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 ..

A Day Of One Pointers

After Grape harvest and the first rains for Autumn it is considered safe to go to the Lochiel Repeater site to do a battery check and kick out any mice who make the hut home. The repeater was in good order with the sealed lead acid battery these days there is no need to be testing it and top it up with water. I just swept out the mouse doings and found 4 mice asleep on top of the Icom power supply keeping warm, so they got a rude shock to be shunted out the door into the cold. The door is opened by the power company every so often and the contractor does not set up the bottom seal on the door properly to stop the mice getting in.

Bumbunga Hill is SOTA summit VK5/SE-015 so Hugh and I decided to get a couple 1 pointers done while we were there.

Setting up on the western side of the summit by this log was a good place to activate and get some protection from the wind.

It’s almost normal now to start the activation on 3.6 mhz first so we can work the locals more easily then progress to higher frequencies . I only managed 5 qso’s for the activation and Hugh made about the same number on 80/40 m ssb. I did try to work my Japanese friend again S2S but we could not make the swap as signal levels were too low on 15m although I could hear him some of the time but the qsb made it fail.

Hugh working through his small pile up then pack up and off to

South Hummocks VK5/SE-017

Hugh and I had a short walk through the scrub for this one and got set up and the next activation under way.

Even at 02.00 UTC it is still possible to QSO locally on 80m, Hugh made contact with Paul VK5PAS/Mobile and the other VK states were much stronger on 40m by the second activation.

I was able to work some chasers on ssb and cw this activation with good signals into vk2 3 4 5 6 7 and a S2S with VK2NU on VK2/HU-047 in the Hunter Valley zone. VK2NU is a new activator for me to work and we had two QSO on ssb and then on cw later.

Thanks to the farmers  for access to their land .

thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards

Ian vk5cz ..

 

Battery VK5/NE-055 With Ian VK5IS

I had the good fortune of company on the first long hike for SOTA season 2017.

Ian VK5IS decided it was about time to do his first activation, we met at Laura early in the morning to make the rest of the trip in 1 vehicle. The Battery is about a 4.5 km hike with a short uphill to the top of the ridge from Stony Creek head water. After a nice egg and bacon toasty sanger and coffee we set off in good time to make the summit before UTC roll over. We were strolling along in good spirits swapping chatter and it suddenly occurred to me I did not have my Go Pro camera with me although I remembered I had taken it out of the Ute.  We were about 1.5 km into the hike and after thinking about the said cameras whereabouts I remembered putting it on the running board at the back of my Ute while I locked the canopy. So the decision for me to unload my back pack and get back to the Ute asap before maybe a passing opportunistic thief may see it and score a $500 Go Pro added to the urgency. Ian made himself comfortable in the shade and I made the round trip back to find the camera where I had left it and we were able to get on with the hike to the summit.

Once the Summit was reached and gear set up We made contact on 80 m first with some of the local chasers even enough to qualify the summit . I used the 80 m extensions clipped onto the usual SB link 40/20 m dipole and had good comms on 80 m locally .

Ian checking the path to VK5NWE on 2 m simplex before trying 40 m.

The 40 m band did not disappoint this time conditions were good to the Eastern states and Tassie and once Col VK3LED got a spot up for us Ian was in a pile up for his first activation.

In the action .

Ian’s many years of operating and his relaxed style made it a nice experience for the chasers and I am sure he enjoyed doing his first activation and I hope he does some more in the future.  The weather was warming up and the shade had gone from our spot on the ground so I made 5 quick cw qso on 40m cw and made a couple calls on 20m to no answer so we packed up and headed back to the Ute. For some reason on that summit the mobile phone won’t connect to the internet even though it seems to have plenty of signal, so we could not spot for 20 m . I just called on the usual frequency anyhow.

Cheers and thanks for reading my Blog

Ian vk5cz ..

 

Marchant Hill and Eke Hill 2016

Met Hugh at Bendleby this morning to head out to the first summit along the station tracks.Hugh had a plan to drive another track to save some walking but unfortunately one creek crossing was washed out and too deep to get across so we set out from the same place as last year. This is a hard hike with lots of smaller hills and gullies to make it hard to head straight to the summit.

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Sheering quarters holiday cabins at Bendleby Range property the owners kindly let us 4 wheel drive on their tracks for no charge. We gave my Colorado a run today, tracks are easy going nothing to hard except one creek crossing that stopped us.

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Hugh with his trusty GPS setting the pace again .

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After many smaller hills and gullies the trig point is in sight it took us nearly 2 hours to hike about 4 km so it’s pretty hard going.

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Finally though we made it to this old trip point the wind was strong but nice and cool with full cloud cover helping to keep the flies away.

