Wednesday 20 June 2018
After a very cold and wet weekend, a high pressure system started to move in across Victoria. I had spent much of the weekend, Monday and Tuesday working on preparing files for the Proceedings volume from GippsTech 2017, a technical conference that I Chair on behalf of the Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club Inc. Wednesday was a still, cold and foggy morning, but I decided to head out to activate a summit and a new Park.
Mount Moornapa VK3/VT-080 485 m 1 point Not yet activated
Mount Moornapa Flora Reserve VKFF-2401 Not yet activated
I had driven over Mt Moornapa on my way to activate VK3/VT-070. After I activated that summit, I notified the Association Manager that the summit was lower than the nearby Mt Moornapa. VK3/VT-070 was deleted at the next VK3 update and Mt Moornapa was added. No one had activated the summit as yet, perhaps because it is only a one point summit.
Last week, the Mount Moornapa Flora Reserve was added to the list of VKFF references, so here was a chance to activate both the summit and the Park.
The approach was relatively simple: drive to Briagalong and then along Freestone Creek Road, up Froam Road and then Bonus Spur Track and finally Ten Mile Track to the summit. There is a large Telstra installation on the summit. The Reserve boundary includes the trig point on the summit and a cleared area to the east of the trig. I decided to set up on the east side of the trig, using the trig legs to support a squid pole. I set up a folding table and chair and used the KX2 with a LiPo battery for the activation.
From just north of my operating position and clear of the Telstra compound, the views are excellent: from south of west right around to beyond east. The Baw Baw Plateau, Mount Useful, Ben Crauchan, Gable End, Mt Wellington, Mt Kent, Billy Goat Bluff and The Pinnacles are all visible, around to Mt Elizabeth and Mt Taylor. Snow was visible on the south sides of Gable End and Mt Wellington.
I was just set up and about to spot myself and saw that David VK3IL/p had been spotted on 80 m about 20 minutes earlier. I quickly moved to David’s spotted frequency, but David had closed. A missed Summit to Summit opportunity…. Geoff VK3SQ answered my call, so was first in the log. I soon had the summit qualified, working Nick VK3ANL, Cliff VK2NP and Col VK3LED. I also worked Nick again on CW. I changed to 40 m SSB and quickly had 10 more in the log. With several calls without replies, I swapped to CW for seven contacts. Back to SSB for many calls but only a single reply – Nev VK5WG. I then tried 20 m SSB and worked Wynne ZL2ATH. Further calls yielded no responses. I also spent 10 minutes calling on 20 m CW, also with no responses. I was about to change back to 40 m SSB and saw a spot for Gerard VK2JNG/p in VKFF-0588 on 80 m, so quickly reconfigured the antenna to secure the Park to Park contact. I returned to 40 m SSB and was answered by Peter VK2KNV/p in VKFF-1784 for another P2P. I worked another 8 stations, ending up with 49 contacts in the log. I packed up and headed back down to Freestone Creek Road via Ten Mile Track.
I had looked at a variety of maps prior to heading out, and decided to head north to see if the Lloyd Knob Track might be viable. Google Earth imagery suggests that the track is there, but would I be able to drive up until close to the summit?
Lloyd Knob VK3/VT-063 553 m 2 points Not yet activated
The start of Lloyd Knob Track was signposted and it dropped down to a shallow ford across Freestone Creek. Across the creek it swings towards north and traverses for a few hundred metres before really starting to climb. The surface was generally good, but there were steep sections and several large spoon drains. There were occasional large rocks and fallen branches to dodge. The final climb to the summit was steep and a little loose on the surface, but was climbed without needing to engage Low range. I pulled over to park at a slight widening of the track, right on the summit.
I quickly tossed a line over a tree branch and erected the dipole and the station – again using the KX2 and LiPo battery. I spotted myself on 40 m SSB, with Ray VK4NH the first to respond. Within five minutes I had 8 contacts in the log and then no responses. I changed the antenna links and dropped down to 80 m SSB, working another seven contacts. With no further callers, I returned to 40 m SSB for two more callers and then the ‘phone announced an SMS. I checked it and then dropped back down to 80 m to work Ken VK3UH. I then returned to 40 m, but tried CW, working seven more stations. With 25 stations in the log, the summit was well qualified on both SSB and CW. The sun was getting low, so I quickly packed up and retraced my route back to Freestone Creek Road and headed south. On the descent, I looked across the Freestone Creek valley to my north towards VK3/VT-068, another as yet un-activated summit. It will have to wait for another day, needing a 300 metre climb through the scrub over about a 1.2 km horizontal distance – it will need a reasonable effort to gain the one point on offer.
The drive along Freestone Creek Road is slow and quite twisty as the road winds its way along the side of the valley. There are spectacular cliffs in places and many severe drop offs. It was after dark by time I reached the bitumen surfaced road and then there was about another 80 minutes to drive home.
Thanks to all the chasers/hunters.