Monday was another day in the hills. The plan was to head towards Mount Hotham and to then travel along the Twins Road to pick up two summits not previously activated. Twins Road climbs steeply from the junction of the Dargo High Plains Road and the Great Alpine Road, traversing the southern slopes of Mount Saint Bernard before heading broadly south west near the main ridge line of the Great Dividing Range.
I managed to chase VK2FGJW/p on VK1/AC-040 and Brett VK2BNN/p on VK2/CT-005 whilst travelling south from Wodonga. Twins Road is definitely 4WD material – quite steep and rocky in places, with most of the track narrow with few opportunities for passing (or parking on the side of the track).
The goal was to be on a summit by 0030Z, when Andrew VK1NAM and Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH were scheduled to activate Mount Kosciuszko VK2/SM-001 on 144 MHz. Travel went well and I was well ahead of schedule when I arrived at the parking spot for the first planned summit, so I continued on toward Mount Murray.
Mount Murray VK3/VE-025 1640 m 10 points
Not previously activated. Alpine National Park
Twins Road forms a T intersection with Mount Murray Track, which climbs steeply over a knoll, through a saddle and up to a saddle near the summit, at the junction with Blowfly Spur Track and Wongungarra track, both of which were closed. The parking area in the saddle is at around 1620 m, so I loaded up & headed down the hill a little way before climbing back up and out to the summit cairn – a loose pile of rocks about a metre high, with a steel pipe standing vertically in the middle. You guessed it – a perfect pole support. The SOTA database shows the knoll close to where I parked as the summit, but the SRTM data and Google Earth clearly show the summit to the south with the cairn as being higher.
I set up my lightweight 6 element 144 MHz, perched at 4 m on the remainder of the squid pole. The link dipole was simply attached just below the Yagi. I only carried in a single feedline, so would need to telescopically lower the mast to change the feedline between antennas.
Operations started on 40 m at 0030Z, with the first contact being with Ron VK3AFW/p on Mount Buller VK3/VE-008. Shortly after, more S2S contacts came: Rod VK2TWR/p on VK2/SM-022, Allen VK3HRA/p also on VK3/VG-001 and Andrew VK3ARR/p on VK3/VC-032, all on 40 m. Marshall VK3MRG/p on VK3/VG-001 was the first S2S on 144 MHz, followed by Allen VK3HRA/p also on VK3/VG-001, Ron VK3AFW/p on VK3/VE-008, Andrew VK1NAM operating as VI100ACT/2 on VK2/SM-001 and Andrew VK1DA/2 on VK2/SM-001. Amongst all the action, 4 motorcyclists walked up to the summit, having parked the bikes back at the gate. After chatting with them and explaining SOTA, in between the odd contact, I decided to pack up and head off. Just I was about to put all the gear in the pack, RRT announced a new activation, so the 40 m antenna was quickly re-erected. Shortly afterwards, contact was made with Brett VK2BNN/p on VK2/CT-004 at 0131Z. I then packed up and headed back to the car and back along Twins Road towards The Twins.
Unnamed summit VK3/VE-023 1646 m 10 points
Not previously activated. Alpine National Park
VK3/VE-023 is located about 1.1 km south west of The Twins VK3/VE-017, with a saddle between the two peaks which has clearly been used as a camp site. It was the logical place to park, given the lack of any other parking area close to the summit.
The climb is simply up the spur to the summit: about 560 m horizontally and about 160 m vertically. The area is regenerating after fire damage.
My first contact was with Ben VK3FTRV/2 at Tom Groggin at 0313Z. A total of 27 contacts were made on 40 m, including S2S with Rod VK2TWR/p on VK2/SM-039, Marshall VK3MRG/p on VK3/VE-004 and Allen VK3HRA/p also on VK3/VE-004. The last contact was made at 0348Z, followed by pack up and return back down the spur to the car.
It was then back out to the Great Alpine Road, with the need to back up a short distance to pull over to allow a couple of 4WD vehicles to climb up the initial steep section of the track. It was then down the hill to Harrietville.
Ebenezer Range VK3/VE-081 1255 m 8 points Not previously activated.
Near the northern end of Harrietville, I turned west into Cemetery Lane. The track was in reasonable condition, but looks as it would be very slippery when wet. The track climbs through several switchbacks up to the top of the spur. At the top, I turned right onto Wet Gully Track, another 4WD track that is rough in places. This track travels across the SOTA summit: Ebenezer Range VK3/VE-081.
I parked the Subie in the saddle immediately south of the summit, which is about 30 m lower & so outside the AZ. That left a walk of about 300 m to the summit to set up using a stump to support the squid pole. I set up for 40 m only.
First contacts were at 0556Z with Tom VK5EE/p and Col VK5HCF/p in Calectasia Conservation Park. By 0608Z, I had worked 15 stations, including S2S with Marshall VK3MRG/p and Allen VK3HRA/p on Mount McKay VK3/VE-007. With no responses to my CQ calls and the day getting late, I packed up and headed back to Wodonga.
En route, I managed to chase Andrew VI100ACT/2 on VK2/SM-093 from the car.