In recent weeks, Regional Victoria has had some freedom of movement in Step 3 of the Victorian COVID restrictions. Regional Victoria moved to Stage 3 on 14 September. The problem was the lack of a good weather window. There was the odd good day with no commitments in the calendar. At the times when I had two to three days free of commitments, the weather was terrible, especially at altitude. A complex front, trough and low pressure system hit much of SE Australia on the Wednesday evening and Thursday, with the effects still impacting eastern Victoria on Friday. The forecast was for the conditions to improve on Saturday, so I took a chance and headed off from home on Friday morning.
Friday 9 October 2020
I headed east from home, to Bairnsdale and then north to Swifts Creek. I then headed west and south to the first target summit, after having posted an Alert before leaving Swifts Creek.
Mount Baldhead VK3/VG-027 1375 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus
I drove up Mt Baldhead Track from its northern end. The track was in reasonable condition, but with a couple of sections where high clearance would make it easier. I drove to the trig and set up nearby.
First in the log was Ian VK1DI/2 in VKFF-1781 on 40 m SSB. I moved to 80 m SSB and worked Rik VK3EQ. I called for several minutes without any responses, so moved to 80 m CW, working Paul VK3HN and Nick VK3ANL. Back on SSB, I worked VK3SQ and VK3HN. 40 m CW yielded two chasers. I then moved to 40 m SSB and worked four chasers. The last slot was 20 m CW, where I worked two ZL stations. With 14 contacts in the log, I closed down.
I packed up and retraced my access route back to Grassy Ridge Road and then headed west to Mt Delusion Track to the high point to park. Before leaving, I posted an Alert for Mt Delusion.
Mount Delusion VK3/VG-026 1375 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus
I found a spot off the track yet well inside the Activation Zone to set up the gear.
First in the log was Mitch VK7XDM on 40 m SSB. I moved to 80 m SSB and quickly worked three more chasers, qualifying the summit. 80 m CW yielded only one chaser. 40 m CW yielded two chasers. 40 m SSB produced three contacts. I finally tried 20 m CW and worked two ZL stations. I received an SMS and returned to 80 m CW to work VK1DA and then closed down.
I posted an Alert for Mt Birregun. I again packed up and headed to the end of Mt Delusion Track and then headed to Groves Gap Road. It was a little wet in places. I got about 95% of the way around the road when I found a large tree across the road, with no way around it. I decided not to attempting to clear the tree by myself. Not knowing the other tracks in the area, I retraced my way back to Mt Delusion Road and then headed north. This took me to the next summit, which I had originally decided to leave out today.
VK3/VG-157 1136 m 6 points
This summit was added on 1 November 2019 and had not yet been activated.
I found a spot to park and walked across to the summit to set up.
I started on 80 m CW, working VK1DA and VK3ANL. 80 m SSB yielded VK3EQ and VK1DI/2 in VKFF-1979. I moved to 40 m and quickly worked VK7XDM on SSB before going to CW to work six stations. 40 m SSB yielded another four stations, after which I decided to close.
After closing and packing up, I considered my options. I decided to take Parslow Track and Parslow Road to the west. This was a little rough in places. There was one gate to open and shut behind me. This took me to Upper Livingstone Creek Road. I turned north and then west into Birregun Road. I followed this around to Zig Zag Track, which I took to climb up to the northern end of Mt Phipps Track.
Mount Phipps VK3/VG-015 1536 m 10 points plus seasonal bonus
I found a spot to park just beyond the Mt Phipps sign and set up with a line over a tree branch.
40 m propagation was already long. I could hear Mitch in Hobart, but Mitch could not hear me. We tried 80 m next, where I completed contacts with Rik and Mitch. 80 m CW yield several stations. I next went to 40 m CW, without much joy. I heard a couple of weak stations calling: KK? And F?. They were both weak and sending a bit too quick for my brain after a long day of concentrating on the road. I gave up and closed down, hoping that there might still be time to consider Mt Birregun.
I drove to the southern end of Mt Phipps Track. I stopped and estimated travel times. I decided against Birregun, given the showers during the afternoon and the time – after 1800 local. Birregun Road south to the summit has some wet areas and sections with clay surface, which would likely to be slow and slippery. Plus the kitchen at the hotel closed at 8:00 pm, so I needed to be in and have ordered dinner well before that time. I simply headed to Omeo for the night.
Overall a good day: a long transit from home to the area, with two 8-point summits, one 10-point summit and a new summit activated, for a total of 41 Activator points for the day once the Seasonal Bonus points were included.