Back in November 2012, I was approached to visit the Shepparton & District ARC to give a talk – topic to be determined. Via some emails late in 2012 and early 2013, the first weekend in April was added to my calendar as the weekend.
As is often the case, I awoke before the alarm and thus ended up with an early start than expected. The route had been decided for Saturday – head toward Melbourne, north along EastLink, across to Heidelberg, up to Greensborough and the Ring Road, then onto the Hume Highway route. Pretty uneventful travel until just before the exit onto the Hume Bypass, when I heard Wayne VK3WAM/p on VK3/VS-015. He was just audible through the noisy environment (my vehicle noise plus passing a semi-industrial area), but contact was completed while negotiating the exit……. Probably not recommended, but there was nowhere to pull over!
Mount Hickey VK3/VN-015
Up the Hume toward Seymour, then exitted off and headed toward Mt Hickey. Made a slight mistake and took Mountain Track……. Fun for 4WD drivers, but successfully negotiated in the old Forester with care. Arrived at the summit and remembered the comments from Rik VK3KAN about the RF noisy environment, so headed along the main track and parked just below the edge of the activation zone and then walked back up toward the summit & set up beside the road. Had the station set up and operating by 2314Z. Had a comfortable S2S contact with Ernie VK3DET/p on VK3/VC-032 at 2323Z and things heated up getting towards the UTC day rollover: Worked Wayne on VK3/VS-018 at 2357Z and Allen on VK3/VW-006 at 2359Z.
I managed to work the 3 S2S contacts again after 0000Z. A total of 29 contacts were made before shutting down after 0020Z Saturday. Drove down Mt Hickey Road – a much more comfortable route! Back down to the Hume and then headed north to Shepparton and Mooroopna.
I arrived at SADARC just as the formal meeting was started. After the meeting, I gave a very interactive talk on “Portable amateur radio in the hills”, mainly talking about SOTA, but with brief coverage of the KRMNPA and the VK3 Local Government Award. There was lots of interest, and there may be some new chasers and possibly activators down the track.
Lower Goulburn & Barmah National Parks
After the meeting, I headed around to the Lower Goulburn National Park just north of Shepparton. Near the western end of Wanganui Rd, turn right into Reedy Swamp Rd and there is a car park only a few tens of metres inside the National Park. It looked like it was a popular parking – there was a fair amount of rubbish scattered around from a couple of fast food outlets.
I set up with the squid pole propped up through the rear passenger side door/window, with the inverted V antenna. Contacts came quick and fast, including VK3HRA/P on VK3/VS-001 and VK1RX/p on VK1/AC-025. When contacts became hard to get, I shut down and headed north to Barmah NP. I was near the eastern end of the park, about 200 m west of Ulupna Bridge, on the south side of Ulupna Creek. I set up the SOTA squid pole and 40/20 inverted V. Stations were again easy to work, including Wayne VK3WAM/p on VK3/VS-013. Once again, when contacts slowed, I packed up and headed towards the home of Peter VK3FPSR, who had offered to host me for the night.
After dinner, Peter and I both worked Peter ZVK3ZPF/p at Arthurs Seat VK3/VC-031.
On Sunday morning, I again awoke before the alarm, so was off fairly early. Sorry about waking you Peter, and many thanks for the hospitality!
Mount Strathbogie VK3/VE-132
I headed south to Benalla to grab fuel & breakfast, then down to Barjarg. Turned right and headed up to Mt Strathbogie via Ferraris Rd & Ferraris Tk. I parked at the corner of Harpers No 3 Track and was on the summit and set up with about 12 minutes to spare before the UTC day ended. There is a vehicle track all the way to the radio site amongst the granite tors. Worked 5 stations, including Andrew VK1NAM/p on VK1/AC-040. After the UTC day rollover, I worked 7 stations, including S2S with Paul VK5PAS/p on VK5/SE-013, Ernie VK3DET/p on VK3/VC-032 and Andrew VK1NAM/p again.
Contacts dried up, so onwards again.
Back to the car and headed to Mt Barrenhet VK3/VU-001.
Mt Barrenhet VK3/VU-001
The route was around to Barjarg Rd, then north along Boonie Doon Rd to Mt Piper Track. Left here and down to the creek crossing to be confronted with a Private Plantation – no public access sign at the start of the main track climbing tot he west. I drove along the boundary track on the eastern edge and parked at the SE corner of the area that appears to be state forest.
A climb up the rougher boundary track to the NW corner of the logged plantation area revealed on old track which headed north and then swung to the NW. It was a pleasant walk up – a little steep in places, but slow and steady was the go. Once the track reached a high point and swung further west, I started the climb up to the summit. Worked 10 stations over about 30 minutes before packing up and heading back down.
Not so much luck with the next 2 planned summits – the road approaches had lots of signs about private forest and no public access, so VE-190 & VE-198 will have to wait for another day when I can be sure that I do not trespass during the approach. So off to Mt Wombat.
Mt Wombat VK3/VU-002
No problems with Mt Wombat VK3/VU-002 – you can drive into the activation zone. I parked down the hill and walked up to the summit area. I used the trig point to support the squid pole. There were tourists enjoying the views, including forest burns to the south. A total of 31 contacts were made over about 90 minutes. Another S2S contact was made: Andrew VK1NAMp/p on VK1/AC-037. I also worked Gerard VK3GT/P on Mt Buffalo plateau, but he was not on a SOTA summit.
I finally packed up and headed off toward Euroa and then toward Melbourne. I detoured off near Heathcote Junction and headed to Pretty Sally VK3/VC-034. The weather was threatening – thunderstorms not too far to the south, with lots of noise on the 40 m band. I quickly worked 14 stations in 25 minutes, despite the radio and audio noise from the thunderstorm. I packed up just after 0734Z and hot-footed it down to the car. Just as I sat in the car, the heavens opened with a huge downpour before I could close the door! Just got back in time.
From there, it was a steady careful drive back down to the Hume Highway and then retraced the route back to home.
It was quite a long weekend, with a SOTA talk given, 5 SOTA summits and 2 National Parks activated in 2 days.
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