VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1075

There are seem keen WWFF/VKFF Activators out there – even keener than myself. There have been a steady stream of activations that have been providing targets for all of the Hunters. As a result, many are seeking out new references for themselves to activate, including many first activations.

Yesterday I received the latest VKFF Hunter Honour Roll “certificate”: 1075 references chased.

Once again, thanks to all the Activators, as well as the State coordinators and especially Paul VK5PAS, the VKFF coordinator. It is perhaps a good thing that Paul also enjoys photography in addition to radio – it gives him many photographs from which to select for the new levels for the award scheme.

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1075

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Screw Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2188

Saturday 12 May 2018

Thursday and Friday had been very cold and wet as a complex of cold fronts passed over SE Australia. The air mass was so cold that most of the alpine resorts had snow, with snow expected to fall down to around 800 m. The forecast for Saturday was for wet and very windy conditions in East Gippsland, but it was probably going to be a cool and dry day until late afternoon in Central Gippsland and a chance of showers in Melbourne.

I headed off from home at around 0730 and headed to Melbourne. The drive was uneventful in bright sunshine. First stop was to an electronics supply house in Clayton for a couple of items and I then headed off to the Brentwood Community Youth Club for the Moorabin & District Radio Club annual hamfest. This was a new venue for the Club.

I met up with my primary target person and exchanged a 5.7 GHz PA for some dollars, with the deal having been previously arranged via email. There was time for a bacon & egg sandwich and a coffee prior to the doors opening at 1000. I attempted to do one quick lap around the tables but this was thwarted by lots of people wanting to catch up….. I must admit that I was not worried – I attend such events primarily for the social aspect these days. If I find something worth buying, then the trip has an added bonus! The bonus this time was a 20 m length of RG-223 double shielded coax terminated with type N male connectors for only $20. I had examined all of the tables with about 45 minutes to go until the raffle draw, so decided to hang around for the draw. Whilst waiting, I partook of a hamburger from the club food stall, including some chatting about SOTA and Parks with some of the “staff” and some other amateurs. I had no luck in the raffle and finally got away at around 1300. On leaving the hall, the atmosphere was feeling cold and damp – it felt like rain was imminent. I checked the weather radar to spot showers a little to the west, so that made the decision of how to spend the afternoon easy – I would head down to South Gippsland and attempt to catch up with Stef VK5HSX/3, who was activating a couple of Parks near Cape Patterson.

A few stations were active as I drove down to Korumburra and then south to Inverloch, but none were strong enough to overcome the noise in the vehicle. Time was getting on, so I decided to head for my target Park and get on air and hoped that I could catch Stef on-air and arrange to meet up at some stage during the afternoon.

Screw Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2188 Not previously activated

I had checked out this Park when I did my run to Wonthaggi earlier in the year. At the time, I was feeling rather tired after having activated Kilcunda NCR and Wonthaggi Heathlands NCR and decided against undertaking another activation.

The Reserve is just east of Inverloch – head towards Tarwin Lower and then turn right into Coastal Way and the new estate about 330 m after crossing Screw Creek. I then turned right into The Landings. The fence on the right is the boundary of the Reserve. I opened a gate and closed it behind me and parked near a large gum tree. I tossed a line over a branch and soon had the 80 – 10 m link dipole in the air. The 80 ends were low – less than a metre off the ground – but the 40 m link was at about 3 m.

ScrewCreekNCR

Screw Creek NCR (MapshareVic)

First in the log was Colin VK3NCC/2 in VKFF-0587. I also heard Stef working Colin and we arranged to move down the band. Stef was in Bunurong Marine National Park, about 9 km to my southwest. We completed the contact and I then started working other stations. About 20 minutes later, Stef arrived and we chatted briefly as I continued to work the hunters. When the callers dwindled off, we had a proper chat and also changed the antenna links to 80 m. After spotting myself, we were quickly working VK3 stations, with Nick VK3ANL a solid 59 signal. Next was Andrew VK7DW/p in VKFF-0005 for another P2P. Geoff VK3SQ and Linda VK7QP were solid contacts, as was Nik VK3NLK. I was then called by VK3BI. I thought that I recognised the voice, but the call threw me. It was Mick VK3GGG operating the Central Goldfields Amateur Radio Club station as part of the Club activation of the Maryborough Knitting Mill site for Mills On The Air. Mick encouraged all the amateurs at the event to work me, so I quickly had another 10 contacts in the log. I went back to 40 m and worked Helen VK7FOLK/p in VKFF-1840 with signals a little marginal – the distance between us and band conditions would have better suited 80 m, based on the signals from other VK7 stations. During all of this activity, we watched a couple of kangaroos emerge from the scrub, ducking under the fence and hopping out onto the grassed estate. About 10 minutes later they retraced their route back into the scrub.

