Canunda National Park

My second activation for Friday 6th September, 2013, was the Canunda National Park, which is situated about 18 km north west of Millicent and about 430 km south east of Adelaide.

Canunda NP which comprises about 9,300 hectares, stretches from Cape Buffon outside the tonwship of Southend, to Cape Banks near the southern end of Lake Bonney.  The park originated from the Cape Buffon Flora and Fauna Reserve, a 22 hectare reserve dedicated in 1959 at the request of local residents to conserve native vegetation and the variety of bird species.  The reserve was extended and renamed Canunda National Park in 1966.  Since then, more land has been added to bring the park to its present size.

The park has a spectacular coastline with cliffs and long stretched of surf beaches.  It features a diversity of coastal habitats, and offers great opportunities to enjoy bushwalking, observe birdlife, fishing, surfing, or snorkelling.  The northern section of the park is characterised by limestone cliffs, sea stacks, offshore reefs and low dense scrub, whereas the southern section is dominated by mobile sand dunes and stretches of beach which are backed by low foredunes.

The 40km coastline offers great fishing opportunities. Depending on the season and ocean conditions, mulloway, salmon, sharks or rays may tempt a bite. Try your luck off the rocks where sweep, abalone and crayfish may be caught.

Four-wheel driving is possible along the full length of the park by following the marker posts through the dunes and along Geltwood Beach.

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A variety of wildlife can be found in the park including western grey kangaroos, echidnas, wombats and emus.  The park provides an important winter refuge and feeding area for the endangered orange-bellied parrot.  The rare and secretive swamp antechinus also occurs in areas of dense wetland vegetation in the park.

Evidence of the Aboriginal Boandik people, who once lived in temporary camps along the coast, can be seen throughout the park.  Middens or shell heaps are scattered throughout the park.  These were left by members of the Bunganditj (Bo-an-dik) Aboriginal group who once lived in temporary camps along the coast during summer, and for the rest of the year lived near inland swamps in relatively permanent huts (wurlas).

In 1845 Captain Emmanuel Underwood established a store and jetty at the southern end of Rivoli Bay, now called Southbend.  This was to cater for inland settlers and passing ships.  The following year the town was surveyed and named Greytown after the Governor of South Australia, Sir George Grey.  In 1851 a Scotsman named Peter Brigg took out a 104 square km lease on land incorporating most of what is now Canunda National Park.  He named it Canoonda, thought to be the Aboriginal name for the swamp at the northern end of Lake Bonney.  The Canoonda property was divided into three smaller leases in 1864, which changed ownership  number of times up until the area was dedicated a National Park in 1966.  Sheep grazing andf stock movement, wattle bark stripping and the cutting of sheaok for firewood, together with the effects of rabbits after the 1800’s, undoubtedly altered the natural vegetation of the park.   In addition the introduction of foxes and feral cats would have reduced many pop

I accessed the park via Millicent, which is one of three main entry points to the park.  The others being at Southend and Carpenter Rocks.  I travelled west on Canunda Causeway and entered the park.  I drove a little further south of Oil Rig Square to a parking and camping area near Geltwood Beach.  I found a nice wooden table with benches and set up the gear here.  Whilst setting up I had an inquisitive emu watching activities for a very short time, but unfortunately he/she was camera shy and didn’t want to hang around.


My first contact was with Tony VK5ZAI from Kingston, and this was followed by another south east resident John VK5DJ.  I also managed another SA ‘Park to Park’ QSO with Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Danggali Conservation Park.  I also spoke with Terry VK3UP who was portable in the Greater Bendigo National Park as part of the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award.


Conditions on 40m were very good throughout VK5 and into Victoria.  Weatherwise it was cloudy with the occasional very light shower.

After about 40 minutes, I decided it was time to pack up, and head off to my next activation at the Carpenter Rocks Conservation Park.  But before I did that I went for a walk down to Geltwood Beach and admired the pounding seas which I could hear from my radio operating position.  I noted that despite the day being a little inclement, that spring was in the air.  The gums, wattles, and other native plants were all in flower.

