Padthaway Conservation Park

My final activation on Monday 9th June 2014 was the Padthaway Conservation Park, which is located about 254 km south east of Adelaide.  I did plan to activate Desert Camp Conservation Park, making that my 6th park for the day, but I had run out of time.  Oh well, there is always another day.  And there are plenty of other parks remaining in the South East that I am yet to activate.

Padthaway is a small town on the Riddoch Highway in the Limestone Coast region of the South East of South Australia.  The name is derived from Potawurutj, the Aboriginal word for Good Water.

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Padthaway was the name of the original pastoral station which was established near the town in 1847 by a successful Scottish businessman, Robert Lawson.  In 1882 the Padthaway Estate Homestead was built by Eliza and Robert Lawson.  In 1952 Padthaway became the centre of a soldier settlement scheme.   The first vineyards were planted in the region in 1968 and today Padthaway is a top wine-producing region.

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The Padthaway Conservation Park conserves a remnant block of native vegetation, and is an area of about 984 hectares.  The parol wasgazetted in 1971 and is dominated by South Australian blue gum, manna gum and stringy barks.

A number of native animals can be found in the park including kangaroos and koalas.  It is also a haven for a multitude of birdlife.

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I accessed the park via Vogelsang Road which runs off the eastern side of the Riddoch Highway as you are leaving the town of Padthaway.

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I entered the park via an unlocked gate at the start of a sandy track on the western side of the park.  The track was sandy and was littered with quite a bit of tree debris, but it was passable in my Ford Falcon.  If you do negotiate this track, just remember that you need to turn around.

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The scrub within the park is very thick, and I had to choose a cleared area to allow me to erect the dipole on top of the 7 metre squid pole.  I used an old tree stump to secure the squid pole with an octopus strap.

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I was set up by 3.30 p.m. South Australian local time.  My first contact was with Chris VK4FR/5, followed by Tom VK5FTRG in Millicent running QRP 1 watt, and then Charles VK5FBAC in Strathalbyn also running just 1 watt.  It is about 250 km from Padthaway to Strathalbyn, and Charles was a good 5/8 signal.  The noise floor in the park was non existent and I could literally hear a pin drop.

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I made contact with a number of mobile stations whilst in the park.  They included Rod VK5KFB who was mobile art Meningie on his way home after the SERG convention.  Regular park hunter Greg VK5ZGY also called in from his mobile with a strong 5/9 signal.  I also spoke with Peter VK5KX who was mobile at Mount Mary in the Riverland region of South Australia.

I had a multitude of QRP contacts from Padthaway.  They included Tom VK5FTRG on 1 watt (5/9); Charles VK5FBAC on 1 watt (5/8); Rod VK5KFB/m and QRP; Roy VK5NRG running 7 watts from his FT7 (5/9); Ian VK5IS running 5 watts (5/9); Brian VK5FMID running 5 watts (5/8); Stan VK3BNJ running 5 watts from his Yaesu FT-817nd (5/8); Greg VK5GJ running 5 watts from his home brew QRP rig (5/9); Andrew VK3ARR (5/9); Peter VK5PET running 5 watts (5/9); David VK5NQP running 5 watts from his little Wouxon (5/9); Amanda VK3FQSO running 5 watts (5/9); Kim VK5FJ (5/7); Barry VK5BW running 5 watts (5/9); and Nev VK5WG running his little X1M at 5 watts (5/9).

Again I gave a specific call for any QRP stations and this is why I received so many QRP callers.  It is always a good practice to specifically ask for QRP, mobile, portable, and even DX, before the madding crowd calls in.

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It was very pleasing to get lots of calls from amateurs who were unfamiliar in my log and also from some recent park devotees such as Tony VK5FTVR who attended the recent SOTA and Parks introduction day.  And again I managed to get Mike VK6MB in the log on 40m (5/7 send and 5/4 received).  This was a good weekend for working Mike.

It was starting to get dark, with the local time being 3.45 p.m. and I still had a three hour drive to get home.  So it was time to pack up and get on the road.  I had a total of 36 QSOs in the log after activating for about 40 minutes.

