Mount Stromlo, VK1/ AC-043

On Monday morning (11th May 2015), David VK5KC, Trevor VK5ATQ, and I were picked up outside of the motel by Andrew VK1NAM.  Andrew had organised with us the day before to take us up to Mount Stromlo, VK1/ AC-043 for a SOTA activation.  I was due to fly out of Canberra back to Adelaide later that afternoon.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Mt Stromlo.  Image courtesy of

Mount Stromlo, VK1/ AC-043, is 782 metres above sea level and is worth 1 SOTA point.  The summit is located just outside of Canberra and is the site of the Mount Stromlo Observatory, which is part of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrphysics at the Australian National University.  The observatory was established in 1924 as the Commonwealth Solar Observatory.  In January 2003, Mt Stromlo was devastated by the Canberra bushfires.  The summit was surrounded by pine forest at that time, which was totally destroyed along with five telescopes, workshops, seven homes, and the heritage listed administration building.  The only telescope to survive the fires was the 1886 15-centimetre Farnham telescope.

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Above image courtesy of

For more information on the observatory, have a look at…..

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Above:- Map showing the location of Mt Stromlo.  Image courtesy of

Andrew parked his car in the lower carpark, and we walked up the track to our operating spot, which was a little further on from the trig point.  Andrew had warned us that operating from the trig point would end in misery, as the noise floor at that location was extremely high.  So we continued on the path and set up at a high point with spectacular views in all directions.

David VK5KC started off first and he had soon bagged his 4 contacts to qualify the summit.  I then got my 4 qualifying contacts consisting of Gerard VK2JNG mobile, George VK4GSF, John VK2FAD and Markus VK2SK.  Trevor VK5ATQ then took control of the mic and appeared to have a lot of fun on his very first SOTA activation.

Whilst Trevor was on air, Andrew called me over for a 2m FM contact with Gerard VK2IO who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Ainslee, VK1/ AC-040.

The four of us kept swapping the mic, and after the UTC rollover I managed another three summit to summit contacts: Gerard VK2IO/1 on Mount Ainslee on 2m FM, Onno VK6FLAB/1 on Black Mountain VK1/ AC-042, and Phil VK2JDL portable on Mount Kembla VK2/ IL-015.

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At the conclusion of the activation we walked over to the cemetery located on the summit.  A number of people are buried here including Walter Geoffrey Duffile, (1879-1929, who was the founding Director of the Commonwealth Solar Observatory.

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We then started walking back to the car and bumped in to Andrew VK1MBE and Onno VK6FLAB who had just arrived at the summit from Black Mountain.  They were in the middle of setting up.

We continued back to the car and had a quick look at some of the burnt out buildings near the carpark.  We were in desperate need of a coffee, but unfortunately the cafe was closed.  And we had timed the activation well, as it had just started to rain.  Poor old Andrew & Onno.  We did try to make contact with them via 2m once we had driven outside the activation zone, but could not get through to them.

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After leaving Stromlo we paid a visit to one of the local cafes where we enjoyed some nice hot coffee and a bowl of soup.  Fortunately there was a bottle shop next door, so I quickly rushed in there to buy a bottle of South Australian red for Andrew VK1NAM and Andrew VK1DA in recognition of their efforts in taking us out for some portable action.  It was a lot of fun.

I worked the following stations:-

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Black Mountain, VK1/ AC-042

After our activation at Mount Ainslee, we ventured over to Black Mountain, VK1/ AC-042, just a short drive across Canberra from Mount Ainslee

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Above:- Map showing the location of Black Mountain.  Image courtesy of

Black Mountain is 812 metres above sea level and is worth 1 SOTA point.  It is situated to the west of the Canberra CBD and is on the northern shores of Lake Burley Griffin.  The summit is part of the Canberra Nature Park and is predominantly covreed in native bushland.  It is a haven for native wildlife.  Also on the summit is the Black Mountain Tower, a broadcasting tower rising a further 195 metres above the summit.  The summit was originally known as Black Hill.

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Above:- Black Mountain.  Image courtesy of

It was no less cold and no less windy here on Black Mountain to that of Mount Ainslee.  In fact there was a lot of banging going on from something loose on the tower.  But we had dodged a bullet again, as there was no rain.  As we were setting up the gear, a very suspicious car approached us slowly and then pulled up in front of us.  It was Heath VK3TWO and his wife Monique.

We took it in turns to operate on the radio again, with John VK5BJE firing up first with me acting as scribe as it was very windy and cold and trying to hold the mic and write at the same time was a challenge.  Plus, us guys can only do one thing well at a time!

