Recently received an activator certificate for the 2018 Activation Weekend for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA).
Activated several sites from VKFF-0619 Alpine National Park -112018 – VK3/VE-047,VK3/VE-045,K3/VE-050 & VK3/VE-191
Tony VK3XV does a great job promoting this event and following up with these certificates is a great touch. Thanks again to Tony VK3XV and Amateur Radio Victoria.
09/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-047 (Rocky Ridge) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
10/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-045 (Eagle Peaks) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
10/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
11/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-191 (VK3/VE-191)
I’ve had my eye on VK3/VE-046 Governor for a while. Having activated most in the area is it untidy at least not to attempt an activation. The Governor has only been activated by Wayne VK3WAM in September 2012.This is a cat 5 hike. As a result I was not prepared to go out alone so put out a call for interested parties. There were several responses and once the dates were finalised both Tony VK3CAT and David VK3IL in a position to join. The planning process commenced. A weekend after Melb cup was selected to ensure the roads were open and there would also be traffic through the area assuring any access issues would be addressed. This aligned with the annual KRMNPA weekend. Whilst the Alpine would not be the most sought after site, we were glad to align the activations to the weekend as there would be a large pool of chasers available.
The original plan was to do a through hike from 8 mile gap on Brooks Rd to EaglesPeaks, then pickup The Governor and out through VK3/VE-075 to finish at Wren’s Flat. After reading Waynes Blog, calculating distances and the amount of water required and reviewing hiking sites, it was decided to go with plan B from the start. Plan B was to break the trip at The Governor and tackle VK3/VE-075 as a seperate activation. Plan B also did not depend of leaving a car at Wren’s Flat.
So it was decided to meet at 8 Mile Flat camp ground evening of Friday the 9th.
09/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-047 (Rocky Ridge) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
Drove up Friday. Meet up with Tony at Mansfield. decided to leave my car at Mansfield and proceed down Howqua Trak to Brocks Rd. We were on schedule so keep going and proceeded down Bluff Link to pick up VK3/VE-047 Rocky Ridge.
Rocky Ridge is a straight forward operation and bit over 1.5K each way. There is a track to follow but essentially head up to the ridge line then turn right until you find a site suitable for deploying your antenna. Qualified on CW and headed back to 8 Mile Flat camp ground
David VK3IL joined us at 8 Mile Flat camp ground. This is a great spot as within the Alpine NP and excellent faculties. There is a small creek to cross which is AWD and you can camp on the either side of the creek should the water be up.
10/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-045 (Eagle Peaks) – WWFF Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
We were on the road early Sat morning for a fairly quick drive up to 8 Mile Gap where we left the cars. David had tighter time lines that Tony and myself so needed two for seperate exits. There is enough room for a couple of cars here but you would not want too many. After getting the packs out we locked up and headed up Eagle Peaks track.
It’s a clear run but along a ridge line. The start is up but gets more intense as you get closer to Eagles Peeks.
We arrived at Eagle Peaks in good time and setup along the ridge line. No point in worrying which way the dipole is aligned as limited choices. Started calling. KRMNPA weekend ensured chasers. Once qualified and after reviewing the terrain from this vantage point, we packing up we headed on through Eagles Peaks and towards the saddle leading to The Governor. It was slow but comfortable going.There were sections of bush then steep ledges requiring careful progress.
Eventually we hit small but challanging cliffs. Decided to take our packs off to avoid having to deal the weight whilst investigating the obstacle when my pack slid down and over the cliff. I kept an eye on the pack as it had rested against some small trees while David went to the right and Tony headed left to find access. Once the pack had been recovered we took time to evaluate the situation. Basically not in any danger but given the time and carrying ~20K of equipment each including 7l of water, we decided to abort this approach. If we had had ropes you would setup a clear return path but we decided to fall back to Plan C.
7.2Km in 7:45 including activations and lunch. As a part of planning we had fall back positions so decided to head to Wrens Flat via Mt Sunday.
