Our next planned activation was a SOTA summit for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. This was to be the first of our SOTA activations for the trip. Mount Moliagul VK3/ VN-024 lies just outside of the Moliagul Nature Conservation Reserve. The summit is 525 metres above sea level and is worth 2 SOTA points.
Marija and I activated the summit last year in November, during our trip to Victoria. As it is an easy drive up summit, there have been a total of 21 activations at Mount Moliagul. The first being way back in November 2012, when it was activated by Wayne VK3WAM.
Mount Moliagul is easily seen from the Wimmera Highway, with its telecommunication towers sitting on the top.
This is an easy summit if you are new to SOTA. There is a road all the way to the top. Although, dirt and steep, the track is passable in a conventional vehicle (in dry weather).
And once you are at the top you are rewarded with some amazing views of the surrounding countryside.
The summit contains a trig point and an array of communications equipment on towers. Fortunately no noise was generated from them on the amateur bands.
As this was an easy drive up, we had the luxury of a table and chair. This is perfectly acceptable in SOTA. The notion that SOTA is only for the young and fit is not an accurate reflection of the program. The SOTA moderators want SOTA to be inclusive for everyone.
However, please remember, that ‘operation from within vehicles or the near vicinity of activator’s vehicles is not permitted’. The SOTA rules state ‘Operations must not be in, or in the close vicinity of, a motor vehicle. No part of the station may be connected in any way with the motor vehicle’.
I qualified the summit within 1 minute. Just 4 QSOs are required in the SOTA program for a summit to be qualified. I logged a total of 14 stations on 40m from VK2, VK4, VK5, VK7 and New Zealand. I logged two New Zealand stations: Andrei ZL1TM, and Graham ZL3TV mobile.
Once I had qualified the summit, Marija took charge of the mic, and had also soon qualified the summit. Marija logged 6 stations on 40m. To complete the activation I called CQ on 3.610, where I logged just the 1 station, Ian VK3BFR.
Marija worked the following stations:-
I worked the following stations:-
We then headed down off the summit and drove into the nearby town of Moliagul. What was once a thriving gold mining town in the 1850’s, Moliagul is now a sleepy little hollow. However it has some very interesting attractions. That includes the memorial dedicated to Reverend John Flynn, the founder of the Flying Doctor Service, who was born in 1880 in Moliagul.
Historic buildings in Moliagul include the old Mount Moliagul Hotel which was established in 1856. The Moliagul State School building was built in 1872, while the Anglican church was built in 1864-65.
A short drive out of town takes you to the site where the 69 kg Welcome Stranger gold nuggest was discovered. This is the largest gold nugget ever found in the world. A Cornish miner, John Deason, discovered the nuggest on 5th February 1869. The nugget was found just 2.5 cms below the surface while Deason was searching around the roots of a tree. Deason broke a pick handle trying to lever the nugget out of the ground. It was eventually extracted with the use of a crowbar.
We then drove a short distance down the road to the town of Tarnagulla. This is also a small town, which contains a number of historic buildings. Gold was discovered here in 1853. Tarnagulla is phonetic meaning of Polish Czarnogóra (eng. Black Mountain – Montenegro). The name was given by Polish explorer and geologist Paweł Strzelecki.
One of the historic buildings is the Tarnagulla Pavillion, which was built by William Roper & Co in 1884.
Other historic buildings include the Ebenezer Chapel-Baptist Church which was built in 1864; Bowmans Bakery built in 1861; the Wesleyan Methodist Church built in 1864 (partially destroyed by fire in 2000); the Victoria Hotel and Theatre built in 1862; and Locharron which was built in 1859 as the Union Bank of Australia.
There is also a monument to commemorate the discovery of gold by New Zealanders from Poverty Bay. The gold reef was subsequently known as Poverty Reef. It operated between 1852-53 and yielded 13 1/2 tons or 324,000 oz of gold.
We continued on to the town of Newbridge, which is located on the banks of the Loddon River, the second longest river in Victoria after the Goulburn. There is an interesting interpretive board about Arthur Bayley, who was born in Newbridge, and is considered one of Australia’s greatest gold prospectors. It is said that Bayley had a ‘nose for gold’.
We then drove into Bendigo and booked in to our room at the Golden Reef Motor Inn on the McIvor Highway at Strathdale (Bendigo).
We then headed across the road to the very conveniently located, Seasons Family Bistro where we enjoyed a very nice meal and a few cleansing ales. It was the end of a long day one.
Aussie Towns, 2018, <http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/moliagul-vic>, viewed 2nd December 2018
Summits on the Air, 2018, <https://www.sota.org.uk/>, viewed 2nd December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loddon_River>, viewed 2nd December 2018