Sunday 17 December
Mt Barandudah VK3/VE-189 775 m 4 points
Barandudah Regional Park VKFF-0959
I again used Burgess Lane to access the Regional Park, off Boyes Road, then up to the ridgeline via Trig Track and then south and west along Barandudah Range Track. I set up using the main Park sign to support the squid pole and was about to spot myself on 40 m when I saw a SOTA spot for Manuel HB9DQM in ZL. I quickly reconfigured the antenna to 20 m and tried calling. Manuel could tell that I was there, but could not get the callsign. I quickly pulled out the 40 W amplifier and connected it up: success! ZL/HB9DQM/p on ZL3/OT-302 in the log. I then moved up 5 kHz and worked Tony VK3CAT in Melbourne – 20 m propagation was odd, with several close in stations worked over the following 10 minutes. With 16 stations in the log from 20 m, I moved to 40 m to work another 5 stations over the next 15 minutes. 21 in the log – more than enough for a morning out. I packed up and retraced my route back to the bitumen and then back to Wodonga.
Sunday lunch was out at a local restaurant to celebrate my mother’s birthday, followed by a quiet afternoon.
Monday 18 December
Hore Hill VK3/VE-192 763 m 4 points
Mount Granya State Park VKFF-0767
This summit is in the North West corner of the State Park. I had activated the other 3 summits in the Park previously and had chased Bernard VK2IB/3 when he did the first activation of the summit back in March 2014. This was an opportunity to make the summit complete.
I travelled to Bonegilla, then toward Bellbridge and along the Murray River Road C542 to Granya Road and south to Granya. Webb Lane takes you into the Park and a picnic and camping area. Beyond the campground, the tracks are all unsealed and have numerous large spoon drains. Follow the tracks carefully to get to Sugarloaf Track and climb up to the summit – Sugarloaf Track is definitely 4WD for much of its length.
I set up beside the track only a few metres away from the high point. I spotted myself and started calling on 40 m SSB. About 12 minutes later saw 8 stations in the log. I swapped to 20 m to gain 4 stations in 5 minutes, before returning to 40 m just before UTC rollover. I worked another 6 stations before closing and packing up.
I retraced my route back to Granya, then headed west and then south to enter the Jarvis Creek Plateau Regional Park to set up within the activation zone of VK3/VE-208.
Jarvis Creek Plateau VK3/VE-208 694 m 2 points
Jarvis Creek Plateau Regional Park VKFF-0969
This summit has a large activation zone. The summit location should move a few hundred metres at the next VK3 Association update and increase to 4 points – my mapping investigations found a point at about 702 m within the current activation zone.
I set up and started calling on 40 m SSB. I quickly had the summit qualified for SOTA and then moved to 20 m, where I worked another 9 stations over next 20 minutes. With no more callers, I packed up and headed back down to the main road and back to Wodonga.
Tuesday 20 December
I headed off to the east from Wodonga along the Murray Valley Highway B400 toward Corryong and made my way to Mount Mittamatite / Mount Mitta Mitta.
Mount Mitta Mitta VK3/VE-138 988 m 6 points
Mount Mittamatite Flora Reserve
I set up inside the AZ for the summit and started calling. Within 20 minutes I had 10 stations in the log, all on 40 m SSB. I packed up and headed down the road and into the car park for Embery Lookout.
Mount Mitta Mitta (Mittamatite) Regional Park VKFF-0974
I set up in the car park for Embery Lookout. Over the next 30 minutes, I worked 13 stations, all on 40 m SSB. This included a SOTA chase of Rob VK2QR/p on VK2/SM-047, who suggested a change of plans for me. There would be a benefit for Rob, so I took his suggestion. I packed up and headed down the access road toward Tintaldra, then headed to Corryong to buy some lunch. Then it was back toward Khancoban and then south toward Biggara.
Mount Elliot VK3/VE-151 932 m 6 points
Off the Upper Murray Road, I took Fishers Track to the summit. The approach was in very good though dusty condition. Rob advised me to ignore the signs on the gate regarding a private road – to simply take it quietly and to be sure to close the gates.
I set up on the summit, about 100 m away from the closest comms buildings. First in the log was Compton VK2HRX/p on VK2/HU-007. 30 minutes later I worked Rob VK2QR/p, now on VK2/SM-028. After discussing the route to my next target, I packed up and headed back down to the Upper Murray Road, then towards Biggara. Then into Bunroy Road and onto McCormacks Gap Track. Once I hit the main ridge (perhaps McCormacks Gap?), I turned left into Mount Elliot Ridge Track and climbed to the summit. This track is very rough in places – 4WD definitely makes it easier.
