I’ve had my eye on this peak for some time, but wanted to find an opportunity to do it with an experienced 4WD driver to lead as the track is challenging for a novice. The opportunity presented itself on the occasion of our ski lodge work party at Mt Hotham. The start of Gun’s track which goes all the way to this peak is about 10km towards Harrietville from Mt Hotham village, adjacent to the old ticket resort entry ticket box.
I spent Saturday doing work party chores until about 5:00 when the boss called knock-off. I and one of the other work party members jumped in our cars and headed off to the start of Gun’s track. The first hill was very challenging, not so much because of the steepness, but rather because it was directly into the sun at that time of day!
The track is narrow, rocky and very steep in spots (well it was to me!) It’s approximately 5.6km from the Mt Hotham road to the top of VK3/VE-030 and took us 36 mins at an average of only 10kmh – definitely 4WD only:
The peak is actually used as an emergency helipad as it’s conveniently clear of trees. Gun’s track goes close, but there is a junction to a short spur track clearly marked to the helipad.
The track passes right up onto the top of the summit, so this one requires a walk out/walk back into the activation zone.
I set up on one side of the open hilltop where I could use a small tree as a support for the squid pole and EFHW antenna. As the walk was very short, I brought my Helinox table and chair to make the operating comfortable.
This was the first activation using my new KX3 which worked very well indeed.
This weekend was the JMMFD contest, so the band was very full and I had to go all the way up to 7.180 to find a clear frequency. Thankfully spotting was easy with line of sight to the mobile base station on the top of Mt Hotham. First off the mark was VK7NSE in Tasmania with a 59 both ways.
There were relatively few chasers around due to both the contest and the late hour (6:30 pm) and I only logged 9 contacts including one S2S with Gerard VK2IO on VK2/CT-007.
I had a quick listen on 20m and could hear some German stations just appearing above the noise. If I’d had time to re-rig the antenna as a vertical, I may have been able to work some, but the sun was also setting rapidly and I wasn’t keen to negotiate the return trip in the dark!
The return trip was slightly faster due to familiarity with the track and we got back on the bitumen just before sunset catching some spectacular views of the mountains.
This was a most enjoyable activation with the excellent weather, good company and spectacular views.
Photo credits: All photos in this post are courtesy Jeremy Bacon – Thanks Jeremy!