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I had 17 QSO’s on 40m SSB into VK1, VK3, VK5, & VK7.

The following stations were worked:-

Tony VK5ZAI; John VK5DJ; Larry VK5LY/p; Geoff VK3AHT; Terry VK3UP/p; Ron VK3AFW; Tony VK3CAT/p; Bernard VK3AMB; Peter VK3TKK; Peter VK3PF/m; Colin VK3UBY; Col VK5HCF; Gary VK5ZK; Matt VK1MA/m; Dave VK3VCE; Mark VK7FMPR; and Peter VK5NAQ.

Mount Burr, VK5/ SE-019

My first summit of the trip was Mount Burr, VK5/ SE-019, which is about 240 metres ASL (787 feet) and is worth 1 SOTA point.

After a hearty cooked breakfast and a strong coffee, I left the motel at Mount Gambier, early on Friday morning, 6th September, 2013, and headed out north west along the Princes Highway, towards Millicent.  I then turned right onto The Springs Road, to head north towards the town of Glencoe.  The summit was clearly visible, shrouded in a bit of fog.


Before reaching the town of Glencoe I turned left onto Diagonal Road and continued west on Mile Hill Road.  I then turned right onto the Glencoe-Mount Burr Road.  There is then a dirt road on the left, with a TV tower sign.  This is the required road to access the summit.  A few kms up this road is the turn off on the left to the summit.  It is well sign posted.

On the way to the summit I stopped off at the historical marker for the old Mount Burr Bush Inn, which is located on the western side of the Glencoe-Mount Burr Road.  This little pub was a licenced hotel on the Overland track, and was built in 1852, and remained standing until 1873.  In days gone by it was a significant watering hole for mail coach drivers and the general public travelling between Robe and Mt Gambier.  It was actually the last stop between Kangaroo Inn and Mt Gambier on the old stock route.  It was very popular during the gold rush years but wasnt frequented by the Chineses on route to the Victorian gold fields as it was a licensed Pub.  Being illegal immigrants they didnt want to risk being caught by Government officials so they built Wells off of the main route.


On the way to the summit I drove passed the Mount Burr Forest Reserve, and saw quite a few emus and kangaroos on the move.  The Mount Burr Forest consists of 8 individual forest reserves with a total area of about 1,323 hectares.  The reserves contain the threatened mammal species, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Suger Glider, and Red-necked Wallaby.


The Mount Burr summit shares its name with the nearby small town of Mount Burr, which is about 12 km east of Millicent, and about 50 km north east of Mount Gambier.  Mount Burr has a small population of about 400 people.  Mount Burr was once a thriving country town, which was home to a large timber mill.  The mill was the first of its kind in the region, built in 1931.  It was considered a turning point for industry on the Limestone Coast.  Unfortunately in late 2000 the timber mill closed leaving many employees unemployed.

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Mount Burr summit is one of fifteen extinct volcanoes on the Limestone Coast.  The mountain was named by the Governor of South Australia George Grey (photo below), after George Dominicus Burr, a surveyor and Professor of Mathematics at Sandhurst Military College.  His son, Thomas Burr, a surveyor, accompanied Governor Grey on the expedition in 1844.

Muller Collection - Sir George Grey

Quoted from the account of the expedition published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, vol 15, 1845: “Article III.- Account of Governor G Grey’s Exploratory Journey along the South-Eastern Sea-board of South Australia. By Mr Thos. Burr, Dep Surv.-Gen.” “7 May 1844: At about 2pm we made the top of a range, the principal summit of which his Excellency has done me the honour to call after my father. The Mount Burr range is about 1600 feet above the level of the sea…

The summit is home to the SES 8 television transmitter, which is responsible for transmitting WIN, Seven SA, Ten SA, SBS, and ABC to households across the South East of SA and Western Victoria.  When I saw all the towers, the first thing that went through my mine was ….HIGH noise floor.


There is an unlocked gate at the entrance to the summit, with a sign on it reading ‘Mt Burr Forest.  Gate: MB28.  Gri: 542 383″.  It is a very short drive from there to the locked compound containing all of the towers.  There is another unlocked gate which will take you around to the eastern side of the summit.  There were some sheep and alpacas in this paddock, so if you enter here, please shut the gate/s.

