It was our last day, Monday 22nd June 2015. It had been a terrific 11 days away. Lots of laughs (spurred on by red wine), great scenery, and some great park and SOTA activations in some quite remote parts of South Australia. Today we were heading home, but along the way we were to stop in to Argadells and travel along one of their 4WD tracks to activate the summit, Mount Arden VK5/ NE-034, as part of the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. We had intended to activate Mount Arden earlier in our trip, but the bad weather had conspired against us. So we all travelled together, heading south on The Outback Highway. Along the way, there was plenty of native fauna to view, including kangaroos, emus, and a view photogenic Wedge Tailed Eagle who was sitting up on the top of some ruins between Hawker and Quorn.
Marija and I also briefly stopped off again at the Kanyaka Ruins. Although we had stopped in there on the way up to Farina, the weather on that day was terrible, and our exploration of these amazing ruins was cut short.
We then travelled back down the Arden Vale Road, and through the Willochra Creek, which still had a bit of water in it. Albeit, a lot less than the week prior.
And as we travelled south on Arden Vale Road, we were able to get some great views of Mount Arden in the distance. The tower on the top of the summit was clearly visible. This was a very different view of the mountains compared to the wet weather days we had experienced at Argadells, when the summit and the surrounding terrain was fogged over.
Once we arrived at Argadells we touched base with Judy, the owner, and then proceeded to the campgound where John unhitched his camper trailer, and we unloaded some gear from the back seat of his Nissan. The plan was for David & Joy to travel with John and Jenny to the top of Mount Arden. It wasn’t long before David and Joy arrived, and we were away to the top of Mount Arden, despite the very windy conditions. Mount Arden is located on the property of Argadells and is about 350 km north of Adelaide. The summit is 844 metres above sea level and is worth 6 SOTA points. This was to be a unique activation for myself, John, and David. The summit has been activated once before, by Ian VK5CZ in October 2014.
Above:- Map showing the location of the summit. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
The 4WD track to to the summit, which is rated as ‘challenging’, passes through some amazing scenery on the Argadells property. This includes creek crossings, and steep climbs, which requires low 2WD. The views on the way up are truly inspiring. I was amazed at how the terrain changed quite dramatically as we travelled to the top of the summit. The Hannimans Gorge is a pretty area with lots of water flowing through the creeks. The terrain here is very green and lush with some spectacular river red gums.
Once up on the top of the summit, we soon gathered that it would be a challenge in erecting the squid poles. It was incredibly windy. John was very keen to try some 6 metre action, so he tried calling on 6m, but sadly had no luck. I set up a 40m station, and once I had qualified the summit, David VK5KC, and then John VK5BJE also qualified the SOTA peak. Despite the towers and radio communication equipment on top of the summit, is is a very RF quiet location.
My first contact was with SOTA die-hard, Peter VK3PF with a good 5/8 signal (5/5 received), followed by Ian VK5IS at Beetaloo Valley (5/9 both ways), Rex VK3OF at Swan Hill (5/9 both ways), and then Ray VK3YAR at Mandurang near Bendigo (5/9 sent and 3/4 received). There was quite a significant difference in the reports from Rex and Ray despite there only being a 190 km difference.
My fifth contact was a Summit to Summit contact with Gerard VK2IO who was on top of SOTA peak, Mount Meehan, VK2/ CT-042, north of Orange (5/7 both ways).
I also tried 20m briefly but could only manage 5 contacts there. My first contact on 20m was with Ian VK5IS, followed by Phil VK2JDL, Peter VK6RZ (5/ sent and 3/2 received), Dave VK4DD, and finally Glenn VK6HAD (5/8 sent and 3/1 received). It seemed as if it was one way propogation from/to Western Australia. Band conditions on both 40m and 20m seemed to be very poor. Not to mention the weather conditions on the summit. Although it was quite a mild day, the wind was absolutely howling on the top of Mount Arden. My squid pole collapsed on at least 2 occasions due to the very high wind speed.
I ended up with just 11 contacts for this activation. The bands were exceptionally quiet. Not surprising when you look at the solar conditions. The sun has been very unstable and there was a significant Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). It was a slow drive back down in low 2WD. We enjoyed some amazing views and encountered quite a few kangaroos and euros on our way back to the camp ground at Argadells, where we enjoyed some lunch.