Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park

My second South Australian Conservation Park for Friday 14th November, 2014 was the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park, which is located about 217 km south east of Adelaide and about 8 km north west of the town of Keith. Screenshot 2014-11-20 19.00.33

Map courtesy of

The park consists of an area of about 17.66 hectares and was gazetted in 1971.  It is a narrow strip of scrub located between the busy Dukes Highway (main Highway between Adelaide-Melbourne), and the Adelaide-Melbourne rail line. The park was named after James Kelvin Powrie (1926-1968), who was an agricultural scientist.  Powrie undertook research into what minerals were required to improve the soil quality of the infertile sands of the region.  This entire region was once classified by farmers as ‘unproductive scrub’.  Powrie was one of those who helped transform the district into valueable grazing and farming land.  Not doubting this individual’s achievements, but surprising that a piece of scrub was named in honour of someone who played a hand in clearing the land.  I have not been able to find a photograph on the internet of Powrie. I’m sure that many people that travel along the busy Dukes Highway, don’t even know that this park is here.  There are no signs indicating its presence.  Not until you get into the park itself.  That might not be such a bad thing I guess.  There is a carpark at the south eastern end of the park, and this is where I set up. Screenshot 2014-11-20 19.00.45

Map courtesy of

Before you reach the park (if you are travelling east) you will reach the Ngarkat Rest Area on the Dukes Highway.  It is worthwhile stopping off here for a look.  There are some interpretive signs which tell you about the surrounding countryside and the ‘desert conquest’.

I already had the radio turned on to 40m and I quickly checked the VSWR and found it was a little high.  In fact 1.7:1.  A bit too high for my liking.  Normally the antenna is 1.1:1 or thereabouts.  I lowered the squid pole and checked the links, and then the coax, and everything appeared to be in order.  In hindsight, I believe it might have been due to the fact that my car was parked very close by and affected the VSWR, which has happened before.

I tuned to 7.095 and I asked if the frequency was in use and I was immediately greeted by Larry VK5LY and John VK5BJE, advising me that the frequency was clear.  Both had very strong 5/9 signals.  John has activated this park before and he gave me some information about the lookout on top of the sand dune and advised it was well worth the short walk for the views.

John’s post of his activation can be found at…..

Greg VK5GY from Meadows in the Adelaide Hills, then called me, running QRP 5 watts from his home brew transceiver.  Other QRP callers followed, including Damien VK5FDEC running 5 watts, Norm VK5GI running 5 watts from his home brew transceiver, and Brenton VK3CBV also running 5 watts from a home brew transceiver.  I also worked a few mobiles.  Winston VK7WH called in with a nice 5/8 signal, and later Ian VK5SRV mobile at Fullarton in Adelaide with a 5/8 signal.

As I was operating in the park, the Overland train whizzed through on its way to Melbourne.  And the serenity of the park was often disturbed by the ever present traffic, including the trucks, on the Dukes Highway, to and from Adelaide and Melbourne.  Still, this is a great little park, and well worth the visit. I operated on 40m ssb for about 40 minutes and had 27 contacts in the log.  I then went up to 14.310 on 20m ssb and put out a number of calls, but had no takers.  I did not hear a solitary signal when I tuned across the 20m band.  It was dead quiet.

After concluding operations I went for a walk to lookout as suggested by John.  It is only a short walk to get there but gives you a very good overview of the park and its surroundings.  As I walked to and from the lookout, I noted that the park was absolutely alive with bird life: honeyeaters, lorikeets, wrens, & magpies, to mention a few.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Larry VK5LY
  2. John VK5BJE
  3. Greg VK5GJ/qrp
  4. Peter VK3TKK
  5. Les VK5KLV
  6. Tom VK5EE
  7. Peter VK3YSP
  8. Nev VK5WG
  9. Bernard VK3AV
  10. Damien VK5FDEC/qrp
  11. Brian VK5FMID
  12. Peter VK5NAQ
  13. Arno VK5ZAR
  14. Andrew VK2UH
  15. Peter VK3RV
  16. Gordon VK5KAA
  17. Norm VK5GI/qrp
  18. Jenny VK3WQ
  19. John VK5DJ
  20. Tom VK5FTRG
  21. John VK5FTCT
  22. Stan VK3BNJ
  23. Darren VK5DT
  24. Winston VK7WH/m
  25. Benton VK3CBV/qrp
  26. Mark VK7MK
  27. Ian VK5SRV/m

Below is a short video of the activation…..


National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1992, Small Parks of the Upper South East Management Plans. Reuter; D, 2007, Trace Element disorders in South Australian Agriculture.

Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park

The weekend (including the Friday) from Friday 14th November – Sunday16th November, 2014, was the 2014 Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) activation weekend, and the 2014 Summits on the Air Spring activation weekend.  So it was off to Victoria on Friday morning for me.  On the way to Portland in western Victoria, I had planned to activate four South Australian Conservation Parks: Poonthie Ruwe, Kelvin Powrie, Desert Camp, and then Lower Glenelg.  However, I had a change of plans and activated Poonthie Ruwe, then Kelvin Powrie, then Mount Monster (a new one for me), and finally Desert Camp (another new one).

My first activation was the Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park (CP), which is located about 100 km south east of Adelaide, and about 5 km south east of Tailem Bend on the Murray River.  Poonthie Ruwe means ‘Hopping Mouse Country’ in the local Ngarrindjeri aboriginal language.  Sadly, there is no Hopping Mouse population in the park anymore, courtesy of European settlement.

Screenshot 2014-11-20 15.59.13

Map courtesy of mapcartaScreenshot 2014-11-20 15.59.58

map courtesy of mapcarta

I had activated the Poonthie Ruwe CP in June, 2013.  For more information on that activation, and the history of the park, please have a look at my previous post…..

There is also an excellent publication, the ‘Mowantjie Willauwar and Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Parks Management Plan’, which can be found on the internet.

As I mentioned in my June, 2013 post, please make sure you know where you are going, if you intend to activate this park.  It is not easy to find and there are no apparent signs indicating its presence.

Poonthie Ruwe is a small park consisting of about 241 hectares, full of rabbits and hardly visited by humans I would suspect.  The Department for Environment and Heritage Management Plan for the park reports that reputedly the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat had at one time established burrows in Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Park, prior to the initial rabbit invasion.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 08.36.31

Map courtesy of Dept Environment and Heritage

The ground is nice and sandy in the park, so I drove the Haverford squid pole holder into the ground, and secured the squid pole to it, with the use of an octopus strap.  I strung out the legs of the 40m/20m linked dipole and secured the links for the 40 m band.  I was running about 25 minutes behind schedule, by the time I had turned the radio on.  This was mostly due to my GPS taking me to a spot where the park was not.  It was 7.55 a.m. South Australian local time and a beautiful mild morning.  There were some other VK’s operating on 7.092 so I couldn’t operate on my promised frequency of 7.095.  So I moved just slightly up to 7.096 and put out a CQ call and was called back immediately by Charles VK5FBAC at Strathalbyn with a good strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by David VK5NQP, John VK5BJE, and Amanda VK3FQSO.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The band appeared to be in quite good shape, and I continued to get a good steady flow of callers from VK3, VK5, & VK7, with good signals in and good signals being reported back.  I was pleased to get Mick VK3FAFK, in the log.  Mick only obtained his Foundation call the week before, and had a lovely signal coming in from Stawell in western Victoria.  I would go on to work Mick many times over the next 4 days whilst I was either in a park or on a summit.  Welcome to the world of amateur radio Mick.

My second to last contact at Poonthie Ruwe was with John VK2AWJ who was operating portable in the Barmah National Park, north east of Echuca.  John was my first VK3 National Park contact for the 4 day period I was away.

After working a total of 26 stations on 40m ssb, I QSYd to 14.310 and put out numerous CQ calls with no takers.  So I tuned across the 20m band and could only hear one other station, that being a VK4 in QSO with a VK2 who I couldn’t even hear.  The VK4’s signal was well down, and sadly his signal was the only one I could hear on the entire 20m band.  So I slipped back up to 14.310 with the intention to call CQ again.  To my surprise when I got there, the frequency was occupied by a USA station, KZ8O, calling CQ.  I called him back, but sadly received no response.

So, as 20m band conditions did not seem to be good, and I was behind schedule, I packed up the gear, and continued on my journey east, and towards my next park, the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park.  In about 45 minutes of operating in Poonthie Ruwe, I had a total of 26 contacts in the log.

As I left the park,I heard John VK2AWJ/3 calling CQ from the Barmah National Park, so I called John who was a good 5/9 into my mobile (5/9 received in return).

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Charles VK5FBAC
  2. David VK5NQP
  3. John VK5BJE
  4. Amanda VK3FQSO
  5. Winston VK7WH
  6. Peter VK5NAQ
  7. Les VK5KLV
  8. Greg VK5LG
  9. Peter VK3TKK
  10. Mick VK3FAFK
  11. Dennis VK5LDM
  12. Tim VK5AV
  13. Ton VK3VBI/m
  14. Tom VK5EE/qrp
  15. Allen VK5FD
  16. Ken VK3MKM
  17. Larry VK5LY
  18. Bob VK3XP
  19. Mark VK7MK
  20. Peter VK3RV
  21. John VK5MG
  22. Jenny VK3WQ
  23. Col VK5HCF
  24. Brian VK5FMID
  25. John VK2AWJ/m
  26. Nev VK5WG



Department for Environment and Heritage, 2008, ‘Mowantjie Willauwar and Poonthie Ruwe Conservation Parks Management Plan’,