Alan VK3XE
Amateur radio adventures

Another day in the Yarra Ranges

I keep ending up activating summits in the Yarra Ranges partly because there are so many decent summits close together, but as I spend more time around the area it’s really growing on me. This time being summer I wanted to make the most of the light (and warmth) and see if I can activate four summits in one day.

Federation Range


Managed to follow the wrong path out of Lake Mountain resort, but checking my GPS vs planned route quickly shown my error.

A nice walk with dew still heavy on the ground but good progress was being made

Sadly after about 2km I find that the last trial I need is closed. Spent some time looking at the topographic map in OsmAnd, but couldn’t see anyway to get high enough to activate

Buxton Peak


With the first activation failed I looked at and seen Buxton Peak was along the way to my next summit. Drove past but didn’t see an obvious access route and has had only one other activation

Mt Mitchell


From the map looks like the summit is pretty much on the road, I taken Jackson Break off of Black Range Rd but there was a tree across the track. Was already in the activation zone but walked on to try and get closer to the actual summit. Didn’t quite make it but found a nice green shady spot to setup. Started calling CQ on 40m phone. Made a couple of contacts but they dries up quick. Tried 20m for 10 mins with no takers at all, moved up to 10 after seeing Peter VK3PF spot there but couldn’t here him. Tried calling CQ with no luck again, moved back to 40 for a listen around and picked up a park activation to get me over the line

        It was shadier when I setup

It was shadier when I setup

Still one activation down, I south toward Mt Dom Dom, and came across a tree across Black Range Rd, which would have been a much bigger detour (and harder to plan as there were numerous roads about, but odds are they would be 4WD tracks that my car wouldn’t make it down). I stopped and taken a look and it wasn’t that thick so I just slowed down and drove over it.

Mt Dom Dom


I slighly misread VK3HN’s Mt Dom Dom blog post, parked at the Dom Dom Saddle picnic area and started walking, and then noticed the road was of pretty good quality (which he pointed out I could have driven). I taken the branch off of Mt Dom Dom Rd, and turned left and started climbing the hill following what may or may not have been a natural track. Got to about 150m below the summit, where the foilage got much thicker. Tried to keep climbing up, but at this point it was too steep for me to safely bush bash. Tried skirting my way around a little more but very thick foilage prevented me doing that too. Worked my way back to nearly Mt Dom Dom Rd, and decided to pull the pin before I started running out of light for my later summits!

Archer Lookout


From Mt Dom Dom, I was actually very close to Archer Lookout, but without a good 4WD I had to take the Black Spur back to Healesville, and then up via Mt St Leonard & Monda Rds. I knew the road to Archer Lookout taken me straight past Mt St Leonard, but given that Mt St Leonard was only a few km from the main road, I wanted to arrange my afternoon so I wouldn’t be driving too much on windy gravel roads that I didn’t know well at night. Past Mt St Leonard the road went from reasonable quality to something more rough so slowed down and pressed on. At this point I’d been thinking Archer Lookout would be a nice easy drive up summit, but about 1.5km from the summit there were some deep wheel ruts that wouldn’t have been wise to try and drive through in my car, so back on foot again up the hill.

I knew the boundary of Yarra Ranges National Park was just to the south of Archer Lookout, so instead of going to the summit itself, Monda Rd continues just to the south. My memory said that the sound of Monda Rd was the boundary, so setup on the side of the road to be sure.

By this stage it was about 4:30pm and I was only finally setting up for my second activation of the day! Luckily it was the time of day where 40m is a bit more busy with locals, so rustling up some contacts went pretty quickly, first off was ZL3MR who I’d tried to catch for a summit to summit contact back at Mt Mitchell, but couldn’t hear him.

        A local checking out what I’m up to

A local checking out what I’m up to

        There were some beautiful tall trees about, but most of them far beyond what I could use a throw bag up to get an antenna up in to

There were some beautiful tall trees about, but most of them far beyond what I could use a throw bag up to get an antenna up in to

Mt St Leonard


An exceptionally easy summit to find, parked at the gate and started climbing up the hill. By this stage my lack of fitness was really showing up, but slowly one step after another climbed up to the summit, and then back down the access track a little to get away from the collection of transmitters. Mucked around a little working out what tree to use to support the random wire antenna, and before I’d even got the KX3 out of it’s pouch I’d set on the ground I already had leeches crawling on it, so moved in to the middle of the access track to setup. Gave 40m a quick listen to find a TX spot, starting my search at 7.090 like I normally do on summit, and started working my way up the band for a free spot. Came across VK1TTY on 7.191 calling CQ DX, but a little activaiton QSO between friends is OK, right?

        View from Mt St Leonard

View from Mt St Leonard

Worked ZL3MR again on 7.197, along with a few locals, but still hadn’t reached the 10 QSOs to activation the Yarra Ranges NP (at this point all my contacts I’d already made at Archer Lookout and so didn’t count). I’d been talking myself out of CW all day, but as soon as I did the contacts came in nice and quick including VK4TJ on 40m, which normally would be marginal (usually they are a 30m or 20m contact).

Had a great chat with a passerby who gave me a bit of the curious “what is this guy doing?” look, and proceeded to explain why on earth I’d do this and talk about some of the other sumits in the area each one of us had enjoyed (I really enjoyed Mt Vinegar a few months earlier)

        Operating position in the middle of the track

Operating position in the middle of the track

Wandered slowly down the car, feet a bit sore from the blisters that had set developed in my new boots that weren’t quite as worn in as I thought they were. Changed in to a fresh pair of clothes just after sunset and then started the 90 min drive back across Melbourne to home.