Andrew, VK1NAM was staying in Victoria and had planned to activate quite a few summits. I was keen to activate Mt Torbreck and Pyramid Hill before the winter bonus period finishes, so contacted Andrew to see if he would mind company on the trip.
Storm force winds were predicted for the day so I put the chainsaw in the car as we didn’t want to be stuck anywhere.
We met in Healesville at 8am and headed up to Mt Torbreck via Snobs Creek Rd., turning off the Goulburn Valley Hwy about 8km from Thornton. Some 14km down Snobs Creek Rd., is the turn off to Con Gap Rd on the left. We turned off and shortly came across a fallen tree across the road. It was too big to move, but luckily I had a chainsaw in the car. After a couple of cuts of the log, Andrew pushed it out of the way and we headed on. We parked at the junction of Con Gap Rd. and Barnewall Plains Rd., where there is a large open parking area. The road to Barnewall is very steep and has a fairly serious gate across it.
It is about 2km to Barnewall Plains and a further 2km or so to the summit of Mt. Torbreck. The walk up Barnewall Plains Rd. is pretty steep and there were several trees over it on the way up. Once at Barnewall Plains, we had a quick stop and noted that the start of the Torbreck track did not match up with Andrew’s GPS or my DSE maps in Androzic.
The Torbreck track has been recently slashed for the first 500 metres or so, but then it came difficult to negotiate due to fallen trees. It looked like a microburst storm had been through as there were many young and old trees flattened in a small area. I tripped on my walking pole and bent it while getting around fallen trees. The walk is pretty steep most of the way until the last few hundred metres.
Once at the summit, we set up on the downwind side of the summit cairn to get out of the wind. I set up on 12m and Andrew set up on 2m/40m. I worked VK6MB on 12m and while Andrew was on 2m, went to 40m to qualify. There was no shortage of 40m chasers despite a a work day in Victoria. The winds were building, but it was quite comfortable out of the
As the winds were getting stronger, we packed up and headed off back to the car.
The next summit was Pyramid Hill, which is accessed from No. 5 Rd. off Snobs Creek Rd., a few km south of the Con Gap Rd. junction. We drove about 3.7km up No. 5 Rd., to the Royston Range Track. The road was good condition 2wd gravel. After parking near the gate, we headed off about 1km to the summit of Pyramid Hill.
The summit has been logged recently and is a mess of burnt logs and stumps. Andrew set up on a stump and I set up on a log slab. The 7m squid pole was strapped to a log and the 40m End Fed Half wave was connected. As Ian, VK1DI was probably waiting for us, this was our priority. Ian was calling us from Mt. Alexandra as we turned the radio on. While talking to Ian, a big gust of wind came along and took the antenna down. We made a few contacts on 40m and then I went to 12m while Andrew was on 40m. It was interesting to note that there was absolutely no interference between 12m and 40m on both summits despite close proximity of the antennas.
We worked VK6MB again on 12m using the 40m EFHW, this time with very nice signals.
A huge wind gust then came through and blew down my antenna and picked up some of Andrew’s stuff and blew it away. The gust was very strong. After a short search we located Andrew’s bits and pieces and decided it was time to leave before a tree came down. The weather radar was showing a front coming though with rain.
Luckily we didn’t have much rain on the walk back or the drive home, it must have been blown away. Another great day in the hills, thanks Andrew!