Plus Mount Major on Sunday.
7 September 2013 was scheduled as the Federal Election date. Whilst I am very much in favour of the democratic process, I hate the long queues! So I voted over a week before the actual date, which also meant that I could happily ignore the media hype of the final week.
As it turned out, the weather report for the Saturday in Gippsland was good, plus I had been thinking about getting to the Shepparton HamFest on the Sunday, so plans were finalised on the Friday evening. An early start was followed by a drive to Bairnsdale and then on to Swifts Creek, with the mandatory stop at the Bakery. From there, it was up the Cassilis Road to the top of the short steep climb northwest of Cassilis, at a cross road junction with Mount Gingee Munjie Track to the right.
VK3/VG-064 Unnamed summit
Not previously activated. 1038 m, 6 points.
From Cassilis Road, turn right into Mount Gingee Munjie Track to the right. But be careful, as the good unsealed road swings right into an estate of small acreage blocks – the required track looks like a rough track or poor driveway. The track was okay in the Forester, but would be marginal even in the dry for a low-slung 2WD vehicle. I actually drove all the way to the top, then unloaded the gear from the car and onto my back, then walked about 250 metres back down the track to the 1000 m contour as indicated on the GPS, then back up to near the car. There was a small clearing near the car where there was evidence of someone having cut dead trees for firewood – one stump provided an excellent support for the lightweight squid pole.
I was set up just after the new UTC day, with the first contact VK5BJE/3 in the Little Desert National Park at 0005Z. By 0025Z I had 25 contacts in the log, including a S2S with Brian VK3MCD/p on VK3/VW-007. I then took a break for a drink and to take some photos, including the nearby summit cairn, which had no name plates. It is interesting – Forest Explorer shows “Mount Gingee Munjie” as a knoll on a spur to the south east of the high point. I did not bother to try to get to that location and wonder if it also has a cairn. Perhaps I should to follow up with some locals on a future trip to the area. After exploring the cairn, I had one final contact at 0040Z for a S2S with Paul VK5PAS/3 on VK3/VS-046. It was then time to pack up and head to the next summit.
VK3/VG-015 Mount Phipps
Not previously activated. 1536 m, 10 points plus 3 point seasonal bonus.
The route for me appeared simple: back to Cassilis Rd, then northwest to the junction with Upper Livingstone Road, just south of the bridge across Livingstone Creek. Then southwest along Upper Livingstone Road to the junction with Birregun Road – just follow the signs for Dargo. There are 2 approaches to Mt Phipps from this direction – Zig Zag Track looks closer, but is sometimes shown as having a winter season closure. I did not explore this option, even though the current season closure maps do not show this route as closed. I continued on to Mount Phipps Track.
Mount Phipps Track was looking to be very “ordinary” – it appeared to have been recently cleared by bulldozer, with lots of debris on the track. It was slow and steady, carefully picking ones route through the debris and slippery spots. I eventually ended up at the summit and parked about 70 metres beyond. Again I loaded up the backpack and walked back down the track to outside the AZ, then back up to the summit, with a signpost on the western side of the track and an old cairn on the eastern side. The signpost looked just like a squid pole support.
The whole trip was much quicker than expected and my first contact was with Ron VK3AFW at 0139Z. Despite the altitude, it was very pleasant on the summit – just a T shirt was needed, with little breeze and dappled sunshine coming through the snow gums. By 0213 I had 20 contacts in the log, including S2S contacts with Brent VK2MEV/p on VK2/HU-094 and Brian VK3MCD/p on VK3/VW-009. It was time to pack up and head to the next summit. En route I made contacts with Paul VK5PAS/p on VK3/VS-048 and Glenn VK3YY/p on VK3/VN-003.
The route out was back the way I had come to the junction of Upper Livingstone Road and Cassilis Road, then left and head north to the Great Alpine Road, then left to the top of the hill beyond Mount Livingstone Road. At the time of writing this blog, Mount Livingstone VK3/VG-045 has not yet been activated. However, access is questionable as the site is an air navigation site, with a normally locked gate about 1.6 km from the summit.
VK3/VG-030 Unnamed summit
Not previously activated. 1321 m, 8 points plus 3 point seasonal bonus.
Travelling along the Great Alpine Road towards Mount Hotham from Omeo end of Cassilis Rd, you pass a turn off to a viewpoint for Mt Kosciuszko (VK2/SM-001), then continue climbing past the Mount Livingstone Road turnoff to a saddle/high point. Slow down now and watch for a dirt access track on the right as the road starts to drop. Turn off the road here and you may see a sign indicating a firewood collection area. On the right is an unnamed track on the right – the access route to the summit. I started up the track in the Forester. Not far up the track was a warning sign indicating that dog traps had been laid in the area. Clearly I was careful to watch where I put my feet once out of the car!
