The Wireless Institute of Australia’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was scheduled for the weekend of 25-27 May and I offered to give a short presentation about SOTA as one of the technical presentations on the Saturday afternoon. ARNSW which operates from its site at Dural in north-west Sydney was also scheduling a morning of exhibitions in association with the WIA AGM events and coinciding with its monthly trash n treasure event. So we were invited to exhibit there and explain SOTA to interested people.
The initial contact for the exhibition was Compton VK2HRX and we collaborated on the nature of the exhibit to be set up.
On my way to Sydney I called in at Mt Gibraltar, sota reference VK/IL-001 to make at least 4 contacts and qualify for the 4 points available from that summit. I found that a short time earlier, Peter VK3PF had been at that site. During my operation I heard Peter at good strength, activating another summit nearby, Mt Alexandra VK2/IL-005. We made our S2S contact of course and while I would have liked to follow Peter to that summit, I wasn’t sure I had enough time (actually I would have).
I reached Parramatta in western Sydney at about 3pm and checked into my hotel, reorganised my back pack, changed my clothes and then took the train into Sydney, stopping at Town Hall station, very convenient as the evening event was located at the Town Hall in the Marconi room. After some announcements and speeches by various officials of the Waverley Amateur Radio Club, which was celebrating its own 100th anniversary, a fascinating presentation was given about the achievements of Australia’s signals intelligence network during the 1940s. The presenter was David Dufty, the author of The Secret Code-Breakers of Central Bureau: how Australia’s signals-intelligence network helped win the Pacific War. His enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject and how he came to learn of the details was very interesting as it followed my visit to Bletchley Park in the UK three years ago. So many details had been kept secret until relatively recently, it seems.
On the Saturday morning the formal AGM was run and as has been the norm recently, this went fairly quickly and was over within an hour. In the open forum session following the formal phases, a lot of questions were asked about the outcome of the recent ACMA review of the examination and callsign allocation contract. It seems there are still a lot of fine details yet to be clarified.
During the afternoon session of technical presentations I presented on the subject of SOTA, explaining how the award works, how summits are verified and approved and gave some statistics on the number of activators and chasers, contacts made, etc.
I ended my presentation with a short personal history of involvement in SOTA and how it relates to my health, which I am sure is much better than it would otherwise be. I suggested that activities that involve you getting out of the shack and out into nature are not only fun from a radio perspective but are approved by our partners, so what more could you want?
At the dinner on Saturday evening the group heard a great presentation on the Apollo program and what we have gained from it, from Prof Fred Watson, Astronomer at Large for the Australian Government. I found his presentation highly entertaining and informative, he is a very good speaker and if you ever get a chance to hear him speak I recommend it (he has a weekly spot on ABC local radio’s evening program).
On the Sunday morning we went to Dural and set up our exhibit promoting SOTA. A number of clubs from the Sydney area also exhibited, also ALARA, the WICEN group and CREST had stands.
Here are a few photos from our stand and others:
We handed out about 30 copies of our SOTA brochure and had some good chats with various people who wanted to know more.
Overall we thought the exercise was well worth while.
After I left Dural I headed up to Mt Tomah VK2/CT-043 in the Blue Mountains. I operated until just about sunset near 5pm local time, after which I closed down and packed up the gear in the rapidly cooling evening air.
The next morning I drove up to Mt Bindo a little earlier than planned as there was a forecast of low temperatures and a high probability of rain.
I did qualify the summit, with 5 CW contacts and 4 SSB contacts, during which my pole collapsed three times. After the third collapse in a very strong gust of wind, I decided to pack and go, as the clouds to the west were looking dark and I wasn’t really sure of my way down the mountain.
Only a short time later, I was 20km away enjoying a hot coffee at Oberon. It started to snow and I was really glad I didn’t get caught in that on the hilltop with radio gear at risk.
On the way from Oberon southwards to Goulburn, there was quite a lot of snow on the roadside and in the countryside. So glad I wasn’t still on a mountain in that. A big change from the weather I had enjoyed three days earlier on the way up to Sydney.