Mount Elliot Ridge VK3/VE-160 890 m 4 points
This was a new summit for me. I set up beside the track with a few metres of the high point of the summit. First in the log was Rob VK2QR/p, still on VK2/SM-028. A new Complete for Rob! After about another 10 minutes of calling, I had a few more in the log. I then spent some time chatting to a local teenage who approached up the track on his motorbike. I explained what I was doing, telling him about SOTA. After the chat, I spent a few minutes on 20 m, working three ZL Chasers before packing up. After a total of about 25 minutes operating, I managed to work 9 stations, comfortably giving me a new Complete.
I packed up and headed toward Corryong along McCormacks Gap Track. At the edge of the bush, it is slightly confusing: the track appears to head on through a closed but not locked gate, or you can go through the gate onto farm land. I headed on, only to find a vague resemblance of a track across the paddocks after I passed through the next gate. I think one should use the track at the first gate…. I worked my way down and eventually re-joined the more prominent track and then worked my way out to the bitumen.
As I was heading toward Corryong, I could see a large thunderstorm ahead of me. I phoned Rob, who was driving in the fringe of the storm. We both said that we would assess the weather as the afternoon progressed.
I headed back toward Wodonga, considering a trip to Black Mountain. When I reached the access road turn off (Jeffcott & Jewells Road), the weather was still looking very thundery. I decided to abort this one. I continued on toward Shelley and decided to try VK3/VE-167 – the sky had cleared significantly.
VK3/VE-167 (unnamed) 867 m 4 points
This summit is not far off the Shelley – Walwa Road. This summit is likely to become invalid at the next VK3 update, as there is a higher summit about 2.6 km to the north.
I set up and started calling, with lots of QRN from the thunderstorms off to the near east. I worked 5 stations on 40 m SSB before trying 20 m, where I again worked 3 ZL Chasers. Back to 40 m briefly for one final station in the log before I packed up and headed back to Wodonga.
Wednesday 21 December
I again headed east from Wodonga, this time almost to Koetong and then north to Mount Lawson.
Mount Lawson VK3/VE-129 1041 m 6 points
Mount Lawson State Park VKFF-0768
I walked from the car park up towards the summit until well inside the AZ. I set up before I checked my phone – I had no coverage where I was sitting…. So I simply started calling on 7.090 MHz SSB, hoping for a regular to hear me. John VK2YW happened to pass his shack door and heard me calling. We worked and he put up a spot, so I was soon fielding chasers. It took about 30 minutes to work 11 stations – plenty for SOTA purposes, plus enough to qualify the activation for VKFF.
I packed up and headed back to the car, and then drove out to Koetong and then to Walwa to buy some lunch. I then headed south into the National Park on Cudgewa Bluff Road, looking for Wermatong Track.
Left into Wermatong Track and progressed with care on this less-used track. I needed to dodge the odd rock and fallen tree branches, but was able to drive to the summit.
A possible alternate approach route was closed due to damage – McNamaras Track.
VK3/VE-213 (unnamed) 668 m 2 points Not Previously Activated
Burrowa-Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069
I set up on the edge of the track and posted a spot for 40 m SSB. In under 25 minutes, I had 9 in the log. Swapping to 20 m SSB, I worked 3 VK4 stations followed by 3 ZLs. A swap to 80 m yielded two closer in stations, and finally on 40 m I worked Compton VK2HRX. A total of 18 callsigns in the log. Wermatong Track definitely needs a high clearance vehicle.
I packed up and retraced my route back to Cudgewa Bluff Road, then headed east to Cudgewa before making my way south to the Murray Valley Highway to return to Wodonga.
Friday 22 December
A run along Eskdale Spur
I decided to take a run along Eskdale Spur, starting with Mount Emu at the southern end. Whilst driving south towards Dederang, I pulled into a side road and managed to chase Compton VK2HRX/p on VK2/CT-002. I then resumed the trip toward Tawonga and headed east on Mountain Creek Road before turning onto Eskdale Spur Track. All was good until I encountered a large tree across the road. I back tracked and found a smaller track that accessed the track roughly following a high-voltage power line. This afforded a slower but workable route up onto Eskdale Spur Track and on to the first target summit.
