Sunday 1 January 2017
I was up early and on the road before 0800 local, heading for Mount Beauty, then Falls Creek and out on the Bogong High Plains Road. The climb from Mount Beauty to Falls Creek had a bit of traffic, including plenty of cyclists.
I parked at the Mount Cope car park and started the 1.7 km walk to the summit.
Mount Cope VK3/VG-001 1837 m 10 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619
The walk is on an obvious walking track, climbing about 140 metres. The sky was grey and a stiff breeze was blowing, prompting me to wear a wind jacket.
I set up on the southeast sector of the Activation Zone, about six metres vertical below the summit. This placed me in the lee of the ridge and inside the East Gippsland Shire. Why was this location desired, apart from the weather? Simple: Amateur Radio Victoria has a Local Government Challenge for Victorian council in 2017. Operating here gave me one Shire. Once back at the car (or north of the summit), I could operate in Alpine Shire for a second Local Government Area (LGA)….
I was set up by around 2325 UTC (31 January) and promptly worked Mitch VK7XDm/p on VK7/WC-003 in VKFF-0347 on 40 m SSB. It was then mainly a case of trying to find others out on summits. I worked a total of 11 S2S contacts by 2346, then tried 20 m until just prior to UTC rollover, without making any contacts. Band conditions were mediocre, with no NVIS, so many in VK3 were either very weak and unworkable or inaudible.
After rollover, I returned to 40 m. I worked 15 further S2S contacts, with only one on 20 m. I gave up shortly after 0100 UTC and packed up. Despite the propagation conditions, I earned 173 S2S points.
Just after I arrived back at the car, a car pulled in with the driver pointing to me. It was Leigh VK3SG, who had been operating on Mt McKay VK3/VE-007. We had a long chat before I set off to hopefully find an operating location with mobile reception. Not easy up on the High Plains. I worked several stations as I headed back towards Falls Creek – enough to have activated the Alpine Shire.
One catch that Activators should watch in Victoria: several areas are not in any Local Government area! The Alpine Resorts (Hotham, Falls Creek, Buller/Stirling, Baw Baw) and French Island are all “Unincorporated”, so these areas do not count as being inside the surrounding shire.
I stopped at Mount Beauty to grab some lunch, then headed north. My route choice was thwarted by a road block east of Kergunyah, due to a grass fire near Tangambalanga blocking Gundowring Road. I headed across to Kergunyah, then up to Tangambalanga to find the road open and the fire under control – the land teams and helicopters were suppressing hot spots. This allowed me to head for Sandy Creek and then up to Lockhart Gap.
From Lockhart Gap, I headed up Eskdale Spur Road to McGrath Track and then carefully up the track towards my next target.
VK3/VE-241 926 m 6 points
I had no mobile phone coverage here, so simply set up and called on 7.090 after checking that it was clear. Several minutes were spent calling before I had my first call – thanks Nev! I worked another 3 stations (a VK7 and two VK5). After no further responses to CQ calls, I packed up and headed back to Lockhart Gap. This summit is in Indigo Shire, so LGA number 3 activated.
VK3/VE-159 892 m 4 points
From Lockhart Gap I headed northeast, then north along Lockharts Gap Road to the summit. The LGA boundary here runs along the road, so once at the summit, I set up on the eastern side of the road, in Towong Shire. I had patchy mobile coverage but managed to post a Spot. This yielded two contacts on 40 m. I then changed to 20 m and re-spotted, yielding two ZL stations. Summit and Shire qualified! After no further responses to CQ calls, I packed up and headed back to Wodonga.