2020 Christmas trip to Wodonga – Days 11 and 12

Day 10 was a quiet day from the radio perspective – Christmas Day. Family commitments prevented me from playing radio. I did listen briefly for Andrew VK3JBL on Mount Kosciuszko VK2/SM-001. I heard Nick VK3ANL working Andrew on 40 m CW, but heard nothing of Andrew. I believe that I was too close for 40 m to work.

Saturday 26 December 2020

To maintain my effort for the Activity Marathon, I needed to make at least four contacts before UTC midnight. I decided to head to Mount Porepunkah as the first summit of a multi-summit day.

I drove to Bright and visited the Bakery. I then headed to Mount Porepunkah Road and drove up to the summit.

Mount Porepunkah VK3/VE-098 1185 points 6 points

I parked near the trig and set up using a squid pole strapped to one leg of the trig.

I started on 40 m CW and worked three stations over nine minutes. I move d to 20 m CW and worked four stations in about eight minutes.  I tried 20 m SSB, but worked only a single station. With only 10 minutes left before UTC midnight, I moved to 40 m SSB and worked five stations in three minutes. I heard a spot for a Parks station, so moved to the spotted frequency and worked John VK5BJE in VKFF-0912.

I moved back to my original frequency on 40 m SSB, but was suffering some interference from strong stations in a net up the band. I moved down a little in frequency and called briefly, working two stations before I decided to close.

I packed up and drove back down to the road junction in the saddle. I took Smart Creek Tawonga Gap Track to the next summit.

VK3/VE-097 1185 points 6 points

I parked on the summit, off the track. I soon had a line over a tree branch and the doublet was soon in the air. I positioned my camp chair away from the car and connected up the gear.

My first contact is only 43 minutes after the last contact on the previous summit. I worked Paul VK5PAS in VKFF-2896 on 40 m SSB. I then moved to 20 m SSB to again work John VK5BJE in VKFF-0912. As I was completing the contact, another Spot came through. I moved to 40 m SSB and soon worked Andrew VK2ARR on Mt Donna Buang VK3/VC-002.

I moved to 20 m CW and spotted, working four stations. After a few minutes of further calling, I moved back to 40 m SSB and worked Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-0049 and Peter VK3TKK. With no further callers, I closed down.

I again packed up and continued along Smart Creek Tawonga Gap Track to the next summit.

VK3/VE-104 1157 m 6 points

I again tossed a line over a tree branch to haul up the doublet. I again set up the gear on the camp chair away from the car.

Paul VK5PAS in VKFF-2896 was on 20 m SSB, so I first chased Paul. Paul was about to change band and said that I could remain on the current frequency if I wished. After thanking Paul, I spotted myself and worked another three statins. I moved to 20 m CW and worked four stations. With the summit qualified, I decided to close the station.

I packed up and continued east until I reached the junction with Running Creek Kiewa Divide Track. My initial thoughts were to run out to the far summit to activate it and then return to the closer summit and then exit via Tawonga Gap. I recalled seeing a No Through Road sign on my first visit to the area with VK3ASC, but could not recall the location of the sign.

I drove north along the track and passed the summit of VK3/VE-113. I found the No Through Road sign – at the junction with Running Creek Track. The branch to the north was the No Through Road, and a short distance along I spotted an old sign indicating Private Property ahead and Management Vehicles Only was barely visible. I drove to the summit and parked nearby.

VK3/VE-092 1203 m 8 points

I once again tossed a line over a branch to haul up the doublet.

The day was well advanced. I set up on 20 m CW and soon had the summit qualified with four stations in the log. I decided to close down and head back to VK3/VE-113.

Before returning to VK3/VE-113, I checked the maps and saw that Running Creek Track looked like to be a viable exit. I drove back to VK3/VE-113 to park at the high point.

VK3/VE-113 1121 m 6 points

I again tossed a line over a branch and soon had the station set up a short distance from the car.