Stations eventually dried up, so I started packing up at around 1610 local, continuing to chat with Stef, who was now convinced of the value of using 80 m during the day. We discussed antenna options for him and I also offered to assist if needed when he was in the Latrobe Valley at the end of the coming week. Stef departed at around 1650 and I was about to drive out of the reserve when I heard Eric VK7EV in VKFF-1810 under the electrical noise. I shut down the car and managed to complete the contact with Eric for one final P2P contact. Contact number 54 in the log….

It was then a simple matter of exiting the reserve, closing the gate and heading back to home, a trip of around 90 minutes.

Overall, a good day out with lots of face to face interactions with other amateurs, plus a new Park safely qualified for WWFF. As a bonus, I managed to work Stef in the reserve the next day!

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Another VKFF milestone – Murray River Parks Award

The VKFF Coordinator Paul VK5PAS has done a great job in creating a series of goals and awards for both Activators and Hunters for the Parks program in Australia. There are a series of Awards for Hunters and Activators from Bronze (10 references / Parks) up to Sapphire (75 references / Parks) and then there are the Honour Roll certificates, with steps of 25 references / Parks. There are several other Awards, with all the details available at the WWFF Australia website.

One of the Awards is the Murray River Parks Award for working designated Parks that are located close to the Murray River as it travels from near Mt Kosciusko down to the Coorong and Goolwa in South Australia. There a total of 43 qualifying Parks, but two of those on the list cannot currently be accessed by the public. That leaves 41 Parks as the top level of the Award at this time.

Several island Conservation Parks were activated by amateurs living in the Riverland area of South Australia on ANZAC Day 2018 – 25 April. I managed to chase all of the Parks activated. The last of the logs from those activations were uploaded to Logsearch today. When I checked my National Awards tally, I saw that I could apply for the top level of the Murray River Parks Award….. The system worked quickly and I soon had the certificate in the Inbox. Many thanks for your efforts with the program Paul! And a big thank you to all the Activators who made it possible.

VK3PF Murray River Hunter 41s

Murray River Parks Hunter Award for 41 Parks hunted

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A trio of new Parks in Bass Coast

Saturday was shaping up to be a pleasant autumn day in Gippsland, so I decided on Friday night to tackle a couple of Parks in South Gippsland and the Bass Coast. The plan was to activate two Parks which had not yet been activated.

Saturday 28 April 2018

I loaded the gear in the car and headed off, with the first stop to add some fuel to the tank. I then headed to Poowong in South Gippsland and on to head west on to Lang Lang Poowong Road (C434). About 6 km down the road you reach a small picnic area on the south side of the road – Henry Littledyke Reserve, also known as Nyora Flora and Fauna Reserve according to the sign at the interpretive shelter.

LittledykeSign1

Interpretive sign in the picnic area.

LittledykeSign2

Interpretive sign in the picnic area.

 

Nyora Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2169 Not previously activated

I arrived at the Park about 20 minutes prior to UTC rollover and set up the gear. I could see a Spot for Jono VK4ALE in VKFF-1665, so I tuned to his frequency. He was weak but I gave a couple of calls. Jono could not hear me. I tried turning up the transmit power and start to notice some RF breakthrough – something was odd with the set up. The antenna & feed showed a high SWR. I took the simple option: I dropped the 80/40/20/15/10 m link dipole and ran out the 40/20 m link dipole. It was after rollover by time I had the station reassembled.

NyoraNCR

The dam previously used to supply water for steam engines.

Gerard VK2IO was first in the log on 40 m, followed by a string of other callers. I had 31 in the log by 0100 but callers were now well spaced out. I tried 20 m for about 15 minutes with no callers. I saw another Spot for Jono and managed to make the P2P contact. I moved up to 7.144 and resumed calling. Contact number 44 came at 0142Z – thanks Allen.

