A new VK3/VT summit

Friday 10 September 2021

After a few weeks of lockdown due to COVID, regional Victoria, other than Greater Shepparton, was released from movement restrictions at midnight Thursday 9 September. I was keen to get out and play radio!

I had an appointment early in the morning, which meant that I could not depart home until around 1045 local time. I packed the gear in the car and headed off ASAP. I drove to Traralgon South and then to Balook, then west along the Grand Ridge Road.

Along the way, I encountered a tree service cleaning up some debris across the road. I continued on to my anticipated access route.

VK3/VT-091 (unnamed) 686 m 2 points NYA

This is a new summit, added on the VK3 update on 1 September 2021.

I had identified the summit and forwarded the suggestion along with some other changes for the VK3 Association, most of which were implemented on 1 September 2021.

The logical route to the summit was via the Grand Ridge Road, then south down Whitelaws Track. All looked good, until I reached four trees across the road! I decided to try alternate approaches.

The first alternative from the mapping was Transmission Track. But I found no obvious northern end, later confirmed by exploration from the south after completing the activation – the track simply ends at the end of a logged area.

The next option was either Hour Road or Gossipers Track from the west. Despite the mapping, both tracks start at essentially the same location. Hour Road looked very overgrown, so I started up Gossipers Track. All was fine for a while, until I reached a muddy patch. I stopped and engaged 4WD before continuing up the track. The scrub encroached, giving the vehicle some more scratches…. I drove up to the junction with Transmission Track and then headed south. I passed an overgrown track which looked to head to the summit, but continued on to a side track to a knoll just south of the summit. The GPS data and maps indicated I was above the 680 m contour, with the summit plus saddle and the knoll were above the 870 m contour, thus well inside the AZ. The summit itself had been logged and one could walk up to the summit by the very weedy track that I saw as I approached my operating site.

Looking east towards Mount Tassie with its large towers.

I set up using the ZS6BKW raised via a line over a tree branch, then set up the KX2 and battery on a folding table a few metres away from the vehicle.

The temperature was around 8C, with a light breeze – cool but comfortable. I had spotted that I was setting up at around 0157Z and started calling on 40 m CW at 0205Z.

First in the log on this new summit was Gerard VK2IO/p in Double Island Point Conservation Park VKFF-1532. I worked another seven stations over the next 20 minutes before moving to SSB.

The first station on SSB was again Gerard VK2IO/p at Double Island Point Conservation Park. I worked another 14 stations over the next 25 minutes before moving to 20 m, where I worked 2 stations on SSB and then another 2 on CW.

I then moved back to 40 m CW without spotting to work VK1DA and VK5CZ before closing down.

I had 29 contacts in the log – many more than the 4 required for SOTA!

Thanks to all who chased. I am happy that you have a new chased summit.

After taking a couple of photos, I packed up and headed out. I first explored north along Transmission Track to find a dead end. I then returned to Gossipers Track and headed east to Whitelaws Track, then headed south to the junction with Hour Road. It looked very overgrown. I was sure that I saw some raised dust, indicating that perhaps the road had been cleared, so retraced my route and headed north along Whitelaws Track, only to find the same the same set of downed trees. Although I had a small chainsaw on board, I decided against clearing the road. I returned to Gossipers Track and followed it back out to the Grand Ridge Road, the headed back to Balook.

Tarra-Bulga National Park VKFF-0480

One of the National Parks signs, this one at the western edge of the Park.

I briefly dropped into the Visitor Centre car park at Balook. As I had previously experienced, there was poor ‘phone coverage at the site, so I headed further east to the old small picnic area east of the junction of Grand Ridge Road and Cooks Road. This site is just inside the Park boundary and just south of the main road.

I parked in the clearing and set up with a line over a tree branch. My first couple of throws missed the mark, but throw three was over a branch at about 17 m above ground.

The station at Tarra-Bulga National Park.

I raised the centre of the heavy duty ZS6BKW and had to stop at about 15 m above ground – any higher and the feed line would not reach the radio! Once tied off, the ends were at about 4 m above ground.

I set up the IC-7300 on the tail gate of the vehicle and soon started calling on 40 m SSB. Calls came in thick and fast, with VK1MA first in the log, before I called CQ. I worked 39 stations in 39 minutes. I then moved to 40 m CW, working 15 stations over the next 30 minutes, including Jess W6LEN. Thanks to Andrei ZL1TM for the heads up that Jess was calling – he was there, but weak compared to the locals.

I was about to pack up when I heard a spot on the ‘phone. I then worked Andy VK5LA again, this time on 40 m SSB.

I then packed up, with 55 in the log, all on 40 m. I did not go to any other bands, as I was starting to feel cold.

I then headed for home.

I had a great day out playing radio, especially for my first day out after weeks of lockdown.

Thanks to all who chased or hunted!

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