Saturday 10 October 2020
A text message exchange on Friday evening suggested that the Dargo High Plains Road and Blue Rag Range Track were both open. This made the option of Mount Blue Rag as a possible target. Thus a plan for Friday (local time) was born.
I departed Omeo and headed for Hotham. I drove up to the small parking area near the junction of the Great Alpine Road and the access track to the fire watch tower on the summit. I parked and walked up to the summit.
Mount Hotham VK3/VE-006 1861 m 10 points plus seasonal bonus
My initial thoughts had been to simply walk up into the Activation Zone, but there was a very strong wind blowing, so I walked to the summit, where I could shelter behind the rock walls of the cross at the summit.
I set up a squid pole tied to the summit trig and soon had the antenna in the air. Then I found a problem – the KX2 tuner could not find a match. I started exploring options for the problem. Some movement of the feedline led to bursts of increased noise, so I suspected that the issue has at the junction between a section of RG316 coax and the 300 ohm feedline to the ZS6BKW. Out came the pocket knife to remove the self-amalgamating tape covering the junction. Excavation revealed that one leg of the coax beyond a choke balun had separated from corresponding leg of the 300 ohm line – an open circuit, at the junction of the soldered section and the 300 ohm ribbon leg.. As I had a banana terminal to BNC adapter at hand, I simply cut the coax from the open line and exposed the copper lines of the balanced line. These were then connected to the screw terminals of the adapter, in turn connected to the KX2. Success!
First in the log was VK5HAA on 80 m CW. I then saw a Spot for ZL3GA on 20 m CW from ZL3/OT-478, so quickly changed to that band and soon had Geoff in the log. I then went to 80 m SSB and worked two chasers. Next was 40 m SSB to work Mitch VK7XDM. I then tried 40 m CW, working two stations, followed by 40 m SSB, with only one chaser. I then tried 20 m CW, working two ZL s. The final contact was on 80 m SSB before I closed.
I packed up and walked back to the car, feeling a little cold due to the wind-chill. I drove around to the start of the Dargo High Plain Road. Here I found that the gate was open, but NOT locked open, as one would expect if the road was open. The Road Closed and Seasonal Road Closure signs were still very obvious. I thus decided to abort an attempt on Mt Blue Rag. I headed down to Harrietville and drove in to have a look at the ford on West Ovens Track across the Ovens River. The flow was fast and the depth looked to be significant. I therefore abandoned attempting to cross the river and returned to Harrietville and on to Cemetery Lane to climb up to the main north – south spur. I then headed south to reach the next target summit.
VK3/VE-030 (Mt Buckland?) 1570 m 10 points plus seasonal bonus
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619
The drive in was long and slow, with the surface very rough in places, in addition to the expected steep sections. Most of the length of the track was clear of vegetation, with extensive fire breaks having been made, probably during the extreme fire conditions in the area in January 2020. The Rooftop Mapping sheet shows the summit as Mount Buckland, but the official mapping gives no name for the summit. The summit has a trig marker on the ground without the usual tripod, probably as the area is also used as a helipad.
I drove to the top of the summit and set up with a squid pole strapped to a small snow gum.
I spotted and came up on 80 m SSB, working VK3SQ and VK3EQ. I then worked VK1DA and VK3BYD on the same frequency on CW before returning to SSB for VK3GTV and VK1MA. Next I worked VK7XDM on 40 m SSB before moving to 40 m CW to work four chasers. Next I moved to 40 m SSB, working only Paul V K5PAS. I then moved to 20 m CW to work three ZL station. I then closed down and packed up.
I retraced my access route back to Link Track and the around to the next summit on Paddy Hill Track.
VK3/VE-070 1286 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus
I parked near the high point and set up with a line over a tree branch to haul up the antenna.
First in the log was Mitch VK7XDM on 40 m SSB. I then moved to 80 m and worked two chasers on SSB, two on CW and two more on SSB. I then moved to 40 m CW and worked five chasers. 40 m SSB and only worked a single chaser. 20 m CW was next, yielding four chasers – 3 ZLs and an FK8. I closed down and packed up.
I drove back to Link Track and drove to the high point below the next summit to park.
Albion Point VK3/VE-080 1255 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus
I walked up the hill into the AZ and set up the squid pole and antenna.
I spotted for 80 m, working six on CW and a single SSB chaser. I then worked Mitch VK7XDM and Gerard VK2IO on 40 m SSB before returning briefly to 80 m to work Geoff VK3SQ. I returned to 40 m SSB to work three more chasers before I closed down.
I walked back to the car and drove north and then along Wet Gully Track (an odd name, considering that the track runs along a ridge line!).
I drove to the next target to park and set up just below the summit.
Ebenezer Range VK3/VE-081 1255 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus
The antenna was running roughly N-S, along the side of the track.
I spotted for 80 m SSB and soon had four contacts in the log. I then changed to CW on the same nominal frequency and worked seven chasers. It was late in the afternoon, so I closed down.
I packed up and drove north, then dropped down to the valley floor and the Great Alpine Road via Reliance Track. It was then simply a matter of heading to Wodonga for the night.
Thanks to all chasers. Overall, the day was a success. Five summits activated, for a total of 59 Activator points.