I packed up the gear and headed west to Nyora and then around to the South Gippsland Highway and then the Bass Highway. Along the route I went past at least three other Parks. I stopped at Grantville to grab some food and then down to Bass and then west onto Bass Landing Road. The next Park is located at the end of the road.

Reef Island and Bass River Mouth Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2181
Not previously activated

Some of these newer Parks have names which are a mouthful! There were a number of vehicles parked in areas close to the Bass River. I found a spot and set up using one of the road boundary poles to support the squid pole. Other poles supported the ends of the lines holding out the antenna. I set up using the tailgate as the operating table.

First in the log was Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-1406. After a few contacts, I decided to move around to the side of the tailgate, hoping to enter some shade. As I rotated the IC-7000, it died inexplicably. I quickly pulled out the KX2 and plugged it into the antenna and battery. I ended up with 46 in the log, most of them on 40 m SSB. Three additional P2P contacts were made: Nick VK3ANL/p in VKFF-2225, Les VK5KLV/p in VKFF-2252 and the final contact, Warren VK3BYD/2 in VKFF-0056 on 30 m CW.

I started packing up and remembered to take a photo or 2 before I took down the antenna….

BassRiverMouth

Looking NW across the Park with French Island on the horizon.

I headed back to the Bass Highway and headed north. I was considering my options and decided to have a look at Grantville NCR. I looked at the VicRoads Directory before leaving Bass River mouth. Stanley Road appeared to be the most likely spot for access without starting up the laptop and looking at more detailed mapping. I was aware that the Park was there, having seen the Park on the navigation system as I was heading south.

Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2101 Not previously activated

This Park is located south of Grantville township and is easy to find. Looking back as I am preparing these notes, there are four obvious access points:

At the western end: adjacent to the Rifle Range. The Rifle Range is within the Park, so setting up in the car park would be an option.

On the south side of the entrance road to the sand quarry. You would need to be careful here, as only 60 m of the access road abuts the Park boundary. The satellite image on Google Earth suggests that there may be a vehicle track which may allow access into the Park.

Off June Street in the Adams Estate. Some maps show a vehicle track entering the Reserve.

Off Stanley Road. I used this option, managing to find a spot beyond the Adams Estate where I could park the car off the road and within the Park boundary.

I tossed a line over a tree branch and hauled up the antenna. I again set up at the rear of the vehicle. I was set up and ready to operate at around 0530. The usual area for Parks operations up around 7.144 was very busy, with many stations on the band. I dropped down to 7.120, which was clear, and spotted myself. First in the log was Gerard VK2IO. I then discovered that this was another first activation – a stroke of luck given that this was a “bonus” unplanned activation. Next was Warren VK3BYD/2 in VKFF-0056 who called me on SSB for another P2P. We also worked on CW for another P2P. Next was Greg VK2EXA, followed by Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-1406 for another P2P. Another 26 stations were worked on 40 m SSB. I tried 20 m, with no responses to my calls. I tuned around the band and worked Mike VK4XQM who was operating as part of the Military Radio Weekend. I tried 30 m next, with the KX2 tuner coping with the 40 m dipole….. I worked John VK4TJ on SSB and CW with his 3 callsigns. We then went to 40 m to work again on CW, and then to 80 m for three more CW contacts. Contact number 45 was Ian VK1DI on 80 m SSB at 0706Z. It was getting late and cool, so I decided to close the station, pack up and head for home.

The drive home was uneventful – about 90 minutes.

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A new VKFF certificate

I do enjoy chasing other Activators, regardless of their location: SOTA, WWFF reference or anywhere else. Given my simple antennas, most of my Chasing/Hunting is for Australian and New Zealand amateurs.

I must pass on my thanks to all the Activators out there – you are the ones doing the harder work. Yes, chasing can be a little hard at times depending on propagation and local noise, but the Activator does more work than those who chase.

Big thanks to Paul VK5PAS as VKFF coordinator and to the other members of the VKFF team, especially Mick VK3GGG.

Here is the latest certificate which arrived today.

VK3PF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 1050s

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Another trip to NE Victoria – 6

I had been in the NE for a week, plus I had an engagement in Melbourne on Friday evening, so it was time to head south east.

