Category Archives: VK3/VN-029

Three Summits in the Yarra Ranges: Federation Range, Mt Strickland and Mt Donna Buang

Activators have been bemoaning the poor state of HF propagation recently. But when planning an August SOTA activation in Melbourne, the propagation forecast runs a distant second to the weather forecast. If the HF propagation is bad you might not get the 4 contacts, but if the weather is bad you might get seriously bogged or snowed in.  If nothing else you’ll come home wet and miserable.  So I studied the weather report carefully for Friday the 4th of August. A series of three low pressure systems of varying strength were on the weather map bringing low temperatures, strong winds, rain and snow down to 900 meters. Friday morning looked to afford a break. I considered Mt Matlock (VK3/VC-001) but when the morning came after an evening of steady rain I opted for Federation Range (VK3/VN-029) near Lake Mountain, figuring that walking 5km each way through slushy snow would be better than driving 50km each way along the pot-holed water-logged C511. As it happened, it was the right choice.

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Federation Range VK3/VN-029

At 1490 meters Federation Range (VK3/VN-029) is the highest point in the Yarra Ranges and the only SOTA summit accessible from the Lake Mountain snow resort.  By resort I mean day visiting area for cross country skiers, tobogganists and snow-man makers.   From Marysville it is an easy drive to the resort car park, and out of season there is no park entrance fee and no traffic.

The summit approach is through the alpine area on ski trails.  Six years on from Black Saturday the eucalyptus forest is a sea of silver-grey weathered dead trees, burned and baked en masse in the inferno of that day.  Regrowth is thick in places but the predominant feeling is one of transition as the landscape regenerates, the silver-grey ghosts of the pre 2009 forest standing tall over the rampant undergrowth.  The dead upper story will be there for many years yet, perhaps decades.  I am not an ecologist but I assume the fire has created once in a century conditions for fauna and flora as the old trees are yet to fall and rot and the new forest is too young to support certain habitats needed in a balanced ecosystem.  On a different note the stark colors and textures bring out the (smartphone) photographer in you.  It is a black and white symphony.  With a touch of eucalyptus olive.

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