My first park activation for the 2nd year anniversary was the Innes National Park, on Friday 27th March 2015. Marija and I had a 315 km drive ahead of us from the Adelaide Hills down to the bottom of the Yorke Peninsula. We initially drove through the bushfire devastated area of the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’. This is the area around Kersbrook which was severely affected by the bushfires back in January 2015, with 30 homes being destroyed. We were very pleased to see a lot of regrowth with the scrub, but there is a long, long way to go.
We continued north on to the little town of Ardrossan on the western side of the Yorke Peninsula. Ardrossan is a beautiful little town of about 1,200 people, which faces the Gulf St Vincent. Prior to arriving there, Marija and I had arranged to meet Adrian VK5FANA at the local cafe. Adrian is a very keen park activator and hunter. I had spoken with Adrian many times on air, but I had never met him in person. So we headed for the ‘Stump Jump Cafe’ in the main street of Ardrossan.
After having a coffee and a morning hotdog, and a chat with Adrian, we had a quick look around Ardrossan. I mentioned the ‘Stump Jump Cafe’ above. I hear you saying now, ‘what a strange name for a cafe’. Well it was named after the stump jump plough. Ardrossan was the home of Clarence Smith’s plough factory where he manufactured the stump jump plough between 1880 to 1935, This South Australian invention was vital in opening mallee country throughout Australia to the plough. Ploughing was difficult using a single furrow plough. These were satisfactory where land had been adequately cleared, but were mallee roots and rocks were found, the ploughs would jump off course. In 1876, Richard Bowyer Smith was ploughing on his farm when one of the bolts on the plough broke. He discovered that it worked much better as it rode over the stumps. This accident produced the concept of the stump jump plough. If you would like some more information on this very unique South Australian invention, have a look at…..
After leaving the town of Ardrossan, we took the quick detour up to the dolomite mine lookout where we enjoyed some great views of Ardrossan and along the coastline. We then hit the road again and continued south down the Yorke Peninsula.
Our next stop was the little inland town of Minlaton which is another very interesting little town on the Yorke Peninsula. Minlaton has a population of about 800 people and is known as the “Barley capital of the world”. Minlaton was the home town of Harry Butler, a World War flying ace, who also flew an air mail run from Adelaide across Gult St Vincent to Minlaton back in 1919. His mail run was the first over-water flight in the Southern Hemisphere. Butler’s Bristol M1C monoplane has been restored and is on display in the town. There is also a wildlife park here which is worth a look, which is exactly what we did, whilst we had morning tea. We also called in to the Minlaton Tourist Information Centre which is located in the old Harvest Corner building, which was originally a fuel and fodder store, and a saddlery. The building later became the district’s main shoe store, and in the 1930’s a cafe and delicatessen.
We then headed down to Yorketown, a small town of about 685 people, again with a very interesting history. Yorketown was built on the junction of five roads, and this rather unique junction remains today. Many of the original buildings exist, including the Yorke Hotel built in 1876, and the Melville Hotel built in 1872. Here is how the intersection looks today…..
And here is how the intersection looked at the turn of the century…..
Image courtesy of the State Library South Australia.
After leaving Yorketown, we continued south through the town of Warooka and then on to Marion Bay, which is the gateway to the Innes National Park. Marion Bay is set at the foot of the Yorke Peninsula and has some excellent surf and fishing beaches. It is a very popular tourist destination and its population swells during the holiday periods.
Above:- the lcoation of Innes National Park. Image courtesy of mapcarta.com
We drove into the park and after a short photo stop, we headed for the Innes National Park Tourist Centre, where we needed to collect our accomodation key. Marija and I had visited Innes back in 2013 for the 6 month anniversary of the parks award, and we had fond memories of the park and the visitor centre which had quite a bit to see. However we were saddened to see that the Visitor Centre was closed ‘Until Further Notice’. Now, I normally do not like getting political. But I am going to here. Innes National Park is one of the most popular park in South Australia, with tens of thousands of visitors each year. And the Visitor Centre would not have been cheap to construct. And here it is closed until further notice. My own personal experience with DEWNR is that they are sadly lacking in funds. All I can say is that the South Australian State Government should hang their head in shame.
