Looking at VK3/VE-034 from VK3/VE-178 taken on May 2016
Looking back to VK3/VE-178 from VK3/VE-034 taken on March 2017.
This is a summit I have have had on the list to activate for a while now. Have already activated VK3/VE-019 The Hump (Once successful and a failed attempt during winer) and VK3/VE-014 The Horn & VK3/VE-038 Ulrich Peak so this was the only summit left in Mt Buffalo NP.
Talked with VK3BYD and read the notes on SotaWatch from VK3WAM and VK3FTRV and the the number of activations gave a picture of a well trodden path be it prone to Alpine weather. Intended to hike in and activate on the FYBO weekend (June 2016) but the conditions were considered too harsh. It was shelved until weather improved and time allowed.
It appears that both Mt McLeod and Ulrich Peak are not activated on the same trip. Given the distance to Mt McLeod and the bush bash to access Ulrich Peak, I’m not surprised.
Decided to activate Ulrich Peak on the way to Mt Hotham for the 2017 Activation Weekend. This will give me a idea as to conditions. Walked down the Mt McLeod fire track to activate Urich Peak so knew the track was clear and easy navigation.
With the long weekend coming and being a full moon decided to head up Friday evening and to walk up in the dark. Long weekend traffic sucked. 40m to get around the ring road and traffic heading out. Ended up at the car park where Crystal Brook Rd (Reservoir Rd) and Rocky Creek track meet (55 H 479891 5935177)
Headed off 20:00 friday nigh covering the 7.8Km in 2:15hrs. With a good tourch and the moon it was a case of avoiding the Orb spiders and keep moving.
Camped at MtLeod camping ground (55 H 480553 5939203) at the base of the summit. This is a site you neeed to book with Parks Victoria to secure a site.
In two minds as to paying to camp in National park. In this case there are six places available. There is also a well maintained toilet. I would have been happy camping at the lake and walking up in the morning but the $48 per site was not appealing. $13 to reserve a remote site seamed like a good idea given the long weekend. So paid my $13 to use a public asset and printed out the receipt so if the campsite was full I would ensure a spot. No one else there so had the pick of the place. Setup my tent and called it a night. This was going according to plan so left me with 1km to the summit to cover in the cool of morning.
Up and after a quick breakfast headed up to the summit. Straight forward process in perfect conditions. Stopped to take in views on the way,
Open summit. Used 7m squid pole and guys to setup 20/40M trapped dipole.
It appears I was too early or chasers or the propagation gods had other plans as a quite activation. S2S with VBK3BYD Warren on VK2/RI-033 (Hamilton Hill) to qualify on CW. Saw spots for VK3ANL but could not hear him but could hear VK5 operating. Worked VK5WG to call it a day.
Called on 20m but did not use 80m due to lack of suitable antenna. Qualified, had snacks then headed back down as still had to get back to car and facing a 4hr drive home.
Broke the cover for KX3 during the trip. On the way up as noticed on site. Guess it just saved me damaging the radio. This was a Windcamp unit and demonstrates the old analogy that you ‘Get what you pay for’. Will be chasing a GEMS Products unit going forward.
This was March.I carried enough water in to cover my trip but there is water there is also a running creek 100m from where the shortcut joins up with the Mt Leod Firetrack and (55 H 480918 5939182) 100m from the camp on the way to the summit. It was running down the track.
Totally forgot about the EU/US/VK activation on the same weekend.
Great summit worthy of the clear easy hike in. Again the conditions can vary quickly so carry enough gear to sit out a storm. 20Kg pack with all gear to camp.
The current do list has a revisit to Mt Bogong then Mt Fainter South.
25022017 – Hotham SOTA Activation Weekend
2nd annual SOTA gathering based again in the excellent facilities of the Peninsular Ski Lodge in Mt Hotham.
Activators present VK3CAT Tony,VK3YY Glenn,VK3HN Brian,VK3AFW Ron, VK3ARH Allen, Vk3MCD Brian and VK3PF Peter. Not in photo VK3FABT Alan.
Friday 24022017 evening.
