Mount Rouse, VK3/ VS-048

My first activation for Monday 17th November, 2014, was Mount Rouse, VK3/ VS-048, which is located near the town of Penshurst, about 275 km west of Melbourne, and about 30 km south east of Hamilton, in western Victoria.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 16.59.53

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

There are some activations, when you just wished that you had stayed in bed.  This was one of those activations!  Other than the weather being less than ideal (it was wet and windy), the 40m band was in very poor condition.  I managed just 7 contacts from this summit.  But out of everything bad, comes something good.  To my surprise, I was called by a station in the Azores on 20m, who was 5/9 and gave me a 5/7 signal report.  And yet I wasn’t even able to make contact with a single VK3 on 40 metres.  I guess that is one of those interested aspects of this great hobby of amateur radio.

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Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I had activated Mount Rouse once before.  That was back in September, 2013.  For more information on that activation and information on the summit, including its history, please have a look at my previous post……

https://vk5pas.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/mount-rouse-vk3-vs-048/

Screenshot 2014-12-01 16.59.22

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

This is a very easy summit to access, with a road leading all the way to the top of the summit through the Mount Rouse Reserve.  A set of steps takes you up to the trig point.  Although only a little one pointer, this is a great little summit, with a bench awaiting you once you reach the trig point, and fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, and the little town of Penshurst below the summit.

On the subject of Penshurst, please take the time to have a look around this little town.  It is full of history and as some very historic buildings.  There is also the Volcano Visitor Centre which is well worth a visit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penshurst,_Victoria

http://www.volcanoesdiscoverycentre.com.au/Volcanoes%20Discovery/home/index.html

As mentioned, the 40m band was in very poor shape.  There was absolutely no propagation locally around VK3.  I managed to squeeze 5 contacts into the log on 40m with Nev VK5WG who was my first taker, Larry VK5LY, Mark VK7MK, John VK5FMJC, and finally Allen VK5FD portable at Port Victoria.  I did hear Peter VK3FPSR trying to call, but Peter was so weak, that it was impossible to make the contact.

So after 10 very frustrating minutes on 40m, I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the linked dipole, for operation on the 20m band.  My first contact there was with Mike VK6MB who was a good 5/7 (5/7 signal report received in exchange).  And I then received a call from Joan, CU3AA, in the Azores Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean, to the west of Portugal and the west African coast.  Joan was an excellent 5/9 signal and he gave me a 5/7.  But that was the end of that.  I had no more callers on 20m.

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As the weather was lousy, and the band was lousy, I decided to head down and head off to my next summit, Mount Dundas near Cavendish.  I had the very low number of 7 contacts in the log.  One of my worst SOTA activations as far as callers is concerned.

The following stations were worked:-

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Mount Richmond National Park, VKFF-361

Following my activation of Mount Eccles National Park, I headed off for my final activation for Sunday 16th November, 2014.  That being the Mount Richmond National Park, VKFF-361, which is located about 380 km west of Melbourne, and about 22 km north west of Portland, in western Victoria.

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Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

Mount Richmond is known to the local Gundidjmara aboriginal people as Benwerrin, meaning ‘Long Hill’.  Benwerrin provided a rich variety of foods for the aboriginal people, both in the bush and along the nearby coast.  The large trees with dark grey, hard and fissured bark with dense dar green foilage are Blackwood Wattles.  The tree’s strong wiid was good for making hunting boomerangs, and the sticky sap forms useful glue for hand tools.

Mount Richmond was named after Richard Henty, who was one of the first European children born in the Portland area.  The park itself was established in 1960, as a result of the dedication of local naturalists such as Noel Learmonth and Cliff Beauglehole.

About 450 species of plants have been recorded in the park, including 50 orchid species.  Other plants include Correas, heaths, wattles, and Bush Peas.

The park is home to a large variety of bird life including Emus, Crimson Rosellas, Gang-gang cockatoos, honeyeaters, thornbills, Silvereyes, robins, finches, tree-creepers, and Currawongs.  The park is also an important habitat fr the uncommon Long-nosed Potoroo, which is a small member of the kangaroo family.  The Potoroo is rarely seen and is generally only active during the night.  Other native animals that call the park home are Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Koalas, and Red-necked wallabies.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 16.07.58 map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I entered the northern portion of the park via Mount Richmond Road.  I found a nice picnic and camping area which had a wooden table and benches.  It looked a great place to operate from.  It isn’t very often that I get the table and chairs provided, so I decided to enjoy the luxuries whilst they were presented.

