New Activator certificates plus next level in VKFF Hunter Honour Roll

There are several Activators enjoying the warmer temperatures in northern NSW and Queensland, plus some braving the cooler conditions in more southern regions. I guess that I fall into the later category, but I try to pick days that are forecast to be mild and dry… Sunday’s activation effort was one such day, despite the cold start.

With the three Parks activated to the 44 level, the day took me past two new certificate levels. The certificates arrived last night.

VKFF Activator Honour Roll 150

VK3PF VKFF Activator Honour Roll 150

VKFF Activator Honour Roll 150 certificate

Thanks to Paul VK5PAS and Mick VK3GGG for the quick delivery of the certificate.

WWFF Activator 99 Parks activated

The VKKF Activator Awards only require 10 contacts for an activation to be valid. The WWFF Awards require the full quota of 44 contacts, although these can be accumulated over several visits. Sunday’s activations took me to 100 Parks, thus qualifying for the 99 Parks Activated award.

vk3pf_A-99s

WWFF Activator 99 Parks certificate

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1200 Parks chased

Those other amateurs have been busy, especially up north. I reached the 1200 VKFF Parks hunted level over the weekend. Thanks again to all the Activators, and to Paul VK5PAS and Mick VK3GGG for their work as coordinators.

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1200

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll certificate

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A day in Bass Coast

Sunday 15 July 2018

The weather forecast was for a fine day after a cold start. I decided to head out to attempt to activate three Nature Conservation Reserves (NCR) located in Bass Coast Shire, plus a third NCR nearby in South Gippsland Shire.

I was underway a little after 0800 local time and travelled across to Mirboo North, to Leongatha, and then NW on the South Gippsland Highway to beyond Loch and then across the back roads towards Grantville. The temperature was -1 C as I drove through Yinnar, close to home. I picked up some food at the Bakery in Mirboo North en route.

The Gurdies Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2208

I had driven past this Park on my last trip to Bass Coast to activate Reef Islands and Bass River Mouth NCR. There is a parking area accessible from the southbound lanes of the Bass Highway, with pedestrian access into the Park. There is also a picnic area with small carpark near the south east corner of the Park, accessible via Dunbabbin Road. The Park Note says that the picnic area is inside the Park, but activators need to be aware that much of the access road and carpark are outside the formal boundary. The northern picnic table is just inside the boundary but outside the fence – I set up at the picnic table. I had examined the mapping carefully the previous afternoon to check the Park boundary location – the road reserve is outside the Park.

I was up on air a little before UTC rollover. Sunday morning on 40 m is tricky, with several stations transmitting the WIA News broadcast. I started on 7.160 MHz, with Gerard VK2IO first in the log. I had 10 calls in the log before UTC midnight. I worked several callers following UTC rollover until callers dried up at around 0015Z. I dropped down to 80 m and worked Mick VK3GGG. I then tried 20 m SSB and found the band busy with contest activity. I called on 14.346 MHz and worked 4 calls. I moved back to 40 m SSB to work more callers and then tried CW on the same frequency for 5 more calls in the log. I checked ParksnPeaks and saw that Tony VK3CAT/p was on a SOTA summit in a Park, so moved down to chase Tony. I then moved down to 80 m SSB and worked another three stations including Duncan VK3XBC/p in a Park before I closed, with 44+ in the log.

ViewGurdies

The view across to Philip Island

I packed up and headed around to the northern side of the Park, dropping in to the Winery to ask about access to the next planned Park. I recalled that research when I was preparing the list of VK3 additions to VKFF that there was a road reserve next to the winery which headed down to the Park boundary. The gentleman at the winery was helpful but explained that the property had been subdivided and a different owner had the property to the north plus had licensed use of the road reserve and was not conducive to allowing visitors on the property. I needed to find an alternate access route!

Hurdy Gurdy Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2109

Access to this NCR is tricky as it is almost surrounded by private property. There are two unlicensed government road reserves which might be viable for walking access. The other option is to access from the road reserve near the Bass Highway. I chose the last option… I parked close to the creek on the north side, off the service road. I loaded up the SOTA backpack and carefully walked slowly past the bee hives at the fence corner and proceeded upstream to the first major bend in the creek and the associated fence corner on the farm. I set up close to that corner, with the antenna strung out through tree branches – the scrub was moderately thick and sharp, with some blackberries to catch your arm or leg.

