Late this afternoon (Saturday 18th October, 2014), I headed out to activate the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park, which is situated about 10 km east of Adelaide in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’. I previously activated this park in August 2013. You can read about that activation and the history of the park in my previous post…..
It is a beautiful drive from my home at Mount Barker, to the park, through the Adelaide Hills. It takes me out through Piccadilly and Summertown and on towards Norton Summit. I drove to the end of Coach Road, as I did for my last activation. Coach Road does not continue down to the suburb of Magill through the park, as many maps indicate. In fact the road finishes where the eastern edge of the park starts. There is a locked gate at this point which prevents vehicular access down through the park. There is however a small car parking area here at the start of the park.
Coach Road was once the principal road into Adelaide from the east during the 1870s and 1880s. There was a coach gate located on the highest point, known as ‘Coach Hill’. Today, this area is the suburb of Skye. The coach driver blew a trumpet to let the settles know that the coach had passed through the gate and that they had to climb up to close the gate. A hut for the team keepers was located near the spot where the powerlines cross Coach Road. The team keepers kept fresh horses here for the coaches.
The park was named after pioneer, John Horsnell. An interesting piece in Horsnell can be found at…..
And here is some more information, including some audio…..
I set up my deck chair and fold up table on the dirt track (which is Coach Road in the maps) on the other side of the locked gate. Last year I set up just on the other side of the large rocks that you will see. However, it was a little noisy there, with the overhead power lines. So I decided to walk down the track a little this year, away from the power lines. It was a warm day, with the temperature being about 26 degrees C, so I chose a nice shady spot under the gum trees. Over my shoulder (to the west) was a very deep valley, and to my east, was a gentle slope covered in gum trees and scrub. What was very evident in the park, were the many wildflowers and native plants in flower, including the grevillias. It was quite spectacular. I was also fortunate enough to see a number of the impressive Yellow tailed Black cockatoos. They are a large cockatoo, easily identified by their black plumage, and yellow cheek patch and yellow panels on the tail.
The operating equipment was my standard gear, the Yaesu FT-450, 40 watts, and a 40m/20m linked dipole. I started off on 40m and my first contact was with Peter VK3TKK. Peter’s signal was a little down. However, it was only 0430 UTC (3.00 p.m. local time), so the 40m band was still asleep. Brian VK5FMID was the next to call in, from Mount Gambier, and this was followed by John VK2AWJ in Gol Gol in New South Wales. My fourth contact was with Ian VK5CZ in the beautiful Clare Valley.
I went on to work a total of 20 stations on 40m SSB in VK2, VK3, & VK5. This included Greg VK5GJ operating QRP 5 watts with his home brew transceiver. Nigel VK5NIG also called in, operating portable for Jamboree on the Air (JOTA), using just 1 watt from Tranmere. Nigel had a great 5/9 signal despite being a short distance away. And my last QRP contact for the activation was with Gary VK5PCM, who was operating with just 2 watts. It was quite a struggle with Gary at times, with very deep QSB.
I also made contact with Bernard VK3AV who was mobile, and Colin VK3ZZS who was portable on the banks of the Murray River at Wentworth in New South Wales.
Sadly, I experienced a lot of QRM on 40m from some JOTA stations, who came up on the same frequency in the middle of QSO’s. Clearly they couldn’t hear us at this time of the day.
When things started to slow down on 40m, I lowered the squid pole and removed the links and changed to the 20m band, where I put out a CQ call on 14.310. This was answered by Daniel VK6LCK who was a good 5/7 signal. I received a 5/8 signal report from Daniel. Daniel is quite keen on commencing portable activities, so we had a discussion on the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program and the various park activities. And then Bill VK2MWG called in from his mobile. This was followed by Anthony VK6MAC. Despite a number of CQ calls and a ‘self spot on the parksnpeaks site, I had no further callers on 20m. It was interesting to note that the static crashes appeared a lot louder on the 20m band than on 40m.
After an hour & 20 minutes in the park, it was time to pack up and head off to the Giles Conservation Park. I had a total of 23 contacts in the log.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
Peter VK3TKK; Brian VK5FMID; John VK2AWJ; Ian VK5CZ; David VK5KC; Fred VK3DAC/m; Jerry VK7EE; Terry VK5ATN; Peter VK5PET; Tony VK5FTVR; Greg VK5GJ; Nev VK5WG; Jim VK5TR; David VK5NQP; Les VK5KLD; Les VK5KLV; Bernard VK3AV/m; Colin VK3ZZS/p; Nigel VK5NIG/p; and Gary VK5PCM.
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
Daniel VK6LCK; Bill VK2MWG/m; and Anthony VK6MAC.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2014, ‘Horsnell Gully Conservation Park and Giles Conservation Park’.