Activated 8 & 9th June 2013
I arrived at Mt Dom Dom ahead of schedule when dawn was breaking with thick fog sitting in the valley where I parked. I took note of VK3KAN Rik's notes on access to the summit but had some difficulty following the track mentioned. Not to worry. As I increased altitude I got above the fog and it was not too difficult to pick a haphazard path, getting around various piles of timber and chest high regrowth left by recent logging operations. Quite a thick frost had settled overnight which crunched under foot and also made some of the fallen timber very slippery to negotiate. I eventually settled in a pleasant spot with a good view to the southwest.
Allen VK3HRA was also in the area today and went to activate Mt Mitchell first. We communicated from car to car on 2 metres and could both reach each other with our HTs when on our summits. I set up the HF vertical antenna and fired up the FT-817 first getting on the air at 2254z. I had a good run of contacts until Allen came up about half an hour later and we tag-teamed on the same frequency until the UTC roll over. I made another 9 contacts before packing things up and heading off to Mt Mitchell.
caught up with Allen down on the lower roads from Mt Mitchell and we stopped and compared notes on a few summits and I received the most up to date information on the road conditions ahead which included two fallen trees that I was able to drive over. From where I parked the car, it was a fairly easy walk to the summit with a little bush bashing to a flat outcrop of granite surrounded by a number of stunted dead trees that were suitable for stringing up the doublet. This time when I fired up on 40 metres, my signal reports were much better. The 26 contacts included another S2S with Allen who had moved to Mt St Leonard and other S2S contacts with Wayne VK3WAM, Darren VK3FDJT, and Ian VK1DI/3 visiting Victoria and activating Huon Hill on the outskirts of Wodonga.
With 2 summits under my belt in reasonable time I decided to check out Buxton Peak in passing. I was wondering if I should head off and get Mt Gordon instead for a couple of points more but as Buxton Peak has never been activated, I thought I would have the honour of being the first if possible.
This summit is on private property as I discovered when I drove around to the most likely access point. I was rather fortunate that the land owner was clearing undergrowth between the fence line and the road so I stopped and asked him if there was public access to the summit. When I explained what SOTA was about, he was happy to grant me his blessing, pleased that I was a harmless radio geek and not a hunter with a cache of firearms.
I decided to take the HT only and leave the rest of the gear behind in the car to make the climb faster, relatively confident that I should be able to get the four minimum contacts on 2 metres to qualify. It was a good thing I took the spare battery too. I had used the HT a fair bit already and it had been on standby most of the day.
It took several minutes of calling to get my first contact, Glenn VK3BAC who was also on a HT not far from Yea. Several more calls without luck and I was starting to wish I'd lugged the rest of my gear up the summit. I then jumped on the REC repeater to stir up some action. Richard VK3TXD was there and tried me on simplex without luck. He told me to hang about as he quickly set up his 5 element yagi and pointed it at me with 5 watts for an easy contact. He then tried to rally the troops for me via the repeater but when this didn't seem to work, he signed up on sotawatch and placed his first spot for me. Shortly after, the calls came, another five contacts in ten minutes. Richard's help in the background really was the key to this successful activation and as a result, I think he is also keen to now activate a few summits himself.
Appropriately, my last contact for the day was Allen once more for a final S2S, this time on Mt Toolebewong.