Three summits near Ballan and Ballarat (VK3/VC-032, Mt Buninyong, Mt Warrenheip)

There are three summits relatively close to the Western Highway from Melbourne to Ballarat.  At four points each these looked like a comfortable activation trip with little or no climbing.  So it proved to be.  VK3/VC -032 is an unnamed summit north of Ballan in the Wombat State Forest.  I exited the Western Highway at the Ballan exit and grabbed a coffee in a pleasant bakery in Ingliss Street.  Continuing on, Ingliss St intersects with the C141 Ballan-Baylesford Rd.  Just north  oh here the C141 over-passes the M8 (Western Highway).  Continuing north for 12.8km on the C141 (passing Bunding-Blakeville Rd on the right at 10.4km)  and I arrived at the intersection of Spargo-Blakeville Rd, which is on the right (east).  This road was unsigned, but it is easy to find — Spargo Creek Rd (which is signposted) is directly opposite on the left of the C141, and you also cannot miss the old Mineral Springs Hotel which has seen better days.  Known by locals as the Korweinguboora Pub (according to  this 500-word piece by the former owner’s daughter) this faded 1960s building is a shadow of its colorful history.  The 1960s brick veneer beer hall hides the original Victorian building, so the history of this site goes back 100 years.  More social commentary here.

image

Spargo-Blakeville Rd becomes dirt quickly.  I passed McGee’s Rd on the right (at 1.3km in), then passed Cairns Rd on the left, then came to the intersection with what is Camp Rd on the left (2.2km in).  This was not sign-posted.  A moss-covered post signing it as Mt Hope Track is all there is (you have to look hard to read the lettering underneath the lichen).  It is distinguished by wide turning lanes from Bunding-Blakeville Rd.  Up this road, past Blackwood Ridge Rd on the right (2km from turnoff), then Pumphouse Track on the right.  The summit is about a hundred meters beyond, on the left.   There is a nice clearing with plenty of space.  After less than ideal signal reports on recent activations using my 1/4 wave center-loaded squid pole vertical, I decided to put up the half wave dipole.  Signals were up a few S-points from previous activations and it felt like an activation of old!

Date:15/Nov/2015 Summit:VK3/VC-032 (VK3/VC-032) Call Used:VK3HN/P Points: 4

Time Call Band Mode Notes
05:30z VK1ATP/P 7MHz SSB s53, r57, Paul S2S on VK2/ST-006
05:32z VK2IO 7MHz SSB s57, r57, Gerard
05:34z VK3AFW 7MHz SSB s59, r57, Ron
05:35z VK7CW 7MHz SSB s59, r59, Steve
05:36z VK5JK 7MHz SSB s58, r57, Jeff, Encounter Bay
05:37z VK3PMG 7MHz SSB s59, r59, Mick, Stawell
05:38z VK3BHR 7MHz SSB s56, r56, Hal, Bendigo
05:39z VK3CNW 7MHz SSB s57, r56, Col, Lilydale
05:40z VK3DAC 7MHz SSB s59, r55, Fred, Yarra Valley
05:40z VK1EM 7MHz SSB s59, r47, Mark
05:41z VK5PL 7MHz SSB s58, r58, David, Barossa
05:42z VK3MRH 7MHz SSB s59, r59, Ron
05:43z VKNBL 7MHz SSB s57, r59, Ray, Melton
05:45z VK3FIRM 7MHz SSB s55, r59, Mike

Next was Mt Buninyong (VK3/VC-018), an extinct volcano rising to 719 metres, and a pleasant drive through green dairy country, following the car SatNav on a sealed road all the way to the summit.  This time I had the luxury of a picnic table, to which I strapped the squid pole.  Good 40 meter conditions and reports from around the southern states.

image

Date:15/Nov/2015 Summit:VK3/VC-018 (Mt Buninyong) Call Used:VK3HN/P Points: 4

Time Call Band Mode Notes
07:03z VK3LED 7MHz SSB s59, r57, Col
07:04z VK3FPSR 7MHz SSB s59, r57, Peter, Cobram
07:06z VK2IO 7MHz SSB s59, r57, Gerard
07:07z VK3PF 7MHz SSB s59, r57, Peter
07:07z VK5FANA 7MHz SSB s55, r53, Adrian
07:08z VK3YAR 7MHz SSB s59, r56, Ray
07:08z VK5PL 7MHz SSB s57, r56, David, Barossa
07:09z VK5MAS 7MHz SSB s59, r53, Andrew, Mt Gambier
07:10z VK7FGGT 7MHz SSB s59, r54, Greg, Hobart
07:12z VK3CAT 7MHz SSB s58, r58, Tony
07:14z VK1AD 7MHz SSB s57, r56, Andrew
07:16z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB s57, r55, Amanda
07:17z VK5NFT 7MHz SSB s57, r55, Tom, Millicent

The one-way access road from the Buninyong summit takes you onto the east side of the old volcano with spectacular views east toward Melbourne.  Apparently a favorite lookout point for settlers and early travelers, it would also be good for amateur microwave contacts looking east.  In this post on vklogger Ian VK3AXH (with company of David VK3QM and Ken VK3NW) is proposing to take 1296, 2400 and 10G gear to the mountain in November 2013.  I wonder how they went.

Finally a 15 minute drive to Mt Warrenheip (VK3/VC-019), also using SatNav instead of maps and instructions, and once again on a sealed road all the way to the top.  Mt Warrenheip is a volcanic cone that went inactive 100,000 years ago. I hadn’t remembered that it serves as the backdrop to Kryal Castle, the rear of which is accessible from the summit road.

There is a lot of comms hardware on this hill, including the antenna for 3BA on 102.3MHz FM and VK3RMB, 432.535 MHz.  Despite this 40 meters was not experiencing undue interference.  I balanced the gear on the broad top of a concrete pole next to the trig point.  QRN crashes were louder as the weather changed, and the band was crowded, so I self-spotted and took just the 4 contacts needed before packing up and heading home.

image

Date:15/Nov/2015 Summit:VK3/VC-019 (Mt Warrenheip) Call Used:VK3HN/P Points: 4

Time Call Band Mode Notes
07:54z VK3FPSR 7MHz SSB s59, r57
07:56z VK3PF 7MHz SSB s59, r57, Peter
07:58z VK2FBEP 7MHz SSB s55, r57, William
07:59z VK2HHA 7MHz SSB s59, r57, Dennis

Three four-point summits within half an hour’s drive of each other, and all easily accessible.  Recommended for anyone looking to try out a SOTA activation, enjoy some beautiful Victorian country-side and some views.

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