Mylor Conservation Park

My 2nd activation on Sunday 29th September, 2013, was the Mylor Conservation Park, which was just a short 10 minute drive from Scott Creek.

Mylor Conservation Park is situated in the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’, about 15 km south east of Adelaide.  The park consists of 49 hectares of remnant bushland.  Much of the region surrounding Mylor Conservation Park has been largely cleared for residential and agricultural purposes.  The park forms part of a mosaic of remnant bushland areas in the district which are linked by vegetation corridors on both public and private land.

The park is covered by open forest with a canopy dominated by Messmate Stringybark and Brown Stringybark, associated with a shrubby under storey.  The park has abundant wildflowers in spring and many of the native plants were also out in flower.  The Onkaparinga River flows just to the east of the park boundary.

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The park is used for a number of outdoor recreational activities, such as bushwalking or horse riding through the open woodland.  A section of the Heysen Trail runs through the park.

Numerous bird species inhabit the area, including the endangered Yellow tailed Black Cockatoo, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Superb Fairy-wren, and Red-browned finch.  A large number of native animals call the park home including Western Grey kangaroos, echidnas, and the deadly Eastern brown snake.  Because it was such a warm day, I was ever vigilant of snakes.  Fortunately none were encountered !

I accessed the park via Whitehead Road, just off Strathalbyn Road (the main street of the quaint little town of Mylor).  The town was proclaimed in 1891 by Acting Governor of South Australia, Sir James Boucaut, who named it after his Cornish birthplace.  Towards the end of the Whitehead Road there is a small parking area.  From here I walked into the park and set up my gear, using the north western park boundary fence to secure my squid pole with some octopus straps.  The chickenwire fence also made a nice back rest.  Fortunately the track heading north at this point made a good clearing for me to string out the legs of the dipole so the antenna was radiating east-west.  I found a comfy spot up against the fence, in the shade from the hot sun (it was about 28 deg C).

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After turning the radio on I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the noise floor was nice and low.  A lot better than Scott Creek Conservation Park.  However there was a lot of RTTY QRM due to the RTTY contest.  Again I tuned to 7.100 and again there was Brian VK5FMID, patiently waiting for me.  This was followed by Peter VK3PF, Dale VK5FSCK, and John VK5FTCT.  And to my pleasure, what followed was a steady flow of callers from VK2, VK3, & VK5.  All with great signals.  I worked a few QRP stations including Andy VK5LA on 5 watts, Ben VK3FTRV on 5 watts, Shaun VK3VLY on 5 watts, Simon VK5TE on 5 watts, and Andrew VK2UH also using 5 watts.

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When things slowed down a little, I tuned down to 7.095 and worked Ian VK1DI/2 who was on top of Mt Gillamatong, VK2/ ST-034 in the Southern Tabelands of NSW (5/5 both ways).

I then tuned around the bands and on 7.105 I heard Steve VK2FISN just finishing up a QSO with another VK2.  Steve had tried calling me numerous times on 7.100 but unfortunately he just couldn’t quite hear me well enough.  I called Steve and we were finally able to make a contact.  Perseverance counts !

In a little over an hour, I had 31 stations on 40m SSB in the log.  Time to head home & ‘beer o’clock’ !

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

Brian VK5FMID; Peter VK3PF; Dale VK5FSCK; John VK5FTCT; Allen VK3HRA; Colin VK3UBY; Mal VK3AZZ; Greg VK3HBM; Sandra VK3LSC; ANdy VK5LA/qrp; Tim VK5AV; Nick VK3ANL; Ron VK3AFW; Peter VK2NEO; Ian VK5CZ; Ben VK3FTRV; Bernard VK3AMB; Fred VK3JM; Shaun VK3VLY/qrp; Graham VK5KGP; Shaun VK5FAKV; Rick VK5FGFK; Colin VK5HT; Simon VK5TE; Roy VK5NRG; David VK5KC; Ian VK1DI/2 (SOTA); Steve VK2FISN; Jim VK3AIX; Nev VK5WG; and Andrew VK2UH/qrp.

Thanks everyone.  A fun afternoon in the sun.

Scott Creek Conservation Park

Sunday morning, 29th September, 2013, started off as quite a gloomy morning, but by lunchtime, after a morning of gardening, the weather had warmed up and it had turned into a beautiful day.  So after some sweet talking the wife, I decided to head out and activate a couple of parks.  My first activation was the Scott Creek Conservation Park.

Adelaide-map

Scott Creek CP is situated about 30 km south of Adelaide, in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.  It is about a 30km drive from my house in the Adelaide Hills or only 15 km as the crow flies.  The Park consists of an area of 750 hectares with much of the terrain being hilly and rugged, with steep slopes falling into a number of small creeks, eventually leading into Scott Creek, which flows out of the park and into the Onkaparinga River.  At its highest, which is on its eastern side, the park has an altitude of a little over 400 metres. This drops down to the lowest spot, near where Scott Creek crosses under Dorset Vale Road, which is about 230 metres above sea level.  The land was privately owned until the early 1970s when land was purchased by the South Australian Government, with the park being officially declared in 1985.

