On Saturday 18th May, 2013, I travelled up to the mid north of South Australia. My plans were to activate 3 summits over the weekend, so after getting a ‘leave pass’ from my wife, I booked in to the Burra Hotel. I headed off after my daughter’s netball match, journeying through the Adelaide Hills where I live, and into the mid north.
On Saturday afternoon, 18th May, 2013, I activated the first summit, the Tothill Range summit, VK5/ SE-010, about 150 kms north of Adelaide. Tothill Range summit is 670 metres above sea level and is worth 4 points.
The summit is located on private property owned by Mr. Peter FATCHEN of Black Springs. I stopped by the farm house to see him prior to climbing the hill. He is a very friendly fella and was very interested in my activities. Peter is in his late 70’s and is still farming the land, along with his son. Peter gave me directions on how to get to to the summit, so I headed up Black Spring Road, and then left onto the Old Burra Road. After travelling a few kms north up the road I entered back onto Peter’s property on the right hand side (the eastern side of the Old Burra Road) and drove across the paddocks. After driving for about 1 km I reached an old bush cottage. The Heysen Trail commences at this point. I kept driving down the Heysen trail to the sheep yards and the creek line, where the car would not go any further. It is about 1 km walk from here to the base of the hill.
Once you reach the base of the hill, the view up to the top is a little daunting. It is straight up obviously, with no track. The side of the hill is covered in rocks and yacka, and the climb is quite steep. The climb took about 45 minutes, with 3 quick rests on the way up. I had quite a few interested onlookers in the way of kangaroos on the journey up.
Once I reached the top, I walked further north along the ridgeline to reach the summit. What really stood out was that I found that the drop away to the east was far more dramatic than on the western side. The view from the top looking out to the east was absolutely spectacular. I even had my own resident Wedge tailed eagle soaring above the cliff face.
The weather that day was quite mild, but the sun had some real bite behind it, so I found a bit of shade behind a small bush, and I set up the Yaesu FT-817nd on a moss rock. There is no shortage of rocks on the summit, so I propped up the 7m squid pole with some moss rocks. The antenna was my BandHopper 20m/40m linked dipole.
The first station I heard after turning the radio on was Matt, VK1MA/p, who was on the top of VK1/AC-039. I gave Matt a shout who was a good 5/7 (with some QSB) and Matt came back to me with a 5/2 signal report. Really thrilled to have another summit to summit contact. I haven’t really had that many.
I then headed up to 7.095 and called CQ and ended up with quite a pile up which was really good fun. Plenty of the usual suspects including Ed VK2JI, Ernie VK3DET, Peter VK3PF, Glen VK3YY, Marshall VK3MRG, Rik VK3KAN, Andrew VK2UH, Allen VK3HRA, Ian VK1DI, Bernard VK3FABA, A VK1RX, Andrew VK1NAM.
The sunny weather didn’t last too long, with te sun going behind the clouds, and the wind picking up, and it was pretty cold. Probably not as cold as what the fellas in the eastern states were telling me. There was obviously a pretty severe cold snap over there.
My last 40m QSO was with Ian VK5CZ. We decided to try 20m and although my signal was not as strong, we still managed to get through. Ian was good enough to put me on SOTAWatch, so I managed quite a few more QSO’s on 20m from some of the dedicated chasers
I had a total of 55 QSO’s whilst on the top of the hill, over a period of about 2 & 1/2 hours. They consisted of 40 stations on 40m SSB and 15 stations on 20m SSB.
I managed a bit of DX on 20m as well into the USA, Italy, France, Belgium, the Canary Islands, and New Zealand. One of the highlights was making contact with a really good mate of mine, Marnix, OP7M, in Belgium.
It was also good to work Peter VK3NAD, and Jim VK5JW, on 40m, who were both operating QRP with just 5 watts.
Stations worked on 40 m were:- Matt VK1MA/p (SOTA VK1/AC-039); Ed VK2JI; Steve VK3MEG; Col VK5HCF; Ernie VK3DET; David VK5KC; Peter VK3PF; Glenn VK3YY; Marshall VK3MRG; Rik VK3KAN/p; Kas VK5ZKT; VK3YN; Peter VK3FPSR; Andrew VK2UH; Allen VK3HRA; Peter VK3ZPF; Ian VK1DI; Bernard VK3FABA; Brian VK3MCD; Dave VK3AZX; Al VK1RX; Andrew VK1NAM; Nick VK3ANL; Ian VK3IFM; Rod VK2ZRD; Peter VK3NAD/qrp; John VK2YW; Colin VK5FCJM; Peter VK1IRC; Adam VK2YK; Roy VK5NRG; Peter VK2NEO; Ron VK3JP; Victor VK2KVH; Graham VK5AN/p; Graham VK7ZGK; Jim VK5JW/qrp; Graham VK2HAL; Graham VK5KGP; Ian VK5CZ.
Stations worked on 20m were Ian VK5CZ; Adam VK2YK; Ian VK1DI; Frank VK1VK; Lewis VK4LEW; Chuck AE4FZ; Max IK1GPG; James VK1DR; Andrew VK1NAM; Franc F5PAU; Theo OT4A; Marnix OP7M, Manuel EA8JK; Roy VK7ROY; and Jason ZL3JAS.
The sunset on the way down was absolutely spectacular. But the beer at the Burra pub was even better. A really fun day on the hill.
I have posted a video on You Tube of the afternoon. It can be found at…..