Lower Glenelg National Park, VKFF-296

My first Victorian National Park activation for the 2014 Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) activation weekend was the Lower Glenelg National Park (NP), VKFF-296, which I activated on the morning of Saturday 15th November 2014.

The park is located in South Western Victoria, about 420 km from Melbourne, and about 500 km from Adelaide.  The park abuts the South Australian and Victorian border.  The park is very popular, and receives over 200,000 visits per year.

Screenshot 2014-11-29 18.16.35

Map courtesy of mapcarta.

So after a cooked breakfast at my hotel, the Whalers Rest at Portland, I headed out along the Princes Highway and then travelled into the park via a series of dirt roads.  I can highly recommend the Whalers Rest.  I stayed there on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night.  The room was spacious and very clean, and the cooked breakfasts on offer were very hearty.


Lower Glenelg NP is 27,300 hectares in size and encompasses the spectacular Glenelg River limestone gorge.  The park, which was proclaimed in 1969, contains a wide range of forest, scrub, and heathland.  The park has been included in the World List of National Parks and Equivalent Reserves compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN 1985).  The park includes the Princess Margaret Rose Caves.

Prior to being declared a park, the land in which Lower Glenelg is located was exploited by European settlement, which included timber harvesting and repeated fuel reduction burning to provide protection for nearby pine plantations and the Nelson township.

William Dutton first settled Southwestern Victoria in 1829 and this was followed by Edward Henty in 1834.  The famous explorer, Major Mitchell travelled through the area in 1836.  His journey of discovery included exploration of the Glenelg River from the present Dartmoor to Nelson.  The area was quickly settled and large pastoral runs dominated until the late 1940s.


Above: William Dutton.  Image courtesy of adb.anu.edu.au


Above: Edward Henty.  Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

Even by the late 1800s the Glenelg River was already important to the local community for recreation, particularly angling.  A number of shacks were erected along the river for this purpose.  However, following proclamation of the Park in 1969 and a 15 year phase out period, nearly all the river shacks were removed, and the sites have been developed for public use.

During the 1920s the first pine plantations were established in the area.  Two substantial forestry
companies established major pine plantations throughout southwest Victoria in the 1950s.
Following World War II some native forests now in the Park were selectively logged, by individual
tree selection.  Little obvious evidence of the logging remains today.

It was during the early 1940s that the Princess Margaret Rose Caves were also developed
as a commercial visitor operation.

Recreational activities in the park include sightseeing, fishing, pleasure boating, canoeing, water skiing, picnicking, camping, and bushwalking.

A diverse number of plant species are found in the park.  More than 500 species of flowering plants and 30 ferns occur in the Kentbruck Heath and Moleside areas alone.

The park is also home to a large amount of wildlife, as I found out.  It was very slow going through the park due to the large number of kangaroos and euros.  Over 30 native mammal species have been recorded in the park.  A number of threatened species are found in the park.  The rare bat, the Large-footed Myotis is found in the park.

Additionally, over 136 bird species  have been recored in the Lower Glenelg NP.  Three species are considered threatened in Victoria, including the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Rufuos Bristlebird, and the Powerful Owl.

A total of 14 species of reptiles are recorded as living in the park, and there are about 32 fish species also recorded.

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I was ready to go at 7.00 a.m. Victorian local time.  I found a nice quiet spot and set up my deck chair and fold up chair.  I ran the Yaesu Ft-450 and 40 watts for this activation into my 40m/20m linked dipole @ 7 metres.  It was quite difficult finding a clear frequency, as the 40m band was already very busy.  I called CQ on 7.097 and my first contact was with Charles VK5FBAC at Strathalbyn.  Charles had a good 5/9 signal and he gave me a 5/9 signal report in return.  So it appeared the band was in good condition.  A number of the ‘regular suspects’ followed, all with excellent signals.

My first Summits on the Air (SOTA) contact in the park was with Rob VK2QR who was portable at Mount Hotham, VK3/ VE-006, which is also located within the Alpine National Park.  Rob had a beautiful 5/9 signal to Lower Glenelg.  This was followed by Andrew VK1NAM who was portable on VK2/ SM-036 within the Kosciuszko National Park.  You can read about Andrew’s activation on his WordPress site at…..


