On Saturday morning 13th October, 2013, I headed out to activate 3 parks on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south of Adelaide. The next day on Sunday I had a commitment at the Port Elliot show with an amateur radio display, so I booked in overnight at the Middleton Caravan Park so I didn’t have to journey back home to the Adelaide Hills.
My first activation was the Stipiturus Conservation Park which consists of 68.13 hectares and is situated about 50 kilometres south of Adelaide and six kilometres west-south-west of the nearest town, Mount Compass.
Purchased with support funding from the Natural Heritage Trust and Nature Foundation Inc, the park was proclaimed on 14 December 2006 under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, without access under State mining legislation.
Stipiturus Conservation Park protects a high conservation value wet heath/sedgeland peat bog ecosystem, known as Glenshera Swamp (the largest remaining peat swamp on the Fleurieu Peninsula), with over 64% of native plants in and around the swamp having regional and/or state conservation ratings. The park contributes to the conservation of the first registered nationally threatened ecosystem found solely in South Australia, the ‘Swamps of the Fleurieu Peninsula’, and is home to one of the largest known swamp-based population of the nationally endangered Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren (Stipiturus malachurus intermedius), after which the park was named.
Less than one percent of the permanent wetlands of the Mount Lofty Ranges still remain. These wetlands once covered much of the Myponga and Mt Compass area, but are now cleared and drained for grazing. Hence, in 2003 the swamps of the Fleurieu Peninsula were listed by the Australian Government as a critically endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Stipiturus Conservation Park protects the largest remaining intact peat swamp ecosystem on the Fleurieu Peninsula, which provides habitat for the largest swamp-based population of the nationally endangered Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren (Stipiturus malachurus intermedius).
Over 65 species of birds have been recorded in the park, four of which are of conservation significance, including the Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren. These are a little insectivorous bird which are relatively poor fliers that tend to hop, flutter, and scramble their way through their habitat. At least two native mammals inhabit the park including the Southern Brown Bandicoot and the Western Grey Kangaroo.
I drove from home out through Echunga and Meadows and then along the Brookman Road towards Willunga. I then took Pages Flat Road heading towards Myponga, and turned left into Apple Grove Road and then Saffrons Road. I accessed the park on its southern side, off Saffrons Road. The park is well sign posted with a locked gate.
There is a track leading through the scrub down to the swamp area. The track in parts conveniently runs north – south, so I decided that was the spot where I would set up. Certainly the scrub was way too thick to extend the squid pole and it was a warm day and I did not fancy sitting in amongst the scrub with the ‘Joe Blakes’ (snakes). During the morning my only unwelcome visitors fortunately were some very big ants. I used a fallen gum tree limb to secure the squid pole with some octopus straps.
Although I didn’t see any of the little Southern Emu wrens, I did see a variety of other birds including Superb Blue Wrens, Red Wattlebirds, and Adelaide Rosellas.
My first QSO in the park was with Ben VK3FTRV who was running just 5 watts (5/4 both ways). This was followed by Terry VK3UP who was portable at Lorne and running just 4.5 watts (5/3 both ways). I managed three Summits on the Air (SOTA) contacts whilst in the park. The first SOTA contact was with Glenn VK3YY who was portable on Mount Selma, VK3/ VT-013. I then spoke with Ed VK2JI who was portable on Mount Elliot VK2/ HU-093. And my third SOTA contact was with Mark VK3PI who was portable on Mount St Leonard, VK3/ VC-006.
Conditions on 40m SSB were not all that great, but after an hour of sitting in the park I had 15 contacts in the notebook from VK2, VK3, & VK5.
The following stations were worked:-
Ben VK3FTRV/qrp; Terry VK3UP/qrp; Ron VK3AFW; Tim VK5AV; Nick VK3ANL; Glenn VK3YY/p (SOTA); Peter VK3PF/qrp; Ed VK2JI/p (SOTA); Fred VK3JM; Col VK5HCF; Peter VK3ZPF; Allen VK3HRA; Shaun VK5FAKV; Larry VK5LY; Mark VK3PI/p (SOTA).