This trip was for a family wedding – my nephew was finally formalising his partnership with his life partner. The wedding was scheduled for Saturday afternoon and evening at Buffalo River, south of Myrtleford.
Friday 17 March 2023
I departed from home and headed to Dargo, then up the Dargo High Plains Road to reach the Great Alpine Road. I began the descent towards Harrietville before swinging off to the start of Gunns Track at the Hotham Alpine Resort entry station. I then drove up the steep track in 4WD to reach the first target for the day.
Mount Sugarloaf (Barry Mountains) VK3/HVE-015 1505 m
The summit is easy to find – simply drive up Gunns Track until you reach the high point just before the track swings hard left and begins to descend. I pulled off to the side of the track and soon set up with a line over a tree branch to haul up the doublet. I set up the radio beside a folding camp chair.
I spotted myself and soon had my first 40 m SSB contacts in the log. I then swapped to 40 m CW to hunt Gerard VK2IO/p on 40 m CW from VKFF-1340. I returned to 40 m SSB and worked only one more station. I then went to 20 m CW and worked two stations. I returned to 40 m CW and worked three stations. I then tried 30 m CW, working one station. I then closed down, having been on the summit for about 45 minutes.
I packed up and returned back to the Great Alpine Road, then descended to Harrietville. I decided to continue the trip to Wodonga and to decide if I could attempt a Park activation closer to the final destination.
There are several route variations which would take me to Wodonga. I decided to simply head north, then through Beechworth. I swung south towards Yackandanadah at the major roundabout and found the small track opposite 433 Yackandandah Road to enter the target Park.
Commissioners Creek Streamside Reserve VK-4335
A bike trail runs through this Reserve, thus providing an alternate means of access. This Park had not yet been activated since it was it was added to POTA. I parked about half way between the road and the bike trail and soon had the doublet in the air. First in the log was David VK5DG in VKFF-0795 on 40 m SSB. I then moved up the band and spotted myself.
I worked another six stations fairly quickly, before working a station on AM to build numbers. I then had a couple of contacts on the same frequency on CW. With no further calls on SSB, I moved down the band to the CW portion, where I made four contacts before I decided to close, with 24 contacts logged. I packed up and resumed the trip to Wodonga.
Saturday 18 March 2023
Saturday morning was largely filled with some family errands. But I managed to squeeze in a quick activation of another new POTA park.
Wodonga Bushland Reserve VK-5938
This is a small reserve of about 4.8 ha located just south of a nominal Stock Route which runs along the south boundary of Bandiana South Army Base. Access is easy from the eastern end of Jeffries Rise, Wodonga. I parked near the locked gate and open pedestrian gate at the southeastern most point on Jeffries Rise. I grabbed the SOTA pack and walked into the Reserve and set up beside a fence under some shade.
I soon had the doublet in the air and called on 40 m SSB. I worked only two stations prior to UTC midnight, but ended up with 16 in the log, including three Park to Park contacts. Things were rather slow, taking an hour for the 16 contacts. I packed up and headed off to prepare for the trip to the wedding.
Sunday 19 March 2023
As I was preparing to head home, I considered my trip options. I decided to head down the Hume Highway to Benalla and to then consider my options.
I exitted the Highway at the Mansfield turn-off, then headed north to reach Goomalibee Road, and then took Basin Road to reach the target Park.
Goomalibee Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2097
I was soon set up inside the Reserve. I had activated this Park previously, but need more contacts to reach the WWFF quota of 44.
My first contact was on 20 m SSB, working Gerard VK2IO/p on VK2/HU-065. I then moved to 40 m SSB. The usual Sunday morning WIA News broadcasts were in progress. I found a clear frequency and spotted. I made only three contacts before a contester started calling just above me, making my frequency difficult to use. I moved down two kilohertz and resumed calling. I worked another 10 contacts before UTC midnight. The next contact was Peter VK3ZPF in VKFF-0971. I worked another 12 stations before I decided to close, with a total of 27 in the log. It looked as if rain was getting closer and I still had a long drive ahead.
I headed back along my access route and then south to Mansfield, where I stopped to grab some lunch. It was then south to Jamieson to turn east onto Jamieson-Licola Road. The road rapidly becomes sinuous as it climbs up the Great Dividing Range via a series of spurs and gullies.
I was a little surprised when I saw a patch of green appear ahead on the vehicle mapping system. As I got closer, I could see the Reserve on my small navigation unit and could read the name of the Reserve. It was then that I recalled the Reserve. I proceeded until well inside the Reserve and pulled over to park where safe but where I had mobile service. I soon had the Park number and decided to try for a quick activation using the vehicle radio and mobile 40 m whip.
Jamieson River/Deep Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2116
I was parked just east of the Grannies Flat Track. My first contact was with the special event callsign VI10VKFF in VKFF-0873, operated by Paul VK5PAS. I moved to a clear frequency and started calling. I soon had 16 in the log, most on SSB, with one AM and one CW contact. I had spent around 30 minutes , so decided to get moving. No pack up this time! I later learnt that this was the first activation of the Park.
I continued up the road, reaching the high point of the road, only a couple of metres lower than the summit proper of the next target.
Mount Skene VK3/VE-031 1565 m 10 points
Mount Skene Natural Features Scenic Reserve VK-5266
I parked on the edge of the road at the high point, opposite the summit sign. The summit trig is about 300 m away, in an area of thick snow gums. I set up using an old sign post to support a squid pole and simply sat on the ground nearby.
Whilst I have activated the summit previously, this was the first occasion on which it was a joint SOTA/POTA activation, with the Reserve having been added to POTA earlier in the year.
First in the log was again Paul VK5PAS operating VI10VKFF in VKFF-0873. I again moved up the band, working David VK3TUN in VKFF-0885. I then found a clear frequency and began calling. I soon had another seven contacts in the log. I then jumped to 20 m SSB to work Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-3042. I then tried 40 m CW, making one contact before another Spot came through. Off to 20 m to work Mark VK4SMA in VKFF-2878. I then tried 20 m CW, making five contacts. 17 m CW yielded seven contacts, including Texas and Japan. I then returned to 40 m SSB to hunt Dan VK3NDG in VKFF-1877 and Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-3042. With 27 contacts in the log, I closed and packed up.
I proceeded south-east to Licola and then on to home. It had been a long drive, with the stops to play radio helpful to break the drive. I covered around 450 km, with a large proportion of that on winding, unsealed mountain roads.
Thanks to all who called.
Great trip reports Peter, that’s a lot of commitment to put in the time to add so much detail. And really helpful, I don’t have the time to follow in your tracks but you are inspiring me to get out more. Thanks VK3WMD
I liked the section on Mt Skene. It brought back some memories. I activated Mt Skene on your advice. I set up at the trig point. If is sat on the ground I would have trouble getting up! Old age.