It’s not hard to think of a reason to have a QSO party. SOTA contacts are a lot of fun for all involved. For activators there is the question of whether to reactivate a summit already visited, possibly visited this year, or whether to look for a new personal unique summit, ie. one you have not previously activated.
This event was a combination of the postponed VK1 QSO Party and the anniversary of SOTA for VK2/4/6. For this event I wanted to make the best use of the winter bonus and also activate some new uniques. Yankee Ned and Mount Tumorrama seemed to be good options and I looked carefully at maps and planned my trip.
It was a fairly clear day as I drove from Yass to Wee Jasper, then continued towards Tumut on the Wee Jasper Road. There were many roos and wallabies feeding near the road, some creating hazards by reacting unpredictably to the approaching or passing car. I realised when I reached Brindabella Road that I did not have the map prepared at home. I looked up the lat/lon of Yankee Ned using Sotagoat on the phone (which had no coverage there), converted the decimal degrees to degrees, minutes and seconds and input the coordinates into the Garmin GPS. That gave me a direction and distance to reach the foothills of the summit, however on reaching the vicinity of the summit, my location was clearly wrong as there was a much higher summit to the west. I decided to walk up the higher summit and on reaching the top I compared the lat/lon details with SOTA Goat data. It was identical so I knew I was in the right place. I later decided I must have made an error in the conversion of lat/long in decimal degrees to degrees/minutes/seconds, so in future I will use decimal degrees on the GPS unless there is a reason to do otherwise.
Getting the radios going I made contacts with Matt 1MA, Andrew 1NAM and Andrew 1MBE, Roald 1MTS. Then on 40m I had some CW contacts with a number of VK3 and VK5 callers. Close-in contacts were difficult, indicating propagation was favouring longer distances than usual.
I was hoping for a good number of S2S contacts from this summit. With conditions so unusual, I failed to reach Adan VK1FJAW at Mt Gillamatong. While I was on Yankee Ned, he ended his operation at Mt G and drove over to Mt Palerang, where he had a (self-imposed!) steep climb up the eastern side of the mountain. Conditions were still unfavourable so we missed each other on that occasion.
At about 1pm I packed up and walked down the north side of Yankee Ned, reaching the fire trail that encircles the hill, then walking back along the fire trail where my car was parked.
I spent 10 minutes making a cup of tea and lunch. Then drove on to Mt Tumorrama, which is easily reached by car all the way to the top. In fact the track I used to access Yankee Ned went back to Wee Jasper Forest Road and the access for Tumorrama was about 10m along the road, almost opposite where the Yankee Ned fire trail emerged from the forest.
At Mt Tumorrama I was unsure of whether the equipment in the building there would create any radio interference for me. In fact there was a lot of noise on 40m and 20m, making some frequencies very hard to use. The noise coincided with the running of cooling fans inside the building compound. I think operating further away from the building would be a better plan next time. Avoiding the blackberry bushes would also be better. A few thorns pierced my jeans and that was not a good experience…
On this summit I spent some time on 2m FM working into the Canberra area, then some time on 40m, both CW and SSB. A text message to Adan discovered he was about to arrive at his third summit, so I asked him to let me know when he would be ready for a contact on 144.150 SSB, as it was clear that HF would not allow any contacts between us. It was about 100km and I felt sure that our little radios would be able to do that distance on 2m ssb. Eventually we did make that contact so that was worth waiting for.
The weather on the hill had gradually changed so by 4pm it was quite cool and rain clouds were building up. I packed up soon afterwards and started the 2hr trip back to Yass at about 4:15pm.
On the way back I noticed this unusual circular pattern of partly submerged rocks on the hillside opposite the road. Not related to SOTA. Included as a bonus.