Sunday 21 December 2014
Christmas was almost upon us all, and it was time to head to Wodonga to catch up with family. I was slow getting organised and did not depart home until 0900 local on Sunday morning. I headed east toward Bairnsdale, stopping and chasing four SOTA stations en route, including one on CW (using the up/down buttons on the microphone). I had no firm plans for SOTA other than chasing when I could, with perhaps a stop at Mount Hotham as I crossed the Greta Alpine Road. Given the lack of planning, I did not post any Alerts.
I had a short stop for a coffee and chat with Rob VK3EK and resumed the journey. North of Bruthen, I remembered the Alert for Mt Kosciusko and decided to divert to attempt a summit to summit contact. From the Omeo Highway/Great Alpine Road, I took Collins Road and then left into Mt Elizabeth Road and on up to the track junction north of the summit, some 14 km.
Mount Elizabeth No 2 VK3/VG-074 938 m 6 points
Almost directly north of the summit is a signpost “Helipad” on Mt Elizabeth Road. The track is narrow and steep, with some short, sharp spoon drains. It is OK for 4WD vehicles. I walked up – a climb of about 60 m vertical over about 300 m. There are great views from the summit across to the east, with many summits visibile.
When I was set up, I heard Andrew VK3BQ/2 on VK2/SM-001 working a string of S2S contacts. I called in at the end of the next pile up and worked Andrew and then moved to a clear frequency to work 14 more stations, including 3 more S2S contacts. When I had no more callers, I packed up and headed back down.
At the car, I checked the electronic maps and decided to head west along Fainting Range Track. It was steep and rough in places, but the Forester coped OK with careful pointing and low range. After crossing Old Coach Road, it is a little rough near the power lines, but relatively easy all the way to the summit. Ian VK3TCX had previously visited this summit, but I am not aware of his approach route.
Fainting Range VK3/VG-114 667 m 2 points
I drove to the summit, then walked back down the track and set up using the road sign to support the squid pole. I was spotted by Rob VK3EK and quickly worked six stations, and then had no responses. So again it was time to pack and head off.
I exited back the way I had come to Old Coach Road, and then followed it north to Buchan Ensay Road, left into Sandy creek Road which took me back to the Omeo Highway about five kilometres south of Ensay. From there it was an easy drive to Omeo and up to Hotham Heights. En route I stopped to chase two activations.
Mount Hotham VK3/VE-006 1861 m 10 points
This is an easy summit when the weather is not nasty. Park near where the track heads up to the top of the Summit Chairlift, the telecoms installation and the fire tower on the summit proper. There is plenty of parking in the corner beside the chained off revegetation area. I headed up the vehicle track, walking around the locked gate. I walked up to well inside the activation zone, placing myself about half way between to two lots of radiocommunications equipment – the big facility and the smaller facility at the fire tower.
There are snow poles beside the track which make good supports. Once set up I spotted myself and quickly worked 10 stations, including a S2S with VK1NAM/3. With no more responses to calls, it was time to get moving again.
Only a couple minutes after getting back on the road, I heard and worked VK3KAB/p. About 15 minutes later, I worked VK1ATP/p.
After that, it was then simply a matter of driving to Wodonga.