And further, to enter the park, you are no longer blessed with a friendly ‘ranger’ to provide you with a permit and advice on where to go and what to see. Now you book on line prior to entry to the park. Clearly a cost cutting exercise. Recently whilst up at the Mount Remarkable National Park, we were viewing an information board at the entrance to the park, when a Victorian couple drove in and asked us where they were to pay. We told them about the on-line booking system, and because there was no internet coverage, they drove off. Perhaps our friends in Parliament are trying to disuade visitors to our parks? See the interesting story below about visitors to Innes.
Enough of the negative comments. As we drove towards Inneston, there were some spectacular photo opportunities. Initially we took a detour to Stenhouse Bay to view the historic jetty and the beautiful blue waters of the Bay. We then headed to the Cape Spencer lighthouse, and also enjoyed the amazing views of Chinamans Hat Island, Cable Bay, Althorpe Islands, and across the water to Kangaroo Island.
After settling in at the old Post Office, Marija helped me set up my radio gear. Initially I set up my station at the back of the Post Office as it was a nice sheltered and enclosed area, but after turning on the radio I was saddened to hear that the noise floor was S8. It was pretty much impossible to operate, so down came the antenna and I moved location, amongst the scrub, about 30 metres from our accommodation, close to some of the Inneston ruins. Unfortunately the noise level was not much better. Nearby was an ETSA power line running through the park, to supply power to the accomodation. I suspect this is where the noise was coming from.
I called CQ on 7.088 and this was answered by park stalwart, Peter VK3TKK who was mobile (5/9 both ways). This was followed by Doug VK2FMIA who was portable in the Somerton National Park, VKFF-607, in New South Wales (also 5/9 both ways). So despite the high noise I was experiencing, the band seemed to be in very good condition.
A few calls later I was called by my first VK5 park for the weekend, Chris VK4FR/5 who was in the Dudley Conservation Park, VKFF-809, on Kangaroo Island OC-139. Chris had a great 5/9 signal. Chris was not to be my last park to park contact for this activation. About 15 QSO’s later I was called by Greg VK5ZGY who was portable in the Mount Boothy Conservation Park in the Mallee region of South Australia. Greg also had a nice 5/9 signal.
About a dozen contacts later I was called by Glenn VK6KY/5 who was mobile at Moonta at the top of the Yorke Peninsula. I found out that Greg was travelling with a group of other VK6 amateurs and their wives, and in fact they had been at Inneston earlier in the day and had been standing right outside the old Post Office, reading the information board. It is a small world.
Soon after I took a break for dinner, and when I returned my second caller was Steve VK5RU. I was quite surprised when Steve told me that many years earlier he had lived at Inneston. What is the chance of that? A VK6 who had visited this remote location earlier in the day, and now an amateur who had actually lived at Inneston. It was starting to get dark after quite a beautful sunset, and the Tamar wallabies were out in force. Tamar wallabies were classed as extinct in the Australian wild until recently, and have now been reintroduced to Innes National Park.
I went on to work a dozen or so VK3, VK5 & VK7 stations, and I was then called by Owen ZL2OPB in New Plymouth on the South Island of New Zealand (5/9 both ways).
At about 0935 UTC (8.05 p.m.) I headed off to 7.130 for the 7130 DX Net, run by Roy VK7ROY. I worked a total of 15 stations on the Net including William FO5JV in French Polynesia, John ZL2BH in Blenheim, and Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington.
Following the net, I headed to 7.135 and called CQ and this was answered by Mike VK3AUR, followed by Dennis VK5LDM with a huge signal. I worked a further 3 stations, until I decided it was time to head inside and enjoy a bottle of red.
I had a total of 69 contacts on 40m SSB which I was very pleased with.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK2FMIA/p (Somerton National Park)
- VK4FR/5 (Dudley Conservation Park)
- VK5ZGY/p (Mount Boothby Conservation Park)
Wikipedia, 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardrossan,_South_Australia>, viewed 7th April 2015
Wikipedia, 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minlaton,_South_Australia>, viewed 7th April 2015