25042019 – VK3/VE-046 The Governor in WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
This was my second attempt for this summit. Previous was with Tony VK3CAT and David VK3IL coming across from Eagles Peak. We hit Cat 5 conditions and when combined with temp decided it was not worth chasing.
This attempt will involve a longer walk but avoiding cliffs. Planned to take two days with the first spent travelling up and walking in over the first hill to camp at a site with water in the valley.
Headed off 9:30an Wednesday and drove to Mansfield to head down to Howqua Hills. Turn right through SheepYard flat and follow Howqua Hill track.
The path is marked ’to Castle Rock’ and ’To Upper Jamieson Hut’ (7hrs, seams optimistic). The 4km walk in steep to start with then down hill to the valley for Lickhole Creek.
The plan was to camp at the base of the first (55 H 443431 5880186) hill securing water as didn’t want to carry two days water in. Should the creek not be running I intended to head back and bring in water. Either way intended to camp at this spot leaving 7kms to the summit.
Found a suitable place for the tent above the creek and setup before the light rain. Slept on dark surprised as the the amount of dogs in the park. You could hear at least 4 different howling. I don’t know if they were wild or from hunters. have heard the wild dogs and cats in the Cobberas but not in the Alpine before.
Up at first light and headed off at 7:00am to the Governor.
Left the tent up only taking radio, jacket and first aid gear on the walk to the summit. This reduced the load from 20kg to around 8kg with 4l water. Glad I camped as planned as whilst you could hear the water as you walked up Lickhole Creek but the blackberries got thicker until access would be prohibitive. Whilst you could walk down the track with a good touch, there were not the camping opportunities along the way. This was a good plan and had margins for a slow walker like myself.
The track was easy to follow despite the blackberries encroching. I would not recommend walking down here in shorts. There were a couple of red triangles to reassure you’re on track but essentially a case of following the track as it weaved up the valley heading to Mt Darling. Leisurely walk that picked up once at the base of Mt Darling.
Once clear of the valley and the blackberries, the going was uphill so slow but a case of keep plodding. Turned and headed accross to the saddle hitting a ‘track’ to the Governor. Continued and once in the zone and in a clear area I setup the ended and started calling. 40m was not behaving, nor was the phone. Expected phone service from Buller but it was patchy and as a result unable to get a SMS spot out. However after waking for 5 hrs I was not leaving until qualified however apprehensive and only had an hour allocated on the summit to get back in day light.
Finally qualified with 20M ZL, 40M CW and SSB contacts to finish up heading back at 13:30. 40m was hard going and we have been spoilt with spotting and the number of chasers these days.
The walk back to camp was quicker as basically down hill. Followed the track out and across to Mt Darling to head back down Lickhole Creek track. Straight forward operation. Nothing like the stress involved with heading from Eagles Peak. Made it back to my camp to be left with the final 4Km back to the car under full pack with limited day light. Made it back to the car with torch in the dark on good tracks.
No issues but will declare I was tried and had sore legs but safe and had successfully qualified a remote summit. The weather was perfect. Light rain in the night, overcast morning with clear sky around 20 max.
Not happy with the SPOT devices coverage. Whilst a ‘OK’ message got out the night before I failed to have any tracking on the next day. It was overcast and the device was in a pocket but this was ‘normal’ usage. Recently paid the $300AUD annual subscription. This was has seen 20% increase over last 5 years and with the falling AUD$ has brought the running cost into the range of an Iridium subscription.
Also surprised with the lack of animal life in the area. Only saw a single wallaby, one Kookaburra, a lazy lizard and two pigeons. There is more animals at my place these days. I could hear dogs at night and there was evidence (scat) on the track so I hope the ferals haven’t killed all natives in the area.
Overall very happy with the activation. Can recommend this as an access route. Longer than from Eagles Peak but ‘easier’ . Easy access to water at the start and trousers are essential.
Ok now there are another two summits in the area that demand respectful planning to gain….. next.