This trip we decided to visit some old summits and some new ones. We have thought about venturing into the 4WD area off the Mount Stirling Circuit Rd in the past and the opportunity arose with some nice weather.
The summits in the plan were:
Mt Number 3
King Billy No. 1
Heading up towards Mansfield on Friday afternoon, we had planned to camp at Carter’s Mill near Sawmill Settlement. It was a rush to get to Mansfield before 6pm when a camping supply shop closed, although we made it with minutes to spare. After a nice dinner at the Delatite Hotel (again), we left for the planned campsite to find it full of campers, unfortunately. Looking at the map, there was a camp ground right near Mt. Winstanley (Razorback Hut). Arriving at this camp in the dark, we found it empty.
A reasonably early start from Razorback camp had us on Mt. Winstanley around 10:40am local. Conditions on 40m were not so good into VK3, although VK5 and VK1 were strong. 20m was good into VK2 and VK4. Kevin’s wife Jody VK3FJAT, qualified the summit on 40m pretty quickly.
From Razorback camp, we went back to the Circuit Rd. and then almost immediately turned left into No. 3 Rd (2wd with ground clearance). After about 8.5km along this road we arrived at Mt. No 3. We all walked out of the activation zone and then back to the summit and set up a linked dipole on 40m. As we were running behind schedule, we didn’t set up on any other bands. 40m had improved since Winstanley.
We drove back down No. 3 Rd. until reaching the Circuit Rd. again and followed it clockwise until Clear Hills Rd. Clear Hills Rd. took us to Craig’s Hut where we had a look around and were surprised at how many cars were there. From the Hut, we kept going South West along Clear Hills Rd. until we reached Mt. Stirling. This part was definitely 4wd with a few rock steps. There were a several storms in the vicinity so we had a late lunch and picked our moment to bolt up to the summit for a quick activation.
After the Stirling activation, we continued along the track down to Howqua Gap Hut. Once at the Circuit Rd., we turned left and headed West for Bindaree Rd. (2wd).
10km along Bindaree Rd., we forded the Howqua River and took Bluff Link Rd. (2wd with ground clearance) to Bluff Track (4wd) and rough in parts. The plan was to camp at Bluff Hut, this changed as the Hut was full of 4wds. We continued on past Mt. Lovick even though it would have been nice to activate it, we were running out of time if we were to set up camp in the light. The track became quite rough in places with more rock step sections. We reached Lovick’s hut in the light and set up camp.
The following morning, we left for King Billy Saddle further along Bluff Track. It was pretty slow going with several rough rocky sections. Once at King Billy Saddle, the walk up to King Billy No. 1 was only about 1km. From this mountain at about 11am local, I qualified on 20m with VK5IS, VK6MB, VK5PAS and VK5WG. We then went over to 40m.
It was then back to the car and we sorted out what we needed for the longer hike to Mt. Magdala. The walk to Mt. Magdala is about 3.5km from King Billy Saddle where you decend and walk along a ridge and then up to Magdala. Kevin and I arrived on the summit at 1pm local and found it totally devoid of trees for the squid pole. The squid pole was erected the by tying it to our walking sticks and used a ratchet tie to clamp it to a boulder.
We contacted Jody back at King Billy Saddle on 2m and made a 20m contact with VK6MB before working the pile up on 40m. By 1:23 local, the last call was made and we packed up.
Over towards Mt. Howitt, there were a couple of dark clouds brewing. We were about 1km from the car when a thunderstorm arrived on top of us. It rained very heavily and before long we were completely soaked. Worse still, we were concerned about the condition of the track for our return trip. The drive back along Bluff Track was slow but the wet conditions didn’t affect the track as much as we thought.
It was still raining when we arrived at Mt. Lovick. We decided to make a quick activation in a Bothy Bag using one radio and a quick deployment of the end fed. There were a few rumbles of thunder still, so we set up a little down from the summit. After a false start with a broken power cable, the mic. was passed around Jody, Kevin and myself quickly so as to qualify the summit for each operator. We were all pretty wet by the time we had finished. It must have sounded funny to those we contacted. Thanks to those chasers that didn’t mind us passing the mic. around. We might not have all qualified otherwise.
The trip out was the same as the way in, via Bluff Link Rd., Bindaree Rd. and the Circuit Rd. We could have taken Brocks Rd. out, but we came a cross a convoy of 4wds that were heading that way from Bluff Hut and figured that it might be slow going. Also there would have been a lot of others using that road to Sheepyard Flat.
A great weekend with all planned summits activated, 60 points in total.