31122019 – VK3/VN-001 Mt Torbreck
01012020 – VK3/VC-006 Mt St Leonard in VKFF-0556 In – Yarra Ranges National Park
01012020 – VK3/VC-038 Archer Lookout in VKFF-0556 In – Yarra Ranges National Park
In VK, ZL and JA we have UTC rollover late morning (11am EAST). This means double activator points can be claimed for activation as the UTC rollover is for a new year.
Chasers can always claim double points for activations spanning UTC rollover but this annual event is a bonus for activators. This year not all chasers were in a position to participate. VK1 activation were off the table given the conditions and sites being closed.VK2 had limited access for similar reasons. VK3 was fast becoming limited with the fires to the east. Here id a view of VK3 three days later. As you can see the east of VK3 is now off the table.
This map clearly show an inadequacy in the current system. I’m not going into the current politics as this is not the place (but it is the time to discuss the implications of climate change and the f#*% T!#*# we have ‘leading’ us) but the map is of VK3
and this is the view of VK2. You have to go to two seperate sites for a view. I don’t think the fires will respect the state boundaries, just saying.
Anyway, talking with Andrew before Xmas we decided on Mt Torbreck. Its a good summit. On the edge of reasonable day trip and neither of us had activated this year. We watched the conditions and after committing to cancelling should conditions dictate to our wives, took off nice and early for UTC fun. We were well clear of the fires and also not in a position to hinder access or require assistance.
Watching the spots on the drive up and saw ZL up and working. They are a head of us and working locals as we could not hear from the car.
31122019 – VK3/VN-001 Mt Torbreck
We went down the Hume and cut across through Alexandra to turn down Eildon-Jamieson road. Arrived at Barnwell Plains on time and with excellent conditions.
View from VK3/VN-001 east
Its a clean 2km walk up to the summit from the car park. We arrived comfortably and setup the end fed across the cairn. On air by 10:30 and started working the S2S pre UTC.
The smoke haze was two ridge lines away. Did not want to be any closer. Ended up with 24 contacts from ZL, VK7, VK5, VK4, VK3 and VK2. Again nothing from VK1 as they were they were dealing with smoke and fires.
21 S2S contacts across 11 unique sites. The day was proceeding as per plan except for my lunch as still in the fridge at home. After eating half of Andrews lunch knocking over a bag of snakes we packed to collect more summits on the way home.
Typically in when in the area I would pickup VK3/VN-005,VK3/VN-002 and possibly VK3/VN-004 but that was not the plan as they are off Snobs creek road we came in down Eildon-Jamieson road. Will come back during the year for these three but come down Snobs Creek road.
From here we were targeting Archer Lookout and Mt St Leonard as intended to head home via Healesville. The ‘plan’ was to turn into Monda Road (opposite Dom Dom Road) from the Maroondah Highway. This was not a good plan was we hit a locked gate 200M from highway. So instead decided to reverse the plan and come in St Leonards and again follow Monda Road to Archer Lookout.
01012020 – VK3/VC-006 Mt St Leonard in VKFF-0556 In – Yarra Ranges National Park
This summit has a reputation for RF noise and also attracting crowds. We decided to go for a HT VHF based activation of the summit. We could hear VK3ZPF on the drive up so made contact once in the carpark and so he would wait for a S2S. Still took HF station but the goal was a HT based quick operation. Once qualified (VHF S2S with VK3ZPF then 5 contacts from a UHF net) trekked back does the k or so to the car and headed up Monda Road to Archer Lookout. This is a AWD track. Its a great track for Subie given the tyres and suspension but I would not call it a 2WD track only due to the use of large course rocks for the road and a handful of ruts. 2WD in summer but you will need to consider the conditions as you may need to get out in a hurry.
VK3ARR with 2M Jpole on VK3/VC-038
01012020 – VK3/VC-038 Archer Lookout in VKFF-0556 In – Yarra Ranges National Park
This is a new summit as added to VK3 November this year. It took an hour to get down and on site then was surprising hard work to qualify.
It was late. Well not that late but consider we all up early for UTC activations not surprised as to the quite bands. Andrew setup up 2M to secure a S2S with VKJ3ANL on VK3/VC-018 and we then turned to 20M to secure 3 more contacts with ZL, VK4 and VK5.
Once qualified we packed up and headed out as still had a couple of hours drive to be home late for tea.
A good day. Ended up with 4 summits qualified with for 24 S2S (13 unique).
HF antenna on Archer Lookout.
VK3/VC-019 – Mt Warrenheip
VKFF-2402 In – Mount Warrenheip Flora Reserve
Quick activation to pickup Mt Warrenheip before the years end and to catch Peter VK3PF for a S2S.
