Barker Rocks Conservation Park

After the activation at Minlacowie Conservation Park, Marija and I headed off towards our 2nd park of the day, the Barker Rocks Conservation Park, which is situated on the coast, on the western side of Yorke Peninsula.  It is just south of Port Rickaby.

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We travelled back along the dirt to the Minlaton-Yorketown Road and headed north into the little town of Minlaton.  We stopped at the Visitor Centre at Minlaton and found the 2 ladies there to be very friendly & helpful.  We couldn’t go passed the local bakery and a susage roll and orange juice.  We then headed out towards the coast on the Rickaby Road, and then turned left into Barker Rocks Road which took us down to the coast and the park.

There is a large carpark and camp ground area at the end of the road, and a path leading down to the beach.  Well, in fact there is no beach.  It is all rock.  That’s how the park got its name.  So I secured the squid pole between some rocks and stretched out the 40m/20m linked dipole.  There were quite a few fisherman on the foreshore.  I must have been the only guy using a squid pole for a different reason !

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Sadly the VSWR on the dipole was high again, and despite all my best efforts I could not resolve the issue.  So I planned on just getting as many contacts as possible and heading off to the next park.

I called CQ on 7.110 and was greeted by Tim VK5AV who had an excellent 5/9 signal.  This was followed by John VK5BJE who was portable in the Marino Rocks Conservation Park.  So I was happy.  I had 2 contacts.  But despite a number of CQ calls, I had no more takers.  So I tuned across the band and found Col VK5HCF who was portable in the Gower Conservation Park in the south east of S.A.

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I spent about 30 minutes in the park and managed to scrape up 6 QSO’s on 40m SSB, including 2 Park to park contacts.  It was good to hear from Tom again, VK5FTRG, who has just acquired his Foundation licence.

The following stations were worked:-

Tim VK5AV; John VK5BJE/p (Park to Park); Col VK5HCF/p (Park to Park); Eddie VK5EDM; Tom VK5FTRG; and John VK5DJ.

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

Minlacowie Conservation Park

My first of 4 activations for Sunday 20th October, was the Minlacowie Conservation Park, which is located on the Yorke Peninsula, about 13 km west of Stansbury, and about 218 km from Adelaide.  So bright and early Marija and I got up, and enjoyed a coffee and breakfast on the porch of the cabin at the Corny Point Caravan Park.  It was a beautiful morning.  Already very warm, with an expected top temperature of 35 deg C.  Following breakfast we headed off after 2 enjoyable nights in Corny Point.  Marija and I highly recommend the caravan park here.  It was clean and tidy, and the owners were very friendly.

Before heading off to the park, we detoured to the local general store and purchased some fly nets to cover our faces.  The bush flies on Saturday had been intolerable.  We then headed out onto the Yorke Highway and into the little town of Warooka, and then on to Hardwicke Bay.  We continued north on the Yorke Highway and passed through the little settlement of Brentwood. Not far out of Brentwood, we then turned right onto Rogers Road (a dirt road), and followed this through to the old Minlacowie South school, which is now a ruin.  After a brief stop to have a look at the old school, we continued west on Rogers Road until we saw the Park on her right hand side.

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Minlacowie Conservation Park, which was proclaimed in 2008, consists of 28.5 hectares of native bush which is now rather rare on Yorke Peninsula.  The park is an area of high biodiversity, with at least 87 native plant species observed.  The park comprises a small patch of remnant mallee / broombush vegetation in very good condition, and conserves a number of significant plant species including the nationally and state vulnerable Winter Spider-orchid.  The park is dominated by Ridge-fruited Mallee together with Narrow-leaf Red Mallee and Beaked Red Mallee and Dryland Tea-Tree and Broom-bush.  There is a good ground cover including Mallee Bitter-pea, Rosemary Damperia  and Common Stylewort.

We could not find any access to the park on the northern side, so we turned right onto Savage Hut Road (a dirt road) which followed the western boundary of the park.  Again there was no visible access point to the park.  So Marija and I stopped on the side of the road, and set up just of the roadway, not far from the intersection.

Sunday was shaping up to be a very hot day and it was already stifling with a very stiff breeze.  The mallee scrub of the park is very thick and I didn’t fancy walking to far in through fear of snakes and goannas.  And it would have been physically impossible to set up the dipole.

So I attached the 7 m squid pole to the dead branches of a tree, utilising some octopus straps.  I set up my little fold up table and deck chair, and I checked the antenna with the antenna analyser.  And to my surprise, the VSWR was through the roof.  The linked dipole can be a little.  But despite, the VSWR was still really high.

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I put a few calls out on 40m but got no answer so I hunted around the band and found Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Spring Gully Conservation Park, near Clare.  Larry was a good strong 5/9 signal and was using his new Wouxon X1M transceiver. I breathed a sigh of relief.  I ahd one contact.  I had qualified the park.   Larry told me that John VK5BJE was up 5 kc, so I headed up to 7.110 and found John calling CQ from the Hallet Cove Conservation Park with a good strong 5/8 signal.

At the conclusion of the QSO with John, Graham VK5KGP asked me to QSY up 5.  So I obliged and had a chat with Graham, before I decided that the heat, the flies, and the antenna issues, were not worth sitting in the sun for.  So I packed up hoping that Barker Rocks Conservation Park, which was on the coast, would be a little bit more pleasant, and that I might be able to solve the antenna issues.

