On Saturday morning, 18th January, 2014, my wife Marija, and I headed off to the Barossa Valley, for Marija to get her hair done by a friend. So I tagged along with the intention of activating a new park, the Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park.
Kaiserstuhl CP is located about 12 km south-east of Tanunda in the Barossa Valley. It is 390 hectares in size and was dedicated in 1978 to protect one of the last remnants of native vegetation in the Barosa Valley region. It also protects important seasonal creek and wetland habitats.
The park is located about 15 km from the devastating bush fires from last week that swept through the Eden Valley destroying about 5 homes. On Saturday morning before leaving home, I mulled over whether I should activate the park. Based on info from people in the area, I decided that it was safe to activate the park. The fire threat had significantly reduced the night before, and we were going to be sufficiently far enough away from any fire activity.
The area where the park was located was discovered in the mid 19th century by the prominent naturalists, H.H. Behr, F.J.H Von Muller, J.G.O. Tepper, and J. Menge. The Tanunda Creek Bullock Track originally crossed the creek several times within the park but was closed around 1885 in favour of the more direct route along Tanunda Creek Road. I accessed the park via Tanunda Creek Road.
A plaque within the park records the bequest to the Field Naturalists’ Society of South Australia by Mr Leo Wakem Nicholls (1894-1971). Nicholls was a keen bushwalker whose bequest to the Field Naturalists Society of S.A. enabled that organisation to contribute $30,000 towards the purchase in 1978 of the park. The official dedication ceremony took place in December, 1983.
The park includes granite features such as Horse Head Rock. Weathering and erosion have produced this rock formation which, as the name suggests, resembles a horse’s head. Capped Rock, a horizontal rock slab perched on a vertical outcrop, is another interesting feature within the park.
The park is home to native birds such as blue wrens, parrots, honeyeaters, finches and thornbills. In the late afternoon or early morning, western grey kangaroos can be seen in the open grassland areas of the park, while Euros can occasionally be seen on the rocky ridges of the higher sections of the park. Other animals to be found in the park include echidnas, possums, bats, and a variety of snakes and lizards.
About 400 plant species are supported within the park. The park was principally established to preserve the most northerly occurrence of the brown stringybark, Eucalyptus baxteri. Their multi-stemmed, mallee-like appearance is the result of earlier, regular trimming to provide wood for the Nuriootpa brick kilns.
Large blue gums, river red gums, native pines and sheoaks provide shady cover for the diverse understorey of yaccas, wattles, tea-trees and silver banksias. Many of the banksias were out in flower during my visit to the park. Many plants, such as lavender grevilleas and fringe myrtles flower in spring. The green flowered hairy correa is an unusual plant that grows in the shelter of the large granite outcrops. The rare prickly tree violet also occurs in the park and is often mistaken for the African boxthorn. This native plant provides protected nesting sites for small birds.
You may see mistletoe growing on the eucalypts, acacias and casuarinas in the park. These are parasitic native plants, which provide food and shelter for many bird species. The lichens growing on the rocks are also an important part of the ecosystem helping to weather the rocks to form soil.
I ran a little late in getting to the park and setting up. Mostly because we travelled all the way along Rifle Range Road, on the western side of the park, only to find that the road fell short of the park. So we then drove all the way back and around to Bethany, and then up Menglers Hill Road, and access the park on the eastern side of Tanunda Creek Road.
There is a gate at this point to enter the park, and I set up the station just inside the park boundary near the gate. There is a walking track from here which leads to an interpretative sign and some walking tracks through the park. Soon after setting up David arrived, and Marija headed off for her hairdressing appointment.
I was running behind schedule and I knew the Hunters would be getting hungry, so I quickly jumped onto 40m, only to realise a little later that I had not secured the ends of the dipole. Nether mind. It still worked. My first QSO was with Brian VK5FMID at Mount Gambier, followed by Col VK5HCF also in Mount Gambier, and then Dave VK3VCE near Echuca. After working 6 stations, I handed over the mic to David, who made contact with 8 stations in VK3 & VK5. Despite the fact that wee were not on a summit, David had his little fluffy goat as his mascot. I then took over the reigns again & spoke with Larry VK5LY and Ian VK5CZ prior to the UTC roll over.
After the UTC rollover I worked a further 7 stations before again handing the mic over to David, whilst I went for a walk through the park. David worked a further 6 stations in VK3 & VK5, including Mark VK5QI who was portable in Deep Creek Conservation Park. The VK5 Parks award allows ‘Hunters’ to work activators for points every UTC day. So a few operators called us back for a second bite at the cherry.
The weather was starting to warm up, band conditions were fading, and Marija had arrived to pick me up. So it was time to pack up the gear and head home. This was a beautiful park and a good fun activation with David.
A total of 29 QSO’s were made on 40m SSB.
The following stations were worked by me, VK5PAS:-
Before UTC roll over:- Brian VK5FMID; Col VK5HCF; Dave VK3VCE; Paul VK5FUZZ; Andrew VK5KET; Bill VK5MBD; Larry VK5LY; & Ian VK5CZ.
And after UTC roll over:- Larry VK5LY; Basil VK5BK; Dale VK5DC; Mike VK5MCB; Mal VK3AZZ; & Ian VK3VIN.
The following stations were worked by David, VK5NQP:-
Before UTC roll over:- Kevin VK3VEK; Brian VK5FMID; Bill VK5MBD; Joe VK3YSP; Julie VK3FOWL; Larry VK5LY, Dennis VK5LDM; Graham VK5KGP
And after UTC roll over:- Larry VK5LY; Maitland VK5AO; Ian VK5CZ; Nev VK5WG; Bob VK5AK; Frank VK3GFS; & Mark VK5QI/p.