saturday, there is no internet or tv here so not many distractions, I did manage an 80m mobile qso with Ian VK5IS a couple times while we were in down time.

Marchant Hill VK5NE-043 was the first summit for the day which entails a drive to the Northern end of the property this time and it is a 6 pointer and this hike usually hurts. We were told by the property owners that a walking trail had been marked now for bush walkers so Hugh and I wanted to try it and see if it was easier. I must say the trail to get to the trig point was probably the best way to get there and we walked over two high saddles before we could see the summit. They marked the trail with red ribbons on the bushes and apparently the goats like to eat the ribbon so we got off line a few times but managed to be in the general area most of the time and took the obvious lines. On the way back I recorded several way points on the Etrex 30 and will pass on the information to Jane so others using GPS can find the trail and wear it in a bit.

 

No trees here either and mostly low salt bush and rocks not as much Spinifex grass.

 

The very old style Trig Point on this summit and Hugh getting ready to operate.

The wind was really strong so we found a spot on the eastern side as best we could out of most of the raging wind.

We only set the Squid Pole at 7 metres and the 80m extensions were not very high off the bushes but we managed some contacts with the locals on 80m ssb before changing to 40m . Hugh made a small score on ssb and a S2S with VK1DA then I had a go on cw making an S2S with Andrew also but on cw. Good signals on 40m cw to vk1 2 3 but the wind was so bad and we could see the dust storm building so we made haste back to the sota transporter.

After we got back to the camp ground the dust storm in the middle of winter was raging so we decided not to attempt the other summit after lunch and I loaded up and headed for home. We had originally planned to do 5 summits but access to Depot Hill was not possible that weekend and we abandoned the plans for Peaked Hill because of the weather, but 14 points out of a possible 21 is ok and they will be there for another trip.

Thanks to all the chasers and the property owners for the use of the hills and tracks.

Thanks for reading My Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mt Arden Repeater with SOTA vk5/ne-034

Peter VK5BWH had been trying to get a team of helpers to Mt Arden for quite a while and last weekend it all came together. For myself  vk5cz Ian vk5is and Roger vk5we it was a good opportunity to do the SOTA summit while we were there. We arrived at Argadells early so the property manager said we could head up to the Mountain before the other team had arrived. It is about a 40 minute trip to the top from the homestead with a rocky steep climb for the last couple kilometres. The track was a lot more eroded this time than it was last year but we made it without any problems keeping the Colorado in second gear low range to give enough momentum for the obstacle on the track.

We had to set up on the southern side of the hill as it was very windy right on top but a very nice sunny cold day . We had a couple contacts on 80m first with vk5wg and vk5mbd to get the activation under way. Roger went first on 40m ssb to find not many chasers to start out and after another spot he started to get some callers. Ian went second on 40m ssb and just managed to get the two more contacts to qualify. I went last on 40m cw and just made two more contacts as well to get 4 the chasers we all needed.

Coats and woolly hats standard kit in this weather, Roger working his pile up, I think he made six contacts the most of all.

Ian looking for two more on 40m to qualify, it’s always hard to find contacts going second.

Working Nev and Bill on 80m ssb then hoping to find the rest on 40m cw to qualify. The band conditions on 40m were good enough to make contacts there just weren’t many chasers this time.

By the time we all qualified the SOTA summit Peter and the repeater repair team had made it to the top as well and we could get on with helping lower the antenna tower.

A rope and pulley team ready to lower the pipe tower to fix the feed line. We were a bit worried about the strong wind but in the end it all went smoothly.

A complete new feed line was installed and refitted to the tower then we were able to pull it back up and into place.

View inside the Box.

I am not sure what went wrong to put the repeater off the air in the first place but it will be better for the new run of feed line and a reset in the box.

         

Great views from Mount Arden.

Thanks Peter for organising the trip so we could slot in an activation and for fixing the repeater.

Thanks to the chasers and land owners for access to the summit.

Two Ian’s and Roger.

vk5cz vk5is vk5we.

Thanks for reading my blog

Ian CZ ..

 

 

Second Summit for the Day

After returning to the vehicles and a lunch break we headed south from Hogshead to Mt Nadjuri summit.

VK5/NE-058 . Down some dusty roads then up into the hills through a large wind farm which is growing all the time in number of towers. Love them or hate them they are a great source of income for the farmers who own the land which can be marginal grazing country at best.

Setting up in the rocks again as it was very windy on this summit Ian went first on 40m ssb working a smaller pile up this time. We did not alert the intention to visit this summit it was decided to visit here at lunch time seeing it was on our way home.

View out to the East

Great Rock ledge to shelter from the wind with the new road to more wind generators to be built heading north.

Ian made his contacts on 40 ssb this activation.

The other Ian on 40 cw and 1 qso on 40 ssb .

We did not find a great number of chasers on this activation but enough to qualify the summit.

Thanks to all the chasers on both summits adding to our tally.

Regards from the Two Ian’s

CZ ..