During the activation I had a local farmer drive by and ask me what I was researching.  So I explained to him that I was a silly amateur radio operator sitting in the heat with the flies talking to other hams.  He was quite interested, but warned me not to venture too far into the scrub because of all the snakes.

After just 15 minutes in the park, I had 3 QSO’s in the log.  This is the lowest number of contacts I have ever had from a park.

The following stations were worked:-

Larry VK5LY/p (Park to Park); John VK5BJE/p (Park to Park); and Graham VK5KGP.

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

Innes National Park

My last activation for Saturday, 19th October, was the Innes National Park, which is located on the southern tip of the Yorke Peninsula, about 295 km from Adelaide.

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Innes National Park comprises 9,415 hectares of natural coastal vegetation, and represents one of only a few pockets of significant vegetation on the Yorke Peninsula.  As such it is a very important National Park for biodiversity.

The Narungga aboriginal people have lived on the Yorke Peninsula for thousands of years.  They were made of of four clan, the Kurnara in the north of the peninsula, Windera in the east, Wari in the west, and Dilpa in the south.  In 1847, European colonisation of the Innes area commenced, with land occupied for sheep grazing near Cape Spencer.  Small scale cropping increasingly occurred throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Innes National Park takes its name from William Innes, who discovered commercial quantities of gypsum in the area during the early 1900’s.  In 1913, he established the mioning township of Inneston, where gypsum was produced up until 1930.  Inneston had a population of about 200 people during its boom phase.  Despite being isolted, the township of Inneston was completely self sufficient, having its own school, post office, bakery, general store, and tennis court.

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About 333 native plants have been recorded in the park.  Of these, 115 are of conservation significance.  Innes NP is home to about 140 species of birds, with many of these being of conservation significance.  They include the shy Western Whipbird, and the Malleefowl.  Western Grey kangaroos and emus roam freely in the park, as we found out.  The speed limit throughout the park is generally 40 kph for good reason, as the road is often dotted by kangaroos and emus.  A wide variety of reptiles also call the park home, including the deadly Brown snake, sleepy lizards (of which we saw numerous), and Eastern Bearded Dragons.  Southern Right whales pass along the coast from May to September, whilst dolphins are also regular visitors to the park’s waters.

There are a large number of shipwrecks on the ocean floor off the coast of the Yorke Peninsula and Innes National Park.  In fact, the remains of about 40 ship wrecks can be found.  Many of these fell victim to the unpredictable storms that frequent the area.  There were certainly no storms on the peninsula today.  The temperature was about 35 deg c.

Marija and I drove into the park via the seaside town of Marion Bay.  Marion Bay has a small population of approximately 130 people.  This swells to 500-900 during holiday periods.  We stopped at Stenhouse Bay and decided to set up the radio gear here.  There was a terrific view of the Bay, and more importantly there was a big timber shelter that looked very inviting, to shelter us from the hot afternoon sun.

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The township of Stenhouse Bay is at the western tip of Yorke Peninsula, and was named after Andrew Stenhouse, who in the 1920s had a business called the Permascite Manufacturing Company.  Stenhouse helped commence the gypsum industry in this location.  The Waratah Gypsum Company had works here for the quarrying and exporting of rock gypsum.  Gypsum after being washed, roasted and ground, was used in the manufacturing of plaster of paris and cement.   The quality of the gypsum in this area was exceptionally high class and most of Australia’s needs were supplied from here.  The Waratah Gypsum Company closed its works and the town was sold to the South Australian Government which demolished the town except for the few houses required for the rangers of the National Parks and Wildlife Organization who look after Innes National Park.

Our operating spot overlooked the Bay and the Stenhouse Bay jetty which was constructed to enable ships to berth and load the bagged gypsum.

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It was very difficult to find a clear frequency on 40m as the band was very busy with JOTA stations.  Unfortunately a few times I was forced to move, because JOTA stations came up on my frequency and started calling CQ.  Clearly they couldn’t hear my little QRP signal.  But I did find 7.085 clear and I put out a call, to be greeted by regular Park Hunter Colin VK3UBY, with his normal terrificly strong 5/9 plus signal.  I then spoke with Sandra VK3LSC, Colin’s wife, and this was followed by a chat with Maitland VK5AO.  Another dedicated Hunter to call in was John VK5BJE with a great 5/9 signal.  I managed one Park to Park contact and that was with Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Mokota Conservation Park in the mid north of S.A. (5/9 exchanged both ways)

After an hour of operating, Marija and I decided to pack up.  There was a lot to see in the park, and we still had to drive back to Corny Point, where we had plans to go out for tea at the Howling Dog Tavern.  I was relatively happy with 17 QSO’s in the logbook from VK3 & VK5.

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The following stations were worked:-

Colin VK3UBY; Sandra VK3LSC; Maitland VK5AO; John VK5BJE; Andy VK5AKH; David VK5KC; David VK5BAR; Ian VK5CZ; Mark VK5QI; Brian VK5FMID; Larry VK5LY/p (Park to Park); Peter VK3PF; Bill VK5MBD; Tim VK5AV; Robin VK5TN; Col VK5HCF; & Bsil VK5BK.

I have placed some video on You Tube of the activation…..