We were staying down at Wilson’s Promontory for 2 weeks, the most Southern part of the Australian mainland. There are several SOTA summits at the Prom, but most are very difficult to access. The weather was a bit windy and cool during the first few days there, so decided to activate a few summits.
Sparkes Lookout – VK3/VT-079
I had activated this summit last year, its only a 1 pointer, but a very nice walk (~2.5km) from the Wilson’s Promontory Rd at Darby Saddle. The actual peak is to the SE of Sparkes Lookout and requires a little off track walking. About 40m before the lookout, there is a break in the scrub on the left. I followed some rough tracks or breaks in the scrub for about 180 metres in a South East direction gaining height, until the GPS showed I was well in the activation zone. Eyes were peeled for snakes along the way! We had seen a brown snake back a the camp. A small 25 litre pack carried a 4 metre mini squid pole, the FT817 and EFHW matcher. The 40m EFHW was set up in a clearing and once on air there was no shortage of activity. During 20 minutes of operation, 21 contacts were logged including summit to summits with Tony, VK3CAT on The Bluff and Greg, VK2FGJW on One Tree Hill in VK1.
Several chasers warned of a storm front on the way and Tony, VK3CAT reported it had reached The Bluff and he would have to quickly make a few contacts and shut down. At this point I had a look through the trees and could see a wall of bad weather out to sea. Time to pack up ASAP. Everything was packed up smartly and I made a brisk departure down the track. At around 400 metres from the car, the heavens opened up and the wind became gale force.
Mt. Oberon – VK3/VT-060
This one was also activated last year. This time, the smaller 4 metre squid pole was taken up. Upon arriving at the summit, there were quite a few tourists admiring the views, so thought it best to move down the summit a little and just use the “cute little antenna” on 40m rather than the squid pole and EFHW. The first contact was Andrew, VK1NAM and Greg, VK2FGJW on Mt. Goorooyarroo in the ACT. Signals were low but fully readable. Andrew also had a “cute little antenna” and swapped over to it. Signals were a little lower but still fully readable. Summit to summits were made with Tony, VK3CAT on Mt. Stirling, Nigel, VK5NIG on Mt. Gawler and VK3ARR on Mt. Warrenheip. By this time the crowd had left the summit, so the EFHW was erected on the small squid pole. Stations worked reported an increase in signal as expected. The little antenna was then tuned to 20m to see if VK6MB could be worked. Instead, Paul, VK5PAS came back with 5×9 signal and gave me a 5×9. Not bad for a small loaded whip. 17 contacts in all were made.
North_Vereker_Range – VK3/VT072
Last year I made it most of the way to this summit, but lost my mobile phone and ended up spending an hour trying to find it before turning back. This time I went with a couple of friends that know the Prom pretty well. One was recently researching animal population in remote areas at the Prom.
After the 3km walk to Vereker Outlook, we left the track at the outlook and headed roughly South East from the eastern side of the path. I would not recommend this hike to anyone not experienced in off track navigation.
Last year there was the occasional old white and red plastic marker in a tree, but these were mostly gone this year. We followed the odd animal track and cleared bits in the bush along the ridge although keeping on the South West side of the ridge. At S38 55.446 E146 20.121 we found the remains of an old road or track. The road had large trees growing in the middle and generally followed the 380 metre contour line. It was not easy to walk on due to fallen trees etc., but we followed it to the point where it went in a shallow saddle with VT072 to the right. At this point we went a little way in the activation zone. We were a little rushed as we had one of our party waiting at Vereker Outlook and we had been away for quite a while. The EFHW was erected and 9 contacts made. Signals were very strong from the VK3’s with many 5×9’s exchanged. After about 15 minutes, we packed up and headed back.
Despite_intentions to do some further activations in the days following, the weather became very hot with 4 days over 40 degrees C. In these conditions it was not sensible to do any further activations due to bushfire risk so we spent our time at the beach.