March 2015

There have been a number of activation’s since returning from France, it is just that I have had other priorities to deal with so this Blog has not been up-dated. Rather than back tracking, I will start afresh for this month of March, 2015

6 & 7th March 2015 Mt. Beenak VK3/VC-016 – 4 points

Walk in access = easy. 1.5 kilometres. Elevation gain 117 metres at a relatively constant rate. Phone coverage patchy. Activation time 85 minutes

Ron VK3AFW

Ron VK3AFW

 

Chauffeur driven today by Ron VK3AFW.  Access via the Yarra Junction to Noojee road and onto Beenak road which was a little slippery due to some fine drizzle. Parking at the gate leading up to the tower, we walked into the clouds for about 1.5 kilometres.

Ron set up just inside the activation zone and I was further up the hill and around the corner, endeavoring to get as much distance between our stations as possible. As the activation continued, things began to get a little damp so I burried myself under my tarpaulin, looking like a grotesque green turtle.

 

Mt Beenak Small

 

 

24 Contacts in all. Commencing 23:26 hrs with 14 of which 4 were SSB, 10 CW. SSB S2S with Rus VK2BJP/3 on VK3/VG-038 & Andrew VK1NAM/2 on VK2/SM-010 plus CW S2S with Gerard VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001, Sam VK2AFA/P on VK2/HU-007, Wayne VK3WAM/P and Warren VK3BYD/P both on VK3/VE-043.

Post UTC, a futher 9 contacts. all 2S2. Of these, 4 were on SSB; repeats of the above but also including Al VK1RX/2 on VK2/ST-042 and 5 on CW also including Allen VK3HRA/P also on VK3/VE-043. Ron and I also worked each other in and out of the zone on 70 cm FM

 

 

7th March 2015 Spion Kopje VK3/VT-040 – 4 points Activation time 80 minutes.

Walk in access easy to moderate / short. Approximately 300 metres with an ascent of 60 metres.

Slippery in the wet and a little overgrown. Lots of leeches. No phone coverage – left in the car!

Continuing generally east along Beenak Rd, Kobiloke Rd and Limberlost rd Ron and I parked at the junction of  Outlook Rd and headed up the overgrown and damp walking track. There was evidently once a fire tower here but we saw no signs of it. We did not reach the actual summit due to wet overgrowth which made for a tight antenna installation. The rock faces are all heavily covered in lichen and moss – very slippery.

Date:07/Mar/2015 Summit:VK3/VT-040 (Spion Kopje) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 4 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
03:20z VK3MAY/P 7MHz SSB David 5×4, 51 S2S VK3/VT-040 to VK3/VC-024
03:25z VK2IB/P 7MHz CW Bernard 579, 579 S2S VK3/VT-040 to VK2/SW-021
03:41z VK2IO/P 7MHz SSB Gerrard 5×4, 54 S2S VK3/VT-040 to VK2/SY-001
03:44z VK2UH 7MHz SSB Andrew 5×7, 59 Tnx fer spot
03:47z VK2BHO 7MHz CW John 579, 559
03:50z VK2IO/P 7MHz CW Gerrard 549, 549 S2S VK3/VT-040 to VK1/SY-001
03:52z VK2UH 7MHz CW Andrew 599, 559
03:53z VK3DBP 7MHz CW Paul 579, 57
03:58z VK7LCW 7MHz CW Peter 539, 549 off freq
04:08z VK3TCX/P 7MHz SSB Ian 4×4, 44
04:39z VK3AFW/P 433MHz FM Ron out of zone 5×9, 59

 

19th March 2015 Andrew Hill VK3/VN-020 2 Points. Activation time 24 minutes

Walk Access easy to moderate.  2.1 kilometres from the gate to summit. Elevation gain 251 metres at a consistent rate. Phone coverage OK

I did Andrews Hill on the way to TLCCV Cruiserkhana where I was running the competition comms with Michael Martin. We had a morning tea date with Ian VK3YEA so the activation was short. A surprise 2 metre contact with Frank VK3OP from home whilst exiting the activation zone.