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As I was pulling out of the park, I noticed the Ned Kelly figure below in the front yard of the property opposite the park entrance.

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The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:

Chris VK4FR/5; Tom VK5FTRG; Charles VK5FBAC; Rod VK5KFB/m; Roy VK5NRG; Ian VK5IS; Brian VK5FMID; VK3BNJ; Greg VK5GJ; Andrew VK3ARR; Peter VK5PET; David VK5NQP; Amanda VK3FQSO; Kim VK5FJ; Barry VK5BW; Greg VK5ZGY/m; Tony VK5FTVR; Nev VK5WG; VK7YUM; Arno VK5ZAR; Rick VK5FIVE; Peter VK5KX/m; Robin VK5TN; John VK5MG; Tony VK5TT/p; Steve VK5AIM/p; Ken VK3FKNZ; John VK5BJE; Tom VK5FTRG/p; Keith VK2PKT; Craig VK5LI; Nev VK5WG; Mike VK6MB; Dallas VK5WA; Peter VK5APR; and Peter VK2PJF.

 

References.

National Parks South Australia, http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/Padthaway

Limestone Coast

Wikipedia, Padthaway

Grass Tree Conservation Park

My fourth activation for Monday 9th June 2014, was the Grass Tree Conservation Park, which is located about 17 km north of Naracoorte off the Naracoorte-Keith Road, and has an area of 15.88 hectares.  It was gazetted in 1972 to protect the grass tree Xanthorrhoea australis.

Xanthorrhoea australis, the Grass-tree or Black Boy is an Australian plant, and is the most commonly seen species of the genus Xanthorrhoea.  Grass trees are well adapted to withstand the effects of fire and their flowering is stimulated but fire.  Its fire-blackened trunk can grow up to several metres tall and is often branched.  In certain Aboriginal languages, it is called ‘Bukkup’ or ‘Kawee’.  The park was certainly full of them.

This park appeared to be quite neglected and it appeared that not many people visited the park.  The access gate in the north eastern corner was completely overgrown and did not look as though it had been opened in a very long time.

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I have noted that the publication entitled ‘Small Parks of the Upper South East Management Plans’ dated 1992, states the following:

The Park receives very little visitor use and no facilities are provided.  Five metre wide boundary access tracks are maintained on the perimeter of the Park, except along the northern boundary where a Council road serves as an access track’.

I certainly did not see any boundary access tracks.

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Access to the park is via Boddingtons Road which runs off the eastern side of the Riddoch Highway.  I set up just inside the park fence off Boddingtons Road.  The scrub is incredibly thick and there were no obvious tracks in the park, so set up options were limited.  I used a star dropper on the fence to secure the 7 metre squid pole to with an octopus strap.  I then set up my little fold up table and deck chair just inside the boundary on the other side of the fence.

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Other than grass trees, the park was full of banksias in flower.  And as a result, there was a large number of wattlebirds in action.

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My first contact was with Larry VK5LY who was mobile on the Morgan-Renmark Road in the Riverland, with a beautiful 5/9 signal.  This was followed by regular park hunter and activator John VK5BJE, and then Chris VK4FR/5, and then Amanda VK3FQSO.

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I used the Yaesu FT-450 again for this activation and ran 40 watts.  So although I was not QRP (well not for Aussies anyway), I was called by a number of QRP operators including: Charles VK5FBAC using just 1 watt (5/7); Tom VK5FTRG also using just 1 watt (5/7); Brian VK5FMID running 5 watts (5/9); Ian VK5IS running 5 watts (5/9); John VK5FTCT running 1 watt (5/9); Bernard VK3AMB using 5 watts (5/8); Greg VK5GJ using his home brew 5 watt transceiver (5/8); Peter VK5PET (5/9), David VK5NQP running 5 watts from his X1M; and Steve VK3JY running 5 watts from his KX3.  Whenever possible, I always try to listen for the QRP operators, and portable & mobile stations before the general pile up with normally ensues.