The activation started on 80 m SSB with Mick VK3GGG/p in a Park, so a good beginning. I moved off Mick’s frequency and quickly had another 6 in the log. I moved to 40 m SSB and started by chasing three Park activators. I then found a clear frequency and started calling. I had a quick QSY to 80 m to work Glenn VK3YY/p on a SOTA summit and then back to 40 m SSB for more callers – Grant VK2GEL/p in a Park was next in the log, with Andy VK5LA/p also in a Park a little later. I had a visit from the neighbouring farmer, so I stopped operating and explained what I was doing – he had seen the vehicle parked and came across on a quad bike to investigate. He was initially concerned that I might be on his land, explaining that the original title went to the middle of the creek. I explained that the current mapping showed the fence line as the boundary. We discussed the WWFF program and he ended up leaving reasonably happy about my presence. A couple of minutes later I worked Tony VK3CAT/p on 40 m CW from Mt St Leonard. Back to SSB and I moved down the band due to weak DX contest stations in the usual operating segment. After a small number of SSB contacts plus some CW stations, I finally had 45 in the log. I packed up and carefully made my way back to the car, moving slowly past the bee hives…

I then drove around to the next Park for the day.

Adams Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2034

I accessed this Park via Hookers Road off the South Gippsland Highway. The Park borders some large sand quarries, with some of the tracks blocked to vehicle access. Horse riding was clearly a popular pursuit in the Park, with a dedicated parking area. I found a spot to set up, just inside the Park boundary. I started on 80 m SSB, working Andy VK5LA/p in a Park before moving a little up the band. Next was Peter VK3ZPF, who was the first to activate my Park. Next was Grant VK2GEL/p in a Park. The callers continued for several minutes. When they dried up, I moved to 40 m and chased Ian VK1DI/2 in a Park, followed by Marija VK5FMAZ/p and Paul VK5PAS/p in a Park. I then found a clear spot: the band was very busy with overseas contest traffic. I then worked callers as they answered my calls, plus jumped around the bands to chase other stations, including Lewis VK6LDX/p in a Park on 20 m. Most of the calls were made on 40 m SSB. The last three contacts were on 80 m SSB, including Peter VK3TKK/p in a Park. I had 51 in the log, so packed up and headed for home.

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A post-GippsTech day of SOTA

Monday 9 July 2018

The GippsTech weekend had been rather busy in itself, but it also coincided with AR magazine proofing dates. I managed to complete the first round of proofing tasks on Sunday afternoon prior to sending them off to our layout person together with a warning that I would not be tackling the final checks until Monday evening. With the arrangements confirmed, Andrew VK1DA and I organised to head off from my home on Monday morning.

The trip to Licola was uneventful apart from several areas of roadworks and the associated speed restrictions. From Licola we climbed up the Jamieson-Licola Road until kilometre 21 where we found a large tree across the road in addition to about 10 cm of snow. I did not have a chainsaw and we decided not to tackle the clearing task with the bow saw and axe. Instead, we backtracked a short distance to Black River Road and on to N7 Track. The route had snow all the way. Shortly after swinging on to N7 Track we encountered another tree across the road, this time about 12 cm diameter. After trying to move the tree and only succeeding to finish the break at about 80% of the road width, I grabbed the bow saw and I quickly cut through the tree. The rest of the approach was uneventful apart from the occasional slippery surface and fallen trees to navigate around.

