Amateur Radio Victoria once again promoted an activity weekend for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award on 16/17/18 November 2012, having had the first such weekend in 2011.
I decided to venture into East Gippsland to activate several National Parks, using SOTA summits when possible. I headed off from home on Thursday early in the afternoon and found a motel bed in Orbost for the night.
Friday morning was the start of the navigating, not assisted by some of the track junctions not having any signs. The initial drive was east along the Princes Highway, and then north toward Combienbar. I overshot the required track & doubled back when I realised the error on reaching the next main track which was signed. I headed up the Errinundra Valley Road to the junction with the Errinundra Road, which is beside the start of the walking track into Mt Morris (VK3/VG-050).
Mt Morris VK3/VG-050 in the Errinundra National Park
The walking track had several trees across it, which required some gymnastics and a little scrub bashing. I went out to the viewing point, which is only slightly below the summit itself.
The squid pole was lashed into a low bush and had a significant lean. As you can see, the weather was very overcast. I quickly qualified the summit, with 4 contacts in about 20 minutes before the UTC day rollover. A few more calls gave no response, so it was time to pack up and head to the next summit, also in the Errinundra National Park.
Goonmirk Rocks VK3/VG-048 in the Errinundra National Park
The next point was Goonmirk Rocks VK3/VG-048. The approach was along Errinundra Road and Gunmark Rd to Coast Range Rd and then Goonmirk Rocks Rd. I parked at the junction with Aspen Battery Track (MVO) to ensure that I was outside the activation zone. A short walk of just over a kilometre bought me to the start of the walking track into Goonmirk Rocks and was soon set up at the base of one of the rocks. Views from the site were only through the vegetation.
I worked 6 stations in about 35 minutes before packing up and heading back to the car. It was a drive out Gunmark Rd and Bendoc-Orbost Rd and around to Bonang and out along the McKillops Rd to Cabanandra. I found the start of the Warm Corner Track but quickly reached a gate saying private property, do not cross, find another way to approach the Bowen Link Track. I checked my maps and tried an approach from slightly further west through a pine plantation. I am unsure if the approach was across private land, but there were several signs pointing to Warm Corner Track, so I followed them.
Mount Tower VK3/VG-032 in the Snowy River National Park
The track appeared to have been recently “graded” with a bulldozer and was rough in places, but I successfully got the Subie up to the Bowen Link Track and then up closer to Mt Tower. I parked on the start of the slightly flatter section of the spur to the east of the summit, leaving me a walk of about 300 m with a 38 m vertical climb. the station was set up using an old post, which I guess may have previously held a sign with the summit name?
Mt Tower is SOTA summit VK3/VG-032. The 4WD track runs within 2 m of the summit itself. There are lovely views to the north and in most directions, with trees filtering the views to the east and south. 40 minutes of activation yielded 9 contacts, including Allen VK3HRA/p in the Hattah-Kulkyne NP. Packed up at about 0415Z and back to car for the drive back down the rough 4WD route, back toward Bonang and then up to Delegate.
Mount Delegate VK3/VG-034
From Delegate, I headed south to Mt Delegate VK3/VG-034, parking in a shallow saddle to the NNE of the summit, leaving a walk of a few hundred metres and about 35 m climb. The track goes all the way to the summit, which has a large telecom tower, an old Forestry Hut and several smaller towers with antennas.
My first contact was with Allen VK3HRA/p in the Murray-Sunset National Park at 0616Z, with 11 further contacts over the next hour. After packing up, I headed back to Delegate and then north to Bombala to buy some food, then south to Cann River for the night.
Coopracambra National Park
The initial plan for Saturday was ambitious: try to reach Mt Kaye VK3/VG-069. I headed back north along the Monaro Highway to Chandlers Creek and turned into WB Line Track. Not far past the Beehive Falls parking area, there was a Road Closed sign on the side of the road. I ventured past it about 2 km before I found the road blocked by fallen trees, and was still several kilometres from the start of the walk into Mt Kaye, and also the alternate of VK3/VG-112 off the Yambulla Peak Track. I decided to go back to the Beehive Falls and activated the Coopracambra National Park from the parking area.
I worked Peter VK3ZPF/p in Gunbower NP and Tony VK3UP/p in the Brisbane Ranges NP for Park to Park contacts. 13 stations were worked in about 50 minutes before packing up and heading south to Cann River.
From Cann River, I headed east to Drummer Road, north to Bicentennial Road and then east onto the start of Bismuth Mine Track. The climb up to the saddle near Mt Cavell was steep and rough in places, but the Subie in low range had no problems.
Granite Peak VK3/VG-137 in Alfred National Park
I parked in the saddle south of Granite Peak VK3/VG-137, leaving a walk of about 800 m and a climb of just under 100 m vertical. Bismuth Mine Track forms the western boundary of the Alfred National Park, so I set up the station on the eastern edge of the track on the summit.
12 stations were worked in just over an hour, including Terry VK3UP/p and Peter VK3ZPF/p in the Lower Goulburn National Park. Andrew VK2UH was lucky last – he was surprised when I came up after having taken a couple of photos – he thought that I would have been off the summit almost 70 minutes after self-spotting. Back to the car and retraced my route to Can River, and then south into Croajingalong National Park.
Croajingalong National Park
I set up at the junction of Hicks Road and Fishermans Track, using the Park sign as a convenient support.
I decided against the longer drive and walk in to Mt Everard and simply activated the National Park. 18 stations were worked in an hour, with Wayne VK3WAM/p in Point Nepean National Park and both Allen VK3HRA/p and Terry VK3UP/p in the Brisbane Ranges NP.
Lind National Park
Back to Cann River and then west along the Princes Highway to Hill 70 Trail and the start of the Euchre Valley Nature Drive, only to find the road closed. I set up just inside the Lind National Park and worked 25 stations in about 90 minutes before heading back towards Orbost and Bairnsdale.
At Bairnsdale, I stopped in to say hello to Rob Vk3EK and have a coffee. Rob insisted that I spend the night!
Mitchell River National Park
On Sunday morning I headed around to the Den of Nargun car park in the Mitchell River National Park. First in the log was Tony VK3VTH/p in St Arnaud Range NP, followed by Ron VK3AFW. A total of 21 stations were worked, with the last being Allen VK3HRA/p on SOTA summit VK3/VS-026 in the Grampians NP. I waited longer at this site with the hope of being able to catch Allen and had begun packing up the station when I heard him call – so I promptly got the antenna back in the air! I had also caught Peter VK3ZPF/p at Mt Ida VK3/VU-009 in the Heathcote-Graytown NP and Andy VK5CYM/p on Mt Byron VK5/SE-001.
The Lakes National Park
I then drove to Sale and through a massive thunderstorm as I passed Longford and headed to Loch Sport. It was down to about 5 km/hr for several minutes, the rain was so intense. At Loch Sport, it was around to The Lakes National Park. I set up at the Emu Bight camping area. Despite the static crashes from the thunderstorm off to the near north, contacts were steadily made, with a total of 24 contacts in the log. Notable were Bernard VK3FABA/p in Kinglake NP and Allen VK3HRA/p on VK3/VS-021 in the Grampians NP.
At about 1600K it was time to pack up and head home after a long weekend of driving and radio. I almost forgot the obligatory photo – the station was almost totally packed up before I remembered!