Diversions on a trip home from Wodonga

Having been away from home for about a week dealing with family matters, I felt that it was time to head home. Departure was rather relaxed, leaving Wodonga a little before 0100 UTC. Given that the weather forecast was for rain falling as snow higher up, I opted for the nominal fastest route – towards Melbourne on the Hume Highway.

Approaching Benalla, I was becoming frustrated with the behaviour of some of the drivers of some large trucks, so decided to head south on the Midland Highway (B300). This allowed for some SOTA options to be considered. It was raining as I passed through Swanpool and Barjarg, so I ignored the nearby summits. I travelled on to Boonie Doon, with a last minute decision to activate Proctor meaning a left turn after crossing Brankeet Inlet. The road around the western edge of Lake Eildon is a little snaking, but it is sealed until well after it begins to climb toward the summit. Maintongoon Road looks rather tortuous on the map and has a “Local Traffic Only” sign near its eastern end, so continue south on Sonnberg Drive and continue climbing, then run roughly along the ridgeline. Sonnberg Drive passes through the Activation Zone (AZ) of the summit. Whilst still driving up, I heard Paul VK5PAS working Andrew VK1MBE/2 out on a summit, but could not hear Andrew.

Proctor VK3/VN-019 681 m 2 points

I parked and set up a little away from the vehicle. I started by asking if the frequency was in use, given that the last spot was for Andrew on the frequency. Gerard VK2IO answered, saying that he had not been able to hear Andrew. We asked if Andrew was still there, with someone coming back to say that he had moved to 20 m. I worked Gerard, followed quickly by Steve VK7CW and Paul VK5PAS. A couple of minutes later I worked Tom VK5EE, followed by 4-5 minutes of calling to work Adrian VK5FANA/m and Rob VK2XXM. With no further answers to calls, I closed and packed up.

I drove on to Skyline Road, with occasional views down across Lake Eildon National Park to the Lake, and then headed to Alexandra to buy some lunch. From Alexandra, it was a matter of heading south toward Healesville. Passing through Buxton, my attention was distracted by some other drivers, so I missed the turnoff for Marysville. No problem – I simply headed toward Narbethong and followed the signs for Marysville. Once in town, I looked up the maps to find access onto Paradise Plains Road and headed south and up.

Mt Strickland VK3/VN-030 1068 m 6 points

Paradise Plains Road reaches a branch point when it meets Road Eight – turn to the right to head to the summit, about 3 km to the west. The road is in good condition and suitable for 2WD vehicles, but I did run into one short section which was developing some deeper wheel ruts which could be easily straddled. Stop when you reach a sharpish left at the junction with Strickland Spur Track – you are on the flat top of the summit. The SOTA coordinates place the summit in the thick regrowth on the eastern side of Road Eight, but the 2005 1:25k map shows a spot height point at 1069 m HASL about 140 m north of the road junction. I parked off the road and set up a few metres away.

I spotted myself and my calls were answered a few minutes later by Paul VK5PAS. It took another 5 minutes to be answered again, this time by Mike VK5CK. Several more minutes of calling yielded Tom VK5EE, then nothing further was heard on 40 m. I changed to 20 m to work Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, and then nothing. I switched back to 40 m, as Andrew VK1MBE/2 had spotted on his next summit. At first, Andrew was inaudible. But he slowly rose from the noise to a 31/41 signal. Unfortunately, several calls from me were not heard by Andrew, so no contact was made.

I packed up and headed back to Marysville, with a new unique summit added to the Activator list, and another Complete.

From Marysville, I headed back toward Narbethong and turned off near the Marysville Trout Farm onto Mount Gordon Road.

Mount Gordon VK3/VN-027 754 m 4 points

Mount Gordon is another drive up summit. I parked beside the firewatch tower and set up nearby.

As I was setting up, I spotted as being QRV in 5 minutes. Once set up, I could hear a low down contact, so moved down to 7.085 and respotted. Gerard VK2IO was the first to find me. Several minutes of calling yielded a very weak William VK2YKW operating with only 2 W. 10 minutes later I worked Paul VK5PAS and a couple more minutes of calling yielded Chris VK5SA. 4 contacts in the log, and the day was getting late…. A couple of “Final calls CQs had no replies, so I shut down and packed up. I heard Rick VK4RF calling as I descended the hill in the car. Sorry that I missed you Rick.

Once back on the bitumen, I drove to Healesville and then on to home. I had been out for around 8 hours, but the diversions yielded three summits, including another new Complete. Propagation had been poor all day, but all three summits were activated successfully. Thanks to all the Chasers!

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