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.