Setup with my back to the compound facing east with antenna ran out along the ridge. The undergrowth was a lot cleaner this year. The site was burnt out 2 years ago so good to see the grasses coming back ahead of the weeds that plagued the site.
It was a SOTA activation but the site qualifies for VKFF (VKFF-2402) so will submit the log.
Photos of Mt Warrenheip and Mt Buninyong from Navigators Road the day before. I was going to go out but given the temp and wind decided it could wait another day.
We have low haze from the fires at Mount Mercer. No risk just a reminder of the conditions and to keep a eye out.
Charging batteries and packing for NYE activation tomorrow at Mt Torbreck with VK3ARR.
VK3/VC-019 – Mt Warrenheip
VK3/VC-018 – Mt Buninyong
VK3/VN-029 (Federation Range)
WWFF Yarra Ranges National Park (VKFF-0556)
Rare photo of Andrew activating in VK.
We walked in the ‘WILD HORSES Festival’. Was not expected or a issue but did create a problem as access to the Lake Mountain site was restricted so we had to park 2kms down the road. The additional 2kms was on the road ,in the heat it was all up hill. Fornatually we didn’t have to walk as jumped on the hippy buss and was dropped off on the site. That was an experience in itself.
The walk to Federation Range is straight forward as long as you start on the correct track (Royston Trail) Its a clear walk with consistent climb following the ski tracks through the old site and Andrew didn’t get too far ahead of me. Got on site and setup in time to secure S2S with VK3BYD and VK3PF. Comfortably qualified on CW leaving the SSB contacts to Andrew. The end fed worked a treat. I had performed some much needed maintaince as the end connector was fraying (using Araldite to enclose it) and adding addition wire as had to cut down after a serious tangle incident on Mt William. Added a length of yellow wire to the end to also increase visibility.
With 40m of wire and the 49:1 matcher the tuner in the KX gives all band support. Setup high and clear 40m returned 1:1 swr without requiring tuning.
We walked back to the carpark and kept going not waiting for the bus as down hill and had allready decided to drop the proposed second summit. Had to walk on the edge so as to avoid walking in the blistering road tar.
Good day in great conditions. Happy to grab this summit before the heat settles in as is not a spot you would want to be in should there be fires.
VK3/VW-006 (Warrburra/Middleton Peak)
WWFF Grampians National Park (VKFF-0213)
A part of the VKFF weekend. Intention was to pick up the SOTA summit and activate the p[ark for WWFF.
This is one of my favourite sites.
There is a camping ground as the start of the track to the summit called Borough Huts. It is used as a destination for hikers coming through Mt Rosea or the Grampians Peaks Trail. You have to book (Parks Victoria) and is costs $15.30.
Michele was off to Port Fairy with her sisters so I decided to head up Friday night for an early start. Booked a site (28) near the start of the track. Left Ballarat in the rain, picked up spicy noodles from Ararat on the way through and made to the site on dark.
There is an old 4WD track that you can follow. Shows up on Garmin maps as “The Alley”. We used this area for navigation training with Scouts as you can stay on course as long as keep looking for where the road was. There are a few spots where you have to deviate around obstacles and the start is hidden. The regrowth is coming back and it is not as clear now. Took nearly 3 hours to cover the 5 odd kms to the summit. It does get steep and with the loose rocks you have to stay sharp. This was where I cancelled earlier as did not want to be in the loose rocks in the wet. Glad I did as slipped a couple of time in good conditions and scratch lower legs. Nothing that Betadine can’t fix. Once off the saddle you proceed through high grass and across slight valley.
Followed the track up then headed across the rock face to come put in the saddle. Did I say the regrowth is thick ? Setup once out of the depression and in the zone as the rock formations do not lend themselves to 40m of wire so need to take what you can. As it was I weaved through a couple of trees with the wire North/ south.
As the WWFF weekend was on there were amble chasers around and had no issues gaining 10+ contacts. I did not intend to stay for 44 as already qualified this park so really a case of once had worked all comers head backdown.
Had a couple of hours walk back to car another two parks on the agenda for the day.
If you intend to head up be aware the regrowth is getting quite thick, take a machete and compression bandage.
Great rock formations. Yes the undergrowth is taller then I. It was ok when waist high but this level of regrowth can hide a lot of dangers from rocks to cold blooded friends.
Looking across to Victoria Range
Once back at car, pulled down tent and headed back towards home.
Planned to activate two VKFF sites on the way home. Both just near Moyston. I use the Ararat-Pomanal road to cut from Halls gap to Ararat then head down the highway past Mt Cole to get home.
