Warrenben Conservation Park

My 3rd planned activation for Saturday 19th October, 2013, was the Warrenben Conservation Park, which is situated on the Yorke Peninsula, north east of Marion Bay.

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Warrenben Conservation Park is a large park consisting of  4,065 hectares.  It was constituted by statute in 1972. Together with nearby Innes National Park, it conserves a substantial proportion of the natural habitat remaining on southern Yorke Peninsula.  The park comprises an area of undulating limestone plains and low, stabilised dunes that remain well vegetated with mallee and tea-tree scrub and some sheoak woodlands.

The Park provides habitat for a number of threatened species including the nationally and state vulnerable Annual Candles, state rare Goldsack’s Leek-orchid, and the nationally and state vulnerable Malleefowl and Western Whipbird.  A large population of Western Grey kangaroos call the park home, and Marija and I saw quite a few of these.

Warrenben CP constitutes a major proportion of the only large remnant area of native vegetation left on southern Yorke Peninsula. The understorey has high biodiversity with 233 native plant species recorded, although a number of introduced species are also found on the park.   Mallee plant community covers the north-eastern and southern sections of the park and includes species such as Coastal White Mallee, Red Mallee, Mallee Box and Sessile-fruit White Mallee .  The understorey includes species of Calytrix, Acacia, Correa and Templetonia.  The north-western section of the park includes tracts of low open woodland dominated by Drooping Sheoak and Dryland Tea-tree as well as stands of Scrubby Cypress Pine.  The central section is a mix of the two habitat types.



Annual Candles and numerous other species of conservation significance occur in this park.  Annual Candles ‘Stackhousiaceae’ is a small, upright herb with conspicuous, cylindrical groups of white-cream flowers at the top of the stems.  The name ‘v\candles’ refers to the resemblance from a distance, of these flower heads to candlelight in the night.

Sadly the park is also home to several feral special including Goats, foxes, and rabbits.

Warrenben Conservation Park also supports stands of Sour-bush, the larval food plant for the Small Brown Azure Butterfly.  This butterfly is now only found within or near large, pristine Mallee areas and evidently has been targeted by collectors.

The park was ravaged by fire in April this year.  The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) intended to burn around 100 to 300 hectares when it lit up a prescribed burn in the northern part of the Park.  But a wind change saw the fire break containment lines and burn around 500 to 600 hectares, double the intended amount.

As Marija and I later left the park, in what were very hot and windy conditions we wondered how anything would survive in the park.  But we learnt that Warrenben Conservation Park is located over a known groundwater basin. Groundwater is sourced on the park for fire-fighting purposes and a water-bore, windmill and tank are located there.

We accessed the northern side of the park via Ilfracombe Road, a dirt rack off the Marion Bay Road.  The road was in good condition and follows the northern boundary of the park.  There is no public access roads leading into the park.  All of the access gates are locked for use by emergency service vehicles and DEWNR vehicles only.  So we parked the car on Ilfracombe Road, and climbed the fence that forms the park boundary.  I found a fallen tree limb and I used it to secure the squid pole.


I didn’t want to venture into the park too far because it was extremely hot.  The temperature had already reached 35 deg C, and it was also extremely windy.  The bush flies were almost intolerable, and I was forever concerned by snakes.  The park is home to a number of snake species including the deadly Brown snake and Tiger snake.

But I did remain in the park for a short time and my saviour, John VK5BJE, was my first contact, as had been the case in the previous 2 parks.  John is an active Parks Activator, and I think that John must have a sense of just how oppressive activations can sometimes be.  So there he was, patiently waiting for me again with a strong 5/8 signal. This was followed by staunch Parks award Hunters Tim VK5AV, Colin VK3UBY and his wife Sandra VK3LSC, and then Peter VK3PF.  My last contact was with Robin VK5TN down in Mount Gambier (5/8 both ways).

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The band conditions on 40m SSB were quite poor.  This was combined with very hot weather (35 deg C) and very strong winds.  So I only spent about 15 minutes in the park, and ended up with a total of 6 contacts on 40m SSB.