Connors Plain VK3/VT-022 1305 m 8 points + Winter bonus

I managed to drive up the access track and into the activation zone. Andrew was impressed with the ease of the approach, despite the minor detour and a bit of work with the tree across the track. I quickly tossed a line across a tree branch at about 7 m and we soon had Andrew’s ZS6BKW antenna in the air. We shared Andrew’s FT-817 for contacts. The station heard on 40 m SSB was Mick VK3GGG/p at Dunolly, but Mick could not hear us. We quickly had VK2IO and VK2HRX in the log but not further callers. We dropped down to 80 m and worked Mick and Allen VK3ARH, qualifying the summit. We returned to 40 m to work Bill VK4FW/p using the VI50IARU3 callsign from Bulburin National Park VKFF-0668. Andrew continued working stations as I walked down the track to exit the AZ and worked Andrew still on the summit. Once we had no further callers, we started packing up. Just after we had the antenna packed, my ‘phone rang – it was Ron VK3AFW/p on Mt Worth. We quickly raised the antenna once again and each made an easy S2S contact on 80 m SSB. Packing up again, we finally exited the hill and retraced our access route after checking that there were no new tracks on the main road – hoping that perhaps someone had come through and cleared the big tree, making for an easier exit.

I made it back to the Jamieson-Licola Road and proceeded to South Road and around to Mt Selma Road and up to close to the summit. There was snow on the road for most of the route.

Mount Selma VK3/VT-013 1464 m 8 points + Winter bonus

The approach had some muddy sections together with lots of tracks off the main road had been dug up by the “mud-puppies” with aggressive mud tyres on their 4WDs….. We set up close to the start of the track that goes around to the Trig point, again using Andrew’s antenna and gear. We had around 30 cm of snow on the ground.

VK1DA_3_Selma

Andrew on Mt Selma

We started on 80 m SSB, working Mick VK3GGG/p followed closely by Ron VK3AFW/p, still on Mt Worth for S2S. We both qualified the summit on 80 m SSB before we moved to 40 m. We chased Gerard VK2IO/p and Alan VK2MG/p, both in Parks. A little later we worked Gerard VK2JNG/p in a Park. During the activation, we were “buzzed” by a small drone, which was being operated illegally, as the operator could not possibly have kept visual contact with device, as required by the rules, due to the trees. When we had no further callers, we packed up and then had a late lunch.

We retraced our route back to South Road and headed south. The first half of the route south had snow patches on the road together with plenty of pot holes to dodge. Closer to Mt Useful, the road had been resurfaced at was in excellent condition.

Mount Useful VK3/VT-016 1434 m 8 points + Winter bonus

We drove up to the summit and set up near the summit “cairn” – really just a pile of dirt. This time we used a squid pole to hold up the ZS6BKW antenna. We again started on 80 m, working 2 stations fairly quickly, but then no more callers. A change to 40 m brought a fresh bunch of callers. Once I had the summit qualified, I left Andrew to work the callers. The temperature on all the summits so far was around 2 degrees, but we had significant wind on this summit, so we were getting cold very quickly despite adequate clothing. We were also in the cloud, making conditions feel even colder. Needless to say, we decided to pack up as soon as there were no more callers. It was a quick activation, but chasers must accept this when Activators are attempting a multi-summit day.

We packed up and headed back to South Road and down to The Springs and onto Williamsons Spur Track and around to our last summit for the day.

VK3/VT-034 (unnamed) 1019 m 6 points

This summit is likely to be replaced with a new summit a little to the southwest at the next VK3 update. We again used Andrew’s gear, using a line over a tree branch to lift the antenna. I am not sure why, but my aim was a little off and I missed the target branch on the first few attempts. We started off on 80 m SSB and soon had the summit qualified. My last log entry on 80 m was Sean VK1FMGG having his first contact from his station. Andrew continued calling on 40 m until he had no further callers. Our last contacts were at about 0630 UTC, with about 35 – 40 minutes of daylight remaining. We packed up and headed back to South Road and then headed to Seaton and then back to Traralgon and on to home.

Fortunately we had no rain whilst on the summits, but with the unsealed roads all very wet, the vehicle needs to be cleaned…..

We had a great day out with plenty of discussion whilst driving between summits. Plus a very useful 39 Activator points for each of us and two new Activator Uniques for Andrew.

After a bit of recovery time plus some dinner, I tackled the final proofing of the magazine and sent that off for processing, with final approval a little later in the evening. Finally it was time to relax after a very busy few days.

