A late push for Bonus summits despite COVID – Day 6

Wednesday 14 October 2020

This was the last full day for the seasonal bonus for the VK3 Association, which ends at 2359 UTC on 14 October. I planned a day which was dependent upon roads being open and not blocked by fallen timber. I only posted Alerts for the first two summits, but indicated to callers that more were likely.

I was up early for breakfast in the hotel and purchased a sandwich for lunch at the Bakery. I then headed out to Benambra and east on Limestone Road to Mount Misery Road., then in a north-easterly direction to Misery Trail and climbed up to Mount Misery, which does not have prominence for SOTA. I continued on for just over 3 km to park east of a low saddle below the SOTA summit.

Mount Misery Range VK3/VG-008 1647 m 10 points plus seasonal bonus

I parked and loaded up the rucksack for the activation. The walk in is just under 1.1 km, with a descent of about 30 m to the saddle and a climb of about 50 m to the summit. The terrain is typical alpine country: snow gums, snow grass and some bushes, and lots of brumby pads and excrement piles to dodge.

I set up the station after finding a spot where I had some phone coverage.

I started on 80 m SSB, working VK3EQ, VK3SQ, VK2LX and VK3ARH. I moved to 80 m CW and worked four stations. Next was 40 m CW, with seven stations worked. 40 m SSB yielded only two stations. The final band slot was 20 m CW with two ZL stations.

I packed up and returned to the car and headed north. I soon came to an area which had been burnt last summer, but the road was still quite good. There were some obstacles, mainly spoon drains and some fallen timber. I continued on to the saddle just beyond the junction with Dapples Creek Track. Here I found the road closure gate was open, with a sign indicating a Seasonal Road Closure about 100 m further on. I parked and grabbed the pack and walked the 1 km to the summit, with a climb of just over 200 m.

VK3/VG-009 (unnamed) 1628 m 10 points plus seasonal bonus
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

The entire area here was burnt. I tossed a line over a tree branch to haul up the antenna and was operating shortly after 0000 UTC.

I again started on 80 m SSB, with four stations worked. Next was 80 m CW, where I worked five stations. I then moved to 40 m CW and worked four stations. 40 m SSB yielded three stations. The final slot was 20 m CW, yielding four ZL stations and John VK4TJ. I closed down and packed up and walked down to the car.

I departed the area via Dapples Creek Track to Macs Creek Track and Mount Misery Road, back to Limestone Road and returned towards Benambra. I next took Beloka Road to Beloka Log Road, Beloka Range Road, Beloka Range Track and on to Johnnies Track to reach the next summit.

Johnnies Top VK3/VG-013 1565 m (1575 m?) 10 points plus seasonal bonus
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

The access route was in good condition, but has steep sections with many spoon drains and the usual fallen timber to dodge.

I again tossed a line over a tree branch and hauled up the doublet. I again started on 80 m SSB and soon had Rik and Grant in the log. Next I went to 80 m CW, where I worked three stations. 40 m CW yielded another three stations, whilst 40 m SSB only yielded two contacts. 20 m CW again resulted in VK4TJ and four ZL stations in the log.

I packed up and retraced most of my route back towards Beloka Road. On the way down, I recalled that there was a 6-point summit which I believe had not yet been activated. The track passes through the AZ. I turned onto Oakleys Track and headed south. Again, the track was in fair-good condition, with large and steep spoon drains, steep sections and some fallen timber to dodge. Some areas looked as if they would become very muddy when wet.

VK3/VG-053 1189 m 6 points Not Previously Activated
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

I parked the car and set up about 50 m away at the edge of the track, only a few metres below the summit proper. I again threw a line over a tree branch. I spotted that I was setting up, as Ian VK5CZ had been in a Park (but spotted as on a summit).

Once set up, I checked Ian’s last spotted frequency (40 m CW) but heard nothing. I called Ian on CW and soon had the contact in the log for a Park to Park, and a new summit for Ian. Ian told me to stay on the frequency and I soon had another five contacts in the log. This was a smash and grab activation, as I wanted to get to another 8 point summit. I spotted that I was QRT and packed up. Just as the last of the gear went in the car, Andrew VK1DA indicated that he was on air. No indication that he was on a summit, as I would have put the station together again. I advised that I was packed and heading for an 8-point summit and he replied that he would probably still be there. (I only recognised the significance when I reached the next target and checked the Spots).

I retraced my access route and exited to Beloka Road, then Limestone Road to Benambra, then back to Omeo and south to Tongio Gap Road and then NE on Splitters Range Road to the next target.

Looking across to MacFarlane Lookout VK3/VG-059 from Limestone Road, with VK3/VG-053 visible to the right.

VK3/VG-036 1285 m 8 points plus seasonal bonus

I parked the car near the summit and set up with a line again over a tree branch. I was soon operational and called Andrew. I soon had a S2S contact in the log. I worked Grant VK2LX and Gerard VK2IO.

During the activation, Brian VK3BCM spotted for Mount Blue Rag VK3/VE-021. I switched to 80 m SSB and soon had Brian in the log for another S2S. Brian assured me that the Dargo High Plains Road was open, giving me an option for the following day. With Brian in the log, I moved slightly up the band and worked eight stations over the next 10 minutes. I moved to 40 m CW and worked six stations. A final band slot on 40 m SSB yielded only two stations. With plenty of contacts in the log, I decided against going to 20 m, having worked several ZL regulars on 40 m CW. I packed up. Gerard VK2IO advised that Andrew was due soon on his next summit. Andrew indicated that he updated his Alert with a new ETA – 30 minutes away.

I needed to make a phone call, so made the call without moving. Details of the family arrangements had not yet been made. By time the call was over, Andrew’s ETA was only 12 minutes away. I quickly set the station up again. Just as I was finished setting up, Andrew started calling, so I soon had another S2S in the log.

I again packed up and headed back to Omeo for the night.

A productive day, with three 10-point summits, an 8-point summit and a new 6-point summit activated, for a total of 56 Activator points.

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