10/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday)
Drive up in a 4WD. There were a couple of motor bikes go through whilst we were there. They were not off-road bike and after talking to them found out that they were following Google maps for a quicker way to Jamesion and had been left astray. My now they had left a bike behind
Mt Sunday on DMR simplex using just a rubber ducky antenna at each end. Having alm
VK3/VE-075 (an unactivated unnamed peak)
After staying the night at Wrens XXX we headed off to the ridge link to activate VK3/VE-075. The road had been torn up so it was decided to leave the car in a safe spot and walk a couple pf K’s to the ridge. Once there we turned right, dropped a bearing and headed into the scrub. This is thick.
The going was slow only progressing 1km in an hour following the ridge line. As there was another 5.7Km to go to reach to summit, quick sums clearly demonstrated we would not back it there and back there and back today. Again the decision to abort was taken and we headed back out then along the road to evacuate plan D. Plan D was to pickup a summit on the way back to Mansfield via Jamison.
11/Nov/2018 VK3/VE-191 (VK3/VE-191)
Another site only previously activated by Wayne VK3WAM. We followed Sappers Link and Jamieson Lookout Track. It was a leisurely drive in Tony’s 4WD through some beautiful area. A quicker route would be from Jamison along Sappers Track but we had the time to explore.
Again qualified on CW then headed back to mansfield to start the journey home.
VK3/VE-075 is another summit that will be tackled with more respect. The going was hard through the bush. It should be addressed as a full day.
I was disappointed not to make it to Governor. Not surprised as the distances and terrain are real. The decision to turn back was unanimous. Basically a combination of terrain and water required as well as level heads. We did not want to to require external assistance to be recovered from a undesirable situation. This attempt has given more information and experience in the area so will have another attempt at the Governor in 2019. This time using the Eagle Peaks Circuit.
Starting and finishing from Howqua Hills, it will be longer but clearer and will allow for water drops before hand.
Stay tuned, this site will not evade me forever…..
3rd Annual Mt Hotham SOTA Summit
VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham
VK3/VG-008 Mt Misery Range
VK3/VE-010 Davies Plain
This is the third year Brian VK3MCD has hosted the now annual VK Mt Hotham SOTA summit.
I’m keen on this weekend for several reasons. The first is you get to spend a weekend with like minded SOTA folk. Second is staying in Hotham during summer allows for clear access to remote mountains too far for a day trips from home. After three years we are starting to go further afield to activate new summits however have a broad pool of experience to draw from to select and gain access to summits. This event has become a highlight on the VK SOTA calendar and the increase in attendance and the enthusiasm expressed by the participates evidences how much we all enjoyed it
I took the opportunity to activate The Horn in WWFF Mount Buffalo National Park on Friday. I have never been to this site in good weather and wanted to enjoy the view as apposed to hiding from it.Previous attempts include a successful activation in July 2013 during snow and a failed attempt in July 2014. These conditions are a lot easier. Drove down to the end of Mt Buffalo Road and climbed the 800 odd meters to the summit. Took 7m squid pole as had planned to cast the long wire over the edge. Didn’t quite work that way so ran the wire from the fence line across the top. Took a lot of photos of the summits in the distance due to the excellent conditions. Also took advantage of the signage there taking references photos to align the pictures later.
Worked VK3YY Glen & VK3IL David returning from their Razor-Viking Wilderness adventure as well as Ron VK3AFW mobile. After qualifying the summit and taking enough photos I decided not to activate the other summits in the park but to head up to Hotham so as not to have a late night. Meet up with VK3HN Paul on the way up. I stopped to take photos and he picked the car with antenna was heading the same way. This was good as whilst I had the details of accommodation (This year we were based at the Anton Huette ski lodge) will admit apart from charging batteries the week before, booking and paying the deposit I did not spend a lot of time preparing so was not exactly sure where it was. One of the advantages is the ability to book leave early.
Friday night consisted of fine tuning plans and catching up with friends that whilst I talk to most weekends, only meet annually at such events.
My agenda was to prioritise the activation of new summits to gain completes. Peter has acquired a nice Ford Ranger 4WD and was happy to get out into the tracks so we teamed up.
