Sunday 15 March 2020
Ross VK3NRB was keen for another day out playing radio. We discussed options and decided to head to another of the “new” summits added on 1 November 2019, even though it required a long drive – estimated at 3 hours plus each way.
We headed off at around 0800 with stops at the local Bakery to grab some food and a fuel stop in Traralgon before heading to Licola and then up the Jamieson – Licola Road. The scenery during the drive was excellent, with clear skies and some clouds in the valleys. The drive was uneventful apart from a few partial road blockages with trees down to dodge and then several cows on the summit of Mount Skene. We continued on towards Jamieson and I considered which of three final approach routes to take.
I opted for the middle approach, on an unnamed track starting at 37.31734 S 146.22964 E. The track headed off at an acute left hand junction, so I drove beyond the junction to turn around and start the climb with a gentle turn. Before I started, I engaged 4WD. The track was straightforward, with several spoon drains to negotiate and a tight section around a fallen tree. We joined Jamieson Lookout Track south of the track junction we needed and swung north to climb up to the top of the knoll and the junction. I then swung west onto the track tot eh summit, also called Jamieson Lookout Track. After about 2.5 km of driving on a narrow track with more spoon drains and some fallen trees to dodge, we reached the summit.
VK3/VE-257 (unnamed) 910 m 6 points Not previously activated
We drove over the top of the summit and executed a U turn at a spoon drain, crossed back over the summit and parked at a wider spot just east of and only a few metres below the summit.
I posted a Spot to SOTAwatch indicating that I was on site and setting up. I tossed a line over a tree branch and hauled up the ZS6BKW. We set up a table and chairs about 6 metres behind the vehicle.
On switching on, I found Ian VK5CZ/p on VK5/NE-055 calling on 7.032 MHz. After working Ian, I moved up to 7.034 MHz, spotted and started calling. There I worked John ZL1BYZ, John VK5HAA and Gerard VK2IO. With no further responses to calls, I moved down to 80 m CW, spotted and started calling. I had some strange occurrence with the KX2 – it went into Tx and would not switch back. I powered the radio down and restarted it, but the issue persisted. Another power down, with a longer pause before powering up resolved the issue. I worked Tony VK3CAT, Andrew VK2UH, Warren VK3BYD and John VK2YW.
I moved up to 80 m SSB to work Geoff VK3SQ and Warren VK3KS. Ross also worked both Geoff and Warren. Ross then headed down the hill to chase me on 2 m FM. We then swapped places so that I could chase Ross on the summit.
Back on the summit, I moved to 40 m SSB and soon worked Ray VK4NH and John VK4TJ. Rob VK4AAC/3 was spotted for 80 m but I could not raise him. I called Rob on the phone and found that his antenna was not cooperating on 80 m. I suggested that we try 40 m, and Rob soon called. Contact made. Rob was in Goomalibee Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2097, just NW of Benalla. We both worked Rob and then closed down.
After packing up, I retraced my route back to the knoll with the track junction and decided to exit to the north along Jamieson Lookout Track. The track was reasonable – wider than the trip out to the summit, with some spoon drains and more fallen trees to dodge. The final sharp turn was accompanied by a steeper drop off than anticipated, with a steep section down to the Jamieson – Licola Road. We then headed east and south back to Mount Skene.
Mount Skene VK3/VE-031 1565 m 10 points
The cows had moved from the summit. We found a group sitting by the sign at the high point of the road having lunch. We had a brief chat before I grabbed the 10 m squid pole and commenced strapping it to one of the two steel poles near the broken sign, which simply says 200 m walk, having lost the board indicating that the summit trig was nearby. I chatted with one of the other group, who indicated that he been introduced to electronic via a school science teacher. He had acquired a surplus radio (I forget the model) which was modified to a useful receiver. He went on to become an electronics engineer. He was interested in the antenna – we again used the ZS6BKW. He asked about working skip, and I indicated that it was not that easy at present with the state of the sunspot cycle. We continued setting up and chatting, until he said his goodbyes and the group left.
I saw a spot for John VK5HAA/p in Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park VKFF-0781 for 40 m CW. I soon had John in the log. I then moved down to 80 m CW and worked Warren VK3BYD and Geoff VK3SQ. We then moved up to 40 m SSB to chase Rob VK4AAC/3, still in VKFF-2097. I returned to 80 m SSB and was called again by Geoff VK3SQ. Next we moved to 40 m SSB to attempt to chase Linda VK7QP/3 in William Hunter Flora Reserve VKFF-2486 near Marlo. With some assistance from Al VK7AN, Linda listened for me, but I was not decipherable. I asked Ross the grab the IC-7300 from the car and we soon had it connected up and set the power to 40 W. I was finally able to complete a contact with Linda for a new Park – I had activated the Park last year and Linda was only the second activation.
I moved to 40 m CW and worked John VK4TJ and Gerard VK2IO. I tried 20 m CW and worked Andrei ZL1TM but had no other callers. We packed up the gear and moved down to the lookout SE of the summit to take some photos. I left Ross behind so that I could chase the summit, after which Ross joined me at the lookout. We then headed back towards Licola.
We parked at the junction with the Australian Alps Walking Track, loaded up and started the climb to the next summit.
Mount Shillinglaw VK3/VE-068 1301 m 8 points
We climbed up the track to the high point, only about a metre or so below the actual summit. I tossed a line over a tree branch and hauled up the ink dipole. I did not bother with the 80 m extensions. Ross was trailing behind, so I worked him on 2 m FM whilst he he still outside the activation zone. Next was Paul VK5PAS/p in Totness Recreation Park VKFF-1754 on 40 m SSB. I moved down the band, spotted and started calling. Andrei ZL1TM was the first to respond, followed John VK4TJ and Adam VK2YK/5 in Cobbler Creek Recreation Park VKFF-1699. I moved down to 40 m CW and spotted. I worked Gerard VK2IO, John ZL1BYZ and David VK2JDR. With no further callers, I moved up to 20 m CW and worked Wynne ZL2ATH, but had no further calls. We packed up the station and I headed down the hill ahead of Ross, working him on 2 m FM once I was outside the activation zone.
The descent was easier than the climb and we were soon back at the car. We loaded the gear and headed back to Licola. I stopped at a view point on the climb to Burgoyne Gap, taking in the view and grabbing some photos looking up the Macalister River valley towards Licola. We then resumed the drive home, reaching our destination about 12 hours after we had departed.
Thanks to all who worked us during the day.