Two activations close to Wodonga

Huon Hill VK3/VE-237  425 m  1 point

Friday 20 December was to be hot day in Wodonga, with the forecast predicting 41 C.

On the Thursday afternoon I had dashed to Huon Hill VK3/VE-237 to work Rod VK2TWR/p on Mount Perisher VK2/SM-007. Past experience has shown that the area around Mum’s place is very RF noisy, so I needed to drive to a quieter location and decided to go to Huon Hill. Rod was very weak, but we completed a contact. After some on-air discussion and a couple of telephone calls, Rod eventually spotted that one of the links on the link dipole was open, so the rig would have been reducing output power due to the high VSWR. Once that was fixed, Rod’s signal was a little louder, but band conditions were fairly flat. I quickly qualified the summit, working 8 stations on 40 m. I tried 10 MHz and worked 2 stations, one a repeat also worked on 40. Several minutes of calling after posting a spot for 20 m only resulted in one contact, and 12 m yielded a single contact in VK4. Before packing up, I worked one more VK3 on 40 m.

Mount Baranduda VK3/VE-189  775 metres 4 points

On Friday morning, I noted that Rod VK2TWR had deleted both of his Alerts, which was not unexpected. However there were two Alerts for 8 point summits posted. I decided to make a dash for Mount Baranduda. I had discussed possible approach routes with my sister-in-law, who regularly rides her horse in the state park.

Mount Baranduda was first activated by Rik VK3KAN (now VK3EQ) and Mitch VK3FMDV (now with a new call). They had approached from the western side along Ewarts Road and had been lucky to be at the gate to private property just as the owner drove up. The owner gave them permission to cross the private land to access the summit – just close the gates! I am not aware of the owner’s details, so took an approach which should be open to all.

The approach sounded easy: First find Burgess Lane running off Boyes Road. That was easier said than done – it does not have a signpost, just a Fire Access Track sign besides the road and a gate just beyond – I drove straight past it on the first pass. The required track is about 1.6 km NE along Boyes Rd from Beechworth-Wodonga Rd.  I knew that I had gone too far, so doubled back. I stopped at the Fires Access sign pointing SE, with the sign in the opposite direction indicating Burgess Lane. The gate had a sign about the winter seasonal road closures, plus another nearby stated rules about vehicle access – drive responsibly, vehicles must be registered, drivers licensed, close the gate, etc. Open the gate, drive through, close the gate and then repeat those actions about 700 m along the lane. Turn right into Darmodys Track, ignoring Trig Point Track and Cobbs Track, aiming to get to Bantik Track. About half a kilometre beyond Cobbs Track I was stopped by a large tree across the track. So I needed to reverse for about 200 m before I could do a U-turn, then started up Cobb Track. It was steep and rocky in places, with lots of large spoon drains and a few switchback corners. It was successfully negotiated, but with the Forester in low range to make it easier. At the top of the climb, simply turn right into Baranduda Range Track and proceed until you reach a locked gate, with a track heading north just short of the gate. Baranduda Range Track was also a little rough in places and had lots of spoon drains to negotiate. I parked near the track junction and walked back down the hill to just below the 750 m contour before walking up to the top. It looked as if the telecoms compound to the east was higher ground, so I walked around the track to its north and found a nice spot on the eastern side of the compound to set up. Some dead stumps to support the squid pole with a couple that could be used as seats.

I quickly set up and on switching on heard VK1DI/p on Mount Ginini working stations, before I had even tied off the ends of the link dipole. I completed that task and worked Ian for my first contact and then QSYed down to 7.085 to hopefully work some others, after having first listened for Dave VK4OZY/p on 7.095 – nothing but faint murmurs were heard. I worked another 4 stations before the UTC rollover, then seven more after rollover before moving up to 7.090 for another contact with Ian VK1DI/p. Several operators noted the band was improving and that they had not heard me before rollover. Whilst chatting with Ian I said that I would try some higher bands, starting with 10 MHz. I first listened again for Dave, and could hear him 4/1 on peaks, but he did not respond to my calls. After self-spotting and several minutes calling on 10.130, I finally worked someone – Ian VK1DI/p, who was very weak. We exchanged 41/51 reports. I then tried 20 m and 12 m after posting spots, and 15 m without a spot, all without any responses. I was about to pack up when I first checked the Spots page to see that Dave was now on 20 m.

I reconfigured the antenna for 20 m and quickly found Dave VK4OZY/p on VK4/SE-011 in a contact with a station near Coffs Harbour. I waited for the contact to be completed and then called in, as did John VK2YW. Dave worked me first for the S2S contact – thanks Dave. I then moved up the band, spotted myself and called for several minutes, working only Paul VK2KTT. I was already after 0100Z, so I packed up and started the trip back to Wodonga.

I had 16 contacts for the morning, including S2S with VK1DI/p and VK4OZY/p. A good morning of SOTA activity without a really long drive.

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