Monday 16 April 2018
This morning was one of the key reasons for the trip to the northest: Warren had invited me to join him on a work trip to a summit which only he had activated to date. I had an early start and met Warren in Glenrowan a little before 0830 local. I loaded my gear into Warren’s vehicle and we headed off to the southwest.
VK3/VE-236 (unnamed) 447 m 1 point
The access to this summit is restricted. The track crosses three different landholdings and requires 3 gates to be unlocked. The first gate clearly indicates that access is restricted, so I am very grateful to Warren for the opportunity to access this summit. It is only one point, but it also gives me a new Activator Unique and Complete.
This summit, referred to as “Lurg” by CFA, is another which will be deleted at the next VK3 update. There is another summit with a trigonometric marker just to the east of Embling Road, with a height of 451 m. The saddle between to two hills is just over 350 m, so the eastern summit has prominence over Lurg. One downside is that the new summit is also on private land and will require permission to access.
After navigating the three gates and the rocky final approach, Warren parked the work Ranger and started his work. One odd thing about this summit is the large number of rock cairns constructed around the broad top of the hill – not a single cairn at the summit, but lots of cairns of various sizes scattered around the hill top.
I looked around and decided to set up beside a fence just north of the summit. I decided to start on 80 m SSB, as I expected no close in propagation on 40 m. I was about to spot myself when I saw that Mick VK3GGG/p was in a Park, so worked Mick as the first contact. I then worked Geoff VK3SQ in Beechworth. With no further responses to calls, I swapped to 40 m SSB and quickly worked six stations in seven minutes. Several minutes of further calls yielded no more responses, so I switched to 20 m and was rewarded with John ZL1BYZ and a then Jacky ZL1WA. After several more calls with no responses, I decided to shut down and pack up. The timing was almost perfect, as Warren was just about finished with his tasks.
We headed back down the hill, with me jumping out whilst still in the AZ. Warren continued down the hill and we worked on 2 m FM, thus giving Warren a Complete. I headed down the track and locked the top gate, then down to re-join Warren for the rest of the trip, locking the gates as we descended. It was then back to Glenrowan to my vehicle. We said our goodbyes and Warren headed off towards Shepparton, having a task to complete on Mount Major.
I did a little more preparatory work regarding possible access to another as yet unactivated summit – VK3/VE-238. I am not holding my breath, but the approach has been made and the local Site Manager listened carefully to my request and said that he would discuss the request with those higher in the management. He took my contact details and will advise sometime soon. (Postscript: about 2 weeks later I received an email advising that access was not possible. I suspect that the summit is likely to remain unactivated for a long time.)
That task completed, I returned to the edge of Glenrowan and parked just inside the boundary of the next site of the day.
Fosters Lake Waterhole Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2090
This Park sits between the new Highway (Glenrowan bypass) and the old Hume Highway, at the eastern end of the main Glenrowan township. Access is simple. There is a picnic shelter which I suspect is outside the Park boundary. There is a picnic table closer to the “lake” which appears to be inside the boundary. I set up beside the table. Tossing a line over a tree branch was the quickest option and I ran out the heavier 80/40/20/25/10 m link dipole and set up the IC-7000 on the tailgate of the Ranger.
David VK5PL was the first to respond to my calls. Within 10 minutes I had 13 contacts in the log, including Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-0312. I then swapped to 20 m SSB for 3 contacts before there were no more callers. I then tried 80 m SSB, working another 3 stations in VK3. Back to 40 m SSB for another dozen contacts before I received a text message from Geoff VK3SQ that he was finally home. I swapped to 80 m to work Geoff, and then back to 40 m. I then worked Steve VK3MEG and again swapped down to 80 m for an even louder contact with Steve. It was then back to 40 m for a couple of SSB contacts before I was invited to try CW by Nick VK3ANL. That worked well and I was quickly called by John VK4TJ on CW.
I then tried 30 m, using the antenna set to 20 m on one side of centre and 40 m on the other and hooked in my Z100 autotuner. It seemed to tune up, so I spotted myself and started calling. John VK4TJ answered my call and we then tried CW and made the contact before I heard signs of RF feedback. In the middle of a contact the rig shut down and then restarted. I quickly moved to reduce transmit power and managed to finish 2 more contacts. With 47 contacts in the log, I decided to shut down. I then headed into Glenrowan to the Bakehouse to grab some lunch. The venue was busy. They had very little hot food left, so I simply ordered a hamburger and waited….
Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742
The Warby Ovens National Park has several sections. Mount Glenrowan sits in its own section at the southern end of the Park, but it has restricted vehicle access – authorised vehicles only. Access to the summit for SOTA requires a 4.8 km walk with about 250 m of climb. I decided against the walk into the SOTA summit, having already activated the summit prior to the Park being added to the WWFF scheme. There are sections to the north along the Ovens River, plus sections along the Warby Range. Much of the Park was previously a State Park before the various sections were joined with the declaration of the National Park in June 2010. Phytophthora cinnamomi is an issue in the Park, with several tracks closed to vehicles. More information can be found in the Park Notes from the Parks Victoria website.
From Glenrowan, I headed west and north, working my way around the western side of the Warby Range. I climbed up the road into the Warby Ovens National Park and checked a couple of possible operating sites. The first two sites checked had no mobile coverage, so I kept looking. I ended up at the Warby Tower Lookout which had good Telstra coverage and good views to the north from the site of the old tower – only the bottom portions of the legs remain. You can see Wangaratta to the SE from the car park, but through the trees.
I again tossed a line over a tree branch and set up the heavier antenna. I started on 40 m SSB and worked several stations. Gerard VK2IOoffered to look up the Park and advised that my current number of contacts was 20 from previous activations – about what I expected. So the target for the day was 24 if possible. It started off a little slow. At around 0600Z I switched to 20 m SSB, working 4 more callsigns, including F1BLL.
Back to 40 m SSB at around 0625Z, and I started work more stations.
I ended up with 38 contacts in the log, more than the 24 needed to bring this Park up to WWFF qualification level. I could have tried for the extra 6 contacts to make to 44 for this activation, but I needed to be back in Wodonga at a reasonable time, so called it quits at 0700Z. I still had over an hour of driving once I was packed up.
I made it back a little later than expected.
Overall, a profitable day: One new SOTA Complete & Activator Unique, plus two Parks qualified to WWFF level.