On 12th April 2015 I set out on a sunny day with light wind to activate Mt St Leonard (VK3/VC-006). From the eastern end of Healesville St Leonards Road (which becomes Meyers Creek Road) takes you north through a valley of mountain ash and fern gullies on a variously tight cornered and winding country road typical of the area. After about 18 km Monda Road on the right takes you east and up the mountain, a dirt and gravel but good surface. An easy drive in a small 2wd and not too much dust. Near the top is a gate in front of a fire track stretching out ahead. Several walkers were coming down the hill, including a family with several children making lots of noise and shouting in the hope of hearing an echo, or at least the reverberation off the mountain top behind them. The walk to the top was easy and enjoyable, not too steep so as to allow a steady but not tiring walk. The summit is a large cleared area with a significant communications facility behind a high wire mesh fence.
Several SOTA blogs warned of interference when setting up too close to the tower, so I moved down the hill slightly to the line of trees on the south east edge, still in good sight of the top.
With the dipole in the trees and a rock as an operating table the activation began. As I had found the weekend before on Donna Buang the conditions both where I stood and on 40m in the afternoon were not too far from perfect. Twenty seven contacts in just under 40 minutes.
Free-flowing contacts from stations with crushing signals, many resulting in similarly nice 59 reports from down on the plains below. Remember that the MST400 has no AGC so I really get to appreciate the difference between a 57 station and a 59+40db station in the headphones.
|06:14z||VK3OF||7MHz||SSB||Rex, Swan Hill|
|06:17z||VK3WE||7MHz||SSB||Rhett, East Gippsland|
|06:24z||VK3FB/P||7MHz||SSB||Len, Dandy South|
|06:29z||VK5EE||7MHz||SSB||Tom, Mt Gambier|
Having made it back to Maroondah Highway (B360) east of Healesville with some usable daylight left I decided to head down Don Road (C506) towards Mt Donna Buang to look for the turnoff for Mt Toolebewong (VK3/VC-033). Nyora Road was easy to find on the right at about the 12 km point from Maroondah Highway. It is about 500m further on from the first hairpin bend in Don Road. Nyora Road is gravel and follows the south side of the mountain, past some quite spectacular views westward over the valley toward Coldstream, and Wandin and Seville to the south-west. If I had bothered to consult a map I should have been able to see Briarty Hill which is about 8 km slightly south of west. There are some very nice houses perched on the side of the mountain making the most of this spectacular view.
At the fork with Chapman Road I stayed on Nyora Rd, which peters out in a private lane. I parked at about the furthest point which afforded the option to turn the car around, and walked around, looking for the summit. nearby I found the Mt Toole-be-wong communications facility. A clearing a bit further up the rise looked about right for an activation.
With the dipole strung up over a relatively low branch and the ends tied only about head height I jumped onto 7098 khz and had some success, as the light faded. A list of 11 QSOs over 20 minutes. I found myself working a little bit harder to keep the contacts flowing, being an hour and a half later, 40m was starting to play some tricks, not to mention that a few operators may have been at the dinner table with an 807 in hand, or perhaps QRT for the night.
So ended my first double summit activation, made possible by a little bit of reading, map studying and note taking before leaving home. Clearly, a little bit of planning goes a long way in this SOTA game.