This weekend I had the chance to get out and have a look at a few summits. One, Mt Buangor was one I visited last year, but the other two were firsts for me, with one being the first ever SOTA activation.
Mt Buangor VK3/VS-003
This summit is quite easy to get to, even with a 2wd. The main Mt Cole Road passes within a few km, and the first turnoff road at 982712 is still an improved gravel surface. It climbs up to 979707. From here, the road is of lesser quality as one turns right and then left 150m or so further along. It is passable in a 2wd, but only if dry. On this occasion, there were two large puddles, the second of which I was not prepared to drive the Prius through. A Awd should handle it pretty easily. Even so, it was less than a 10 minute walk from here to the summit.
This year, it was out with the end-fed, the tried and true method of getting a quick activation. FT-817 in hand, I operated for about 20 minutes. Signal reports were a little down, but no real problems. It was good to be back on air after more than a month!
Ben Major VK3/VS-028
Onwards to new territory for me. I headed down the Mt Cole Rd to Raglan and then along the Chute Raglan Rd to 113695. Turning off to the right, there was a track, quite passable in a 2wd heading towards Ben Major in the state forest. I made my way along this to 142713, where I turned left. The road quality here was worse, but still passable with care in the 2wd. I made my way to about 500m shy of the summit and walked up about 50 vertical metres from there.
There was a trig point at the summit which I set up from:
Conditions on 40m seemed to have picked up here from Mt Buangor. Reports seemed to be 3 or so S points higher, both on Rx and Tx. Same general setup with the end fed.
From here, there was a good view towards Ben More, which was my last summit of the day.
Ben More VK3/VS-027
Ben More is slightly higher than Ben Major. There is a public park that approaches the summit itself, but does not quite make it. The summit appears to be on private land. The top part of the public land is well within the activation zone, about 5 vertical metres down.
The next trick is that there is no easy public access to this summit. There is, however a public road reservation that makes its way to the public park boundary. I communicated with Rob Brouwers, a ranger at Parks Victoria Maryborough office. He can be reached on 5461 0819. He highlighted that Impeys Rd then Joseph Lane continues to make its way further than marked on most maps and the reservation goes all the way to the Ben More Bushland Reserve. Along the way, the road goes through a gate with “Private – No Entry”, however the road reserve that continues past this sign is public land. If planning to activate, it may be useful to get in tough with Rob and get the access map emailed from him as to how to access the reserve.
A quick side note: Google maps shows the approximate line of the road reserve. There is no road for the last 1000m of this alignment.
The road ends up about point 172770. From here its on foot with the land climbing steeply. It’s just over 1km, however about 250 vertical metres, so get ready for a climb. Using the land boundaries map obtainable from Rob, you can aim to keep within the public reservation and try to prevent going onto private land. The road reservation is largely not fenced from this point. The boundary of the bushland reserve higher up is, and once in there, it is still a steep climb, but a little easier as you can more freely choose your climbing line on public land.
I operated about 20m from the trig point. The trig point itself is on private land. The closest public land is quite close, and I used the emergency marker there to mount the squid pole:
With that, it was time to pack up, head back down the hill and carefully try to stay within the road reserve back to the car. It was a nice activation, but I felt it was important to have the Parks Victoria documents with me in case someone decided to challenge me being there.
Regards, Wayne VK3WAM