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.

Lowan Conservation Park

I arrived home just after lunch time today from my daughter’s netball match, only to find the power off.  And when I rang the electricity fault line there was a recorded message to say that the power was going to be out until 8.00 p.m.  So even though it was freezing cold outside (7 degrees C), I decided to head out and activate a park, and listen to the footy on the radio on the way. I chose to go to the north east as the weather looked a little kinder in that direction.  There were predictions today for hail and possible snow in the Adelaide Hills where I live.  I chose the Lowan Conservation Park, which is about 130 kms north east of Adelaide, near the town of Bow Hill.  This is about an hours drive from my home. I entered the park via Gribble Bore Road, which runs off the Bow Hill Road.  I found a gate and a track on the southern side of Gribble Bore Road, and drove about 200 metres into the park, and parked the car amongst the mallee.

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The Lowan Conservation Park is about 660 hectares in size and is located about 15 kms south of Bow Hill, a little town situated on the Murray River.  Lowan Conservation Park is a reserve of remnant mallee scrub in the midst of wheat and sheep farms. The park consists of thick mallee scrub and areas of native pine and open grassland.  Numerous bird species can be found in the park, including the Malleefowl, which is an endangered species.  Malleefowl are also known as Lowan, and the park derives its name from the bird.  Western grey kangaroos are also common and it is a good place to see short-beaked Echidnas, and fat tailed dunnarts if you are lucky.  There are no marked tracks in the park and the mallee is very thick in parts, so a compass or GPS device is definitely needed.  There are no facilities and no marked campground. I set up the dipole supported by the squid pole in a clearing amongst the mallee.  The soil was very sandy so I was able to hammer in the squid pole holder and secure the squid pole to it with an octopus strap.  There was no shortage of trees here to tie off the legs of the dipole.

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I turned the radio on to 7.100 and asked if the frequency was in use, only to be answered by Brian VK5FMID who was my first contact of the day down in Mount Gambier. I also spoke with Phil VK3BHR who was activating his first SOTA peak, on Mount Tarrengower, VK3/ VN-023.  Phil had a good strong signal of 5/8. I managed one DX contact into New Zealand on 40m with Lamont ZL2ALK.  Lamont was an excellent 5/9 + and I received a 5/4 back and was very happy with that. I stayed until the sun started to go down.  ,The minute the sun started to set behind the gum trees, it was getting absoultely freezing.  My thermometer was showing 4 degrees C.

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I ended the day with 29 QSO’s into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5, & ZL, all on 40m SSB The following stations were worked:- Brian VK5FMID; Ian VK5CZ; Col VK5HCF; Ron VK3AFW/m; Paul VK5PH; Nev VK5WG; John VK5FMJC; Robin VK5TN; Graham VK5GH; Brenton VK5FBJD; Tom VK5EE; Dale VK5DC; Greg VK3GRW; Allen VK3HRA; John VK5FTCT; Bill VK5MBD; Frank VK3GFS; Phil VK3BHR/p (SOTA); Matt VK1MA; Ron VK3AFW; Mal VK3AZZ; Roy VK5NRG; Colin VK3UBY; Brian VK3MCD/m; Bill VK3LY; Gerald VK2HBG; Urey VK3ATA; Lamont ZL2ALK; & Pete VK2QG. Luckily the power had come back on by the time I got home and I enjoyed a nice hot bath and a few glasses of red.

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.

Cudlee Creek Conservation Park

This morning (Thursday 17th July, 2013), I headed out to the Cudlee Creek Conservation Park, which is about 33 kms north from my home in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.

The weather was supposed to be turning really bad during the afternoon, but the morning appeared really good.  In fact at home it was bathed in sunshine.  But I could see the weather coming in from the west and the rain radar showed that there was some really heavy rain activity over on the Yorke Peninsula.

So I quickly made an entry on the VK5 Parks Yahoo site, packed up the gear and headed north.

The Cudlee Creek Conservation Park was established in 1971.  It is located on Gorge Road, about 3 kms beyond the Cudlee Creek Caravan Park and Restaurant, and about 1 km passed the Country Fire Service (CFS) station.

The little town of Cudlee Creek, which was established in 1838, is a picturesque little settlement next to the Cudlee Creek on the scenic route between Lobethal, Lenswood and Gumeracha.   One of the attractions in the town is the Gorge Wildlife Park which is among one of the most comprehensive collections of privately owned animals and birds in Australia.

The Aboriginal meaning for “Cudlee” is believed to be “wild dog crossing”.

The Cudlee Creek Conservation Park is home to a variety of birds and native animals who live in the woodlands on the steep hillsides.  The park contains no visitor facilities or amenities.  Adelaide’s main river, the River Torrens, passes through the park.  Red Gum woodland along the river valley and Blue Gum with Manna Gum open forests are conserved in the park.

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I set up my gear, a Yaesu FT-817 and my 40m dipole supported by a 7m squid pole, and put out a call on 7.100 on 40m.  My first QSO of the day was with Larry VK5LY, who had a booming signal from the Riverland.