Friday 20 April 2018

After having said my farewells to family members, I was on the highway heading towards Melbourne by around 0930. My engagement was not until 1930, so I had plenty of time. I had committed to arriving mid to late afternoon at my host for the evening, so that needed to be considered in the mix.

I decided to activate a Park near Wandong, so simply headed south on the Hume Highway. As I was nearing the exit for Wandong, I decided that I might also attempt Mount Disappointment. I purchased some lunch in Wandong and then headed around to Disappointment Road. I reached Blair’s Hut picnic area and found the road ahead closed “due to roadworks”. As I only had time available for a quick activation, I decided against the short walk to the summit and returned back towards Wandong.

Wandong Regional Park VKFF-0979

Car is needed when activating many Parks to ensure that you are inside the Park boundaries. In this Park, some road reserves are excluded from the Park, so it is not as simple as setting up beside any track or road. I had previously considered using Radio Road as an activation site, but it had a locked gate at its start. I continued a little further and parked off Pattons Track.

Rob VK4AAC/2 was first in the log at 0240Z on 40 m. 30 minutes of operating yielded 17 contacts on 40 m, including a Park to Park with Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-1492. I tried listening for Mitch VK3XDM on Mt St Leonard, but could not hear him on either 2 m nor 40 m. We arranged to try 80 m and made the contact. I worked another 5 stations on 80 m before returning to 40 m for another 5 contacts. Calls on 20 m yielded no results. 28 contacts in the log for the activation, so this one will need to be revisited another day to reach WWFF tally requirements.

I packed up and headed back towards Melbourne, with heavy traffic on parts of the Western Ring Road. I safely arrived at my destination and had plenty of time to chat and enjoy dinner with my hosts. I then headed off to visit the Melbourne Electronics and Radio Club to talk about portable operations, including SOTA and Parks. That talk was well received and I hope that it encourages some of the members to try portable operating, perhaps even in a Park or on a SOTA summit.

 

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Another trip to NE Victoria – 5

Thursday 19 April 2018

After filling the fuel tank, I headed towards Tawonga and then onto Mountain Creek Road. It was then onto Camp Creek Track, then The Hollow Way Road and on to the high point below the first target summit.

Bull Hill VK3/VE-048 1425 m 8 points

There is an old track junction at the high point in the road as the road swings to the NW, with the track blocked by a large log. The track heads into an old logging coupe. The regrowth in the coupe looked very thick. Unfortunately, the undergrowth towards the summit was also thick eucalypt about 1.5 to 2 m high. It was a bit of a slog up the 250 m to where I stopped: not quite at the top but well inside the AZ.

My first contact was Gerard VK2IO at 0139Z. The summit was qualified in only 4 minutes. I swapped to 20 m for a while but only had two callers. I then went to 80 m to work John VK3YW. I then returned to 40 m for a couple of more contacts before I had no more callers and shut down. A new Activator Unique and Complete for me.

The views to the eastern faces of Mount Bogong VK3/VE-001 were excellent during the return trip.

I retraced my route back to Tawonga South and headed into Mount Beauty to buy some lunch. I then headed south on Simmonds Creek Road, heading towards Hollonds Hill VK3/VE-172. The track to the summit looked to be in excellent condition, BUT it had large ROAD CLOSED signs. It was obvious that a fuel reduction burn was planned for the area, with several signs around the area. I decided to check the map, with the next planned target on Tawonga Gap Track. I decided to head up Pyramid Hill Firetrail and to then head across to Tawonga Gap Track. The track was in good condition, but had many spoon drains to negotiate. When I arrived at the junction with Dungey Track, the continuation of Pyramid Hill Firetrail looked to be in good condition with recent traffic. I decided to explore the route further along.

Pyramid Hill Spur VK3/VE-052 1405 m 8 points

The track to the high point near the summit was in good condition. There were many spoon drains and several logs that had been cleared from the track. I parked at the high point to the west of the summit and loaded up to climb towards the summit. The regrowth/undergrowth was similar to that at Bull Hill – thick and around 2 m high. I climbed up until the GPS showed only one more contour between me and the summit and set up the gear, so I was confident that I was in the AZ.

I posted a Spot and also announced that I was QRV on the Discord discussion group. Gerard VK2IO/m was first in the log. Within 5 minutes I had 8 contacts in the log. I then spent around 7 or 8 minutes calling on 20 m, working John ZL1BYZ. I returned to 40 m to work another 3 stations before I pulled the plug. Another Activator Unique and Complete in the log.

