Fulfilling an election promise, the Victorian Government declared a public holiday for the day prior to the AFL Grand Final: Friday 2 October 2015. The weather forecast for the following days was looking almost like an early summer weekend. With the SOTA winter bonus season still having almost two weeks to run, the logical plan was to head to the hills, despite the very recent death of the SOTAmobile – the Forester (see last week’s blog). I was mobile, as I had acquired a 2004 Impreza hatchback at the end of June. As it has less clearance than the Forester, I would need to consider which tracks to tackle and to approach them with much more care.
I had not been to the Wodonga area since the New Year, so I planned to travel up and visit Mum, but to be out and about in the hills on Saturday, with activations on outward and return journeys.
Friday 2 October
I was away from home at around 0630 local. Perhaps I was too keen to get away – I had left one bag behind. I realised the fact when I was about 30 minutes down the road. I decided to not worry about the bag, as the contents were “nice to have” rather than essential and I would lose an hour if I returned for it.
The route was east along the Princes Highway to Bairnsdale, then Bruthen and north along the Great Alpine Road to Swifts Creek, then up the Cassalis Road, left into Brookville Road and on to Baldhead Road.
Mount Baldhead VK3/VG-027 1374 m 8 points plus winter bonus
Travelling south on Baldhead Road, watch for a track junction with a sharp left at 37°22’26.82″S 147°32’49.96″E. This is an access track into a logging coupe which is much better than the very rough Baldhead Track. The track climbs up through the coupe and you will pass Baldhead Track coming in on the right when the terrain flattens out on the spur. A couple of hundred metres on the track was blocked by two fallen large trees. The diversion around the first was fine, but the second diversion was rutted, potholed and wet, so I parked near there and walked up the hill.
First in the log here was a S2S CW conbtact with Allen VK3HRA/p on VK3/VE-013. Conditions were ordinary on 40 m, so I tried 20 m SSB for a while, yielding 3 contacts. I then went back to 40 m for 8 contacts in as many minutes. Change modes to CW for S2S with Warren VK3BYD/p on VK3/VN-001, followed by VK3CAT slightly lower in frequency for the last contact from this summit. 14 contacts over an hour – slow going, but bagged 2 S2S contacts.
I packed up and headed back down to Baldhead Road and headed north to Grassy Ridge Track and then around to the west side of Mount Delusion to park at the start of Mt Delusion Track.
Mount Delusion VK3/VG-026 1375 m 8 points plus winter bonus
I walked up the track to the high point – not quite at the summit but well inside the activation zone (AZ). I set up using a shrub to hold the squid pole.
Operations started briskly on Mount Delusion: S2S with VK3YY/p, VK3KAB/p and VK3ZPF/p, all on VK3/VT-010, with Andrew VK2UH squeezed in the middle whilst the different operators came to the microphone. Next was Johannes VK1FJAW/p for another S2S. A further 11 contacts were made, with the last being Jim VK1AT/3 in VKFF-0113.
After returning to the car, I headed north along Mount Delusion Road, which bought me out at Cassalis Road quite close to VK3/VG-064. The afternoon was still young, so I carefully headed up Mount Gingee Munjie Track to close to the SOTA summit and found a spot in the shade to set up.
VK3/VG-064 1038 m 6 points
Part of the decision to activate this was RRT announcing that Allen VK3HRA was on another summit – VK3/VE-047. I was set up in time to make the CW contact with Allen as my foirst contact. I made a total of 8 contacts here, all on 40 m.
After carefully navigating back down to Cassilis Road, I headed north toward Omeo. I decided to skip dropping into Omeo to buy lunch and headed west toward Mt Hotham and then along Mt Livingstone Road to the locked gate to park.
Mount Livingstone VK3/VG-045 1227 m 8 points plus winter bonus
I walked up the road until I was at the start of the cleared area around the first navigational aid antenna, at around 1209 m, well inside the AZ.
First contact here was Warren VK3BYD/p on VK3/VN-005 on 40 m CW. Back to 40 m SSB, I made a further 10 contacts before closing.
Back to the car and then out to the Great Alpine Road and north to Mt Hotham to park in the parking area just beyond the access track to the main telecoms facility (car park location is 36°58’31.81″S 147° 7’56.97″E).
Mount Hotham VK3/VE-006 1861 m 10 points plus winter bonus
The high point of the car park is about 1842 m, so right on the edge of the AZ. I climbed up to the track heading across to the summit and used a snow pole to support the squid pole. There was plenty of snow around, but with lots of bare patches.
I made 12 contacts in around 20 minutes from Hotham.
I closed down and head back to the car and headed north to Wodonga for the night.