WWFF Jallukar Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2115)
First park was easy access. Just turn following gate signs and head into the park. There a couple of clearings so you can get off the road but still a dusty operation.
Good 4G signal so used the ParksnPeaks iOS app on the iPad to watch spots and log the contacts. Collected 8 parks to park in 20 minutes so once had secured the 10+ contacts for VKFF packed up and headed to the next site.
WWFF Moyston Flora Reserve (VKFF-2404)
Access is again easy as you follow the signs to the tip just before Moyston. I was in the right spot but the signs were out of date. Confirmed with the mapping from the PnP app and also talked to some locals who were walking their dogs.
Again using the app so watching spots to collect 7 park to park contacts in 30 minutes before continuing the drive home.
Worked a few more activators from the car on the way home including CW Park contacts. Good weekend with great contacts.
Tasmania trip 2019
We had never been to Tasmania so though time to correct that. The trip was not a Parks and SOTA expedition but we intend to catch up with friends who had moved there and to sample the food, scenery and hopefully see the Aurora.
Went over on the ferry so could take Subie. I have HF and VHF in the car with a Outbacker Stealth setup. The VHF is a Kenwood DT710 setup for APRS and HF using a FT891 and mAT-30 auto-tuner. So from the car I can tx on 80 to 2M.
I had a list of candidates that was based on input from a couple of activators and activation stats from PnP. The idea was that those that had recent activations should have clean access. Whilst we had booked the time off and theferry months put but did not pay attention until the week before. Saw no reason to book accommodation as prepared to play it by ear.
Left Melbourne in the evening to arrive in Devonport bright and early. Had breakfast at the House of Anvers Museum of Chocolate as we headed down and around Port Sorell to access the Narawntapu National Park on the way to Launceston.
WWFF Narawntapu National Park (VKFF-0005)
Narawntapu National Park proved to have straight forward access. We drive through heading up to the on the and proceeded to gain 10 contacts and qualify for VKFF. Intersting location as very different to the summits I’m use to. Smallish rugged costal plants. Finished up and headed down to Launceston.
Spent a couple of days and a night in Launceston. Went to a restaurant called Geronimo. This was the pick of the trip. if you do nothing else in Tasmania, go to this resturant.
From Launseaton we headed down to Hobart. Tasmania is quite compact and we were slowing down and getting use to the lack of distances involved.
Hobart felt like a country town. We got a hotel in the CDB and parked the car. We are country folk so happy to stay in city and explore. You can walk all over Hobart and we did.
VK7/SC-001 – Kkunanyi / Mount Wellington
WWFF Wellington Park Other Conservation Area (VKFF-2932)
We could see Kunanyi from our hotel window. The weather was undecided. My initial plan was to go up in the late afternoon hoping to exploit the evening grey line for 20m contacts and to get a view of the city. Access is restricted due to snow so plann to activate morning.
Headed off in the morning after breakfast in the city. Setup in the carpark with the endfed running out east west. Secured the summit but not the park. It was hard going with CW coming to save the day. Once qualified headed back down as had a dinner date in the city with Michele’s friends.
VK7/SC-037 – Mt Direction
Mount Direction is on Hobart’s eastern shore. Access is but steep in parts but overall an excellent trail. The walk is worth the views of Hobart and the Derwent Valley alone. Starting at the Risdon Brook Dam this is a straight forward walk but we left to the afternoon and were not aware that the carpark had a lock out time of 4:30pm. (Gates are open from 7:30am – 4:30pm and until 8pm during Daylight Savings) Managed two contacts on 40m before had to leave. Rejoined our party and made it back with minutes to spare. The ranger was waiting in the car park. Plan to do in morning not afternoon and take a packed lunch.
Whilst in Hobart we explored the Botanical Gardens, a-good walk from the CBD and a full day in itself. Drove up to Mona, not taking the ferry which would be a better idea, and spent a full day there. I’m a heathen and had to read what some of the pieces meant but have a lot of time for artists. We need artists in society to keep us challenged and Mona achieves that.
From Hobart we headed down to Glaziers Bay in the Huon Valley.
The goal here was lunch at Fat Pig. We stayed in B&B overlooking the farm which allowed us to walk there and back, given the red a good choice.
We headed back to see the Salamanca Market but should have stayed in Cygnet and had more of fennel and pork rolls.
Returned to Hobart and continued the quest. Franklin left us wanting. The Saffron had excellent veggie options. Fish on the pier with mayonnaise was a good as anywhere. Not a big seafood person but the fish in Tasmania was excellent. I have a rule of only eating fish if I can see the ocean. The options on the pier in Hobart lived up to this criteria. We later had fish from a cafe in Devonport on the last day where they catch and cook the fish, again excellent.
