A day on the Yarra – Latrobe divide

10 April 2022

I decided to head out after waking up. I quickly recorded the references needed for the planned trip, but I failed to remember to post Alerts.

The initial drive was to Yarragon to stop at the bakery to purchase something for both breakfast and lunch later. I noticed a Spot from VK3ZPF, who was on air much earlier than his Alert from his first summit. By time I had the radio gear running, Peter was on 20 m, with it highly unlikely that I would be able to make contact, given the distance involved. I continued to drive towards Neerim South and stopped in Crossover Regional Park.

Crossover Regional Park VKFF-0965

My route took me past this park. I pulled into the Park and parked the car. I soon joined the queue of callers and waited my turn to call Peter VK3ZPF on 40 m SSB. I soon had a contact in the log with the Cathedral Range State Park VKFF-0755 and Mount Sugarloaf VK3/VN-011. I moved up the band to find a clear frequency, spotted myself and worked another 11 stations on 40 m SSB so that I had the Park qualified for VKFF, simply using the mobile station and a 40 m whip.

I resumed my trip, continuing north to Noojee, then north on Loch Valley Road and then took Loch River Road and Lock Extension Road around to Radford Road. I then headed south on Boundary Track, which has big, solid gates for seasonal road closure – from 1 May to the end of November.

HEMA VK3/HVC-025 (unnamed) Not previously activated

I reached the desired logging track to find it has been rehabilitated, with a log across start of the track and a couple of deep trenches across the track. I loaded up the SOTA pack and walked up the track into Activation Zone (AZ).

HEMA has the summit height as 879 m, but the official Victorian mapping has the summit as 853 m. Using the topo mapping GPS app on my phone, I was less than 20 m vertical below the summit, well inside the AZ. An approach to the actual summit would require a climb through very thick regenerating mountain ash. This summit was a SOTA summit – VK3/VT-085 – until I noted that the summit lacked prominence to the north. The summit was retired from SOTA on 1 September 2021. I had previously activated the summit for SOTA.

I soon had the station set up and made eight contacts on 40 m SSB plus one SOTA contact on 40 m CW, so had the summit qualified for HEMA. I packed up and returned to car.

I then headed north to Whitelaw Track, then roughly east along the range dividing the Yarra and Latrobe catchments to to reach Mount Horsfall via Whitelaw Track and Forty Mile Break. These tracks are subject to winter Seasonal Closure, from 1 May to 30 November, greatly reducing the time available to easily access both Mount Horsfall and the summit VK3/HVC-011 without very long walks.

Mount Horsfall VK3/VT-028 1131 m 6 points
Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-0556

I decided to set up west of the summit and north of the track, less than 10 m below the summit and also inside the National Park boundary.

My first contact was on 40 m SSB, where I worked Col VK2VAR using the Club callsign VK2HQ from Tapitallee Nature Reserve VKFF-2734. I moved down in frequency and spotted myself. I worked 23 stations, including Peter VK3ZPF, now at Archers Lookout VK3/VC-038 and also in VKFF-0556. I moved to 40 m CW and worked three stations. 20 m CW yielded seven stations. 20 m SSB produced eight contacts, including Neil VK4HNS in VKFF-0179 and Peter VK3ZPF. I heard another Spot come through and soon worked Peter VK3ZPF again, this time on 15 m SSB. Further calls on a clear frequency on 15 m SSB brought no responses. I then moved to 10 m CW, working Akihiro JI3BAP/3 on HA/OS-003 for another S2S. My next contact was again Peter VK3ZPF on 10 m SSB. I moved up the band and spotted, but received no replies in over 20 minutes of calling. I next moved to 30 m SSB, where I made five contacts. I returned to 40 m SSB, where I made another 13 contacts, plus one more CW contact. I had a total of 54 contacts in the log. I closed down and finally had some late lunch before packing up.

I continued roughly east around to the AZ of next HEMA summit.

HEMA VK3/HVC-011 “1098 m” Not previously activated

Careful inspection of the official Victorian mapping shows that this summit location is incorrect – the HEMA location is at the highest spot height, but there is an area just to the NE surrounded by an 1100 m contour. I set up and activated at highest point, well inside the AZ but higher than the summit location on HEMA – the saddle between the HEMA location and my site is above 1080 m, so all is valid, being well inside the 25 m vertical activation zone requirement.

The area around the HEMA summit. HEMA has the summit at the 1098 m spot height. I activated at the blue cross. The saddle between to official location and my site is above 1080 m, so all is valid. Thanks to MapshareVictoria for the mapping.

I had one major issue here – mobile telephone coverage was poor and the phone was unable to connect to the internet. (Note to self, revise the procedure required to send an SMS Spot to the ParksnPeaks website!) I spent several minutes calling on 7.144 MHZ SSB before a Park regular answered my calls. Col VK2VAR had just arrived home and spotted me – many thanks, Col! The next 30 minutes yielded another 13 contacts. I packed up and started the long drive home via Tooronga Tanjil Link Road, Mount Baw Baw Tourist Road to Icy Creek, and then south-east to Hill End, Willow Grove, Moe and finally home. I stopped briefly en-route to work Adam VK2YK at Gepps Cross silo VK-GPS5.

I made a total of 89 contacts over the day – thanks to all who called.

During the drive home, I heard an SMS arrive on the ‘phone. It was Peter VK3ZPF extending his congratulations to me on reaching 5000 Activator points without Winter Bonus points. Thanks for bringing that to my attention Peter – I had not looked at my scores for some time.

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