Warren Conservation Park

My fourth and final park of the day was the Warren Conservation Park, located about 60 kms north of Adelaide, and about 5 kms south of Williamstown in the Mount Lofty Ranges.  I accessed the park via Watts Gully Road.

Warren Conservation Park is 353 hectares in size, and is characterised by steep country with views over forests, reservoirs, pastures and bushland above the spectacular Warren Gorge.  The park which was dedicated in 1966, is most colourful in spring when wattles, banksias, hakeas, heaths and eucalypts are in flower, but its native fauna and wild forests of stringybarks and long-leafed box are always worth a visit.  And today was no exception.  The sun was shining and it was a beautiful afternoon.

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The park has four challenging walking trails, including a section of the long distance Heysen Trail.  The tracks are steep and difficult and should be used by experienced bushwalkers only.  An excellent walk starts at Watts Gully Road.  There is a boardwalk here at the commencement of the walk which bridges a wet area.

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The relatively untouched nature is a haven for some of Australia’s rarest animals and provides ideal opportunities for naturalists, birdwatchers and photographers.  Over 50 species of birs can be found in the park.  There is a wide variety of native animals including Western Grey kangaroos, koalas, Southern Brown bandicoots, and echidnas.  There were certainly plenty of kangaroos who were either sunning themselves or feeding out in some of the open areas on nearby hills.

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After 40m had slowed down I QSY’d over to 20m.  And although it was overly busy, there was still some good signals coming in from Europe.  I called quite a few stations but on the majority of occasions I got drowned out by other VK’s & USA stations using a lot more than my measly 5 watts.

But I did manage to get through to Slavko S573DX in Slovenia.  He was 5/9 and I got a respectable 5/7 back from him.  I then spoke with Jason ZL3JAS in Christchurch.  I also received a 5/7 signal report from Jason.  Next I spoke with Marcos CT1EHO who was booming in.  I received a 5/4 signal report from Marcos.  My last DX contact of the day was with Theo OT4A.  Theo was a strong 5/9 and I received a 5/7 from Teho.  Really quite amazing what you can do with just 5 watts and a simple dipole.

I ended up with a total of 19 QSO’s on 40m SSB & 20m SSB.

The following stations were worked:- Larry VK5LY; Nev VK5WG; Tom VK5EE; Col VK5HCF; Brian VK5FMID; Bernard VK3AMB; Errol VK5FEKH/p; Terry VK3UP;  Kevin VK2VKB; Ian VK3FD; Peter VK5ZPG; Doug VK3FJAE; Jim VK2FADV; Paul VK7CC; Don VK5NFB; Slavko S573DX; Jason ZL3JAS; Marcos CT1EHI; and Theo OT4A.

This was the end of a very enjoyable day.

Cromer Conservation Park

The third park of the day was the Cromer Conservation Park, which is situated on Cromer Road, north of Birdwood, which is the home of the National Motor Museum.

Cromer Conservation Park, which was proclaimed in 1976, is about 50 hectares in size.  Access to the park is via Cromer Road.  The park is surrounded on two sides by farming land, while Mt Crawford Forest (Radiata pine) is situated on the the other two sides.  The park consists of an open-forest formation of long-leafed box with Pink Gum and an open woodland formation of Red Gum.

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Mining for yellow ochre occurred in the park during the 1800s. There are no formal walking trails or visitor facilities.

Kangaroos abound in the park.  Over 47 species of birds have been observed in the park including the endangered Yellow Tailed Black cockatoo.

I arrived at the park a little earlier than my scheduled activation time, so I set up the antenna and sat back on my deck chair and enjoyed my lunch.  The sun had come out by this stage and it was a really beautiful afternoon, despite it still being a little chilly.

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After lunch and a quick walk through the park I turned the radio on to 7.100 and found Larry VK5LY waited there for me.  This was followed by a few of the regular ‘Hunters’ including Brian VK5FMID, Andy VK5LA, Nev VK5WG, Tom VK5EE, and Col VK5HCF.  Terry VK3UP and Bernard VK3AMB called in again, and they appear to becoming regular ‘Hunters’ now, which is great.

I had 2 other enjoyable QSO’s with Ian VK3FD who was QRP, using just 2.5 watts from Melbourne, and Ken VK3HKV who was mobile on the Mornington Peninsula.

The following stations were worked:- Larry VK5LY; Brian VK5FMID; Andy VK5LA; Bernard VK3AMB; Nev VK5WG; Brian VK3BD; Tom VK5EE; Col VK5HCF; Terry VK3UP; Ian VK3FD; and Ken VK3HKV/m.

Porter Scrub Conservation Park

The second park of the day was Porter Scrub Conservation Park, which is located at Kenton Valley in the Central Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’, about 30 kms north-east of Adelaide.  It was just a short 10 minute drive from the Charleston Conservation Park.  Access to the park is via Maidment Road, west of the town of Mount Torrens.

After purchase from the estate of the late J. J. Porter, the park was proclaimed on 20 October 2005 under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 to protect a significant area of remnant forest and woodland habitat.

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Conserved within the 104 hectare park are areas of Candlebark Gum open forest, which is considered endangered in South Australia, and Pink Gum low woodland and River Red Gum woodland, both of which are considered vulnerable at a state level.

