Victorian Grand Final long weekend – Day 2

Saturday 3 October 2015

I was on the road at around 0800 local time and headed off to the south east toward Tallangatta on the Murray Valley Highway B400. I then headed down Tallangatta Creek Road to its southern end, swinging into Bucheen Road and then on to Cravensville Road (Gibb Road on Google Maps) for a slow climb on the rougher road up to the top of the spur line. At the crossroad, I swung right onto Gibb Range Road and parked the car at a bend in the road at 36°23’56.12″S 147°37’43.61″E, opposite the start of an old track into a regenerating logging coupe, between marker posts 25 and 24. The track is clearly visible on Google Earth, but the regrowth is starting to obscure the track on the ground.

Gibb Range VK3/VE-069 1289 m 8 points plus winter bonus

The easiest approach to the summit is to follow the track through the regeneration growth to the shallow saddle. As you are crossing the saddle, another track swings to the left, and then another. Following these tracks will lead you to the boundary of the logging coupe when the going becomes easier. Follow the boundary around until you are adjacent to the top the top of the hill.

The first contact was with a S2S with VK1VIC/p on VK1/AC-041. Four contacts followed quickly, followed by another S2S with Ian VK1DI/2 on VK2/ST-036. Another 10 contacts on 40 m SSB was followed with a S2S with Russ VK2BJP/3 on VK3/VE-095. A few contacts later I worked Phil VK3BHR/p on VK3/VN-016. I worked Rod VK2TWR/p, the Adam VK2YK/p in VKFF-0578, followed by Nick VK2AOH/p on 40 m CW from VK2/CT-017.

I returned to the car and headed further south and east along Gibb Range Road to the junction with Beetoomba Spur Track. The trip along Beetoomba Spur Track was much slower, with some fallen timber, a rough rocky surface in places and plenty of spoon drains that required careful driving to avoid bottoming out the car. I safely made it out to the next summit, but did acquire some surface scratches from the scrub.

Beetoomba Spur VK3/VE-120 1089 m 6 points
Wabba Wilderness Park VKFF-0944 Not previously activated

I climbed onto the summit and set up in the light scrub just off the eastern edge of the track so that the entire station was inside the Wabba Wilderness Park – one of the last group of Victorian Parks added to the VKFF and WWFF scheme. I was unaware of any previous activations of the Park, so was planning a long stop here in an attempt to gain the required 44 contacts to qualify the Park.

Wabba Wilderness Park sign

Wabba Wilderness Park sign

The first contact here was another S2S, with Russ VK2BJP/3 on VK3/VE-167. Next up were Justen VK7TW/p and Reuben VK7FREU/p, both on VK7/SW-007. I made a total of 52 contacts over just over 2 hours. Two further S2S contacts were in that total: Russ VK2BJP/3 on VK3/VE-129 and VK4JD/p on VK4/SE-040.

Main Range from Beetoomba Spur

Main Range from Beetoomba Spur

During the activation, Russ VK2BJP/3 suggested that an easy exit would be to return to Gibb Range Road and continue west toward the Corryong Benambra Road. He also suggested that I consider a diversion to activate VK3/VE-095. He noted that you could access the track toward the summit at about 7 km west of the main road.

Finding the candidate track was relatively simple, as the Gibb Range Road has marker posts each kilometre, counting down as you approached the eastern end of the road. I turned left into Carmodys Track and worked my way along. I stopped at the top of a spur and checked Rucksack Radio Tools, which indicated that the summit was about 1.8 km to my east. I retrieved my GPS from the rucksack and switched it on before slowing continuing along the track – there were steep & rocky sections requiring care plus some spoon drains. Turn right at the junction with Remote Radio Road to head south to the summit.

VK3/VE-095 1192 m 6 points

Remote Radio Road crosses the activation zone of the summit, less than 70 m from the high point. I quickly set up my station on the edge of the road away from the car to start calling.

I made seven contacts in short order from the summit, all on 40 m SSB. With no further replies, I shut down and headed back to the car.

Having worked Russ on the two previous activations of this summit (including today), the activation made this summit a Complete.

On packing up, I checked both the GPS map and the VicRoads directory: it appeared that continuing on would lead me back down to Gibb Range Road. The route was better than Carmodys Track and could be easily navigated in a 2WD vehicle unless the surface was wet. I emerged into a small rock/gravel stockpile area just before Gibb Range Road only metres from its junction with the Corryong Benambra Road C545. There are several SOTA summits in this area, but the afternoon was well advanced, so I decided to head back to Wodonga. The initial descent toward Nariel Valley is on a broad unsealed road. Close to Nariel Valley the road becomes sealed and then winds its way down the creek valley toward the Murray Valley Highway.

The only challenge of the return trip was the low sun in one’s eyes, not helped by the insect debris on the windscreen. Once in Wodonga, I refuelled the car for the following day and cleaned the windscreen.

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