About a dozen stations later, when things had slowed down a little, I found Rob VK3EK calling CQ in 7.110.  Rob was portable on Mount Cann, VK3/ VG-133 in eastern Victoria, near the New South Wales border.

I then checked in to the Riverland Radio Club’s Saturday morning net, which is held on 7.078 each Saturday morning.  The net is run by Ron VK5MRE.  After working Ron and a few other stations on the net, I quietly disappeared and found Peter VK3FALA on 7.095, calling CQ from Mount Elizabeth, VK3/ VG-074.  Peter’s signal was down a little (5/3) and I was very surprised when he gave me a 5/9 signal report in return.

I then spoke with Terry VK3UP who was portable in the Brisbane Ranges National Park, north of Geelong.  Terry had a nice 5/7 signal coming in, and I received a 5/9 signal report.

After chatting with Terry for a while, I then found Nick VK3ANL, on 7.090.  Nick was portable at Arthurs Seat, VK3/ VC-031.

I then found a clear frequency on 7.105 and put out a CQ call and was immediately greeted by Hans VK5YX at Hallett Cove with a 5/9 plus signal.  This was followed by a number of callers from VK2, VK3, & VK5 who called in before and after the UTC rollover.  They included Ian VK3TCX who was portable on Mount Elizabeth VK3/ VG-074, Fred VK3DAC on Mount Toolebewong VK3/ VC-033, and Peter VK3FALA on Mount Elizabeth VK3/ VG-074.

It was time to pack up.  But before I did I had one last quick tune around the band and worked Rob VK3EK again, portable on VK3/ VG-133, for the new UTC day.

My last contact in the park was with Ron VK3AFW who was portable on Arthurs Seat VK3/ VC-031.

It was time to head off to Cobboboonee National Park.  I had a total of 50 stations in the log, which meant that I had qualified the park for the KRMNP, and also for the National (VKFF) and global (WWFF) awards.

This included 10 x SOTA contacts and 3 x National Park contacts.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Charles VK5FBAC
  2. John VK5BJE
  3. Mick VK3FAFK
  4. Frank VK3GFS
  5. Greg VK5ZGY/m
  6. Tim VK5AV
  7. Ian VK5IS
  8. Tom VK5EE
  9. Geoff VK5HEL
  10. Bernard VK3AV
  11. Matt VK1MA
  12. Les VK5KLV
  13. Brian VK5FMID
  14. Mark VK7MK
  15. Rod VK5KFB
  16. Rob VK2QR/p
  17. Andrew VK1NAM/p
  18. Greg VK5GJ
  19. John VK5FMJC/p
  20. Mike VK3XL
  21. Peter VK3TKK
  22. Amanda VK3FQSO
  23. Col VK5HCF
  24. Nev VK5WG
  25. Mark VK3PI
  26. Rob VK3EK/p
  27. Ron VK5BRL
  28. Rob VK5TRM
  29. Dennis VK2HHA
  30. Peter VK3FALA/p
  31. Terry VK3UP/p
  32. Nick VK3ANL/p
  33. Hans VK5YX
  34. John VK5DJ
  35. Darrin VK3FDAP/p
  36. Larry VK5LY
  37. Steve VK3VM
  38. Tom VK5FTRG
  39. Andrew VK2UH
  40. Norm VK5FNGM
  41. VK3ZZS/2
  42. Dallas VK5WA
  43. Ian VK1DI
  44. Charles VK5HD
  45. Ian VK3TCX/p
  46. Fred VK3FTAD
  47. Fred VK3DAC/p
  48. VK3FALA/p
  49. Rob VK3EK/p
  50. Ron VK3AFW/p

Below is a video of the activation at the Lower Glenelg NP…..



Portland Region National Parks and Public Land Division, May 1991, “Lower Glenelg National Park Management Plan”.

Desert Camp Conservation Park

My fourth, and last South Australian park activation on Sunday 14th November, 2014, was the Desert Camp Conservation Park, which is located about 65 km north west of Naracoorte, on the northern side of the Kingston-Keith Road, and about 267 km south east of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2014-11-29 11.01.13

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

The park is about 49 hectares in size as was gazetted as Desert Camp National Park in 1967.  About 14 months after the park was declared as a National Park, new works on the Keith-Kingston Road severed the park.  On proclamation of the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1972, the park became the Desert Camp Conservation Park.

