The Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) weekend was held between Friday 15th – Sunday 17th November, 2013. So my wife Marija and I booked in to the Pinnaroo cabins, near the South Australian and Victorian border, with the intention to activate 2 South Australian Conservation Parks and 2 Victorian National Parks over the weekend.
The first activation was the Karte Conservation Park, which is situated about 30 km north west of Pinnaroo, which in turn is about 250 km north east of Adelaide. We activated the park on Saturday morning (16th November) and accessed the park by travelling out of Pinnarroo along the Parilla Wells Road and then onto the Karte Road. We located the campground on the eastern side of the park, and set up the equipment there. The short dirt road leading into the park is well sign posted and is easily accessible to 2wd vehicles. The dirt track leading to the campground is about 250 metres in length from the roadway.
How do you pronounce Karte ? Well, during the activation, I was corrected by Larry VK5LY, because I was pronouncing the park as (Kart). Larry informed me that it was (Kart-ay). Very French and toffy ! But I have since found that Karte (pronounced Kartee) is an aboriginal word meaning thick, low scrub. So it is not quite the exotic French influence that we thought.
Karte Conservation Park which protects 3,565 hectares of mallee vegetation, was first proclaimed in 1969 as Karte National Park. It was later renamed as Karte Conservation Park following proclamation as a conservation park in 1977. The park comprises of thick low scrub covering steep sand dunes which rise up to 40 metres. Although I must say that they give the impression that they are much higher. Sadly, not quite high enough to be a SOTA peak, although they do have definite prominence over the surrounding terrain. Other than thick and dense Mallee scrub, the park also contains Mallee Cyprus pines, wattles, and broombush.
The park contains a large amount of wildlife. In fact if you look carefully at the sandy soil, you can see quite a few signs of their presence. Marija and I spotted quite a few kangaroo paw prints. Native animals that inhabit the park include western grey kangaroos, echidnas, and flat tailed dunnarts. What is a dunnart ? Dunnarts are strange looking narrow footed marsupials which are the size of a mouse.
Karte Conservation Park is also home to a large variety of bird life. Over 40 species of birds can be found here, including Ringneck Parrots (of which we say many), Malleefowl, Whipbirds, Galahs, Thornbills, Weebills and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos.
During the early twentieth century much of the surrounding land was cleared except for those areas that were unsuitable for agriculture. This includes the area that is now known as Karte CP. The sand dunes were deemed to be unsuitable for agriculture.
At the campground we found a strategically placed timber table and benches, which was just perfect to call the shack, and attach the squid pole to. The morning was already warm, with no breeze. And there was no shade at the table, so we quickly set up to avoid the heat.
I switched the radio on and tuned to 7.100 and placed a number of CQ calls, but sadly there were no takers. So I tuned down the band and found John VK2AWJ/3 who was portable in the Terrick Terrick National Park, talking with Joe VK3YSP who was portable in the Churchill National Park. So I called up to say hello to John and Joe, and also Joe’s wife Julie, VK3FOWL, who is newly licenced.
I heard John VK5BJE call in to say hello to John, Joe, & Julie, but his signal was extremely low (no better than 5/3). In fact he was not really moving the meter on the 817nd. This was strange, because John normal rockets in wherever I am.
I managed a few more park contacts prior to heading off to the next park. That included Larry VK5LY/3 who was portable in Hattah Kulkyne National Park, and Tony VK3VTH who was portable in Mount Eccles National Park.
And to my listening pleasure, prior to dismantling the gear, I was subsequently called by John VK5BJE, who was now obviously peddling faster, because his signal had come up to a good 5/8. The 40m band was certainly moving around a lot !
And to top of a fun activation I was called by Nick VK3ANL who was portable on SOTA peak, Arthurs Seat, VK3/ VC-031, and I then worked Ben VK3FTRV who was on top of SOTA peak, Redmans Bluff, VK3/ VW-002, within the Grampians National Park.
At the end of the activation, Marija and I went for a walk along the 1.5 km Karte Youth Hike, within the park. It commences and finishes at the campgrounds and winds its way through the scrub and up to the top of one of the higher sand dunes. The walk takes about 45 minutes return, and was constructed in 1988 by students at the Pinaroo Area School as part of the Bicentennial Project. There are Interpretive signs along the walking trail which provide an insight into the importance of the areas remaining vegetation. The signs explain how certain plants, ranging from small ground cover species to large trees, have an important part to play in the mallee. There are very good views from the top across the park and the seemingly endless farmland which stretches off to the horizon.
In fact, over 83 native flora species have been recorded within the park, including 4 which are of conservation significance. The Inland Green-comb Spirder-orchid, which is nationally endangered, is also found within the park.
So after about an hour on air, I had managed an unlucky 13 contacts on 40m SSB.
The following stations were worked:-
John VK2AWJ/3; Joe VK3YSP/p; Julie VK3FOWL/p; Peter VK3PF; Owen VK7OR; Larry VK5LY/p; John VK5BJE; Ian VK5CZ; Mal VK3AZZ; Tony VK3VTH/p; Bill VK5MBD; Nick VK3ANL/p; and Ben VK3FTRV/p.