After a week of wet, cold and very windy weather, the forecast for Sunday was looking better. There had been lots of snow falling at higher levels. I therefore decided on an activation plan which would hopefully be safe and without access problems.
I had not set an alarm and ended up getting away later than intended. Route was simple early: across to Traralgon, then along the Princes Highway to east of Rosedale (stop to grab some food at the bakery). Then across to Briagolong and up Marathon Road. The first target was VK3/VT-065, an unnamed summit. Given the late start, I would hopefully be on-air prior to the UTC rollover and catch some of the other SOTA Activators.
This summit had not previously been activated. At 2 points, hardly worth the effort during the winter bonus season! Given the previous week’s weather, it looked safer.
Access is via Marathon Road, north of Briagolong. Watch out for Link Road on the right – signposted with “Wombat Valley Country Cabins”, GR 55 H 504024 5822843. Follow the signs for the Wombat cabins, keeping an eye on the map – there are a couple side roads/access into private properties, most with gates. The route travels to the junction of Toggle Hill Track, with a right turn complete with Wombat cabins sign. Just after 500 m on, another track junction is found – keep left. You will then go past the Wombat cabins, along Link Road.
In August 2013, Link Road beyond the cabins had been subject to road works, plus the creation of a significant firebreak along much of the ridge line. Stay on the track – it was a bit rough with many spoon drains – until the base of the climb to the summit (at around 55 H 507656 5824604), about 5.5 km from Marathon Road. I parked in the saddle to the west of the summit and walked up the steep fire break to the summit. The surface was loose and dusty, with many loose rocks. At least one 4WD vehicle had been up the fire break.
I reached the summit with little time before the UTC rollover. I quickly erected the antenna and worked Allen VK3HRA/p on VK3/VE-230 shortly after switching on the radio. In 5 minutes I worked 8 stations prior to the end of the UTC day (Saturday). I missed Al and Andrew out on a summit in VK1 before the rollover.
After the UTC rollover, thing were busy for the first few minutes, then settled down to a more manageable pace.
In all, I made 29 contacts from the summit, including S2S contacts with Allen VK3HRA/p, Al VK1RX/p and Andrew VK1NAM/p (the last 2 on the same summit).
My last contact was with Brian VK3MCD/5 at Dalhousie Springs – which I think is in a National Park and gave me the points need to reach the Gold Hunter level in the SANPCP Award. Packed up after 0030, climbed back down the dusty hill to the car and took a couple of photos – in the rush, I forgot to put the camera in the pack, so no summit photos.
It was then a case of retrace the route back to Marathon Road.
This is another summit which had not previously been activated. This one worth 6 points.
The route was again simple, once back on Marathon Road – north along Marathon Road until after the northern junction with Rim Track – not the southern junction!
A reasonable place to park is in the sweeping right hand corner about 100 m past the Rim Track junction. I went further on, checking out the terrain, then coming back and parking near the high point on the road.
After scrambling up the steep road embankment, I basically headed up and west’ish. The Google Maps image makes the northern slopes look relatively open. However, the image was taken in 2009. There area has lots of post-fire regrowth – close spaced growing trees of 1 to 5 cm diameter and 4 to 5 m high. I basically worked my way up as best I could, following animal pads where possible. The climb took around 40 minutes for the approx. 460 m horizontal distance, with around 120 m vertical climb. It appears that the SOTA mapping project has the summit a little to the west of the actual summit.
I set up in a small clearing on the flat area of the summit. Given that I had seen the thick regrowth, I left the normal 7 m squid pole in the car and took the new compact lightweight pole, which fitted inside the pack. This made it easier to weave between the regrowth.
It looked as if the dipole centre was only about 5 to 5.5 m above ground. The dipole was running roughly east-west, so not really helping stations to my west.
My first contact was with Tony VK3CAT/m at 0228Z. A total of 23 contacts were made, including S2S contacts with VK1RX/p and VK1Nam/p on VK1/AC-029, VK1DI/p on VK1/AC-025, Allen VK3HRA/p on VK3/VU-002 and VK3CAT/p on VK3/VC-001. I also worked Tony VK5ZAI/p on Bird Islands CP.
I had lunch whilst on the summit, waiting to catch Allen and Tony. After working Tony, I briefly QSYd up 5 and worked a couple of stations that I had missed earlier. I then packed up and headed off the summit along the ridge line to the east (roughly). I am not sure that it was any easier descending than the route taken on the climb, but I popped out onto the road in the middle of the sweeping right hand corner mentioned above. It took about 25 minutes for the descent.
On the trip home, I followed some rough notes I had made for a possible approach to another summit. However, the route was very rough and I eventually decided to abandon attempts for a third summit for the day.
Once I got home, I noticed that I had missed VK3ATB/p and VK3KAB/p by about 20 minutes while exiting VT-037, plus a later activation – such is life. I had patchy phone coverage and web access via the iPad was worse. Perhaps I should consider a smart phone?