Dingley Dell Conservation Park

My first park for Saturday 7th June, 2014, was the Dingley Dell Conservation Park, which is located about 30 km south of Mount Gambier, and 407 km south east of Adelaide.  It was another bright and early start for me.  The alarm went off at 6.15 a.m. and after a coffee and a nice hot shower I was on the road.  The temperature was about 2 degrees C.  I headed out of Mount Gambier towards Port MacDonnell along the Riddoch Highway, and accessed the park via Dingley Dell Road.  I did encounter some road obstructions along the way as you can see below.


On the way to the summit I passed Mount Schank, which sadly does not qualify for the Summits on the Air program.  Below is a zoomed in photo of Mount Schank as seen from Dingley Dell.


Dingley Dell Conservation Park covers an area of six hectares and was constituted as a conservation park in 1972 due to its historic significance.  The park comprises gently undulating consolidated dunes with an open woodland of South Australian blue gum, with isolated blackwood, golden wattle, coastal bearded-heath, and native box.  Grazing land abuts the northern and western boundaries of the park.

The park contains the former home of the famous Australian poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon.  This eccentric and talented poet lived at Dingley Dell between 1864 to 1867.  Gordon purchased the cottage in 1864 for 150 pounds.  It was during his stay here that his first poem was published outside of a newspaper or magazine.


Image courtesy of brightoncemetery.com

The cottage was given to the local council by his wife Maggie, in about 1873.  In 1922 at the request of the Dingley Dell Restoration Committee, the South Australian Government purchased the cottage.  The cottage has been restored and is open to the public.  Gordon’s personal belongings and other moments of this ear form part of the period collection within the cottage.



So how did Dingley Dell get its name?  It is certainly an interesting name.  The following account comes from an old resident of the Port MacDonnell district who had an intimate acquaintance with Adam Lindsay Gordon.  He said:

“The country surrounding the cottage was then, even more so than now, a sylvan paradise, in which gums and wattles ran riot and it was from the music of the birds in the trees, mingled with the tinkling of the bells of the hobbled stock, that the name ‘Dingley Dell’ was derived”.


Above: Dingley Dell, c. 1907.  Photo courtesy of images.slsa.sa.gov.au

Access to the park is off Springs Road which runs off the Dingley Dell Road.  There is an entrance gate with two old stone pillars.  This will take you passed the caretakers property on your right and the picnic area on your left.  There is ample car parking facilities.


I set up my gear off a little track on the northern side of the cottage.  The scrub is quite thick, but I managed to find enough of a clearing to stretch out the legs of the dipole.

Screenshot 2014-06-10 14.56.27

Image courtesy of Mapcarta.

My first contact in the park was with Rod VK2LAX (5/7 both ways).  This was followed by regular park hunters Col VK5HCF and John VK5BJE.  Nick VK3ANL was kind enough to call in whilst he was on the top of SOTA peak, Mount William, VK3/ VS-001, which is located in the Grampians National Park, VKFF-213.  Again I worked Greg who was sounding great on his little home new QRP rig.  Richard VK5ZRY also called in to say hello and was running 10 watts from over on the Yorke Peninsula.  Greg has the Ramsay-Way Conservation Park named after him, and is quite active in the VK5 parks award.

After working a total of 11 stations, the caretaker came over to say hi.  He was accompanied by his sheepdog.  The gentleman was very interested in my operation, and had a background in marine radio.  His dog however, only wanted to chase sticks, and would not leave me alone.  That is what all the barking was about for those that heard it.  I had to keep a careful watch to make sure the dog didn’t run through the legs of the dipole.


After 40 minutes in the park I had a total of 18 QSOs in the log from this rather unique little park.  Band conditions were very good, but conditions on the ground were very trying with the caretaker’s sheep dog.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:

Rod VK2LAX; Col VK5HCF; John VK5BJE; Leon VK3VGA; Brian VK5FMID; Nick VK3ANL/p; Phil VK3BHR; Greg VK5GJ; Kev BK3NKC; Richard VK5ZRY; Lloyd VK5BR; Larry VK5LY; Peter VK3PF; Amanda VK3FQSO; Bernard VK3AMB; Terry VK3UP/m; Hans VK5YX; and Nigel VK5NIG.



Cockburn; R, ‘South Australia.  What’s in a Name”, 2002.

National Parks South Australia, Dingley Dell Conservation Park, http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/Dingley_Dell_Conservation_Park

Government of South Australia, ‘Dingley Dell Conservation Park’ brochure, 2010


Mount Scott Conservation Park

My final park for Friday 6th June 2014 was the Mount Scott Conservation Park, which is located about 22 km east of Kingston in the South East of South Australia.  The park was constituted in 1972 and covers an area of about 1,238 hectares.

Screenshot 2014-06-10 14.58.54

The park is located on part of the South East relict beach dunes which run north west and south east.  These ranges are generally less than 30 metres in height and are roughly parallel to the present coastline.

A variety of different native animals can be found in the park including the Red necked wallaby, Western Grey kangaroo, Silky mouse, and Common Wombat.  Numerous bird species are also located within the park including the endangered Mallee Fowl.