It was slow careful going until I reached a recently fallen tree across the track at 55 H 545490 5891637 at 0327Z, just below 1200 m. This was about 2.7 km from the summit, via the track. I parked the car on the side of the track and loaded up for the climb.
Given that the track had been obvious until the log was reached, and that a 4WD had been up the track in the recent past based on tyre tracks seen, I was hopeful that the track would take me to close to the summit – at least to a track junction shown on a 1966 sheet that I had, but not shown on Forest Explorer.
The track was easy to follow on foot, with some regrowth in the middle of the wheel ruts and in-growth from the sides. I kept a keen eye open to ensure that I was stepping onto firm ground. The peak grade was almost 30%, so with the warm afternoon, frequent stops were made to catch my breath. I found the anticipated (hoped for) T intersection and headed south of west along the branch track. The track kept going, right into the AZ and continuing on. Once the track levelled out and the GPS indicated that I was well within the AZ, I stopped at a small relatively open area and started to set up at around 0420Z.
The station was up and running for a first contact completed at 0431Z with David VK4OZY/p on VK4/SE-059 for a S2S with VK4! Wow! It took several minutes to complete the contact as signals were marginal, only rising out of the noise for short periods. Having worked many very marginal contacts in the past on VHF, UHF and microwaves, I persevered. Luckily, so did David and we completed the contact with 41 reports exchanged both ways.
Over the next 37 minutes, I completed a further 22 contacts, including S2S contacts with Brian VK3MCD/p on VK3/VS-001 and Glenn VK3YY/p on VK3/VN-027. The last contact was with Marshall VK3MRG at 0508Z. It was then pull down, pack up and return to the car.
Once back at the car, it was a multi-point U turn, then back down the track to the Great Alpine Road. There were a few bumps and bangs on the way up and the return journey – it sounds like I have a hole in my exhaust system that will need investigation.
At the Great Alpine Road I turned right and headed for Hotham, then down to Myrtleford, Yackandandah and then Wodonga for a family dinner and to spend the night. Along the way, I worked Paul VK5PAS/3 on VK3/VS-036.
After some of Mum’s yummy home-made pasties and watching too much of the election vote count coverage on TV, it was off to bed and up at 0700K Sunday morning. I was away by around 0800K, filled the fuel tank and then drove to Benalla and on towards Shepparton.
VK3/VU-011 Mount Major
Previously activated by Ian VK1DI/3. 377 m, 1 point.
Ian VK1DI/3 first activated this summit on 9 June 2013 and also by Allen VK3HRA/P on 18 August 2013. The route to Shepparton was only just over 6 km to the south of the summit, so this was a logical diversion.
When I arrived at the gate, it was wide open and the car park area inside the fence had several cars plus mountain bike riders readying for some downhill action. I drove in, parked out of the way, loaded up and climbed the hill to the summit trig. I set up using one of the downhill track markers as the support for the 7 m squid pole.
First contact was at 0003Z with Ed VK2JI/p on VK2/SY-001 for a S2S. Amongst the 14 other contacts fom this summit were S2S contacts with Andrew VK1DA/p on VK1/AC-021, Andrew VK1NAM/p also on VK1/AC-021, Paul VK5PAS/p3 on VK3/VS-015, Al VK1RX/p on VK2/ST-006, and Marshall VK3MRG/p on VK3/VN-004. Shortly after the contact with Marshall, the mountain bike riders arrived in a minibus, with the bikes on a trailer. Things had started to slow down and the hamfest was well underway, so it was to time to pack up and head back to the car.
En route to Shepparton I worked Ian VK1DI/p on VK2/ST-002.
I caught up with many people at the hamfest. I did not spend any money on the raffle – once I had seen the prize list, I went to buy tickets, only to find that they had run out! That looks like poor planning to me.
Whilst I was waiting for some ladder line to be measured out to buy, RRT went off twice in a few minutes. It was quite some time later when I finally got back to the car and switched on the radio. I was lucky – Paul VK5PAS/3 on VK3/VS-018 was still active. I had missed one station spotted around 40 minutes earlier. After working Paul, it was time to head towards home via Melbourne. Along the way, I worked Al VK1RX/2 on VK2/ ST-001, Marshall VK3MRG/p on VK3/VN-002, Andrew VK1DA/p on VK1/AC-026 and Paul VK5PAS/3 on VK3/VS-009, having pulled off to the side of the road to work each station with the engine & noise generating systems switched off.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful.
I was rather tired once home, but it was a great weekend. Plus I finally reached the 500 Activator point mark.
Thanks to all the Chasers works and to those out on summits over the weekend.