Our final activation for the penultimate day of our trip was to be Mount Lonarch VK3/ VS-013, located about 207 km north east of the city of Melbourne and about 29 km north of the town Beaufort.
Mount Lonarch is 788 metres above sea level and is worth 4 points for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.
I have activated the summit twice before, back in 2013 and 2015. Marija had been with me during the 2015 visit to this summit, but didn’t have her amateur licence, so this was to be a unique summit for Marija as an activator.
After leaving Raglan we turned on to Amphithreatre Road and on to the little town/area of Chute. There isn’t much here. BUT, it is the birthplace of Cyril Callister, who is the inventor of ‘vegemite’. Amazing the places we stumble across when we are out operating portable.
For anyone reading this from overseas, you are probably asking ‘what is vegemite’. It is as Australian as a meat pie, as a Holden car, as is a surf beach and Aussie Rules Footy. Vegemite is a thick, black good spread made from leftover brewers yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives. Watch the great video below when Hugh Jackman shows Jimmy Fallon how to eat vegemite.
The Mount Lonarch summit soon came into view. Also visible to us in the near vicinity were SOTA summits, Ben Moore, Ben Major, Mount Buangor, and Mount Cole which we had just activated.
The GPS then took us through the Raglan Pine plantation. There was a bit if ducking wnd weaving along the way as there were many pine trees over the track.
We enjoyed some magnificent views from the Avoca River Road.
Whilst admiring the view I spotted a paraglider. Marija and I were to later learnt that they had launched from Mount Lonarch.
We then turned on to Tower Road and followed the road up to the summit. As we set up we noticed some vehicles parked in amongst the scrub about 100 feet away on the other side of the fire spotting tower. At that stage we were not sure why they were there exactly, and assumed they may have been bushwalking.
Marija started off first at Mount Lonarch, calling CQ on 7.095. This was answered by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, Aaron VK1LAJ, and the Col VK3LED. Marija had now qualified the summit which was great news. Marija logged 15 stations including Mark VK3MDH/p and Michael VK3FCMC who were activating the French Island National Park VKFF-0622. I also logged Mark and Michael.
Marija then handed the mic over to me and headed over to where the vehicles were parked and soon came back to let me know that there were people hangliding off the top of Mount Lonarch.
I logged a further 25 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7. Signals back to South Australia were very good, which I can’t say had been the case for a lot of our trip. I worked Ian VK5CZ who was running QRP 5 watts, and he was 5/9 from the Clare Valley. I also logged Peter VK3TKK/p in the Mount Martha Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2152. Unfortunately Marija missed out on that contact as she was watching the hang gliding.
I then took a break from the radio and went over to have a look myself. One of the guys there was very friendly and explained to us some of the aspects of this exciting hobby. We were lucky to see a couple of launches off the top of Mount Lonarch. It was quite amazing.
Also in the air that afternoon were a number of Wedge-tailed Eagles.
I went back to the radio and logged 4 stations on 14.310 on the 20m band, all from Queensland. I then called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band which was answered by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG who was a very strong 5/9. I then logged Peter VK3TKK/p who was in another park, the Kangerong Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2122. Peter was a beautiful strong 5/9 signal on 80m. Whilst speaking with Peter, Marija started walking back towards me. So I shouted out that I was working a park, which resulted in Marija running back to the radio to work Peter.
To complete the activation Marija put out a few more CQ calls on 80m, logging Allen VK3ARH and then Robert VK3KIX, whilst I took a little bit of vision of the hang gliders on my iphone.
Marija worked the following stations:-
I worked the following stations:-
We packed up and started our trip into the town of Ararat, stopping briefly to admire some of the magnificent views from Tower Road of the surrounding countryside.
We got back into Ararat and booked in to the motel, freshened up and headed off to a favourite restaurant of ours in Ararat, ‘Sicilians’, where we enjoyed a very nice meal and a few ales.
Summits on the Air, 2017, <http://www.sota.org.uk/Summit/VK3/VS-013>, viewed 2nd December 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegemite>, viewed 2nd December 2017
Good Stuff! Radio and flying!!!
Those guys certainly have nerves of steel. This was a really enjoyable activation, sitting back watching them fly overhead. Wish I had the courage to give it a go.