My second park for Sunday 8th March 2015 was the Ridley Conservation Park, which is situated about 120 km north east of Adelaide and 10km south of the little town of Swan Reach on the Murray River.
I had intended activating the Ngaut Ngaut Conservation Park on the Murray River, which would have been a unique park, but my request to access this park was declined by the Mannum Aboriginal Community Association. I will be writing a letter seeking future access and I will keep everyone posted of progress.
So after leaving Marne Valley, I headed east out along the Black Hill Road, which follows the Marne River. This is quite a pretty drive. I encountered quite a few Western Grey kangaroos and a paddock of goats. I couldn’t help but stop to take a photo of the SOTA mascots.
I have activated the Ridley Conservation Park a number of times previously. For more information on those activations, please click on the links below…..
Ridley Conservation Park is a long narrow park. It is 10 km in length and about 400 metres in width. It covers an area of about 414 hectares and . The southern boundary of the park is on the edge of the valley of the Marne River. At this location is Hayward’s Hill, which is the highest point in the park. The remainder of the park comprises flat country typical of the limestone plains of the Murray River.
Image courtesy of National Parks and Wildlife.
The park is home to a large variety of native mammals and birdlife. This includes the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Western Grey kangaroos, Echidnas, Mallee Ringneck parrots and Mulga parrots.
The park was originally part of a Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR) which ran for roughly 5-10 kms parallel to the Murray River. The reserve linked the stock market of Burra to the north with Murray Bridge to the south. By 1878, the TSR became obsolete with the completion of the Morgan to Adelaide railway. By 1901, an approach was made to the Department of Lands by local land owners to resume the TSR land and for it to be made open for allotment. In 1901 and 1907, proposals to this effect went before Parliament but were declined.
In 1934, the then District Council of Caurnamont contacted the Director of Lands and requested that the TSR be resumed for allotment. The council claimed tat the Reserve ‘harboured vermin’ and was a ‘drain on council funds’. And then in 1937 further requests were made for the Reserve to be used for grazing. Inspector Klau of the Crown Lands Department inspected the Reserve in 1939, and following his inspection, recommended that the area not be resumed.
Between 1938 to 1940 there were numerous requests to cut wood in the Reserve for charcoal burning. One of these proposals was to clear 28 hectares of the Reserve, north of Haywards Hill. The Ranger at the time, described the Reserve as ‘an asset to the State‘ and he declined these requests and stated that the land should remain in its uncleared condition.
During the mid to late 1950’s, following further requests, Annual Licences were granted for grazing purposes within the Reserve.
And then in 1966, land was being resumed and purchased for the purpose of National Parks. It was at this time that the Land Board proposed that portions of the TSR ‘be retained and dedicated as a Wildlife Reserve under the control of the Commissioners of the National Parks and Wildlife Reserves at the expiration of the current Annual Licences’.
Mr. G.C. Cornwall, a field officer for the National Parks Commission, inspected the TSR and submitted the following very favourable report:
‘Although a long narrow strip of land such as this is not the ideal shape for a National Park, the idea of preserving natural vegetation and bird habitats by setting aside portions of the Travelling Stock Reserve is an excellent one and the area under investigation is suitable for this purpose‘.
The park was officially dedicated as the Ridley National Parks Reserve in May 1968. It was later gazetted as the Ridley Conservation Park.
Although it is outdated (1984), there is an excellent description of the park and the history of the area in the publication entitled ‘Conservation Parks of the Murraylands (Western Plains) Management Plans’. Please see below…..
I set up on the western side of the Murraylands Road, between Sunnydale Road and Sleeper Track. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole for this activation.
map courtesy of mapcarta.com
After setting up I called CQ on 7.095 and this was answered by ever reliable parks hunter, Mick VK3PMG in Stawell in Western Victoria. This was followed by another keen park hunter, Adrian VK5FANA, then Arno VK5ZAR, followed by Greg VK5ZGY.
The 40m band was in excellent condition and a steady flow of callers followed, from all across Australia: VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7. The local time was about 6.45 p.m. (0815 UTC). There is no doubt that this is when the 40m band is at its very best. I went on to work 32 stations around Australia.
At 8.00 p.m. local time (0930 UTC) I booked in to the 7130 DX Net where I worked a total of 6 stations including Andy VK4TH/8, William FO5JV, Gary ZL3SV, Brian ZL2ASH, and Adrian ZL1GBG.
At times the net can run a little slow, so I took the opportunity of having a quick look around the band, and I found Greg W8GAP calling CQ on 7.180. I decided to give Greg a shout and surprisingly got through without much difficulty. Greg was an excellent 59 signal to the park. Initially my signal was 44, but it came up to a 55 and Greg was able to copy all of my information without any difficulty.
After a few rounds on the net I checked out, and went up to 7.135 and called CQ. My CQ call was answered by Drew VK2FROX, followed by Ian VK3FIAN, and then Bob VK3FLAK running QRP from his EFE40 transceiver.
It was during this time that a tour bus came through, with the driver operating a spot light. Obviously looking for native wildlife. But what they found was some crazy guy sitting out in the middle of nowhere in a deck chair alongside a squid pole. I wonder what the tourists were thinking?
I had one final tune around the band and found John K1GUN in Maine, calling CQ on 7.140. I gave John a call and had a good QSO (5/9 sent and 5/5 received).
So after a very pleasant evening in the Ridley Conservation Park it was time to head home. I still had an hours drive ahead of me. I had a total of 48 contacts in the log, including some good DX QSOs on 40m.
The following stations were worked:-
- Mick VK3PMG
- Adrian Vk5FANA
- Arno VK5ZAR
- Greg VK5ZGY
- Tim VK5AV
- Peter VK5FLEX
- Greg VK7FGGT
- Gavin VK3MLU
- Bernard VK3AV
- Peter VK3PF
- Peter VK3TKK
- Andrew VK3ARR
- Chris VK4FR/5
- Fred VK3DAC
- Damien VK5FDEC
- Marc VK3OHM
- Les VK5KLV
- Rob VK4FFAB
- Richard VK5ZRY
- Doug VK2FMIA
- Jim VK5JW
- Bob VK3BWZ
- Matthew VK3FMDS
- Keith VK5FEKH
- Andrew VK2UH
- Tom VK5FTRG
- Kym VK5FKYM
- David VK5LSB
- Bob VK2OD
- David VK5HYZ
- Nev VK5WG
- Ron VK5VH
- Andy VK4TH/8 (Kakadu National Park)
- William FO5JV
- Gary ZL3SV
- Daniel VK6LCK
- Chris VK2UW
- Brian ZL2ASH
- Adrian ZL1GBG
- Greg W8GP
- Ted VK6NTE
- Drew VK2FROX
- Ian VK3FIAN
- Bob VK3FLAK
- Graham VK7ZGK
- Ron VK3JP
- Andrew VK3FADS
- John K1GUN
National Parks and Wildlife Service, ‘Conservation Parks of the Murraylands (Western Plains) Management Plans’, 1984