3rd December 2016
It’s been far too long since my previous SOTA expedition, so my lady and I decided that a trip out in the 4WD was in order. One of our favourite 4WD trails is the Tin Mines Trail that runs through the Woomargama National Park, traversing no fewer than three SOTA summits. We started from the eastern end, accessing Mt Jergyle after a bone-shaking run up from the state forest off Tunnel Road.
The Tin Mines Trail can be very muddy in wet conditions, so we were pleased to find that it had dried out very well after the spring rains. There were obvious signs that only a few weeks ago the trail would have been very difficult for anyone driving anything less than a tank, and there were deep ruts and dried-up bog holes all along the trail. I was very suspicious of some of them, knowing the propensity of the clay up there to dry to a crust on the surface but leaving a knee-deep pit of slushy mud beneath. Fortunately we had no problems and did not get stuck in any of these traps for the unwary.
Mt Jergyle has a good parking area and a lookout (Norths Lookout) that gives fabulous views to the west, north and east so it’s always worth taking a bit of time to go and look at that. We arrived early and spent a few minutes checking out the view before setting up the station.
This time out I decided to use the Barrett 940 with a 40-metre long wire, which would provide reasonable performance on all bands from 3.5MHz up. It took a few minutes to identify a series of suitable trees to act as antenna supports. Forty metres is a lot of wire!
I was on the air a few minutes early and so decided to check the Spots on SOTA Goat before getting started. I noted a spot from Andrew VK1AD/2 who was on 28MHz, so not really expecting anything I quickly programmed that frequency into a spare channel on the 940. I was amazed to hear Andrew’s dulcet tones coming in at a solid S5, so I gave him a call and a QSO ensued.
There were a few activators out and about and I chased a couple of JA’s up and down the bands, but never got a strong enough signal from them to try a call. Likewise I chased Wynne ZL2ATH around the bands until finally we managed a QSO on 14MHz SSB for my first S2S with New Zealand. Signals were weak, but we made it!
I worked a string of chasers on 7MHz CW before UTC roll-over, and then worked most of them again on SSB after roll-over. All in all, a very successful activation.
Unfortunately the 40-metre wire got stuck as I attempted to pull it down, and it broke leaving me with two smaller sections. I haven’t measured them yet but they may still be useful for something. Waste not, want not as my grandmother always used to remind us.
Stations worked on 7MHz CW:
VK2IO, VK7CW, VK3CAT, VK1EM, VK3PF, VK3AFW, VK3ARH, VK3WE,
Stations worked on 7MHz SSB:
VK3SQ, VK2VW, VK3CAB, VK2IO, VK2EXA, VK7CW, VK3LED, VK3EQ, VK3MCK, VK3PF, VK3YY/P (S2S VK3/VT-010), VK5IS, VK3CAT, VK4RF, VK4HA, VK3XY, VK2ERP/P, VK2CBD/P,
Stations worked on 10MHz CW:
Stations worked on 14MHz SSB:
ZL2ATH (S2S ZL1/WL-046),
Stations worked on 28MHz SSB:
VK1AD/2 (S2S VK2/ST-003), VK4RF, VK4HA,