The weather was better than I had hoped for. I drove through a few fog patches between Ringwood and Healesville but it was an otherwise clear day. As the sun was rising, it confirmed that it was the ideal winter day for a little summit hopping.
It was great to hear the number of stations that were running QRP this weekend and proving to themselves that running high power is not normally needed to be heard on a summit. Although by no means mandatory, I believe that running low power makes better operators of all of us.
Activated 15th June 2013
There is no missing the turn off to Mt St Leonard as you drive north along picturesque Myers Creek Road from Healesville. Mt St Leonard Road was quite slushy and slippery in parts with the recent heavy rains however it should be passable in any 2WD car through winter with care. I parked the car at the locked gate and hiked easily to the top, surveyed the summit, crowded with communications towers and infrastructure, looking for a place to set up my HF vertical antenna. I climbed the public viewing platform and decided to set up on the platform itself, guessing that the receiver of the FT-817 was going to get clobbered by high levels of RF noise and this indeed turned out to be the case.
I tuned up on 40 metres with predicted S8 noise and decided to keep the activation short and sweet. My first contact at 2246z was Ron VK3MJR shortly followed by Allen VK3HRA mobile in Healesville, heading for Mt Ritchie. It was easy to make the minimum quota and I logged a total of only six contacts, the last being Tony VK3CAT on 146.500 with the HT.
I arrived at the locked gate to Mt Despair in good time for the longest return walk of the day. The climb is about 4km but is not steep. Once again there is communications infrastructure at the top and plenty of operating spots to choose from. I chose a spot on the western side of the tower with a couple of rocks to rest the gear and the backside. A trail bike rider arrived as I was setting up and was curious to check out what I was doing.
I was on air at 0140z without any of the RF noise I put up with on Mt St Leonard and made my first contact with Glenn VK3YY/p now set up Mt St Leonard. I bagged a few other S2S contacts with Ray VK3YAR/p on VK3/VN-023, Allen VK3HRA/p and Peter VK3ZPF/p both feeling the chill on Mt Ritchie. I was sitting in the sunshine whilst conditions that they were putting up with on Mt Ritchie sounded identical to what I endured when there recently. I logged a total of 15 contacts in 20 minutes of air time and then packed up to head for Mt Gordon, my last summit of the day.
Access to Mt Gordon is easy. A well maintained gravel road will take you almost to the summit however for a little excersise there is a widening on the track about half way up which is a good spot to park the car. Enjoy the views to the east and over your shoulder to the southeast as you stroll up. Walk up past the gate the last little bit and take in the view north towards Buxton Peak and Sugarloaf Peak.
I found a couple of rocks to set up on the eastern edge of the clearing by the communications tower as a few grey clouds were building from the east. These clouds were dumping showers and I felt a couple of spots of rain. I didn't mess around and quickly worked my first contact S2S with Ron VK3AFW/p on VK3/VW-009 and 15 other contacts in 15 minutes before packing up and almost jogging all the way back to the car. Surprisingly I missed the rain with only a few spots on the windscreen as I drove home.
Next weekend I can't make a summit due to other commitments but may be able to work some of you portable from close to home.
73 for now.