There are no real views out to the east due to the pine forest.  The only views are out to the south west, and these are also obscured due to the pine forests.  I set up on the eastern side of the summit near the pine forest.  There was a large amount of metal pieces of tower lying around on the ground, and I used these to attach the 7m squid pole to, and also to secure down the legs of the 40m/20m linked dipole.  And importantly, also as a seat !


I had reached the summit and set up by about 9.10 a.m. so I had about 20 minutes to play before the UTC roll over.  Surprisingly enough after I turned on the radio I found that the noise floor was very low despite all the antennas on the summit.  I was really happy with this !  My first 4 qualifying QSO’s were with Matt VK1MA, Peter VK3PF using qrp, Col VK5HCF also using qrp, and Mitch VK3FMDV.  I worked 23 stations before the UTC rollover.  This included John VK5BJE who was portable in the Mullinger Swamp Conservation Park, north east of Narracoorte.


The new UTC day then clicked over and I worked a further 25 stations.  This included John VK5BJE again in the Mullinger Swamp CP, and Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Danggali Conservation Park.  I also managed two ‘Summit to Summit’ QSO’s with Ian VK5CZ on Lagoon Hill VK5/ SE-008; and Wayne VK3WAM on Mount Matlock VK3/ VC-001.

After about an hour on the hill I had 48 QSO’s on 40m SSB into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5, & VK7.  Band conditions were very good.   Quite a few fellas called in whilst operating QRP.  They included Peter VK3PF, Col VK5HCF, Andrew VK3ARR, Tony VK3CAT, Rik VK3KAN, Andrew VK2ONZ, Mitch VK3FMDV, Ron VK3AFW, John VK5DJ, and Bernard VK3AMB.  All had good signals, proving that there is no need to use 400 watts when calling a SOTA activator.  If you can hear the Activator, you can almost guarantee they he/she will be able to hear you.

My last contact of the day was Bernard who was qrp with just 4 watts and was a solid 5/9.  My little 5 watts to Bernard returned a strong 5/8 signal report.  Time to head back to the car and off to the Canunda National Park.

The following stations were worked before the UTC rollover:-

Matt VK1MA; Peter VK3PF/qrp; Col VK5HCF/qrp; Mitch VK3FMDV; Tny VK3CAT/m; Rik VK3KAN/m; Greg VK7FGGT; John VK5DJ; Peter VK3FPSR; Robert VK7MGW; Colin VK3UBY; Tony VK5ZAI; Trevor VK5ATW; John VK5BJE/p; Andrew VK3ARR/qrp; Brian VK5FMID; Ed VK2JI; Allen VK3HRA; Andrew VK2ONZ; Mal VK3AZZ; Ron VK3AFW; Peter VK1XP; and Brian VK3MCD/5

The following stations were worked after the UTC roll over:-

Matt VK1MA; Brian VK5FMID; John VK5BJE/p; Tony VK3CAT; Rik VK3KAN; Peter VK3PF; Andrew VK2ONZ/qrp; Mitch VK3FMDV; Ron VK3AFW/qrp; Brian VK3MCD/5; Peter VK3FPSR; Larry VK5LY/p; VK5CZ/p; Mal VK3AZZ; John VK5DJ; Andrew VK3ARR/qrp; Ed VK2JI; VK3DYF; Colin VK3UBY; Wayne VK3WAM/p Rod VK5FTTC; Allen VK3HRA; Gary VK5ZK; Yern VK2KJJ; Bernard VK3AMB/qrp.

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

Furner Conservation Park

My last activation for Friday 5th September, was the Furner Conservation Park, which was located just south of my previous action at the Reedy Creek CP.

