Saturday 2 February 2019
I was driving with Paul VK3HN and Leigh VK3SG as passengers today.
We drive east to Omeo, fill the fuel tank and then head towards Benambra and on to Sassafras Gap on the Benambra – Corryong Road.
VK3/VE-053 1405 m 8 points
At Sassafras Gap, we turn left onto Eustace Gap Road and drive about 3.7 km to an unnamed track heading SE. The track is a little rough and becoming overgrown, with regrowth in the middle and on the edges of the track. After another two kilometres (approximately), we swing around a dead fallen wattle tree to remain on faint track travelling along the ridge line. Along the way, we dodge several fallen branches and find a couple of small fallen trees to drive over. We managed to drive to close to the actual summit, well within the AZ. You will know the spot easily, as the track starts to drop steeply down to the NE.
As we were pulling up, others were calling CQ on 2 m FM from other summits, so we all quickly qualified the summit on 2 m FM. We set up the ZS6BKW antenna by tossing a line over tree branch at about 10 m and soon I was making contacts on 40 m CW.
I made sure that I climbed down the spur until outside the AZ to work Paul and Leigh, thus gaining a new Chaser Unique and a Complete for the summit and qualify the summit on CW.
We packed up, and returned to Sassafras Gap and then headed north to Wild Boar Track.
Mount Sassafras VK3/VG-029 1588 m 10 points
From the start of the track, it is about 8.2 km to reach the summit. The track passes within a couple of metres vertical of the summit and there is a track to the trig, allowing one to park on the summit.
I started on 40 m CW while Paul and Leigh started calling on 2 m FM. Eight stations were worked on CW, including a S2S with VK3ARH on The Twins VK3/VE-017. I also worked S2S with David VK3IL/p on VK3/VE-017 on 2 m FM.
We packed up and moved north to the junction with Zulu Creek Track and swung right to drop down the eastern side of the ridge line. We follow Wild Boar Track east and south, past Paddy Joy Track and on to the junction with Buenba Road. Here it is straight ahead through an open gate onto Mt Gibbo Track and climb up to the summit – the track is a subject to Seasonal Closure, thus a very long walk is required to gain the summit points with the seasonal bonus. The track is definitely 4WD, but most is easily navigated, with a few rough patches.
Mount Gibbo VK3/VG-004 1743 m 10 points
We quickly set up the squid pole to support the ZS6BKW and I was soon working Gerard VK2IO/3 on Mount Selwyn VK3/VE-049 for a S2S on 40 m CW. I moved up the band a couple of kilohertz and worked Bernard VK2IB/3 on VK3/VE-104 for another S2S. A little later, I worked Andrew VK1DA/3 for another S2S to Mt Selwyn.
Whilst we were working stations, a woman walked back up to the summit advising that they had a flat tyre just down the hill and requested that we keep an eye out for them as we exited the summit – we had spoken to the couple back at the last track junction and again when they reached to summit.
Next in the log was Ron VK3AFW/p on Blue Rag Range VK3/VE-015 on 2 m FM, followed by Glenn VK3YY/p on Mt Nunniong VK3/VG-011, followed by some other members of that party.
This was a new Activator unique and thus Complete summit for me.
We packed up and started to descend towards the east. As we were descending slowly, we could see the couple’s vehicle climbing the next spur ahead of us. The descent was slow, with a rocky surface and some rocky steps and holes to negotiate.
I caught up with the other vehicle and they pulled over to allow us to pass. We stopped beside them to discuss plans. They had been planning to attempt to exit via Tom Groggin and Thredbo. As they had no spare tyre, I suggested that they consider heading back to Omeo, as the first places in NSW which may be able to help was probably Khancobin or Jindabyne. We advised of our plans and wished them luck.
We continued on and swung onto Mt Anderson Track and on towards Mount Hope Road.
Mount Hope VK3/VG-014 1559 m 10 points
I parked off the side of the road at the high point of the spur running south west off the summit – a shallow saddle. We loaded up the gear and started the climb to the summit, finding and following animal track – probably formed by brumbies. On our visit, there was evidence of a vehicle having parked off the east side of the road on the grassy area. Veer slightly to the left as you start to walk east and you will spot several tracks – simply navigate up the “best” one heading up the spur line. There were a number of small diversions around fallen timber, but we were easily able to pick up a suitable track quickly. We took a few short breaks during the climb, as it was a warm afternoon, with temperatures around 30 degrees.
After some discussion about our altitude, Paul and I continued a little further uphill until I was above the 1540 m contour and we found a small clearing with a nice log for a seat. Leigh had stopped a little lower down the spur, just above the AZ boundary. He was feeling the effects of the heat and altitude.
We set up the link dipole with a squid pole. First in the log was David VK3IL/p on Brumby Hill VK3/VG-012 for a S2S on 2 m FM. I started calling on 40 m CW and soon had four contacts in the log. I packed up the HF gear and Paul and I walked back down to re-join Leigh just above the AZ boundary.
A string of S2S contacts followed on 2 m FM with the VK3IL et al. group having arrived at Mt Pendergast VK3/VG-022. I also headed down the hill a bit further to work Paul VK3HN still inside the AZ to chase the summit.
Once everyone had the summit qualified and we had no more chasers, we headed back down to the car to head back to Hotham. I disturbed a snake as we were descending – I heard a rattle in the undergrowth and saw the snake retreating into the low scrub. Probably a black snake, about 80 cm or so long. We safely made it back to the car and headed south west along Mt Hope Road and on to Benambra, Omeo and up to Hotham.
We drove up to the Mt Hotham summit – Brian has arranged to have the gate open. I did not bother to make any contacts, as I shall attempt to make a visit during the bonus season. The discussions started about the day’s activities. Some were busy activating the summit, including working Gerard and Compton across on VK3/VE-030 and some working Andrew VK3JBL who had ventured up to Mt Torbreck VK3/VN-001.
At around 1930 local, we all loaded up into the vehicles and headed back to the ski lodge or direct to the General Store for a drink and a meal.
After all had eaten, we retired to the ski lodge for more discussion and drinks, including some planning for the following day.
A good day: a new Chaser Unique, two new Activator Uniques and three Completes, with a total of 38 points for the day. I could have added another 10 points by activating Mt Hotham, but will save it for the bonus season.