Paul VK5PAS was now in VKFF-2895 and was my first contact, on 20 m SSB. I moved to 20 m CW and worked three stations. I moved to 40 m CW and worked two stations. The summit was qualified, so I closed down.

I packed up again and returned to Running Creek Track and descended down into the valley, skirting around the pine plantation lower down. I was soon on Kancoona South Road and heading north. I made my way out to the Kiewa Valley Highway and returned to Wodonga.

Day 12

Sunday 27 December 2020

The forecast was for hot weather in the northeast, so I decided to head to the hills, with Mount Benambra my first target.

I headed to Tallangatta with a stop at the Bakery. I then drove to Tallangatta Creek Road and headed south to Bucheen Creek. I then took Greenhams Road, which required the opening and closing of three gates, plus dodging some cattle. The road through the property was reasonably rough. You join Callaghans Creek Road, which was in excellent condition once out of the farm property. At the top of the climb, I swung left onto Mt Benambra Road, also in excellent condition – both tracks looked to have been recently graded. The surface was very loose in places.

I made my way up the Fire Watcher Hut and parked.

Mount Benambra VK3/VE-041 1472 m 8 points
Alpine National Park VKFF-0619

The day was bright and sunny. Previous experience had shown that the solar array on the telecomms tower with the Fire Watch Hut generated lots of RF noise. I decided to set up about half way up the 200 m track to the summit to avoid the noise, at around 1460 m and well inside the Activation Zone.

I tossed a line over a tree branch and set up on the edge of the track. I started on 40 m CW and worked only two stations. After several minutes of calling, I decided to change bands. I was about to spot myself when the fire watcher and two others came down the hill from the summit proper. I explained what I was doing, briefly outlining both SOTA and WWFF schemes. I then spotted myself and called on 20 m CW, where I worked two ZL stations. I moved to 20 m SSB, but made only a single contact. After calling for at least 10 minutes, I moved to 40 m SSB. Here I worked six stations plus a CW contact with Allen VK3ARH. I had 12 contacts, qualifying the activation for VKFF. I closed down.

I packed up and returned to the car and retraced my route back along Mt Benambra Road to Benambra Spur Road and descended into the Tallangatta Creek valley and then climbed up to the saddle between Mount Cravensville and the SOTA summit to park.

Mount Cravensville Range VK3/VE-058 1390 m 8 points

I loaded up and made my way south towards the summit through moderately thick regrowth. I found a spot about 10 m below the summit to set up the station.

I set up the station and started on 40 m CW, working four stations. I moved to 20 m CW and worked three ZL stations. I decided against working SSB and closed down.

I packed up and returned to the car and continued along Benambra Spur Road, making my way to Gibb Range Road. I then headed southeast, making my way to Glamour Hill Track, which I followed to the area just below the summit.

VK3/VE-079 (unnamed) 1262 m 8 points

The western side of the summit has been logged and undergone a regeneration burn. All the tracks to the summit have obstructions. Glamour Hill Track continues past the logged area, climbing slightly over a spur south of the summit and passes through the Activation Zone. The only issue is that mobile phone coverage is minimal!

I again tossed a line over a tree branch and set up the station. I worked three stations on 20 m CW. I moved to 40 m CW and worked six stations, including Warren VK3BYD/p in VKFF-0619. I decided to again not come up on SSB and closed the station.

I packed up and retraced my route back to Gibb Range Road and back to Benambra Spur Road, then on along Gibb Range Road to west of the summit to park.

Gibb Range VK3/VE-069 1289 m 8 points

I followed the old logging track through the regrowth and then swung towards the summit and walked up the track along the edge of the logging coupe. I set up at the summit.

I spotted on 40 m CW and worked six stations, including Warren VK3BYD/p in VKFF-0619.  I then moved to 40 m SSB and worked seven stations. I then moved to 20 m CW and worked two ZL stations before I had no further replies to calls and decided to close down.

I packed up and returned to the car. I then drove out along Gibb Range Road and Cravensville Road to reach the Murray Valley Highway and then headed back to Wodonga.

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