The park and the nearby small summit of Mount Scott are named after John and Charles Scott, pioneers of South Australia.  The summit is located just to the east of the park and is just 67 metres ASL.  So it is a long way from qualifying for the Summits on the Air program.

I accessed the park via Mount Scott Road, a dirt road off the Desert Camp – Kingston Road.

Reedy Creek abuts the south western boundary of the park.  Where the road crosses the Reedy Creek you can view the remains of a 90 feet long bridge that was built in the 1850’s to span the Reedy Creek.  The bridge served as the main outlet for heavily laden bullock wagons between the Tatiara district and Port Caroline at Kingston between 1856 and 1910.  The remaining logs are approximately 160 years old.  There is a plaque at this location.

IMGA0219     IMGA0221


I set up in a little cleared area off Mount Scott Road, and erected the 40m/20m linked dipole supported by the 7 m squid pole.  Again I used the Yaesu FT-450, and 40 watts. The transceiver was powered by my 44 amp hour power pack.


My first contact was with Matt VK1MA who had a very strong 5/9 plus signal.  This was followed by active park hunter Brian VK5FMID, and then Stan VK3BNJ who had become a regular in my log during the day.

I worked three VK4s during this activation which was very pleasing.  My first Queensland contact was with Owen VK4FADW who was 5/5 and gave me a 5/7-8 signal report.  Next up was Bruce VK4MQ who was running a Codan transceiver and just 20 watts (5/7 both ways).  And the third contact was with Glenn VK4FSCC (5/5 sent and 5/7 received).


I also had two QRP contacts.  The first was with Greg VK5GJ using his home brew QRP transceiver and next was Peter VK3PF.

The noise floor within the park was non existent.  The only annoyance on the 40m band was the Over the Horizon Radar (OTHR) which was quite strong.  There are lots of anecdotal stories of where the OTHR originates from, but I would love to truly know one day.

After operating in the park for about 40 minutes I had a total of 20 QSOs in the log.  The sun was setting and I still had a good drive to get to Mount Gambier.  I also wanted to avoid as many kangaroos as possible.


The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:

Matt VK1MA; Brian VK5FMID; Stan VK3BNJ’ Col VK5HCF; Scott VK7NWT; Owen VK4FADW; Max VK3MCX; Greg VK5GJ; Nev VK5GW; Nigel VK5NIG; Bruce VK4MQ; Arno VK5ZAR; Glenn VK4FSCC; Allen VK5FD; Greg VK5ZGY; Ike VK3CVD; Michael VK3HAU; Ron VK5VH; Ray VK3NBL; and Peter VK3PF.



Department of Environment and Natural Resources South Australia, ‘Small Inland Parks of the South East Management Plan’, 1994.

Cockburn, R, ‘South Australia.  What’s in a name?’, 2002.

Tilley Swamp Conservation Park

My fourth park activation for Friday 6th June 2014, was the Tilley Swamp Conservation Park, which is located north of Kingston in the Upper South East of South Australia.  The park conserves an area of about 1,525 hectares and was proclaimed and gazetted in 1993.

Moves to establish Tilley Swamp commenced in the late 1980’s following an application of vegetation clearance through the Native Vegetation Management Branch by the owner.  The Native Vegetation Management Authority refused the application and subsequently the allotment was registered as a Heritage Agreement and eventually sold to National Parks and Wildlife South Australia.

The park forms an integral part of the significant Tilley Swamp watercourse which moves surface waters northerly through the park.  During summer, the park is an important refuge for thousands of water birds, and for at least 20 other species throughout the year.  This includes the vulnerable Rufous Bristlebird.

The park is also home to a number of native mammals including the rare (SA) Common Wombat and rare (SA) Red-necked Wallaby.

The park is considered to be one of the most significant scrub blocks in the area and contains a number of rare plants including the Metallic Sun-orchid.

Tilley Swamp was named after Thomas Tilley, who succeeded John MacIntyre as manager for the Leake Brothers at Glencoe in the South East.  Tilley later joined pioneer pastoralist George Ormerod in a pastoral partnership, which included a lease of the Avenue Range run and other properties.

Screenshot 2014-06-10 15.01.44

I accessed the park via Petherick Road, which runs off the eastern side of the Princes Highway.  Petherick Road runs along the southern boundary of the park.  I found an unlocked access gate and drove my car in a very short distance.  There are no formal tracks.


My first impressions of this park were that it was probably one of the least attractive that I had ever visited.  The park was severely impacted by a bushfire in February 2013 and there was still lots of evidence that the park was recovering.  However, I only saw a very small portion of the park, and never got the opportunity of exploring it in detail, so I will reserve my judgement until another visit.

I set up underneath a small cluster of ‘dead’ trees and shrubs, which provided a bit of shade from the sun.  There was plenty of room here to run out the legs of the dipole which I held down with some dead tree branches.


My first contact was with Hauke VK1HW who was mobile in the Selwyn Snowfields in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales.  This was followed by Greg VK5GJ at Meadows in the Adelaide Hills, Arno VK5ZAR in Adelaide, and then Col VK5HCF at Mount Gambier in the South East.  All had beautiful 5/9 signals.