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Another step in VKFF Hunter Honour Roll

I had a very busy weekend over 6 – 9 July 2018, being the Chair of the 21st GippsTech event. GippsTech is the Gippsland Technical Conference, which has its main focus on weak signal VHF, UHF and microwave amateur radio communications but also other topics loosely related to the main theme. This year we had 107 amateurs attend the main conference, with 7 participating on the Partner’s Tour.

On Sunday afternoon after the clean up following the conference close, I checked the LogSearch site and found that I was eligible for the next step in the VKFF Hunter Honour Roll Awards. The certificate came through the following day.

Once again, thanks to all the Activators and to Paul VK5PAS as VK Coordinator and Mick VK3GGG as VK3 coordinator.

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1175

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1175 Parks

 

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More WWFF & VKFF certificates

There has been a small number of Activators getting out into the Parks of late. I am some of them are enjoying warmer weather than here in Gippsland…..

I occasionally check into Logsearch to see how my Hunter tallies are going and found I was due for some new awards a few days ago. Many thanks to all the Activators out there who must be at the other end of the contact.

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1150

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1150

WWFF Park to Park Award 352

VK3PF_P2P_A352

WWFF DXFF Hunter 10

Awarded for having hunter Activators in Parks in 10 different DXCC entities.

VK3PF_DXFF_H10

Thanks also to all the Managers who do the hard yards managing the WWFF systems!

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Two new Gippsland summits plus a Park

Wednesday 20 June 2018

After a very cold and wet weekend, a high pressure system started to move in across Victoria. I had spent much of the weekend, Monday and Tuesday working on preparing files for the Proceedings volume from GippsTech 2017, a technical conference that I Chair on behalf of the Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club Inc. Wednesday was a still, cold and foggy morning, but I decided to head out to activate a summit and a new Park.

Mount Moornapa VK3/VT-080 485 m 1 point Not yet activated
Mount Moornapa Flora Reserve VKFF-2401 Not yet activated

I had driven over Mt Moornapa on my way to activate VK3/VT-070. After I activated that summit, I notified the Association Manager that the summit was lower than the nearby Mt Moornapa. VK3/VT-070 was deleted at the next VK3 update and Mt Moornapa was added. No one had activated the summit as yet, perhaps because it is only a one point summit.

Last week, the Mount Moornapa Flora Reserve was added to the list of VKFF references, so here was a chance to activate both the summit and the Park.

The approach was relatively simple: drive to Briagalong and then along Freestone Creek Road, up Froam Road and then Bonus Spur Track and finally Ten Mile Track to the summit. There is a large Telstra installation on the summit. The Reserve boundary includes the trig point on the summit and a cleared area to the east of the trig. I decided to set up on the east side of the trig, using the trig legs to support a squid pole. I set up a folding table and chair and used the KX2 with a LiPo battery for the activation.

From just north of my operating position and clear of the Telstra compound, the views are excellent: from south of west right around to beyond east. The Baw Baw Plateau, Mount Useful, Ben Crauchan, Gable End, Mt Wellington, Mt Kent, Billy Goat Bluff and The Pinnacles are all visible, around to Mt Elizabeth and Mt Taylor. Snow was visible on the south sides of Gable End and Mt Wellington.

MoornapaViewS

Looking NW from Mount Moornapa

I was just set up and about to spot myself and saw that David VK3IL/p had been spotted on 80 m about 20 minutes earlier. I quickly moved to David’s spotted frequency, but David had closed. A missed Summit to Summit opportunity…. Geoff VK3SQ answered my call, so was first in the log. I soon had the summit qualified, working Nick VK3ANL, Cliff VK2NP and Col VK3LED. I also worked Nick again on CW. I changed to 40 m SSB and quickly had 10 more in the log. With several calls without replies, I swapped to CW for seven contacts. Back to SSB for many calls but only a single reply – Nev VK5WG. I then tried 20 m SSB and worked Wynne ZL2ATH. Further calls yielded no responses. I also spent 10 minutes calling on 20 m CW, also with no responses. I was about to change back to 40 m SSB and saw a spot for Gerard VK2JNG/p in VKFF-0588 on 80 m, so quickly reconfigured the antenna to secure the Park to Park contact. I returned to 40 m SSB and was answered by Peter VK2KNV/p in VKFF-1784 for another P2P. I worked another 8 stations, ending up with 49 contacts in the log. I packed up and headed back down to Freestone Creek Road via Ten Mile Track.

