Saturday was predicted to be a nice day with a top of 24 degrees. The SOTA winter bonus was due to expire on the following Monday, so thought it was a good opportunity to activate Conners Plain VT-022, Mt. Selma VT-013 and Mt. Useful VT-016.
Kevin, VK3KAB had been to these summits recently, so gave him a call to find out the condition of the roads. Again, the chainsaw was packed just in case.
I decided to head out at 6:30am to the most distant summit, Conners Plain, first and access it via Licola. This would get me there faster with bitumen road to Licola (203km from home). From Licola, I took the Jamieson Rd., which is bitumen for 13km and turns to 2wd gravel after. It is 7km further on the gravel to closest point near Conners Plain. There were several large trees over the roads from the high winds over the past few weeks. Luckily others had cut gaps in the logs wide enough for a car to get through.
The Conners Plain summit is quite close to the road (only a few hundred metres), so it was a short walk to set the gear up. There is lots of regrowth after the recent bushfires, so it won’t be long and it will be hard to get through the scrub to the summit. I was on air for only about 25 minutes resulting in 15 contacts. I tried 12 metres without success. There was one summit to summit with Mark, VK1MDC and VK2FAJG on Mt Cowangerong.
The_next summit was Mt. Selma, so headed south down the Licola Jamieson Road to the junction of South Rd. (dry 2wd), and took South Rd for 10km until the Mt. Selma Road ( dry 2wd). It is only about 3.5km from the turn off to Mt. Selma to park the car. Despite the short distances, it took about 40 minutes from Conners to Selma due to the road condition and manoeuvring around trees. After parking on the Mt. Selma Rd, I walked a few hundred metres down the hill and then back up to the car and then up the track to the summit. I don’t think it was necessary to walk down the hill, as I was probably out of the activation zone. I setup the squid pole and 40m EFHW and shortly after realised I had set up on an ants nest. After moving all the gear, I went on air and worked 16 stations in 20 minutes. Summit to summits were made with Ed, VK2JI on Mt. Elliot and Mark, VK3PI on Mt. Hickey. On 12 metres, I contacted Peter, VK3PF.
Next was Mt. Useful. I headed back to South Rd. and headed south for approx 20km to the Mt. Useful track turn off to the left. I drove up the track to the summit and parked. There is a communications facility on the summit with a large array of solar panels, a building and carport. From the car I heard Tony, VK3CAT on Talbot Peak, so called to let him know that I would be on air in about half an hour. I jumped out of the car with the gear, and walked out of the activation zone and back again and set up in the clearing at the top with the squid pole tied to a stump. Had a summit to summit contact with Tony on 40 metres and 12 metres. Also contacted Peter, VK3PF again on 12m. All up about 15 contacts in 25 minutes of operating.
The_weather was sunny and almost warm, although pretty windy. It was time to head home, so headed south on South Rd that becomes Spring Rd. at some point. I was probably averaging about 40km per hour on the road. At the junction of Binns Road, I decided to take take Binns rather than head back towards Seaton like the last trip out this way. I should have probably kept going down South Rd, as Binns Road was quite slow with windy sections that were a bit rough. After about an hour and 24km, I came out in Walhalla and took the bitumen the rest of the way home.