08 October 2015

18. SOTA Activation: Mount Tennent VK1/AC-025

Mount Tennent is pretty big and it dominates the horizon when you get close to the south of Canberra. I have wanted to walk up the hill for a while and got the chance to do so on Friday 2 October. I was fortunate enough to be joined by one of my mates, Anton, and together we set-off for the trek after parking at the Namadgi Visitor’s Centre just outside of Tharwa. Kudos to Anton for all the pics in this post - great job mate, especially on the panoramas!

The first part of the track takes you from the visitor’s centre, across Boboyan road to the foot of Mount Tennent where you start to climb. It gets pretty steep at places and rightly deserves the “stair master 301” moniker, as suggested by Andrew VK1DA. A large part of the track is taken up by stair climbing, be it natural rock or formed soil steps.

Stair Master 301. Much of the way is like this.

The first stop at the Cypress Pine lookout hints at the views to come. There is also a log bench and stone table to use if you wanted to brew a cuppa. We left the lookout and continued on the trail that gradually became steeper until we reached one of the only flat parts of the climb. Walking away from the trail towards the eastern edge rewarded us with really nice views over the south of Canberra.

View from the Cypress Pine Lookout

We continued along the trail and ran into a T-junction with an interesting sign: Booroomba Rocks 7.5 Km to the right, Mount Tennent Summit 2.5 Km to the left. In future I might come back to this trail, activate Mount Tennent and then carry on to Booroomba Rocks that is also a SOTA Summit. The trip would be a bit too long for a single day activation but one could camp at the Honeysuckle Creek campsite that is very close to Booroomba rocks.

Spring has sprung.

We headed further uphill, passing a big tree that had blown over in a clearing and then picked up the fire trail that headed to the summit. It was about another 1 Km to go on the fire trail and we arrived at the summit.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, no wind, no clouds, and not too warm. About 26 degrees C. Perfect. I set up my station close to the fire lookout and posted a SOTA Spot - no problems with mobile coverage from Mount Tennent.

Before I started calling CQ, I took a few minutes to enjoy the views. From the summit one can look down onto the Canberra Deep Space Radio Telescopes opposite Tidbinbilla in the North. It is easy to make out Black Mountain and Canberra to the North West. On the horizon I could clearly see the 4 humps of One Tree Hill, VK1/AC-035, about 45 Km to the North. Looking into the Namadgi National Park one can see many of the SOTA peaks there, including Ginini and Gingera.

The view from the top - overlooking Canberra. Canberra DSN Left. Black Mountain and Mt Taylor in the middle. Mt. Majura to the right. One Tree Hill on the horizon, one third from the left.

Special Permissions or Arrangements

No special arrangements are necessary. All access is via public roads. Drive towards the South of Canberra on the Tuggeranong Parkway and continue on to Tharwa on Tharwa drive.
Just after the bridge over the Murrumbidgee River, turn left on Naas road for a few kilometres to reach the Namadgi National Park Visitor’s Centre. Mount Tennent is located in the Namadgi National Park, VKFF-0377.

Summit Information

Mount Tennet’s summit is 1384 meters above mean sea level and it is worth 4 SOTA activation points, plus a 3 point winter bonus. Its Maidenhead locator is QF44mk.
There are a few small trees and shrubs around and few convenient rocks. I tied my squid pole to a small tree that was enough to keep it upright. Mount Tennent is within easy reach of the Mt. Ginini repeater.

Equipment Used

FT817 powered by a Zippy 4S LifePo battery.
Dx Wire Squid Pole with Link Dipole and my VHF Tape Measure Yagi.

The Shack on Mt. Tennent.

Contacts Made

I started calling CQ on 40 meters as I was waiting for Andrew VK1NAM to arrive on Mount Ainslie for a summit-to-summit contact. I was answered immediately by Amanda VK3FQSO, followed by Gerard VK2IO. Gerard reported some QSB and at one point we lost a whole over due to fading. I noticed Andrew VK1NAM’s self-spot on 2 meters and changed to 146.500 FM for a contact with him. Andrew told me that Tony VK1VIC/P was out and about and I had a quick QSO with Tony as well. Before signing off 2 meters, I also had a nice QSO with Dmitri VK2COW in Gundaroo. Dmitri was running 0.5 Watt but I had no trouble copying him, giving him a 5/9 report.

Something was up with propagation conditions because next when I contacted Andrew VK2UH on 40 meters, I got a 4/2 report from him in Yass. After I worked Andrew, I had a summit-to-summit contact with Glen VK3YY on Talbot VK3/VT-010. This was a pretty difficult contact and Glen had to repeat his call sign at least 3/4 times before I could make it out. I gave Glen a 4/1 report and received a 3/1 in return. Conditions weren’t too flash. The next contact I made was with Peter VK3PF, who was on Mount Delusion VK3/VG/026 in East Gippsland. This was slightly easier with an exchange of 5/3 and 5/2 sent and received. Next I worked Trevor VK3FPSR - he was an easy copy (I gave him a 5/7) but it must have been pretty hard for him to hear me as I only got a 3/1.

I sent a text to Roald VK1MTS to see if he was around for a quick QSO and managed to get him in Gungahlin, close to One Tree Hill that was 45 km away. Roald had the HT but that was no trouble at all and we exchanged a 5/8 and 5/9 sent and received respectively.

After catching up with Roald I returned to 40 meters and had contacts with Mick VK3PMG/P who was in Green Lake Regional Park VKFF-967, Phil VK2HPN, Guy VK3GUY and Fred VK3DAC.
Most of these guys were an easy 5/6 or 5/8 copy for me but with the exception of Mick VK3PMG/P, they all gave me a 4/1 or 5/2.

Summary of Contacts

Thank you to the Shack Sloths and the Goats for every contact!

Useful Links

VK1NAM Blog Mt. Tennent: https://vk1nam.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/winter-bonus-mt-tennent-12-september-2014/
VK1DA Blog Mt. Tennent: http://vk1da.net/blog/2014/09/15/mt-tennent-activation-12-sept-2014/

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