This is a summit I have been looking at for a while. To gain a complete and get a view of the area as intend to walk out to VK3/VE- 034 McLeod. It appears it would be worth while addressing separately to remove stress from McLeod activation. Parked car at Crystal Brook and Mt McLeod Firetrail. Crystal Brook is signed as “Reservoir Rd” in the park. There is very little space to park safely here. You can get off the road but down near the creek. It would be a issue should there be rain whilst walking. The trip was worthwhile as my plans for McLeod involved camping here. Not suitable so will need a plan B. Waking down the firetrap to camp at Mt Mcleod campground will be the plan.
After reading the blogs of previous activators Ben VK3FTRV, Wayne VK3WAM and talking with Warren VK3BYD decided not to walk to the ‘track’ junction to Andersons peak but to head straight up once the ridge came close with clear access from the Mt McLeod Firetrap. This approach as served we well in other summits where there is no clear access. Access is good. Whilst the alternative track as displayed on Garmin maps and reality differed it was a easy walk. The Mt McLeod Firetrap is a 4WD track so again a easy walk.
There was a opportunity in the scrub where a large tree had come down and the GPS was telling me I was 850m from the summit so decided to turn left and head up to the summit. So off I went into the scrub. The walk up to the ridge involved several trees and large rocky climbs. Steep in spots but clear. Only hit vines towards the top. From previous activators I knew the summit was going to be challenging so once up I decided to setup on a rocky outcrop in the zone. No point to go higher.
Used the end fed and KX3 to secure 9 contacts including 3 S2S (VK3CAT on VK3/VE-005, ZL2AJ on ZL1/WK-183 and VK3HN on VK3/VG-007). ZL contacts, S2S and 10 points. A good catch!
Initial views from were clear but the fog was coming in and I wanted to be back to the car before dark. You could walk down Mt McLeod Firetrap in the dark but there was a beer waiting for me at Hotham so packed up and headed back down the ridge.
Headed up the Great Alpine Rd to Hotham to arrive 21:30. After tea and quick confirmation of the next days plans, showered and went to bed with dreams of remote summits.
This is the summit I had come for. The annual SOTA event in the Alpine presents an opportunity to position yourself for remote summits. You can activate all day and come back to eat, charge your batteries whilst discussing summits and access options with a experienced group. Whilst several activators take the opportunity to qualify several peaks, I wanted to exploit the opportunity to activate select remote summits from a early start. Tony VK3CAT was of the same view so we planned to spend all day walking out to activate the second highest summit in Victoria.
It is a busy track with football teams, nutters running as well as several groups of all ages walking. Must have been 2 dozen people on the track. Its is a clear track but you have to remember you are in the Alpine so need to be prepared for changes in weather. It was initially foggy but given the mild temperatures and overcast conditions, overall a excellent day to be out. We did the 11Km walk from the car park on Alpine Road to the summit in 3hrs 12m.
Setup off the summit due to the traffic but still had walkers coming through. Needed the lower support as nothing to use to support a antenna. Not even a trig point. Though we could have used footballers
Qualified with 40m CW. Made contacts with the other groups out to gain S2S contacts, ate lunch and rested from the walk in. We spent a hour on the summit before heading back as still had summits to qualify.
Gained a 770 THz contact with Glenn VK3YY as he was walking up to Mt Loch as we walked out of Mt Feathertop. Neither of us on a summit so no points.
We spent the evening on Mt Hotham.
Tony setup 160m vertical and I setup the 20/40m dipole.
We qualified the summits but conditions were not conducive (cold) to playing radio all night so packed up and off to tea.
Trip home was planned around three summits on West Ovens and Gunns Track behind Harrretville. had worked all three summits so looking to add to my complete tally.
Good roads but steep. Would not consider in the wet. It was advised not to come from Gunns track off the Great Alpine Rd given the conditions so came in down Mill Rd from Harrretville.Stright forward operation just careful and use low for the climbs. There was a lot of activity in the area. 4WD s and motorbikes galore. All these are accessible with a short walk from the tracks. Albion Point was a short stroll disown the original now overgrown track to a clear operating position whilst VE-070 & VE-030 both required I carefully place Subie to ensure not causing a traffic hindrance. Placed under trees off the road and walked to the south of the summit to operate from the Alpine National park. Two motorbikes came past whilst on VK3/VE-070 whilst three 4WDs went through during my activation of VK3/VE-030.