Mount Emu VK3/VE-061 1360 m 8 points
Mount Emu is a launch site for hang gliders. I set up on the summit using a signpost to support the squid pole. I started on 40 m SSB, working Compton VK2HRX/p on VK2/CT-004 first before finding a clear frequency. About 10 minutes later I was called by Manuel VK/HB9DQM on VK2/SY-002. After another contact, I worked Gerard VK2IO/p who was driving Manuel. In under 20 minutes I had 16 stations in the log. I packed up and restarted my travel along Eskdale Spur Track. The section from Mount Emu to Redbank Track was in excellent condition, having recently been resurfaced. It was a little rougher further on, but presented no problems.
Mount Yorke VK3/VE-082 1248 m 8 points
The track now skirts around the summit of Mount Yorke. I parked near the northern end of the diversion and walked up the track until well inside the AZ.
First in the log was Matt VK1MA, followed by Manuel and Gerard, both still on VK2/SY-002. In about 15 minutes I worked 8 stations, all on 40 m SSB. It was now after 0300 Z, so I packed up and headed back to the car to resume the trip north along the spur.
VK3/VE-071 (unnamed) 1283 m 8 points
This summit is only a short distance off Eskdale Spur Track. I parked at the start of the old track, now blocked off to prevent vehicle access and walked up into the AZ. In just over 10 minutes I worked 13 stations, all on 40 m SSB. With time rolling on, this was another short activation. I packed up and headed back to the car and then resumed the drive north.
Mount Tawonga VK3/VE-076 1268 m 8 points
The track beyond Bowman No 1 Road was a little rougher but was navigable. I set up close to the trig point. First in the log was Compton VK2HRX/p on VK2/CT-011 on 40 m SSB. The next 35 minutes saw 17 stations in the log, all on 40 m SSB, except for Warren ZL2AJ on 20 m – the only caller after a spot was posted.
I packed up and headed back to Bowman No 1 Road to begin the descent towards Eskdale before heading north towards Wodonga for the night.
Saturday 23 December
Saturday was another day with no family commitments, so I headed out for another day of radio.
I headed out past Tallangatta and then south on Tallangatta Creek Road. Well down the valley I turned into Cravensville Road and climbed up onto the top of the range. At the ridge line, I turned right into Gibb Range Road and travelled about 5.3 km to an embarkation point that I have used previously to head to the first summit for the day.
Gibb Range VK3/VE-069 1289 m 8 points
The access route that I used followed an old access track to a logging coup, then another track to the edge of the coup and then along the coup boundary to the summit. The regrowth has become thicker since my last visit – perhaps a scrub bash from the eastern side might be considered next time. I set up near the summit.
Twenty minutes of operating on 40 m SSB yielded 12 contacts, all on 40 m SSB. I packed up and retraced my route to the vehicle. I then travelled on along Gibb Range Road to Beetoombah Spur Track and headed north.
Beetoombah Spur VK3/VE-120 1089 m 6 points
Wabba Wilderness Park VKFF-0944
I again set up in the scrub on the east side of the track, which marks the boundary of the Park. Once on air, I worked 12 stations in about eleven minutes. I heard Rob VK4AAC/2 calling, very weak to me. He could not hear my replies. I switched to 20 m and worked Rob comfortably. With no further responses to calls on 20 m, I switched back to 40 m for only one more station. I had lunch whilst waiting for Gerard and Manuel to come up on air. I finally worked Manuel and Gerard on 40 m CW, both on VK2/IL-001. After those contacts, I packed up and started to retrace my route to Gibb Range Road.
Unfortunately, about half way back along the route, I had a rock puncture the sidewall of a tyre. I had to work out how to access the spare wheel and to change wheels, and then resume my journey. I took it slowly and carefully and finally reached Gibb Range Road. I then headed east, making my way out to Benambra – Corryong Road. Here I considered my options, having no spare tyre…. I decided to risk it and headed south to Wild Boar Track.
Mount Sassafras VK3/VE-029 1587 m 10 points
Wild Boar Range Scenic Reserve
I approached the access track with care and made it safely to the summit area. I walked across to the trig point and set up nearby. On switching on the radio, I found Manuel and Gerard on VK2/IL-005 for S2S contacts on 40 m SSB. I changed frequency and started calling. I worked another 10 stations over the next 10 minutes before closing after several calls with no responses. I packed up and headed back to the car.
The exit was taken carefully and fortunately I had no further issues. I headed north through Nariel Valley and then west on Murray Valley Highway back to Wodonga. By time I was back to civilisation, most places were closed. With a Sunday tomorrow and then Christmas Day, I will need to wait for tyre outlets to open before I can set out to any more Parks or summits.