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Image courtesy of parkweb.vic.gov.au

I found 7.095 to be clear and I put out a CQ call and was immediately greeted by Kevin VK3KAB and Glenn VK3YY who were portable on Mount Terrible Spur, VK3/ VE-134.  Their signals were 5/7 with their QRP operation of 5 watts.  You can read about their activation on Glenn’s WordPress site at…..

https://vk3yy.wordpress.com/tag/ve-134/

This was followed by Terry VK3UP and then Mike VK3XL, who both had 5/9 plus signals.  A steady flow of callers followed from VK1, VK3, VK5, & VK7.  A few QRP operators called in, including Mark VK3ASC operating with 5 watts, Mark VK1EM, and Daniel VK5DF running 5 watts.  And I also spoke to a few mobile operators including Peter VK3PF on the highway approaching Rosedale, and Allen VK3HRA mobile in the Morwell National Park.

The strongest station worked from Mount Richmond, was Peter VK5NAQ who had a thumping 30/9 signal into Mount Richmond.  What a signal.

I remained on 7.095 and continued to work the callers.  I was working Johnno VK3FMPB when the heavens opened up, and it started to rain, quite heavy.  So I had to grab the radio and run.  Sorry Johnno.  I wasn’t going to get wet, and certainly didn’t want the radio getting wet.  So it was back to the car for a short time until the rain disappeared.

I then returned to the picnic table with my bothy bag and huddled under that, as the occasional shower still came through.  My first contact after returning was Richard VK5ZRY on the Yorke Peninsula.  I worked a further 10 stations after the rain, including Rob VK2QR/3 who was portable on SOTA summit, The Knocker, VK3/ VG-016, with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  And also some more QRP stations, including Craig VK3JK on 5 watts, Colin VK3NCC on 5 watts, and Daniel VK5DF on 5 watts (using a different antenna this time).  I was hearing a few European stations coming through on the frequency at this time.

After working 39 stations on 40m ssb, I lowered the squid pole and removed the links, and headed off to 20m, where I put out a number of CQ calls on 14.244, until I was answered by Albert S58AL.  Unfortunately it wasn’t long, until a European station came up right alongside of me, which made things incredibly difficult.  I managed to work a further 4 stations in Hawaii, Slovenia, Italy, and England, until I was forced to QSY as the bleed over was just unbearable.

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I found 14.253 free and put out a CQ call, which was answered by my good buddy, Marnix OP7M.  A steady flow of callers from Europe followed this.  I worked a further 18 stations from Italy, Germany, Poland, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, and France.  And thrown amongst the mix was John VK6NU in Western Australia.  Propagation to Europe seemed to be quite good, but the radio was struggling to get sufficient power supply from the 44 amp hour power pack, which was getting low down in voltage.  Each time I keyed the microphone, the radio would shut down.  This is a problem I’ve been experiencing a bit recently.

My 44 amp hour power pack just couldn’t provide enough voltage, and the radio kept cutting out which was extremely annoying.  Plus it was getting dark and the weather was miserable, so it was time to pack up and head back to the warmth of the motel room at Portland.  I had a total of 64 contacts in the log.  Again, I was very pleased, as I had qualified the park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) global award.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Kevin VK3KAP/p (SOTA)
  2. Glenn VK3YY/p (SOTA)
  3. Terry VK3UP
  4. Mike VK3XL
  5. Nev VK5WG
  6. Matt VK1MA
  7. Ian VK1DI
  8. Tim VK5AV
  9. Brian VK5FMID
  10. Bernard VK3AV
  11. Peter VK3RV
  12. Col VK5HCF
  13. Hans VK5YX
  14. Tony VK3CAB
  15. Mark VK7MK
  16. Mark VK3ASC
  17. Mark VK1EM
  18. Peter VK3PF/m
  19. Allen VK3HRA/m
  20. John VK5BJE
  21. Barry VK5BW
  22. VK2CCJ
  23. Bob VK5FPAC
  24. Peter VK5NAQ
  25. Jim VK5TR
  26. Daniel VK5DF
  27. Brett VK3FLCS
  28. John VK5TD
  29. Johnno VK3FMPB
  30. Richard VK5ZRY
  31. Dennis VK3BQZ/m
  32. Brian VK3BBB
  33. John VK5FTCT
  34. Peter VK3TKK
  35. John VK3FCAN
  36. Craig VK3JK
  37. VK3NCC/p
  38. Daniel VK5DF
  39. Rob VK2QR/p (SOTA)
  40. S58AL
  41. WH6DXW
  42. S52KM
  43. I5FLN
  44. M0HDX
  45. OP7M
  46. IK1GPG
  47. DL7UXG
  48. SP5BR
  49. RZ3DN
  50. SP5AUB
  51. JA1HOX
  52. IK2VFR
  53. ON4BB
  54. PA1AR
  55. M0WYZ
  56. RU3EG
  57. John VK6NU
  58. DL2ND
  59. DL1EKO
  60. DL1EBR
  61. F1BLL
  62. DJ7ZZ
  63. IZ5JMZ
  64. DL5EBG

Below is a video of the activation…..

