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.
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