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.

Mount Ngadjuri, VK5/ NE-058

Early Sunday morning, 14th July, 2013, my wife Marija and I left home at Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills, and ventured up to the mid north of South Australia.  It was about a 250 km drive north.  We intended to climb 2 hills, Mount Ngadjuri, VK5/ NE-058 first, and then Brown Hill Range.  It was dark when we left home just after 6.00 a.m. but by the time we got north of Adelaide, the sun was coming up and the sunrise was spectacular.

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We drove north along the Horrocks Highway through the Clare Valley wine region, through the beautiful little towns of Leasingham, Watervale, Penwortham, Sevenhill, & Clare.  And then further north along RM Williams Way to Jamestown.

Mount Ngadjuri is 755 metres above sea level, is worth 4 points, and is located on private property.  It is incorrectly spelt on the SOTA site as ‘Nadjuri’.  It is correctly spelt as ‘Ngadjuri’, after the local Aboriginal tribe of the mid north of South Australia.

The summit is located on private property owned by Mike Nunan.  Please contact him prior to access.  His contact details are on the SOTA database.

Access to the summit is via Slant Road, which runs off RM Williams Way.  Travel north out of Jamestown along RM Williams Way for a distance of about 13 kms.  Then turn left onto Slant Road (a dirt road), and travel up towards the hills, and through the cutting.  You travel passed a beautiful homestead on your left.  On the right at the top of the hill there is a small parking area and a gate which has the rapid number ‘730 403’ on it.  Another 100 metres in the paddock from this gate is another gate.  We parked the car at this second gate and then walked to the summit from there.  It is about a 1.5 km walk to the top and is quite easy.  Just follow the track.  Please remember to shut all gates s you found them.  There were sheep and lambs in the paddocks.

It was quite an easy walk but was eery at the same time.  Fog completely covered the summit and it was extremely cold and windy.  The low fog was rolling across the hills like a scene from a cheap Dracula movie.

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There is no trig point at the summit, however there is a large pile of rocks, which formed a good break from the icy wind.  There is a strange set up in the rock pile.  There is a circular piece of metal, which looks a little like a truck rim.  And in the centre was a ceramic pot with a lid, which was partially buried.  Ian VK5CZ had told me about this and he had thought it might be someone’s ashes so he was loathed to lift the lid to have a look.  But curiosity got the better of me and I lifted the lid, only to find that the ceramic pot was full of water.  So what purpose it serves is still a mystery !

This is where Marija and I set up.  We used a heap of large rocks to hold the squid pole in place and tied if off, simply because the wind was so strong.  I propped myself up behind the pile of rocks to get out of the strong westerly wind.

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I was running a bit late, because the drive from home had taken longer than I thought.  So I was 30 minutes behind schedule.  I turned the Yaesu FT-817nd onto 7.090 mhz and asked if the frequency was in use, only to be greeted by Nev, VK5WG, with a great signal.  Nev has become a frequent ‘Chaser’ for SOTA, and ‘Hunter’ for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.  This was followed by Matt VK1MA, Marshall VK3MRG, and Fred VK3JM, who made up my 4 qualifying QSO’s.  I could breath a sigh of relief.

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Following this a heap of the regular SOTA chasers followed including Rick VK3KAN/m, Brian VK5FMID, Rhett VK3GHZ, Ernie VK3DET, Tony VK3CAT, Mark VK1MDC, Allen VK3HRA, and others.

Had some great QRP QSO’s with Glen VK3YY who was using just 4 watts (5/6 sent & 5/4 received).  Larry VK5LY who was using just 8 watts (5/6 sent & 5/7 received).  Col VK5HCF who was using 5 watts (5/3 sent & 5/8 received).

I spoke with Brian VK3MCD who was about to get mobile on his way to his SOTA summit for the day.

I also had an enjoyable chat with Ken, VK5ASY, who is 90 years old, and still going strong,  Ken had a terrific signal, and I think from memory I was his first ever SOTA contact.

Conditions into the eastern states seemed average to poor, with below average signal reports being received.  However conditions within VK5 were extremely good.

I worked a total of 22 stations in VK1, VK2, VK3, & VK5, on 40m SSB.

The following stations were worked:- Nev VK5WG; Matt VK1MA; Marshall VK3MRG; Fred VK3JM; Rick VK3KAN/m; Brian VK5FMID; Rhett VK3GHZ; Ernie VK3DET; John VK2YW; Ian VK3TCX; Tony VK3CAT; Mark VK1MDC; Brian VK3MCD; Allen VK3HRA; Glen VK3YY/qrp; Ken VK5AKY; Larry VK5LY/qrp; Col VK5HCF/qrp; Robin VK5TN; Ian VK5IS; Grant VK5VGC; and Steve VK3MEG.

An enjoyable walk and great company of my beautiful wife, Marija.

I have posted a video on You Tube of the activation.

Onkaparinga River National Park

Following the activation at the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, I drove a bit further to the south and activated the Onkaparinga River National Park which is situated about 32 kms south of Adelaide.

