On the recent Labour Day long weekend, I aimed to get away and have a look at a few new summits that I had not activated before, with some of them not activated yet at all. The plan was to activate 12 over the long weekend – we’ll see how we go.
Mt Lookout VK3/VT-030
Proceedings started with Mt Lookout, near Aberfeldy. I drove up on the Friday night and activated in the dark. The plan was to use the random wire on 20 and 40. Access to this summit is quite easy. Aberfeldy can be accessed via the Thompson Dam. The good quality road crosses the dam, and then climbs steeply. At the top of the ridge, it meets the Walhalla Rd and then goes gravel. The road is then a little narrow at times, but is easy going to Aberfeldy. There is a road that goes to the Aberfeldy cemetery and this is well within the activation zone.
I brought both a 7m and 4.7m squid pole, but decided on using the longer pole. Operation was on the KX1 and the random wire. I had Nickel Zinc batteries inside the KX1, but brought a 3S LiPO for operation – this helps boost up the wattages a little.
I had been using this random wire for some time, but only prepared a counterpoise for 20 and 30. This time, I upgraded the antenna for two counterpoises for 40. It takes a little longer to role out the extra counterpoises, but not too long. I decided to stay at 7.283 on 40 as that was what I had alerted. It tuned it with an SWR of 1 and I obtained higher wattage on 40, around 2, compared to what I have previously been able to obtain.
The activation went quite quickly, which was good because it had started to rain.
The next planned summit was Mt Selma, and I thought it best to see if I could get the car through on Walhalla Rd to access it. I was in a Camry 2WD. The road was of poorer quality north of Aberfeldy, but it was still passable with some care. It was not steep, but there were some large potholes in the road. I proceeded to the junction with the Selma Track. From here, the road was much better through to near the summit, which is where I slept that night.
Mt Selma VK3/VT-013
Next up, next morning (Saturday), Mt Selma. Access can be via Aberfeldy as described above. Easy 2WD access can be had from the Jamieson Licola Rd, taking South Rd and then Mt Selma Rd. I was parked outside the activation zone and then followed 4wd tracks for about 400m to get well within the zone. I setup using the random wire on the 7m pole again and worked on 20 and 40. The action this time was on 40. The KX1 is enjoying the extra conterpoises with the antenna.
Conner Plain VK3/VT-22
My second summit for the day (third for the trip) was Conner Plain. It had rained a moderate amount overnight, but this had started to clear up, however it was still quite foggy:
Foggy conditions on approach to Conner Plain
The Jamieson Licola Rd proceeds to the east and north of the summit. There is a bit of a track heading off which gains a few metres, but the fairly short climb is mostly off track. It is pretty easy going. There is an old dozer track coming in from the north north east towards the summit. I headed up to the east of this, and got into a bog which was caused by cattle grazing nearby. The cattle really tear up the bogs and it stank. I managed to avoid the worst of it and got up to the top, which is quite flat.
Here’s the operating location at Conner Plain:
Rig at Conner Plain
I was operating on the 7m squid pole. The radiating element (random wire) rises directly from the rig to the top of the squid pole:
Antenna and squid pole at Conner Plain
Mt Shillinglaw VK3/VE-068
My third summit for the day was Mt Shillinglaw. Access is via the Jamieson Licola Rd. The Australian Alpine Walking Track leaves the road almost due north from the summit and is quite well marked. It is a climb of about 100 vertical metres up to the flattish area of the top.
I still operated up at 7.283 due to having my alerts on sotawatch set at that frequency. I was developing about 2w on very low tuned SWR on about 12.4v from the LiPo pack.
Here’s a look at the setup there:
Setup at Mt Shillinglaw
Mt Skene VK3/VE-031
Mt Skene was the fourth summit of the day, and 5th of the trip. Access is again via the Jamieson Licola Rd. The road goes within a few hundred metres to the top and a sign points towards the summit. The track is quite indistinct, but it is not too hard to find the trig point at the top.
I operated with the same setup as the previous summits. Here, I found ants to be quite a problem. There was no where really to sit down without causing a swarm. I ended up hanging up the backpack on a tree and standing to operate! Before that, there were a number of pauses as I sent CW, as I needed to brush the ants away!
There are two lookouts near the summit, and both are on the road. The one south of the summit gives better views:
Looking NE from lookout on Mt Skene
Looking SE from lookout near Mt Skene
The last planned summit of the day was this one, to the SW of Mt Skene. I backtracked a few kms to where Lazarini Spur Track meets the Jamieson Licola Rd, and started heading down. I expected a long walk, however the road quality remained acceptable for a 2wd. I continued to make my way to the saddle at point 431511. The road quality lessened somewhat, but I remained able to continue in the 2wd. There is a junction at 422502, I turned right, taking the track that passes to the north of VE-091, making my way to about 417502. This is about 200m to the north of the summit, about 80m down. I climed, but headed to the west of the summit and then SE in. The scrub had its moments – its not fast going, but I’ve seen far worse. At least its not too far.
I operated with a similar setup to previously, however the ants were even worse here that at Mt Skene. They were crawling up the conterpoise wires that were on the ground to the radio, the rig was covered with them. I tried to use the times when I was not sending to keep clearing the ants off the antenna wires and off the rig. Again, I operated standing up, there was nowhere safe to sit!
For the last summit of the day, VE-158 was on the menu. As I had made good time in not needing to walk 8km each way to VE-091, I could squeeze in this summit. I parked the car at Ferguson Saddle (332675). I tried getting the Camry up the 4wd track climbing steeply out, and I nearly made it, but I had to concede defeat as it was simply too steep, and I did not feel it worth it to continue to try or reverse the car up – perhaps I could have got the car up reversing with great effort, but it gets a bit silly after awhile. Clearly the Camry is much more capable than the Prius on these roads. A AWD could be gotten up with car, and a high clearance low range 4wd with ease.
I walked to point 326682 and headed west to the high point and then south. I would have been better off staying on the track to about 321683 and heading up from there. On top, the going is easier, as there has been a recent control burn. It’s about 1.1km to the summit from the high point, which is about he same height. This summit appears to be in the wrong place, however, so VE-198 is going to be delisted at some point with a new summit at 313684.
Here’s a look at the terrain at dusk:
Recently burnt forest near VE-158 summit
With that, the day was done. I went to Granny’s Flat to sleep the night. There was quite a crowd there, so I thought I might sleep in the car, with the windows closed to keep down the noise. It was too hot, however and I also can’t stretch out properly in the back seat, so up went the tent. The noise had died down and I was able to get a reasonable sleep for the next big day ahead, which is continued in Part 2.
73 and regards,