Hogshead Hill, VK5/ NE-051

My second activation for Friday 3rd October, 2014, was Hogshead Hill, VK5/ NE-051, which is located about 7 km south east of the little town of Pekina in the mid north of South Australia (about 272 km north of Adelaide).  It was just a short 60 minute drive north from my first activation at Mount Ngadjuri up to the town of Orroroo and then to Pekina.

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Hogshead Hill is about 770 metres above sea level and is worth 4 SOTA points.  I had previously activated the summit in August 2013 with Ian, VK5CZ.  However, this was a new calendar year, and another 4 SOTA activator points were there for the taking.  The summit is located on private property, so prior to access, please make contact with the owner (details can be found on the SOTA site under the Hogshead Hill listing).

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Please refer to my previous post for some interesting facts on the summit and the nearby town of Pekina.


I accessed the summit via Hogshead Road.  I had spoken to the land owner prior to access, and it appears that last time, Ian and I accessed the summit via his neighbour’s land.  Fortunately there was no problem with us doing this, but this time I made sure I had very good directions regarding access.  This time I parked my car on Hogshead Road, opposite a farmhouse on the eastern side of Hogshead Road.  Directly opposite the farmhouse is a ‘cocky’s gate’.  This is where I entered, following the scrub lined creek, up to a 2nd gate and fence line.  As it turns out, there is a track leading through this paddock following the creek line which could be negated with care by a 2wd vehicle.  However, I decided to leave my Falcon parked on Hogshead Road.  At a recent service of my car, the mechanic had asked if I had gone off road, as there was a large build up of dirt under the car, along with some damage to the undercarriage.

The walk to the top of the summit takes between 45 minutes – 60 minutes.  There is no formal track, and there is quite a bit of fence climbing and rock clambering to be done to reach the summit.  It is a bit of a strenuous walk, particularly if the weather is warm, as it was on this day.

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The creek line and summit were alive with kangaroos and euros.  Many trying to shelter under the trees out of the sun.  There were also quite a few sleepy lizards around in the long grass.  This made me wonder, whether there were some snakes out and about as well.  I am sure there were, but fortunately I didn’t encounter any.

Again for this activation I used the Yaesu FT-817nd and ran 5 watts.  My antenna was the 20m/40m linked dipole, supported on the 7 metre squid pole.  The temperature was creeping up into the mid 30’s, so I choose a shady spot under a tree to place the radio.  I used a fallen tree to secure the squid pole with a few octopus straps.  The top of this summit is a flat plateau, so there are plenty of options for establishing your station and erecting an antenna.

Just after setting up, my i-phone bleated at me, and I saw that Justin VK2CU was on the top of a summit in New South Wales.  So I quickly tuned to 7.090 and there was Justin with a weak, but very audible signal.  Justin was on the top of Mount Kaputar VK2/ NW-001, in north eastern New South Wales.  The summit is also located within the Mount Kaputar National Park which qualifies for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  We exchanged signal reports (5/1 sent and 3/1 received), and I then moved up to 7.095 where I put out a CQ call, only to be greeted by the ever keen, Nev, VK5WG, with a very strong 5/9 plus signal.

It was a week day, and it was the middle of the day, so a lack of SOTA chasers and band conditions were conspiring against me.  As we all know, the 40m band tends to ‘go to sleep’ during the middle of the day.  But I pressed on and made a total of 10 contacts on 40m SSB into VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK5, before lowering the squid pole and removing the links in the dipole, for 20m.

I then tuned to 14.310 and my first caller on 20m was Matt VK1MA who had a very good 5/9 signal (5/8 received).  Mike VKMB then called me, but despite our best efforts, I was just not able to get a signal report through to Mike who was very weak (5/1), but very audible on the summit due to the very low noise floor.  If only it was like that in everyone’s homes.  I had similar problems with Ron VK3AFW who called and called and called, but sadly I just could not exchange a signal report with him for a valid contact.  Conditions however, to New South Wales, the ACT, and Tasmania appeared quite good.

I operated on the summit for about 50 minutes, before deciding to pack up and head down, and off to the next summit.  I had a total of 19 stations in the log on 40m SSB and 20m SSB.