A word of warning before activating this park.  Desert Camp is a Conservation Reserve and a Conservation Park.  Make sure you are in the Conservation Park area and not the Reserve.

Screenshot 2014-11-29 12.57.38

I started off on 40m on 7.095 and my first caller was the ever reliable Brian VK5FMID in nearby Mount Gambier.  This was followed by another South East park stalwart, Tom VK5FTRG, and then Peter VK3RV who had a very strong 5/9 plus signal.

I worked a few mobile stations from this park which was really pleasing.  The first contact was with Andrew VK1NAM who although a little weak, was perfectly readable from those noise free environment of the park.  My next mobile contact was with Peter VK3TKK with a nice 5/7 signal, and then Joe VK3YSP and Julie VK3FOWL who were a good strong 5/8.  And I also spoke with Allen VK3HRA who was mobile and had a nice strong 5/8 signal.

A few QRP callers also called in.  They included Damien VK5FDEC running 5 watts from his Yaesu FT-817.  Damien seems to have been bitten by the QRP bug.  And then Ron VK5ALR who was portable in Victoria and was running just 5 watts also.

After working a total of 20 stations I headed off to 20m where I put out numerous CQ calls but I had absolutely no takers.  I tuned around the 20m band but all I could hear were some weak signals coming in from Europe.  It was a little too early for long path into Europe.

So I decided to pack up and head off to Portland in south western Victoria.  I still had a few hours on the road before reaching my destination and I was starting to get a bit hungry and wanted to avoid the kangaroos on the road.

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So after 30 minutes in the park, I had a total of 20 contacts in the log from VK3 and VK5.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Brian VK5FMID
  2. Tom VK5FTRG
  3. Peter Vk3RV
  4. Tom VK5EE
  5. Andrew VK1NAM/m
  6. Charles VK5FBAC
  7. Peter VK3TKK/m
  8. Nev VK5WG
  9. Joe VK3YSP/m
  10. Jenny VK3WQ
  11. Arno VK5ZAR
  12. Allen VK3HRA/m
  13. Julie VK3FOWL/m
  14. Tony VK3CAT
  15. Mick VK3FAFK
  16. David VK5NQP
  17. Owen VK5HOS
  18. Damien VK5FDEC/qrp
  19. Hans VK5YX
  20. Ron VK5ALR/p/qrp



National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1992, ‘Small Parks of the Upper South East Management Plans’

Mount Monster Conservation Park

My third Conservation park activation on the way to Victoria on Friday 14th November, 2014, was the Mount Monster Conservation Park (CP).  I had not originally intended to activate this park.  However I had access concerns re the Lower Glenelg Conservation Park, so I decided to cancel that activation and fit in Mount Monster instead.  This was to be a new unique park for me.  Mount Monster CP is located about 14 km south of the town of Keith, and about 238 km south east of Adelaide.

Mount Monster

 Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

Mount Monster CP is about 93 hectares in size and was dedicated as a Conservation Park in September 1976 as a gift from three surrounding land owners, including the Buddle and Ellis families in memory of pioneers Malcolm and Mercy Crooks of ‘Maroona’.  The park is dominated by steep rocky outcrops separated by narrow, deep gullies, producing a wide range of gradients and a number of sheer cliff faces.  These rocky outcrops are dominated by an unusual granite, found in only one other location in South Australia.  The park includes the Mount Monster summit, known as Joyce’s Plateau, named in honour of Joyce Buddle.  Although only having a low profile, the summit dominates the countryside for many kilometres.

I have not been able to find out why the park was named Mount Monster?  If anybody knows, I would be very keen to find out.  But what I did learn, was that the nearby town of Keith was originally known as Mount Monster.  It was not until 1889 when the town was officially proclaimed, that it was named Keith.

Prior to European settlement the area around Keith was part of the lands occupied by the Ngarranjeri aboriginal people.  Within the park is the old Gold Escort Route.  This is the famous route which brought gold into South Australia from the Victorian goldfields during the 1850’s.  In fact, between March 1852 and December 1853, a total of 528 509 ounces of gold were brought into South Australia from the Victorian gold fields.