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Just one park contact during this activation, and that was with Steve VK3JY who operating portable and QRP from the Lake Eildon National Park.  I was called by Terry VK3UP who was on the top of Mount Buninyong in Victoria.  This mountain qualifies for the SOTA program.  But sadly, Terry was mobile, so this counted out any possible SOTA contact.

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I did manage one Summits on the Air (SOTA) contact and that was my last contact in the park.  It was with Ian VK1DI/2 who portable on SOTA peak, Wereboldera, VK2/ SW- 043.  Ian had a nice 5/6 signal coming in and I received a 5/8 signal report from Ian.  This contact with Ian got me ever closer to the 5,000 chaser points for SOTA.  Here is a link to Ian’s blog re this activation…..

http://vk1di.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/sota-activation-wereboldera.html

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Whilst I was operating I noticed that my fluorescent orange wire winders were attracting the attention of the Superb Blue Wrens.  The male of these birds, in breeding plumage has a very striking bright blue forehead, ears, mantle and tail, with a black mask and black or dark blue throat.  Non breeding males, females, and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in colour.

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I was way behind my operating schedule, so after 45 minutes of operating in the park it was time to head off.  My voice had not got any better, so I apologise to all the park hunters for having to put up with me.  I had a total of 37 QSOs in the log from VK1, VK3, VK5, and VK7.

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The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:

Larry VK5LY/m; John VK5BJE; Chris VK4FR/5; Amanda VK3FQSO; Charles VK5FBAC; Nigel VK5NIG; Tony VK5FTVR; Rick VK5FIVE; Peter VK3PF; Tony VK5TT/p; Phil VK3BHR; Greg VK5ZGY; Tom VK5FTRG; Brian VK5FMID; Ian VK5IS; Brendan VK3OY; John VK5FTCT; Bernard VK3AMB; Len VK3FB/p; Arno VK5ZAR; David VK7YUM; Tim VK5AV; Gary VK5ZK/m; Derek VK3DD; Bob VK3BWZ/p; Patrick VK5MPJ; Ivan VK5HS/m; Colin VK3ZZS/p; Eric VK5ZAG; Greg VK5GJ; Terry VK3UP/m; Matt VK1MA; Ron VK3FRHB; Erwin VK3ERW; Peter VK5PET; John VK5DJ; and John VK5MG.

 

References

Department of Environment and Natural resources, ‘Small Parks of the Upper South East Management Plans’, 1994.

Wikipedia, ‘Xanthorrhoea australis

 

Naracoorte Caves National Park VKFF-380

From Glen Roy Conservation Park, I headed off to the Naracoorte Caves National Park, which qualifies for both the VK5 Parks award and also the World Wide Flora Fauna program (WWFF).

I continued north on the Riddoch Highway and then turned right onto New Caves Road to travel east.  A few km up New Caves Road you will see Victoria Caves Road.  Turn right here and this will take you to the visitor centre for the park.

Naracoorte Caves, which is about 600 hectares in size, is recognised as one of the world’s most important fossil sites, with about 26 caves at the Park, though not all are open to the public.  Some are set aside for scientific research or for protection of the caves and their contents.  Naracoorte Caves offers self-guided, guided and adventure caving tours year-round.  There are also a number of walking trails.

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Naracoorte Caves National Park is South Australia’s only World Heritage site.  The site was officially recognised in 1994 because of the importance of the fossils in the caves.

The park is home to a large amount of wildlife including Western grey kangaroos, echidnas, wombats, brush tailed possums, and sugar gliders.  The park also contains a variety of birdlife including thornbills, eastern yellow robins, eastern spine bills, rosellas and honeyeaters in large numbers.

The Naracoorte Caves are part of the 800,000 year old Naracoorte East Range. There are 26 known caves in the park, many of them containing spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.  The caves generally stay at a constant 17 degrees centigrade.

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Because the caves have acted as pitfall traps and predator dens for over 500,000 years, a rich fossil record of ancient animals that once roamed the area, can be found at the Naracoorte Caves.  The fossil record covers several ice ages and the arrival of humans in the area.  The park is home to over 100 known fossil deposits, preserving the bones of megafauna that became extinct roughly 60,000 years ago.

