It all started with Brian, VK3MCD organising a SOTA gathering up on Mt Hotham VK3/VE-006 at a ski lodge.
Mt. Hotham is surrounded by 10 point summits, some easy to get to and many not so easy, so we jumped at a chance to spend a couple of days there.
Sarah and I did not leave Melbourne until 4:30pm on Friday and finally arrived at 10:15pm after a 5 hour drive plus a dinner stop at Bairnsdale. We chose the route through Bairnsdale and Omeo so as to avoid freeway congestion on the Friday afternoon. The drive up was better than expected, although we were driving in thick fog once we rose to higher altitudes between Omeo and Mt Hotham.
We awoke to a stunning scene of low cloud below us and bright sun.
On Saturday morning, we joined Brian VK3MCD, Peter VK3PF and Alan VK3FABT on a 4WD trip to VK3/VE-018, Basalt Knob-VK3/VE-039 and Mt. Blue Rag. Most summits could be activated on 144MHz FM with a hand held due to all the other activators in the vicinity. Brian’s Landcruiser made easy work of the rough tracks past Mt. Blue Rag. The morning was mostly foggy, limiting the views. 40m was a bit average for propagation, especially locally. Activity on the summits was fast and furious with lots of summit to summit contacts with the other activators. It did get a bit confusing at times though.
In the afternoon, we hiked over to Mt. Loch, VK3/VE-005 with Adam VK3AGD. The walk is about 7km return and it was getting quite warm. We had fantastic views from the summit and could see Andrew, VK1AD and Adan, V1FJAW in the distance on the track.
The day was topped off with a happy hour on top of Mt Hotham VK3/VE-006.
Several stations were set up on HF and there were countless exchanges on 144MHz FM. It was hard to keep track of who was on and where they were.
The weather conditions were again perfect with no wind and bright skies.
After returning to the lodge we enjoyed a terrific meal organised by Kathy.
After a late start on Sunday, we went towards Omeo and activated VK3/VG-030. Unfortunately, we were greeted by a fallen tree at the start of the track off the Omeo Road and had to walk to the summit, which was activated solely on 144MHz FM. We had walked a short distance down the hill on the way back, when Sarah asked me if I had my phone. Sure, I had my phone, but no GPS, so it was a walk back to the summit where the GPS was patiently waiting.
The weekend was 54 points in total for me, but some of the others would have done a lot better than that, especially those that stayed over on Sunday.
In all, we had about 20 attend for the weekend and some stayed on an extra day.
Operators included Brian-VK3MCD, Ron-VK3AFW, Andrew-VK1AD, Andrew-VK1MBE, Adan-VK1FJAW, Peter-VK3PF, Alan-VK3FABT, Rob-VK2QR, Alan-VK3ARH, Tony-VK3CAT, Ken-VK3KIM, Compton-VK2HRX (I hope I haven’t missed anyone!)
Special thanks to Brian and Kathy for organising the weekend!