We had a narrow window of opportunity to head to the hills on Saturday evening and return Sunday. Kevin dropped around to pick me up at 8pm on Saturday night in slightly damp weather. The forecast was not looking that good either, with severe storm warnings for the north east of Victoria. Nevertheless, we loaded up the car and headed off with the intention of camping at Rubicon for an early start to Mt Torbreck / Mt Bullfight, Bill Head and possibly another.
As I had activated Mt Bullfight this year, and Kevin had activated Mt Torbreck this year, so the plan was for me to climb Mt Torbreck while Kevin climbed Mt Bullfight and then afterwards we would meet up and climb Bill Head together.
We arrived at the Kendall B campground at 10:30pm in light rain. The tent and swag were erected quickly in the drizzle. The campground is well set out, with large areas bordered by pine pole barriers for tents and open areas for caravans. There were a couple of other caravans some distance off from our chosen campsite.
It rained all night until about 5am making it hard to get a good nights sleep. At 6am we arose and had some breakfast while the tents sort of dried a bit. By about 7am we had the tents packed and were on our way to Mt. Torbreck via Snobs Creek Rd and Con Gap Rd.
The idea was to drive to the junction of Con Gap Rd and Barnewall Plains Rd, and I would walk about 2km up the road to the start of the 2.1km Mt Torbreck track. We arrived at this junction and looked at the steep rutted start of the track and Kevin thought he would give it a go. The Triton had no problem getting up, so we then drove up the track to the start of the Torbreck track, saving 2km of walking.
At the track, I hopped out and started on the track at 8am. After only 100m in the drizzle, water was getting into my boots so I put on plastic overpants, which only made it worse. The overpants were collecting water while brushing past the wet ferns and grass and the water was running into the lace part of the boots. There wasn’t much that could be done, maybe gaiters would have been a little better. The walk up is steep, but this time not covered in fallen trees like the last trip. After about 400m of elevation gain, I arrived on the ridge to meet strong winds and more rain. The squid pole was tied to a post, the EFHW erected and I made myself comfortable in a Bothy Bag to escape the elements.
Conditions were terrible on 40m, there was also a geomagnetic storm in progress. Despite conditions, summit to summit contacts were made with Ian,VK1DI on Mt Mundoonen, Andrew, VK1NAM on Mt. Taylor, David, VK3XDM on Tinkers Lookout in Tasmania and Kevin, VK3KAB who had arrived on Mt Bullfight. It rained lightly for the whole activation. I tried another antenna to improve signals, but no real improvement was noted.
The walk down the mountain was fairly quick, so to save Kevin the 4WD up the Barnewall Plains Rd, I walked / jogged the 2km down the road to the junction of Con Gap Rd. Shortly after the 2m radio sprung to life with Kevin on the way. Kevin arrived a short time later and we had an early lunch.
We took Con Gap Rd from the north (where we were parked) to find highest part of the road to start the walk to Bill Head. This turned out to be the more difficult way. Next time we will take the south part of Con Gap Rd from Snobs Creek Rd. The road was pretty rough with many fallen logs which we had to move. The blackberry was creeping over the road and slowing our progress. Kevin went crazy with machete on some to make a path for the car around a small log. Wattle regrowth was also hampering our progress and scraping the car.
Eventually we made it to a point on the road a little north of Bill Head where it seemed a more gently climb. Parking the car off the road was difficult and involved a sort of bulldozer approach to make space. It was doubtful that anyone would be on the road. The walk up was again a bit wet with thick bush dripping onto our clothes all the way.
At the top, about 1km bush bash from the road, we set up two stations. I opted for the easy loaded End Fed and Kevin set up a linked dipole.
Signals were still down, but the summit was easily qualified by both stations. We both worked Rob, VK2QR on Talbingo Mountain.