Activated 11 January 2014
I left Melbourne around midday Saturday and headed for VK3/VC-032 located in the Wombat State Forest. I stopped and visited a group of fellow EMDRC club members set up for the VHF UHF Field Day on nearby McLachlans Lookout before heading a few kilometres further West to my location where I planned to set up. VK3/VC-032 is an unnamed summit with gentle slopes and easy vehicle access. I found a clearing just off the road down a little from the highest point but still well within the activation zone. Knowing that there was a chance of other activators around, I parked the car in the clearing and set off with all my usual backpack radio gear plus a tripod. 5 element homebrew 2 metre beam and a broomstick as a mast for the beam. The quickest way to walk out of the activation zone and back was not along the road but due west into medium density forest and regrowth. This was rather awkward carrying all this extra gear and particularly the beam which had a propensity to catch the foliage. At one stage I slipped badly almost falling on the beam which would have most likely destroyed it but fortunately it survived.
Upon staggering back I selected my operating position and set up initially for 40 metres. I worked 9 stations in 15 minutes including S2S contacts with Brett VK2BNN and Greg VK2FGJW. When things quietened down on 40 metres I kept monitoring the band whilst setting up the beam for 2 metres SSB. I then had no problems at all working a steady stream of contest stations with good reports from most stations logged aware of my QRP status. Flicking back to 40 metres I logged another S2S with Nick VK3ANL.
Quite comfortable in this spot I decided to stay the night and play radio for as long as there were people to talk to and switched between 40m, 20m, 2m and even a couple of contacts on 70cm with a couple of contest stations on the HT.
It was fairly cool and foggy in the morning but with good weather forecast I decided to string up the doublet as an inverted V from my squid pole well as the vertical HF antenna I had been using and called for SOTA contacts on 40 metres with better results this time. Several stations this time said that they could not hear me the previous afternoon but could now log a contact. This time I logged 23 SOTA contacts in around 40 minutes including another S2S with Greg VK2FGJW on another summit.
As part of my contribution to the VHF UHF Field Day I logged a few contacts on 70cm FM with the HT, and 35 contacts on 2 metres SSB with the beam and the FT-817. This included a couple of S2S contacts with Andrew VK1DA on Mt Ginini, the second one where he also switched to his FT-817 and made the contact QRP both ways, a distance of 460 kilometeres. I also worked 2 meters into VK2, VK5 and VK7 with my flea power before packing up and heading of to Mt Warrenheip.
Activated 12 January 2014
Mt Warrenheip is easily accessed from Forbes Road behind the gaudy tourist attraction of Kryal Castle nestled at its base and visible from the Western Highway. There are three main towers on the summit and a sealed road to the top. I drove up here and parked, grabbing the backpack and going for a stroll in a north easterly direction following a powerline past the third tower and then down a fire trail outside the activation zone to the road I had driven up earlier. I returned back up the fire trail and there were several spots that I could have set up but within very close proximity to the powerline that may have been very noisy on HF. I continued past my car and back into the bush around the far side of the first tower and set up in the shade with the doublet thrown between two trees.
All contacts were on 40 metres and the first was with Peter VK3PF who spotted me and helped the activation off to a speedy start. I logged 15 contacts in under 20 minutes including an S2S with Bernard VK2IO/3 on The Horn which I activated both sides of the UTC New Year. Conditions on the band were pretty ordinary with lots of QSB both ways making the contacts difficult for chasers.
With the summit easily qualified I packed up and headed for Mt Bunninyong knowing that with a major cycling event on in the area that access would still be possible but I would be walking quite a but further than I would otherwise normally have to.
Activated 12 January 2014
This summit is by far the prettiest of the three summits visited this weekend. I had studied the route of the road race which ran in a circuit to the west of Bunninyong township but did not impede my access by foot to the summit. I parked down from a policed road block amongst a large number of spectator vehicles on Yendon Number One Road, walked through the road block and left into Yankee Flat Road which joined with Mt Bunninyong Road to the summit. I major walking track crosses the road about half way up and I took this zigzag track to the summit which opens into a pleasant grassed picnic spot with a shelter and a couple of picnic tables shaded with mature gums. To the left, a short walk takes you to the fire tower that allows access to a public viewing platform.
I climbed to the viewing platform and the fire tower was manned. I could overhear the firewatch radios in the room above me whilst I decided to attempt to qualify the summit on 2 metres with the HT. I was easily able to get several repeaters from this vantage point and tried to drum up some simplex contacts. Andrew VK3BQ was mobile on his way home from the VHF UHF Field Day club station VK3ER when he heard me via the Mt Macedon Repeater. We couldn't make a simplex contact but he was able to spot me and assist in a couple of contacts, Ernie VK3DET and Peter VK3TKK. Still needing a couple more contacts I left the tower and strolled over to a picnic table and set up the FT-817 with the vertical antenna and pulled in 16 contacts on 40 metres, including an S2S with Greg VK2FGJW/1 on VK1/AC-042.