Thursday 20 December 2018
Andrew VK1AD/3 had posted an Alert for Mount Donna Buang and asked on the OZSOTA group if anyone was interested in any Summit to Summit contacts. I replied that I had family tasks in the morning, but would attempt to be on a summit in time to match with Andrew.
I left Wodonga mid-morning and travelled to Tallangatta to purchase some lunch. I then headed east along the Murray Valley Highway towards Corryong. The first critical point was just beyond Shelley: The Shelley Walwa Road has been closed for an extended period of time. The VicRoads website showed that the closure was about 4 km north of the start of the road. Wrong! I found a Road Closed sign and barrier only 200 m around the corner. Time for Plan B: find an alternate route to get to the SOTA summit. With careful examination of the topographic maps, I worked my way around to the summit without finding any Private Property No Unauthorised Access signs – there are large areas of pine plantation in the area, managed by HVP, and many roads are marked as no public access.
VK3/VE-167 857 m 4 points
I set up on the summit and spotted myself for 40 m CW, but I used the summit code off the topo GPS in the car, without checking any other sources – I had not checked the detailed mapping before leaving Wodonga. I soon had three contacts in the log but no further responses to CQ calls. I moved up to 20 m to work ZL1BYZ on CW before moving up the band for three SSB contacts.
I was about to Spot myself for 40 m SSB and saw a message on FaceBook – a spot from Gerard VK2IO with the summit reference that I had spotted, but with a summit name – Mt Welcome…. Oops – I knew the summit had no name! I opened SOTA Spotter to check the reference: VK3/VE-167, not VK3/VE-161. I spotted myself on 7.090 MHz on the correct reference, with a note about the correct reference. I also replied to Gerard’s Spot on FaceBook noting the correct reference. My apologies to all. I soon had another three contacts in the log. With no further response to calls and Andrew not due on air for another 25 minutes or so, so I decided to eat lunch. I was listening on 7.090 MHz, so was ready to call when Andrew asked “Is the frequency in use?” So I soon had the S2S contact in the log, I closed down, leaving the frequency to Andrew.
I packed up and made my back to the car and down the track to Walker Firebreak, then down Walker Track, across the Shelley Walwa Road and into the parking area near a dam, inside the boundary of the next target.
Pheasant Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2422 Not previously activated
I set up by tossing a line over a tree branch. I set up for 40 m SSB. I grabbed the mobile phone to spot myself, but had no coverage as I was down in a low valley away from the main road, which is about 5 km away.
I started calling on 7.144 MHz and soon had a couple of contacts in the log. It took a few more contacts before I worked a regular who was able to spot me. When I worked any of the regulars who also chase on CW, I asked them to also work me in that mode on the same frequency.
I gave up calling after I had 26 in the log, including two contacts on 20 m. I had been operating for over an hour. I packed up and drove back out to the Murray Valley Highway, then turned east and then northeast along Cudgewa Valley Road to Tintaldra, then west along Murray River Road to the next target.
Clark Lagoon Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2293 Not previously activated
There were three unactivated VKFF references near Tintaldra: Clark Lagoon Wildlife Reserve, Tintaldra Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2457 and Jeremal Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2341. Examining the various mapping sources, the latter two appear to have restricted public access, unless you approach from the Murray River. Clark Lagoon Wildlife Reserve is public access and is often used as a starting point for canoe trips downstream to Walwa or Jingelic.
I drove down the access track and did a circuit of the track. I checked the mapping, as large areas close to the river bank are OUTSIDE the Reserve. I found a spot where I could set up inside the Reserve, after dodging cattle grazing the area.
I again tossed a line over a tree branch to haul up the dipole centre. I had marginal phone coverage, so was able to spot myself and started calling on 7.144 MHz SSB. First in the log was Gerard VK2IO/m. Over the next 12 minutes, I worked 14 contacts before deciding to try 80 m SSB to work Geoff VK3SQ in Beechworth. I had a total of 15 contacts and it was after 1700 local time: time to pack up and head back to Wodonga.