Wednesday 26 December 2012

After the trip up from Gippsland, I spent a few days doing family things – to be expected at this time of year. I spent Christmas morning quietly at Mum’s home and we had a simple lunch prior to packing the car and heading to Walwa, to the home of one of my 2 brothers. We arrived there late in the afternoon and had an enjoyable dinner together to celebrate Christmas.

Boxing Day had not much planned for the family, so I managed a leave pass to head for the hills and play SOTA. I decided on some apparently simple summits in a loop to the south and west before returning to Walwa.

VK3/VE-167

North of Walwa and just south of Shelley is VK3/VE-167. (Note that I has previously used the incorrect summit code of VK3/VE-161. I have updated my Activator log to correct the error.) Easy access with a 4WD – you can drive to within 1 km of the summit. I approached via Walker Firebreak Track.

VK3/VE-155 Mt Brutal

From Cravensille Road, take Emperor Track and then Mount Brutal Track. Not quite 1 km on, the track does a right turn to the north – I found a spot to park off the track and then approached up the spur, following animal tracks as best I could. Undergrowth was moderate. The summit had a small clearing on the western side which made for a reasonable operating position:

VE155

Mt Brutal summit area

14 stations were worked in just over 20 minutes. After packing up, I deliberately veered off to the left a little on the descent & hit the track about 250 m north of the car. I knew that I had to turn right to get back to the car. Throughout this trip, I was working largely on map memory (but usually with a map at hand if required) and without a compass or GPS, other than the unit in the car running OziExplorerCE. Many years of navigating, including Orienteering and Rogaining in addition to bushwalking, make this feasible. Not recommended if you do not have the skills!

VK3/VE-129 Mt Lawson

I could have chosen a better route in – I got a little off route at one stage due to poor signage in an area recently logged, but soon corrected. The easiest approach off the Murray Valley Highway is to take the marked turnoff to the trestle bridge, west of Koetong, and then onto the Mt Lawson Rd. There is a picnic area at the Mt Lawson car park. The track towards the summit is MVO, behind a locked gate. The track climbs up through the forest and then across large granite boulders. The walking track loops around the summit to double back on itself lower down the hill. On the tallest granite tor you can see an array of solar panels and 2 masts. Careful searching through the light scrub reveals a comms facility hut in addition to the solar arrays and masts. I lashed the squid pole to some scrub and strung out the wires, disturbing a wallaby in the process.The coax reached a convenient granite boulder which I used as an operating table:

VE129 The gear on a boulder. You can see the coax cables going up the tor behind the gear, the back of the solar arrays and the masts.

Peter VK3ZPF was the first station worked at 0527Z. A total of 14 stations were worked, including several SOTA regulars. I was active for just over 25 minutes before packing up and walking back to the car. Should have taken the main track back out, but opted for a more adventurous route through the bush tracks. Slower, but it was fun.

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