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The Park is home to many threatened species of the Mount Lofty Ranges.  A large variety of native marsupials inhabit the park including the Southern Brown Bandicoot, Western Grey kangaroo, Koala, Yellow footed Antechinus, Common Ringtail Possum, Common Brush tailed possum, and Short-beaked echidna.  Over 132 species of bird have been recorded in the park, including Wedge Tailed eagles, Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson Rosellas, Rainbow Bee Eaters, Superb Fairywrens, and the endangered Beautiful Firetail and Chestnut-rumped Heathwren.  There are 6 known species of amphibian in the park including the Brown Tree frog and Eastern Banjo frog.  Six species of bat have also been recorded in the park.

The Park has a large variety of native plants and contains more than 60 species of orchids.  In fact over 465 different indigenous plants have been recorded in the park.  A large number of the natives were flowering during my visit.

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The Park was once part of a major travelling route for the Peramangk Aboriginal people, through the hills and down to the plains of Adelaide.  In c. 1847, a Mr. Scott brought his flock of sheep into the area, and he pitched a camp near the bottom of the creek, near the Onkaparinga.  Settlers in nearby Cherry Gardens referred to that locality as Scott’s Bottom, and the little stream as Scotts Creek.

It is claimed that in 1850, the wheels of a bullock dray broke off rock fragments which people recognised as copper.  Subsequently, a mine, Wheal Maria, was established and attempts made to mine for copper.  A 30 foot shaft was sunk but it was not immediately productive with quantities of ore being small, so it was abandoned within a few short years.  However, in 1866, some Kapunda shareholders established a company to develop the lode at Scott Creek, and sent ore to the Port Adelaide Smelting Works.  By 1868, the Almanda Silver Mining Association was formed.  At the Almanda Mine at Scott Creek a treatment plant was established, along with boiler houses, and underground flue and Ey’s Tunnel a 60 metre long tunnel named after William Ey.

A ‘SIlver rush’ resulted in a number of mines including the Esmeralda, the Colorado, the Potosi, all of which were short lived.  These three mines were just outside the present day Scott Creek CP boundary.  However, the fourth mine, the Almanda, which was the most significant, was entirely within the current day Park boundaries.

But by 1870 – 1871, mining activtities by the companies had ceased and the population in the Scott Creek area had rapidly declined.  In 1876, a devastating bushfire ripped through the entire area, from Coromandel Valley all the way through to Echunga, and this destroyed anything that remained.

As I drove towards the park, I stopped at Mackereth Cottage which is situated alongside Scott Creek.  The cottage was built in 1839/1840 by George Mackereth, a farmer from Westmoreland in England, who settled in the area with his wife Sarah.  The cottage was continually lived in from 1840 until 1976, when the National Trust took custody of the property from the Engineering & Water Supply (E & WS) and implemented much needed conservation works. For many years it housed a museum and on occasions provided Devonshire Teas on weekend openings to visitors, especially to local hikers and bushwalkers.  In 1984, the National Trust relinquished its interests and the cottage was closed.  It was reverted to the then E & WS Department now known as SA Water.  Sadly it is in a state of disrepair and has been vandalised and is covered in graffiti.  An indictment on our love of history !  Below is a photo of what the cottage did look like, and the terrible condition it is now in.

Cottage

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I accessed the park via Scott Creek Road, and set up at the old Almanda Mine area.  There are interesting ruins from the old silver mine here to explore with interpretive signs.  It is quite interesting to stroll around.  There is an old engine house, stone chimney, the mine office, a dairy and several mining shafts.  Sadly, the old buildings have been vandalised with graffiti.  This was not here when I last visited the park a number of years ago, and it is a real shame that people resort to this type of behaviour.  There is a ‘Friends of Scott Creek’ group, but I am not sure how active they are.  And maybe they have previously removed the graffiti, but the vandals keep coming back ?  Either way, it is a real shame.

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The old mining area was the perfect spot to set up.  It consisted of a large cleared grassy area with a large number of trees offering shade, and importantly a way to tie off the ends of the dipole.  So I started to set up my equipment, under the watchful eye of a koala who was in one of the gum trees just above me.

I secured the squid pole to a walking trail sign and turned on the FT-817nd, eagerly wanting to activate the park.  But to my horror when switching on the radio there was a noise floor of S8 noise.  It pays to look up…..not far away were power lines !  So I pulled down the antenna and walked about 100 metres further to the south and set up the gear again.  This time the noise floor had dropped dramatically but was still there at S2-3.

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I was a bit hesitant as to how I was going to go with contacts.  The noise floor was a bit high for my liking, and conditions earlier in the day at home into VK3 had been very poor.  Prior to leaving I had heard a lot of the interstate SOTA activators, and their signals were way down compared to normal.  So with some degree of uncertainty, I put a call out on 7.100 and was immediately greeted by the first keen ‘Hunter’, Brian VK5FMID, who is a staunch supporter of the Award.  Ian VK5CZ followed with a very strong signal, Peter VK5PET, and Tim VK5AV.  This was followed by a steady flow of callers which was really pleasing.

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In a little less than 60 minutes, I worked a total of 17 stations on 40m SSB in VK2, VK3, & VK5.  It was time to pack up and head off to Mylor Conservation Park.

The following stations were worked:-

Brian, VK5FMID; Ian VK5CZ; Peter VK5PET; Tim VK5AV; Colin VK3UBY; Andy VK5AKH; Sandra VK3LSC; Fred VK3JM; John VK5FTCT; Roy VK5NRG; Bill VK3HGW; Nick VK3ANL; Ivan VK5QV; Shaun VK5FAKV; Peter VK3PF; Peter VKNEO; & Dale VK5FSCK.