Cromer Conservation Park

Our last park for the day was the Cromer Conservation Park, which is located about 7 km north of Birdwood, and about 7 km west of Mount Pleasant, in the Adelaide Hills.

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I was running a bit behind schedule for this activation, as Marija and I had stayed a bit longer at Porter Scrub chatting to some of the locals.  As I entered the park off Cromer Road, I saw a ladybird on the entry gate.  I had read previously that ladybirds are reputed to bring you good luck.  So this was a good start to the activation.


Cromer is a great park to activate from.  Although there are plenty of trees to shelter underneath from the sun, there are also lots of open space areas for you to string out your dipole.


I set up the equipment about 50 feet in from the roadway, and for this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-450 again and 40 watts into the 40m/20m linked dipole.

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Prior to calling CQ, I had a quick look around the band to see if I could track down VK1MA and VK3PF who I had heard from the mobile on the way to the park.  I found Matt VK1MA on 7.105, who was portable on SOTA peak Baldy Range, VK2/ ST-008.  I then spoke with Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Cooltong Conservation Park.  Another park to park to add to the list.  And finally, I found Peter VK3PF who was activating French Island National Park for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) and World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF).


I then propped on 7.090 and called CQ and was immediately called by Mark VK1EM.  This was followed by Tom VK5FTRG in the south east, and then David VK5NQP who was still portable in the Port Gawler Conservation Park.

After a few more VK1, VK3, & VK5 contacts, I was called by Peter VK3YE who was portable at Chelsea Beach, running one of his home brew QRP rigs and a wire antenna.  Peter had a very nice steady 5/6 signal.

Again, as was the case with the previous 2 parks, there were some very strong signals.  Pick of the bunch was Nigel VK5NIG (30/9), Darren VK5DT (40/9), and Kevin VK5KU (30/9).  A few more QRP stations called in, including Col VK5HCF (5 watts), Joe VK3YSP (10 watts), and Julie VK3FOWL.

My last 2 contacts on 40m were with mobile stations.  The first was with Peter VK2NEO who was mobile near Leeton.  And the second was with Steve VK3SRB who was mobile in New South Wales on the Riverina Highway.

I had intended to activate 20m in the first 2 parks, but simply ran out of time.  But when things slowed down on 40m, I lowered the antenna and took out the links in the dipole, and then raised the telescopic squid pole again.  After numerous CQ calls I managed 4 contacts on 20m with Shayn VK7HWW, Michael VK1XYZ, Damon VK4HBT who was portable near Bundaberg, and Dom VK2SX who was also portable.

I was active in the park for an hour, and managed 26 contacts on 40m SSB and 4 contacts on 20m SSB.  The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

Matt VK1MA/p (SOTA); Larry VK5LY/p; Peter VK3PF/p; Mark VK1EM; Tom VK5FTRG; David VK5NQP/p; Arno VK5ZAR; Phil VK3BHR; Col VK5HCF; Brian VK3MCD; Nigel VK5NIG; Andrew VK1NAM; Joe VK3YSP/p; Julie VK3FOWL/p; Peter VK3YE/p; Mark VK5QI/p; Tony VK3CAT; Darren VK5DT; John VK5DJ; John VK5NJ; Mark VK3ASC; Allen VK3HRA; Kevin VK5KU; John VK3HJD; Marshall VK3MRG; Peter VK2NEO/m; and Steve VK3SRB/m2.

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

Shayn VK7HWW; Michael VK1XYZ; Damon VK4HBT/p; and Dom VK2SX/p.

Porter Scrub Conservation Park

After activating Charleston Conservation Park, we headed north to the Porter Scrub Conservation Park.  I had also activated this park last year in July, but because this was a new calendar year, I could activate the park again for points for the VK5 Parks Award.  From Charleston we travelled along Lewis Road and Springhead Road, through the lush countryside of Charleston and Mount Torrens.  We then headed north along Onkaparinga Valley Road, and then Hirthe Road. before turning onto Maidment Road to travel west.  This is beautiful countryside.  Rolling hills, native scrub, and vineyards dominate the landscape.