The first group consisting of VK3PF,VK3HN,VK3ARH and VK3YY were up and headed off to activate VK3/VT-023 (VK3/VT-023),VK3/VE-032 (Mt Sarah), VK3/VE-049 (Mt Selwyn), VK3/VE-066 (VK3/VE-066) and VK3/VE-025 (Mt Murray). The plan was to drive down to Mt Sarah however changed on route as we laised with the other groups and confirmed times. In the end is was a case of driving past Mt Sarah to start from VK3/VT-023.
So off we went, back down to the intersection of Dargo High Plains Road and then onto Twins Road. This track is generally rough and narrow. We drove past the The Twins and VK3/VE-023 then around the side of VK3/VE-064 via Twins Jeep Track finally onto Selwyn Creek Road. from there is was sourh down Selwyn Logging Road turning into Tea Tree Range Road to arrive at VK3/VT-023 in time for S2S fun.
There were other explorers out in the bush so when we arrived on site there were still parking and antenna placement considerations. You can’t setup the dipole across the road. You can’t park on the road.
Peters new 4WD addressed the terrian with full comfort.
VK3YY Glenn & VK3PF Peter working ZL on VK3/VE-049 Mt Selwyn from Glenn’s cute antenna whilst I was still getting the dipole up. The antenna is directly connected th the KX2 with a counterpoise and operated ‘Walki Talkie’ style.
The car left on the track whilst we climbed up to the activation zone. One stayed behind out of the zone and we used 2M to activate. After q quick operator shuffle, we had all qualifed the summit and were back in the car to continue on to Mt Murray.
VK3YY Glenn, VK3PF Peter and VK3HN Paul on Mt Murray. My squid pole behind for HF. Great views to the south across the Wongungurra River valley.
VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham
One feature of the Annual Hotham SOTA Summit is that Brian organises vehicle access to Hotham, making it a breeze to activate and socialise. However drinks was not my priority, I set up the HF with KX3 and linked dipole and started calling, VK3HN Paul setup his linked dipole and Summit Prowler-IV looking for 80m contacts whilst Glenn started calling on the KX2 with whip.
Warren VK3BYD/p was still on Mt Stanley with 23 cm so Andrew and Compton deployed 23cm gear. Using the handheld and 4-element Yagi resulted in very good signals both ways allowing Warren to log 8 S2S Hotham to Stanley contacts on 23 cm FM!
We eventually packed up and headed down to The General Store for dinner before a early night as adventures to be had on Sunday.
Day Two – 04022018
On Sunday VK3PF, VK2HRX, VK3HN and myself travelled in a convoy to activate three 10-point summits to the east of Mt Hotham. First was Mt Misery Range (VK3/VG-008) where we secured an unexpected S2S with Andrew VK3ARR/p on VK3/VN-016 (Mt Alexander). On arriving at VK3/VG-008 – Mt Misery Range I pull out the GPS to discover the batteries are flat. Not an issue as have spares. However as there were four in the party and at least two other GPS devices, I decided to leave the GPS and use the Hike2 app on my Garmin vívoactive.
The device tracked and displayed our route with no issues. Given the short distances involved, it displayed on the small screen well enough to show and giving distances back to the start point. The map above downloaded from Strava shows us navigating (following brumby tracks) around the boggy area on the return trip. Whilst the screen is small and does not have a map, the track back was easy as showed distance and direction to start point. Ok this device is not a replacement for a GPS and map but did track and record the walk out and back and allowed me to be comfortable in the bush without a map and compass.
Once back at the cars we headed down Mt Misery Track then across to VK3/VG-009 in time for a S2S contact with Glenn VK3YY and Andrew VK3JBL on Mt Loch VK3/VE-005 and Leigh VK3SG on Blue Rag Range VK3/VE-015. Final summit was Davies Plain (VK3/VE-010). Davies Plain in Kosciuszko National Park is the furthest we got, just 10km from the NSW border, and only activated once before (by Compton in 2013). The 4WDs came into their own this deep into the bush. There is no way I would have gotten Subie this deep so appreciated the comfort that Peters 4WD provided.
It was 2+ hours of dirt road driving each way including some rugged 4wd tracks but a real experience. Here we are on Davies Plain 10k from NSW. I had to force the group to turn and head back so as to start my trip home that night and suspect had I not they would still be out there chasing summits on 4WD tracks.
