On Christmas morning, my wife Marija and I travelled to Whyalla in the ‘Iron Triangle’ north of Adelaide, to spend Christmas with family and friends. And on Friday afternoon, 26th December 2014, with the formal Christmas festivities over, and an additional 5 kg added to my waistline, Marija and I went for a drive south of Whyalla to the Munyaroo Conservation Park (CP).
Firstly, where is Whyalla? Well, Whyalla is located about 385 km north of Adelaide, via Port Augusta. It is located on the eastern side of the Eyre Peninsula, with its shores on the Spencer Gulf. It was first founded in 1901 and was known as Hummock’s Hill. Then in April 1920, it was proclaimed as Whyalla. The town is known as the ‘Steel City’ due to its integrated steel works and ship building heritage. The Munyaroo Conservation Park is situated about 45 km south of Whyalla, on the way to the seaside town of Cowell.
Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
Munyaroo Conservation Park is 123 km2 and was proclaimed in 1977 with the purpose of conserving mallee and saltbush between agricultural and pastoral properties, and mangrove and samphire communities along the coastal fringe. Being being gazetted as a park, the area was used for grazing, and a small coastal strip was cropped. The ruins of farm dwellings and implements can be found in the park.
Now, don’t be put off. It isn’t easy to find roads on many maps which show access to this park. But, access is gained via Moonabie Station. Again, don’t be put off by the ‘Private property’ signs. You can access the park via Moonabie. But, PLEASE, shut all the gates that you pass through. The road takes you all the way down to the park and Muminnie Beach, where there are a number of shacks.
Vegetation in the park includes low open woodland of western myall and false sandalwood, over a shrubland of bluebush and bladder saltbush. Other vegetation includes an open scrubland of gilja, yorrell and red mallee over bluebush, dryland tea tree porcupine grass, candlebush and twin leaf on the dunes. In the northern area of the park grow native peach trees, native cypress pines, weeping pittosporum and western myall.
The park is home to a large variety of birdlife including Emus, Malleefowl, Stubble Quail, Wedge Tailed eagles, Cormorants, Oystercatchers, and Rainbow Bee eaters. A large variety of native animals are also found in the park including Red Kangaroos, and Sandhill Dunnarts.
After travelling south along the Lincoln Highway towards Cowell for about 45 km, we turned left onto a dirt track. There is a sign here indicating ‘Moonabie Station’. You will shortly thereafter come to an open gate at this location, with a cattle gird. The fence has a sign on it stating ‘Moonabie Private Property’. Follow this road to the east, towards the ocean. You will travel through a couple of closed, but iunlocked gates. You will then reach another gate which has a sign for ‘Mullaquana Station’. A number of km down this dirt track you will reach Muminnie Beach. On your way, you will clearly see the scrub of Munyaroo CP on your right.
map courtesy of mapcarta.com
Marija and I found a nice quiet little spot, on a 4WD track amongst the scrub and set up the gear. I ran my new Yaesu FT-857d at 40 watts for this activation. Prior to calling CQ, I had a quick look around the 40m band and found Joe VK3YSP in conversation with Tim VK3MTB. Joe was on his Christmas/New Year road trip, and was portable in the Warby Ovens National Park, north west of Wangaratta. I waited until Joe had finished his QSO and gave him a call. Joe had a beautiful 5/9 signal coming into Munyaroo. I also spoke with Joe’s wife, Julie VK3FOWL. Joe and Julie are regular park activators and hunters. Joe was kind enough to allow me to have a chat with Tim VK3MTB, who although a little weaker, was still a good 5/7 signal all the way to the Eyre Peninsula.
I then QSY’d up to 7.105 and called CQ. My first taker was Mark VK5QI who was portable in Whyalla, on holidays with family for Christmas. As expected, Mark was making the radio jump off the table. This was followed by park regulars, Greg VK5GJ at Meadows in the Adelaide Hills, and Nev VK5WG at Crystal Brook in the Mid North of South Australia. This was followed by a call from Bob VK5FO who was portable in the Morgan Conservation Park in The Riverland. Again, Bob was a terrific 5/9 to the west coast. I know that Bob specifically stuck around so that we could get a park to park contact. Thanks a lot Bob.
About half a dozen contacts later, I spoke with Peter VK3YE who was portable at Chelsae Beach, near the Pier. Peter was running QRP, just 5 watts, but was a very nice strong 5/8 signal. My only other QRP contacts were with Hans VK5YX in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, running QRP from his MFJ transceiver (5/9 both ways), and Wolf VK5WF running 4 watts from his home brew QRP transciver (5/9 both ways)
I went on to work a further 11 VK5 stations, and then to my surprise, I received a call from Rob VK4FFAB, who was portable in the Glass House Mountains National Park, between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. And wow, did Rob have a great signal, 5/6 to Munyaroo. Rob is newly licenced and has really embraced the parks activities and the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. He is a regular VKFF Activator and Hunter.
After a little over an hour in Munyaroo CP, I had a total of 29 contacts in the log from VK3, VK4, & VK5.
The following stations were worked:-
- Joe VK3YSP/p (Warby Ovens NP)
- Julie VK3FOWL/p (Warby Ovens NP)
- Tim VK3MTB
- Mark VK5QI/p
- Greg VK5GJ
- Nev VK5WG
- Bob VK5FO/p (Morgan CP)
- Amanda VK3FQSO
- John VK5FTCT
- Bernard VK3AV
- David VK5NQP
- Les VK5KLV
- Peter VK3YE/p (qrp)
- Allan VK5ZLT/p
- Peter Vk5KPR
- Hans VK5YX (qrp)
- Tom VK5EE
- Richard VK5ZRY
- Arno VK5ZAR
- Peter VK5NAQ
- Michael VK5ZEA
- Jeff VK5JK
- Keith VK5ND
- Wolf VK5WF
- Roy VK5NRG
- David VK5HYZ
- Steve VK5SFA
- Rob VK4FFAB/p (Glass House Mountains NP)
- Mick VK3FAFK.
Scientific Expedition Group, Expedition Munyaroo Eyre Peninsula, Expedition Handbook, 2002.