With Autumn weather now set in and some sunny days predicted for the ANZAC day long weekend, it was hard to resist a trip to the Alpine Park. This was my last opportunity to visit the park before winter. The plan was to drive up on the Saturday around noon and activate Bryce’s Plain (VK3/VT-004) and then leave early for Mt Howitt (VK3/VT-001) the next morning. Both are 10 point summits.
Bryce’s Plain is an easy activation although there is a lot of dirt road driving to get there. The summit itself is only a few hundred metres from the Howitt Road.
After leaving home at 11:30am, I arrived at Bryce’s Plain at 3:30pm, a bit earlier than expected. The trip was via Traralgon and Licola. The bitumen road ends on the Tamboritha Road at the Wellington River and this section of dirt road until Tamboritha Saddle is very corrugated on the bends. After the steep climb to Tamboritha Saddle, the road is in overall better condition.
Once at Bryce’s Plain, the car was driven about half way up the road to the summit and parked just in the activation zone. The gear was then taken a bit further up and a dipole strung up on the squid pole. The home brew amplifier powered from a 4200mAh LiFe battery was set up with the FT-817.
The summit was quickly qualified on 40m with 3 summit to summits, Paul VK3HN on Pyramid Hill, Gerard VK2IO on Canoelands and Peter VK3PF on MT. Hoddle. Of note was John, ZL1BYZ on 40m as well.
A switch was made to 20m and the band was open to Europe. I could hear many stations calling and some it seems were blind calling as they did not hear me reply. This made it difficult to copy callsigns. 13 DX contacts were logged, when I suddenly realised I was sitting in a polo shirt and light pants, the sun had set and my fingers were numb. The tent was not up, so I had to leave the radio, find some warmer clothes, gloves and hat and then erect the tent. The thermometer on the pack was showing 3 degrees.
The next morning, there was ice over the tent and a thick frost. The thermometer read -1 degrees. This made it rather difficult to pack up the tent quickly. The Mt. Howitt car park is about half an hour further up the Howitt Rd.
I started the hike to Mt. Howitt at a later than planned 9:30 am from the car park. The hike distance is 7km each way via Macalister Springs. The walk was uneventful and arrived on the summit at 11:20 am. The squid pole was attached to a boulder with bungy cords to support the good old end fed loaded half wave on 40. Summit to summits were Peter VK3PF on Mt Tassie and Hugh VK5NHG on Tothill Range.
Quite a few contacts were made on 40m and later 20m managed ZL and VK6.
Panorama shot from the summit.
Travel times from Narre Warren North excluding stops were:
2:30 to Licola via Traralgon
3:20 to Lost Plain (Near Arbuckle Junction)
4:00 to Bryce’s Plain
4:30 to Howitt Plains car park