As we were up for a short burst of sunny weather after a long stretch of record breaking cold and wet spring weather, it was time for a SOTA trip on Sunday.
After a late start, I headed for Noojee coming from the south via Neerim. At the junction of Main Neerim Rd. and the Baw Baw Tourist Rd., head left for about 8km and turn left at Limberlost Rd. at the bottom of the hill. Follow Limberlost Rd. for about 9km to the junction of Outlook Rd. Limberlost Rd. is a good 2wd unsealed road. Just watch out for the trail bikes!
There is a track 20 metres or so to the west from the junction heading south west to the summit of Spion Kopje.
The track was pretty overgrown and it’s easy lose the track if you are not watching out for the blue trail markers every now and then in the trees. It was also pretty slippery with the recent rains.
The walk is only about 500 metres from the road to the summit while going over the odd granite outcrop. At the top there is a small cairn on granite.
Once at the summit, there was little or no wind, so I strapped a 7 metre squid pole to a tree on a slight angle so that it overhung a clear area above the summit cairn.
The EFHW was used, and as an experiment, the backpacking transceiver was connected up. There was a lot of activity on 40m and before long made a couple of S2S contacts with VK1NAM/ VK1RX/ VK1DI on a first activation of Mt. Clear. Shortly after, an S2S was made with VK3ZPF on Mt. Ida on both 40m and 12m. 17 contacts were made over about 40 minutes in between having lunch.
The backpacking transceiver had a bit of distortion reported so I went over to the FT-817 about half way. Still a bit of work to do on it.
It was still fairly early, so I packed up and headed back to the car to check out Mc Carthy Spur.
Once in Noojee, I headed down Henty St. which leads into Mc Carthy Spur Rd. on the left and over the bridge. Mc Carthy Spur Rd. is a good 2wd unsealed road just with the odd large pothole and loose rocks here and there. I followed the road all the way to Boundary Rd. and turned right. Shortly after there is a gate where I parked. Looking over at the peak, the bush was very thick. I walked down the road a bit and to the left Montane Rd., but could not see a hint of a track. There was a bit of a wombat track just down Montane Rd. so headed in there. The bush was very thick and progress very slow. There were a couple of large trees down and I followed these along where they had flattened the undergrowth. Several times, my cap and glasses were ripped off by branches and scrub, trying to make progress. According to my GPS I was comfortably in the activation zone, so set up next to a another fallen tree.
There was no where to put up the EFHW in the cramped undergrowth. I had taken my compact squid pole with me on this one as it fits inside the pack. This pole is about 5 metres long. and only weighs about 260gms. Using this pole, I hoisted up a vertical wire and then bungy strapped the squid pole on a small tree for some more height. I could have really used the cute little antenna here. I had the Elecraft T1 tuner with me and used this to try and tune the vertical wire against a short counterpoise.
As expected, with so much tree clutter around and a short inefficient antenna, signals were not too good. I did make 8 contacts though including another S2S with Peter, VK3ZPF on Mt. Ida. I didn’t want to hang around too long as it did feel a little claustrophobic.
I went out a different way that seemed a little easier, again following a series of fallen trees with gaps in between of hacking through undergrowth and emerging with a few scratches. This summit definitely rates a close second to North Hells Gate!