Furner CP is situated about 4 km south east of Kangaroo Inn, and about 7 km north west of the township of Furner.  The park and the town was named after Luke Liddiard Furner who was Member for Wallaroo and Commissioner for Public Works.  The park consists of 286 hectares of gently undulating land.  The major vegetation type is messmate stringy bark with the flats in the eastern part of the park near Reedy Creek, supporting a woodland of river red gum and rough barked manna gum.  There are also areas of swamp gum on the flats.  Vegetation on the stony rises with the park includes pink gum open woodland with isolated drooping sheoaks.

The park was previously used by landholders for sheep grazing, and the park was also burnt during the devastating Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983.

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I accessed the park via South Eastern Road off the Princes Highway, and then turned left onto a forestry access road which bisects the pine forest and the park.  The track is fine in a 2wd vehicle with care.

As this was my last park of the day, I decided to relax a bit, and I set up my fold up table and deck chair.  The mosquitoes were out in full force and a good dose of Aerogard was required.  There is a wire fence which separates the park and the forest, so I climbed over the fence which is in poor condition and set my gear up on the table on the park border.  I attached the 7m squid pole to one of the fence posts.

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Whilst in the park I spotted quite a few of the rare Red tailed black cockatoos.  It is estimated that there are only about 1,500 of the South Eastern species remaining in the wild.  They are spectacular birds to watch in flight with their very distinctive bright red tail.

I was hoping that John VK5BJE would pop up, as I had spoken to him on the local repeater just before I entered the park, and was aware he and wife Jenny were heading for the Naracoorte Caves National Park, South Australia’s only World Heritage site.  And sure enough, my 7th contact was with John within the park.  John had been busy travelling over SA & Victoria, activating parks, and it was great to work John in another SA park as part of the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

Conditions seemed to be very good with good signal reports received from as far as Queensland, the ACT, and New South Wales.

I spent about 40 minutes in the park, before packing up and heading off to my accomodation for the night, the Country Comfort Motel, in Mount Gambier.  I ended up working 13 stations in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, & VK5 on 40m SSB.  A good spread around Australia.

The following stations were worked:-

Brian VK5FMID; Colin VK3UBY; John VK2FALL; Peter VK3TKK; Larry VK5LY/m; Mick VK5FMMC; John VK5BJE/p; Matt VK1MA; Colin VK4FAAS; Roy VK5NRG; Graham VK5KGP; Ron VK3AFW; and Theo VK3AP/m.

Reedy Creek Conservation Park

After activating Messent CP, I headed off for my 3rd park activation of the day, the Reedy Creek Conservation Park.  I continued south east along the Princes Highway, passing through Kingston and its famous ‘big crayfish’, and then further south east until I reached Claywells Road and then to the little settlement of Kangaroo Inn.  Don’t blink, you will miss it.

I found the southern end of the park which is on the northern side of Claywells Road, but it is pencil thin (only about 3 metres wide) and there is no access.  So I then travelled north on Jorgensons Road which follows the creekline.

Before I talk about the park, I can’t go passed mentioning some of the interesting history of the Kangaroo Inn area.  If you are going to activate Reedy CP, it is very worthwhile stopping off and having a look at the old hotel ruins, which are directly opposite the Kangaroo Inn Area School.  In its heyday during the construction of the early drains in the area, the Inn serviced traffic from every direction, and was an important stopping point along the Mail Route and bullocky Route.  The Inn, although unlicensed had a popular liquor trade, which was accompanied by its fair share of troubles (including an unsolved murder).  The main wooden door was suspended from hinges, so that it could be lowered quickly to protect the occupants in the event of trouble.  The pub closed when a new hotel opened at nearby Furner.

Also nearby is The Post Office Tree a reminder of the mail coach run to Mount Gambier. Mail was placed in a bag, and hung on a hook or branch ready for collection.  Sadly, the tree was burned by bushfires in 1983, but its charred remains still stand.



Going back to the Kangaroo Inn….It was built in the 1840’s using stone quarried by pick and shovel from the stony ridges on the site of the present buildings.  Once hewn into bricks with stone chippers, the stone was mortared together with a mixture of lime and sand.  The ceiling consisted of lathe and plaster and the roof slats and iron.  The bar door which was constructed of thick wood, was suspended on hinges at the top, so that it could be quickly lowered to protect the men inside the pub in the event of trouble outside. These old buildings which were built entirely by hand with local labour and none of our present-day machinery, were very strong and have in the main withstood the test of time.

