David VK3KR and I made plans for a visit to Mt Ritchie VK3/VC-003, 1255m (8 pts) and Mt Toolebewong VK3/VC-033, 735m (4 pts). This would be our first use of the approach from the north, rather than using the usual 8km round trip via Road 15 (from Acheron Way) then Road 10. While the southern route is a great hike in the Yarra Ranges, it takes up most of a day. But more so, some more skilled cartographers than I have determined that an alternate route in, from the north, has greater clearance from the water catchment area boundary. Two good reasons to choose the new route, from the north.
Credit for working out the north approach to Mt Ritchie goes to Mitch VK3XDM, Peter VK3PF, Ken VK3KIM and Ron VK3AFW. You can follow the discussion on the OZSOTA Group. Glenn VK3YY’s description is here. Ron VK3AFW’s description is here. I will add my description in my own words and pictures so that anyone trying it for the first time should have no doubt.
We drove south on Acheron Way from the Marysville Road. Feiglins Road comes up on the left (east side). We turned into Feiglin’s Rd and followed it right up to the intersection with MMBW Road, formerly Road 8. Turning left here takes you straight to Mt Strickland, VK3/VN-030. Instead, turn right on MMBW Road, a very good dirt road, and follow it all the way (about 3 km) to the closed gate. We parked in the obvious turnout about 200m down the slope from the gate (GPS trace marked ‘A’ below). Load your pack and fill your water bottle.
From your parked car, walk about 100m towards the gate (move to the mid point between your car and the gate) and look right, up the hill, for a large fallen tree trunk with some orange ribbon tied to a dead branch. Other descriptions describe a marker tape on a sapling, we couldn’t find this, but the large tree trunk cannot be missed.
Dive in here and pick your way through the knee high grass and higher bush to the far end of the fallen tree (about 20m). Then turn left and basically find your best path up the slope, heading more or less south east. The thicker bush quickly thins out, the bush bashing becomes easier, and after about 300m you stumble onto an old 4WD track. This is the old Road 8. Now simply follow it up the mountain. If you wish, consider tying your own coloured ribbon or cloth at the point where you step onto Road 8 as a reminder of the exact point to dive back into the bush on your return.
We added a second orange tape at the entry point, and 3 or 4 bright orange plastic tapes to mark our path through the 300m bush bash section. Other walkers have also left a few markers, although one or two of these were very faded.
It’s pretty simple.
On the summit, we activated on 40m SSB, 20 and 40m CW. The band was so quiet, all we could hear initially were internal receiver birdies and noise, so much so that David questioned whether his newly made linked dipole was open circuit. We used two of my homebrew SSB/CW QRP transceivers, SP7 and SP9 (new, description under preparation!). On air, conditions were variable but good, a set list follows for VK3HN.
Summit:VK3/VC-003 (Mt Ritchie) | Call Used:VK3HN/P | Points: 8
|02:55||VK2IO||14MHz||CW||Gerard s579 r549|
|02:58||ZL1BYZ||14MHz||CW||John s559 r559|
|03:03||ZL3GA||14MHz||CW||Geoff s559 r549|
|03:05||VK5IS||14MHz||CW||Ian s599 r559|
|03:10||VK3ARH||7MHz||CW||Allen s559 r599|
|03:15||VK3PF||7MHz||CW||Peter s579 r599|
|03:17||VK3UAO||7MHz||SSB||Stuart s57 r55 in Mt Ridley Conservation Reserve|
|03:20||VK3PF||7MHz||SSB||Peter s59 r59|
|03:22||VK3ANL||7MHz||SSB||Nick s59 r59 QSB|
|03:24||VK2VH||7MHz||SSB||Rob s59 r55|
|03:27||VK4AAC/2||7MHz||SSB||Rob s59 r55|
Mt Toolbewong VK3/VC-033
After a near perfect early summer’s hike at Ritchie, a side trip to Mt Toolbewong VK3/VC-033 not far south of Healesville capped off a great day. Mt Toolebewong is off Moora Moora Rd, named with the Moora Moora Cooperative, a self sufficiency community that dates from the 1980s. I noticed for the first time some of the artisan mud brick houses nearby, reminiscent of Montsalvat at Eltham. An idyllic mountain place with an interesting history.
Mt Toolebewong has a good path back to Melbourne, so I started on 2m SSB, working Andrew VK3TOT in Gordon near Ballarat, then SOTA MG Tony VK3CAT at his home, both stations excellent signals. Lots of calling failed to raise another chaser on 2m SSB so a quick spot on 40m CW and a string of five keen chasers in quick succession.
Summit:VK3/VC-033 (Mt Toolebewong) | Call Used:VK3HN/P | Points: 4
|06:49||VK3TOT||144MHz||SSB||Andrew s59 r58 Gordon near Ballarat|
|07:15||VK3CAT||144MHz||SSB||Tony s59 r59|
|07:20||VK3APC||144MHz||SSB||Tony s59 r59|
|07:27||VK2IO||7MHz||CW||Gerard s599 r579|
|07:30||VK3PF||7MHz||CW||Peter s559 r439|
|07:33||ZL1TM||7MHz||CW||Andrei s579 r579|
|07:35||VK1CT||7MHz||CW||Chris s579 r559|
|07:37||VK4TJ||7MHz||CW||John s579 r559|