I retraced my route to Dungey Track and turned left, then right into Big Flat Track. This was rougher, with several rocky sections as well as some sections which would be very slippery when wet. I climbed up to the junction with Tawonga Gap Track and then headed north towards Tawonga Gap.

VK3/VE-109 (unnamed) 1149 m 6 points

The first high point on the track passes about 10 m below the summit high point, so I simply parked the car and set up nearby. There was a rough track heading towards the actual summit, but it had a Do Not Enter tape across the start of it, so that was another reason not to climb to the actual summit.

Within 14 minutes of calling CQ, I had 18 contacts in the log, all on 40 m. I then spent 10 minutes calling on 20 m for two ZL stations. I returned to 40 m briefly to work another three stations and then ran out of callers. I packed up and headed north to Tawonga Gap and then headed back to Wodonga. Another Activator Unique and Complete in the log.

VE109view

Looking SSE from VK3/VE-109. Fainter, Pyramid Hill Spur and Feathertop are all visible.

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Another trip to NE Victoria – 4

The day of VK3/VE-1n1 summits

Wednesday 18 April 2018

This was to be a day of SOTA activations. The aim was to activate three new personal Uniques. I headed off from Wodonga at around 0845 local and headed east and then south, heading to Mitta Mitta along the Omeo Highway. About 3.7 km past Mitta Mitta, look for a track on the right – the track is a little short of where the electronic maps showed it should be located. This is the Disappointment Track. Climb up this track for 3.8 km to reach the summit. The track was in reasonable condition, but with a few steep and rocky sections. I did not see any obvious signs or cairns at the summit itself.

Mount Welcome VK3/VE-161 883 m 4 points Not Yet Activated

I simply parked off the edge of the track and tossed a line over a branch to lift the inverted V. I was set up and spotted myself at around 0030Z. Mick VK3GGG was the first caller. I had the summit qualified within a couple of minutes. I swapped to 80 m at around 0040 and worked John VK2YW. Without further responses after several minutes, I tried 20 m and worked John ZL1BYZ. I then tried 15 m and heard Steve VK3MEG calling, but he could not here me. Back to 40 m to bag Steve and several others, before a final switch to 80 m to work Brian VK3BBB, who could not hear me on 40 m.

I switched off at around 0130Z, packed up and continued along Disappointment Track to the cross roads with Trappers Gap Track. I continued straight ahead, on Scrubby Spur Track and on the Dorchap Range Track. Approaching the next summit, I could see the old track which is in the “rehab” process. The new track traverses around the southern side of the summit and does a switchback at the crest of the spur. The high point of the track is just beyond the old Elmo Track route to the actual summit and is within 10 m vertical of the true summit. I decided to simply set up beside the track at the high point. The track condition was generally good, with a few steeper sections.

VK3/VE-101 unnamed 1177 m 6 points

With no branches at a suitable height, I set up with a squid pole just off the edge of the track. I started on 40 m SSB, with 15 contacts in 15 minutes. I then switched to 20 m and worked John ZL1BYZ. I then switched back to 40 m with only one contact before I saw a Spot on ParksnPeaks for Gerard VK2JNG/p in a Park. I swapped to 80 m to work Gerard before returning to 40 m. I worked two more stations and then shut down.

I packed up and headed north along Dorchap Range Track. I parked the car near the saddle to the SSE of the next summit – the road has been rerouted around the south side of the summit.

Mount Dorchap VK3/VE-131 1032 m 6 points

This summit has a SOTA height of 1032 m, but the Geoscience Australia data has the height as 1056 m. I climbed up the spur towards the summit, a distance of about 375 m. I set up not quite on top, but only a few metres below the summit. The scrub was moderate. I again started on 40 m SSB and had five contacts in the log within about seven minutes. I dropped down to 80 m to work John VK2YW who could not hear me on 40 m. I tried 20 m for several minutes without responses. Back on 40 m, I worked another three stations before closing.

I continued generally north along Dorchap Range Track and then onto Springtime Track and popped out on the Omeo Highway via Stockyard Creek Road. I then headed into Eskdale to grab some late lunch.

Whilst eating lunch, I studied some maps. I had thought that I might attempt to activate a new 2 point summit, but decided that the time required would be too much. So I headed back towards Wodonga.