Date:19/Mar/2015 Summit:VK3/VN-020 (Andrew Hill) Call Used:VK3CAT/P Points: 2 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
22:52z VK2GAZ 7MHz CW Garry 599, 589
22:53z VK2IO 7MHz CW Gerard 599, 559
22:57z VK2UH 7MHz CW Andrew 599, 579
22:59z VK2AOH 7MHz CW Nic 599, 339
22:59z VK5WG 7MHz SSB Neville 5×7, 55
23:00z VK2UH 7MHz SSB Andrew 5×9, 56
23:02z VK5PAS 7MHz SSB Paul 5×9, 59
23:16z VK3OP 144MHz FM Frank 55, 52

 

 27th & 28th March 2015. Basalt Knob VK3/VE-076. 8 Points. Activation time 44 miutes

Walk access moderate. 400 metres with an elevation gain of 60 metres. No phone coverage.

First ever activation. Access was from Licola via the Jamieson – Licola Rd, Link Rd (End of bitumen here), Glen Cairn Rd and Bull Plain Rd. The going is on quite good gravel until Bull Plain Spur intersects with Mountain Ash Spur where it deteriorates a little.
Access in AWD or 2WD will be possible but watch out for the weather. The access point is 41.4 kilometres from the Licola store. I travelled this in 1 hr and 17 minutes inclusive of a breakfast and coffee break (18 minutes) at the Barkly River / Alpine N.P junction where there is a drop toilet and a sort of camping area near the bridge. I aired down to 28PSI here.

The walk in access is on a slight left hand bend where there is a small gully with very old, overgrown and short four wheel drive track. There was also some blue tape markers on the scrubby trees. This point is virtually directly adjacent to the GPS location of the summit.
I used this FWD track for initial access before heading out of the gully in a N.E direction then following the ridge contours and heading more easterly. There is no track, the going is not to hard, the usual fallen timber to negotiate. I found a small but suitable clearing inside the activation zone but short of the summit. There were no views and the summit appeared to be quite broad.

Basalt Knob activation area

Basalt Knob activation area

My activation commenced at 23:48 with 9 x 40 metre CW contacts prior to roll over  and a repeat with Ron VK3AFW just after rollover. I then worked 19 of the regular chasers on 40 metres SSB before finishing up with VK2IO and VK2GAZ on 30 metres CW. Signals received were all pretty good but here is an example of how I was being received by Gerard VK2IO

40 metres CW 549,

40 metres SSB 3×2,

30 metres CW 569

Last contact at 00:34

 

 

28th March 2015. Mountain Ash Spur. VK3/VE-065. 8 Points. Activation time 44 minutes.
Another first activation. No phone coverage. Easy access.

Just 2.5 kilometres up the road from the access point to Basalt Knob is a four wheel drive track that heads due north along the Mountain Ash Spur directly to the summit. It continues on for a short distance past the summit where further vehicle access is blocked by deliberately felled large trees. The track is 1.5 kilometres long and is only suitable for four wheel drive vehicles. Decent tyres will help as it was a little boggy at the start and there was also a very short rocky climb. The elevation gain from start to finish is only 75 metres. My activation site consisted of a large cleared area with grass that has been used for camping.

Mountain Ash Spur

Mountain Ash Spur

First contact at 01:50 was 40 metres CW S2S with Bernard  VK2IB/3. We had a bit of a CW laugh as he was on VK3/VE-064 – next door perhaps but his was definitely bigger than mine! I also worked Allen VK3HRA/P CW S2S on VK3/VS-020. All up 13 40 metre CW contacts inclusive of a longer QSO with Jerry VK7EE.

Following up from the CW, I worked a further 5 stations on 40 metres SSB before calling time as I still had some travelling and at least one more summit to conquer.

 

Travel Notes

Bull Plain Spur Rd appears less used north of the aforementioned four wheel drive track to the summit of Mountain Ash Spur. There is also reference off this track to a Chesters Hut. I neither saw or looked for the hut.
Bull Plain Spur Rd continued generally north and was a bit rougher than before with a little fallen timber crossing the road. The intersection with Grimme Track is 5 kilometres further on and at this point the road drops down to the east branch of the Barkly River at the junction of McDonalds Tk a further 3 kilometres north. (also known as Knobs Tk).  This junction is probably as far as an AWD sedan should go and likewise for a FWD with road tyres. This point is 55.6 kilometres from the Licola Store and 30 minutes from Mountain Ash Spur summit.

