The Sunday of ANZAC Day weekend emerged as my first full SOTA day for 2016 and with perfect weather forecast (low 20 degrees Celsius) I was keen to have a second try at Mount Bullfight (VK3/VN-002), this time approaching it from the ridge, not the creek. Last time, on 2nd December last year, I arrived later in the day after having activated two other summits, Mt Mitchell (VK3/VN-012) and the scenic Sugarloaf Peak (VK3/VN-011). On that occasion I left Bullfight Track about 300 meters further on and encountered the creek and thick undergrowth — not easy. There is a description of the two approaches in my previous post, and a map with the two paths here. There are no paths or tracks in the vicinity of Mount Bullfight summit, so no two climbers take exactly the same way. This time I wanted to cut in from Bullfight Track earlier, close to Stillman’s Lookout sign, which others had reported as being relatively clear of the dense undergrowth that slowed me down. I also wanted to tackle it as the first summit of the day, not the second or third, with plenty of time to spare. Whichever way you take, the final ascent to Bullfight summit is a decent climb.
I left the eastern suburbs at 7.45am and parked the car about two thirds of the way up Bullfight Track, at a point immediately on the safe side of a deep rut, at 10.40am. Compared to last November the Track was in better condition, relatively dry and clear of the strewn forest litter encountered the previous visit. After walking for about 10 minutes I remembered I had left the gaiters in the car. If there was ever a summit where they might save scratches and discomfort it was this one, so I doubled back and got them.
This time I left Bullfight Track within 10 meters of the Stillman’s Lookout sign on the right and the first Bullfight Nature Conservation Reserve sign on the left, and walked just east of south up to the ridge. The forest floor was relatively open and the climb only moderate. Up on the ridge, I turned right, easily following the ridge in a south-westerly direction towards the summit. Much easier and quicker than last time.
After about 500 meters the massive granite boulders that mark the summit necessitated less walking and more scrambling. No track, so it was a bit of trying one way, being blocked by bush or a sheer rock face, back-tracking and finding an alternate way. But not hard climbing and I was soon at the top, and greeted by a great view to the east which I had completely missed last time.
The activation was on the 40m inverted vee and band conditions were good for the middle of the day. Good reports from chasers in VK2,3 and 7. Worked Peter VK3PF who was portable at Wilson’s Promontory, busily handing out park numbers.
Up on the ridge I noticed these faded orange tape markers, nowhere enough of them to constitute a marked path, but a sign that someone has marked this way for access in the past.
They might have been left by Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum who monitor the nesting boxes. Here’s one of the synthetic nesting boxes they place in habitat on display at Healesville Sanctuary.
So happily no ‘bush fight’ to get to the top of Bullfight his time. And I didn’t even need the gaiters.
Next was Pyramid Hill, also a return visit. This is accessed from No 5 Rd, past the first Royston Road gate and right next to the second (closed, blocking access to an active logging coupe). Just near this gate there is a slightly overgrown steep track heading north, which takes you around the north side of the summit. To get to the summit you leave the track and bush bash over felled and burnt tree logs, slow going but the distance is short. The summit is rocky and timbered.
The time on the summit was remarkably quiet, both acoustically and in RF terms. I erected the 40m inverted vee on the DXWire squid pole. Again most chasers returned good reports. Just as the SOTA chasers were thinning out I was called by Peter VK3YE, working from Chelsea Pier on his MDT double sideband 2 watt transceiver from OzQRP. We had an enjoyable chat about homebrew and portable topics for 20 minutes or so, by which time the sun was dropping and I signed.
Just after I had dropped the dipole, Glen VK3YY called Peter from Bryce’s Plain. When he finished I called Glen summit-to-summit, with the dipole literally on the ground at both ends and no more than 2 meters off the ground at its center. Amazingly I worked him, receiving 4×1 from Glen, who also reported having no noise. It just goes to show what is possible with meager power and antennas when the stations at both ends have no RF noise! After a long-ish stay I departed from Pyramid Hill around 5pm, arriving back home after 8pm. The sun and the activator’s day both set quickly this time of year.
I recently installed MyTrails from FrogSparks on the smartphone, and I turned it on when I left the car on Bullfight Track.