In memory of Subies passed, this year Ron VK3AFW hosted the ‘Bust a Gasket Award.
Thanks to Brian VK3MCD for offering, arranging and hosting the 3rd Annual Mt Hotham SOTA weekend, thanks also to all the participants – the camaraderie was terrific and it was great to have like-minded company to discuss a variety of topics and finally thanks to the chasers who patiently waited for us to arrive and then who tolerated us activators passing the microphones around to ensure all qualified the summits. An event like this only works because of the efforts of ALL who participate activator and chaser alike.
20102017 – VK3/VE-106 in (VKFF-0619) Alpine National Park
VK3/VE-108 & VK3/VE-116
These summits run along a ridge line near Jamison. There are four summits of interest , one had not been previously activated and the other three has only been activated by Wayne VK3WAM 4 years ago. Whilst Wayne camped at Grannies Flat and walked up Mitchell track, I was going to camp at the mine and walk down Mitchell’s track.
Headed up Friday afternoon to camp in the area and have a early start. The trip had interesting start, I could smell then see smoke inside the car. It was coming from the passenger side. This was the Friday before a long weekend so very heavy traffic.Whilst negotiating heavy traffic to pull off the road, turned the interior fan off hoping that was the source.Then the HF antenna on my car came off and was last seen going under a truck on the highway. Ended up in the service centre on the outskirts of Melbourne. Closer inspection revealed the power connector to the interior fan was damaged and was shorting. Easy fix. Having accounted for the smoke I decided to proceed as planned. Disappointed to loose the antenna. It was a Outbacker I sourced from a Ham fest. I put in on before leaving the train station and must not have done so tight enough. It will be a loss.
Proceeded down the highway to Mansfield. Out of Mansfield turned towards Jamison looking for Steiners Road. Navigating Steiners Road in daylight was the goal of leaving early. This 2WD road will take me to the end of the ridge line for easy access to the summits. Arrived at the mine at the end of Steiner Road and Mitchell’s Track in time to to setup tent, eat and watch the sun go down.
Sunset VIew of VK3/VE-108
It was a windy and wet night and a old slate quarry provided a protected spot to camp.
20102017 – VK3/VE-106 in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park
The first summit VK3/VE-106 was a quick trip back down Steiner Road then a short but trackless walk through the bush. Well ferned and treed but no issues with access as basically following the ridge line.
Despite being early on a Saturday morning qualified the summit with the usual CW culprits, VK3CAT Tony, VK7CW Steve, VK2IO Gerard, VK3BYD Warren and VK3PF Peter. Having qualified and after calls on SSB I was happy to pack up and head back as not expecting the remainding summits to give their points easly.
Back down Steiners to Mitchells track. Up Mitchells track to access this summit. Parked Subie off track allowing room for others to pass (no others seen) and walked the short distance to the summit to setup in a messy activation zone.
Qualified CW again with the same chasers. Using a trapped 20/30/40 end fed half wave. This antenna is compact and easy to deploy in tight conditions. Signal reports were low except for VK2 & VK7. The KX3 tuned the antena to alow local contacts on 80M.
Mitchells track is 4WD. Whilst I was up on the track, saw no reason to proceed any further down the track with Subie. There were no access issues so far but it was obvious that should the weather turn this would make the steep climbs into a slippery nightmare and not the place to be driving Subie. Anyway here for a walk and this only involves following the track. The track is open and clear but takes a lot of work as basically up then down.
Walked the 3Km from VK3/VE-108 to VK3/VE-116 along the track only going bush to gain access to the summit.
First contact was with VK2JNG Gerard in WWFF Mallanganee National Park (VKFF-0301) then the rest were CW contacts.
At this point Tony VK3CAT who was out but not on a summit messaged me with a weather warning. I looked across to see a small strom heading straight for me. No more radio. Packed as quick as I could up as having all this wire in the sky during a storm was not appealing. Also decided to drop the final summit (VK3/VE-152) as the additional 3+hours to walk down, activate and walk back was not appealing in these conditions. Only 4Km but heavy ascent and descents. The goal now was to get back to solid roads assuming the wind and rain was going to continue.