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The history of the Inn is as varied as it is long.  Originally it was a junction station built prior to the Victorian Gold Rush, and was used as a resting place for mail coach drivers and the general public travelling between Adelaide, Penola and Mt Gambier.  Settlers from Guichen Bay and coaches run by Cobb & Co. would stop at the Kangaroo Inn to refresh, and rest both horses and people.  Back then, it was a 30 mile journey which took about one entire day, before the next inn was reached.  If travelling to Penola, this was Payne’s Inn; Mount Gambier,  the Mt Burr Hotel; or Adelaide, the Telegraph Inn.

Very few Chinese en route for the Victorian Goldfields ever stopped at these inns, as many were illegal immigrants, and frightened of being apprehended by government officials.  Rather, they would build wells, situated well off the worn route.  Some of these are still landmarks in the district today.

Although it was unlicensed, Kangaroo Inn had a popular liquor trade, which in turn brought the district its fair share of troubles.  Once, whilst the Reedy Creek Drain was being excavated by hand, a murder was committed.  After a drunken brawl at the Inn between a Furner resident and a manual labourer working on the drain, the worker was found dead between Kangaroo and “Paynes” Inn.  The case remained unsolved, and even today it is a matter of speculation as to who was the killer — the Furner resident or the local aborigines.

In 1878, the proprietors of the Inn were Mr and Mrs Grant, who later settled in Furner.  During this time railways were taking over the business of mail coaches, so the Inn gradually lost trade.  It was finally closed in 1886, when the Kintore Hotel was opened at Furner by Mr A.H. Bellinger.  Later, the Inn was converted to an overseers cottage for Gillap Station, then owned by Mr N.M. Donald (Senior).  The remains of the shearing shed and old sheep dip can be found nearby.

In the years after this, Kangaroo Inn was mostly deserted, only occasionally being used as a camp by woodcutters.  Nowadays, it has been many years since used, and is in ruins.

Kangaroo Inn is nearly as old as the state of South Australia itself, and has played a large role in the life and decisions of local generations, who toiled with the land to make the district flourish and reach the standard people have today.  “The Inn” has been partially restored thanks to a South Australia Jubilee 150 Youth Grant.

I was running a bit late due to activating the Messent CP (which was unplanned), so after having a quick look at the ruins, I headed north along Jorgensens Road, to access the park, which follows the Reedy Creek Wilmott Drain.

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Reedy Creek Conservation Park was established in 1973, and covers an area of about 147 hectares.  It was dedicated due to its fine stand of river red gums, however it was still used for grazing under lease until 1978.  It consists of river red gum, open forest/woodland community, with brown stringy bark woodland along the western boundary.  The southern half of the Park was burnt during the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983.

There were quite a few wattle trees in the park which were out in flower, along with large areas of ferns growing under the forest canopy.

I set up my gear right alongside of the creek using an old wooden fence post to secure the squid pole with some octopus straps.  There was a strategically placed large wooden post nearby which I placed the Yaesu FT-817nd on.  It was very wet and boggy underfoot, with plenty of water in the creek.

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My first contact in the park was a “Park to Park” QSO with Larry VK5LY who was portable at the Hogwash Bend Conservation Park.  Larry and I exchanged 5/9 signal reports both ways.  My next QSO was another “Park to Park” with John VK5BJE who was portable in the Fairview Conservation Park.  John’s signal was a little weaker (5/6) with a 5/5 signal report in return for me.  It was great to bag another 2 ‘Park to Park’ QSO’s.

I was running late for my planned activation of Furner Conservation Park, so I packed up after only 30 minutes of operating.  I ended up with 10 QSO’s on 40m SSB including a number of the usual Park ‘Hunters’ and a few new calls which was great.  Even managed a good contact into VK2 with John, VK2FALL.

