When Paul VK5PAS announced the new VK3 References back in August, it was interesting to note that this unnamed summit was on the boundary of the Avon Wilderness Park. The summit had not yet been activated, perhaps because there were other higher valued summits in the same region. I was not sure that I could actually reach the summit, so I did post any Alerts for the activation. This activation was a double-barrelled firat activation – a new sumnmit and a new WWFF reference.
The Parks Victoria page for this Park does not include a Park Note, only a link to a Walking guide for nearby areas. As the trip would involve around 17 km of unsealed road, most of it shown as 4WD only, the attempt would be made with the trusty, but showing its age, Subaru Forester. The trip was again to Rosedale with a Bakery stop, then toward Sale to the Maffra-Rosedale Road (C487), north to Tinamba, Newry and on to Valencia Creek. As the road swings right to cross the Avon Rive, go straight ahead onto Little Plain Road, then watch out as Wombat Road turns off to the left. Work your way around to the low level bridge across the Avon River, and then the unsealed road begins. At the next track junction, swing left onto the start of Mount Angus Track and follow it to a T intersection right beside the summit. The road has steep sections and lots of steep and deep spoon drains, so is not suitable for low clearance or 2WD vehicles. Avon Track heads off to the left and the continuation of Mount Angus Track to the right form part of the boundary of the Avon Wilderness Park. The drive up Mount Angus Track from its start took around 45 minutes – slow going.
The summit has a large clearing to the west of Mount Angus Track which is entirely within the Park, making for an obvious station location. I am guessing that it may even be usable as a helipad, and is clearly visible on the Google Earth images. Just as I arrived, RRT announced an activation in VK3 on 6 m SSB. I checked the details to see the guys on Mt St Phillack were on 52.200 SSB, so I quickly pulled out my lightweight 6 m J-pole. I could hear nothing of the others, so I started to set up on the northern edge of the clearing to take advantage of a small amount of shade. I threw a line up through a young eucalypt and used that to haul up the centre of the dipole to about 4 m or so above ground. The “cold” end wrapped around another young eucalypt and was tied off along the edge of the track. The “hot” end would have been low to the ground, so I used a squid pole to elevate the far end to about 5 m above ground.
From the clearing you have great views across the upper reaches of the Avon River valley towards Mount Hope, Gable End, Mount Wellington and other peaks. Through the trees on the southern edge of the clearing, one could see Ben Cruachan VK3/VT-042 standing out by itself.
If I moved around a little, I could find a spot with ‘phone service. I posted a Spot via SOTAwatch and worked Adam VK2YK shortly afterwards at 0206Z. Propagation conditions were poor, with the first half hour yielding only 13 stations, including three callsigns (VK3s JBL, KAB and YY) all on Mt St Phillack VK3/VT-006 for S2S contacts and Allen VK3HRA/p on Eagle Peaks VK3/VE-045 in Alpine National Park VKFF-619 on 40 m CW. After more calls, I went to 20 m and promptly worked Rick VK4RF, followed a few minutes later by John VK6NU and Chris VK6LOL. Further calls gained no replies. I then heard Glenn VK3YY/p calling on 2 m FM and worked him again. We also talked to John VK3JSN as he climbed up to Talbot Peak, so we knew his progress. I then worked several of the Latrobe Valley amateurs before moving back to 40 m just before 0400Z for an hour of calling yielding only eight contacts – real slow! One of the contacts was another Park: Mike VK4FBBA/p in Glass House Mountains NP VKFF-200. During that hour, I also worked John VK3JSN/p on Talbot Peak VK3/VT-010 for a S2S on 2 m FM.
During the afternoon, I tried to listen for Andrew VK1DA/2 (and Adan VK1FJAW/P) on Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052, but could only just tell that he was there – nothing intelligible. I also listened when he went to CW, but he was still very weak and there were other CW stations at higher speed and signal strength in the IF passband. Perhaps I need to consider some better filtering for CW? After several minutes of listening, I gave up on the idea. Andrew’s later comments indicated that 2 m was performing well for them. He reported that the Carrajung beacon VK3RGI was readable – perhaps we should have tried 2 m SSB – I had the 6-element Yagi in the car not too far away.
30 m yield no contacts despite lots of calling and a spot. During one of the 2 m FM contacts, I did hear Rob VK4AAC/5 call me. By the time I had finished the contact in progress; Rob had gone and did reply to my calls in attempt to make a contact. Sorry Rob!
I changed the antenna back to 20 m at around 0530Z and was rewarded several minutes later with a call from Alexander S58AL, followed by S52KM and another 4 EU stations and VK4ABJ.
Just after 0600Z, I worked another 2 locals on 2 m FM and then went back to 40 m, as calls on 20 m were yielding no results. I did manage to work Greg VK5ZGY in Minlacowie Conservation Park VKFF-909. After working Ken ZL4KD and a couple more stations, I gave up at around 0631Z with 48 unique callsigns, comfortably qualifying the activation for WWFF.
I packed up and heading back down the track – another 45 minutes of slow progress – and then retraced my route back to home. Just as was heading down the hill, RRT started giving spots of European stations starting to come on air for SOTA. Too late – it was time to head down and be out of the bush well before dark.
Overall, it was a long and tiring, but rewarding day.