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The river was flowing well after last night’s heavy rainfall up here in the Mount Lofty Ranges.  But the good thing was that there was no rain, and although the weather was coming in rapidly from the west, I was in a fairly sheltered area down by the river, so the wind was a lot less.

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I ended up with 8 QSO’s on 40m SSB into VK3 & VK5.

The following stations were worked:- Larry VK5LY; Ron VK3AFW; Robin VK5TN; John VK5DJ; Andy VK5LA; Grant VK5VGC; Albert VK3KLB; and Tim VK5ML.

Brown Hill Range, VK5/ SE-004

After our activation at Mount Ngadjuri, Marija and I drove back down into Jamestown, and then out on the Jamestown-Hallett Road, heading for Brown Hill Range, VK5/ SE-004, which is 755 metres ASL and is worth 4 points.  About 5 kms out of Jamestown, we turned right onto the Booborowie Road and travelled south.  About 5 kms along this road, you will see a sign for the Hallett Power Station, which is a further 4.5 kms west along this dirt road.  At the end of the road you will come to a T junction.  Turn left and about 50 metres down on your right is a set of double gates.

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The summit is located on private property (owned by Mr. Vaughan Semler) amongst the wind farm, and I had sought permission from the land owner prior to entry.

Enter the paddock through the gates.  There is a dirt road leading all the way to the top.  Please remember to shut all gates, as at the time I activated this summit, it was lambing season.  Marija and I drove up this road and parked the car at the top of the ridge line at the next set of gates.  To get to the actual summit you need to go south along the ridgeline.  We walked about 1.5 km south along the dirt road, until we reached the actual summit.  The trig point consists of 4 light blue metal poles and a pile of rocks on the top of a sharp rise, directly underneath one of the wind turbines.

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We set up the equipment on the eastern side of the rocks as there was a wild westerly wind blowing.  It was incredibly windy as you would expect amongst a wind farm.  I used one of the blue metal poles to secure the squid pole with 2 octopus straps.  I strapped the SOTA flag to the squid pole, along with the dipole and hoisted it up into the air.  The SOTA flag certainly got a work out that day.

Much to my disappointment, when I turned on the radio onto 40m, there was a terrible squealing noise which was between strength 3 to 4.  Not sure where it was coming from, but it was only on 40m.  I have done activations before amongst wind farms, but this was the first time I had experienced such a noise, so I am not sure where it was coming from.  Anyway, there was not much I could do.  I didn’t really feel like taking down the squid pole and relocating, so I decided to ‘box on’ where I was.

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My first QSO was again with Nev, VK5WG.  Nev must have been there patiently waiting for me to come up.  Second QSO was with Ernie VK3DET with a strong signal as always.  Third was a summit to summit with Brian VK3MCD who was on VK3/ VE-080.  And my fourth QSO was with Col VK5HCF with his normal good signal from the south east.

This was followed by the regular crowd of SOTA ‘chasers’ from VK1, VK3, VK5, & VK7.

After 40m had gone quiet, I decided to go over to 20m to have a listen and my first contact there was with Wayne VK7NET with a very strong signal out of Tasmania.

I forgot that the IARU HF Championships were on, and 20m was alive with very strong signals from Europe, despite the fact that it was still very early on in the afternoon.  I heard a Spanish station calling CQ Contest so I decided to try my luck and to my surprise he answered.  This was followed by DX contacts into Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Slovak Republic, and the USA.

I also spoke with VK1, VK3, VK6, & VK7 on 20m SSB.  Things were going really well until a Russian station came up alongside of me, just 1 kc away, and that was the end of that !  Anyway, it was time to pack up.  I had pushed my luck enough with Marija sitting on the top of 2 hills in the cold and the wind.  So we packed the gear up and headed to Clare and stopped in to have a coffee with Ian, VK5CZ, before heading back home to the Adelaide Hills, some 200 plus kms away.

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The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:- Nev VK5WG; Ernie VK3DET; Brian VK3MCD (summit to summit); Col VK5HCF; Allen VK3HRA; Steve VK5ST; Ian VK5IS; Fred VK3JM; Rhett VK3GHZ; Matt VK1MA; Tony VK3CAT; Rick VK3KAN/m; Rod VK5FTTC; Brian VK5FMID; Peter VK3FPSR; Ian VK5CZ; Paul VK7CC, Andrew VK1NAM/p; Ian VK5IS; Nick VK3ANL/m; Mark VK1MDC; Robin VK5TN; John VK5FMJC; Graham VK3JE; Roger VK5NWE; Larry VK5LY/qrp; Al VK7AN/p; Chuck VK2SS/p; Mark VK5QI, and Andy VK5AKH.

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:- Wayne VK7NET; EF1HQ; OE1A; 9A28HQ; S50HQ; YR8D; YT0HQ; Albert VK3KLB; Andrew VK2ONZ/qrp; Roy VK7ROY; Al VK1RX; Ian VK1DI; Rhett VK3GHZ; Mike VK6MB; Glen VK3YY/m; HG3R; OL3HQ; HG7T; and K5TR.

The end of an enjoyable day.  Some terrific views can be had from the top of this summit, and it is very easy to access.

I have placed a video on You Tube of this activation.