Activated 22 June 2014
It was just short of a year since I last activated Mt Torbreck with the company of Peter VK3ZPF. Allen VK3HRA had been planning a trip to the area and enquired if I wanted to accompany him. I agreed and the plan was set but Allen had to pull out late in the week due to the winter lurgy going through his family. This time I did it alone after arriving the night before and camping at the intersection of Con Gap Road and Barnewall Plains Road. Rain earlier in the day made the camping area rather muddy and apart from the chill of the evening, the night sky was clear and fantastic conditions for star-gazing more than made up for not having a campfire. The only repeater I could hit from the campsite was VK3RGV with the FT-7900 from the car but that worked well. It has IRLP capability and could have spent the whole night dialing up repeaters world wide. I had a few conversations on the repeater including Ralph VK3LL camping overnight in the Wombat State Forest as part of the VHF/UHF Winter Field Day Contest with Damien VK3KQ. I then managed to work them simplex on 2 metres and then 70 cms and bolster their contest score. This was a surprise as I didn't think my signals would get out of the valley that surrounded me.
The following morning after a lazy breakfast I packed and started up Barnewall Plains Road to the summit enjoying the walk. Once I was past the gate to the summit walking track I was able to hear the WIA broadcast via the VK3REC repeater, come up on the callback and make a couple of simplex contacts with the HT on the trek to the summit. The weather was clear with a gentle breeze and low clouds blowing over me from time to time in the higher reaches. Views were great when the clouds weren't sitting on top of me and the surrounding valleys in the Lake Eildon National Park were a sea of fluffy fog that soon began to lift.
On reaching the summit I set up the vertical HF antenna after yakking on the VK3REC Sunday morning net and fired up the FT-817 on 7.090 Mhz at 0054z and got a S2S contact straight away with Fred VK3DAC on Mt St Leonard. Straight after Fred I bagged another S2S with Al VK1RX. I then parked myself on 7.095 Mhz and worked a steady stream of stations including another three S2S with Robbie VK3EK, Ian VK1DI and Bernard VK2IB/3. 40 minutes later I'd worked the throng and packed up to head down and back to the car for a coffee and something to eat before setting off for the next summit.
Bill Head VK3VN-004
I initially was going to head off and do Pyramid Hill next but as the car was already parked on Con Gap Road I thought I might as well attack Bill head from the north. In hindsight Pyramid Hill would probably have been easier. On my last activation of Bill Head I drove up Con Gap Road from the south and was able to park at a relatively easy access point to the summit. From the north the drive was OK but the road was awash in places and quite muddy and got progressively worse as I went on. A number of recently fallen trees across the road had been cleared and fresh sawdust surrounded large timber pushed to the side. Near the highest point of Con Gap Road I met a fellow and his partner sawing up timber and splitting it for firewood. His old Nissan Patrol was full fully loaded in the back and his trailer looked to be straining with the weight loaded on it. I carried on but parked a few hundred meteres further on where a fallen tree meant that I'd be walking from here on anyway. I bashed my way through the bush towards the ridge which was much clearer and easier to navigate the rest of the way to Bill Head.
I didn't want to mess around too much here, being the shortest day of the year and as soon as I found my spot, I set up the antenna and bagged my first 40 metre contact with Peter VK3PF at 0506z. For the next quarter hour I logged one contact a minute including two S2S contacts with Andrew VK3ARR and Ian VK1DI. Once back in the car heading back along Con Gap Road, the couple I'd met earlier were gone and for kilometres along the road I was finding lots of freshly split firewood that had fallen from their trailer on the way down. I was happy to jump out and pick it up along the way and by the time I was at Snobs Creek Road I had enough firewood in the back of the Triton heat our home for a week.