Mt Vinegar is at the south western or Melbourne side of Acheron Way which runs north-south in the Acheron valley between two ranges. The road is apparently popular with cyclists. For SOTA activators it presents several good activation prospects (Mt Richie, Mt Vinegar) if you take a little time. On my first activation of Mt Vinegar in June last year I arrived quite late in the day after activating Mt Strickland. Packing up in the twilight I walked down by torch light which is fine if you are on a 4wd track, which was the case for most of the descent. This time I arrived at Mt Vinegar Track around 3.30pm, off Acheron Way at the 14km marker on the right as you drive south towards Warburton… plenty of time. The gate was locked.
The walk to the summit is on 4wd tracks. Mt Vinegar Track intersects with Road 8 which forms part of the walking track from Mt Donna Buang to Dom Dom Saddle. As a side-thought, there is a keen activator’s hiking opportunity here for 2 walkers with 2 cars… three activations starting at Mt Donna Buang, then Mt Vinegar and finally Mt Dom Dom, ending at Dom Dom Saddle. This site records the trek as 22km, 8 hours, graded ‘hard’, and that’s not including the ascent from the track to Dom Dom summit for the third activation. I see that Melbourne Bushwalkers offered this walk in late 2011, grading it as ‘Medium’:
Donna Buang is 1260 m above sea level and Dom Dom Saddle is 510 m, so it is downhill on average; however the track is undulating with a few serious climbs and descents. The peaks to be covered in the walk are Mt Boobyalla (1224 m), The Knobs (1113 m) and Mt Vinegar (1020 m).
Allowing 45 minutes for each of the activations along the track and an extra two hours for the Dom Dom ascent, activation and descent you would want to allow 12 hours, definitely a summer-only prospect. Alternatively there might be a campsite at a mid-point. My walk up from Acheron Way took 75 minutes over about 5km.
Back to reality, there were three newly fallen trees across the track indicating that it had not been driven for a while. About 15 minutes in I heard this loud and haunting call but did not see its maker. Can you identify the animal? Post a comment if you think you have it.
The summit is logged on the north side. I and other activators have used tree stumps as operating tables. Self-spotted with the Telstra iPad, on air with 5 watts SSB and a 1/4 wave center loaded squid pole ground plane at about 5pm. Conditions on 40m quite good, 14 contacts followed with VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7 with reports varying from 4×1 to 5×7.
The conditions at the summit were overcast and cool, making for good walking weather. The walk back down took me 65 minutes. On the way I spotted this remarkable little camouflaged caterpillar on a small rock, looking exactly like a fine line of moss. I had to poke him to make sure he was real.