Reuben VK7FREU and I decide to activate Collins Bonnet VK7/SC-002 for the UTC year changeover from 2019-2020.
Instead of the usual track from Myrtle Gully we decided to take the Mt Connection track and started out at around 8:00am. This track starts about two kilometers along the Big Bend track. The Big Bend Track is accessed off the Pinnacle Road just next to the Lost World Track.
About a kilometre in on the Big Bend track I lost my footing and landed heavily on my right knee! After about 10m of rest we decide to continue and take it easy with a note to self about putting some pain-killers in the first aid kit! The Mt Connection track is well marked with a signpost and heads down and across the swamp area that forms the source water the Mountain River. The track in the swamp area is all duck boarded.
You then head up and around Mt Connection with some great views to the North East and Mt Dromedary and towards Collins Cap and Bonnet.
The Mt Connection track eventually links with the East-West Trail and about two kilometres further on is well signposted track up Collins Bonnet. This is a rock hopping excercise for most of the distance with the track marked with long snow poles.
We summited around 10:30am (UTC 23:30) and setup the linked dipole and FT-817. There was plenty of activity however the power level on the FT-817 was down and we were struggling to be heard. We both managed three contacts before the UTC year changeover so, unfortunately did not activate for 2019.
The wind was strong and overcast clouds started rolling in. We made UTC 2020 contacts on 40m and local 2m to activate Collins Bonnet for 2020. Thanks to all those who contacted us. After the antenna collapsed due to wind and we put it back up I noticed that power level had increased on the in-build power meter. So there is definitely something that needs investigation including the possibility of a small power amplifier to boost our QRP power level given we are rock bottom of the sunspot cycle.
At around noon local (01:00 UTC) we started back down and stopped for lunch before heading back up the Mt Connection track.
It was about a 15km round trip using this track and was a picturesque walk on a part of Wellington range we hadn’t walked before. We got back to the car around 3:00pm.
Thanks to all who made contact with us during this UTC Year Change-Over event.