VK3/VE-159 (unnamed) 892 m 4 points

At Lockharts Gap, I turned right into Powerline Road and then north onto Lockharts Gap Road and out to the summit. The track was in excellent condition. This summit code messed up the accidental theme for the day – VK3/VE-1n1 summits! I again tossed a line over a tree branch and raised the inverted V, this time with the apex at around 10 m. Starting on 40 m SSB, I had 13 contacts in the log within 17 minutes, including Bill VK4FW/p in The Palms National Park VKFF-0485. I had just missed VK3NCC/2 in a Park at the start. I heard him later working Bill VK4FW/p, but Bill was too quick on the microphone button for me to try to grab Colin’s attention. I went to 20 m for one contact, then back to 40 m for another 11 contacts. I dropped down to 80 m to work 2 stations. It was now 1630 local, so I shut down and packed up. Checking the map, I decided to exit to the north, reaching the Murray Valley Highway just west of Tallangatta. It was then a simple return trip to Wodonga.

FrAboveTallangatta

Looking across Lake Hume from above Tallangatta

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Another trip to NE Victoria – 3

Monday 16 April 2018

This morning was one of the key reasons for the trip to the northest: Warren had invited me to join him on a work trip to a summit which only he had activated to date. I had an early start and met Warren in Glenrowan a little before 0830 local. I loaded my gear into Warren’s vehicle and we headed off to the southwest.

VK3/VE-236 (unnamed) 447 m 1 point

The access to this summit is restricted. The track crosses three different landholdings and requires 3 gates to be unlocked. The first gate clearly indicates that access is restricted, so I am very grateful to Warren for the opportunity to access this summit. It is only one point, but it also gives me a new Activator Unique and Complete.

This summit, referred to as “Lurg” by CFA, is another which will be deleted at the next VK3 update. There is another summit with a trigonometric marker just to the east of Embling Road, with a height of 451 m. The saddle between to two hills is just over 350 m, so the eastern summit has prominence over Lurg. One downside is that the new summit is also on private land and will require permission to access.

VE236_R

Looking north east from Lurg. The new SOTA summit can be clearly seen, together with Mount Glenrowan VK3/VE-230 and VK3/VE-238 just to the south of Mount Glenrowan.

After navigating the three gates and the rocky final approach, Warren parked the work Ranger and started his work. One odd thing about this summit is the large number of rock cairns constructed around the broad top of the hill – not a single cairn at the summit, but lots of cairns of various sizes scattered around the hill top.

I looked around and decided to set up beside a fence just north of the summit. I decided to start on 80 m SSB, as I expected no close in propagation on 40 m. I was about to spot myself when I saw that Mick VK3GGG/p was in a Park, so worked Mick as the first contact. I then worked Geoff VK3SQ in Beechworth. With no further responses to calls, I swapped to 40 m SSB and quickly worked six stations in seven minutes. Several minutes of further calls yielded no more responses, so I switched to 20 m and was rewarded with John ZL1BYZ and a then Jacky ZL1WA. After several more calls with no responses, I decided to shut down and pack up. The timing was almost perfect, as Warren was just about finished with his tasks.

We headed back down the hill, with me jumping out whilst still in the AZ. Warren continued down the hill and we worked on 2 m FM, thus giving Warren a Complete. I headed down the track and locked the top gate, then down to re-join Warren for the rest of the trip, locking the gates as we descended. It was then back to Glenrowan to my vehicle. We said our goodbyes and Warren headed off towards Shepparton, having a task to complete on Mount Major.

I did a little more preparatory work regarding possible access to another as yet unactivated summit – VK3/VE-238. I am not holding my breath, but the approach has been made and the local Site Manager listened carefully to my request and said that he would discuss the request with those higher in the management. He took my contact details and will advise sometime soon. (Postscript: about 2 weeks later I received an email advising that access was not possible. I suspect that the summit is likely to remain unactivated for a long time.)

That task completed, I returned to the edge of Glenrowan and parked just inside the boundary of the next site of the day.