We booked two days (3 nights) in Lake St. Clair so said goodbye to Hobart thanking her for the hospitality and headed into the wilderness.
Again Tasmania in nice and compact with no real traffic stress. We headed off having lunch at the Agrarian and staying overnight in New Norfolk
Lake St. Clair – Lake St Clair Lodge
Lake St. Clair is at the southern end of Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park.
There are plenty of accommodation choices in the park, ranging from high end luxury to basic camping. Our preference was to stay at Lake St Clair Lodge positioned in Heritage listed area covering Cynthia Bay and Lake St. Clair National Park.
The car park and visitors centre are at Cynthia Bay. This is also the end point for people completing the Overland Track from north to south.
From here there are a number of good day walks as well as longer walks. The information centre has walking notes for the area and we used the National Parks map.
I wanted to pickup Mt Rufus but nature had other plans.
I’m a simple country lad. Grew up in regional NSW and central Victoria. Whilst did do some X-Country skiing, snow was not a part of my existence. When we moved to Ballarat 20+ years ago it would snow but Climate change has put a stop to that. When ever I have activated SOTA peaks in the snow it has been with at least two others. We have also tuned back in harsh conditions. Should have been aware of the level of snow but was not. The snap put a stop to my extended plans but did not stop us from enjoying this area. We did take the time to walk down two the Overland track and past the lake side. Also headed off to see platypus (but they had other plans) SOTA peak or not this is beautiful area to be walking in.
WWFF Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (VKFF-0117)
We were stating inside the National; park. Operating from the car in the car park I was able to pick up park to park contacts. Parked the car down by the ferry pier hoping for better contacts and whilst cannot write it off on poor conditions all reports were low and basically struggling.
Woke up and headed offsite a plan for SOTA peak VK7/CH-020 Mt Rufus. Great tracks but the reality was waist deep snow once above the tree line. This is where it dawned on me I was not prepared for the snow and would not get the summits on my list. Being bold and pushing limits is one thing, there was more snow that I was prepared for and also alone. I had enough safety gear but that does not justify pushing beyond limits.
Headed off the well marked track to Mt Rufus. Clear run with no real navigation going on, just follow the signs. A group of monks came up behind me as I was walking . Dressed in heavy ’skirts’ and boots they were by no means observing silence but rather enjoying themselves. They caught up to me once up on the plateau before the final push to the ridge line. By this time I had decided not to proceed but will admit considered heading off with them. They offered and I declined and proceeded back to operate from a clear position that was noted earlier and they proceeded off to the ridge line with plans to get to he summit. I could see them and noted that whilst two got up onto the ridge, the majority had decided to spend the time sliding down the snow. Sounded like a pack od school kids.
I setup in a clear position and proceeded to call WWFF. It was slow with poor reports both ways. By the time the monks had started to come back it was time to pack-up and head back down to the unit .Talking to them on the way down they described an inability to walk through the snow on the ridge and also deciding turned back. That made me feed good about my decision. This is a great walk and would recommend if in the area. Don’t get hung up on the summit, its a journey its self.
yes wombats do have rectangular poos.
WWFF Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park (VKFF-0185)
The target was SOTA peak VK7/WC-009 – Mount King William I. Following the track advice from the Lake St Clair information centre which involved following a track (old 4WD) then turning right to approach the summit from the east. There was so much water around that I would call the track a creek. Actually went off course to find a creek that the maps indicate was running in parallel to verify was on the right path. As I progressed up the track the summit would present itself through the clouds and it came clear that again (surprise) was hosting snow. Continued to walk up as the track was fun and I was not in any danger. Turned back once the track started to climb and headed back to the car. As alway the fall back plan was to activate the park.
Once back at the car I proceeded into a large cleared marsh area on the road that was noted on the way in and activated the park. I did have alerts up and wanted to come up so as to ensure no concerns as to timing. Once I had worked all callers proceeded to head back down the A10 to see what access to other lower summits was like. The bush is thick and decided not to go off track so after an hour decided to turn back and pickup Bedlam Wall. This was my fall back summit however become the only summit activated in the area.
VK7/CH-097 – Bedlam Wall
Access is off A10 down logging tracks. The tracks didn’t match my maps but was able to leave car in a safe spot in a logged clearing and headed through thickish bush for a 1.3Km to the summit. The bush was clearer then that off the road but still not to be discounted.
Deployed the doublet due to the vegitation and also hoping to shake the poor performance that was common to this trip.
