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McCarthy Spur (VT-039) and Spion Kopje (VT-040)

 

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Noojee trestle bridge.

McCarthy Spur (VK3/VT-039) at 938 meters and 6 points is accessible from the town of Noojee, not far from this remarkable trestle bridge (above).  From the township I headed north on the C418 Loch Valley Rd, and just before leaving the town, veered left onto McCarthy Spur Rd.  This takes you over the sparkling LaTrobe River and a pleasant picnic ground on the left.  The road becomes dirt and heads up the hill within about 500 meters.  I followed the good 2wd surface for 11.7 km to the intersection with Boundary Rd.  Turning into Boundary Rd, after about 900 meters I arrived at a locked water catchment gate, just past Montane Rd on the right.  From here, the summit is not far away, but the last 500 meters on foot is slow going indeed. Glenn VK3YY’s blog had alerted me to the fact that it was not easy, by virtue of there being no track whatsoever.  He described bush-bashing to within the activation zone, and rated it a close second to North Hell’s Gate for access difficulty.

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MST400 Mk I

Over the past year a number of people have asked me about the MST400 I use on activations and portable.  The MST400 from OzQrp has proven to be a fine starter kit radio for SOTA activations.  Here is the eham review.  As of May 2017 I’ve activated 62 VK3 summits (over 400 SOTA activator points) exclusively with this rig.  It is the radio in all of the summit photographs on this blog.  Monoband, SSB, 5 watts RF output,  about 100mA draw on receive and three quarters of an amp on transmit,  a DDS VFO (AD9834) for accurate frequency setting and digital dial. It is lightweight and reasonably sized, given that you assemble it yourself with no surface mount parts.  The receiver design is an uncomplicated SA612 superhet, 10MHz IF, and is more than adequate in the low noise mountain setting.

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Unplanned dual activation of The Hump VK3/VE-019 with David VK3IL

School holidays for me involves balancing time at work with time at home.  This June-July I decided to take the First Harmonic (FH) away for a 4-day middle weekend trip to Bright in north-east Victoria, just the two of us.  FH has wanted to explore snow for some time, and I thought the combination of snow, cafes and bike trails would be a winner.  We arrived in Bright on Friday afternoon, checked into our modest but cozy accommodation, and planned our trip to Mt Buffalo for Saturday and Falls Creek for skiing on Sunday.  The next day, with hired chains in the back, we drove up to the Mt Buffalo plateau, to find not more than pockets and a dusting of snow.  The local guide in the information center had told us this was the worst snow season for 30 years.  After making a meager snow man on the oval near the Chalet, I convinced FH to climb The Hump (VK3/VE-019) with radio gear in pack.

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Where the ascent begins, on the main summit road near Cresta valley.

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