My first contact on Black Mountain, which was another unique SOTA summit for me, was Michael VK2CCW who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Elliot, VK2/ HU-093.  A nice start to the activation….a Summit to Summit contact.  I worked another 9 stations and was then called by Keith VK5OQ/1 who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount AInslee, VK1/ AC-040.

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After packing up we all ventured inside Black Mountain Tower and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee in the warmth of the cafe.  This was another great activation and a lot of fun with Andrew, John, Heath & Monique.

I worked the following stations:-

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Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 16th May 2015

Mount Ainslee, VK1/ AC-040

On Sunday morning (10th May 2015), Andrew VK1NAM picked up John VK5BJE and I from outside of our motel in Canberra, and took us up to the top of Mount Ainslee, VK1/ AC-040.  We had arranged with Andrew the day before at the WIA AGM, to head out for a couple of SOTA activations.

I had snuck up to Mount Ainslee the night before with Peter VK3PF for a quick 2m activation, but I was looking forward to going back to Ainslee during the day for a HF activation and to enjoy the views of Canberra.

I found the photograph below which shows a panorama of the site for Canberra, taken from Mount Ainslie, c. 1910.  Amazing how things have changed.

[Panorama of the site for Canberra taken from Mt. Ainslie, 1910s] [picture] /

Above:- Image courtesy of

The views from Ainslee were excellent, but it was blowing an absolute gale.  Fortunately the rain was holding off, but it was very windy and very cold.  Not as cold as Friday’s activation of Mount Ginini, but netherless it was very chilly.

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Above: – Map showing the location of Mount Ainslee.  Courtesy of

We had parked in the car park and walked up the steps to a walking track at the highest point of the summit.  Andrew used a metal point on the summit to secure his squid pole to with the use of some octopus straps.  With some difficulty due to the high winds, we raised the squid pole into place with Andrew’s home brew squid pole attached.  For this activation we ran 5 watts from Andrew’s Yaesu FT-817.

John VK5BJE started off first and had quickly accrued his required 4 contacts to qualify the summit for SOTA.  I then jumped into the ‘driver’s seat’ and made a quick 5 contacts on 40m, including a Summit to Summit contact with Peter VK3PF who was portable on SOTA peak, Livingstone Hill, VK2/ SM-093.

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I worked the following stations:-

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Mount Ainslee, VK1/ AC-040

After the WIA AGM, Peter VK3PF ‘collared me’ and we headed off to Mount Ainslee, VK1/ AC-040 for a quick 2m SOTA activation on Saturday night (9th May 2015).  Another couple of SOTA stalwarts, Gerard VK2IO and Andrew VK1DA were heading for Black Mountain, and we were hoping to get a summit to summit contact with those guys.  This was to be a unique SOTA summit for me.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Ainslee.  Image courtesy of

Mount Ainslee is 843 metres above sea level and is worth 1 SOTA point.  It is located in the north eastern suburbs of Canberra and lies within part of the Canberra Nature Park.  The summit borders on the inner Canberra suburbs of Campbell, Ainslee and Hackett.  It is named in honour of James Ainslee (1787-1844), a Scottish born pastoralist who was the overseer of the large property, Duntroon.  Ainslee was on the Duntroon property between 1825 to 1835 and he was in a relationship with a Ngambri aboriginal woman, Jya Ngambri.  After spending 10 years at Duntroon, Ainslee returned to Scotland, where he died in 1844, aged 60 years.  In fact he died at Jedburgh Castle after hanging himself while awaiting trial for a charge of assault.

There is a lot of information on the internet about James Ainslee which is well worth looking at.  His life story is very interesting.

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Above:- Mount Ainslee.  Map courtesy of

After pulling up in the carpark, we walked a short distance to our operating spot on the eastern side of the summit, overlooking Canberra at night.  It was a very cold evening and quite windy on the top of Ainslee.  Peter started off first and his first contact was with Ian VK1DI, followed by a summit to summit with Gerard VK2IO on Black Mountain.

After Peter had reached his required 4 contacts he handed me the HT and I had a summit to summit contact with Gerard VK2IO and Andrew VK1DA on Black Mountain.  I then made contact with Ian VK1DI and then Andrew VK1MBE and with my 4 qualifying SOTA contacts, it was time to head off to the SOTA Dinner at the Hellenic Club.

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I worked the following stations on 2m FM:-

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Wikipedia, 2015, <;, viewed 16th May 2015