Fosters Lake Waterhole Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2090

This Park sits between the new Highway (Glenrowan bypass) and the old Hume Highway, at the eastern end of the main Glenrowan township. Access is simple. There is a picnic shelter which I suspect is outside the Park boundary. There is a picnic table closer to the “lake” which appears to be inside the boundary. I set up beside the table. Tossing a line over a tree branch was the quickest option and I ran out the heavier 80/40/20/25/10 m link dipole and set up the IC-7000 on the tailgate of the Ranger.

David VK5PL was the first to respond to my calls. Within 10 minutes I had 13 contacts in the log, including Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-0312. I then swapped to 20 m SSB for 3 contacts before there were no more callers. I then tried 80 m SSB, working another 3 stations in VK3. Back to 40 m SSB for another dozen contacts before I received a text message from Geoff VK3SQ that he was finally home. I swapped to 80 m to work Geoff, and then back to 40 m. I then worked Steve VK3MEG and again swapped down to 80 m for an even louder contact with Steve. It was then back to 40 m for a couple of SSB contacts before I was invited to try CW by Nick VK3ANL. That worked well and I was quickly called by John VK4TJ on CW.

I then tried 30 m, using the antenna set to 20 m on one side of centre and 40 m on the other and hooked in my Z100 autotuner. It seemed to tune up, so I spotted myself and started calling. John VK4TJ answered my call and we then tried CW and made the contact before I heard signs of RF feedback. In the middle of a contact the rig shut down and then restarted. I quickly moved to reduce transmit power and managed to finish 2 more contacts. With 47 contacts in the log, I decided to shut down. I then headed into Glenrowan to the Bakehouse to grab some lunch. The venue was busy. They had very little hot food left, so I simply ordered a hamburger and waited….

Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742

The Warby Ovens National Park has several sections. Mount Glenrowan sits in its own section at the southern end of the Park, but it has restricted vehicle access – authorised vehicles only. Access to the summit for SOTA requires a 4.8 km walk with about 250 m of climb. I decided against the walk into the SOTA summit, having already activated the summit prior to the Park being added to the WWFF scheme. There are sections to the north along the Ovens River, plus sections along the Warby Range. Much of the Park was previously a State Park before the various sections were joined with the declaration of the National Park in June 2010. Phytophthora cinnamomi is an issue in the Park, with several tracks closed to vehicles. More information can be found in the Park Notes from the Parks Victoria website.

From Glenrowan, I headed west and north, working my way around the western side of the Warby Range. I climbed up the road into the Warby Ovens National Park and checked a couple of possible operating sites. The first two sites checked had no mobile coverage, so I kept looking. I ended up at the Warby Tower Lookout which had good Telstra coverage and good views to the north from the site of the old tower – only the bottom portions of the legs remain. You can see Wangaratta to the SE from the car park, but through the trees.

WarbyTowerView

View to the north from the Warby Tower Lookout.

I again tossed a line over a tree branch and set up the heavier antenna. I started on 40 m SSB and worked several stations. Gerard VK2IOoffered to look up the Park and advised that my current number of contacts was 20 from previous activations – about what I expected. So the target for the day was 24 if possible. It started off a little slow. At around 0600Z I switched to 20 m SSB, working 4 more callsigns, including F1BLL.

Back to 40 m SSB at around 0625Z, and I started work more stations.

I ended up with 38 contacts in the log, more than the 24 needed to bring this Park up to WWFF qualification level. I could have tried for the extra 6 contacts to make to 44 for this activation, but I needed to be back in Wodonga at a reasonable time, so called it quits at 0700Z. I still had over an hour of driving once I was packed up.

I made it back a little later than expected.

Overall, a profitable day: One new SOTA Complete & Activator Unique, plus two Parks qualified to WWFF level.

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Another trip to NE Victoria – 2

Sunday 15 April 2018

During discussions whilst organising the trip away, I had discussed a small number of low point value SOTA summits with Warren VK3BYD. These summits are due to be deleted at the next VK3 Association update due to lacking prominence as a result of incorrect height data or mapping errors. Warren was interested in a single activation on Sunday morning, so we made arrangements to meet in Moyhu at a reasonable hour. From Moyhu, Warren loaded his gear into my vehicle and we headed east to Meadow Creek and around to Braines Lane. Along Braines Lane to Fire Track Number 1 firetrail and into the bush. We climbed up to the track junction with Fire Track Number 2 and then headed south. As we turned the corner, we saw a Firewood Collection Area sign, reassuring us that our research regarding access was correct. Whilst heading south towards the summit, we needed to stop and move a fallen tree off the track. Together we were able to lift the butt end and swing the tree around to the edge of the track, without any need to resort to other methods. Note to self: I must do something about buying a drag chain from the place that sends me promotional emails several times a day with essentially the same content – lots of gear relating to 4WDing and camping.

