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