My first Victorian summit of the trip was Mount Napier, VK3/ VS-046.
After my 2 night stay at Mount Gambier, on Saturday 7th September, 2013, I headed over the Victorian border along the Princes Highway towards Heywood. I then headed towards MacArthur and north along the Hamilton-Port Fairy Road. It was about a 2 hour drive from Mount Gambier.
Mount Napier summit is located within the Mount Napier State Park, and is located about 270 km west of Melbourne, and about 17 km south of Hamilton. Mount Napier is one of the youngest volcanoes in Australia, which erupted about 32,000 years ago. The Mount Napier State Park consists of about 2,800 hectares, and along with nearby Mt Eccles, is the largest natural area on the volcanic plains of western Victoria. Mount Napier State Park was first reserved for public purposes in 1921 and covered an area of about 139 hectares, including the summit and part of the Manna gum woodland. This area together with adjacent public land was reserved as a State Park in 1987.
Mount Napier was climbed and named by explorer, Major Thomas Mitchell in 1836, during his expedition through ‘Australia Felix’.
Mount Napier has a composite lava shield with a superimposed scoria cone. The cone rises 500 feet (150 m) above the surrounding plains to an elevation of 1,440 feet (440 m), making it the highest point on the Western District Plains of Victoria. Mount Napier is part of the Newer Volcanics Province, which is the youngest volcanic centre in Australia. The Newer Volcanics Province covers an area of 6,000 square miles (15,000 square km) and contains over 400 vents.
The Mount Napier Lava Flow followed the Harman Valley west from the volcano, and then south towards nearby Mount Eccles which is 25 km south-west of Mount Napier. Lava blisters or tumuli occur along the flow, and these are house-sized mounds of basalt rocks. The blisters are the best developed in Australia and uncommon in the rest of the world. They are formed by the pressure of liquid lava pushing up against the crust. Several caves and lava tubes can also be found at nearby Byaduk.
The native vegetation of Mount Napier State Park, on the western side of the mountain, varies from grassy woodland to tall open forest dominated by Manna Gum, Blackwood, Austral Bracken, and Common Tussock Grass. This hosts a variety of native fauna, including birds, marsupials and mammals, including bats.
The park’s fauna is diverse, with 27 native mammal and 127 native bird species recorded including kangaroos, koalas, Common Brushtail possums, and the endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot.
I parked the car at the base of the summit, and walked the remaining 3 km along a very good track to the summit, which took me about 30 minutes. There are 2 benches along the way should you require a rest, which is exactly what I did. I sat back and took in the tranquility of the park and admired the views. The weather was a bit threatening, but at least I had the bothy bag in my backpack.
After reaching the summit I took another breather and admired the views in all directions. There is a memorial cairn and plaque at the top to commemorate Major Thomas Mitchell who climbed and named the hill, way back in 1836. There is also a trig point.
The weather was getting worse, and it was quite windy with very light showers, so I attached the 7m squid pole to the trig point and ran the coax over to the concrete and stone cairn and tried to hide behind that from the weather, with some degree of success. I weighted down the ends of the dipole with some rocks that I found on the summit. There are no trees.
My first 4 qualifying QSO’s were with Larry VK5LY, Ron VK3AFW, Tony VK3CAT running qrp, and Marshall VK3MRG/p. This was followed by a constant flow of the regular SOTA chasers. My 8th contact on the hill was with John VK5BJE who was portable in the Litte Desert National Park in western Victoria, as part of the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award. This was a park I was scheduled to activate the following Tuesday. John had a terrific strong 5/9 signal.
Whilst on the hill I managed 3 ‘Summit to Summit’ contacts’ with Peter VK3PF who was portable on VK3/ VG-064; Brian VK3MCD who was portable near Boroka Lookout VK3/ VW-007; and Allen VK3HRA who was portable on Galore Hill VK2/ RI-047. This was my first ever Summit to Summit with a VK2 activator.
I stayed on the summit for about 45 minutes, but the weather was getting worse, with heavier showers, so I decided it was time to head down and back to the warmth of the car. I ended up with 36 QSO’s on 40m SSB.
The following stations were worked:- Larry VK5LY; Ron VK3AFW; Tony VK3CAT/qrp; Marshall VK3MRG/p; Bernard VK3AMB/qrp; Ian VK5IS/qrp; Peter VK3FPSR; John VK5BJE/p; ANdrew VK2UH/qrp; Peter VK3PF/qrp; Brian VK3MCD/p; John VK5NJ/qrp; Glen VK3YY/m; Andrew VK2ONZ; Rod VK5FTTC; ANdrew VK3ARR/qrp; Mark VK3PI; Matt VK1MA; Colin VK3UBY; Mark VK1MDC; Andy VK5LA; Mark VK3DEE; VK3TKK; Ed VK2JI; Lou VK3ALB; VK3FMPB; Warren VK3BYD; Greg VK2FGJWp//qrp; Andrew VK1NAM; David VK5NQP; Allen VK3HRA/p; Terry VK5ATN; Tim VK5AV; Dave VK2JDS; Dave VK3VCE; and John VK5DJ.
I have added a video to You Tube of this activation.