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Hugh hard at work trying to find a chaser who were a bit slow to start with but we finally got some contacts on 80 and 40 to both qualify. I was able to give the KX2 a run on cw this time and I must say it is great.

On the way back to the Ute we made a different path making it shorter back to the flat lands the hiked along a fence line on the track we could not access . It proved if we could drive that track to the end the summit is about half the walk but still hard slog.

After lunch we headed to Eke Hill on the southern side of the property so we had to drive about 30 km of more tracks to get there. I only engaged 4 x 4 for a short while on a rough section near the parking spot.

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I always enjoy this part of the hike to Eke Hill up to the top of this water way is about half way.

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Looking back from where we started we are now on the shelf above the water way.

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Amazing views to the south.

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and the north

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Hugh working the pile up on 40m

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I got to work some cw and ssb today. Good conditions on 40m with lots of chasers.

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Good bye to Eke Hill until next time

Thanks to the chasers and the Luckcraft Family for the use of their tracks and hills.

Thanks to Hugh for more ground work following up permission and access .

Thanks for reading

Ian

CZ e e

Price Hill 2016 VK5/NE-056

This week in November Hugh and I finally got the chance to get back up north and finish off these out standing summits on our list. I have a cabin in the Orroroo Caravan park and the air conditioner was very nice when I got back this afternoon. Early this morning I went to The Bendleby Ranges property to meet up with Hugh as he was staying there in the sheering Quarters accomodation. Its about 50km extra for me to travel but I like this cabin here and it can be a good escape from hay fever that has been bothering me for about 6 weeks this year.

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While I was waiting for Hugh I had a chat with Ian VK5IS on 3.680 mhz using my trusty old Hustler set up with good signals on the band this morning . Hugh came along and we headed for Price Hill about 30 km further up the track and met the station manager who was busy fencing when we turned up. He was a very nice fellow and he knew about Amateur Radio from when he was a boy scout as he had taken part in several JOTA camps. After a rather long chat and showing him my KX3 he agreed it was a lot smaller than the big Valve radios he remembered from his scouting days.

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As you can see the grass is very thick long and dry, we were very careful not to park the hot vehicle in the long grass and seeing the track was completely over grown we decided to walk from here.

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Hugh was setting a great pace and we were still not sure how far it was, but Hugh’s GPS said about 3 km so we just had to head in the general direction as long as we gained height as we went. The summit is further south from the hill in the back ground of the picture so finding the best way there is always a bit tricky on a first time visit.

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Break through at last the summit range is in the back ground and Hugh is on a Goat track now so that should take us up into the higher parts of the range . Typical stony rough terrain for the Flinders with low trees and native grasses and lots of Spinafex Grass to stick in you through your jeans.

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Its a nice feeling when you finally reach the top of a range and you can see even further beyond the sight of a steep climb in front of you , This is my view towards West and Quorn is way off in the blue hills, my other favourite SOTA destination. We then had to walk about 1 more Kilometre along the top of the range to arrive at the old fallen down Trig that is now used as a Roo shelter on a windy day.

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Had the shirt undone , as it was not cold but we did have a nice breeze from the south east direction causing us to find a spot on the western side to set up as it was probably too windy right on top.

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The Solar Panel runs a UHF CB repeater on channel 1 which was quite active and very handy for the local land owners to keep in touch on their daily jobs around these large Pastoral properties.

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Hugh is the proud owner of a KX2 which we were able to give a run this activation . As we got to the summit a bit later than we thought the gang of chasers on 80m were all doing other things so we made no qso on that band.

But after much calling we finally attracted some chasers but not many, Hugh just making 4 qso’s and I made 6 after him. That is a bit too close for comfort .

I must say I like the KX2 it works just like my KX3 in lots of ways but it has a better speaker that can handle higher output or volume levels so even with quite a strong wind it was easy to hear everyone. Getting a few of the function buttons worked out and turning off a few unnecessary settings was achieved without the hand book . One thing with the Tune button being used for a second function it can take you into a menu if you push and hold instead of tapping it for a short period of time. I think the KX3 with two fold out legs makes it more stable when perched on a rock too as the KX2 only has one fold out leg and the stiff mic cord can make it easy to pull the radio off its footing if you are not careful.

On the hike back down we took a different way trying to find a track that might give more chances to drive in a bit closer but we found the track was washed out quite badly with lots of short sharp creeks running across out path and it was 4 km to walk back so our more line of site way up was shorter and no harder.

Bit of a foot note here near the end, I called this summit Price Hill which is it’s rightful name but in the SOTA summit list it is named Prince Hill which I will request an update soon.

Thanks to the chasers and thanks Hugh for organising the permissions for the properties and thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian

CZ e e