Mt Warrenheip activation
Once a year or so, I engage in the royal and ancient Scottish art of Whackfek. It is not as violent as the ancient Lancashire martial art of Ecky-Thump, but is certainly, to quote Winston Churchill, a good way to ruin a walk. Once a year, an old high school friend of mine joins me on a untried Whackfek course and we hit a ball until it goes “Whack” and then watch it go where we didn’t want it to, as we say, with varying intensity, “Fek”. This year, we tried the course at Buninyong and 130 strokes each and about 284 swear words later, I packed the clubs up and pulled out the SOTA gear and drove up Mt Warrenheip.
Mt Warrenheip and Mt Buninyong are both the remnants of volcanic cones, unlike Flinders Peak, and look disturbingly similar and are disturbingly similar heights. The drive up to both is a narrow single lane bitumen road, in reasonable condition. The general consensus from my family from when we activated Mt Buninyong, and myself from activating Mt Warrenheip, is that you should take care on these roads. They are not dangerous per se, but a sudden vehicle appearing from behind a blind corner could have you spearing over the edge, which is quite steep. Should that happen, I’d aim for a tree, because there’s no way you’d stop otherwise.
The game of Whackfek had taken longer than anticipated, so I was late, but I hiked down the hill about halfway and back up again, before setting up my station. There is a trig point at the top of Mt Warrenheip, but the trees are thick enough I doubt any surveyor has used it in the past couple of decades. I chose the high point behind the trig point that leads to one of the communication towers. It had a stump near the edge of the incline back down to the road that I attached the squid pole to, and strung out the dipole legs over some trees. I tied off using some hootchie cord to one metal pole near the trig point, and to the fence of the communications tower area.
I was on the air at 0439 UTC when Peter VK3FPSR responded to my CQ, followed one-a-minute by VK5CZ, VK5WG, VK5LY and VK5EE, which goes to show propagation to VK5 at that time of day is pretty good, and that it’s fairly easy to get a two letter call in VK5! I worked an Andrew-to-Andrew contact with VK2FAJG, VK2UH and VK1NAM, and a Summit-to-Summit with Perrin VK3XPT on Mt Square Top (VK3/VT-071). Perrin was using the Miracle Whip antenna but based on that performance, I can’t claim I’d go out and buy one. He was a very noisy and scratchy 3 and 3 with the preamp on. The worst result of the day by far (no one else received less than 56). It may just have been his location, though.
I put out a final call after Andrew VK1NAM had called, and Ron VK3AFW came back. I had noted his absence to that point; he is usually one of the first chasers I hear when others activate. Another final call yielded Matt VK1MA, although my signal to his was fairly weak (31). Another final call then yielded Paul VK5PAS. It was great to be on the other side of the microphone to Paul for a change, even if my final call count was up to three! 🙂 One more call came back empty for a change and I packed up quickly.
I had intended to operate on 20m for the VK6 crowd, but I simply ran out of time. By this stage my wife had been at home with the children for many hours without my support and her tolerance was waning. I still had an hour to go to get home and so it just wasn’t feasible. By the time I’d arrived home, my wife had firmly declared that they were my kids, not ours, which is usually a good sign I’ve taken too long.
Mt Warrenheip’s proximity to Mt Buninyong suggests an easy pair of activations, and I can thoroughly recommend the Buninyong Golf Course, which was in immaculate condition. It should be conceivable for someone to play a round and activate the two summits within the day, should your interests lie that way. I too think I will be back sometime in the new year to activate these two mountains and swear profusely as a little white ball refuses to do my bidding.