The continuation of Bull Plain Spur Rd that follows the east branch of the Barkly River then crosses over Son of a Bitch Spur is incorrectly named on some maps as Low Saddle Rd to the Low Saddle ( can be rough, rutted and slippery).
Low Saddle Rd actually runs from the Jamieson River in the north (great camp sites – fire pits but no toilets) to the Low Saddle which is the intersection of Bull Plain Spur Rd (AWD should be OK up to the Low Saddle from the Jamieson River) then continues towards Mt. Sunday.
Just off the side of Mt. Sunday is a FWD track that heads to the summit of Mt. Sunday – not too difficult – then heads across Mt. McKinty towards Mt. Skene (extremely very very challenging), Middle Ridge Rd and the Barkly River Jeep track (probably even more challenging).
Back at Mt. Sunday, Low Saddle Rd becomes Mt. Sunday Rd, heads down to Wrens Flat (FWD only on this section – large drains and clay based) then up to the Jamieson Licola Rd (2WD OK).

On this trip, I took McDonalds Tk. This is definitely FWD only. Good off road tyres and suspension lift are required. The track is narrow and a bit overgrown (fold the

Low Tree over McDonalds Tk

Low Tree over McDonalds Tk

mirrors in and expect scratches) There are 7 river crossings in 800 metres. The entry and exits are sharp (expect some bottoming out) At the beginning of the track there was a large fallen tree that I had to drive under. A vehicle susch as a Troop Carrier or one with a roof rack could be in trouble!

After 7.6 kilometres (50 minutes) of McDonalds track, the re is a reasonable camp site on the RHS. Opposite this is the Australian Alpine Walking Track (AAWT) that heads to Mt. McDonald.  The AAWT follows McDonalds Tk in the other directing to the Knobs.

28th March 2005. Mt McDonald. VK3/VE-026. 10 Points. Activation time 40 minutes.
Good phone coverage.

Walk access is hard going. Overall the AAWT to Mt. McDonald is 3.3 kilometres. The total ascent is 347 metres but there a number of ups and downs to negotiate along the way. The track starts as an old FWD track which is easy to follow for the first kilometre. After this the AAWT heads west and keeps to the south side of the main ridge for most of the climb.

AAWT back towards camp

AAWT back towards camp

The AAWT can be hard to follow, I lost it as it crossed over a rocky knoll, putting me on the north side of the ridge – firstly following a shelf then an extremely steep side slope. I headed straight up at the next available opportunity but lost my FT470 hand held somewhere en-route.
Finally made it to the summit close to 2 hours after first starting out – due to the time of day, I had contemplated abandoning the activation.
First contact was at 06:08 hrs with a 40 metre SSb S2S with Bernard VK2IB/3 on VK3/VE-049 followed by another S2S with Matt VK1MA/2 on VK2/ST-006. There followed a string of 10 40 metre CW contacts including a S2S with Allen VK3HRA/P on VK3.VS-038 and a cross mode contact with Warren VK3BYD/P.

Mt McDonald

Mt McDonald

5 further 40 metre SSB contacts followed, concluding the activation with Glenn VK3YY at 06:48. Due to the lateness of the hour, time required to get back, I did not operate on any other bands.
I found the AAWT easier to follow on the return journey and saw where I had made my earlier navigational error. Back at the car at 08:05 – set up the swag, got some fire wood and cooked some dinner accompanied with a cold stubbie. Had a weird experience in a mob of cattle being pushed down the track at night by a couple of cattle dogs. It was as black as … and all I could see were pairs of green eyes reflecting my torch light. Slept well!

29th March 2015. The High Cone. VK3/VE-240. 8 Points. Activation time 45 Minutes
First time activation. No phone coverage. Walk access is moderate to hard – some loose rock and steep surfaces.

