Headed out to Mt. Bride on Saturday morning for a planned SOTA activation. I left a little earlier than planned taking HF/VHF gear and squidpole in the back pack.
Access to Mt Bride is pretty straight forward:
From the Warburton highway, about 3km east of Yarra Junction turn right into Old Warburton Rd (sealed). Follow the road until the Mount Bride Rd (unsealed 2WD) on the right, its easy to miss. Continue along Mount Bride Rd and then turn left into to Burns Rd (4WD) and head up about 1km. If you have decent ground clearance, this road is OK for a 2WD when dry. If not, its only an extra km walk from the junction. Follow Burns Rd for about 1km around its highest point and then look for an unmarked walking track to the right. This track takes you over the Mt. Bride summit.
Although the Mt Bride summit is heavily treed, there are a couple of small clearings around the summit. The squid pole and end fed half wave were cranked up and suitable tie points found for the ends. The dipole did touch a couple of trees, this is hard to avoid.
Once on air, signals were strong from VK1, VK3 and VK5 call areas. A total of 28 contacts were made including summit to summits with VK1NAM on AC037 and VK1IRC on AC038 and VK3WAM on Mt Gordon. Stayed around until after the UTC rollover and headed off.
As it was still early, I thought it would be a good idea to checkout Britannia Range, another SOTA summit not to far away (~5km or so). I had heard from Kevin, VK3KAB, that access was a bit more difficult than Mt Bride.
From the parking location on Burns Rd, I turned around and headed down to the junction with Mt Bride Rd and turned left into Mt Bride Rd. The condition of this road is pretty good, just watch for motor bikes appearing out of nowhere.
After 5 or so km, there is Britannia Range Tk on the right hand side (4WD). This road is for real 4WDs with lots of ground clearance. I could have parked here as there is a lot of space, but drove back the direction I came and parked at the corner of Ezard Spur Tk and walked back to Britannia Range Tk. On the way, I had a chat with some guys on trail bikes about the condition of the track.
The walk up Britannia Range Tk is pretty steep although only about 1.6km or so. At the highest point in the road, I couldnt see a track towards the summit on the right. Ended up walking into an area where a bulldozer had pushed a lot dirt and then found a less dense area where someone else had recently bashed though (Kevin?) but that became hard to follow, so just keep slowly going in the shoulder high bracken ferns and bush. Eventually I was close enough to the summit and stomped down a small area to put down the pack. It was going to be difficult to get the end fed half wave set up, so decided to just get out a hand held with a 5/8th whip. After a few calls, managed to work VK3PF and VK3NFI in the Latrobe Valley. Shortly after, VK3FABA who let me know that VK3WAM was on the same frequency. We QSY’d to SSB on 146.475 and after some moving around and using walking poles against the 5/8th as a poor counterpoise was able to work Wayne summit to summit on Mt. Dom Dom, which is anything but a clear path. I think Donna Buang is in the way. Ron, VK3AFW came up and I packed up and left as it wasn’t the most comfortable operating location.