Christmas Day 2016

McDonalds Hill VK3/VE-234 493 m 1 point

McDonalds Hill is to the west of Wodonga, on the range of hills to the south of the Hume Highway between Barnawartha and Wodonga. This summit lies between Mount Lady Franklin VK3/VE-224 and Wodonga.

The summit should be reclassified at some point in the future, as the Geosciences Australia height data and Victorian government mapping show the summit height as 538 m, so it should be a 2 point summit.

The summit had been activated twice before, first by Mark VK3ASC (SSB) and earlier in 2016 by Warren VK3BYD on CW. I had worked both activations, so this summit was a target for a Complete as well as a new Unique.

Christmas Day 25 December 2016

I was in Wodonga to catch up with family over Christmas. Christmas Day was going to be a quiet day at Mum’s place for the day, with just the two of us. I saw that Mitch VK7XDM was heading out for a new summit in Tasmania, so decided to head off to McDonalds Hill after checking that was okay with mum. The decision was made at about 0930 local – a little late given the anticipated climbing time and Mitch’s anticipated 0000 UTC start time.

Warren had sent me his GPS track for his activation, which started from Felltimber Creek Road. I believe that Mark used a similar approach route. I had explored the Land Victoria mapping data in an attempt to determine the status of the land around the summit proper, without success. It was clear that the eastern boundary of the land parcel is adjacent to a council reserve area. The high point on the eastern ridge from the summit at the property boundary is still inside the Activation Zone – this was to become my target operating site, the same used by Warren, and I believe Mark. I decided on a variation for access.

I approached from Coyles Road and on to the northern end of Coyles Road/Track, depending on the map used. The following description is based on the OzTopo V8.0 map data. About 150 m along Coyles Track is a locked gate plus a pedestrian gate, together with council signage indicating pedestrian access is allowed provided that you remain on the formed tracks.

The first section of about 100 m is flat before you start the climb up the track on a shallow spur within a gully system. After about 630 m you crest the main ridge line at a track junction: Coyles Road, Coyles Track to the west and McFarlands Hill Track to the east.


View towards the summit from the saddle/track junction

There are locked gates plus pedestrian access gates on both Coyles Track and McFarlands Hill Track. I headed west up Coyles Track and then veered west up Vearings Track. The tracks showed recent mountain bike usage and another MTB track could be seen in the valley to the south of the ridge I was climbing. The climb was very hot going: when I started, the temperature was in the mid-20s. When I returned to the car, it was 34 degrees. There was little breeze and little cloud. I reached a junction with a MTB track when the ridge flattened out and could see a small shelter ahead – clearly part of the MTB infrastructure, but unfortunately outside of the AZ. I continued along Vearings Track and then followed a very faint old track to a gate on the boundary fence at the high point on the ridge, a location previously confirmed as being just inside the actual AZ, even using the correct summit height and not the height listed on the SOTA database. The gate had a similar yellow diamond shaped sign on it as the other gates passed since leaving Coyles Road. After returning home again, I explored the Land Victoria mapping data further. I looks as if the summit is on private land, so permission will be required to access the actual summit.

The climb had taken me about 1 hour 20 minutes for the 2.4 km distance plus 280 m vertical climb. I set up using the gate post as a support for the squid pole.

First in the log was Mitch VK3XDM/p on Mother Cummings Peak VK7/NC-002 for a S2S. Col VK3LED was next, followed by Rik VK3EQ, Steve VK7CW and Ian VK5IS. A couple of minutes of extra calls yielded Les VK2LEZ and Adam VK2YK/3. Further calls yielded no responses, so it was time to pack up and head back down.


Looking east to Wodonga from below the summit

The descent took about 45 minutes. It was then about 15 minutes to load the gear and drive back to mum’s place.

More information

You can find more information about the McDonalds Hill area on the Parklands Albury- Wodonga website.

A new Unique and a Complete summit – a nice Christmas present was the S2S to a new Chaser Unique.

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