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.

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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.

4 thoughts on “Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park

  1. Hi John,

    Yes, this is a great little park, that is probably little known. I would assume thousands of people drive passed it every week, not even knowing that it is there.

    Cheers and see you on Sunday,


  2. Hi Paul, as a past SW radio ‘listener’ I found your operation report interesting. Kelvin Powrie was my Father. It’s probably worth noting that the farmland in the SE was mostly cleared of bush before his work commenced in the early 1960s. In fact I recall that land clearance was already quite restricted when I was down there with him in about 1963. So as a conservationist I’m quite confident (and glad to say) that I don’t believe he contributed to bush clearing as you perhaps thought he might have done. Prior to my Father’s work it was generally impossible to grow either wheat or sheep on the SE solids for longer than 3-5 years without serious deficiency diseases becoming apparent. In other words, farming was impossible prior to this ‘trace element’ research. It’s a nice little reserve that was put together by local farmers in appreciation of Dad’s work after he died. All the best, Sam P.

    • Hi Sam,

      I’m always amazed at who reads my posts. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Certainly not critical of your Dad. I was just surprised at the connection with the park. I would appreciate a photo or any relevant news clippings, and next time I activate the park and put up a post, I will include those.



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