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The bones of Megafauna species such as Thylacoleo carnifex Marsupial Lion, Thylacine, Zygomaturus and sthenurine kangaroos are found within the 100 fossil deposits found to date.  Naracoorte Caves contain clues to help interpret the geological and evolutionary history of Australia.

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For more information on the Naracoorte Caves, please click on the link below…..

http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/naracoorte/Home

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I set up on the oval near the visitor centre.  The carpark was a hive of activity with dozens of visitors to the caves.  But the oval was quiet and there was obviously plenty of room to erect the dipole.

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My first contact within the park was with Nick VK3ANL who was portable on SOTA peak One Tree Hill VK3/ VS-036.  I just caught Nick on 7.090 as he was about to go QRT.  Conditions on 40m appeared to be holding up extremely well with 5/9 signal reports being exchanged with Nick, who is an active parks hunter for both the VK5 Parks award and also WWFF.

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I then chose a clear frequency, 7.105 and put our a CQ call, which was responded to be Clayton VK7ZCR.  This was followed by Peter VK3YE who was now at home, and then Tom VK5FTRG running just 1 watts (5/9 both ways).

A little further along and I worked Brian VK3MCD who was portable in the Alpine National Park, which qualifies for both the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks award and WWFF.

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A little later in the activation, I was called by Gordon VK5GY who was portable in the Mount Brown Conservation Park in the Flinders Ranges.  Gordon was running just 20 watts into a linked dipole.  I couldn’t persuade Gordon to climb Mount Brown for a SOTA activation (it is 2 hours to the top).  Maybe next time.

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I had a steady flow of callers for this activation from VK2, VK3, VK5, & VK7.  This included a number of QRP contacts including the following: Tom VK5FTRG on 1 watt (5/9 both ways); Greg VK5GJ (5/9 both ways); Peter VK3PF (5/9 both ways); Brian VK3MCD (5/9 sent & 5/6 received); Brian VK5FMID on 5 watts (5/9 both ways); and Ian VK5IS (5/9 both ways).  It is always enjoyable getting QRP contacts in the log.

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After an hour in the park I had a total of 46 QSOs in the log, which mean that I had qualified the park for the WWFF global award which requires 44 contacts.

The following stations were worked:

Nick VK3ANL/p; Clayton VK7ZCR; Peter VK3YE; Tom VK5FTRG; John VK5BJE; Greg VK5GJ; Peter VK3PF; Bob VK5FPAC; Brian VK3MCD/p; Nigel VK5NIG; Vin VK3FMOL; Rick VK5FIVE; Brian VK5FMID; Adam VK7VAZ; John VK5NJ; Paul VK7CC; David VK3DMX; Mike VK3FMAA/m; Bob VK3BWZ/p; David VK5NQP; Amanda VK3FQSO; Stefan VK3WF; Leo VK2LJM; Tim VK5AV; Andrew VK2UH; Patrick VK5MPJ; Gordon VK5GY/p; Claude VK3FCAS; Nev VK5WG; VK7LCW; Phil VK3BHR; Mike VK3XL/m; Chris VK4FR/5; Keith VK2PKT; John VK5MG; Allen VK3HRA; Geoff VK3SQ; Greg VK5LG; Greg VK7FGGT; Greg VK5ZGY/m; Jamie VK3TZE; Steve VK2FISN; Col VK5HCF; ZDerek VK3FAFC; Ian VK5IS; and Kim VK5FJ.

 

References

Government of South Australia, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, ]http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/naracoorte/Home

 

Glen Roy Conservation Park

My second activation on Monday was the Glen Roy Conservation Park, which is located about half way between Penola and Naracoorte in the South East of South Australia, off the Riddoch Highway.

My drive from Telford Scrub took me north along the Riddoch Highway and through the Penola Forest before reaching the town of Penola.  Continuing north I travelled through some of the famous South East wine growing region and through the town of Coonawarra.  I am quite a wine buff and have consumed many a bottle of wine from this region.

