Wodonga via Swifts Creek and Mitta Mitta

Monday 28 May 2018

I needed to head up to Wodonga for some family issues. I headed off early via Rosedale, Tinamba, Stratford and on to Bairnsdale to add fuel to the tank. Then on to Swifts Creek and a stop at the Bakery. I dropped into the DELWP offices next door to enquire about likely access to a couple of sites. Part of the advice was not good; a track giving access to a summit is closed and unlikely to be repaired. A walk will be required if and when I decided to head to the site. Another part of the advice was useful: that I should be able to access an as yet unactivated summit nearby.

I enjoyed the pie that I had purchased and tried to work Mitch VK3XDM/p on Mt Torbreck VK3/VN-001 – I could hear Mitch, be he could not decipher my voice. I was operating on the mobile whip. Mitch and Rik had already activated on 80 m whilst I was in the office chatting with the staff. They were ready to close, so I did not have time to drive to a spot and erect a dipole. One summit missed…..

I headed west on Cassilis Road and then on to Brookville Road and south to Carroll Track. East along Carroll Track up to the top of the main ridge line, then north along Richards Track. This was definitely 4WD country, with lots of spoon drains, some erosion and lots of tree debris on the tracks. I continued along Richards Track, ignoring Hodges Track which descended to the northwest. I moved some tree branches several times along the approach. The final section of the approach was along Flagstaff Track, complete with a warning sign that the track ends at a locked gate further along past the target summit. The vegetation encroaches from the track edges, making it very narrow in several places. I am sure that I added more scratches to the paintwork.

VK3/VG-086 (unnamed) 855 m 4 points Not previously activated

The summit height is less than 5 metres higher than the high point of the track. So I climbed up the track to a high point about 200 m from the nominal summit location. The scrub looked moderately thick, so I simply set up on the side of the track away from the vehicle. It is likely that the summit will become “Flagstaff Track” at the next VK3 update.

I spotted myself and started calling on 7.085 SSB – there was some traffic on 7.090. First in the log was John VK4TJ. I had nine contacts in the log in only seven minutes. I changed to 80 m and soon had Rik and Mitch in the log, with them using the whip on the car at the car park below Torbreck. I then worked Geoff VK3SQ and Nick VK3ANL. With no further callers, I tried 20 m for a few minutes after spotting myself for a third time. I was rewarded with a contact with ZL2ATH. With no further answers to my calls, I closed down and packed up. I also sent an SMS message to Rik asking their ETA on their next summit. I was not surprised when I had no immediate reply, given the area in which Rik and Mitch were travelling.

I retraced my route back to the junction of Richards Track and a track north of Hodges Track – perhaps an extension of Hodges Track – my mapping does not show a name. The track started to drop down but was in excellent condition. So I decided to explore this as a possible exit route. At worst, I might reach a gate with a Private Property No Entry sign, so I may have needed to retrace the route back up the road. The road continued to a gate with only a Please Close sign on the other side to the side from which I approached. So I continued on, passing a house just to the east of the track, with its own entrance gate. I continued down, passing through a gravel quarry area and through two more gates. The final (third) was almost back to Brookville Road. I opened the gate and passed through it, closing it behind me. The gate had a rough sign stating that it was private property – no firewood collection, plus another prominently stating “PUBLIC ACCESS ROUTE”. So this is a viable access route: Hodges Track. It is 2WD until it swings right to a gateway “Private Property”, with Flagstaff Track continuing straight ahead with encroaching scrub. I should have taken a photo, but I recall a small sign Hodges Quarry Track or similar. Much shorter and less rough than Carrolls and Richards Tracks, except for the final 900 metres plus about 170 metre climb to the summit along Flagstaff Track, which is narrow, rough and steep.

I returned to Swifts Creek and headed to Omeo for a short stop, during which I had a message from Rik: 45 minutes estimated to their next summit. That decided my route choice: I headed to Hinnomunjie and onto Knocker Track and then Knocker Link Track.

The Knocker VK3/VG-016 1506 m 10 points

I would normally save this summit for the winter bonus season, but decided to forego the winter bonus in favour of a likely S2S contact.

I arrived on the summit and quickly set up the station away from the car. I spotted myself for 80 m and soon had Gerard VK2IO in the log. Next were Mitch and Rik on VK3/VN-002. Nick VK3ANL, Geoff VK3SQ and Adrian VK5FANA were also worked on 80 m. I swapped to 40 m, and went looking for Ian VK1DI, who was showing on ParksnPeaks as in a Park, perhaps I had not forced the page to refresh… I found Gerard VK2JNG/p in VKFF-1972. I dropped down to 7.095 and started calling after spotting myself. I soon had another 7 contacts in the log, including 2 ZLs. With no further callers, I shut down and packed up.

I headed back to Knocker Track and then northwest to the Omeo Highway, then north and on to Mitta Mitta. I decided against any further summits, given that it was already 1500 local when I reached the highway. The trip was slow and steady and I finally reached Wodonga at about 1715. I stopped briefly in Eskdale to try to work Mitch on 40 m on his third summit for the day, but he was very low level and did not hear my calls. I had missed them on 80 m, as I had been busy driving. The recent closure of Rucksack Radio Tool due to new EU legislation renders RRT non-functional. Perhaps it is time to explore other options.

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