The following stations were worked:-

Larry VK5LY/p; John VK5BJE/p; Col VK5HCF; Brian VK5FMID; Ron VK3AFW; Colin VK3UBY; John VK2FALL; Charles VK5FBAC; VK5FMMC; & Owen VK5HOS.

Messent Conservation Park

After activating the Martin Washpool Conservation Park, I drove ‘across the road’ to the Messent Conservation Park.  This was just a short 1 km drive to the west across Salt Creek Road, and along a sandy track which is passable with care in a 2wd vehicle.  The track disects two fenced farming properties.  It was a bit boggy in parts, but was easily passable after our beautiful stretch of sunny weather over the preceding 5 days.

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At the end of the 1km track you then come to the start of the park.  There is a Messent Conservation Park sign, and two sandy tracks.  One which continues on to the north west, and another which goes off to the north east.  Both tracks looked way too sandy for me to attempt in the Ford Falcon, so I parked the car at the park sign and set up there.

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Messent Conservation Park is one of the largest and most significant areas of natural vegetation left in the Upper South East of South Australia.  With an area of 12 250 ha it is large enough to support populations of large animals such as Common Wombats and Emus as well as significant populations of rare plants and animals such as the large-fruit groundsel, and the Southern Emu-wren.  Western Grey Kangaroos are also found within the park, along with the endangered Mallee Fowl and Silky Mouse, echidnas, and a large variety of bird species including Yellow tailed Black cockatoos.

The park has great plant diversity, including brown stringy barks, white and ridge-fruited mallee, desert banksias, fringed myrtle and yacca which grow in the sandy flats.  A number of wild orchids are also found in the park.  The gum trees, wattle, and grevillias were all out in flower, with the local wattle birds and honeyeaters having a ball.

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I am not sure how this park obtained its name.  I have searched the internet without success and even National Parks South Australia were unable to assist.  Sadly this doesn’t surprise me, as I have experienced this before, and their website is sadly lacking in information on all of South Australia’s Conservation Parks.  I understand that are sadly lacking funding from the State Government.

I set up the 7m squid pole utilising the park’s wooden post sign, securing the squid pole with some octopus straps.  Again the weather was very gloomy with the occasional light shower.  I placed the Yaesu FT-817nd up on top of the permapine post park sign and put a call out on 7.100 on 40m SSB.


First cab off the rank was Ian VK5CZ with a beautiful 5/9 signal from the Clare Valley.  This was followed by Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Ramco Point Conservation Park, west of Waikerie in the Riverland.  Great to achieve another ‘Park to Park’ contact with Larry.  I also spoke with Terry VK3UP who was portable in the Greater Bendigo National Park (Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award) who was also running a little FT-817nd.  John VK5BJE who was portable in the Mount Scott Conservation Park also called in and signal reports of 5/8 both ways were exchanged with John.  It was great to get John in the log as I knew he had been suffering from some antenna connection problems, and had been helped out by Tony VK5ZAI.

The weather was ever threatening, and at one stage I had to do the dash back to the car as a very heavy shower of rain came through.  Fortunately for the most part the rain stayed away, but at one stage I used my beanie to protect the radio from the light showers.  After an hour in the park, I ended up with a total of 13 QSO’s on 40m SSB into VK3 & VK, with conditions being very good.

The following stations were worked:-

Ian VK5CZ; Larry VK5LY/p; Tony VK5ZAI; Brian VK5FMID; Charles VK5FBAC; Terry VK3UP/p; Col VK5HCF; David VK5KC; John VK5DJ; Mick VK5FMMC; John VK5BJE/p; Peter VK3TKK; and Ron VK3JP.

I took some video of this activation which I have placed on You Tube.

Martin Washpool Conservation Park

The Martin Washpool Conservation Park was my first activation of my 6 day trip.  I left home early on Thursday morning, 5th September, 2013, and drove south east along the Princes Highway following the sensational Coorong National Park.  The weather did not look flash, with light showers and threatening black clouds.  You wouldn’t credit ‘Murphy‘.  The weather had been warm and sunny for a week prior to this.  Upon entering the little township of Salt Creek, I turned left onto Salt Creek Road.  There is a replica oil rig on the corner.

