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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information on the Naracoorte Caves, please click on the link below…..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Government of South Australia, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, ]http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/naracoorte/Home