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SOTA in AUSTRALIA. Much excitement and many doubts

Hello SOTA-friends. This year during the month of August we plan to go on a trip to Australia.
And we thought; why not to take the radio and do some SOTA there?

We have verified that our EA license is compatible with VK. And with less than 90 days activating there we do not have to do any procedure to get another call, but just to respect the regulations.

We think that carrying the LiPo battery in the plane can cause problems. Too many explanations and perhaps the risk that we have to fly without it if it is hold somewhere in the way… Therefore, we have decided to buy one in VK once we arrive at destination, in Sydney. We have seen that there are several stores (RC Masters, The Hobby Headquarters, etc) that have such batteries.

Equipment: yes we will carry a YAESU FT-857 and dipole antenna SOTAbeams + charger LiPO + mast fishing rod. And all will be billed and well protected. We do not know if we will have to declare them at the entrance to the country. It is an old equipment and I have its original invoice. I hope I have no problems by carrying such document with us…

Once there, we will take a van trip from Sydney, passing through Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide to cross the Outback and reach Darwin. We would like to activate some summits, at least in each Association. (VK2, VK1, VK3 and VK5) We will be there from 6 August onwards.

We are not afraid to drive on the left hand side, neither at great distances nor the crocodiles, but my biggest fear is the radio equipment arrives well, hi hi !!

Could you advise what would be the call? VK1/EA2DCA/P , or EA2DCA/VK1 instead, for example?

Has anyone had past experiences having to declare the gear upon entering that country? Have you ever been asked for any documents?

We are not fluent in English, but jus in case any of the VK Sota Activators want to have a joint activation with us, we wlll be glad to count with him. If any of you want let us know and we’ll meet there and arrange further details.

Thank you for any ideas and we hope to soon be able to transmit from that fantastic country. What an excitement!!
Many thanks to Ignacio, EA2BD for helping us with the English translation.

73 de EA2DCA Alberto & EA2DNO Iratxe

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Hello Alberto & Iratxe,

You can find information regarding reciprocal licensing at:
http://www.wia.org.au/licenses/licensing/visitorlicence/
Perhaps you have already looked at the information there.

There is information in the topic “Visit to VK” on this reflector on some summits not far off the main highway route SYD - MEL. There are several VK1 summits which are easily reached.

Depending on your available time, from Canberra to Melbourne you have 2 route choices:
Most would probably take the Hume Highway, to Albury and then on to Melbourne. If you take that route, there are several summits which involve only small diversions off the highway.
An alternate is to travel south from Canberra to Cooma, Bombala, Cann River and then west to Melbourne, with several summits possible off the route. If you decide to take this route, let me know and I shall see if we can arrange at least one joint activation. I live about 2 hours east of Melbourne, not far off the Princes Highway.

Past Melbourne, there are many summit options within Victoria not far off the main highway to Adelaide. Perhaps the easiest are Mt Buninyong VK3/VC-018 and Mt Warrenheip VK3/VC-019 near Ballarat.
In the Adelaide area, there are 2 main options: Mt Lofty and Mt Gawler. The VK5 operators can provide more detailed advice for the summits further north. Some summits near Alice Springs have been activated, so it may be possible to activate something in VK8.

Good luck with your planning, and I look forward to at least chasing you when you are here.

Peter VK3PF

OK Peter, thank you very much for all the information. Yes, we will go from Canberra to Melbourne on the Hume Highway. We will have to make many miles and we do not have too much time. I will review all the information you have given me. We are in contact. Thanks and 73

Most activators buy from HobbyKing’s local warehouse online. You should be able to send to your hotel and mark the package with “Hold for guest arrival” or similar. If you’re transiting Dubai, I’d leave it at home. If you’re transiting elsewhere, you’ll be fine. See the “Airport Security” thread for countless anecdotes.

I’ve had a few run ins over the years, mainly in Dubai, but have never had a battery confiscated. Came very close though…

Hi,

There are a couple of easy summits just south of Sydney on the way to Canberra, near the town of Mittagong. Mt Alexandra (VK2IL-005) is a short 20 minute walk and Mt Gibraltar (VK2/IL001) is a drive up. They will give you your VK2 summits on your trip.

I have never had any problems arrivng in Australia with a radio.
Good luck and if I can hlep with anything when you are here please send me a message
73,
Compton

Hi Alberto & Iratxe, further to Peter’s comments, there are a number of easily accessible summits in and around VK1, including some driveups in the centre of Canberra. Depending on dates/times, I expect that there will be a number of local SOTA operators who would be willing to help out with an activation or provide you with information on suitable summits.

Regarding VK8, there is not a great deal of SOTA activity there - to my knowledge the only activations have been in the central region with none in the southern or northern areas. The summits in both of these areas are not easily accessed so best planning on the central region.

Greg VK8GM has been the most active activator in VK8 - living in Alice Springs I think he is probably the best person to get information on summits in that area. I note that Greg has activated VK8/AL-100 and VK8/AL-153 a couple of times - these summits are both close to Alice Springs (2-4km), and should be relatively easy to access. Best to speak with Greg for any local knowledge on best routes or any access issues though.

I am yet to activate any of the VK8 summits but will certainly try to achieve that the next time I am up in the territory. Sounds like a very enjoyable trip that you guys have planned - I know that you will enjoy it!

