Montacute Conservation Park

Following my activation of Cudlee Creek Conservation Park, I drove to the Montacute Conservation Park, which is situated about 12 kms south west of Cudlee Creek.

The park, which was established in 1971, is situated about 17 kms north east of Adelaide, in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.

Set in very rugged hill country, Montacute Conservation Park’s 200 hectares of remnant bushland is separated by several small creeks, and is home to an abundant array of birdlife.  Vegetation in the park varies greatly from the lower to higher slopes. The creek line is dominated by river red gums with a low understorey of grasses and exotic plants. The higher slopes support stringybarks and blue gums.

Two challenging walking trails wind their way through the park’s native vegetation to the higher slopes and offer excellent views of the surrounding area.  Along the walking trails you may discover outcrops of Precambrian dolomite rocks more than 570 million years old, or on the eastern side of the park, an outcrop of Stonyfell quartzite.

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I accessed the park via Corkscrew Road and then Valley Road.  Valley Road is a very narrow dirt road with lots of properties running off it, so be a bit careful as you travel to the park.  It can be tricky in spots if there is a car coming in the opposite direction.

I set up my gear alongside the small creek at the end of Valley Road.  Valley Road is a no through road, and there is a small parking area at the entrance to the park.  The creek was flowing really well after very heavy rain up here in the hills last night.  But fortunately the weather was holding off and there was no rain.

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After turning the radio on I had to double check the antenna, as the noise floor was non existent, and I couldn’t hear any activity at all across the 40m band.  So I tuned to 7.100 and put out a call, only to get a call back from Larry VK5LY who just about knocked me off my deck chair.

This was followed by 11 QSO’s into VK2, VK3, & VK5.

I had a few good QRP contacts whilst in the park.  This included a QSO with Owen VK5HOS from Mount Gambier, who initially called me using his 100 watts and he was a solid 5/9 signal.  Owen lowered his power to 5 watts and he was still an excellent 5/8.  So I decided to drop my power down to half a watt.  Owen could hear me but his noise floor in Mount Gambier was a bit high.  Whilst speak with Owen, Colin VK3UBY called in and gave me a 5/9 on my .5 watt from Mildura.  When I turned the wick up to 2.5 watts I was 5/4 with Owen VK5HOS and 5/9 with Owen.

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My last QSO of the day was with Tom VK2KF who initially called me on high power and was 5/9.  When he dropped his power down to just 5 watts Tom was still a good 5/7 signal.

The following stations were worked:- Larry VK5LY; John VK5BJE; John VK5DJ; Robin VK5TN; Rod VK2NWM/m; John VK5FTCT; Ron VK3AFW; Tom VK5EE; Maitland VK5AO; Colin VK3UBY; Owen VK5HOS; and Tom VK2KF.

An enjoyable activation and a beautiful spot.  And I had a laugh as well.  I had 3 young lads walk passed me who were out bushwalking.  They saw my squid pole set up alongside my deck chair alongside the fast flowing creek, and they asked ‘catching anything?’  I replied ‘I’m actually not fishing’.  The 3 of them must have though ‘okay, what is this oddball doing then ?’.  I then explained to them that I was activating the park as part of the amateur radio hobby, and they seemed very interested.

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