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I haven’t been able to find out a lot of information on the Glen Roy Conservation Park.  However it appears that the McDonald family from Scotland in the 1800s and established the nearby Glen Roy Station where sheep were farmed.

Col VK5HCF activated this park during the 1 year anniversary of the VK5 Parks award.  A write up and a video of his activation can be found at…..

http://vk5hcf.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/glen-roy-conservation-park-6-04-2014/

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I accessed the park via Rabbits Road which runs off the eastern side of the Riddoch Highway.  It is just a short drive along this dirt road (about 600 metres), before you reach the park on your right, on the southern side of the road.  There is a large pine plantation on the northern side of the road.

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There was a track heading south on the western boundary of the park, but it looked a little boggy for my Falcon, so I parked right on the north western corner of the park, and utilised the track to my advantage by stringing out the legs of the dipole.  I set up my deck chair and fold up table and again used the Yaesu FT-450 and 40 watts for this activation, along with the 40m/20m linked dipole.

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My first contact was with John VK5BJE with a strong 5/9 signal, and this was followed by Mike VK3XL who was on SOTA summit Mount Beenak VK3/ VC-016.  Mike also had a good strong 5/9 signal.  I have mentioned it before, but it is really pleasing to see that a lof of the SOTA activators are now also hunting the park activators.  Brian VK5FMID then called in, using just 1 watt.  Although not that far away, with just 1 watt, Brian had a terrific 5/8 signal.

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Whilst in the park I had another very nice QSO with Peter VK3YE who was pedestrian mobile on the beach, about 29 km south of Melbourne, running QRP and a vertical antenna.  For anyone who has not seen some of Peter’s videos, I would highly recommend that you google VK3YE and watch a few.  What Peter does with low power and home brew gear is truly amazing.

Here is a link to Peter’s website….

http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/vk3ye.htm

Another memorable contact whilst in Glen Roy was with Amanda VK3FQSO who called in with just 1/2 watt and was a very nice 5/6 signal.  It is quite incredible what you can do with QRP and especially when you are operating in a noise free environment like a Conservation Park.

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I also had a few more QRP contacts whilst in Glen Roy including: Tom VK5FTRG (5/8) on 1 watt from the South East; Ian VK5IS (5/9) on 5 watts from the mid north of South Australia; and Erik VK3FMSC (5/9) on 1 watt.

I was also called by the following mobile stations: Greg VK5ZGY (5/9); Gary VK5ZK/m (5/9); and Len VK3FB/m (5/8).

I even managed a VK4 contact from Glen Roy and this was with Brendon VK4MAC in Maleny near the Sunshine Coast (5/5 sent and 5/3 received).  I don’t work too many VK4s on 40m whilst I am out and about in the parks or on summits.

My final contact of the day was another SOTA contact.  This time with Ian VK1DI/2 who was on SOTA summit Mount Burngoogee, VK2/ RI-016.  Ian had a solid 5/8 signal.  Here is a link to Ian’s blog re his activation…..

http://vk1di.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/sota-activation-mount-burngoogee.html

The following stations were worked:

John VK5BJE; Mike VK3XL/p; Brian VK5FMID; Charles VK5FBAC; Peter VK3YE/pm; Amanda VK3FQSO; Tom VK5FTRG; John VK5FMJC/p; Ian VK5IS; Peter VK3PF; David VK3UCD; Tony VK5FTVR; Rick VK5FIVE; Nigel VK5NIG; Greg VK5ZGY/m; STand VK3BNJ; Erik VK3FMSC; Brendon VK4MAC; Kev VK3NKC; Gary VK5ZK/m; Graham VK5KGP; Steve VK2FISN; Phil VK3BHR; VK3FB/m; Erwin VK3ERW; Patrick VK5MPJ; Allen VK3HRA; Bernard VK3AMB; and Ian VK1DI/2.

Telford Scrub Conservation Park

My first activation for Monday morning, 9th June, 2014, was the Telford Scrub Conservation Park, which is located about 15km north of Mount Gambier.   Access is from Riddoch Highway via Grundys Lane.