About 176 different plant species have been identified in the park, 30 of those are orchids.  Some of these, including the Cradle of Incense, and the Monarto Mint Bush, are considered endangered nationally.  Numerous mammals can be located in the park including kangaroos and echidnas.  The park is also home to a large variety of birdlife, including red rumped parrots (I saw numerous) and honeyeaters (again I saw numerous feeding on the flowering natives).

The agricultural land surrounding Mount Monster is recognised as one of the major Lucerne seed producing areas in Australia.  During the summer period, the fields are stocked with beehives for the pollination of the crops.

For more information on the park, have a look at the post by John VK5BJE on his blog…..


I entered the park off the Mount Monster Road, which runs off the Riddoch Highway, about 13 km south of the town of Keith.  There is a dirt road (in good condition) which passes through the park (it is a one way road), that after about 1 km leads to a nice camping and parking area.  This is where I set up.

Mount Monster 2

map courtesy of mapcarta.com

My first contact was with Larry VK5LY in The Riverland with a nice 5/9 plus signal.  This was followed by Brian VK5FMID in Mount Gambier, and then Norm VK5GI operating QRP 5 watts with his home brew transceiver.  Despite using low power, Norm was still an excellent 5/9 signal all the way from Willunga.

Conditions on 40m seemed quite good, with a few contacts recorded with stations mobile in Victoria.  They being with John VK3IC/m and Tony VK3CAT/m (both 5/9).  I also had one more QRP contact and that was with Ian VK3FD, who although a little weak (5/1) was still very readable in the park with the non existent man made noise floor.

I was fortunate to work two Victorian National Parks whilst in Mount Monster.  The first contact was with Peter VK3TKK who was operating portable in the Organ Pipes National Park, and then John VK2AWJ/3 was was operating portable in the Lower Goulburn National Park.

After working a total of 23 stations on 40m ssb, I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole, for 20m.  I tuned to my nominated operating frequency of 14.310 and put out some CQ calls.  However my only taker on 20m was Eric VK2ES.  And there was a lot of QSB on Eric’s signal.  I tuned across the 20m band and only heard one other station, a VK2 operating sub on 14.230 (the STV frequency).

At the end of this activation, I was packing the gear away in the car and heard Rod VK2TWR working a ‘pile up’ from the top of a summit in New South Wales.  I called a number of times but just could not break the pile up.  So I decided to go for a walk to the top of the Mount Monster summit instead of persevering.  I’m glad I did.  There is a great walking trail to the top, which is not at all taxing.  And you are rewarded with great views of the surrounding countryside.  Sadly, it is not a qualifying summit for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program, as Mount Monster only rises 93 metres above sea level.  However, there are excellent 360 degree views to be had.  A microwave repeater tower can be seen on the northern horizon, and Sugar Loaf Hill, from which Murray River water is reticulated to the nearby Keith township.

I had a total of 24 contacts whilst in Mount Monster, into VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Larry VK5LY
  2. Brian VK5FMID
  3. Norm VK5GI
  4. John VK5BJE
  5. John VK5FTCT
  6. Les VK5KLV
  7. Nev VK5WG
  8. Arno VK5ZAR
  9. Ron VK3JP
  10. Tom VK5EE
  11. VK3IC/m
  12. Tony VK3CAT/m
  13. VK3FAFK
  14. Tom VK5FTRG
  15. Mal VK3AZZ
  16. Tim VK5AV
  17. Ian VK3FD
  18. Joe VK3YSP
  19. Don VK5NFB
  20. Peter VK3TKK/p (Organ Pipes NP)
  21. Winston VK7WH/p
  22. Basil VK5BK
  23. John VK2AWJ/3 (Lower Goulburn NP)

The following station was worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. Eric VK2ES

Below is a quick video of the activation…..



Department of Environment and Natural Resources, `997, ‘Aberdour and Mount Monster Conservation Parks, Desert Camp Conservation Reserve and Poocher Swamp Game Reserve Management Plans’.

Friends of Scott Creek Conservation Park, 2014, <www.users.on.net.au> viewed 24th November 2014.

Friends of the Upper South East Parks Volunteers Working for Conservation, ‘The Gwen Ellis Walking Trail, Mount Monster Conservation Park’.

Sydney Morning Herald, 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/news/South-Australia/Keith/2005/02/17/1108500204330.html&gt;, viewed 29th November 2014