Monarto Conservation Park

Friday was a really wet day here at my qth…over 90 mm of rain.  And the forecast for the weekend did not look any better, so unfortunately I had to put on hold any plans to do any SOTA activations this weekend.  But after the morning coffee, the weather seemed to be clearing to a degree, and the ‘portable bug’ bit.  My wife Marija, headed off to the gym and to do her Saturday morning shopping, so I jumped in the car and drove up the South Eastern Freeway to Monarto, and activated the Monarto Conservation Park.

Monarto Conservation Park is situated about 60 kms east of Adelaide, and about 30 kms east from my home at Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills.  Access to the park is via Ferries McDonald Road.  Simply take the Monarto turn off on the South Eastern Freeway and then turn right onto Ferries McDonald Road.  The park is situated about 6 kms south from here.  The road soon becomes dirt after turning off the Freeway.

There are plenty of signs around to warn you regarding wildlife.  There are plenty of roos in the area.  But also the highly endangered Mallee fowl, which live in both Monarto CP and the nearby much larger Ferries McDonald Conservation Park.


The park is well signposted and is located on the western side of Ferries McDonald Road.  There is a large carpark, and from here you can follow a short 2 km loop trail which takes you through the park.

The nearby ‘town’ of Monarto was once earmarked as a satellite city to Adelaide, by the then Premier, Don Dunstan, back in the 1970’s.  However for a variety of reaons this never eventuated.  Today Monarto is a farming district, and it is adjacent to the main Adelaide-Melbourne railway line.


Monarto CP consists of thick mallee woodland and dry heathland.  The park contains one of the few pieces of remnant Mallee vegetation close to Adelaide.  No camping is allowed within the park, and there are no facilities.  The park comprises sand ridges forming part of the Murray Plains.  As previously mentioned the park is home to the endangered Mallee fowl, along with a variety of other wildlife including the Western Grey Kangaroo, and at least two species of Marsupial Mouse.  There are also numerous bat species.  More than 80 species of birs have been documented in the park.

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I set up the normal equipment, the 817nd and the dipole using the 7m squid pole.  I attached the squid pole to a post & rail permapine fence using an occie strap.  The weather was a bit ordinary, but the rain held off right until the end, which was good.  Unfortunately for the most part there was annoying light drizzle.  And then the rain came in from the west and it was time to head to the car and home for lunch and a hot coffee.


Conditions seemed quite good, but there didn’t appear to be the same number of operators on 40m this morning, as there has been on previous Saturday mornings.

I ended up working a total 16 stations on 40m, in VK1, VK3, & VK5.

A few interesting QSO’s though during the morning/early afternoon.  I spoke with Mark VK3DEE/p on VK3/VC-018 (SOTA) who was a good 5/8 signal.  And I had a few good QRP contacts.  One was with Grant VK3HP.  I wound down the power on the 817nd and spoke with Grant on just .5 watt and received a 5/7 signal report from him (down from 5/9 when using 5 watts).  And also Duncan VK3LZ, who was also QRP running just 2.5 watts.  Duncan was a good strong signal 5/8.  Again I only used .5 watt and received a 5/7 signal report from Duncan.  And I also spoke with Ian VK5CZ who gave me 5/5 up in Clare on just .5 watt.

Another interesting QSO was with Peter VK3YE who was using his home brew tx.

The following stations were worked:- Ernie VK3DET; Nick VK3ANL; Ron VK3MJR; Brian VK5FMID; Allen VK3HRA; Shaun VK5FAKV; Mark VK3DEE/p (SOTA); Rod VK5FTTC; Grant VK3HP; Brenton VK3CM; Duncan VK3LZ; Matt VK1MA; Ian VK5CZ; Geoff VK3AHT; & Peter VK3YE.

Other than the weather, an enjoyable activation.