The VK6 SoTA programme has started and thanks goes out to everyone who made it possible.
Anxious to get started, I thought a trip up to Mt Dale on my day off would be a great beginning. I have been here a few times before, once camping and a few other times chasing thunderstorms. At one time I would have said that I knew the way through the hills like the back of my hand … but it’s been a while.
A FT-817 was lent to me again by on old friend, until I can get my hands on a X1M, and headed up the hill same way I always remembered. The only real problem, apart from HF conditions, was the road I had always used had been blocked by Water Corporation. For future reference, this is Pickering Brook Road out towards the old Barton’s Mill prison farm.
The best access from the north is on Ashendon Road that runs off Mundaring Weir Road. It is all-weather dirt and is quite well used and subject to quite large potholes that can catch out the unwary. There were a few nasty washaways, narrow but deep, just remember not to be still braking hard when the front wheels go in. A section of Dale Road was also inundated and had water still flowing over it. This bit was quite slippery but the Prado ambled through it happily. I have done the same section many times in a Holden Barina, so don’t be fazed.
Southern access onto Ashendon Road from Brookton Highway is also available. This means less time on dirt roads but greater travelling time from the bulk of the metro area.
There is a small picnic/camping area on the right hand side just before the the final ascent. I assume this is where campers and walkers stay on this leg of the Bibbulmun Track. I’ve never really had a look around there apart from noticing some picnic tables in the scrub.
Once at the summit I opted for a ‘walk out/walk in’ approach. I could park quite close to the summit but to comply with activation rules I walked outside the activation zone (quite a lot, as it turned out, due to a laggy GPS) and walked back in, carrying all my gear for the activation. I tethered the squid pole to a handy post, placed all the other gear on a small retaining wall, did a Goat spot and started calling. One thing I did notice was the occasional data burst of some kind from the repeater tower on the summit. It only lasted about a second at a time but was quite intermittent and more noticeable on higher frequencies.
After an initial flurry of contacts on 40m I tried 15m. Sadly conditions were not conducive to interstellar QRP contacts apart from VK3OHM, who was 5/8 with QSB to me but I was unable to complete the contact. I guess I’ll need to upgrade & join the 20m brigade.
Thanks to all who answered the call on SOTAWatch and the various forums. Looking forward to the next one. Apologies to those on 15m but I had to head back to Perth to pick up the kids from school.