Again it was a very chilly morning down in the South East.  There had been very little cloud cover over night, so there was quite a bit of frost and fog on my way out to the park.  But one of the advantages of getting up at this time of the day is to enjoy the spectacular sunsets.  And this morning was no disappointment.

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Telford Scrub Conservation Park, like most parks and native forest areas in the South East of South Australia, is an ‘island’ of native vegetation in a ‘sea’ of farming land and pine forests.  They are a reminder of vast areas of native vegetation that were cleared for forestry and agriculture.

This property was owned and run by the Telford brothers – who, when they finally decided to give the farming game away, sold this parcel of bush to the Environment Department and ultimately all of us.

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Telford Scrub was proclaimed in 1987 and conserves a significant eucalyptus forest of Brown Stringybark and Manna Gum and in the southern section, an important Swamp Gum woodland.  Although it is only a small park, consisting of 175 hectares, it provides homes for a wide variety of native flora.  The park also provides a safe refuge for native plants without the threat of being grazed by domestic stock or used for construction timber of firewood.

Within the park you can find the rare Southern Brown Bandicoot, which within the lower South East is now only known to be found in a  few native forest areas including Telford Scrub.  The endangered sugar glider can also be found within the park.  Koalas, which once roamed the woodlands and forests of the South East up to the 1930s, became locally extinct following hunting by Europeans for skins and extensive clearing of the first.  Early in 1997, several Koalas were reintroduced from Kangaroo Island to Telford Scrub and a few other parks and native forest areas in the South East.

As I drove along Grundys Lane I saw quite a few Western Grey kangaroos grazing in between the park and the adjacent pine forest.  I was also fortunate enough to see 2 of the rare Red Necked wallabies.

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Numerous beautiful plants can be located in the forest, including over 20 species of native orchids.  These include Pink Fingers, Common Donkey orchid, Tiger orchid, and Purple Cockatoo.

I set up in the carpark off Grundys Lane.  There was plenty of room here to stretch out the dipole, and because of the early hour of the day, I was the only park visitor.  I used a permapine log fence to secure the 7 metre squid pole to, with the help of an octopus strap.

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This was truly a very chilly morning.  In fact it was 2 degrees C.  So it was definitely beanie, jacket, and gloves weather.

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 I turned the Yaesu FT-450 onto 40m and did a quick check for VSWR.  As per normal it was about 1.1:1.  I have never used a tuner.  The RG174 coax just simply plugs straight into the back of the transceiver.  I asked if 7.090 was in use, only to be greeted by the every keen Brian VK5FMID.  This was followed by another very keen park hunter, John VK5BJE, and then Andrew VK2UH.  Tom VK5FTRG who I had a fair bit to do with at the SERG conference also called in.  Tom is a keen park activator and hunter.

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I had a steady flow of callers, including some QRP operators.  They included Len VK3FB using his Argonaut, Shaun VK3VLY running just 5 watts, Erwin VK3ERW also running 5 watts, Ian VK5IS on 5 watts, Rod VK2TWR on 5 watts, Roger VK5NWE on 5 watts, and John VK5FMJC also on 5 watts.  No-one was below strength 9.  The band conditions were very good.  This was again proven during this activation, by a call from Mike VK6MB.  Mike again had a beautiful 5/9 signal coming into the South East and I received a 5/7 signal report from Mike.

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Telford Scrub is truly a very beautiful park.  I just wished I had more time to explore this park, but I was on a very tight schedule.  So it was set up, get some quick contacts, and head off to the next park.  There are some great interpretative signs at the park, and the Stringybark Forest Hike and Forest Canopy Walk, which I believe would be very enjoyable to undertake.

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After operating at Telford Scrub for about 35 minutes I had a total of 30 contacts in the log from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6, and VK7.

