This day turned out a little different to what I expected. It was my original intention to activate Riddell Ridge VK3/VC-010. I studied some hiking notes and the Parks map on line, made my own notes and made my way early by car, getting to the park gate with much anticipation. On arrival there were notices posted around the gate entrance and on several prominent trees that the track to the top was closed due to controlled burns being undertaken. Although it was obvious they were not doing any burning today, the wind was strong and conditions would have been unsuitable. I toyed around with the idea of ignoring the notices and setting off up the track anyway. Common sense told me that it was probably not such a smart idea just in case. The last thing you would want to happen is to twist an ankle or be in need of help and have to explain to someone how you managed to miss all those signs.
None the less, I jumped back in the car and headed straight for Mt Toolebewong instead. Once you leave the bitumen and head for the summit, you find yourself on a well formed gravel road that winds its way pleasantly to the top, passing a number of delightful cottages nestled in their surroundings with magnificent views of the valley below. Close to the summit, the road turns sharp left and continues past some cleared pasture on the left and then comes to a sign informing you of a private road from there on. A couple of small clearings either side of the road before the sign give you room to turn the vehicle around and go back down the hill as it is here where you are within the activation zone. I took the Triton back down around the corner and parked further down the road again and parked near one of the cottages before grabbing my kit and walking back to where I had been earlier.
I checked out the two clearings again at the sign and found signs of a previous SOTA activation. Someone left part of their antenna stuck in a tree – a thin wire with red insulation and a moderately sized zinc-plated nut as a weight. (Come on, you know who you are). I managed to recover the wire and nut, but before setting up, I decided to take a walk past the sign just to see what might be ahead. A little further on is a gate with another sign “Private Property”. I turned back and about half way between the two signs found what seemed to be animal track. I detoured and about 15 metres in found a little clearing and part of a large fallen tree that I decided would make a reasonable bench space. I unrolled the doublet and decided on an inverted V configuration this time due to the relatively tight space I was in.
I first got on 40m at 2300 UTC. My third contact was Andrew VK1NAM/p on summit VK1/AC-008 and for the next hour, I logged 21 contacts, once again many were SOTA regulars but not on summits. Things went quiet again for around 10 minutes, just before the UTC rollover, giving me a chance to have a bite to eat. Most of the stations I had previously worked came back after the rollover to pick up more chaser points. A further 15 contacts were made in the new day.
At the top the tower came into view at the end of the road and I could smell the diesel fumes from the generator powering the equipment around the base of the tower. I set up to the side of the road about 60 metres from the tower and launched the doublet high across the road.
Time was marching on and I was set up and operating by 0417 UTC. I was on air for 25 minutes and logged 12 stations with many of them being the second contact for the day.