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.
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.
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.
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.