06 October 2015

16. SOTA Activation: Big Badja Hill and Bald Mountain VK2/SM-059 and VK2/SM052 (20 September 2015)

Big Badja Hill

I accompanied Andrew VK1DA on an activation of Big Badja and Bald Mountain near Cooma. We met up at Gold Creek Maccas and then had a relaxed drive down the B23 via Michelago, Bredbo and Cooma.

The Cooma - Numeralla road is in pretty good nick.

Upon entering Cooma, we turned onto a dirt road towards Numeralla. After about 60 Km, we turned onto the Big Badja Fire Trail for about 1.5 Km and pulled up at a clearing in the forest, near the summit of Big Badja Hill. There is a nice footpath from the clearing to the summit (about 150m) that took us about 10 minutes to walk up.

VK1DA's Magic Carpet parked in the clearing on Big Badja Hill

After setting up my new DX-Wire 10m Mini Squid Pole and mounting my VHF 3 element Tape Measure Yagi at 4 meters, I also brought out my gentleman’s activation station (Helinox Chair One, Helinox Camp Table). These beauties have attracted a fair bit of attention, and rightly so: they are sturdy and light. I happily carry the extra 1.5 Kg along to a summit so that I can sit in comfort with my rear end, FT817 and log book off the ground. At 1.3Kg, the DX-Wire 10m Mini Squid Pole is 300 grams heavier than the Haverfords Squid Poles I have used so far, but it collapses to about 60 cm and fits inside my back-pack - ideal when you go scrub bashing.

The Gentleman's Station with Table and Chair on Big Badja Hill

Our first contacts were with Andrew VK1NAM and Tony VK1VIC on Mount Majura on 2 meters. Then things slow right down and it was more than half an hour before I made another contact, this time with Steve VK2NSS on 2 meters. Propagation conditions were really bad on HF and we were out of mobile phone cover. I had also forgotten to ask Andrew, Tony or Steve to post a spot for us on Sotawatch. After trying HF again, I finally managed to qualify the summit through a contact with Al, VK7AN in Tassie, followed shortly by Jock, VK2EJW in Gunnada, NSW.

Andrew had also just qualified the summit, and we had to get to our next summit, Bald Mountain, so we packed up and were out of there. During the activation, three bush walkers joined us on the summit and we spent a few minutes explaining what was going on.

SOTA Ambassador 1DA Engaging in Foreign Relations

Bald Mountain

We walked back to Andrew’s magic carpet (the Cruiser’s ride is super plush) and headed back down Big Badja Fire trail, returning the same way we had come up.
As the radio signals fly, Mount Bald is about 8 Km North West of Big Badja Hill. From the Big Badja fire trail, we turned left onto the road to Cooma, and then after a few hundred meters, we turned right onto Slap-up Road that lead us to the summit of Bald Mountain.

Near the summit, we parked by the side of the road and walked the last 100m or so to the summit. I do not know where Bald Mountain got its name from but it is definitely not bald. There are heaps of trees all round the perimeter of the summit, with a big tower in e clearing in the middle. This summit reminded me somewhat of Mount Cowangerong.
The equipment on Bald Hill is pretty noisy (RF), and created a bunch of birdies on 40 meters, about 2-4 KHz wide.

Bald Mountain Stations: Andrew 1DA in the Background and my station next to the cage

The HF Propagation issues dissipated and, using Andrew’s Icom 706 (10 Watt) and Link Dipole, we found ourselves at the receiving end of a pile-up on 40 meters.
In about 7 busy minutes, we each made 14 contacts, passing the mic between us. Andrew going first, then telling the other station to stand by before handing the mic to me.

Our first station was Gerard VK2IO, followed by Tony VK3CAT. Next we worked Steve VK7CW, Mark VK2AMS and Rex VK4RF, followed by Paul VK5PAS, Coll VK3LED, Rex VK4HA, Mick VK3PMG and Ron VK3VBI. The HF rush came to an end after we worked Nick VK3ANL, Andrew VK3BQ, Ron VK3AFW and Adam VK2YK.

I made one last 2 meter contact with Andrew 1NAM while he was still on Mount Majura. It was tough going - we were cross polarized and had Gourock in the way but we managed to just get it done.

Andrew 1DA sampling the gentleman's station

Special Permissions or Arrangements

No special arrangements are necessary. All access is via public roads.
Big Badja Hill is in Deua National Park and Bald Mountain is in Gourock National Park.

Summit Information

Big Badja Hill’s summit is 1362 meters above mean sea level and it is worth 8 SOTA activation points, plus a 3 point winter bonus. Its Maidenhead locator is QF43sx.
The summit has a small clearing, a trig beacon and many small shrubs that like to snag on squid pole guy lines (especially builder’s twine). The trig point can be used to support a squid pole.

Bald Mountain’s summit is 1469 meters above mean sea level and it is worth 8 SOTA activation points, plus a 3 point winter bonus. Its Maidenhead locator is QF44sb.
On top of the summit there is a clearing, a trig point, a fenced off tower and shipping container and a bunch of trees around the perimeter. The trig point or the tower’s fence posts can be used to support a squid pole.

View from Big Badja Hill

We drove back towards Canberra via Braidwood and had to pull in at the bakery for a pie (we just managed to make it before closing time).

Pastie and Coffee in Braidwood's Bakery

Contacts Made

Thank you for every contact!

Useful Links

Deua National Park: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Deua-National-Park
Gourock National Park: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Gourock-National-Park
GPS GPX Track Log: Dropbox Link.
VK1NAM Blog: https://vk1nam.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/sota-activation-big-badja-hill-and-bald-mountain/
VK1DI Blog Big Badja: http://vk1di.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/sota-vk2sm-059-big-badja-hill.html
VK1DI Bald Mountain: http://vk1di.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/sota-vk2sm-052-bald-mountain.html

1 comment:

Andrew said...

So I can no longer make smart remarks about the "Gentleman's Activation" equipment having been captured and published using it. It is certainly very comfortable and an activation does not risk numb legs due to sitting too long in one position.
Thanks for your company and assistance on this trip, a pleasure sharing the fun. Andrew VK1DA