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The park, which is 1544 hectares in size, incorporates the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park (284 hectares).  The park follows the Onkaparinga River to the sea.  The river enters the park in a steep sided valley and flows into a magnificent gorge with cliffs up to 50 metres high and large permanent rock pools.

The Onkaparinga River is South Australia’s second longest river.  It is 95 kms in length and runs from its source between the towns of Mount Torrens and Charleston, here in the Adelaide Hills, not far from my home qth.  The river then flows south westerly to an estuary at Port Noarlunga.

The name of the river comes from ‘Ngangkiparinga’, a Kaurna Aboriginal word meaning ‘The Women’s River’.  It was during about 1840 that Europeans commenced settling in the area which resulted in rapid displacement of the Aboriginal inhabitants.

In 1837 Surveyor General Col William Light named it Field’s River, or the Field River, after Lieut William George Field RN (1804-1850) of the brig Rapid, who carried out the first surveys in the vicinity, but subsequent Governor George Gawler soon reinstated the Indigenous name.

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The vegetation of the park has been greatly perturbed by human activity, but remnant patches remain. The most intact area is the Hardy’s Scrub section of the reserve.  Unfortunately 160 years of livestock grazing, timber harvesting and cropping has cleared most of the park of native understorey species and in many areas invasive grasses are the main vegetation type.

A variety of remnant Eucalypts are the most noticeable native species in the reserve: Eucalyptus microcarpa (Grey Box), Eucalyptus fasciculosa (Pink Gum), Eucalyptus porosa (Mallee box), Eucalyptus Cameldulensis (Red Gum), and Eucalyptus leucoxylyn (Blue Gum).

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The European Olive (Olea europaea) which is a noxious weed here in South Australia has invaded the park.

A variety of wildlife including kangaroos, echidnas, are common in the park.  About 180 species of birds have been found in the park.

Rock climbing is permitted in the park at the designated cliff climbing area.  You can also canoe or kayak down the river.

I entered the park via the southern side of the park, off Chapel Hill Road, about 1 km east of the well known Chapel Hill winery.  This is deep in the heart of the McLaren Vale & McLaren Flat wine region, where some of Australia’s best wines are grown, particularly Shiraz.  As a lover of red wine, it was really hard driving passed some of the wineries, and not going in for a tasting !

I found a nice little carpark off the road with plenty of room for me to string out the dipole.  I secured the 7m squid pole on a permapine post and tied off the ends of the dipole to some gum trees.

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I turned the radio and tuned to 7.100 and heard some of the regular ‘Hunters’ John VK5BJE, Col VK5HCF, & Steve VK5AIM, having a chat waiting for me to come up on frequency.  Spoke to both John and Col, and I then had a few more QSO’s with a few other regular ‘Hunters’ Brian VK5FMID, Nev VK5WG, & Bill VK5MBD.

I spoke again with Larry VK5LY who was operating QRP on just 4 watts (5/9 send and 5/8 received).  This was followed by a QRP contact with Tony VK3CAT who had just finished assembling his Elecraft.  Tony was using just 3 watts and had a terrific 5/8 signal into the park.  And my last QSO of the day was another QRP to QRP contact, this time with Michel VK3KVW who was operating with hust 5 watts (5/9 both ways)

I worked a total of 10 stations on 40m SSB.

Stations worked:- John VK5BJE; Col VK5HCF; Steve VK5AIM; Brian VK5FMID; Nev VK5WG; Larry VK5LY/qrp; Tony VK3CAT; Bill VK5MBD; John VK5FMJC; and Michel VK3KVW.

Mark Oliphant Conservation Park

My second activation of the day (Friday 12th July 2013) was the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park.  The park which consists of about 189 hectares, is situated about 22 kms south east of Adelaide in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.

The park was first used for recreation in the 1930’s, and in 1945 it was purchased by the Young Mens Christian Association (YMCA).  In 1953, the park was acquired by the State Government and was proclaimed the Loftia Recreation Park in 1972.  The park was expanded in 1992 and 1995, and renamed in 1996 in recognition of its conservation values and to honour physicist and humanitarian Sir Mark Oliphant’s contribution to conservation.

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Sir Marcus ‘Mark’ Laurence Elwin Oliphant who was an Australian physicist and humanitarian who played an important role in the first experimental demonstration of nuclear fusion and also the development of nuclear weapons.  He was a former State Governor here in South Australia, and also has other places and things named in his honour including the Oliphant Building at the Australian National University; a South Australian high schools science competition; the Oliphant Wing of the Physics Building at the University of Adelaide; and a new high school located in northern Adelaide.

Messmate stringybark and brown stringybark dominate the forest canopy, and there is a small stand of candlebark gums near the Loftia oval. This tall eucalypt with white bark is rare and only found in the higher rainfall areas of the Adelaide Hills.  Tiny patches of pink gum, manna gum and blue gum also occur in the park.  In the forest understorey there are many spring-flowering shrubs, including myrtle- leaved wattle, beaked hakea and large-leaved bush-pea.  The park’s flora was affected by bushfires in February 1980 and January 1995, but weeds are the main threat to native plants.

