I had great fun on Friday afternoon and evening with unusual duct conditions.
As I have been mentioning, good ducting in winter conditions appears to occur mainly in the evening in the southern states.
I noticed something was going on just before midday when initially I was getting a better than normal signal from Mt Macedon @ 342 km and Otway Ranges @ 486 km.
Next I noticed a signal on 146.900, turned the antenna towards Mt Gambier and it came up to a good readable signal, S5 and was peaking S9 @ 630 km. I spoke to VK5WCC quickly and VK5OA, but the signal dropped to S5 and I could not get back, I was unaware they had an RX problem on the repeater. I switched to 146.900 direct and managed to get to VK5OA on FM simplex. We QSY'd to 144.150 USB as it was to weak on FM. We stayed in vertical polarity
and Kevins signal peaked to 5/9 we spoke for 15 mins or so before he had to go.
Checked the Mt Gambier beacon at 12 pm midday and it was S7, normally not audible at all!
I was hopeing this would build up for an evening surprise package.
I had a reasonable path in the Mt Gambier (SW) direction most of the afternoon, beacon was always there up to S9 and repeater was there usually around S3 to 5, seems to get a lot of use which was good as I could keep an eye on things.
From memory, Mt Gambier was still there after the sun was down but was getting weaker and weaker around 6pm. My hopes for signals building up were fading. I had almost given up hope when at perhaps around 7.30pm (serves me
right for not writing it down at the time) I heard a signal on 144.800 the Mildura repeater @ 466 km. I turned the antenna around there and the signal was about S7 creeping to S9, I spoke to VK3TJ & VK3FPJ.
So now the path had moved from SW to a NW - WNW direction.
With Mildura a solid S9+10 at 7.55 pm I wondered if the path extended beyond Mildura, next stop almost in a line through Mildura is Port Augusta (SA) @ 913 km. I put a 100 w signal out there and to my surprise back came an S9
signal from Port Augusta 146.975. Big signal from such a long way. Port Augusta is usually a very sensitive repeater so I dropped the power to 2 watts and was still able to trigger the repeater. Great stuff.
I worked VK5UBC on the Port Augusta repeater and could hear Brian on reverse so at 8.10 pm we gave simplex a try on 146.500, completed contact there OK, Brian was 5/3 signal from memory. I found this unusual as I could not get
any Adelaide repeaters and Brian lives near Barossa I think and this was never heard. Yet Brian was workable here.
Other locations gradually came in but were all north of Adelaide
Port Pirie came in at up to S9+20dB @ 867 km, there VK5HBG and VK5NEX both at Whyalla came back to the call VK5UBC was also there. I tried for the Whyalla boys on reverse but it was no go.
Central North was there at one stage @ 833 km.
Broken Hill beacon was quite OK and audible most times, I eventually was able to work through their repeater when I noted the beacon was strong, I was able to raise Steve VK2SRN and the repeater peaked to S5 but was not there for very long (638 km).
I did work VK5ZK on voice at one stage 5/3 SSB.
Around midnight I began to loose the signals from the WNW and Adelaide started coming in, worked VK5JST on Crafers, Murray Bridge was there and Lobethal. Thats about all and by this stage I was very tired.
Went to bed and left radio on Adelaide beacon with SQL up a bit I last heard it about 2am.
Upon sunrise everything was gone.