We were busy discussing a number of topics during the drive and actually overshot the intended parking spot. I continued on to the southern side of the hill top just to check access from there, and then turned around and headed back to the northern side of the hill top and parked on the edge of the track at a slightly wider point.

Carboor Range VK3/VE-231 509 m 2 point Not Yet Activated

This summit will be deleted at the next VK3 update. There is a higher summit of 553 m just above the junction of Fire Track Number 1 and Fire Track Number 2, which will become the replacement summit.

VE231_replacement

Looking north from VK3/VE231 to the replacement summit

The tracks described above would be drivable in a 2WD vehicle with reasonable clearance in the dry. There were a couple of places when I felt a little slipping during the drive down – it had been raining the previous day and some drizzle during the drive to the summit. The track was in good condition, possibly having received some treatment in preparation for the Domestic Firewood Collection season. One can also access the area via Fire Track Number 2 from the NNE.

I loaded up my pack and Warren decided to bring his gear as well – just in case…. The approach was relatively simple: climb up the ridge line through open timbered country along the rocky spur. The climb was about 350 m horizontally plus about 60 m vertical climb. With the rain the previous day and drizzle on and off during the morning, it was slippery underfoot and some care was required. We reached the summit and found a suitable spot just to the SE of the high spot. I started set up by tying a line around a rock and tossing it over a tree branch: success at first attempt – Warren was impressed! Warren assisted with string out the dipole and I assembled the rest of the station. Warren spotted me and I started calling on 40 m SSB. First in the log at 0021Z was Gerard VK2IO. I soon had four in the log and no more chasers responding to my CQ calls, so I changed the FT-817 to CW and swapped to allow Warren to take the operating position.

WarrenVK3VE231

Warren operating on VK3/VE-231

While Warren was operating, I strung out the 80 m extensions for the antenna. Warren soon had the summit comfortably qualified on CW and we reconfigured for 80 m, as some of the VK3 regulars could not hear us on 40 m. I took the operating position and started calling CQ on CW. Allen VK3ARH was the first to respond. Allen later posted to the Discord discussion group:
“They are breaking the rules. BYD doing SSB and PF on CW. Hurting my head…..”

While I was working stations on CW, Warren grabbed his pack and headed down the hill. He then called me on CW, thus earning a Complete for the summit. I then worked Ian VK5CZ as the last contact on CW. I did hear a weak VK3H? calling, but the signal was weak and I could not quite get the end of the callsign. I believe it was probably Paul VK3HN – sorry I missed you Paul.

I changed the antenna link and called on 20 m SSB for about 20 minutes, working only Warren ZL2AJ. We decided to call it quits, as it felt as if the rain was about to return. We packed up and retraced our route back to the track and car. I headed down quicker than Warren and called him on 2 m FM once I was outside the activation zone, thus making the summit Complete.

Once we had the gear in the car, we again headed south along the track. The local who had given Warren some information about the track had indicated that the track did cross private land. We found a gate well down the track. I did not appear to be locked, but it was clear to us we had found the private land boundary, so turned around to head back out. Prior to reaching the gate, we had found the reason for the excursion south: an old rock cairn just off the track, which locals claim was constructed by Hume & Hovell on their return trip from Port Phillip.

On the return journey Hume showed his wonderful bush-craft by leaving his first route and recovering it near Carboor school at Hurdle Creek, to the south-east of Wangaratta, thus saving 150 miles.
See, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/2064003

We jumped out and check out the 2 cairns on the site. One looked older. Both had been there for quite some time by their appearance.

HH_Cairns

The cairns, one purported to have been erected by Hume and Hovell

The drizzle started again, so we retreated to the car and resumed the journey.

I retraced our route back out to Braines Lane and then made our way back to Moyhu. I said farewell to Warren and he headed off. I followed a couple of minutes later, heading back to Wodonga.

One new Activator Unique, together with a Chaser Unique and Complete. For those who chased us, you had best plan to activate the summit prior to the next VK3 update, whenever that will occur.

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