The land comprising Porter Scrub Conservation Park is traditionally associated with the Peramangk people of the Mount Barker Area.  Following colonial settlement, the park was used for grazing and timber extraction, while talc mining was a large operation until around 1970.  The presence of old mine shafts and large tree stumps in the park today are testament to this era.

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The park terrain is undulating to hilly, flanking a central valley along Howard Creek. It includes areas of Messmate Stringybark woodland and state endangered Candlebark Gum open forest, which is also sometimes referred to as Mountain Gum.  Pink Gum low woodland and River Red Gum woodland are found in the park and are also of conservation significance, with both rated as vulnerable at a state level. The park also supports grassy woodlands of Messmate Stringybark and Manna Gum & South Australian Blue Gum.

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At least 46 bird species occur in Porter Scrub Conservation Park, 14 of which are considered to be of conservation significance.  There have been 11 bird species of conservation significance observed at Porter Scrub Conservation Park, including the Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, which is rated as vulnerable in South Australia.  When these birds are around there is no mistaking them, as they have a high pitched schreek.

Western Grey Kangaroos are regularly seen in Porter Scrub Conservation Park, as are Echidnas and a few species of insectivorous bats.  Koalas can also be found in the park.  While they are a native species, they were originally restricted to the Lower South East of South Australia and have been introduced to the Mount Lofty Ranges. The habitat conserved by the park is also suitable for a number of other threatened fauna species.  These include the nationally endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot and the Spotted Quail-thrush, which is endangered in South Australia and the Mount Lofty Ranges region.

Land uses in the surrounding region include grazing, cropping, horticulture and rural living. Rural grazing properties and vineyards bound the park, while land occupied by the Kenton Valley Pistol and Shooting Club adjoins the park on the south-west.

It was quiet mid morning in this park, with just 7 QSO’s on 40m SSB.  Many of the regular ‘Hunters’ kept me in business.

The following stations were worked:- Andy VK5LA; Larry VK5LY; Nev VK5WG; Terry VK3UP; Brian VK5FMID; Tom VK5EE; and Bernard VK3AMB.

Charleston Conservation Park

Today (Wednesday 24th July, 2013) I activated a total of 4 Conservation Parks.

My first park of the day was the Charleston Conservation Park which is situated on Bell Springs Road, at Charleston in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.  The park is about 46 kms east of Adelaide, and about 25 kms north from my home qth.

Charleston is a beautiful little town, situated on the Onkaparinga Valley Road between Woodside and Mount Torrens,  on the main route from the Adelaide Hills to the Barossa Valley.  If you blinked, you would probably miss Charleston, as it has a pub, a General Store, and a few other businesses.  The Charleston Hotel enjoyed some national attention as one of the main props in a car advertisement, based on Slim Dusty’s famous song “Answer to a Pub With No Beer”.  Charleston is very close to the source of the Onkaparinga River, and was named for its founder, Charles Dunn, a brother of the prominent miller John Dunn.

I headed out early from home just after breakfast and was set up in the park just after 9.00 a.m.

The park which is about 56 hectares in size, preserves a pristine remnant representative of the transition between the wetter stringy bark forests on the western side of the Mount Lofty Ranges and the drier mallee woodlands to the east.  The park consists of open eucalyptus (blue gum) woodland with reasonably extensive areas of mature banksia, numerous acacia and grass trees.  The park is surrounded by farming land.  The park is in a near pristine condition despite its surrounds, having never been grazed.  A large diversity of flora and fauna are represented in the Park including at least seventy-six bird species.

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Access to the park is via Bell Springs Road on the northern side of the park.  Take Newman Road which runs off Onkaparinga Valley Road, and travel east.  Then turn left onto Lewis Road, and Bell Springs Road is the first road on your right.  The park is a short distance up on your right.  There is a track which runs along the western boundary of the park, but this cannot be accessed in a vehicle as there is a locked gate on Bell Springs Road.  I parked my car near the gate and found a clearing about 50 metres in from the northern boundary.

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I strung up the dipole between some trees, with the centre supported by the 7 m squid pole.  There are plenty of options here for securing a dipole, as there are lots of trees.  The only problem is finding an area of cleared land, as the vegetation within the park is quite thick.  I made myself comfortable on my deck chair and put a few calls out on 7.100 with no takers.  But I was 15 minutes early from my posted activation time.  So I went down the band to 7.078 and checked in to the Riverland Radio Group, and spoke to Ron VK5MRE and Larry VK5LY, who both had beautiful signals.

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At 9.30 a.m. local time I moved back up to 7.100 and was called by regular ‘Hunter’ Brian VK5FMID.  This was followed by a call from Billy VK2NWC/8.  He was portable at The Olgas in the Northern Territory.  Although light in signal strength, Billy was perfectly readable.  Quite a surprise to work into VK8 on QRP at this time of the day.  This was followed by 7 QSO’s, including a few of the regular ‘Hunters’ Tom VK5EE, & Nev VK5WG.  John VK5FMJC called in to say hello from Crystal Brook.  John was QRP on just 5 watts and was a good strong 5/8.

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During the activation I worked a total of 11 stations in VK3, VK5, & VK8, on 40m SSB.

The following stations were worked:- Ron VK5BRL; Larry VK5LY; Brian VK5FMID; Billy VK2NWC/8; Tom VK5EE; Terry VK3UP’ John VK5FMJC; Bernard VK3AMB; Mal VK5MJ; Nev VK5WG; and Dennis VK5LDM.