From my overnight camp, I drove 2 kilometres along the FWD track to where the AAWT departs from McDonalds Tk and heads to the Knobs. My walk started at 20:50 hrs. To access The High Cone, I had to firstly cross over the Knobs. This is a short and sharp ascent of 155 metres in just under 900 metres. The track is relatively easy to follow. I did make an error in continuing to The High Cone as from the Knobs, the AAWT swings to the east in a rocky descent whilst I went the complete opposite direction – just enjoying the scenery and open alpine country; a pleasant but unwarranted 1.5 kilometre return detour. Back at the Knobs, a rocky scramble down to an undulating track along the divide before a steep pinch to the High Cone Summit. The Knobs (1495m) to The High Cone (1488m) is close enough to 3 kilometres with an ascent / descent of nearly 200 metres. This took just over an hour.

Looking towards The High Cone

Looking towards The High Cone

My first contact was at 0013 with Andrew VK1NAM/P; a 40 metre SSB S2S on VK1/AC-048. This followed with a CW pile up with 8 further contacts on 40m CW and then 5 on 40m SSB. Allen VK3HRA put a spot out for me on 14.315 and Glenn VK3YY/P who just happened to be about to commence his activation from VK3/VN-029 on the same frequency worked me for an S2S. I could not hear the Melbourne stations that Glenn was able to work.
Activation concluded at 00:48 hrs.

High Cone Summit

High Cone Summit

Whilst on the summit, I was interrupted by a party of 3 shooters who were walking into Grimmes Creek. These were to be the only people I was to see for the whole trip. Beware, this is an isolated location!

Also, a note to CW operators. Please understand QRX and try shifting slightly off frequency. When a number of simultaneous calls are received, it is hard to discern anything. Typically the last one keying got the contact!

29th March 2015. The Knobs. VK3/VE-040. 8 Points. Activation time 27 minutes
Good phone coverage. Walk access is moderate to hard – some loose rock and steep surfaces.

It took me a bit over an hour to get back to the Knobs. I placed the gear on a shelf below the summit and then walked to the top so as to confirm the height and that I was within the activation zone. I was, at 15 metres below the top. I also noted the GPS reference has the summit on the side of the hill and below the highest point. I guess this is just a GPS rounding error?

The Knobs

The Knobs

My activation commenced at 02:44. Peter VK3PF had been watching me via APRS on my SPOT Tracker (VK3CAT-13) and pounced at my first call. This was good as I did not have an alert out, my initial intention was to activate this after Mt. McDonald the day before.
Going was a little slow with 5 40 metre CW contacts and 10 40 metre SSB contacts.
The weather was quite warm, I was nearly out of water and had eaten a couple of apples, a carrot and two museli bars since my breakfast so I did not hang around to try any other bands (sorry!) I still had the walk down to the car to negotiate.

Activating the Knobs

Activating the Knobs

I arrived back at the car at 03:38 hrs and had a good drink (out of water in the pack by now). I then negotiated the extremely steen Knobs track down to the Jamieson

River (4.7 kilometres and 30 minutes) and had a refreshing swim before continuing another 30 kilometres (50 minutes) to Sheepyard Flat. As I had an 8:30 meeting at Mansfield the next morning, I took Doughtys Rd, Carters Rd to Buttercup Rd where I camped at the number 2 camp site (drop toilet and fire pit plus river water) – leaving an easy run to Mansfield the next morning.

In Summary, a challenging and rewarding weekend. The weather was fantastic. I walked a total of 16 kilometres on the AAWT, made three first time activations and had lots of CW chasers.

30th March 2015. The Paps. VK3/VE-204. 4 Points

The Paps

Another time perhaps?

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7 Comments

7 thoughts on “March 2015

  1. Tony, Good write up and great pictures, thanks for the S2S contact from the Chimneys, good to have you in the S2S log. 😉
    73 Andrew, VK1NAM

    • Thanks Andrew. I had been looking at Mountain Ash Top and Basalt Knob for quite some time and was glad to get there eventually. The 4WD track to Mt. Mcdonald took longer than when I last did it due to the overgrowth; not getting much use. By the time I got to Mt. McDonald summit I was pretty much spent – my fault for loosing the track. FYI, in the picture of Mt. McDonald you will notice a mountain in the near background. This is the Bluff that I activated in January 2014. The lay of the walking track to the summit follows the ridge line seen on the left and the last little bit is near vertical.
      Great as always to have you in the log, Tony.

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