More NE Vic SOTA fun

Mount Jack Range VK3/VE-090  1205 m  8 points Not previously activated

I had been looking at the maps and at the summit when driving in its vicinity. During last year’s SOTA end of year activities, I looked at one possible approach, which was a no go – a locked gate with a sign about private property and other language that indicated visitors were not welcome. The summit would have to wait.

I finally decided to head off, a little later than I would normally for such an exploration. The hiking GPS was in the pack, the GPS in the car running OziExplorerCE, plus in the car I had the laptop with OziExplorer plus BaseCamp and OzTopo installed.

I headed toward Dederang, looking for the start of Rogers Lane – it looked like a way to access to House Creek Track and on to close to the summit. The start of Rogers Lane had a sign “No Through Road”, but I travelled up until it entered private property, where I turned around.

The next option was south to Running Creek Road and then up to Mount Jack Track, which was found without any issues. There was the usual mix of small branches and loose rocks to dodge, until about 1.5 km in, when I encountered a large tree across the road. With no chainsaw on board, it was time to back up and find a spot to U-turn. Back down to Running Creek Road and west to Rose White Track (also shown on some digital maps as Happy Valley Track). This route was safely navigated up to Mount Jack Track, and then along Mount Jack Track to its junction with North House Creek Track to park and load up with the pack with all the gear. Initially I walked down North House Creek Track to be sure to exit the activation zone, and then back past the car and further north along Mount Jack Track, which was marked as no through road to the north.

Once the track looked as if it was about to drop, I headed toward what appeared to be the highest point – the whole summit area is relatively flat. When I found a likely spot, Rucksack Radio Tools indicated that I was within 100 m of the listed location, so I set up using a fallen tree trunk to support the squid pole.

My first contact was at around 0045Z, with the first couple of contacts hard work. I double-checked the antenna to find one of the links was open. Once fixed, a further 12 stations were worked in 15 minutes on 40 m. I then tried calling on several bands without success. My last contact on this summit was on 20 m to VK5. Further calls were followed by no replies.

I started packing up at around 0130Z, walked back to the car and headed back down the way I had come. As I was heading towards Myrtleford, I considered my options. I decided to head for Mt Stanley.

Mount Stanley VK3/VE-126  1052 m  6 points

The approach to Mount Stanley is relatively straightforward: drive to Stanley, then head off along Mount Stanley Road. Just watch out for the T intersection where Mount Stanley Road does a right and does not go straight ahead. You can drive to the car park just below the summit comms compound. I parked and loaded up for a walk down the hill to exit the AZ, before walking back up to set up at the picnic table.

On switching on the radio, I heard a loud signal slightly above 7.090, so tuned up to find Scott VK7NWT testing a radio that he had been repairing. We chatted for a few minutes before returning to 7.090, where I worked Andrew VK2UH at 0327Z. By 0350Z I had 16 stations in the log and the chasers placated. I tried 20 m for 3 stations, then 12 m for only one caller.

When I was working the dog pile on 400 m SSB, I had a question posed to me – would I be activating Mount Big Ben? I indicated that it might be possible, if not this afternoon, then sometime soon.

I was considering my options when I received a call to try a cross-mode 40 m S2S contact with Wayne VK3WAM/p on Mount Kooyoora VK3/VU-007. It was an easy contact – simply callsigns and reports both ways, Wayne on CW & me on SSB. Thanks for the new Chaser summit Wayne!

That was a good contact, but it was hot on the summit. I decided to pack up. Whilst driving back to Stanley, I decided to attempt Mt Big Ben.

Mount Big Ben VK3/VE-105  1154 m  6 points

Mount Big Ben is easily approached via Mount Big Ben Lane, off Dederang Road just east of Tunnel Gap Rd. The trip across was uneventful. The track has a cattle grid near the start, plus a gate to open & close just after you leave the paddocks for the forest. The track was in better condition this year than last, and would be easily tackled by a 2WD. I was up on the summit & operational just after 0515Z.

I used one of the tower guy anchor posts to support the squid pole. Expecting to only operate for a short time, I simply sat in the open, with my new hat to keep the sun at bay. By 0615Z, I had worked 32 stations, all on 40 m SSB: not such a short duration operation after all. Despite having extended operation in the hope of providing a contact to the operator who asked if I was going to Big Ben, he did not appear. I later learned that he was called away with family issues.

I started packing up at about 0620Z and then headed back down the hill to return to Wodonga.

It was a good day out, with one new summit activated, a summit completed and 20 points added to the Activator tally. Plus a cross-mode CW/SSB S2S with Wayne VK3WAM/p.

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