I worked the following stations:-

John VK5BJE; Tim VK5AV; Colin VK3UBY; Sandra VK3LSC; Peter VK3PF; and Robin VK5TN.

I have posted a video on You Tube of the activation…..

Carribie Conservation Park

My second activation for Saturday 19th October, 2013 was the Carribie Conservation Park which is situated on the Yorke Peninsula, about 281 km from Adelaide, and just north of the little settlement of White Hut.

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I accessed the Park via Gleesons Road, which runs off the eastern side of the Marion Bay Road. There is no public access road for vehicles into the park itself, so I simply climbed the fence to get into the park.  Carribie CP is a small park, with no visitor facilities.  It consists of 19.5 hectares of remnant sheoak and mallee, and is surrounded by farm land.  The Park was constituted by statue in 1972.

The vegetation of Carribie Conservation Park comprises open scrub dominated by Coastal White Mallee and Red Mallee with an understorey that includes species of Calytrix, Acacia and Correa.   Some sections of the park contain Drooping Sheoak woodland. There are 81 native plant species recorded from this park, though the only known species of conservation significance is the Western Daddy-long-legs.

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Because the park is located about 7 km inland from the ocean, it was much hotter here than at Leven Beach Conservation Park on the coast.  And to make things worse there was no shade, and the bush flies were absolutely out in force. I could have gone deeper into the park to possibly get some shade, but I wasnt keen to do this as it was a hot day and I figured the goannas and snakes would have been enjoying the sunshine.  And they would probably have enjoyed even more, having a chomp on my lilly white legs.

So I set up my deck chair and foldable table in a cleared area on the southern side of the park.  I used the wooden permapine post park sign to secure the 7 m squid pole, and then ran out the legs of the dipole, using some rocks to hold them down in place


As was the case at Leven Beach CP, my first contact in Carribie CP, was John VK5BJE who had a beautiful strong signal.  This was followed by John VK5FTCT, and then dedicated Park Hunters Colin VK3UBY and his wife Sandra VK3LSC.

I managed one Park to Park contact whilst in Carribie, and that was with Larry VK5LY, who was portable in the Caroona Creek Conservation Park, in the mid north of S.A. with his dedicated wife Di.  Larry and I exchanged 5/9 signal reports.

Another enjoyable QSO was with Tom, VK5FTRG.  I had met Tom in September, when I travelled down to Mount Gambier to deliver a presentation to the South East Radio Group on SOTA & the VK5 Parks Award.  At that time Tom was patiently awaiting his Foundation call yo come through.  So ti was a pleasure to speak with Tom with his new call of VK5FTRG.  Congratulations Tom.

Sadly conditions on 40m SSB were quite poor, and there was quite a bit of activity from the Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) stations, so finding a clear frequency with a little QRP signal was a little difficult.

Whilst I was operating in the Park, I was visited by one of the locals, Colin, VK5FCJM, and also two other fellas who were staying on an adjacent property.  They were not all that familiar with amateur radio, so I showed them the set up and explained all about the hobby.


I worked the following stations on 40m SSB, in about 45 minutes in the park:-

John VK5BJE; John VK5FTCT; Colin VK3UBY; Sandra VK3LSC; Peter VK3PF; Larry VK5LY/p (Park to Park); Tim VK5AV; Tom VK5FTRG; David VK5KC; and Ian VK5CZ.

Here is a short video of the activation which I have placed on You Tube…..

Leven Beach Conservation Park

On Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th October, we celebrated the 6 month anniversary of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  In its short history the award has proved to be very popular with both Activators and Hunters.  To celebrate the special activity weekend, I headed over to the Yorke Peninsula, with my wife Marija.  We stayed at the Corny Point Caravan Park on Friday and Saturday night, and activated 8 parks over the weekend

My first activation was on Saturday morning, and was the Leven Beach Conservation Park, which is located close to the little coastal town of Corny Point, on the Yorke Peninsula, about 265 km by road from Adelaide.