A steady flow of callers followed from VK2, VK3, and VK5.  Nigel VK5NIG was kind enough to give me a call whilst he was operating from the top of Mount Gawler VK5/ SE-013.  Although Nigel was running QRP 5 watts, his signal was a very good 5/9.  It is very refreshing to see a number of SOTA operators now chasing park activators, and vice versa of course.


Another good contact from this park was with Ken VK3FKNZ at Belmont, a southern suburb of Geelong.  Ken advised me that he had only been on air for one week.  Welcome aboard Ken.  Ken had a very nice 5/9 signal coming into Tilley Swamp with his IC-751A and wire antenna.

My last contact in the park was with Greg VK5GJ who called in for the second time, but this time using his ‘just completed’ home brew QRP rig.  Greg had a solid 5/9 signal with very nice audio.  Congratulations Greg on your home brew construction.


After operating for one hour at Tilley Swamp I had a total of 26 QSOs in the log.  It was time to move on to my final activation of the day, the Mount Scott Conservation Park.

The following stations were worked:

Haucke VK1HW/m; Greg VK5GJ; Arno VK5ZAR; Col VK5HCF; Nev VK5WG; Norm VK5GI; Tibor VK3MRO; Bob VK5FPAC; John VK2AWJ; Darren VK2NNN; John VK5BJE; Greg VK5ZGY; Gary VK5ZK/m; Amanda VK3FQSO; Rod VK2LAX; Rod VK5VRB; Nigel VK5NIG; Allen VK3HRA; Hans VK5YX; Jim VK2FADV; Don VK5NFB; Peter VK2NEO; Ken VK3FKNZ; Brian VK5FMID; Stan VK3BNJ; and Greg VK5GJ.


Government of South Australia, Tilley Swamp Conservation Park Managemnt Plan, 2000.

Cockburn, R, ‘South Australia.  What’s in a Name?’, 2002

Pastoral Pioneers of South Australia, Vol II, 1927

Messent Conservation Park

It is just a short drive from Martin Washpool Conservation Park to the Messent Conservation Park, which was my third activation for Friday 6th June 2014.There is a sandy track that leads from Martin Washpool to Messent.  The track dissects two pieces of farming land.  Although the track is sandy, it can be passed in dry weather in a conventional vehicle.  I stuck to the high points of the track and had no issues.  I certainly wouldn’t try it in wet weather without a 4WD.

Screenshot 2014-06-10 15.04.05


Messent conserves a large area of open scrub, open heath and tussock sedge land and includes a number of rare plant species.  The park contains brown stringy barks, white and ridge-fruited mallee, deret banksias, fringed myrtle and yaccas.  It is home to numerous native animals and birds including western grey kangaroos, wombats, echidnas, ashey-grey mice,  emus, mallee fowl, and a variety of waterbirds.

I still have not been able to find anything on the internet to tell me how this park was named.  However, I did find people of the name MESSENT in South Australia, so I presume the park was named in honour of one of them?

I last activated this park on the 5th September 2013.  Details on that activation and a video can be found at…..


I set up in exactly the same location as last year, in the south eastern corner of the park.  Although I wanted to explore more of this park, it was just too risky in a conventional vehicle.  There are 2 tracks going off to the north and to the east, but as per last year, they were very sandy and not suitable for anything but a 4WD.  So out came the little fold up table and deck chair, and after erecting the antenna I went to 7.095 on 40m.  Again for this activation, I ran the Yaesu FT450, 40 watts and the linked dipole.


I didn’t even get a chance to call CQ.  I asked if the frequency was in use and Brian VK5FMID came back to say it was all mine.  Brian had a beautiful strong 5/9 signal coming in from Mount Gambier.  This was followed by ever reliable John VK5BJE and then Norm VK5GI.  One of the regular New South Wales parks chasers, John VK2AWJ then called in with a strong 5/9 signal.


A steady flow of callers followed including Gary VK5ZK who was mobile at the Wellington ferry, on his way down to the South East Radio Group convention at Mount Gambier.

I had one QRP contact whilst in the park, and that was with Simon VK3SMC who was portable.  Simon was running QRP 2.5 watts and had a very nice 57 signal.


After 35 minutes of operating in the park I and a total of 21 QSOs in the log from VK2, VK3, and VK5.  Time to move off to the Tilley Swamp Conservation Park.

The following stations were worked:

Brian VK5FMID; John VK5BJE; Norm VK5GI; John VK2AWJ; John VK5DJ; Amanda VK3FQSO; Greg VK5GJ; Gary VK5ZK/m; Tony VK5FTVR; Nigel VK5NIG; John VK5ET; Greg VK5ZGY; Stan VK3BNJ; Ormond VK3HAT; Simon VK3SMC/p; Charles VK5FBAC; Col VK5HCF; Tibor VK3MRO/m; Larry VK5LY; Greg VK7FGGT; and Haucke VK1HW/m.



Australian Government, Department of the Emvironment, http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=7958

Limestone Coast Tintinara Heart of the Parks brochure, 2010