Unnamed Summits VK3/VE-062 and VK3/VE-086

15th October 2017

Not having been out on a Summit for far too long, SOTA withdrawal symptoms were starting to appear and so an expedition was called for.  A look at the map and a check of the SOTA database showed several Summits in the VK3/VE region that had not yet been activated.  Some of these were in the area immediately south of Mt Buffalo, to the west of the Buckland Valley, an area which my lady and I had for a while wanted to explore, so we decided to take a trip along the Buffalo Range Track.  There are at least four Summits along that trail but we decided we’d take on the first two, both unnamed, as neither had been activated previously.  The other two would be held in reserve and possibly activated on the way down, if there was time and if we felt like it.

Access to these Summits is via a fairly entertaining 4WD trail.  We decided to start at the southern end since that was closest to the two Summits we’d chosen to activate.  The Buckland Valley road is very well known to us and we knew from a previous trip that Scotchmans Creek Track was closed, so we had a plan to get on to the Buffalo Range Track via a slightly different route.  That worked out well and we got to our first Summit, VK3/VE-062 without incident.

The views from along the trail are spectacular, taking in the Razorback Spur to the east and Mt Cobbler to the west.  In some places there are also great views of Mt Buffalo to the north, though the tree cover does make this somewhat hard to see.

Mt Feathertop and Mt Fainter from Buffalo Range Tk

Mt Feathertop VK3/VE-002 (right) and Mt Fainter VK3/VE-003 (left) as seen from Buffalo Range Track

VK3/VE-062

The trail goes through the activation zone for this Summit, making things very easy.  I used the Barrett 940 with the 26m doublet antenna for this activation, though finding a suitable tree from which to hang it proved interesting.  Eventually we found one and I spent a hilarious few minutes hurling a line into the branches and missing my target before finally getting the right one.  Evidently I was out of practice and more activity is called for!

Once on the air I found HF band conditions fairly depressed with low MUFs and no NVIS on 40m, pretty much as expected. I operated on 80m and 40m CW and worked a string of stations including some S2S, which was very pleasing.

Stations worked on 3.5MHz CW:

VK3CAT/P (S2S VK3/VN-017), VK3PF,

Stations worked on 7MHz CW:

VK5CZ, VK2IO, VK7CW, VK3BYD/5 (S2S VK5/NE-001),

After a while the sun came out from behind the tree we’d been using for shelter and as the temperature rose rapidly we decided it was time to move on.

VK3/VE-086

The drive along the Buffalo Range Track proved interesting and the 4WD got a bit of a workout, with some very steep grades both up and down.  We met a couple of 4WDs going in the opposite direction, one of which was being driven by a youngster who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old.  He seemed to be enjoying himself and he was making a very good job of driving the vehicle, too, though I’m not sure I’d let a youngster loose like that if it were up to me.

The Twins from VE-086

The Twins VK3/VE-017 from VK3/VE-086 Buffalo Range

Access to the VK3/VE-086 Summit is via a side-trail that leads off into the bush to the left of the main trail (heading south).  It’s a bit overgrown but is obviously still used occasionally as there were signs of a camp site having been established up there in the not too distant past.  This old trail goes right over the Summit and rejoins the main trail so it’s not necessary to turn around up there.

HF band conditions had not picked up much since the previous activation so as before I concentrated on CW operating on 80m and 40m, though I did make a brief foray onto 20m.  Only one S2S this time but once again I was pleased with the contacts I made.

Stations worked on 3.5MHz CW:

VK3CAT/P (S2S VK3/VC-033), VK7CW, VK3PF,

Stations worked on 7MHz CW:

VK2IO/P, VK4TJ, VK4RF, VK4HA,

Stations worked on 14MHz CW:

VK6NU, ZL1BYZ,

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