There is a variety of wildlife located in the park, including the rare southern brown bandicoot and yellow- footed antechinus, along with several lizard, snake and frog species.  Numerous bird species are also found in the park including the superb fairy-wren, scarlet robin, golden whistler, Adelaide rosella and honeyeater species.

I accessed the park via Evans Drive which runs off Scott Creek Road, and I set up on the Honeyeater walking track.  I used the permapine walking track sign as an anchor point for the squid pole which I secured with an octopus strap.

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I placed the Yaesu FT-817nd on the sign and put a call out on 7.100 to be called by regular ‘Hunter’ Col VK5HCF, and then followed by another regular ‘Hunter’, Brian VK5FMID.  Both had good strong signals coming in from Mount Gambier in the south east of South Australia.  Larry VK5LY was my next contact who was using just 3 watts QRP and had a great signal.  Also spoke with Nick VK3ANL who is a regular interstate ‘Hunter’ and is a recipient of the Bronze Hunter certificate.

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Fortunately the weather held off, and I worked a total of 9 stations in VK3 & VK5 on 40m SSB.

Stations worked were:- Col VK5HCF; Brian VK5FMID; Larry VK5LY/qrp; Paul VK5FUZZ; Don VK5NFB; Garry VK3FWGR; Nick VK3ANL; Terry VK3UP; and Steve VK5AIM.

The Knoll Conservation Park

The weather forecast for today (Friday 12th July, 2013) and the weekend was lousy, so sadly it put a halt to any plans of activating any SOTA summits.  I was getting itchy feet after my trip to the Eyre Peninsula last month, but the forecast showed that we were expecting heavy rain.

But whilst enjoying my Friday morning coffee I kept looking out the window and the weather seemed okay, so I packed the car with my radio gear and headed to The Knoll Conservation Park, which is about a 15 minute drive from home.

The Knoll Conservation Park is located at Crafers West, about 20 kms south east of Adelaide, in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.  Access to the park is via Upper Sturt Road, slighty south of Sheaok Road.  I have driven passed this park probably hundreds of times, but I had never visited it.  In fact if you blinked you would probably miss it.  It is well signposted but is only a very small park.

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There is a smalI dirt area just off Upper Sturt Road at the entrance to the park, so I parked the car there, and walked up the dirt track for about 100 metres.  There is a large tower and associated buildings at the top, but I found after setting up my gear that it had no affect on the noise floor.

There are plenty of options here to string up a dipole, with lots of large gum trees.  I set up the dipole on the southern side of the tower as there were a few more options there and room for the dipole to run north – south.  Whilst setting up the antenna I had a friendly group of kookaburras who must have found something funny.

The view out to the east is really quite impressive.  Although the weather was pretty average and there was quite a bit of low cloud, there were still good views out across the Sturt Valley, towards Victoria and New South Wales.  There is quite a significant drop in terrain out to the east.  The park is about 571 metres ASL.

I found a comfy spot under a large gum tree and started calling CQ on 7.100 but after 5 minutes of calling I had no takers.  I knew that there were going to be a few SOTA activators out this morning, so I moved down to 7.090 and heard Brian VK5FMID who is a regular ‘Hunter’ of the VK5 Parks Award.

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I gave Brian a call after he finished his QSO, and he was a very good signal from Mt Gambier.  This was followed by Ron VK3AFW who was mobile.  Marshall VK3MRG who was operating portable in a park in Kew, also called in. He also had a good strong 5/8 signal.

I then moved back up to 7.100 to leave 7.090 for the SOTA fellas, only to be followed up by Allen VK3HRA who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Torbreck VK3/ VN-001.  Allen had a very good strong signal (5/8 both ways).

I then had a QSO with Col who was using just 10 watts and was a very good strong 5/8.  Goes to show as Andrew VK1NAM has pointed out, is that in most cases SOTA ‘Chasers’ or Park ‘Hunters’ don’t need to use high power.

My i-phone bleated from the SOTA Goat application, so I slid down to 7.085 and spoke with Andrew VK1NAM and Al VK1RX, who were operating portable from SOTA summit Mount Ainslee VK1/ AC-040.

This was followed by a contact with Rick VK3KAN who was mobile.  Rick had a great signal coming out of his mobile station.

My last contact of the day was with Andrew VK1DA/3 who was portable on SOTA summit Mount Delegate VK3/ VG-034.

Stations worked were:- Brian VK5FMID; Ron VK3AFW/m; Matt VK1MA; Nick VK3ANL; Marshall VK3MRG/p (in Kew); John VK5FTCT; Allen VK3HRA/p (SOTA); Col VK5HCF; Dave VK3VCE; Brenton VK3CM; Andrew VK1NAM/p (SOTA); Al VK1RX/p (SOTA); Rick VK3KAN/m; Bernard VK3AMB; Mal VK3AZZ; Andrew VK1DA/3 (SOTA).