My second activation for Saturday was the Nene Valley Conservation Park, which is located The park is located in close proximity to the little township of Nene Valley, and about 35 km south west of Mount Gambier. Although Nene Valley was not a port, many ships were lost in this vicinity. The town itself was was named in 1962 after the wrecking of the Nene Valley.
The Nene Valley was a 333 ton wooden barque, launched in England in 1852. Built for the colonial trade to India and Australia it was on its second voyage to the southern hemisphere in 1854, bound for Portland Bay and Port Fairy in Victoria, from Gravesend in England. During this period, international sailing ships travelled on Great Circle Routes: south down the mid-Atlantic and then east across the Southern Ocean. Navigation was still uncertain and the first approach to land was always a risky business. In October 1854, the lookout on the Nene Valley saw breaking surf in the darkness and reported land ahead. The Captain decided it was only low cloud and sailed on.
The Nene Valley went aground soon afterwards immediately in front of what is now the town of Nene Valley. The stranded vessel was driven ashore and broke up. The crew and nine passengers all survived, but four sailors drowned the following day during a salvage attempt. The shipwreck was a local landmark on the beach until the 1930s. I have not been able to find a picture of the Nene Valley.
Below is an article from the South Australian Register, Adelaide, Monday 30th October, 1854, regarding the wreck of the Nene Valley.
The Nene Valley Conservation Park was constituted in 1972 and covers an area of about 373 hectares. The majority of the park consists of unstructured skeletal sand dunes dominated by a costal wattle and coastal beard-heath.
Prior to setting up I went for a drive through the town of Nene Valley and went down to the beach to have a look at the roaring waves of the Southern Ocean. Nene Valley contains some very impressive holiday homes. I found it very interesting how the little town got its name.
During the 1940s the small town of Maggoty Point came into existence. It consisted of just a few shacks primarily for the local fishermen. A narrow dirt track led into the area. The name Maggoty Point was derived from the fact that seaweed which collected on the beach, became a very good breeding ground for maggots. In 1960, further shacks were built and a much improved road was planned.
In 1961, the Livingstone brothers, who were well known graziers in the area, agreed to surrender a piece of land at Nene Valley Rock to the local Council. However this was done on the proviso that the Council alter the name of the area from Maggoty Point to Nene Valley to perpetuate the memory of the wreck of the Nene Valley. Interestinly an early survey of the area which was completed in 1885, shows a creek nearby called Nyn Valley Creek.
During the 1980s, the Council developed an area west of the town, providing further blocks for sale. The shacks had been freeholder and additional interest was shown by people wanting to purchase a quiet block close to the Southern Ocean. All blocks were sold, and new buildings continue to appear in Nene Valley which currently has a population of about 50 people. I am sure all the locals agree, that Nene Valley is far more pleasing to the ear, than Maggoty Point!
I set up close to the town of Nene Valley. I did try some other locations, but the tracks were only suitable for 4WD. My operating spot was not ideal as I had some power lines running overhead nearby. However, the weather was not ideal with drizzling rain, and my head cold wasn’t getting any better, so I wanted to get the activation done and dusted and head off to the South East Radio Group (SERG) convention. I just had to put up with the frying pan noise with the moisture on the power lines.
Again I ran the Yaesu FT-450 and 40 watts into the linked dipole. I am a keen QRP operator, and normally use my Yaesu FT-817nd and just 5 watts. But of recent times I’ve decided to run just that little bit extra power from the parks, so my signal can be heard a little better for the further afield VKs. And it seems to be paying off, with lots of contacts and good signal reports.
My first four contacts were with regular park hunters: John VK5BJE, Brian VK5FMID, Arno VK5ZAR, and Amanda VK3FQSO. All four had good strong 5/9 signals. The 40 m band was still in very good condition with some excellent signals coming into Nene Valley. A steady flow of callers followed from VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6, and VK7.
Some of the highlights of this activation was a park to park contact with Stuart VK5STU who was operating portable from the Morialta Conservation Park in the foothills of the Adelaide Hills. Stuart was running QRP and had a very nice 5/8 signal down to the South East.
I also worked a number of portable or mobile stations including David VK5KC/p who was on holidays and was operating from the Tailem Bend caravan park overlooking the Murray River. Mike VK3XL/m who was mobile on his way home after activating a SOTA summit called in to say hi and had a very strong 5/9 signal. Active park hunter Greg VK5ZGY who was mobile also called in with a strong 5/9 signal from Mount Gambier. Matt VK3MAT who was mobile and QRP had a good 5/7 signal. I spoke again with Hauke VK1HW who was mobile at Wangaratta. Hauke had a very strong 5/9 signal coming out of his mobile. And my last 2 mobile contacts were with Peter VK3PAH mobile, and Gary VK5ZK who was mobile at Penola in the South East of South Australia. Gary was in the South East for the SERG convention.
But the most satisfying QSO was with Mike VK6MB over in Western Australia. I was very surprised when Mike called in towards the end of my activation. In fact Mike was number 25 in my log. Mike had a good strong 5/6 signal and he repaid the favour with a 5/5 for me. I was quite surprised to be getting over to Western Australia so well. That is a distance of about 3,000 km.
Prior to packing up the goat bleated on my mobile phone, so I tuned to 7.085 and worked Justin VK2CU who was portable on SOTA peak, Mount Ulandra, VK2/ RI-011 (5/9 both ways).
It was starting to get a bit wet, so it was time to pack up and head off to the SERG convention. I had a total of 29 QSOs in the log.
Looking at a map, it appears that access to Nene Valley CP is limited. However, when I come back to Nene Valley I hope to have a 4WD, and I think I will try to activate the park a little further to the north, along the 4QD track that follows the coast. It was a little noisy where I was with the power lines.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:
John VK5BJE; Brian VK5FMID; Arno VK5ZAR; Amanda VK3FQSO; Larry VK5LY; Nigel VK5NIG; Greg VK5GJ; David VK5KC/p; Mal VK3AZZ; Peter VK3PF; Andrew VK2UH; Bernard VK3AMB; David VK5HCJ; Mike VK3XL/m; Stuart VK5STU/p; Andrew VK3ARR; John VK5NJ; Greg VK5ZGY/m; Graham VK7NGA; Matt VK3MAT/m; Hauke VK1HW/3; Greg VK7FGGT; Rod VK2LAX; VK3PAH/p; Mike VK6MB; Paul VK7CC; Ray VK3FQ; Gary VK5ZK/m; David VK5NQP;Phil VK3BHR; and Justin VK2CU/p.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, ‘Small Coastal Parks of the South East Management Plan’ 1994.
District Council of Grant, https://www.dcgrant.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=663