Activated 29 September 2013
Having no interest in the AFL Grand Final this weekend, I managed to convince the family to accompany me on an overnight camping trip. Naturally my primary objective was to activate a SOTA summit and the one on my hit list was Talbot Peak, being the closest 10 point summit to home that I hadn't activated so far this year. The weather was looking promising for Sunday, the 3 point bonus was attractive and the clan were eager to do something different so the plan was set.
The kids helped me pack the car early on Saturday morning while my wife shopped for some gourmet camp food and we left home about 9.30 am heading for Walhalla. As we drove along the Princess Freeway, strong wind gusts increased and the weather deteriorated. We were listening to the district police frequency on the way which was busy with reports of trees over roads and strong winds causing damage to powerlines and buildings. With this news we decided to strike camp late in the afternoon which gave us the afternoon to wander around Walhalla, devoid of the usual number of tourists due to the AFL Grand Final.
Anyone interested in telecommunications should visit the displays on show at the Walhalla Post Office. This is a relatively grand timber building and one of the few original surviving buildings of the township's heyday. There is a collection of telephones from vintage to modern with some working examples to play with. Rooms within the building retain much of their original fittings and fixtures. Plenty of photos and information is on display showing how this building was once the third largest post office in Gippsland.
After a couple of hours at Walhalla we drove down to Coopers Creek, a large camping area by the Thompson River that I have used and known for about 30 years. It was disappointing to see the amount of rubbish left by previous camping parties. One camp site was strewn with bottles and cans and a mangled metal frame and cover of a portable gazebo. Vandalised signs erected notify campers of regular DSE and police patrols and that anti-hooning laws are enforced. This hasn't stopped idiots turning the area into a 4WD proving ground and quagmire and ruining the area for everyone to enjoy. A recent home has been built next to The Copper Mine Hotel and the inhabitant has littered a wide surrounding area with derelict Land Rovers, VW Combis and trucks. It is sad to see how this area has deteriorated alarmingly in the past 3-4 years.
Continuing on from Mushroom Rocks we encountered increasing patches of snow - no problem to walk through but it did make the track slushy and muddy in parts. Not far from the peak of Mt Erica and a short distance off the main trail is a small cairn inset with a plaque commemorating marathon runner Geoffrey Mathieson Watt. Geoff Watt was a well travelled marathoner and father of Olympic cyclist Kathy Watt. He perished at Mt Erica in September 1969 while on a training run.
I was on the air right on my scheduled time of 0200z and worked Andrew VK1NAM/3 on Mt Bride quickly followed by Peter VK3PF on Mt Tassie. I then quickly worked through a steady flow of regular SOTA contacts including Allen VK3HRA/M in transit between summits and Glenn VK3YY and Peter VK3ZPF jointly activating Mt St Phillack nearby. My last S2S contact was with Ian VK1DI/2 n VK2/ST-015. I kept the activation short for the sake of the family and worked a total of 22 stations in as many minutes before packing up and heading back. Thanks to those I worked and well done to the chasers that allowed me to work you all quickly.
Fortunately the threat to watch the entire AFL Grand Final on TV is greater torture than the adventure of camping and bush walking and we were able to succeed.
I highly recommend this summit if you have a young family in tow. There are numerous picturesque spots to camp if part of your plan is to activate Talbot Peak and Mt St Phillack together as a weekend activation.