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.
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).
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…..