Thursday 11 October 2018
I had a few family tasks to complete in the morning, so it was a late start. I decided to have a look at accessing at least one previously unactivated summit. I am not sure why they have not been attempted, other than perhaps the points are low compared to some other summits nearby. The two summits are close to large pine plantations, so I was anticipating coming across signs indicating that the roads were closed to the public. Unsure that I could access the summits, I did not post Alerts.
I drove from Wodonga to Myrtleford, and then followed the signs to Lake Buffalo. I then followed the Buffalo River Road, Lake Buffalo Whitfield Road and then Carboor Road. I was considering heading to the northern end of Mount Emu Track for my approach, but I stopped briefly to check the map on my GPS running OziExplorer. I could see that it looked as if one could make an approach from a closer route.
Mount Emu VK3/VE-121 1075 m 6 points Not previously activated
From Carboor Road, I turned left into Mount Emu Quarry Road and climbed up the road to the quarry. I then followed the track around the western side of the quarry. The track started to swing west and around the upper side of the pine plantation. A short distance on, I reached the acute angle junction with Mount Emu Track. I drove just beyond to swing around and have an easier approach to the start of the track. The track climbs a short distance on to a ridge line and then swings right to climb the spur. The track climbs around 200 m vertical in about one kilometre horizontally on the map. There are several large spoon drains to negotiate. I then swung right at a T intersection and continued climbing towards the summit: about 1.7 km horizontally for another 100 m vertical climb. There are some more drains and the undergrowth is encroaching on the edge of the track, with some small bushes in the middle. I saw the Trig point hiding behind some regrowth and found a shady spot to park. The only No Entry or Road Closed signs seen were at the quarry, so the approach is a valid route.
I set up by tossing a line over a tree branch and set up the station with the folding camp chair near the base of the tree. I started on 80 m SSB, with the Spot indicating that CW calls were welcome.
Geoff VK3SQ was first in the log on SSB. Next was Tony VK3CAT on CW. Several minutes of calling went unanswered, so I swapped to 40 m CW. A string of callers followed: VK4TJ, VK7CW, VK2IO, ZL1TM and VK2ASB. I swapped to SSB and soon had four more callers in the log.
I ended up with 11 in the log. I did not bother with any other bands and packed up the station and loaded it into the car.
I decided to head out in the same direction as I was pointing, thus traversing Mount Emu Track out to Carboor Road. The track starts out narrow, with encroaching vegetation in places plus some steep sections. Part way along, the track is better maintained and widens. The final section of the track is through pine plantation and I encountered a machine and operator trimming the branches from the pines on the edge of the track.
Once on Carboor Road, I headed back towards Lake Buffalo, but stopped at the track junction where I had earlier swung into Emu Quarry Road. The road opposite is Bread and Butter Gap Road – I followed it to the junction with Parkinson Road. I stopped and considered my options. The direct approach up a track that climbed almost to the summit was not viable, with several trees across the track, but one could park near the junction and climb the 230 m horizontal and 55 metres vertical to the summit. One option was to continue a couple of kilometres and then back track. The direct approach up the hill was a no-go, with several trees across the track visible from below. I opted to head around Parkinson Road and then climb Ridge Track. The first section of about 400 m was definitely 4WD – very rough & rutted, where large vehicles had traversed the track when it was very wet, producing wheel ruts and mounds of earth. But then I could veer onto the old Ridge Track away from the edge of the plantation and drove up to the summit proper.
VK3/VE-209 (unnamed) 685 m 2 points Not previously activated
I parked the car and again set up with a line over a branch to haul up the antenna. I set up the chair again, spotted myself and started calling on 40 m SSB.
Within two minutes, Mitch VK7XDM called. Inside another 10 minutes, I had eight in the log and then no more callers. I spotted that I was going QRT, switched off and started packing up.
Later, I saw a spot from Steve VK7CW requesting CW. Sorry Steve, I did not see the message until I was well off the hill…. I am happy to be called on CW: if I am SSB and using the KX2, all I need to do is to use the paddles to send the CW without changing anything. The only disadvantage of this operating situation is that I do not have the benefit of the KX2 decoded CW when in receive to double check my brain!
To exit, I again considered my options. I decided to follow Ridge Track and then Chamber Track. The views as I drove along the long ridge across the Buffalo River valley to the Mount Buffalo Plateau were excellent. After several kilometres, I swung onto De Luet Track, Blain Road, Dwyer Road and finally onto Mitchell Track to reach Merriang South Road. I then headed north to reach Lake Buffalo Road and then back to Myrtleford. It was then simple to drive back to Wodonga.