Two new summits near Eskdale

Thursday 31 May 2018

I got away from Wodonga late – almost 0000Z before I was on the road. I headed to Eskdale and on towards Dartmouth and followed the signs to the boat ramp area and then up Six Mile Road. The road was rough from the start and the surface slippery. I took it easy and made steady progress until about 5 or 6 km up the track to be stopped by a large tree across the road. I turned around and headed back down to the bitumen. I also headed up Humpy Creek Track, which had a very soft slippery surface and lost traction on a steep wet section, preventing progress. I carefully did a multipoint U-turn and gave up, heading back to Dartmouth and then toward Mitta Mitta. Just prior to the bridge over the Mitta Mitta River, I turned into North Mitta Road and then onto Bullhead Road, climbing to the saddle and crossroad. The roads here were much drier and the surface good. I turned left into Tallandoon Track and climbed up to the high point below the first of the alternate targets for the day.

VK3/VE-207 (unnamed) 696 m 2 points Not yet activated

The OzTopo V8.0 mapping that I use for most planning shows the track heading directly over the summit, as does the 2005 VicMaps 1:25000 sheet. But the track skirts around the northern side of the summit, probably just below the edge of the activation zone. I parked the car and loaded up, heading up the old track. I spotted myself as QRV in 10 minutes and then set up on 40 m SSB. After a couple of calls, John VK4TJ answered. I then worked Cliff VK2NP, Gerard VK2IO and Ian VK5CZ. Several more calls went unanswered, so I started running out the 80 m extensions. Whilst doing that, I heard a caller on 40 m, so I hauled the antenna back up and called QRZ? I had no response to a couple of calls and then Gerard relayed that Steve VK3MEG had been calling. I called Steve with no response, so liaised via Gerard that I would go to 80 m. Hooking up the extensions and changing bands on the radio showed a high SWR. I checked all the connections and links and retried – all OK. I soon had Steve in the log. I soon had another 5 in the log, including both Gerard and Cliff in Sydney – it just shows that 80 m is worthwhile trying even in the middle of the day during this low phase of the solar cycle.

With no further callers, I tried 20 m after spotting, with only a partial contact with Glenn ZL1MY in Auckland. But I did not receive a report – sorry Glenn. With the summit comfortably qualified, I started packing up, but checked ParksnPeaks and saw that Neil VK4HNS/p was in a park on 40 m. So I reconfigured the antenna and dialled up 7.144. I soon had Neil in Girringun National Park VKFF-0199. Andy VK5LA called Neil after I had finished my contact. I called Andy when he finished with Neil and moved up the band slightly to work him and then Brett VK2VW. With no further callers, I shut down and packed up, returning to the car. I then retraced my route to Bullhead Road and crossed over onto Bullhead Gap Road. I travelled up to the high point and parked at a wider spot on a bend, safely leaving plenty of room for vehicles to pass.

VK3/VE-146 (unnamed) 952 m 6 points Not yet activated

From the parking spot, the summit proper is about one kilometre away. But the 930 m contour is only about 70 m horizontally and about 30 m vertical above. I climbed up the embankment and then started scrub bashing up the hill until I was on the flat portion of the knoll. I was safely in the AZ, but surrounded by moderately thick regrowth. I erected to antenna set for 40 m, spotted myself on SOTAwatch and started calling. Nev VK5WG was first to respond. In the next 10 minutes I worked another 6 stations, including Andrei ZL1TM. With no further answers to my calls, I shut down and packed up – I did not feel like running out the extra antenna wire plus it was starting to cool off significantly. I carefully headed back down the slope to the car. Mount Bogong was prominent to the south, with snow visible on the high ridges. I then headed back to the bitumen and returned to Wodonga.

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