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.
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.
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:-
- Larry VK5LY
- Brian VK5FMID
- Norm VK5GI
- John VK5BJE
- John VK5FTCT
- Les VK5KLV
- Nev VK5WG
- Arno VK5ZAR
- Ron VK3JP
- Tom VK5EE
- Tony VK3CAT/m
- Tom VK5FTRG
- Mal VK3AZZ
- Tim VK5AV
- Ian VK3FD
- Joe VK3YSP
- Don VK5NFB
- Peter VK3TKK/p (Organ Pipes NP)
- Winston VK7WH/p
- Basil VK5BK
- John VK2AWJ/3 (Lower Goulburn NP)
The following station was worked on 20m SSB:-
- 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>, viewed 29th November 2014