Now I understand why this ‘hill’ has only been activated once before! There were times I seriously doubted my ability to make it to the top, it was that challenging.
But let me start at the beginning.
I made contact with Andrew, VK1NAM, who planned to reactivate this summit. I say reactivate because he was the bloke who activated it for the first time back in 2013. I asked if I could accompany him and he said there was room in his car for the trip, so I was delighted. Coming along also would be Adan, VK1FJAW.
Orroral Hill is an interesting place, being situated some 49km from Canberra City in the Namadgi National Park. It is famous for another reason; it was there that a space tracking station operated 24/7 between 1965 to 1984 as part of NASA’s world wide tracking and data network.
We parked the car here, put our back packs on and headed for the hills. The first leg of our hike would take us to the remains of the Orroral Geodetic Observatory, some 4.1 km away.
This leg was on a formed path that got progressively steeper as we made our way ever deeper into the bush. The average grade was 9% and it took us an hour and twenty minutes to reach the telescope for a rest.
From the telescope to the summit is only 1.6 km away but this is where the going gets tough. You see, there are no tracks so it’s a matter of scrub-bashing through the thick wattle undergrowth. The scrub is so thick that frequently you can’t see where you are going and need to trust your GPS to keep you on course. The wearing of gloves paid off as you have to part the thick scrub by hand to get through.
This leg took us 1 hour 40 minutes, more than the first leg, due to the almost impassable scrub. The gradient here was a very steep 16%.
At times the going was so tough that it took us 30 minutes to cover a mere 10m. But we made it to the top and were rewarded with a most magnificent view.
Height above sea level at our operating position was 1594 meters. I was using my Elecraft KX1 with 6 internal AA Alkaline batteries, so I was only able to put out 1 Watt. Nevertheless, I was more than happy with the four contacts I made (in addition to two on FM simplex). One of them was with VK5CZ, who was also on a summit, VK5/SE-003 in South Australia.
After two hours operating, we decided it was time for a group photograph before packing up and beginning the long decent.