The following stations were worked:

Brian VK5FMID; John VK5BJE; Andrew VK2UH; Tom VK5FTRG; Len VK3FB; Wayne VK5FWMT; Mike VK3XL/m; Shaun VK3VLY’ Col VK5HCF; Ray VK3NBL; Dik VK7DIK; Tony VK2RI; Peter VK3PF; Mike VK6MB; Graham VK7NGA; Mark VK1EM; Erwin VK3ERW; Ian VK5IS; Rod VK2TWR; Roger VK5NWE; Scott VK7NWT; Nev VK5WG; Ethan VK3ETC; John VK5FMJC; Ian VK5CZ; Stan VK3BNJ;Peter VK5NAQ; Matt VK5MLB/m; Mike VK7MNH; and Marshall VK3MRG.

 

References.

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

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, ‘Telford Scub Conservation Park’, 2010.

South East Radio Group 50th Annual Convention

On Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th June, 2014, the 50th annual South East Radio Group (SERG) Convention was held.  This coincided with the Queen’s Birthday weekend, and this year SERG were celebrating a special milestone, their 50th year.  The venue was the 1st Mount Gambier Scout Hall at Margaret Street, Mount Gambier.

Col VK5HCF and John VK5DJ were kind enough to invite me to the event to deliver a presentation on the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.

A week either side of the convention, members of SERG used the special event call of VI50CONV.  I was lucky enough to get this special call in my log whilst I was out activating parks.

The Australia Fox Hunting Championships were held over this weekend, attracting keen competitors from all over south eastern Australia.

Within the scout hall, there were also various buy and sell tables, with some commercial sellers including Ross from Strictly Ham.

A home brew competition was also held.

A trusty band of ladies helped out in the kitchen provided tea and coffee, steak sandwiches, hamburgers, home made cake, etc, over the duration of the weekend.  I must say that the steak sandwiches I enjoyed on both Saturday & Sunday were some of the nicest I have ever had.

I delivered a short 20 minute presentation on the VK5 Parks award, late on Sunday afternoon to a group of about 80 people.  This was followed by the presentation of trophies and certificates for the fox hunters.  And David VK5HDW then gave a presentation on the sinking of the Titanic.

Following the presentations, I enjoyed a 3 course meal: pumpkin soup, roast beef, and sticky date pudding.  Congratulations to the chef/s.

This event was well worth coming to, and at this stage for next year’s event, I will be putting on a display in the hall about SOTA, the VK5 Parks award, and the WWFF program.

It was terrific to catch up with a lot of guys that I have spoken to many many times on the radio, but never met in person, including Greg VK5ZGY, and John VK5NJ.

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Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park

My second activation for Sunday 8th June 2014 was the Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park, which is located about 29 km north east of Mount Gambier, and about 425 km south east of Adelaide.  Sadly I do not have any photographs of this activation, because in my haste to leave the motel room I left behind the video camera battery, and my i-phone went flat on the top of Mount Burr.

The Tantanoola Cave is set into a cliff face, and is believed to have been exposed by the constant pounding of the ocean.  Over a period of time, the ocean has retreated, leaving behind a cavern of interesting shells, pebbles, and seal bones.  The cave itself is a comfortable 17 degrees all year round.  The same cannot be said for outside.  It was another freezing cold morning in the South East.

Tantanoola is derived from the aboriginal word tentunola, meaning boxwood / brushwood hill or camp.

The town of Tantanoola which is nearby, is famous for the mystery of the Tantanoola Tiger, a phantom cat which supposedly stalked the area during the late nineteenth century.   In August 1895 Thomas John Donovan, shot an animal which was believed to have been the mysterious predator.   The shot animal was determined to be an Arabian wolf, although how it arrived in South Australia has been the subject of a number of theories.  It is currently preserved and on display at the Tantanoola Hotel.

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Image courtesy of http://www.news.com.au

For more information on the Tantanoola Tiger, please click on the link below…..

http://www.postcards-sa.com.au/features/tantanoola_tiger_hotel.html

Below is an article from the Adelaide Observer, dated 24 August 1895.