Matt
VK1MA/VK8GMT

Hello Alberto,

I spent three months in Australia, so I can give you few advices from European point of view:

  • officially you are supposed to use YOURCALL/VK only, however you will be constantly asked where are you, so I quickly changed to OK1BIL/VK2

  • when making contacts be prepared for four letter callsigns like VK2Fxxx to call you, they are foundation licencees

  • if you happen to be in Sydney, have a chat with Compton VK2HRX or in Canberra with Andys VK1DA and VK1AD, they are sota enthusiasts and great guys

  • watch out for snakes, I have seen at least three during my stay and almost stepped on one; the large spiders are nothing to worry about, but the really tiny ones are dangerous, I was told, either way have raid around :smiley:

  • bring lots of money, Australia is the most expensive place I have ever been to so far… For example I did not bring any battery for my KX3 and then I wanted to buy 1.3Ah lead battery in VK, the battery was at least twice the price I would pay at home, same goes for beer and everything, only cheap thing is petrol :slight_smile:

  • quite frequently you can find picnic sites with free bbq, you only need to bring food, lovely places to eat at

And the biggest advice, ENJOY!!! Australia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Just in an hour drive from a city you can be in endless wilderness, you can discover some great national parks and beaches - you can be alone for hours on a 2km long sandy beach. I wish you good luck!

Marek OE2ZPM / OK1BIL (at the moment in Madrid, EA)

Thank you very much for all the information. It is very useful information. I have sent an e-mail to several “hobby” stores and they have LiPo batteries in stock. There will be no problem to buy one. It’s not very cheap, it’s true!

I found an interesting one in “The Hobby Headquarters” in Kirrawee. Possibly we will buy there.

On our route, in the area of Mittagong, Mount Gibraltar and Monte Alexandra are a good choice. Close to the city of Canberra there are several nearby summit, Black Mountain, Mt Ainsline…
In Victoria VK3, Mount Macedon, for example… And close to the city of Adelaide, Mount Lofty.
In the Northern Territory, it may be more difficult. We do not want to stray too far from the route. It will be a long trip. We will do a few days of sightseeing. No SOTA, :wink:

thank you very much to all, Peter, Andrew, Compton, Matt, Marek… All information is welcome. 73

There is conflicting advice from the WIA page Peter linked to.

The page itself says “Simply prefix a home callsign with the VK call area located. For example W2ABC/VK3.” which is in itself a contradiction as this is a suffix, not a prefix.

The government document to which the page links says:
“call sign, …, preceded by the letters VK.”

Probably no-one cares, or do they?

Hi Andrew,

I have sent an email suggesting that the web page be corrected. It is not even internally correct, as it says “prefix” and then gives an example of adding the VK3 as a suffix, as you have pointed out.

The Class Licence document available on the same page is the definitive document, so the correct usage would be VK/ZL3CC for example. I see no major issue if you used VK2/ZL3CC, which is simply adding the state designator. But this is additional detail not required by the Class Licence.

One suspects that using the suffix method is a sufficient method which the regulator is willing to accept.

On the other hand, my logging software will not allow me to access VK summits in its menu system if the Callsign uses the suffix method, only offering the summits of the home country of the home callsign. I always enter the electronic log with the prefix code - makes my job easier!

Cheers,

Peter

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[quote=“VK3PF, post:10, topic:15592”]It is not even internally correct[/quote]The folks in VK6 Hills club chewed that lot over when I asked them last time I was there (which was in pre-VK6-SOTA days). They came to the conclusion that it was better to use something folk on the air would understand than to try to make sense of the conflicting official requirements, and the first question you’d be asked was “Where are you?” so you might as well include that digit.

Yes, I got quite excited when I had a Canadian call S2S on 40m for me. My excitement reduced a little when it was eventually revealed that he was in VK2 like me.
Compton

[quote=“VK2HRX, post:12, topic:15592”]when I had a Canadian call[/quote]Yeah, the CEPT-standard “visiting prefix/home call” arrangement goes a long way towards reducing that kind of false alert. :wink:

This is continual issue. Partly it’s because the official docs get out of sync and, TBH, it’s understandable governments are not going to attach huge importance to dotting i’s and crossing t’s on a low importance (to them) subject like amateur radio. It’s isn’t helped by people not reading the rules, not keeping up to date with changes in the rules and applying dated custom & practices. That happens worldwide.

Then when you do use the correct call you get “clever locals” telling you that are you are wrong as Paul W6PNG found out in the UK when signing M/W6PNG and locals told him he should be using M6PNG. I’m sure it was confusing as Paul still has is British accent despite 35 years in W6 land so a British accent with US call is not typical.

The CEPT docs for Spain say you use EA/M0FMF but that EA8/M0FMF is acceptable. They say (last time I looked) VK/M0FMF but I don’t think the radio police will lock me away if I was to sign VK6/M0FMF.

All fun and games in the end. :wink:

Until now, we have always used Country code/CALL/P. For example: HB9/EA2DNO/P or EA8/EA2DCA/P. If we call as VK2/EA2DCA, or VK1/EA2DCA/P Is correct, right? Portable /P may not be necessary.

When they hear us speaking in horrible English they will realize that we are not from Australia, hi hi!! :slight_smile:

But I will still happily work to get you in my log!!
Compton

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Finally we are already in Australia. And radio equipment as well. no problem.

No one we asked anything. only if we carry a seed, fruits, meat, material for bombs, explosives… hihi

Maybe the battery had come right?
Now we have to buy the LiPo battery. No problem.

We will continue to report… 73

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Congratulations to EA2DCA and EA2DNO, Alberto and Iratxe, who succesfully started today their VK activation expedition on VK2/IL-001 last night running on 7 and 14 MHz SSB.

Their next activation is planned for Friday 11th August at 07:00 utc on VK1/AC-040.
Hopefully at that time there will be more chances of VK - EU contacts.
Please look for them tomorrow if bands are open.

Good luck and QRV! 73 de Ignacio

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