18 DEC 2016 – Mt Cowley VK3/VC-022 and Crowsnest Lookout VK3/VS-049
As part of a recon of an upcoming bushwalk in the Otways, and also as an excuse to get out of doing more work sorting out our new shed, I opted for a jaunt down the Great Ocean Road. The family didn’t feel like coming along, so I decided I’d add in Apollo Bay and make a day of it by doing a new unique, Crowsnest Lookout, which would also push me to 250 activator points.
The drive down the road was all you’d expect it to be for this time of the year. Lots of tourists with no idea about slow vehicle turnouts, doing 60km an hour on the straight sections. I reached Mt Cowley about 12:30, and after setting up, quickly got a number of VKs in the log via 40m. After a bit of fiddling around trying to hear a JA activator on 17m (my dipole has no 17m capability, but 15m comes close), I decided to stay on 15m. I worked 3 more contacts here, the highlight being JS1IFK and the ever present ZL1BYZ.
As part of the series on SOTA Watches currently on the reflector, and in honour of my grandfather, I carried two watches to use as timekeepers on these activations. The first was a pocket watch of dubious value other than sentimental, although I was sad to discover the movement is broken in it – either the movement itself, or the spring winder. It was back to using the phone for the first activation (the other watch was in the car).
I jumped back into the car, heading into Lorne for a late lunch, before driving down to Apollo Bay. This drive was more eventful. Much of the same, but the guy slamming on the brakes to turn into a lookout, causing the car in front of me to slam on their brakes late, causing me to slam mine on, realise I wasn’t going to stop, and opting instead to steer left off the side of the road to avoid them. The tourist in the car had no idea of the carnage behind them, but the other car was most appreciative of the consideration of not running up the back of her.
Once into Apollo Bay, I followed Tuxion Road out to the location of the lookout – if it can be called that. It’s more a turning circle, and I had to check and double check locations on Google Maps and Peter VK3PF’s blog to make sure I was in the right spot. Once there, I strapped the squid pole to the fence, ran it out roughly on 40m, and got on the air.
SWR was higher than normal due to the low height and rough layout, but not terrible, and I made a total of 14 QSOs, all on 40m SSB, the highlight being Wynne ZL2ATH, for my first ZL on 40m. The timepiece for this activation was a Sperina mechanical digital watch. This is about 70s vintage, and my grandfather always described it as “the first digital watch”, which is, of course, patently untrue. This one worked better than the first, and I used it to log all 14 QSOs.
After 40m, it was getting late, so I packed up, phone the wife to find out what to get for dinner on the way home, and drove back, 250 activator points to the good.