Know my camera does not do the views justice but view back from walk out to Mt Feathertop;
and VK3/VE006 on Sunset;
basically either end of Saturday.
I had been waiting to activate this summit for a while now. Access had been restricted due to fires and floods. There are still parts of the Grampians closed so checkout access before you head off.
Access to this summit is via the Mt Difficult overnight walking track. Start from either the Beehive Falls carpark or Troopers Creek. Access via Troopers Creek was still closed so I took the longer path via Behive Falls. Anything to secure a first activation.
So knowing access is open I headed off. Simply drive down M8 freeway to Roses Gap Road. Turn left onto Roses Gap Road and follow it to the Beehive Falls carpark on your left just beyond Mt Zero Road. Got the pack on and started walking down the track. The tracks are in great condition. Navigation is straight forward. The first 1.4Km to Beehive Falls is shady and pleasant.
There was water in the falls on my visit. Actually the Grampians were in great shape following the recent rain. Only you have checked out the falls you head off and up the rock cliffs. The track markers have been replaced so its a case of follow the yellow arrows. A couple of spots where you need to be careful then you get to the top. Whilst it did get to 32 the Grampians were in fine form. Slight wind and green. You can see the fire damage. Stayed on the track and kept walking. Took me 2.5hrs to walk the 7+ k each way.
There are even maps on the way to verify position. Most of the walk is across open rock plains. It would be challenging in the heat. Access to the summit is another rock scramble and I setup just off the peak where there was a tree for cover. Used end fed and KX3.
Views from the summit to Wartook Reservoir. First contact was with VK3ARR on VK3VN-023 and the final with VK2BJP/3 on VK3/VE-167.
Intended to activate South Mt Difficult Range accres from Chinamans Road / Carters Track. Access still restricted and I had enough of walking for one day.
Its a good clean walk but still 7Km each way. Would recommend access via Troopers Creek campsite (when open) be investigated instead.
A lot of effort for 4 points but in this case a first activation in great conditions and views..
06012017 – VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday)
06012017 –VK3/VE-026 (Mt McDonald)
Both in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park.
Heading up to activate two summits using AAWT for access. Mt Sunday was considered for activation last week after successful activation of VK3/VE-040, VK3/VE-240 & VK3/VE-018 with earlier with VK3CAT. Decided not to and to come back when the weather was calmer as had unfinished business with Mt McDonald. Previous attempt (112015) to access Mt McDonald was aborted. This involved accessing from road through the dense bush. This is possible but heavy slow going. Decided best to access Mt McDonald from AAWT this time.
06012017 – VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday)
Left Midday and followed my normal access route of freeway then Mansfield to head down the Howqua Track into Brocks Road. Turned into Low Saddle Rd and crossed the Jamieson Rivers near the camp of last week. As you travelled deeper into the bush the tracks degraded. Low Saddle was fine. There are spots where I had to get out and move rocks and a couple tight squeezes between timber but overall the access good.
Then you turn into Mt Sunday road. The road is not 2WD. The final 100m of is across rocks and where you have to be careful. I proceeded in low range and have ‘Light Truck’ tyres in excellent condition. Next time would park where the Mt Sunday track meets Low Saddle and walk up.
VK3 contacts didn’t happen. Tried 40m, 20 and 10M. Worked ZL, VK2 & VK5 on 40M to qualify. Once qualified I packed up and proceeded down Low Saddle road to park where the AAWT meets Bull Plain Spur Road. Setup camp as wanted a start early to beat the expected heat.
Subie on the way back. You can’t see the new dint in the passengers side. Ran over a branch the flipped up and hit the car vertically. Watching rocks clearance and missed this stick. Grrrrr
06012017 –VK3/VE-026 (Mt Mcdonald)
This is what I was here for. Mt Sunday was a bonus.
