Activated 5 October 2013
VE3/VE-104 was the first summit attemped this weekend. The access was straight forward from C536 that climbs steadily from Tarwonga. Driving to the saddle of the ridge there is a picnic and lookout area from where the Tawonga Gap Track begins. I found this track to be easily accessible with low-range 4WD and was able to drive all the way to the activation zone. I found a shaded spot on the track to turn around and park about 300 meters to the south with a steady climb to the top. After surveying the area I decided to deploy the HF vertical antenna enabling me to get on the air about half an hour after the UTC rollover. I found a burnt out log for a radio bench and set the antenna up in the middle of the track, hoping that a trail bike or other vehicle wouldn't come by and rip up my counterpoise radials.
First contact was Peter VK3FPSR and the contacts rolled through steadily for the next 20 minutes. I had one S2S contact with Ed VK2JI/5 on VK5/SE-013. I also made contact with Allen who was mobile and on his way to meet up with me for some joint activations but he was running behind schedule and advised me to get another summit and not to wait. All up I logged 17 contacts before packing up and heading on to my second summit of the day.
Activated 5 October 2013
This summit is only about 4kms from the last summit but the track is steeper and in poorer condition than I was willing to tackle driving to on my own. I decided to walk the distance which ended up giving me an idea of the conditions we were going to face the following day with the joint activations planned. This summit looked much the same as the first and I used another burnt out log as a radio bench and set up the vertical antenna in a similar fashion to the previous activation.
Activated 6 October 2013
It was decided to tackle Mt Yorke and Mt Emu together and then see how we go. There was a chance that we may have been able to continue further on and also tackle VK3/VE-071 about another 8 kms to the north along the Eskdale Spur Track. We accessed Mt Yorke by passing through the Mt Emu activation zone. To this point is accessible with a 2WD vehicle. Beyond Mt Emu the track narrows and is much steeper and rougher with 4WD and low range needed. We were only able to proceed for about 1 km before our progress was impeded by a huge tree that had fallen across the track. We were able to turn the vehicle aound at this point and proceeded by foot. This turned out to be a harder walk than we anticipated. There were some very long and steep rises and falls in the track and we ended up going along the track for some distance with the actual summit of Mt Yorke was over 600 metres to our left with a climb of about 150 metres. At this point we were doubting the accuracy of our maps or Allen's GPS however my GPS was also saying the same thing. We stopped when it was apparent that we had passed the summit and were also heading down into the next valley. All our GPS maps and the Government map that Allen was carrying did not show the track we were on which was the major track. We had somehow missed following the Eskdale Spur Track. We decided to go bush to reach the summit and as soon as we left the track we had been on, we found remnants of an overgrown track that had been closed off for some time. We were able to follow this quite easily to the summit where we were also able to find the original alingnment of the Eskdale Spur Track. After our activation of Mt Yorke we followed the original overgrown track back to were we first missed it, by a junction with a firefighting dam nearby. It was no suprise we managed to miss it on the way there. The entrance to the original track had a huge mound of earth placed over it to close it off and the bush has since reclaimed it. You need to look twice to pick it out. Check out Allen's blog entry and comments about this activation. It also shows the actual track we took to the summit.
The activation went well for both of us. Allen was first on air while I decided to deploy the doublet which took me a little longer to errect. Once I was on air at 0050z, I worked a total of 23 stations including 4 S2S contacts. I was hoping for more VK5 summit contacts considering the anniversary of SOTA in VK5 but I did make one contact with Paul VK5PAS on VK5/SE-016. All other S2S contacts were on VK2 summits with Matt VK1MA, Bernard VK2IB and Andrew VK1DA. Around half an hour later we packed up and hiked the almost 20 km round trip back to the vehicle where there were some icy beers in the esky waiting for us.
Activated 6 October 2013
The weather had been kind to us and we were both pretty stuffed by the time we had walked back from Mt Yorke. Mt Emu has a large clearing on the summit and is a hang glider launch site with clear views over Mt Beauty, the two summits I activated yesterday and several other visible peaks including The Hump and The Horn at Mt Buffalo National Park.
I set up the vertical antenna and was first on 40 metres at 0450z with a total of 16 contacts logged. This time I had two S2S contacts with Kevin VK3KAB and Trevor VK3ATX both activating Federation Range together. This was comfortable and relaxing activation and we set up on the edge of the clearing in the shade, reclining on the grassy slope with a cold beer, a new luxury in SOTA activations for me.
Before packing up for the day I tuned around on 20 metres to hear a few lonely european stations calling CQ in the Oceania DX Contest. I tried my flea power with a few of them and did manage a couple of successful contacts with YL3FT in Latvia and S52WW in Slovenia.
After an exhausting day we went back down to our campsite where we had left the tents for the day. I had a quiet work Monday so decided to stay while Allen packed up and took off home. With plenty of room around the campsite and no one else to annoy, I strung up the doublet and extended its length to tune on 80 metres for some company in the evening. I spoke with several stations before turning in for the night including ZL1AJH who had no problems hearing me with a 57 report.
Activated 6 & 7 October 2013
Allen did this summit a few months back and sugested that it would be an easy 10 points to get on the way home, time permitting. I woke to a beautiful clear morning and it was shaping up to be a rather unseasonally warm day. I was on the road by 9.00am and made my way directly to Mt Buffalo National Park.
I arrived at the car park and the walking track to The Hump and Cathedral Rocks. I was feeling good after the slog of the past two days and climbed the 1 km track to the summit within 30 minutes. On arriving at the top and surveying the scene I set the vertical up with about 5 minutes to go before UTC rollover. I had good phone coverage so self spotted and was pounced on immediately. I worked 10 stations in this time and 14 stations after UTC rollover. I was impressed with the way chasers conducted themselves and the total number of contacts I made in only 15 minutes of operating time. I couldn't hang around too much longer as I needed to get back to Melbourne in order to work that evening.