The Bluff, VK5/ NE-065

After activating the Clinton Conservation Park, Marija and I continued north along the Augusta Highway towards our destination of Whyalla.  On the way, we got a call to say that Marija’s mum would not be out of hospital that day, so it was no longer a priority to get to Whyalla early.  So, at Crystal Brook, we deviated to the east and travelled along Main North Road through the towns of Gladstone & Laura, to the eastern side of The Bluff, VK5/ NE-065.  A spur of the moment activation.

You can’t miss The Bluff if you are travelling along the Augusta Highway, near Port Pirie.  There is a huge TV & radio tower on the top.

Access to The Bluff is via Charcoal Road which runs off Main North Road, a few kms north of Laura.  Laura is a beautiful little town.  It is famous for the being the home of Golden North ice cream.  And the famous poet, C.J. Dennis was born here.  Travel west along Charcoal Road, and then turn left into Forest Road.  This will take you up passed Taralee Orchards and the Wirrabara nursery.  This is a very picturesque setting and a great drive.  The road is dirt but is in good condition.  You will eventually reach a ‘dead end’ where you will find a parking area and the start of a bitumen road which leads to the summit.

However, there is a padlocked gate, preventing vehicles from going any further at this point.  In fact the gate has multiple padlocks on it.  I think one for each of the stakeholders who use the tower at the top.

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From this point, it is about a 5 km walk to the summit.  The walk took us about 60 minutes.  We mixed it up, using the sealed road and the Heysen trail as we got up higher.  The Heysen trail walk through here is spectacular.  You will reach a point towards the top of the ridge line where there is a T junction.  It is at this point that you turn to the left and either follow the road up to the summit, or take the Heysen trail which is on the left hand side of the road.  At this T junction there are spectular views out over Port Pirie and the Spencer Gulf.

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We set up the dipole on the 7m squid pole, just off the Heysen trail, down from the summit.  The tower at the top is very big, with lots of antennas for TV and radio, so I expected there would a lot of noise generated from it.  It paid off because the noise floor where I activated was very low.

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My first QSO of the day was a Summit to Summit, with Wayne, VK3WAM, who was portable on Gurdgaragwurd / D’Alton Peak, VK3/ VW-001.  Wayne had a great signal and was very strong.  After working Wayne, he kindly allowed me 7.090 and I put out a CQ call.  Many of the regular Chasers came back including Ernie VK3DET, Tony VK3CAT, Rik VK3KAN, Brian VK5FMID, and John VK5FTCT.  All had terrific signals.

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I managed to work David, VK5KC who was portable in the Red Banks Conservation Park, near Burra.  That was a new park for me for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.  David had a very strong signal and was 5/9 on the top of The Bluff.

I also spoke with Allen, VK3HRA who was portable on Mt St Leonards, VK3/ VC-006, and Darren VK3FDJT who was portable on Mount Alexander, VK3/ VN-016.  Two more summit to summit contacts was a real pleasure.

I worked a few more of the regular Chasers including Andrew VK2UH, Ron VK3AFW/mobile, Peter VK3PF, Rhett VK3GHZ, Roy VK5NRG, and John VK5BJE.

Conditions were very good on 40m.  Marija went for a quick walk along the Heysen trail, because I think she was getting bored with being my scribe.  So I took the opportunity of jumping onto 20m for a little while.  I could hear plenty of good strong DX stations, but unfortunately did not work any on this peak.

I ended up with a total of 33 QSO’s.  The majority of those were on 40m SSB, but I did sneak in 5 QSO’s into VK1, VK2, VK4, & VK7 on 20m SSB.

The following stations were worked:- Wayne, VK3WAM/p (SOTA); Ernie VK3DET; Tony VK3CAT; David VK5KC/p (Redbanks CP); VK3OHM; Dave VK3VCE; Rik VK3KAN/p; Brian VK5FMID; John VK5FTCT; Allen VK3HRA/p (SOTA); Andrew VK2UH; Ron VK3AFW/m; Peter VK3PF; James VK1DR; Warren VK3BYD; Ian VK3TCX; Mark VK1MDC; Darren VK3FDJT/p (SOTA); Rhett VK3GHZ; Jim VK5TR; Roy VK5NRG; Barry VK5KBJ; Shaun VK5FAKV; John VK5FMJC/p; Bernard VK3AMB; Colin VK2JCC/qrp; John VK5BJE; David VK5UG; Mark VK1MDC; Peter VK4AAV; Neil VK4HNS/p; Ed VK2JI; and Peter VK7KPC.

Below is a video of the activation, which I have placed on You Tube.

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