Black Range and Wabonga Plateau

Wednesday 26 December 2018

I decided to head to the area of the upper King Valley to a couple of summits that had not yet been activated. I headed down the Hume Highway to near Wangaratta before heading south towards Edi. Along the way I had a long chat with John VK2YW with the assistance of the hands free system in the vehicle. John posted an Alert for me – less than an hour before expected activation time, but it gave potential chasers a heads up.

From Edi, I headed to Edi Upper and worked my way around to Lake Buffalo Whitfield Road and turned east. Near Edi, I turned on APRSdroid on the mobile phone.

I turned into Porters Track, which was not signed and had a gate to open. A few hundred metres on was another gate and then it was into the Black Range State Forest. The initial section of the track in the Forest had a good blue metal surface. As you started climbing, the surface turned to predominantly clay and rock, It looked as if it may be tricky when wet, with dried ruts evident in places. There were the usual large spoon drains, plus fallen branches and rocks to dodge. I worked my way up to the junction with Black range Track, well inside the Activation Zone for the summit.

black range

Track junction close to summit

Black Range VK3/VE-094 1195 m 6 points Not previously activated

I arrived at the junction just after UTC midnight. I found a spot to park the car in the shade near a tree with a suitable branch to toss a line over. I also set up the folding table and the camp chair away from the car but still in the shade. Once set up, I started calling on 40 m CW. I soon had Ian VK5CZ in the log. I then spotted myself and soon had more callers. Despite my brain being uncooperative at times, I had nine in the log about 26 minutes after starting calling. With no more callers, I moved to 40 m SSB and announced the move. The next 10 minutes saw nine more in the log.

I reconfigured the antenna for 20 m and spotted myself. 10 minutes later I had ZL2, VK6, VK8 and VK3 in the log. I spotted on 20 m CW and then spent more than 10 minutes calling on CW without any callers. I was about to shut down and saw a spot for Ben VK3WRL/p on Mt Pinnibar, so reconfigured for 40 m and dialled up Ben’s frequency. I soon had a S2S in the log. I then shut down and packed up. I checked track options and decided to retrace my access route and head towards Whitfield.

From Whitfield, I headed south to Cheshunt to grab some lunch at the General Store. I then headed towards Paradise Falls before turning off Paradise Falls Road onto Wabonga Track. Around four kilometres up the track, I turned right into McMillans Track and towards the target summit.

VK3/VE-171 (unnamed) 827 m 4 points Not previously activated
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

I drove up to the high point on McMillans Track and started looking for a spot to pull off the track to park. I went about 500 m beyond the summit location and found a couple of parking areas near a point marked on the Rooftop Map as a lookout. I parked and checked the mapping. The lookout is at about 813 m, well inside the Activation Zone. I had a quick look at the view from the lookout and returned to the vehicle to set up the station.

view south vk3_ve-171

View south from the lookout, with Lake William Hovell visible

Once set up, I turned on the radio on 40 m SSB and opened the SOTAwatch website. I soon had Ben VK3WRL/p in the log. Ben was now on Mt Gibbo. After chatting with Ben for a couple minutes, I moved down the band to the CW end and started calling after announcing the frequency on Discord. I worked Tony VK1VIC almost immediately. I called CQ without response. After spotting myself, I soon had two more in the log. Several more minutes of calling yielded no responses. I moved up to 40 m SSB, spotted and started calling. I soon had three regulars in the log. Things then became very slow…. I had no responses to calls on 20 m SSB nor on 20 m CW. I then worked Ben VK3WRL/p on 40 m CW, so now had a fourth CW contact. I moved back to 40 m SSB for a few minutes of calling, gaining another three contacts. The activation now qualified for VKFF.

ve-171 operating setup

Operating site at VK3/VE-171

I packed up and retraced my route to Cheshunt and then headed north to Wangaratta and on to Wodonga.

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