Porter Scrub is located about 8 km north of the historic town of Lobethal, and about 8 km west of Mount Torrens.

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Porter Scrub is one of my favourite parks.  It is a very pretty park, with tall Stringybark woodland, Candlebark Gum forest, Mountain Gum, Pink Gum and River Red Gum.  There is a thick under storey with many ferns to be found  There is a very well maintained track which travels through the park, and I highly recommend a walk through the park.

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As we were driving along Maidment Road, Marija and I came across Greg VK5LG, driving in the opposite direction.   So after a quick chat, Greg turned his car around and followed us down to the intersection of Maidment Road, and Lihou Road.  There is a small parking area here and a gate, with access to the park.


We set up the station in the same spot as last year, on the edge of the walking track, about 30 feet inside the gate on Maidment Road.  There are not to many other options in the park, as there are no cleared areas and the vegetation is very thick.

Prior to putting out any CQ calls, Greg and I tuned across the 40m band and found Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Murray River National Park.  There were no missing Larry, as his signal was very strong (20/9).  I then propped on 7.105 and put out a CQ call and was called by Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland.  This was followed by Dave VK3VCE and then David VK5NQP who was still operating portable in the Port Gawler Conservation Park, north of Adelaide.  I then spoke with Frank VK2MI, Peter VK3PF mobile, and Peter VK3ZPF.  It was time to hand the reigns over to Greg.


Greg took over control of the microphone and his first contact was with Peter VK3ZPF, followed by Ian VK3FIAN, and then Arno VK5ZAR.  After 11 QSOs into VK3 and VK5, and a quick chat between the two of us, Greg decided to head home.  I was really pleased that Greg called in to the park to say hi, and look forward to catching up with him for another coffee soon (Greg works just across the road from me).


It was getting towards that time to pull the antenna down, but the goat had bleated on my SOTA Goat application on the iPhone, so I tuned to 7.090 and spoke with Mark VK1MBE who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Ainslee, VK1/ AC-040.  I then put out a few CQ calls on 7.105 and spoke with some of the dedicated park hunters including Brian VK5FMID, Tom VK5FTRG, John VK5DJ (40/9), Arno VK5ZAR (30/9), Greg VK5ZGY mobile, and Nigel VK5NIG (40/9).  Wow, some of those guys had very strong signals !

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My last contact was a park to park QSO with David VK5NQP in Port Gawler CP.  After 45 minutes in the park, Greg and I had 30 QSO’s in the log into VK2, VK3, and VK5.  This compared to 7 QSOs in this park last year in July.

As we were packing up, a local couple approached us and were interested in what we were doing.

I worked the following stations before the UTC rollover:-

Larry VK5LY/p; Ivan VK5HS; Dave VK3VCE; David VK5NQP/p; and Frank VK2MI.

I spoke to the following stations after the UTC rollover:-

Peter VK3PF/m; Peter VK3ZPF; Mark VK1MBE/p (SOTA); Brian VK5FMID; Tom VK5FTRG; John VK5DJ; Arno VK5ZAR; Nigel VK5NIG; Greg VK5ZGY/m; Roy VK5NRG; Rod VK2LAX; Rod VK5VRB; Allan VK5FADP; and David VK5NQP/p.

The following stations were contacted by Greg:-

Peter VK3ZPF; Ian VK3FIAN; Arno VK5ZAR; Dave VK3VCE; Larry VK5LY; VK3FLYY; Ivan VK5HS; VK5ET; Amanda VK3FQSO; Brian VK5FMID; Graham VK5KGP.


Charleston Conservation Park

On Saturday morning, bright and early, Marija and I headed off to the Charleston Conservation Park, which is near the little town of Charleston in the Adelaide Hills.  I had activated Charleston CP last year in July, and managed just 11 QSOs.  But this was a new calendar year, so it meant another activator point for me.

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image courtesy of Googlemaps.

I spoke a bit about the little town of Charleston in last years post, so I won’t rehash that information.  But here is an excerpt from ‘South Australia.  What’s in a Name?‘ which was written in 1908 by Rodney Cockburn…..