Yorke Peninsula comprises a total area of approximately 4,265 square kilometres, which is contained within about 560 kilometres of coastline extending 240 kilometres from north to south. The surface topography is gently undulating, with an average elevation about 90 metres above sea level.  Yorke Peninsula was named by Captain Matthew Flinders after the Right Honourable Charles Philip Yorke, narrowly beating French navigator Captain Nicholas Baudin who preferred the name ‘Cambaceres Peninsula’.

It is interesting how Corny Point was named.  It was named this by Matthew Flinders in March 1802 because it appeared to be a growth on the toe of Yorke Peninsula.

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Leven Beach Conservation Park was proclaimed in 1988, and consists of 502 hectares of coastal dune system vegetation.  Over 127 native species of plants have been recorded in park.  There are various plants on the foredune aea including Coast Saltbush and Rolling Spinifex.  Behind the foredune area is a diversity of species which form a low scrubland community with Coast Daisy-bush, Common Boobialla and Sea Box prominent.  Further inland from the coast there are Drooping Sheoak, and Dryland Tea-tree woodlands with an understorey including Coast Daisy-bush and Coast Salt Bush.  The Park has a 6 km beach frontage backed by low cliffs and a hinterland of undulating, vegetated dunes.

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The Park provides habitat for a nationally endangered species of butterfly, the Yelow Sedge-skipper Butterfly, which feed on stands of Smooth Cutting-grass.  This grass is required by the larva that feed only on this species of grass.  There are a number of threats to the survivial of butterfly due to issues with the grass including overgrazing by Western Grey kangaroos, chemical drift spray from farming, and the removal of nectar plants.

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I set up up at the end of Roe Road, near Couch Beach, on the western end of the Park.  There was a convenient car park at the end of Roe Road, and an even more convenient park sign, which I used to secure my 7m squid pole to with some octopus straps.  It was a warm morning (already 28 deg C) with a stiff breeze coming off the ocean, but I managed to get some shade out of the hot sun.  I set up my deck chair and fold up table, and put a call out on 7.095 on 40m, to be greeted by John VK5BJE, my first contact in the park.  This was followed by a good signal from Allen VK3HRA who was setting up for JOTA, Tim VK5AV with a very strong signal from the SE of S.A., and Colin VK3UBY and his wife Sandra VK3LSC from Mildura.  They always have a booming signal coming in from the Sunraysia district.

My 6th contact of the morning was my first Park to Park QSO for the weekend, and this was with Larry VK5LY who was with his wiffe Di, portable in the Red Banks Conservation Park, near Burra in the mid north of S.A.  Larry had a genuine 5/9 signal with 5/9 being returned to me by Larry.  Hats off to you Di, for being another dedicated XYL like Marija.

I then tuned around the band and was really pleased to make contact with David VK5NQP who was portable in the Hale Conservation Park.  This was David’s second attempt at this park, and it was a pleasure to get David in the log with a Park to Park contact.  Although a bit low (5/3), David was perfectly readable, and was using a Yaesu FT-707 and a squid pole.


Conditions on 40m seemed to be very poor, particularly into the eastern states.  Even the interstatge Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) stations were well down.  But it is certainly all about antenna, even if conditions are down.  Colin VK3UBY was his normal very strong 5/9 plus signal coming in from Mildura, with 5/9 being returned.  After 45 minutes in the park I had worked a total of ‘unlucky 13’ on 40m SSB.  It was time to move on to Carribie Conservation Park.

I worked the following stations:-

John VK5BJE; Allen VK3HRA; Tim VK5AV; Colin VK3UBY; Sandra VK3LSC; Larry VK5LY/p (Park to Park); VK3SAW (JOTA station in the Grampians NP); David VK5NQP/p (Park to Park); Graham VK5KGP; Peter VK3PF; Ian VK5CZ; Shaun VK5FAKV; and Brian VK5FMID.

Marija took some video of the activation.  I have added a short video to You Tube which can be found at…..