On Thursday 19th November 2015 we had planned to activate Langi Ghiran summit and State Park, just outside of Ararat. But it was shaping up to be a very hot day, so on Wednesday night in the motel room, we decided to alter our plans and activate four SOTA summits instead: Blue Mountain; Point 756/Pyrenees; Mount Lonarch; and Ben Nevis. Yes four summits instead of one. Sounds crazy, but they were easier to access than Langi Ghiran which I have climbed before which takes a bit of time and effort. I didn’t really fancy climbing Langi Ghiran in the heat of the day.
So it was a bright and early start on Thursday morning and off to our first planned summit, Blue Mountain VK3/ VS-015. In fact we were on the road by just after 6.00 a.m. It was already a very warm morning and very humid.
Blue Mountain is located in the Pyrenees Range, about 50 km north west of Ararat, and about 212 km north west of Melbourne. The summit is 772 metres above sea level and is worth 1 SOTA point. I have activated the summit previously, back in September 2013. For more information on that activation, please see my previous post at…..
We headed north west out of Ararat along the Pyrenees Highway. The imposing figure of Mount Langi Ghiran was clearly visible to our right.
As we drove a little further along the Pyrenees Highway, Ben Nevis came into view. This was to be our fourth and final SOTA peak for the day.
We then reached the turnoff to Glenlofty. There is a brown sign here, ‘Pyrenees Ranges’. We turned left and travelled along the Landsborough-Elmurst Road. This is beautiful country here, with the road crossing the Wimmera River and also the Glenlofty Creek.
We then reached the turn off on the right for the Glenlofty-Warrenmang Road. This iunction is well signposted. We turned right here and commenced travelling east.
Below is a view from the Glenlofty-Warrenmang Road looking up towards the Pyernees Ranges. The explorer and surveyor, Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to have travelled through the district during his 1836 journey of exploration. The ranges reminded him of the Pyrenees mountains in Europe where he had served as an army officer. Hence, the name he gave the mountains here in Victoria.
As we were travelling along the road I noticed a Black Kite sitting up in a tree just off the road. He stayed there just long enough for me to snap a couple of photographs, before flying off.
The Glenlofty-Warrenmang Road makes a very sharp dog leg left a few km’s up from the Landsborough-Elmhurst Road. It then travels north following the Glenlofty Creek and into the Pyrenees State Forest. For more info on the Pyrenees State Forest, please see…..
We then reached the intersection with the Glenlofty-Warrenmang Road, Main Break, and Blue Mountain Track. We turned left onto the Blue Mountain Track and commenced our ascent up to the summit.
I would not recommend going too far along the Blue Mountain Track if you don’t have a 4WD. The first section is fine, but it then becomes quite rough with some very high mounds on the track for washways. A conventional vehicle would not be able to clear these.
We travelled passed the Landsborugh Flora and Fauna Reserve and we then reached the intersection of the Blue Mountain Track and Barkly Track. We turned left and continued along the Blue Mountain Track. passing the Landsborough Ridge Track. According to the maps, the summit is just to the south of this intersection.
We set up the gear and I was on air and ready to go by 2140 UTC (6.40 a.m. Victorian local time). Much earlier than my post on SOTAWatch, but as mentioned we wanted to avoid the heat of the day. For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, about 30 watts, and the 20m/40m linked dipole, which I supported on the 7 metre squid pole.
I called CQ on 7.090 and after repeated calls I had no answers. Fortunately we had mobile phone coverage so I spotted myself on SOTAWatch. It wasn’t long before I had my first taker and commencing to call CQ again after spotting. It was Gordon VK2TGC with a very strong 5/9 signal. Gordon gave me a 5/9 and I breathed a sigh of relief, as it appeared the 40m band was working after all. I was then called by Ron VK7VDL who was also 5/9 (and 5/9 received), followed by Gerard VK2IO (5/8 sent and 5/6 received). My fourth and qualifying contact was with Trevor VK5PTL from Crystal Brook in the Mid North of South Australia (5/8 both ways).
It was very quiet on the band with very few callers and no callers at all from VK3. It was very apparent that the close in propagation was not working at all. I worked a further 4 stations” Cliff VK2NP, Brett VK2VW, and Rick VK4RF/VK4HA. But despite numerous further CQ calls I had no callers. So I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in my dipole and headed off to 14.310 on 20m. I called CQ numerous times but again, no takers. So I spotted myself again on SOTAWatch and commenced calling CQ, but still no responses. I tuned across the 20m band and the only signal I head was that of VK4BR on 14.200 who was talking to a VK2 who was virtually unreadable to me.
I headed back to 40m and started calling CQ again on 7.090. This was answered by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula (5/7 both ways), followed by Dave VK2JDS mobile with a good 5/7 signal. But it was still very slow going and I managed only a further five contacts into VK4 and VK5.
To complete the activation, I removed the 20m/40m linked dipole and put up my 15m dipole and called CQ on 21.250. Unfortunately the trend continued, with absolutely no responses. So again I spotted myself on SOTAWatch, but this didn’t improve the silence, as I had no callers. My only company on 15m was the Over the Horizon Radar. Prior to packing up I tuned across the 15m band and could only hear some very weak signals coming in from Japan.
So after a rather disappointing activation with just 15 contacts in the log, we commenced packing up. At least I had qualified the summit. We then made our way back along Blue Mountain Track.
The following stations were worked:-