Screenshot 2014-06-13 16.36.35

Article courtesy of http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au

I set up on a grassed area just down from the visitor centre, where there was enough room to string out the legs of the dipole.  There had been quite a bit of rain overnight, and it wasn’t long before my sandshoes & socks were drenched.  Not the best combination with a cold/chest infection.  My apologies to all of the callers, as I was starting to loose my voice.  This spot was also very close to the Princes Highway, which was very busy, so I had to endure the traffic noise.  This location was virtually noise free on the radio however.

Screenshot 2014-06-12 13.51.13

I had set up in the park by 10.50 p.m. local S.A. time.  My first contact was with Peter VK3PF with a solid 5/9 signal, and this was followed by Nick VK3ANL on SOTA summit Mt Yaranula/Lang, VK3/ VS-007, which is also located in the Grampians National Park, VKFF-213.  That was a bonus.  A SOTA contact and a WWFF park.

I managed two more SOTA contacts from Tantanoola and that was with Ian VK1DI/2 who was on Rock Hill VK2/ RI-026, near Wagga, with a cracking 5/9 signal.  And then Andrew VK1NAM/2 who was portable on SOTA peak Big Badja Hill VK2/ SM-059, which is also located within the Deua National Park, VKFF-138.  Another SOTA & WWFF contact.  Gotta be happy with that.  It is really pleasing to see SOTA activators calling park activators.

Here is a link to Ian VK1DI’s site re his activation of Rock Hill….

http://vk1di.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/sota-activation-rock-hill.html

And here is a link to Andrew VK1NAM’s blog re his activation of Big Badja Hill…..

http://vk1nam.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/sota-activation-big-badja-hill-and-bald-mountain/

I also spoke with some of the guys from the Whyalla Amateur Radio Club who were out activating the Whyalla Conservation Park.  They were Les VK5KLV/p; Peter VK5KPR/p; and Pat VK5HAE/p.  All with beautiful 5/9 signals coming in from the Eyre Peninsula.  In February I had delivered a presentation to the Whyalla Amateur Radio Club in, so it appears that a few of the hams up there have become interested in park activity.

And I also made contact with Tony VK3VTH/5 who was operating from the Coorong National Park, VKFF-173.  Tony’s signal was much stronger than on Saturday.  This was my third WWFF/VKFF contact whilst at Tantanoola Caves.  Thanks to Scott VK7NWT who kindly told me that Tony was operating on 7.144.

The 40m band was very busy with contesters for the VK Shires Contest.  Some with very wide signals.  I see that I am not the only one to experience this.  Marshall VK3MRG has included this observation in his most recent blog…..

http://vk3mrg.weebly.com/blog/the-vk-shires-splatter-fest

And despite the fact that I was not calling CQ contest, but rather calling ‘CQ VK5 Parks award’ I was still called by a handful of stations wanting my designator for the Shires contest.  I had no idea and made it quite clear I was not participating in the contest.  But this didn’t stop one or two operators kindly telling me what locator I was in and giving me their designator, despite the fact that I intimated I was not interested.  Oh well.

I only managed the 1 QRP contact from Tantanoola Caves, and that was with Andrew VK3ARR who had a solid 5/9 signal.

After operating for about 40 minutes, my voice had totally given up and it was time to head back to Mount Gambier and to the South East Radio Group 50 year convention.  I had 25 contacts in the log with some very nice SOTA, VKFF, and VK5 park to park contacts.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:

Peter VK3PF; Nick VK3ANL/p; Steve VK3MEG; Arno VK5ZAR; John VK5PO; Barry VK5BW; Nigel VK5NIG’ Phil VK3BHR; Dennis VK5HH; Ian VK1DI/2; David VK5NQP; Greg VK5ZGY/m; VK5MU; Les VK5KLV/p; Andrew VK3ARR; Peter VK5NAQ; Peter VK5KPR/p; Ian VK3VIN; John VK5FTCT; Scott VK7NWT; Pat VK5HAE/p; Tony VK3VTH/5; Andrew VK1NAM/p; Alan VK5AR/m; and Ron VK3AFW.

 

References

Wikipedia, Tantanoola South Australia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tantanoola,_South_Australia