The following stations were worked:-

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Mount Ngadjuri, VK5/ NE-058

On Thursday night I stayed at the Commercial Hotel at Jamestown.  The room was small and basic, but very clean and all I needed for my 2 nights stay in the town, so I could activate some of the nearby peaks for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  Sadly, other than Mount Lofty and Mount Gawler and VK5/ SE-016, the nearest summits to me are located a minimum of 100 km away.  That is despite the fact that I live in the Mount Lofty Ranges.  Yes, I know, I live in the ‘mountains’ but only 2 nearby summits qualify for SOTA.  Go figure!  One of those quirky rules of SOTA….150 metres of prominence.  So after breakfast, I packed up my gear and headed north out of Jamestown to Mount Ngadjuri, VK5/ NE-058.  This was my second time to Mount Ngadjuri. I had previously activated the summit in July, 2013, and as this was a new calendar year, another 4 SOTA points were up for grabs.

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Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

Mount Ngadjuri is 755 metres above sea level, and as mentioned is worth 4 SOTA points.  The summit is incorrectly spelt on the SOTA site as ‘Nadjuri’.  It is correctly spelt as ‘Ngadjuri’ after the local Ngadjuri aboriginal tribe.  I found the article below, which appeared in The News, on 12th August 1937.  Interesting how terms that are totally taboo now, were obviously commonplace way back then.

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Courtesy of trove.nla.gov.au

Today, the area around Mount Ngadjuri is used for agricultural purposes.  However, prior to Europeans settling in the area, the Ngadjuri aboriginal people inhabited the area and led nomadic lives living off the land.  I would imagine that Mount Ngadjuri itself would have been an important point in the landscape for the Ngadjuri tribe.  Sadly, their numbers were decimated by introduced European diseases, including smallpox. By the 1870s few of the Ngadjuri remained on their traditional lands and most of those left had become dependent upon the white population through land dispossession.  Although there were some late attempts to arrest their decline, by the end of the nineteenth century the language group, as it had been, had ceased to exist.

As per my last activation, I accessed the summit by travelling west along Slant Road, which runs off the western side of RM Williams Way.  Slant Road is about 13 km north of Jamestown.  You need to travel up Slant Road to the hills and through the gorge.  You will reach a point at the top of the hills, where you will see a gate on your right with a rapid number of ‘730 403’ on it.  This is where you need to enter.  However, remember that the summit is on private property.  So prior to entry, please obtain permission from the landowner.  Details can be found on the SOTA site under the notes for Mount Ngadjuri.

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map courtesy of googlemaps.com

I parked my car at the second gate which is a short drive through the paddock, and walked the remainder of the way to the actual summit, which is a distance of about 1.5-2 km.  The walk is quite easy and certainly not at all taxing.  This particular morning was much more pleasant than my last activation.  In July 2013, it was a cool foggy morning.  But this morning was beautiful and clear.  Even though the sun was out, I still saw quite a few kangaroos in the paddocks amongst the sheep.

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There is no trig point at the summit.  However there is a rock cairn.  There is also no shelter on the summit, and it does tend to get quite windy there.  So I tried to nestle as close as I could to the rock cairn, to get out of the blustery westerly winds.

For this activation I used my Yaesu FT-817nd and ran just 5 watts.  I powered the radio with a 12 volt 4 ah sealed lead acid battery.  My antenna was the BandHopper 20m/40m linked dipole, which I supported on a 7 metre squid pole.

I started off on 40m SSB, with my first contact being with Nev VK5WG at nearby Crystal Brook (about 68 km to the south west by road).  As expected, Nev had a very strong 5/9 plus signal.  This was followed by John VK5FMJC, also in Crystal Brook, and then Ian VK5IS running QRP 5 watts from nearby Beetaloo Valley.  Robin VK5TN was my saving grace, as my fourth and qualifying contact for the summit.  Robin was mobile near Ouyen in Victoria and had a very good 5/8 signal.  My next contact was with Mike VK6MB in Western Australia.  It is often a challenge to work Mike on 40m, but this morning, conditions were good, and Mike was a good strong 5/8 and reciprocated with a 5/4 signal received.

As it was a weekday, it was a bit slow going on 40m.  Certainly not the hectic operating conditions with the normal mob of SOTA chasers that you experience on a weekend activation.  So after working a total of 17 stations on 40m SSB, I ventured up to 20m and put out a CQ call on 14.310 which was answered by Ian VK5IS.  This was followed by another contact with Mike VK6MB, who surprisingly was weaker on 20m than he was on 40m.  I worked a further 3 stations on 20m in VK1, VK2, & VK7.

After 40 minutes on the summit, it was time to pack up and head off to the next summit.  I had a total of 22 stations in the log on 40m and 20m SSB.  Sadly, I didn’t manage any summit to summit contacts during this activation.

The following stations were worked:-

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National Library of Australia, 2014, viewed 8th October, 2014, <http://trove.nla.gov.au&gt;

Wikipedia, 2014, viewed 8th Oct 2014, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngadjuri&gt;