In 1892, a group of entrepreneurs, who believed there was oil located in the Coorong, drilled Australia’s first oil well.  They were unsuccessful, as it was later discovered that the ‘oil’ was in fact a flammable, compacted vegetable substance (known as ‘coorongite’).   A replica of the oil rig has been built as a monument to this enterprise.

I travelled east passed farming land initially and then the park to my right.  As I travelled along the dirt road I saw a number of emus who quickly scrambled off into the scrub when seeing and hearing the car.


I continued on until reaching a T-junction.  To your right is the entrance to Martin Washpool CP.  To your left is a track which takes you to the nearby Messent CP.  And in front there is a gate for a property called ‘Currawong’ which clearly states that it is private property and that there is no access to National Parks.

Immediately to your right is the entrance to Martin Washpool CP.  There is an unlocked gate and a large rainwater tank at the entrance to the park.  A very sandy fire track continues to run down to the south east following the fenceline, on the north eastern border of the park.  This looked way too sandy for my Ford Falcon, so I parked the car just inside the park near the rain water tank, and set up my gear here.  I didn’t fancy getting bogged on my very first activation !


Martin Washpool CP is 1,900 hectares in size with swampy Melaleuca flats.  In 2005, the park boundaries were altered, and various sections of Crown land were added to the park.  The park is typical open mallee with with swampy Melaleuca flats.  The gum trees and wattle were out in flower and were putting on a spectacular show.  There were plenty of honeyeaters and wattle birds active in the trees.

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Wildlife within the park includes Western Grey Kangaroos, the endangered Mallee Fowl, Emus, wombats, Shinglebacks and Bearded Dragons.  Feral deer also populate the park.

Within the park there is a central lake/lagoon of water.  This is located on the south western side of the park.  It is fed by some small tributaries, and eventually flows into the Coorong.


The park has an interesting history.  It was named after Malachi Martin, also known as Malacky Martin, who was a convicted murderer who lived in South Australia during the 1800’s.  Martin grew up around the Willunga district, south of Adelaide and as a teenager, was charged with theft while working at a post office at Encounter Bay. He was tried at Adelaide but found not guilty.  Six days later, his mother died in strange circumstances by drowning in a pond near the family farm. The inquest into her death declared that she had committed suicide, and it was believed that she was deeply affected by her son’s criminal trial. Her death was made even more tragic because she was heavily pregnant at the time.

A few years later, Martin moved to his father’s new pastoral lease near the Coorong.  Martin also worked as a mail coach driver from Encounter Bay to Kingston SE and Naracoorte.   At the time this was the only main roady from Adelaide to Melbourne.  While living in the area, he became friends with William and Catherine “Nellie” Robinson, who ran an inn, the Traveller’s Rest at Salt Creek.  It was later believed that Catherine and Martin were having an affair which was to have fatal consequences.  On 14 June 1856, William Robinson’s body was discovered with his throat cut.  Martin was a suspect, but was never charged with his murder.  Several weeks later, he moved to Sydney for two years before returning to South Australia and marrying Catherine on 23 June 1858.

During his two-year absence, a young woman named Jane Macmanamin came to work for Catherine as a servant. In 1862 she went missing from Salt Creek and Martin stated she had moved away on a whim to the Mount Gambier area in the colony’s south east.  In April 1862, Jane’s sister, who had constantly stayed in contact with her, sent a letter to the police in Adelaide, suspicious that she had not heard from Jane in some time.  After an investigation and thorough search, Jane’s body was discovered in May 1862, half concealed in a wombat hole at Salt Creek, not far from the Traveller’s Rest.

In June 1862, Martin was charged with the murder of Jane Macmanamin.  Another man, William Wilsen, who claimed he had been engaged to her, was charged with being an accessory after the fact.  Martin was tried and found guilty.  He was hanged at the Adelaide Gaol on 24 December 1862 (Christmas Eve).  He is buried between the walls within the gaol.  Wilsen was found guilty of assisting Martin after the murder and sentenced to four years hard labour.  He was deported to Tasmania to carry out his sentence.

