October 2017 trip to VK5

Two SOTA’s and a Park

St Mary Peak vk5/ne-001

St Mary Peak is the highest peak in the Flinders Ranges. It is also one of the few SOTA peaks in the Flinders that is accessible via marked walking track.


Summit Marker

Whilst it may only 14.6 Km return via the outside trail, it is still a fair walk with two steep sections which involve a bit of rock scrambling.

The summit had only been activated once back in 2013 so when the opportunity arose to fit in an activation with a family holiday I could not miss out.

There are various warnings about this hike, in particular its difficulty and need to be well prepared, including a minimum of 4 litres of water.

One of the track markers

The track is generally well defined and marked, with only a couple of sections where I had to check for a marker or the signs of a track.

For navigation I had a GPX file from Hiking SA, and a copy of the 1:50 map from Carto Graphics. The GPX file seemed accurate enough up to Tanderra Saddle after that I found it deviated significantly from the marked trail which more closely followed the map.

View Across the Pound

The couple of long steep climbs also allows plenty of time to look back and take in the views (recover ones breath) and there are plenty of views, the Flinders Rangers cover a large area with some stunning and rugged terrain.

Tanderra Saddle

Despite the 7am start I was not the first on the track, about 2 hours in I met a walker returning from sunrise at the summit, he had left Wilpena Pound at 4am, after that I met three young men who seemed to have elf like balance as they leapt from rock to rock on their way down.

But the best had to be the two ladies whom I met just down from the summit on my way home. They had each headed off with a 750ml bottle of water, which  by the time I meet them were both empty. Fortunately  I was well prepared having left with 5.5 lt I was happy to hand over my spare 1.5lt bottle. They were grateful but I suspect would have still been very thirsty by the time they got back to the Resort.

Northern Side, Old Wilpena Homestead at right

The walk in took about 4 hours and the return about 3, despite the downhill being harder on the knees it was still quicker down than up.

Southern side Old Wilpena Homestead to Lake Torrens

I was unsure what to expect for phone coverage, but with a Telstra base in the Wilpena Resort, there was enough signal at the summit (1-2 bar) for SMS alerting.


Warning Sign

Kanku Breakaways CP

With time for sightseeing and the VKQRP clubs 40m contest it seemed to good an opportunity to not combine the two.

Off to those hills

The Kanku Breakaways Conservation Park VKFF1008, is just a short distance out of Coober Pedy, we followed a senic drive through the park stopping at the lookout. This provided both great views for myself and the XYL, plus a better take off for the signals.

I managed 13 contacts over 2 bands with 11 different call signs, thus qualifying it for VKFF.


Comfy Chair


The Battery vk5/ne-055 Mt Remarkable NP

The Battery sits at the northern end of the Mt Remarkable NP, there are two logical starting points, with both tracks coming together about 2km from the summit.
One is via the Alligator Gorge Ring Route Hike
The other by the Ring Route track, it is the Ring Route track that Ian vk5cz suggested. As the creeks are all dry at this time I decided the simple and easiest way was as Ian suggested.


The Start

Certainly this track is easy to navigate, with the width suggesting it is used as a fire break. There is only one steep section where the track crosses between the two ridge lines, this section is common to both walking routes. Once on The Battery Ridge line it is a short and easy walk to the highest point. Whilst there is plenty of trees the view across to the Spencer Gulf is quite visible.


View across to the Spencer Gulf

The activation went will with 9 contacts in the bag including a JA on 15m. I have not activated 15m for some time due to the need to run 80m for local chasers. However with the different propagation and good signals heard from VK5 stations on 40m I skipped 80 and did 15m instead.

5 thoughts on “October 2017 trip to VK5

    • Thanks Rod, I was reasonably lucky with the weather, whist the temperature was in the high twenty’s there was a southerly breeze which when you were in the right spot was a pleasant relief.
      I find the photos to be the biggest challenge of these trips, I use a point and shot camera which does take very nice photos, but I find it impossible to tell how good they are on its small screen, so in the end I just take loads of photos and hope to get one or two good ones.
      73, Warren.

  1. Hi Warren
    First: I am sorry I didn’t have any contacts with you while you were in SA. I have been on the sick list and haven’t felt like doing much at all. However, I am recovering after surgery and am getting my energy back. We were at Wilpena about a week before you. We met our son and family from Sydney and had a great time. I was warned not to do any significant walking!
    Second: congratulations on climbing and activating St Mary Peak. I was at Wilpena when Brett, VK2BNN/5 activated the Peak and caught up with him later. He was chuffed to be first as you can imagine. Brett is now the National Coordinator for Jota.
    Three: I enjoyed your photos. I can only imagine what St Mary Peak views must be like! I have climbed Rawnley Bluff and Mt Ohlssen Bagge and they were both good climbs and great views but neither is a SOTA peak.
    I certainly hope you enjoyed your stay in VK5.
    73 John D, VK5BJE/VK5PF

    • I am glad to hear to are on the mend John.

      Well it’s a shame I missed you at Wilpena, we arrived on the Saturday and with the weather forecast getting hotter I was keen to get St Mary Peak done early. That was good timing to be there when Brett activated.

      The views are so different to the country I normally look over, and really put into perspective just how big the Flinders are. I do struggle with photos, I have had this camera for just on 2 years but still working out how to get the best from it. I have found the Panoramic to be the most consistent, and when on a spot like St Mary Peak it nicely captures it in two goes.

      We had a great trip and have come home with a list of places to re-visit or spend longer at.
      73, Warren.

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