I had looked at a variety of maps prior to heading out, and decided to head north to see if the Lloyd Knob Track might be viable. Google Earth imagery suggests that the track is there, but would I be able to drive up until close to the summit?

Lloyd Knob VK3/VT-063 553 m 2 points Not yet activated

The start of Lloyd Knob Track was signposted and it dropped down to a shallow ford across Freestone Creek. Across the creek it swings towards north and traverses for a few hundred metres before really starting to climb. The surface was generally good, but there were steep sections and several large spoon drains. There were occasional large rocks and fallen branches to dodge. The final climb to the summit was steep and a little loose on the surface, but was climbed without needing to engage Low range. I pulled over to park at a slight widening of the track, right on the summit.

I quickly tossed a line over a tree branch and erected the dipole and the station – again using the KX2 and LiPo battery. I spotted myself on 40 m SSB, with Ray VK4NH the first to respond. Within five minutes I had 8 contacts in the log and then no responses. I changed the antenna links and dropped down to 80 m SSB, working another seven contacts. With no further callers, I returned to 40 m SSB for two more callers and then the ‘phone announced an SMS. I checked it and then dropped back down to 80 m to work Ken VK3UH. I then returned to 40 m, but tried CW, working seven more stations. With 25 stations in the log, the summit was well qualified on both SSB and CW. The sun was getting low, so I quickly packed up and retraced my route back to Freestone Creek Road and headed south. On the descent, I looked across the Freestone Creek valley to my north towards VK3/VT-068, another as yet un-activated summit. It will have to wait for another day, needing a 300 metre climb through the scrub over about a 1.2 km horizontal distance – it will need a reasonable effort to gain the one point on offer.

The drive along Freestone Creek Road is slow and quite twisty as the road winds its way along the side of the valley. There are spectacular cliffs in places and many severe drop offs. It was after dark by time I reached the bitumen surfaced road and then there was about another 80 minutes to drive home.

Thanks to all the chasers/hunters.

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The next step in VKFF Hunter

Thanks to those who have been out activating “new” Parks, I have qualified for the next level of VKFF Honour Roll for Hunters. Thanks again to Paul and the state coordinators for their continuing efforts.

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1125

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1125 areas worked certificate

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Two new Parks awards

Despite the generally poor band conditions, hunting for other activators has been largely fruitful. The key is to keep an eye on the Alerts at least at the start and end of the day, plus watching and listening to ParksnPeaks – be sure to set the audio notifications to on.

The first of the new Awards in the last week was the next level in the VKFF Hunter scheme:

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1100

The Hunter Awards can sometimes be a little frustrating, as the entire WWFF Award scheme works on the Activators submitting their logs. I usually check the LogSearch tally about once a week. The qualification for the Award came through on 5 June 2018.

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1100

Thanks Paul for the excellent certificate. Thanks to all the Activators out there, with special thanks to those who try 80 m as well as the usual 40, 20 etc. At the current stage of the solar cycle, you can be surprised at what you can work on 80 m even in the middle of the day! Yes the band can be noisy at times, but you can work stations that are too close to the Activator to be heard on 40 m as they are in the skip zone.

WWFF Activator 88

As active participants in the WWFF scheme would be aware, a Park only counts for the international level Awards if you have a total of 44 or more contacts. I was in Melbourne overnight on Tuesday 5 June 2018 and had some shopping visits to do before I headed for home. The last stop was in Lilydale and I decided to head to Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve to activate again, having previously activated the reserve in November 2017 but only making 15 contacts. Another 37 contacts on the Wednesday afternoon took me over the magic 44, thus qualifying Park number 88. Thanks to all the Hunters!

vk3pf_A-88

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Gobur and Yarck Nature Conservation Reserves

Sunday 3 June 2018

It was time to head for home and I considered my route options. Mum wanted help with some tasks, so I did not get away until almost 1000 local. I decided to head back down the Hume Highway after filling the fuel tank. I stopped in Euroa briefly to buy some lunch and then headed to Creightons Creek and on to Terip Terip, then down Terip Road towards Yarck.

