Today (Sunday 18th May 2014) I ventured over to the Mount George Conservation Park near Bridgewater. This is just a short 15 km drive from my home at Mount Barker, and about 25 km south east of Adelaide.
Mount George CP conserves about 85 hectares of native Mount Lofty Ranges vegetation and was proclaimed on the 7th November 1996. The park was originally 67 hectares in size before the boundaries were extended in October 2003. Mount George CP’s landscape ranges from everything including wetlands to open forests and rocky outcrops. A section of the famous Heysen trail runs through the park. The eastern section of the park encompasses the summit of Mount George which rises 520 metres above sea level, but sadly is not recorded as a SOTA summit.
The park is full of bird life including yellow tailed black cockatoos, wedge tailed eagles, superb blue wrens, red browned finches, white throated treecreepers and scarlet robins. A number of native mammals can also be found in park including western grey kangaroos, echidnas, Southern Brown bandicoot, Yellow footed Antechinus, and koalas.
Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
I set up in the picnic area at the bottom of Mount George Road. The picnic area is in close proximity to the very busy South Eastern Freeway. You can hear the traffic from this part of the park, but it is generally masked by all of the thick vegetation.
Above: Mt George Rd leading into the park
As it was another beautiful day, there were quite a few people enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful surrounds of the park. Despite the fact that there are signs everywhere that dogs are to remain on leashes in this particular area of the park, there were still a few dogs running loose. This included a small poodle who decided to ignore its elderly owner, and piddled on my squid pole. Maybe this was a good luck sign?
My first contact was with Mark VK3ASC who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Martin VK3/ VE-100 which is to the north east of Mount Beauty. Mark had a beautiful 58 signal. I then tuned up the 40m band to 7.105 and put out a CQ call to be answered by Peter VK3PF and then Arno VK5ZAR who was 40 db over S9. A steady flow of callers followed from VK3, VK5 and VK6. But unlike yesterday, VK2 was no represented.
Above: the picnic area at the end of Mt George Road
A good catch was Mike VK6MB on 40m ssb. This was 2 days in a row that I had worked Mike on 40m ssb with a good signal. Normally it is a bit of a battle to work Mike whilst I am in a park or on a SOTA peak. But conditions were excellent, and Mike’s signal was coming in extremely well.
I also managed a couple of Park to Park contacts. The first was with Gary VK5FGRY who was operating portable in the Morialta Conservation Park. Gary was a good strong 59 signal. I then spoke with Bob VK5FO who was portable in the Morialta Conservation Park, and this QSO was courtesy of Peter VK3PF who had come up to advise me that Bob was out and about. Bob was using his newly built home brew transceiver and was an excellent 59 signal.
After working 22 stations on 40m I ventured over to 20m hoping to work some DX. But I was sadly disappointed. My first contact was with Mike VK6MB and this was followed by Gary VK6NCS who was mobile in Perth, running 10 watts and a vertical antenna on the roof racks of his car. Despite the QRM, Gary had a nice 55 signal. My old mate Steve VK4KUS then came up to say hi and was kind enough to place me on the DX cluster. I did hear two F4 stations from France calling but their signals were well down and clearly they were not able to hear me. I went on to work Adam VK2YK and then Ted VK6NTE who nearly knocked the gear off the fold up table with a 40/9 signal.
I tuned across the 20m band but did not hear the customary strong European stations. In fact the band was almost dead with just a few signals coming in from Europe and they were well down in signal strength. I then QSYd back to 40m and worked a further 8 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK7. It was starting to get dark and the sulphur crested cockatoos were becoming increasingly noisy as they were preparing to roost for the night.
After 2 hours in the park, it was time to pack up and head home. It almost completely dark and the mozzies were out in force. I also had a casserole waiting for me and a nice bottle of Paulette’s cab sav. I had a total of 35 QSOs in the log which I was very happy with.
The following stations were worked on 40m ssb:-
Mark VK3ASC/p; Peter VK3PF; Arno VK5ZAR; Greg VK5ZGY/m; Amanda VK3FQSO; Bernard VK3AMB; Nev VK5WG; John VK5BJE; Shaun VK5FAKV; Rod VK5VRB; Bob VK5FPAC; Larry VK5LY; Brian VK5FMID; Trevor VK3FPY/5; Mike VK6MB; Craig VK3NCR; John VK5DJ; Peter VK3PF; Nick VK3ANL; Gary VK5FGRY/p; Graham VK5KGP; Bob VK5FO/p; Hans VK5YX; Dave VK2WLD; Roy VK7ROY; Colin VK4FAAS; Cedric VK7CL; Jess VK6JES; Alan VK4KO; and Colin VK3LO.
The following stations were worked on 20m ssb:-
Mike VK6MB; Gary VK6NCS/m; Steve VK4KUS; Adam VK2YK; and Ted VK6NTE.
National Parks South Australia, http://www.environment.sa.gov.au
Department for Environment and Heritage, Mount George Conservation Park Management Plan.