 

References.

Parks Victoria, 2014, ‘Mount Richmond National Park Visitor Guide’.

Mount Napier, VK3/ VS-046

My first activation for Sunday 16th November, 2014, was Mount Napier summit, VK3/ VS-046, which is located near Hamilton in western Victoria (13 km south of Hamilton).  This was my second activation for the 2014 Summits on Air (SOTA) Spring Activation Weekend.

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Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

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map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I first activated this summit in September, 2013.  For more information on that activation, and some history of the summit and its surrounds, please have a look at my September 2013 post…..

https://vk5pas.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/mount-napier-vk3-vs-046/

I entered the Mount Napier State Park via Murroa-Buckley Swamp Road, which runs off the Hamilton-Port Fairy Road.  The dirt road traversing the park is in good condition and is easily negotiated with a 2wd vehicle.  I parked my car at the Mount Napier walking track, and commenced the 30 minute walk up to the top of the summit.  This is a nice easy walk to the top, with a well marked path and a few benches along the way.  The walk is spectacular taking you through the beautiful understorey of the Mount Napier State Park.

Following this activation I received an e-mail from Nick VK3ANL who stated:

“Mt Napier gets my vote for being “Essence of SOTA”  – it’s a genuine walk to the top, but not too hard or long, and through some great Aussie bush, and then it opens out to a summit with real character, and with $million dollar views.”

I think Nick is spot on with his comments.  Although only a one pointer, the walk up to the summit is very pretty and the views from the top of Mount Napier are really impressive.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 12.26.07

map courtesy of mapcarta.com

The weather was not fantastic when I arrived at Mount Napier.  It had been drizzling with showers from the time I got up.  But there was the occasional break in the weather.  So I ‘donned’ the jacket and my backpack, and headed off from the car, hoping to miss the worst of the weather.  As mentioned, this is a really pretty walk.  And I encountered a few wallabies on the way to the top/

On my way up, I received just a sprinkle of rain, but by the time I had reached the trig point, the weather had taken a turn for the worst.  The summit itself is very exposed, with no trees, so it was incredibly windy, with light misty showers.  I secured the squid pole to the concrete base of the Major Thomas Mitchell memorial which is located on the summit.  It was so windy, it was quite difficult trying to keep the squid pole in place.

After setting up I put a CQ call out on 7.090 and this was answered by Rob, VK3EK, and then Peter VK3FPSR, followed by Peter VK3PF portable in the Coopracambra National Park.  More information on Peter’s activation can be found on hsi WordPress site at…..

http://vk3pf.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/krmnpa-weekend-2014/

I then spoke with Darrin VK3FDAP operating portable and QRP at Moorabin.  Thankfully I had my 4 qualifying contacts.  I pressed on and worked a further 12 stations in VK1, VK2, VK3, & VK5 before the UTC rollover.  There was very severe QSB on many of the signals.  One of these contacts was with Julie VK3FOWL who was operating portable with her husband Joe VK3YSP, in the Wilsons Promontory National Park.

After the UTC rollover I worked a further 7 stations in VK1, VK3, & VK5.  It was quite a struggle, with the band not in great shape.  There was lots of QSB on the incoming signals, and the same was being reported back on my QRP signal.  Gary VK2GAZ called me a number of times and although I was able to hear Gary, clearly he could not pull me out of the noise.  Sorry Gary.

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The weather had not improved, so I had a quick tune around the 40m band and found Nigel VK5NIG who was operating portable from the top of Mount Gawler summit, VK5/ SE-013.  Nigel had a good 5/5 signal (5/5 received back from Nigel).   I then found John VK2AWJ/3 operating portable from the Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park, with a good 5/7 signal coming in to Mount Napier.  With a little bit more tuning around the band, I was rewarded with a contact with Joe VK3YSP, portable in the Wilsons Promontory National Park, and then Tony VK3CAT who was portable on SOTA summit, Sugarloaf Peak, VK3/ VN-011.

It was time to dash back to the car.  I had a total of 28 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked:-

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Whilst still on my way out of the Mount Napier State Park, on my way to Mount Eccles National Park, I spoke with a few stations from my mobile set up, which is a Icom IC-7000 and a base loaded whip antenna on the boot of the car.

My first mobile contact was with Peter VK3ZPF who was portable in the Yarra Ranges National Park, then Peter VK3PF in the Alfred National Park, followed by Allen VK3HRA portable on SOTA peak VK3/ VG-029 which is located in the Alpine National Park.

Below is a video of the activation of Mount Napier…..