On Wednesday morning Andrew VK6AS and I left the home of Lee VK3GK and negotiated the Melbourne traffic and made our way down to Geelong. We there delivered a presentation to members of the Geelong Amateur Radio Club on the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA). It was well attended and well received, and at the conclusion of the talk a group of us headed across the road for a meal at the hotel.
I then dropped Andrew off at the Geelong railway station and I made my way to Ararat in western Victoria where I had planned to stay overnight. My intention late that afternoon and into the evening was to activate One Tree Hill VK3/ VS-036 which is located within the Ararat Hills Regional Park VKFF-0958.
Above:- Map showing the location of One Tree Hill & the Ararat Hills Regional Park. Map courtesy of Open Street Map
The summit and park is easy to locate and well signposted. I accessed the park via Picnic Road and then One Tree Hill Road.
One Tree Hill is 569 metres above sea level and is worth 2 points in the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. I have activated this summit a few times previously but I have never activated the park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. The road will take you all the way to the carpark and lookout, where the communications tower is located. However this is not the actual summit. You will either need to drive a bit further along the 4WD track or take a casual walk along the track to the summit.
The summit itself does not offer great views as they are obscured by trees. However you can be rewarded with some great views of the Grampians, The Pyrenees, Ararat, and the surrounding countryside from the lookout carpark.
It is interesting to note that SOTA shows the high point a little further north of One Tree Hill and Snake Hill and a little south east of Napolean Hill.
Above:- Map showing the location of the summit. Map courtesy of Open Street Map
As this was a nice easy drive up summit I had the luxury of my fold up table and deck chair. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d at 40 watts for this activation, with the 80/40/20m linked dipole, supported on the 7m heavy duty squid pole. I was set up and ready to go by 5.30 p.m. Victorian local time. I was unable to get on to 7.144 as there were some stations nearby so I slipped down a little lower to 7.140 and started calling CQ.
My CQ call was answered by John VK5BJE, followed by Rob VK2FAAA mobile, Rod VK7FRJG, and then Ian VK1DI. I had qualified the summit. Unfortunately about 10 minutes into the activation some New Zealand stations came up on the frequency and started having a chat. Clearly they were unable to hear me and kindly QSYd when asked by a VK running a lot more power than me. However they QSYd to 7.138, just 2 kc below me and I continued to experience QRM which made it a little hard with the weaker stations that were calling in.
I worked a total of 33 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and New Zealand. The ZL callers were Wynn ZL2ATH in Wellington and John ZL1BYZ in Pukekohe. Although they were both strong to me, they were struggling a little with my signal across the Tasman Sea.
I also made a Summit to Summit and Park to Park contact with Andrew VK1AD who was activating Black Mountain VK1/ AC-042 in Black Mountain Nature Reserve VKFF-0834.
The band was very busy and at one stage I had F6ECS on the same frequency and also W1ZY calling CQ DX. So I decided to QSY and try 20m.
I headed to 14.310 and started calling CQ and this was answered by Gerard F1BLL in France, followed by John VK6NU. It was at this time that the Over the Horizon radar started up on 20m and I also started to get some bleedover from 14.307. It didn’t look like it was my day. But I did have some DX success working a total of 11 DX stations on 20m from Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Czech Republic and New Zealand.
I also worked Andrew VK1AD again, on a new band from VK1/ AC-042 and VKFF-0834. This just so happened to be Andrew’s 10,000th logged SOTA activator QSO. What an amazing effort. For more information on Andrew’s activation, please see his blog at…..
I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the links for the 80m section and headed to 3.610 where I started calling CQ. This was answered by John VK5NJ in Mount Gambier who was 5/9 plus to One Tree Hill. I worked a further 7 stations on 80m from VK2, VK3, and VK5.
I then moved back to 40m where I booked in to the 7130 DX Net. I worked a total of 13 stations on the net, from French Polynesia, New Zealand, VK2, VK5, VK6, VK7, and VK8. When things became a little quiet on the net I had a quick tune across the band and worked special event call VI50DC celebrating the 50th anniversary of the introduction of decimal currency in Australia.
The 7130 DX Net had completed and it was now dark and it was time for me to head back to the motel room. I had a total of 74 contacts in the log.
The following stations were worked:-