Camped overnight at the point where the road meets the AAWT. Woke early, had coffee packed up tent and checked gear then headed off. Took KX3 and end fed for this activation.
The KX3, key, mic and 2900mAh internal nicads weighs in at 1480g. The FT817 with mic, key and 2800mAh batteries weighs in at 1570g. The KX3 is bulkier but includes antenna tuner and protective covers.
Followed the AAWT up. 6.1Km up, up across then up. As your are walking up you can see the roads weaving through the trees.
Took 2.5hrs to walk up, 30m to setup. Qualified in 20 minutes with Parks contact with VK3ZPF, then the usual culprits – VK2UH, VK7CW, VK5IS and VK2IO finally a complete for VK3CAT.
Then a couple arrived on the on the summit who were walking the AAWT. They were low on water and asking questions as to access for water at the Knobs and Mt Clear. Being aware of these sites but never needing to access I could not give useful advice. As it was expecting hot conditions, I was carrying additional water. Decided to give them water. Worked out how much I used on the way up and a margin for error then gave them the rest. Don’t go up here without water. You can’t rely on being able to access the springs or there being a fellow walker prepared to share what is the most valuable commodity in the bush.
Made a couple of post UTC calls with no response so packed up and headed back down. The track is good but still easy to wander off. 13Km for the trip but 200% easier then what appears to be a shorter option through the thick bush. Key is to stay on the ridge lines.
Great views from here,
View to Mt Clear,
01012017 – VK3/VS-027 (Ben More)
Decided to go to a local summit for the new year activations. Given UTC is at a civil time here and the high number of proposed activations it will be a great opportunity to chase Summit to Summit contacts (S2S).
Access is via a public road reservation that makes its way to the Ben More Bushland Reserve. Along the way, the road goes through several gates, one with a “Private – No Entry” sign, however the road reserve is public land. This is a popular site for hand gliders and I meet a couple coming down from the summit as I was heading up. They had decided to to launch due to the poor weather but confirmed the road condition and status. It is a rough track. There are no fences defining the boundaries until you hit the park. The summit is on private property. Watch out for livestock. The final climb into the reserve is steep. Subie handled it with no issues but would not be planning to go there if wetter.
Dark blue show the track taken whilst the purple lines show the road reserves. Don’t deviate from the road leaving the gates in the state you found them.
Being able to drive to the summit ensured I arrived on time, in fact early as expected a walk. Setup using 20/40 trapped dipole using the emergency marker;
Proceeded to work all I could find too finish up with 26 S2S contacts for 146 points. There were no hand gliders but eagles. Managed to get photo of one;
Good clear summit. Access is ensured but not 2WD track.
28122016 – VK3/VE-040 (The Knobs)
28122016 – VK3/VE-240 (High Cone)
29122016 – VK3/VE-018 (Mt Clear)
All in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park.
I’ve had my eye on this area due to the number of desirable summits and ability to use the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) to safely access said summits for a while.
Tony VK3CAT mentioned he was heading to the area after XMAS and I jumped at the opportunity to accompany him and Nan. Given the remote nature, these summits are not activated a lot. Previous activations have been by Wayne VK3WAM (https://waynemerry.wordpress.com/tag/vk3ve-040/) and Tony VK3CAT (https://vk3cat.wordpress.com/march-2015/) so also not many opportunities to go with someone who had been before. Sole hiking is not a good plan in this area. Intend to return to access easier summits but this time will go accompinied.
Weather was interesting. The week leading up predicted 36+ heat. Planning involved working outwore water points were.As it got closer the wetter the forecasts were becoming. Headed off Tuesday to drive via Mansfield as intended to camp that night. Noted the weather forecasts and decided to review the position in the morning. The closer to mansfield I got the wetter it became. Fears go excessive heat disappeared and was becoming obvious rain gear was to be deployed.
Easy access to the area. Head through Mansfield to turn down Howqen Road then pass through Shipyard Flat camping area to follow Brocks Rd down to the the Jameson River. This is marked as a 4wd track, but it is maintained to a high standard being recently graded, so no problems with a 2wd. Meat up with Tony and Nan at a camp site next to the Jameson River in time to setup tent in rain and have tea.
