On Saturday 4th February 2017 we had just one planned activation. That being Mount Buninyong VK3/ VC-018 which we planned to activate late in the afternoon. So on Saturday we spent the vast majority of the day doing ‘touristy’ stuff around Ballarat. That included a walk in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, a guided historical walk of Ballarat, lunch at the famous Craigs Royal Hotel in Ballarat, a ride on the Ballarat tram, a visit to the X Prisoners of War Memorial, and a visit to Ballarat Bird World. It was a very enjoyable day.
Late in the afternoon after leaving Bird World we headed into the little town of Buninyong, which is about 11 km south of Ballarat. It is the site of the first inland town proclaimed in Victoria and was where gold was first discovered in the area, leading to the large Gold Rush of the 1850s. It was a warm and humid afternoon so we headed to a local cafe for an icecream and a milkshake.
We then headed up to Mount Buninyong which is 719 metres above sea level and is worth 4 SOTA points.
Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Buninyong, north west of Melbourne. Map courtesy of openstreetmap.org
The summit is a very short drive out of Buninyong on the Mount Buninyong Road. The name Buninyong originates from an aboriginal word also recorded as ‘Buninyouang’, said to mean ‘man lying on his back with his knees raised’, which is in reference to the shape of the summit. European settlers named it Bunnenyong and the name later simplified to its current form.
Above:- Map showing the close proximity of Mount Buninyong to the town of Buninyong itself. Map courtesy of openstreetmap.org
The summit was originally named Mount Bonan Yowing. It was from the summit that Thomas Livingstone Learmonth (1818-1903) and a group of squatters first viewed in 1837 what would become the Ballarat district.
Mount Buninyong is the site for multiple communications antenna for radio and television broadcasting. It also has picnic areas and an observation tower. Much of the mountain was cleared for agriculture or housing, but widespread protests during the 1980s led to the preservation of native forest cover on much of the upper portion.
Above:- Mount Buninyong with Ballarat in the background. Image courtesy of google.
The summit is an extinct volcano and is located within the Buninyong Scenic Reserve with an overstorey of Manna Gum and Messmate eucalypts, a tussock ground cover and understorey. The native forested area is a major koala habitat.
The road up to the summit is bitumen and one way. Take it slowly as there are numerous blind corners and no guarantee that someone will not be coming down or going up the summit, the wrong way.
We set up in the picnic area near the lookout tower. For the activation we ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 10 watts output and the 80/40/20m linked dipole supported on a 7m heavy duty telescopic squid pole.
There were a few cars at the top of the summit, but we had the picnic area all to ourselves. It was noticeably cooler on the summit which was very welcome as it was a humid day. The cicadas in the trees were very loud at time.
Prior to calling CQ, we tuned across the 40m band and found Neil VK4HNS on 7.135 in the Springwood Conservation Park VKFF-1653. Both Marija and I logged Neil, and it was a nice way to start off the activation with a WWFF park in the log.
As the Kandos Net was operating on 7.093 I decided to head up the band and started calling CQ on 7.105. This was answered by Peter VK3YE who was pedestrian mobile at Chelsea Beach in Melbourne as part of QRP by the Bay. Peter was wading in the water, using a Yaesu FT-817, 5 watts and a 5 metre long vertical (5/7 sent and 5/6 received). Marija and I swapped the mic and Marija also logged Peter. Below are some photographs (supplied by Peter VK3YE) of Peter at Chelsea Beach.
We did the same for the next 2 callers, swapping the mic to work Ron VK5MRE in the Riverland region of South Australia, and then Nev VK5WG in the Mid North. We had both qualified the summit for SOTA.
I went on to work a total of 18 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5, VK7 and New Zealand. Kiwi stations logged were John ZL1BYZ and Soren ZL1SKL in Auckland. It was at this time that I had a special visitor drop in. It was Allen VK3ARH. We had a chat for about 20 minutes before I lowered the squid pole and inserted the links in the dipole for 80m.
On 80m I logged a total of 7 stations from VK3 and VK5. It was interesting to note that the VK3’s advised they were unable to hear us on 40m. This was despite Marija and I working Peter VK3YE on 40m. Perhaps the band opened up just for a very short period of time and then closed again? Netherless, the Victorian stations were very strong on the 80m band.
Allen was babysitting and headed off, and Marija and Olivia headed off to climb the observation tower. I decided to put out a few calls on 20m. My first contact there was a Summit to Summit contact with Warren ZL2AJ who was on ZL1/ NL-062 near Whangarei on the North Island of New Zealand (5/3 sent and 5/5 received).
Here is a link to Warren’s blog…….
After working Warren I moved down to 14.305 where I worked a further 11 stations from VK3, VK6, Japan and Italy. This included Phil VK6ADF and Hans VK6ZN who were portable in the Len Howard Conservation Reserve VKFF-1429. I was very pleased to log the 2 DX stations: Tadashi JA1VRY in Japan, and Renzo IK2ZJN in Italy.
So after 90 minutes on the summit, both Marija and I had qualified a unique summit for both of us. I had a total of 37 stations in the log on 20, 40 and 80m.
I worked the following stations:-
At the end of the activation we headed back into Buninyong and went to the local hotel where we enjoyed a nice meal. I also had a few ‘Mountain Goat’ ales. Very appropriate for SOTA.
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buninyong>, viewed 6th February 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Buninyong>, viewed 6th February 2017