It was now day four of my trip, Monday 14th November, 2016. I had a 220 km drive ahead of me from Barmah to Tangambalanga.
Above:- Map showing my travels on Monday 14th November 2016. Map courtesy of plotaroute.com
I had planned on activating SOTA peak Huon Hill in the Wodonga Regional Park, and later Mount Baranduda in the Baranduda Regional Park. But first I had arranged to call in at Cobram to see Peter VK3FPSR. Peter and I headed next door to the coffee shop and had a good 90 minute chat, before I again hit the road. It was great to meet Peter for the very first time.
My first planned summit and park of the day was Huon Hill, VK3/ VE-237 which is 425m / 1394 feet above sea level in height and is worth 1 SOTA point. The summit is named after the Huon family who gave the name ‘Wodonga’ to the stock run they rook up in the district in 1836. The Huon homestead called ‘De Kerilleau’ was subsequently built in the 1870’s at the foot of Huon Hill.
Sadly just as I started driving in to Wodonga/Albury, it started to rain. And it was quite heavy at times. I was a bit concerned that the activation might be a washout.
The summit is located within the Wodonga Regional Park VKFF-0980, which was originally a cow paddock. The summit was very easy to find and the GPS guided me there without any issues. You will find a sign ‘Huons Hill Lookouts’ on the corner of Whytes Road and Murray Valley Highway.
A short drive up Whytes Road I reached Kenneth Watson Drive and a clearly marked sign stating ‘Huon Hill Lookout’.
I simply followed Kenneth Watson Drive and this took me to the entrance to the park. As I drove up the dirt track towards the summit I was rewarded with some nice views of the surrounding countryside. The track up is easily passable in a conventional vehicle. There are a few cattle grids to negotiate.
Once you reach the top you will find two communication towers and a trig point.
You are also rewarded with some terrific views of Wodonga, Abury, Lake Hume, and the surrounding countryside. And pleasing for me was that the rain appeared to be clearing, with some blue sky amongst the threatening clouds.
I set up along the track leading to the tower on the east. It is a little tricky to ensure that you are within the park boundary (see the maps and aerials below). My operating spot was within the activation zone for the SOTA summit and also within the park boundary.
Above:- Map showing the Wodonga Regional Park (in pink) and the summit indicated by the red arrow. Image courtesy of Forest Explorer.
Above:- Aerial view of the summit showing my operating spot. Image courtesy of google maps
I was hoping to get 44 contacts to qualify the park for World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) but I was cognisant of the time. It was just after 1.00 p.m. local time and I had to pick up Andrew VK6AS from the Albury Airport at 3.00 p.m. I started calling CQ on 7.090 and this was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who was a solid 5/9 and reciprocated with a 5/9 for me. Next up was Nev VK5WG and then Geoff VK2HF/4. First hurdle over, I had qualified the summit for SOTA. The next target was 10 contacts to qualify the park for the VKFF program.
On my quest to 10 contacts I worked Greg VK5GJ running just 4 watts from Meadows in the Adelaide Hills. Greg was 5/1 with his QRP. I also logged Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Black Range State Park VKFF-0751.
Contact number ten was Jonathan VK7JON. Hurdle number two over. Next was the elusive 44. Sadly I didn’t make it, falling short at 32 contacts in around 50 minutes on the hill. But not before I made a few more Park to Park contacts:
- Mick VK3PMG/p, Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620
- VK3GGG/p, Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620
- Gerard VK2IO/p, Bugong National Park VKFF-0063
- Peter VK2TKK/p, Kurth Kiln Regional Park VKFF-0971
I only made one contact on 20m and that was with John ZL1BYZ in New Zealand. And all my CQ calls on 3.610 on 80m went unanswered.
I worked the following stations :-
Australian Government, 2016, <http://www.anzaccentenary.gov.au/news/norman-huon-wodonga-boy-who-never-made-it-home>, viewed 21st November 2016