Picked up Ian VK5IS on CW and went to gain a S2S with Brian VK3BCM to qualify with 40SSB. Happy to finally get a summit and a first activation in VK7.
WWFF Central Plateau Conservation Area (VKFF-1158)
To activate Central Plateau Conservation Area I will have to drive out of Lake St Clair and back down the A10. Decided to wait to dusk then headed out to a point where I noted a truck parking area within the park. Parked the car so as to exploit the ground plane (car) directed the signals to the mainland and proceeded to qualify for VKFF on 40 and 80 comfortably. Again selecting an area with marshy overlook must have helped my signals.
After two days at Lake St Clair it was the end of the trip and time to head back to Devonport and back home.
Didn’t get as many summits or parks as you could. Will acknowledge that should have spent more time planning but have no intention of pushing into the snow.
So no idea why it has taken us so long to get to Tasmania. The pace, food and scenery are spot on. We were fornatute to stay in the heritage areas and I would recommend it.
Shall return if not only for more fish but now the overland track is on the list.
Looking back to Mt Rufus,
Back to Lake St Clair
From Lake St Clair,
VK3/VW-002 (Red Man Bluff) in VKFF-0213 – Grampians National Park
VK3/VS-001 (Mt William) in VKFF-0213 – Grampians National Park
VK3/VW-002 (Red Man Bluff)
Looking back towards Halls Gap over Lake Bellfield from operating position on Red man Bluff.
Access is from Mt William Road. The walk in is a short challenging 2Km. Challenging as the scrub is fierce and thick. The goal is to get onto a ridge line so as to avoid the thick gullies and to get up to the cliff line and follow the line across. Put your gloves on and pack the pack tight to get through the thick growth.
Took 80m antenna and ran 40 odd meters of wire down the rock outcrops with the squid pole in the middle. Worked a treat with 40 and 80m contacts and a single 2M FM
VK3/VS-001 (Mt William)
The walk up Mt William is a 1.5Km on sealed road but steep. Left to end of day as easy and clear.
Mt William has a large flat activation zone with several comms towers. Given the easy access you could bring up elaborate antenna and supports. I go to the left between the towers so as to avoid the traffic. Once on site I pulled out the antenna to discover it had come off the winder and had transferred itself into a rats nest. Spent good 10 minutes unravelling to finally decide to cut the end off and use what I had. The KX3 tuned the 30 odd meters that was left and I secured the summit on 40 and 80m.
Looking towards Ararat from Mt William.
Patches of snow on Mt William. The snow was from the weather earlier in the week but shows how cold the summit was. Also highlights micro climates as these pockets were cold.
Overall a straight forward operation. Home on dark with 12 points for my efforts.
VK3/VC-003 – Mt Ritchie – WWFF ID – VKFF-0556
Took the ATS out to Mt Ritchie.
This is a great summit and one I do each year.
Mt Ritchie is a good winter summit as 8 points with seasonal bonus and can be completed in harsh weather. You can access the summit from the north in summer with a 4WD but I prefer to park off Acheron Way at the gate on Road 15 and follow Road 10 to the summit. Easy clear access but the roads were not open due to several trees down. Not a issue as walking. Ive been off track in this area and its slow and wet. No need and no intent. Didn’t take the GPS. This is not a reckless choice as used hiker app on watch;
Its a 7k walk and all uphill to the summit. The summit is clear and open with enough room for long wire antenna. Several trees to support as well as sign posts to secure squid poles to.
This year it was time to take the ATS out. Keen on the ATS as it supports 80m. Setting up an antenna for 80M has challenges due to the space the wire requires. A shorter length (26.8m 88f) wire and L Match Tuner has been raised to address. Whilst this setup matched 80 to 15m, it was too touchy on 80m so took a trapped 20/30/40m end fed to be sure. Really didn’t want to blow out the transistors on the first activation.
There was light rain and cold, no snow but it was still cold. I addressed this with the proved method of layers on and still had two layers backup in the pack.These small radios do not do rain but to be fair neither does the KX3. The FT817 in its bag is best for such conditions. Ok but 817 requires external tuners and is heavy both itself and on the battery. The KX3 is brilliant with internal batteries and tuner and lighter than 817 but not as rugged. The KD1JV devices (MTR & ATS) are small, light and efficient but requires external tuners and batteries.
Secured the summit on 40M and CW with a P2P with VK5FLEA in Nurragi Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2247) and the usual loyal chasers.
Happy with the performance of the radio and antenna. Called on 30 and 20 with no takers regretted not taking 80. After an hour on the summit packed up and walked back down in the light rain.
The quest for the ideal SOTA radio is ongoing ….