30Km all up over two days. GPX available on request.
The Knobs VK3/VE-040
Left Tonys camp on the Jamison in Subie to head down Mt Clear Track. Parked off the road and and headed up Mt Clear track then turned right to The Knobs track to gain access to the ridge line. One up on the ridge we meet the AAWT. This was used to to gain access to the summits. The weather was windy and grey but holding. It was a steep walk up but the AAWT track will head through the activation zone for The Knobs for our first summit. Track is clear and easy navigation. Just keep following the yellow triangles until GPS tells you you are in the zone.
This was the point for the first activation. Stayed dry but the wind forced us to select a spot just under the peak. Qualified and kept walking as more summits to do.
High Cone VK3/VE-240
Followed the walking track around to High Cone. The track did not go through the activation zone so we dropped packs and climbed the final 120M up to activate.
The rain was starting to come in now. Not a problem actually better than the expected 36+ conditions. Setup below the peak to avoid the wind and activated with intent to stay dry. Used the endfed with Tony’s KX3 to qualify.
Followed the AAWT around to camp in the saddle at the base of Mt Clear. The yellow line is the track AAWT GPX whilst the blue line is the actual route we took. There is a marked difference around ‘Square Top’. We decided not to go over the summit (can’t qualify so why walk up). According to AAWT GPX there should have been a track. No real track. Whilst the AAWT went around the base, the track in fact headed over the summit. We maintain 1490m and cut up once clear of the climb. By now the wind was quite gusty. Camped in the saddle at the base of Mt Clear. Given the wind and pending rain we selected a protected site as protected as possible and away from dead timber.
Mt Clear VK3/VE-018
Anything but clear.
The rain was varying from heavy drizzle to showers. Everything was wet. There was no view to enjoy so we qualified and moved on.
Walk back was via Mt Clear Track. This is the same track we had left the car on on the previous day. By now it is a overgrown 4WD parks management track that joined the AAWT. Despite the vegetation it is a easy but long walk as a case of head down keep going. The 4WD track is no longer used but still clear so no navigation going on. Frustrating in the final stages as it zigged and zagged down to meet Mt Clear Track. The GPS was showing 1.4km to the car for nearly an hour. There is a track on the maps that appeared a more direct route but did not see and usable options. Got back to Subie and headed back to main camp.
Tony stayed for another night whilst I headed home. Harsh weather on the way home so decided not to pickup summits on the way. Wet tried and looking forward to sleeping in my bed tonight.
Thanks to Tony and Nan for patience in harsh conditions. Appreciated the opportunity to access desirable summits.
VK/ZL – Europe SOTA S2S Party – 22 Oct 16 0630 – 0830 UTC
Andrew VK1AD & Mike 2E0YYY organised using Sota website and Facebook. It took off with 54 summits across Australia, New Zealand, Japan, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France, Finland, Bulgaria, Portugal, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Greece and Switzerland alerted. Ed – DD5LP reports that there were 73 spots on the evening.
The evening started with hail and stayed cold. Never the less went to my local summit (VK3/VC018) that has good cover and setup for the evening. Given the wet conditions, took FT817 as not ready to drown KX3. 20m dipole at 7m so was dependent on CW for contacts. A great response.
Had a great time. The EU CW is so much harder then VK, much more and much faster activity. I’m looking for these activities to help with honing CW skills. The EU pace is madness.
I recorded 5 contacts. The only DX contact was with DL3TU3H on DM/BW-089, and local contacts with VK6NU,VK3CAT,VK3ARR & VK2IO
Heard many activations and called HB9IT,LZ1GY,JS1UEU,2E0YYY (SSB) , F/ON7DQ & JP3DGT but my QRP did not cut through.
From the reports it may have paid to hang on for another 30 min. However it was cold and wet. Had a good run so went into Bunnyiong to pick up pizza and went home to warm up.
Thanks Andrew (if thats really your name) and Mike. Looking forward to the next one.