Gobur Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2096 Not previously activated

The main road is not part of the Reserve. I parked between the reserve sign – Gobur Flora Reserve – and the nearby gate on a track heading north through the reserve. I quickly set up by tossing a line over a tree branch.

I made a good start to the activation: a Park to Park (P2P) contact with Bill VK4FW in VKFF-1474. I found a clear frequency on 40 m, spotted myself and started calling. The Hunters started replying quickly, with John VK5BJE first in the line-up. Soon after were Rob VK4AAC/3 and Peter VK3ZPF together in French Island National Park VKFF-0622 and then Gerard VK2JNG/p in VKFF-1165. 18 minutes later I worked Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-1675 on 20 m. Back on 40 m I managed to work Ben VK7BEN/p on Mt Wellington VK7/SC-001. I then swapped to 80 m SSB to again work Rob & Peter on French Island plus several others around VK3 and VK2. With 45 stations in the log, I shut down and packed up.

Yarck Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2241 Not previously activated

Only 4.4 km down the road from the previous activation you start to pass through the Yarck NCR, with road again excluded from the reserve for most of the transit. I found a spot near the southern end of the transit where I could pull off the road onto a flattish area and set up there, definitely off the road reserve and in the Park.

I started on 80 m SSB, with Rob & Peter on French Island first in the log. I soon had six in the log on 80 m.

I swapped to 40 m SSB, working Matt VK4FMHT in VKFF-1663 and Bill VK4FW/p now in VKFF-1190. A little after 0500Z, I chased Nick VK3ANL/p in VKFF-2195 on 80 m both SSB and CW. With no further callers, I returned to 40 m for a few more, then one single contact on 20 m. Back to 40 m again to work Bill VK4FW/p, now in VKFF-0674. I moved slightly up the band and worked a couple more, including VK18FIFA. It took quite some time to reach the magical 44 contacts, with several band changes to attempt to work other activators. Back to 80 m again, hoping for some more VK3 stations, and managed to work another eight stations. I ended up with 49 in the log over an activation of about 2.5 hours. I packed up and headed down to Yarck and then started the long trip home.

Thanks to all who chased me during the day – two new references activated breaking up the long drive.

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Two “new” summits north of Big Ben

I had been looking at the maps of summits within easy reach of Wodonga for some time. I always wonder why the two summits north along the ridge complex with Mount Big Ben had not yet been activated. On a previous trip late last year, I checked a couple of possible direct access routes from the Yackandandah (west) side of the ridge without success. The likely roads reached closed gates with “Private Property” and “Fire Vehicles Only” signs. There was one road not yet checked: Turvey Lane off Allans Flat Road.

Saturday 2 June 2018

I headed off mid-morning towards Keiwa and onto Allans Flat Road and then into Turvey Lane. Just over one kilometre along, I reached the anticipated gate, again with “Private Property” and “Fire Vehicles Only” signs. I turned around and headed back to the bitumen, then turned south through Osbornes Flat and onto C527, then C528 and into Mount Big Ben Road.

The logical approach was to now try an approach from the south. As I drove up towards Big Ben, I decided to activate it first and then attempt to get to the next summit north. If I was lucky and Condons Track was open all the way, I might be able to drive out to the north somewhere…..

Mount Big Ben VK3VE-105 1154 m 6 Points

I set up just off the summit proper, within a metre or so in height. I started on 80 m CW – just for challenge. I soon had Gerard VK2IO in the log, but no other callers. I swapped to SSB and worked Geoff VK3SQ and Cliff VK2NP. Further calls went unanswered, so I changed to 40 m CW to work 5 stations and then to SSB for another 14 stations. I then moved back to 80 m SSB to work 4 more stations in VK3. It just shows that using 80 m even in the middle of the day can be productive at this stage of the solar cycle.

