Originally, the plan was to activate Mt Winstanley, Mt Stirling and possibly a smaller summit on the way home on the Friday that I had off work. I left home at about 6:00 am and was making good time when I came across a sign just out of Mansfield warning of road closures due to a car rally. The night before I had checked for road closures but didn’t come across this one!
On arriving at Mirimbah, the road to Mt Stirling and Mt Buller were closed due to the car rally. I parked at the Mirimbah cafe and was advised that the road would not be open until 11 am (it was now 8:50am). The rally checkpoint staff said that with some luck it might be opened a bit earlier.
At around 10:15, they opened the road and I drove up to the Stirling road which still had a road closed sign. The guy at the sign said they would open it in a minute and that it would close again at about 12 noon. After thinking about things, I would then be stuck behind the Stirling road until about 6pm. There was just under two hours before the road would be closed again, so I thought that a rushed activation of Mt. Buller would work and then I could go back to the Stirling road and spend some time there. On arrival to the Mt Buller car park, a car rally guy said I really should be on the way out at 11:30am, which squeezed things even further.
A quick sprint up to the Mt Buller summit without much planning found me without a phone and a few other things. Just the other side of the summit comms building, there was a 3 metre length of water pipe vertically in the ground. The squid pole was attached to this.
I was on the air at 10:45 and without spotting was relieved to get a call from Phil, VK3BHR who then spotted me. A few minutes later the summit was qualified, and having a little time left, I hung around for the UTC rollover and then sprinted to the car. Signals were generally down. No photos as the phone was left in the car!
After leaving the car park at Mt Buller, it looked like the road was not about to close quite yet, so I drove down the mountain and took the Stirling Rd to Telephone Box Junction and turned left. About 1.25 km down the road is the start of the Alby’s Drop track. The car was parked here. I had heard that the best way to access Mt Winstanley was via the ridge track, but I missed it and followed the Razorback track to the closest point to the west of Mt Winstanley and then scrub bashed to the summit.
Just before the summit, Peter, VK3PF called to ask how far off the summit I was, as Rod, VK2TWR was on Mt Twynam. On the summit, the loaded EFHW was set up on a squid pole as a sloper. Signals were generally down again like Mt Buller previously. The usual suspects were worked and summit well qualified. No sign of Rod until I had packed up when a call came from Peter, VK3PF to let me know that Rod was back. The antenna was quickly thrown over some low branches and a summit to summit was made with Rod and Rob.
While on the summit, the ridge track was obvious and I followed this back to Razorback Hut and then Alby’s Drop back to the car. See the GPS plot. It was roughly 3km up and 2km down the way I went.
It was still some hours away before the Stirling Rd would be open at Mirimbah, so I drove through Telephone Box Junction on the Circuit Rd to Howqua Gap , parked the car at Howqua Hut and wondered if I had the energy to hike to Mt Stirling. The walk up is pretty steep over about 4km one way and the temperature was around 25 degrees although it felt hotter.
A few minutes later the pack was on and I found myself walking up the Gap Trail to Mt Stirling anyway. The walk was pretty hot and a lot of water was consumed.
At the summit, the squid pole was bungied onto the trig point and the loaded EFHW set up as a sloper again. It would have been interesting to compare the old full EFHW, but it was too hot to experiment. Signals were generally down again and the better reports came from VK1 and VK2. The views were very nice today, quite a contrast to the winter activation last year.
After a page of contacts, things were packed up, the last of the water consumed and I took the track back to the car.
Nice to do three ten point summits in a day.