Category Archives: VK3/VN-030

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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Mt Little Joe (VK3/VC-027) and Mt Strickland (VK3/VN-030)

Sunday 23rd October 2016 promised to break a cold and wet spell in Victoria’s Spring weather that had deposited heavy rain, hail and snow down to 800 meters.  The night before, a bunch of keen activators had braved the weather to participate in a VK-ZL-G-Eu joint activation timed to capitalise on grey-line propagation.  Hats off to those who did go out because Melbourne’s weather was atrocious and a summit was about the last place most people would have wanted to be.  The next day, Sunday, dawned dry.  I considered going up to Lake Mountain for Federation Range but the snow cams showed a fresh coating of powdery white stuff, not enough to ski on but plenty enough to make it cold. What I really wanted was to christen my recently completed homebrew 7MHz SSB rig, codenamed ‘Summit Prowler One’.  The design and build story for this project in another post.  Mt Little Joe promised a good activation experience and a fresh mountain walk.

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Return to Mt Gordon VK3/VN-027 and Mt Strickland VK3/VN-030

Sunday 10th July 2016 turned out to be my first SOTA outing for several months.  Weather was windy, overcast with intermittent showers forecast, not the worst of winter, so I headed up to the northern end of the Yarra Ranges. First up was Mt Gordon VK3/VN-027 on the way to Marysville, turning off opposite the trout farm, my second visit here (the first one was on June 8th 2015).  The summit was windy and cold. I set up the dipole which performs better than the vertical. Self-spotting and going on air at 1430, conditions were average at best, the spot bought out two stations who I could not complete QSOs with, Matt VK1MA and Geoff VK3SQ Both were weak signals and faded right out on second overs. Five QSOs followed quickly, VKs 3GGG, 5IS, 2IO, 5EE and 2PX with my signals varying between 3×5 and 5×7.

Looking north from the Mt Gordon operating spot.

 

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Mt Strickland VK3/VN-030 and Mt Vinegar VK3/VC-005 on a winter solstice

I had previously driven past the Mt Strickland Spur Track (off Granton Rd, which runs south from the Marysville Rd C512) to survey the approach to Mt Strickland from the north.  Granton Rd is just a few kilometers back toward Melbourne on the Marysville Rd after the turnoff to Mt Gordon.  So if it had worked out it would have been an easy segue from Mt Gordon to Mt Strickland.  However, upon finding the intersection of Granton and Strickland Spur Track, it was a definite 4wd prospect, and on consulting the map, I could see it was a long walk from there.  It looks to be about 6 km each way.  Not impossible but you need some time up your sleeve.  When I returned home, I consulted Wayne VK3WAM and other Mt Strickland activator’s blogs who described driving almost to the top if you come in from Acheron Way via Feiglins Rd.  So I did. The next time I was in the area.  Which happened to be June 21st, the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice.

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On New Boundary Rd looking east. Activated just to the right.

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