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.
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/VS-011 Mt Abrupt in VKFF-0213 In – Grampians National Park
Serra Range to the north. The seasonal burns are in full flight thus making the area smoky. In the valleys so wont be an issue accessing the summits.
Mt Abrupt is on the southern end of Serra range in the Grampians National Park. There is a defined track for access from the front. It not as bad as it looks. 6.6Km return along a busy track. Head out of Dunkeld down Victoria Valley road turning right into Grampians Road. There’s space for cars to park on Grampians Road, roughly 5km from the park sign. The track starts on the left side of road and is marked by a sign and steps. The track starts off easy and after crossing the washouts heads up to the ridge line. Straight forward walk but still raises a sweat.
You can access Signal Peak from this track. There is a marker now where to turn (54HXD1977439156) Whilst there no track to Signal Peak its a case of stay left of the ridge line and there may be tape markers left from the The Serra Terror held on June long weekend to confirm your insanity. Anyway I have been on Signal Peak previously and not interested in it so continued to Mt Abrupt.
There were two goals for this activation, first being the short but solid walk up and second to test a doublet.
Obviously not a new design of mine. First saw a doublet in action with Tony VK3CAT. There was some debate as to the use of coax and a bolt to stabilise the feeder but it proved to be a effective antenna combined with the KX tuner securing contacts from 80 down. From my version I now believe the bolt and coax was acting as a choke stabilising the performance of the antenna.
I decided to stick to the 88f length radiator. Its is proving to be a reasonable compromise on summits tight for space.
So this is a 26.8m (88 foot) radiator with 7m feeders ‘all band’ antenna. Ive had poor signal reports from the 26.8m end fed which has been attributed to coax losses. The end fed has a coax run to get the feed point some height. Reducing the length of the coax lead from 9 to 2m lead to RF issues and poor tuning (lack of counterpoise) so now has a 5m run. The end fed is maintaining contacts on 80 and 40 but according to the licence I have to experiment so hence the doublet. The idea of the doublet is the reduction of feeder losses and the vertical run brings the length of the antenna to ~40m. The run to the KX is heat-shrunk twisted pair with a 1:! current choke. The spreaders are dripper line with zip ties as seen on Warren VK3BYDs version. Simple cheap and worked a treat.
There is conflicting dialog on the web as to the role of the feeder in these antenna. The total length being the single length of feeder plus total length of the radiator (26.8 + 7 = 34.8m) implying the feeder plays a minor role in radiating or length of the entire feeder and radiator (26.8 + 14 = 40.8m). I’ll let those smarter than me to debate this but given int is a non-resonate antenna I like the idea of 40m of wire in a compact deployment following the view of ‘as much wire in the air as you can get’.
This unit tuned up on 80m find using the tuner in the KX and worked a treat.
Rolled out fine with double winders. This summit was selected given the space available the ends ended up draped on the top of the bushes when the tying failed with no noticeable impact to performance. Maybe we are getting a bit precious as to deployment given the height ?
anyway the results are in with three P2P and solid signal reports I’m a fan of such an antenna.
VK3/VW-003 Mt Rosea in Grampians National Park (VKFF-0213)
Mount Rosea, is at the northern end of the Serra Range. It is my favourite summit in the Serra Range not just because if has good defined access but Mt Rosea gives 360 degree views from the lookout at the summit into the Grampians.
Mt Rosea was selected to gain practice for Alpine activations as features rock outcrops, slopes and close to home.
Was looking at another summit (VK3/VE-075) in the Alpine however we received 96mm rain (recorded at my rain gauge) in the previous week (48mm over Easter) so decided to stay closer to home and try to avoid the water.
This was not to be. Whilst drier that around home it was wet in the grampians. Whilst the weather cleared up the further north you headed, there were clouds looming and masking the summits. Drive up was clean and parked at the carpal off Silverband Road. This is accesses from Mt Victory road as one way from Grampians road. No concerns with the weather, dressed accordingly once there and headed off.
Easy walk on the track. It was very wet with water courses running and wet rocks when heading up. Took under 2 hrs to cover the 4.8K to the summit.
It was a challenge to setup the end fed given the wet rocks on the summit. Also very busy with several walkers going to Mt Rosea and a couple walking through to Borough Huts so headed away from the lookout.
40M was alive. Qualified the site in 10 min on CW including a S2S with VK1MCW on VK1/AC-048
Went off and chased the park activators picking up 2 P2P contacts (VK6MB in Heathcote-Graytown National Park (VKFF-0624) and VK4SMA Mount Barney National Park (VKFF-0338)) Spent an hour on the summit for 10 contacts and happy to pack up and the drizzle was starting to annoy me. Carefully packed up as the rocks were very slippery and I didn’t want to slip. Have to stay sharp on the way back as easy to miss a turn and end up coming out in the valley. Not a biggie as you will hit the road eventually but would be very wet in these conditions and hard going so best to stay on track.
Nice clean activation. Mt Rosea is the pick of the summits in the Serra Range. You can add (VK3/VW-009) Near Sundial Peak and (VK3/VW-007) Near Boroka Lookout if you were in the area but I was on a mission as wanted to be home to cook tea.
Will return for (VK3/VS-011) Mt Abrupt soon enough as a great site with a good walk up.
Second summit that I had been waiting on access restrictions to be lifted. Had addressed Mt Difficult in January having decided not to include South Mt Difficult range at the time.
This was challenging but not Difficult. The weather provided more challenges. It was inclement on the drive up to a point where I nearly decided to abort but as I could see blue sky coming so pressed on. In the end there was rain and hail but no real wind son case of get on with it.
Drove around Mt Victory road to turn towards Wartook Reservoir to gain access to Mt Difficult road. This is a slow trip due to winding road and tourists. This was the point where previous plan to qualify this summit failed as the road had been closed due to fire damage. Not just the road but even walking down the road was off limits. However not the issue this time.
Drove down Mt Difficult road and left Subie at the base of Carters track. This track has a reputation for being a challenge for 4WDers requiring rescue however it was closed this time of the year and will provide clear quick access to the ridge line. Chinamans Road was also closed due to the fire damage but would have been a longer walk so not considered.
Walked 1.2Km up the track with two active creeks to arrive on the ridge line. Only 1.4Km from the summit but no tracks so here the work started.
It hailed on the way up. I was proceeding along the ridge line and decide to take cover under a rocky outcrop.
From there I could see a valley forming and hear water running. Decided to follow this creek up to the summit to avoid climbing over rocks. This proved to be a good decision as the ridge line are two parallel rocky out crops. The creek gave me clear access to the summit and also showed a cleared route back to the track.
Given the conditions I had no desire to reach e summit so once the GPS indicated I was in the zone I proceeded to setup and qualify the summit. Found a great spot with cover and enough trees to support the squid pole. Only used SSB as worked all chasers and was not prepared to stay for a long time.
Used the KX3 and short end fed. There were not a lot of options as to antenna length in this position and the propagation gods smilled on me with excellent signal reports.
A good summit that requires attention. Not to be done in extreme weather due to potential exposure but worth the walk.