My second park of the day was the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park, which is situated about 8 kms north west of my first activation at the Eurilla Conservation Park
From Eurilla CP, I drove through the Piccadilly Valley, which is a premium market gardening area. And then into the little town of Summertown and then on towards Ashton. The Ashton area is renowned for its fruit orchards including cherries, apples, pears, and lemons. I turned left from Woods Hill Road, into Coach Road.
The Horsnell Gully Conservation Park is located about 10 kilometres east of Adelaide in the rugged terrain of the Mount Lofty Ranges. The 245-hectare area was once farmland owned by the Horsnell and Giles families, and ruins can be found throughout the park and the adjacent Giles Conservation Park.
Today, Horsnell Gully and Giles Conservation Parks are important links in the fragmented band of natural woodland along the Mount Lofty Ranges. There are excellent opportunities for bushwalking, birdwatching, photography, painting, nature study, and mountain biking (as I found out).
Prior to European settlement, the Kaurna (Gar-na) people spent the winter months in locations such as Horsnell Gully and Giles, using the wood and bark from the woodlands for fire, warmth and shelter. During summer they lived on the coast, taking advantage of cool, ocean breezes.
John Horsnell, once coachman to Governor Gawler, settled the gully in 1842, establishing market gardens and orchards of walnut, Osage orange and olive trees – remnants of which can still be seen today. He established an English cottage garden that included roses, violets and agapanthus, and the first dairy in South Australia.
In 1860-61, a house of local sandstone was built and, at one time, housed 14 children. The house remains and a coach house, stable and milking shed can also be found nearby. These ruins are well-maintained and represent one of the earliest farms in the area.
Horsnell Gully, including the Giles section, was set aside as a conservation park in 1964 to conserve vegetation associations of the Hills Face Zone, including a number of rare and endangered plants species. In 2007, the eastern section of the park was renamed Giles Conservation Park to honor the Giles family’s historical connections to the park.
There are a large array of animals that can be found in the park including common ringtail possums, brushtail possums, the elusive yellow-footed antechinus and bush rat, Western grey kangaroos, koalas, and short-beaked echidnas. A variety of Bats are also found in the park.
A large variety of birds can also be found in the park including the crescent honeyeater, striated thornbill, brown thornbill, fan-tailed cuckoo, yellow-faced honeyeater, white-throated treecreeper and scarlet robin, brown treecreeper, restless flycatcher, New Holland honeyeater, striated pardalote, purple-crowned lorikeet, red-browed finch, and yellow-tailed black-cockatoos.
I parked the car at Gate 3, and set up the gear on a dirt track near the entrance gate. Fortunately I didn’t have to walk too far, as the weather was turning ugly. I could see a lot of black clouds out to the west as I looked down the gully towards Adelaide.
I set up the dipole and the deck chair and I jumped onto 7.100 and asked if the frequency was in use, only to get called straight away by Col VK5HCF, Brian VK5FMID, and Larry VK5LY. These three fellas are dedicated ‘Hunters’ and always seem to feature in my log.
I had a good QSO with Greg VK2FGJW who was portable up in the Blue Mountains. I also spoke with Ian VK3FNBL who was operating QRP with just 5 watts (5/6 sent and 5/8 received). And Matt called in again, VK5MLB. This time he was mobile west of Parndarna on Kangaroo Island.
I also managed a Park to Park contact with John, VK5BJE, who had indeed braved the elements, and was operating portable in the Mount George Conservation Park. John was a good strong 5/8 signal and I received a 5/8 back from John.
Whilst in the park I had a chat with a few lads who were mountain biking. They were making the journey up from Skye. There was also a group of about 8 people who I think were ‘Friends of the Park’ or something similar. One of them saw my squid pole and believe it or not asked me if I was catching birds. I explained to him all about the hobby of amateur radio and he seemed ok then.
Again I operated in the park for about 40 minutes and managed 17 QSO’s into VK2, VK3, & VK5 on 40m SSB.
The following stations were worked:- Col VK5HCF; Brian VK5FMID; Larry VK5LY; Nev VK5WG; Tom VK5EE; Greg VK2FGJW/p; Colin VK3UBY; Rod VK5FTTC; Andy VK5LA; Peter VK3PF; Dave VK3VCE; Ian VK3FNBL/qrp; Nick VK3ANL; John VK5BJE/p; Robin VK5TN; Matt VK5MLB/m; and Graham VK5KGP.
Off to the next park, the Giles Conservation Park.