After leaving Point 756/Pyrenees, we headed off to our third SOTA summit for the day, Mount Lonarch, VK3/ VS-013, which is located about 40 km north of the town of Raglan, and about 185 km north west of Melbourne.
Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Lonarch. Image courtesy of google maps.
I have activated Mount Lonarch previously, back. For more information on that activation, please have a look at my previous post at…..
We programmed the summit into the GPS and commenced our journey to Mount Lonarch, along Main Brea through the Pyrenees Mountains. But this was abruptly brought to a halt by a fallen tree across the road. We were able to move some of the branches of the road, but the remainder of the tree was just too heavy to lift and move. And a chainsaw was the last thing Marija and I had thought about bringing along on our trip. So with some recalculations don, it was back along Main Break that we had to travel. It was certainly the long way around to get to the summit, but we had no choice.
We eventually got back on to the Pyrenees Highway and travelled east until we reached the Lexton-Ararat Road, we we turned right and travelled south until we reached Ampithreate Road. As we travelled south along Ampitheatre Road, Mount Lonarch came into view across the farming land.
Mount Lonarch is 788 metres above sea level and is worth 4 SOTA points.
Above:- Aerial shot showing Mount Lonarch amongst the scrub and the forest. Image courtesy of google maps.
Sadly there is not much of a view from Mount Lonarch. Well, not from the ground anyway. The summit is very heavily wooded. But there is a fire spotting tower hit which sits high above the tree line. And it was manned on the day we were at Mount Lonarch due to it being a very hot day. Unfortunately the fire spotter did not come out of the comfort of the air conditioning to say hi.
I set up just to the west of the fire tower. There was a nice little tree stump which served nicely as a shack desk whilst I sat in a deck chair. I secured the 7 metre telescopic squid pole to the stump with the assistance of two octopus straps. For this activation I again ran the Yaesu FT-857d, about 30 watts and the 20m/40m linked dipole.
I found this to be quite a challenging activation. Not from an access point of view, as Mount Lonarch is very easy to access. But propagation conditions were very poor. I started off calling CQ on 7.090 and my first contact was with regular SOTA chaser and park hunter, Adrian VK5FANA. Adrian was only 5/5 but was perfectly readable as there was no man made noise on the summit. I received a 5/4 signal from Adrian, well down on what I normally receive. Adrian was kind enough to let me know that Tony VK3VTH was higher up the band and was portable in a park. So off I went to find Tony before more of the SOTA chasers started calling me.
I located Tony on 7.144 calling CQ from Colquhoun Regional Park VKFF-0962 with a beautiful 5/9 signal. This was a new park for me and I was very pleased to get Tony in the log. I then headed back to 7.090 and started calling CQ again. My CQ call was answered by Marc VK3OHM who was initially a 5/5 but completely faded away within a matter of seconds. We were unable to complete the contact. Col VK3LED then called in and although weak (5/3), we were able to make a contact 95/1 received). This was followed by Peter with a refreshingly strong 5/8 signal (5/7 received).
I was then called by Cliff VK2NP who was a fair signal, but unfortunately Cliff did not come back to my response. But I did manage to get Cliff in the log, just 2 QSOs’s later (5/3 sent and 5/1 received). Cliff informed me that I was 5/7 a few minutes earlier when he had called, but that I had completely faded away with QSB. This seemed to be the pattern of the afternoon.
I worked a total of ‘unlucky’ 13 stations on 40m before heading off to 20m. I was hoping it may be a little better there. But I was to be sadly disappointed. My only contact on 20m was with John VK6NU in Western Australia (5/1 both ways). So I headed back to 40m for one last quick listen before going QRT. And it was to be just 2 further stations that I would put in the log: John VK2YW, and Ivan VK5HS.
After 45 minutes on the summit I had a total of 16 contacts in the log. Disappointing conditions, but the summit qualified netherless. It was off to our fourth and final summit of the day, Ben Nevis.
The following stations were worked:-