‘Charleston and Mount Charles-in the Mount Lofty Ranges, have given rise to some confusion.  Charles Dunn, (brother of John Dunn, the miller) who devoted his life chiefly to blacksmithing and farming in the hills, has been mentioned as supplying the derivation of these names, but a much stronger claim may be established for Charles Newman, who was on the spot nearly five years before the advent of Dunn.  Newman, who was experienced in the management of sheep, left Somersetshire in July 1837, under engagement to the South Australian Company as a shepherd.  The voyage was made in the Katherine Stewart Forbes.  He was the first man to camp a flock of sheep at Mount Charles, near which he took up a section of land in 1843 and established a home.  He built up a valuable estate, represented Charleston Ward in the Omkaparinga District Council, of which he was a Chairman; was a trustee of the local Methodist Church; and died on 7 September 1900, in his eightieth year’.1


In January 2014, a fire swept through the park, and I was interested to see what damage had been caused.  We accessed the park via Bell Springs Road, and as we drove down the narrow dirt road, we came across a few Western Grey kangaroos enjoying their breakfast.  We parked the car in a little carpark near an access gate on the northern side of the park, at Park Road.  And it was almost immediately evident that this part of the park had fortunately, not been affected by the fire.


With the assistance of my trusty wife, we set up the fold up table and chair right alongside of the Conservation Park sign just inside the park boundary.  I drove the squid pole holder into the ground and secured the 7 metre squid pole with an octopus strap.  I had brought along my Yaesu FT-450 and the Yaesu FT-817, but decided to run the bigger radio on 40 watts output.

We were in for a beautiful sunny day, but it was still early in the morning.  I was set up in the park ready to go at 7.30 a.m. and it was really chilly.  The sun was just starting to come up in the east, but the trees in the park were shielding me from the warmth of the sun.  After turning on the radio, I found the 40m band to be very busy.  There were quite a few VKs and even more DX stations coming in from Europe.  Some of the Europeans were so strong I was tempted to give them a shout.  But I figured that my meagre power and small dipole probably would not make the distance.


I had specified 7.095 in my alert on parksnpeaks, but there were a couple of VKs on 7.093, so I went up to 7.098 and put out a CQ call, to be immediately called by Darren VK5DT who had a massive signal (40/9).  This was followed by Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Pike River Conservation Park in the Riverland.  Larry also had a beautiful 5/9 signal.  It seemed the band was in very good condition.

I also scored another park to park contact.  This time with David VK5NQP who was portable in the Port Gawler Conservation Park, north of Adelaide.  David’s signal was very strong (20/9).  Conditions on the band were very good and it was very pleasing to get a few QRP stations in the log during the activation.  They included Amanda VK3FQSO, Matt VK5MLB on 10 watts on his KX3, and Marshall VK3MRG running 5 watts.

Greg VK5LG, who lives at nearby Cudlee Creek called in to say hello.  We arranged for Greg to meet me at my next park activation location which was to be the Porter Scrub Conservation Park near Kenton Valley.

My last contact of the day was with Larry VK5LY who was mobile on his way from Pike River CP to the Murray River National Park.  After an hour in the park, it was time to move on.  I had a total of 26 QSOs on 40m SSB in the log.  This was 13 more contacts than last year and is a testament to the popularity of the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.

The following stations were worked:-

Darren VK5DT; Larry VK5LY/p; Tim VK5AV; Col VK5HCF; Owen VK7OR; Ben VK5BB; Amanda VK3FQSO; David VK5KC; Brian VK5FMID; Tob VK5TS; David VK5NQP/p; Darren VK2NNN; Erwin VK3ERW/p; Len VK3FB; Peter VK3PF/m; Hreg VK3UT; Matt VK5MLB; Ian VK5CZ; Marshall VK3MRG; Alan VK3OA; John VK5TD; Greg VK5LG; John VK3HJD; Peter VK5NAQ; Arno VK5ZAR; and Larry VK5LY/m.


1.  Cockburn; S, 2002; ‘South Australia.  What’s in a Name?’