After packing up, I retraced my route back to Condons Track and started the journey north, basically zig zagging either side of the high voltage power lines. At roughly the point where Condons Track crosses the upper reaches of Swampy Creek, I found another gate: you guessed it: “Private Property” and “Fire Vehicles Only” signs.

VK3/VE-168 (unnamed) 845 m 4 points Not Yet Activated

I had anticipated this outcome, having looked at the various maps. However, the private property extended only a little east of the track and the land on the east side appears to be Crown Land, so I loaded up and started the climb, following an old track briefly and then following the N-S fence line. This involved a little scrub bashing low down, but the scrub dissipated after about 300 m. I continued to climb up to the summit and set up once on top.

I spotted myself on 40 m CW and first in the log was Gerard VK2IO. Within 10 minutes I had the summit qualified with six CW contacts. As I was about to swap modes, I saw a spot for Rob VK4AAC/3 in a Park on 80 m SSB, so I sent Rob an SMS advising that I would be on 80 in a couple of minutes – I needed to run out the rest of the antenna for 80. Rob replied that he was now on 40 m, so I stopped the antenna work and swapped to SSB and moved up the band. Rob was a weak 31 and could not hear my calls, so I moved down in frequency and started working callers. Six stations worked in about eight minutes. I then strung out the rest of the antenna for 80 m and went to CW, working six stations. Moving up to the voice section of the band yielded another three contacts. I then quickly change to 40 m SSB to work Paul VK5PAS in VKFF-0789. I tried to liaise with Rob using the ‘phone, but the signal dropped several times. I gave up on chasing Rob and packed up.

As I started the descent, I noticed the remnants of a very old track, with lots of grass and fallen timber across it. It provided a quick descent until it disappeared when the scrub started up as the terrain flattened a little. Back into the scrub, following the fence at times and animal tracks at others. I still gained a few splinters!

I was back at the car in about 30 minutes and retraced my tracks back to C528.

I considered my options as I was heading back down: give up and return to Wodonga, or have a look on the east side of the range. I decided on the later, so turned left when I reached C528. I descended down the valley and then turned north onto the Kiewa Valley Highway and travelled on to Kergunyah. Just near the 80 kph sign, I turned west into Simpson Road and followed it up the hill, expecting the same outcome as I had earlier in the day….

I did reach a gate, but this time with a simple sign “Please close the gate”! So I continued up to the top of the ridge and through another similar gate, but with “Private Property” and “Please close the gate” signs. I must double check Mapshare when I return home, but this appears to be a publically accessible route.

VK3/VE-163 (unnamed) 872 m 4 points Not Yet Activated

I then turned north on Gap Flat Track for a short distance and then onto Mount Murramurranbong Track, which had lots of large spoon drains. The final climb up to the top was steeper and rougher, with several obstacles to dodge. The track ran over the top of the summit. I parked off the track and set up – it was getting late, so I opted for 80 m SSB and hopefully a quick activation.

First contact was at 0715 UTC: Gerard VK2IO, followed by Warren VK3BYD. Next was Paul VK5PAS/p, still in VKFF-0789. I ended up with nine contacts in nine minutes. With no responses to QRZ and CQ calls, I shut down and packed up. The sun was already below the horizon, it was getting dark and cold quite quickly.

I carefully retraced my route back to Simpson Road, down to Kergunyah and then headed north back to Wodonga.

The last summit was a quick activation, but at least we have a known access route. A good day: two summits qualified on CW and two new summit Uniques for the chasers.

PS: After returning home I checked the official mapping for both approach routes used.

VK3/VE-168: The start of the route that I used is Crown Land. The summit sits in Crown Land – Part of the Big Ben State Forest. There is a section of land which is Private Property but which is NOT fenced. As I did not see any fence, I assumed that access was okay. The Public Land mapping shows that there is a Government Road reserve passing over the summit. Anyone wishing to access the summit in the future is advised to prepare a GPS Track following the Government Road alignment. I followed that alignment for most of my descent.

VE-168

Public Land view of route to VK3/VE-168 (MapShare Vic)

VK3/VE-163: Simpsons Road is a Government Road for its entire length and the summit sits on Crown Land.

VE-163

Public Land view of route to VK3/VE-163 (MapShare Vic)

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