We left Melbourne and headed east, looking for a different path into the mountains, our new(isn) car, the Prado has really made it easy to explore different roads and areas, when we had a road car, we were limited to the tarmac. The first stop was Traralgon, and a speciosity lego shop. I had lusted after a “Delorean” lego kit, and this lego shop imports them, but will not deal online, you have to make the trip if you want to buy, since we were driving past 😀
We continued east and turned north at Orbost, heading to the Snowy River Way / Barry Way. This is a back country road that becomes a dirt road and follows the path of the snowy river. The country side is very nice, we ended up camping in the Willis camp ground on the Victorian side of the border, and stayed in this spot for two nights, swimming in the snowy river and relaxing.
Packing up again and heading north, we continued along this dirt road towards Jindabyne and Thredbo Diggings. Enjoying the view along the way, their are a number of camping areas on the nsw side of this road, but facilities are basic, and the river is some way from the camp areas. The road is dirt 2wd, but tight/twisty and rough in areas.
Finally arriving at our camp site, we were lucky to score the Prized space (the benefit of arriving early/ before the xmas rush) This spot is in a corner, and has a view over a swampy floodplain area, a fireplace and wooden table, and the best bit is, its impossible to be crowded out in this space, a little corner away from the masses with a lovely view.
Since we had the prized location, we setup and stayed for the next 2 ½ weeks. enjoying the view! All setup, i started to play with the radio, testing different lengths of random wire for my antenna, settling on 25.6m in an L shape, using my squid pole as a support at the camper trailer and a tree at the other end.
Over the following weeks, i worked a lot of stations with my FT817nd and ~5w QRP portable, with this random wire and Z-Match ATU, chased SOTA summits while at the campsite and in the evenings, worked a lot of DX on 14MHz. Including South Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and some Pacific Islands. Managed to have a play with Morse code and make my first ever morse contact. My only issue, the solar panel inverter is VERY noisy, but only when the batteries are charged and its in current limiting mode, the 12v waeco fridge is pretty noisy too. To use the radios, i needed to turn the 12v fridge off and disconnect the solar panels, but i have a lot of stored power and only a little usage with the gear we have, so its not a big issue to have these off for an hour or two.
Radio activity wasn’t just limited to the campsite, Over the time we were in the mountains, I was able to activate five sota summits, one of which I managed to activate over UTC new years day and work twice.
Three of the summits saw us undertake pretty comprehensive bush walks to get to them, Including activating Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest summit. We also did a nice walk to the Cascades summit and a very steep slog up (and down) Mt Preisher, the last two summits were car access and a short walk into the activation zone. all up we walked around 60km over the holidays on the various walks and trails we did as a family.
The holiday wasn’t just radio and relaxing at the campsite. We managed a number of day trips and even an overnight holiday from our holiday in Canberra where we visited Tidbinbilla Deep Space tracking Station and spent 7Hrs at the Questacon science centre. A day trip to Yarrangobilly caves and generally exploring the region.
And then, my baby turned 4. This year Toby has been very interested in Volcanos, so, we made a Volcano cake, the webber BBQ/oven does a good job, we also had some roasts, baked bread and two other cakes over the time away.
Not forgetting Xmas, the boys received some science for Xmas, and we explored things around the campsite with their new microscope.
But all good things must come to an end, so we packed up the camp site and headed south, travelling home via the Monaro Hwy to Can River, where we stopped for fish and chips dinner in Lakes Entrance as an impressive storm hit as we were finishing up. Then back to Melbourne and back to work. It was a nice 3 weeks away.