As well as the two murders which were attributed to Martin, there was also suspicion as to the disappearances of two men from the Salt Creek area in 1859.  A traveller found a damaged rosewood jeweller’s box approximately two and half miles from Salt Creek.  On inspection, it contained a piece of linen with the name “G. F. King” written on one of the corners.  It was suggested by Edward Bright, a contemporary diarist that a man named Harry Kirby and a jeweller stayed at the Traveller’s Rest and subsequently disappeared.

The police also investigated reports from local aboriginals that Martin had murdered an aboriginal teenager who he had had an altercation with.  Sometime after the boy’s suspicious disappearance, a group of aboriginal people were bathing in a deep water hole near Salt Creek.  They found the boy’s body in a bag, weighted down by a large stone. This incident occurred sometime in late 1859 or early 1860, but the police were unable to find any witnesses who had actually found the body, only people who had heard the story from others.

It is after Malachi Martin, that Martin’s Washpool Conservation park was named.  It was so named after the pool in which he washed the blood from himself after committing murder.  A macarbe but very interesting history of the park.

I used the park sign to secure the 7m squid pole and rested the Yaesu FT-817nd up on the permapine log.  My first contact was with Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Bakara Conservation Park near Swan Reach.  A good start…a Park to Park contact.  Larry had a very nice 5/8 signal.

The showers held off just long enough for me to male 8 contacts on 40m SSB, with conditions being excellent.  Considering it was a Thursday morning, I was happy with the 8 QSO’s, all of which were VK5’s, other than regular ‘Hunter’ Ron VK3AFW.

The following stations were worked:- Larry VK5LY/p; Col VK5HCF; Brian VK5FMID; Ron VK3AFW; Simon VK5VST; Mick VK5FMMC; Dale VK5DC; Brendan VK5FBFB.

SE South Australia & Victoria trip

I am home safe after my trip down to the South east of South Australia, and western Victoria.  I had a very enjoyable time activating South Australian and Victorian parks, and activating one South Australian and a dozen or so Victorian summits.  I also thoroughly enjoyed catching up with the gents from the South East Radio Group and delivering a presentation to them on SOTA, the VK5 Parks Award, the KRMNPA, and WWFF.


Here is a quick summary of parks and summit activations…..

Martin Washpool CP – 8 QSO’s.
Messent CP – 13 QSO’s
Reedy Creek CP – 10 QSO’s
Furner CP – 13 QSO’s
Mt Burr summit – 48 QSO’s
Canunda NP – 17 QSO’s.
Carpenter Rocks CP – 14 QSO’s
Mt Napier summit – 36 QSO’s
Mt Rouse summit – 16 QSO’s
One Tree Hill summit – 37 QSO’s
Blue Mountain – 56 QSO’s
Pt 756/Pyrennes summit – 29 QSO’s
Ben Nevis summit – 43 QSO’s
Mt Lonarch summit – 32 QSO’s
Mt Buangor summit -28 QSO’s
One Tree Hill summit (night time activation) – 5 QSO’s
Mt Langi Ghiran summit – 42 QSO’s
Mt Zero summit & Grampians NP – 23 QSO’s.
Mt Arapiles summit – 33 QSO’s
Little Desert NP – 11 QSO’s.
Ngarkat CP – 23 QSO’s

  • Total of 537 QSO’s.
  • 13 x SOTA activations (12 uniques)
  • 21 x Summit to Summit QSO’s.
  • 6 x SA Conservation Parks activated – SA Parks Award.
  • 1 x SA National Park activated – SA Parks Award.
  • 18 x other SA Parks worked – SA Parks Award
  • 10 x Park to Park QSO’s – SA Parks Award
  • 6 x Victorian Parks worked – KRMNPA
  • 2 x Victorian NP activated – KRMNPA

Some of the highlights included…..

  • 2 x contacts into VK9 Lord Howe Island on 40m SSB using QRP 5 watts
  • a dozen or so QSO’s into Europe & the UK using QRP 5 watts on 20m SSB.
  • contact with John VK5BJE/p (park to park) using just .5 watt.