Negotiated the short bush bash back to the track from the summit before the rain came, then it came down, hail wind and more hail. Agree thats there is no such thing as bad weather, just under prepared walkers, so I got the wet weather gear on and after hiding from the hail and wind walked back to the car.
The track turned into a water way. Had trouble walking up in spots due to slipping. I still had to negotiate this track to get back to Steiners Rd. At this point despite being wet I was happy that I didn’t push it and drive down. Once back at the car continued down Mitchells track where I meet a branch (small tree size!) across the track. Quickly negotiated this obstacle and continued across the ridge line. Happy to get back on Steiners Road as felt safer on this road and proceeded to drive out back to sealed roads.
Once back on sealed roads still had 4hrs to travel to arrive home late after an uneventful trip.
This is an excellent spot to pick up remote summits. You could spend a day working the summits on Mitchell track, camp the night then spend the next day heading out along the ridge lines to The Govenor (VK3/VE-046) via VK3/VE106 which whilst only trip 6.5km would be slow given the undergrowth.
22042017 – VK3/VE-003 -(Mt Fainter South)
2304217 – VK3/VE-059 – (Big Hill)
Both in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park
Shires ID – AS3
The plan was to drive up Friday meeting Tony at the Tawonga Camping ground where we will stay overnight then to activate Mount Fainter South and Big Hill over the weekend. Mt Fainter South is a summit that again has been on my list to activate for a while whilst Big Hill is at the end of the trek and worthy of attention.
Had been in discussion with several activators as to a joint activation. The desire to go accompanied is purely for safety, not because I’m scared of the alleged big cats in the area. This is the Alpine NP and the weather can be harsh at any time with no notice let alone in in Autumn. The week previous saw a months rain in a day and 20cm of snow in the area. Not the time for solo treks. In the end Tony VK3CAT and myself decided to head up into the Bogong Alpine Area as the weekend opens for both of us. Its always a bit of a juggle to organise overnight activations with multiple activators as we all have lives and commitments.
Read many hiking blogs prior to the trip so expecting a big walk with great views but not for us. It rained Friday night and the fog stayed overnight. It did clear mid Saturday but came back for tha activation. Sunday morning was clear.
The plan was to walk the length so involved leaving Tonys car near the end of Roper Track on the Bogong Plains Rd whilst we left Subie at Pretty Valley Causeway.
We will be camping out overnight somewhere between the two summits at Bogong Jack Hut.
Activation of Mt Fainters was in the fog. The summit had the remains of what we assumed to be a trig point that was stable for supporting the squid pole. Used Tonys doublet and KX3 to activate. Once qualified it was time to keep moving as still had ground to cover before reaching the campsite for the night. We camped air Bogong Jack Hut. It was a simple operation of eat then early night.
Woke to a clear day, Went on to walk around the Big Hill and qualify.
This was on the Fire Trail. It was not a attractive as the walk across the plaines nor were there aw many opportunities for water. It was however predominately down hill which was well received.
42.7K steps for the weekend covering 30.5Km to come out at Roper Track.
It was not a hard climb or involve rocky by the end I was slowing. Coming down Roper Track proved as challenging as the initial climd due to the steepness and loose forest covering on the track. At one point we followed what we though was the route and ended in a dead end. This was also the hottest part of the trip and I was running low on water. We finally made it to Tonys car had a drink and headed up to retrieve my car.
Turned up at the base of the road to Pretty Vally Ponds only to be faced with the road closure. There was a mountain bike event on which involved parts of the road hence the closure.
This was frustrating, not the fact the road was closed, but the fact that there was no indication the day before that access will be restricted (the sign was not there) and the sign was inaccurate has it had yesterdays date on it. Fornatually a Falls Creek management unit arrived and after slight coaxing escorted us up to retrieve my car. Tony decided to go on to Mt McKay but given the view,
I decided to head home. It was a good weekend in the Alpine. Two summits in the rain, fog and sun.
Thanks to Tony VK3CAT for company and planning. Also thanks to Warren VK3BYD for input into the initial planning. This is a great area and a trip worthy of the effort, just be prepared for all conditions.