On Sunday 4th April 2015, I headed out to the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, which is located in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’, east of Adelaide. Kenneth Stirling CP is one of the newly added parks to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program– VKFF-781. Although I have activated this park many times previously for the VK5 Parks award, this was the first time I would activate the park for the WWFF program.
Above: Map showing the location of the Kenneth Stirling CP. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
This is a very interesting park. Not only because it consists of four completely autonomous sections, but also due to its history.
The park consists of four separate sections:-
- Wotton Scrub
- Filsell Hill
- White Scrub
- Burdett Scrub
I have spoken with Bill Filsell from Filsell’s Apples, which has been a family business operated since 1903. The Filsell Hill section is named after the Filsell family.
However, the park in its entirety was named in honour of Kenneth George Stirling.
image courtesy of Graham Churchett
So who was Kenneth ‘Ken’ George Stirling? Well I have been fortunate enough to get in contact with a gentleman called Graham Churchett, who knew Ken, and this is what Graham had to say…..
The Environment Committee was a sub committee of the Town and Country Planning Association composed of the following:
Ron Caldicot, Dr John Coulter, David Strahle, Alwin Clements, Ray Holliday, Miss Erdley, Dr Peter Guldhurst, Ken Stirling, Ralph Middenway, Elise and Gordon Gardner and myself.
This committee was active across a broad spectrum of planning and environmental issues but it was not until money was given anonymously to the committee, and we employed Ron Caldicot as a Project Director, that some monumental changes occurred.
At the time the State Planning Authority was headed by Stewart Heart and sitting on the authority were developers and others who naturally pushed through every approval to further line their pockets at the expense of the environment and common good. The committee pressured the government and Ron was appointed to the Authority and in a short time the rules were changed to exclude those with vested interests.
With the help of the Natural History Society we brought about the protection of the wedge tail eagle, and Improved planning laws.
In May 1980 tragedy occurred. David Strahle, a gentle, dedicated man and one who worked for a better world suddenly died due to a massive heart attack. We were all stunned, he was only in his 45th year.
In 1973 we were again shocked when Ken Stirling died from a heart attack when jogging by the uni bridge. He was only 38.
Ken, and all of us for that matter, were appalled at the scarring taking place in the north Flinders by EX Oil and Ken knew more of what was going on as he was employed by two of Australia’s largest mining companies before joining Poseidon’s associate, Samin Ltd, in 1969.
It was when Poseidon shares went through the roof that Ken became a millionaire and in 1972 Ken resigned from the mining industry and sought a position in the Public Service with the Department for the Environment. A series of applications were rebuffed and some were not even answered and he was bitter at this.
While waiting for something to turn up he gave unpaid service to the Birdwood Mill Museum.
His benefactions were not known to the Public service and his intense interest in conservation not realised.
Those who examined his application may have noted with disapproval his association with the mining industry. The irony of it is that but for the mining boom, the entire conservation cause in South Australia would not have prospered without Ken’s personal service and financial help.
It was only after his death we found out that Ken had given money to a variety of organisations and in particular, for Ron’s full time employment as a director, $100.000 was given to set up Radio 5UV University radio employing Keith Conlon. $50,000 was given to State Archives, $200,000 to the Australian Conservation Foundation for the acquisition and establishment of a national park. This park is now rightly known as the Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park.
Through Ron we achieved so much and it was then that I came to the earnest belief that if the conservation movement was to make any meaningful headway in this cockeyed world, we had to employ key people full time.
I was privileged to have known Ron, David and Ken as friends, all be it that our time together with regard to David and Ken was short. I was saddened to hear the other day that Ron, a man I knew with a mind as sharp as a tack and a gentle manner but one who would stand his ground with great conviction, was now in a home suffering severe dementure.
What can I say other than they are fondly remembered.
Below is part of what the Advertiser columnist, Stewart Cockburn said of Ken Stirling upon his death…..
Ken Stirling was the son of a railway man. He wanted to be a boundary rider on an outback station and, for a while, he became a multimillionaire. He made his money in the mining boom, and gave most of it away. Only since he died, have the benefactions of this humble, intensely private man become known outside his family and a small circle of friends and associates.
I set up in the Wotton Scrub section of the park and ran my Yaesu FT857d and the 40m/20m linked dipole, supported by my 7 metre telescopic squid pole.
Above: The Wotton Scrub Section. Image courtesy of mapcarta.com
This was one of the best activations I had experience for a while when it came to working DX. I started off on 40m first and worked a total of 21 stations in VK3 and VK5. My first contact was with Nick VK3ANL who was activating the Terrick Terrick National Park, VKFF-630. Next up I spoke with Hans VK5YX who was portable at Wombaroo in the Murray Mallee. I then propped on 7.144 and called CQ where my first taker was Nev VK5WG, followed by Richard VK5ZRY, and then Ben VK5BB.
When things slowed down on 40m I headed off to 20m. Unfortunately I could not get on to 14.244 as there were some European stations working close by. So I started calling CQ on 14.241 and this was answered by Gerard VK2IO. What followed was a huge pile up from Europe, the UK & North Ameerica. The first European caller was Danny ON4VT, followed by Luk ON4BB, Max IK1GPG and then Luciano I5FLN. The secret to my success was that they spotted me on the DX cluster.
I went on to work a total of 135 stations on 20m in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Russia, France, Netherlands, Ukraine, Spain, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Romania, Poland, USA, England, Croatia, Latvia, Canary Islands, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Belarus, Austria, Denmark, Alaska, and Finland. Thankyou to everyone who spotted me on the DX Cluster.
My last contact on 20m SSB was with Bob VK3SX. I then headed off to 40m where I called CQ on 7.144 and worked a further 14 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4 VK5 and VK6. Thanks to Paul VK2HV for getting the ball rolling and spotting me on the DX Cluster. And also to Rob VK4FFAB.
One of my contacts was with Adam VK2YK who informed me that V6Z in Micronesia was up the band a little and had a great signal. So I was pretty eager to love off and try my luck. But Iwas still taking calls from other VK’s so I patiently waited until things slowed down and then tuned up to 7.152 and heard V6Z coming in very well, working split. But unfortunately by this time he had a large pile up from Japan, the USA, VK & ZL. I just couldn’t break through.
So I had a tune around the band and found the 7.1653 group and Jim WB2REM. I called in and worked Jim and five other USA stations. My signal report ranged from 44 to 57. Not bad considering I was running 40 watts and a tiny dipole.
I thought I would try my luck one last time with V6Z and this time my persistence paid off. After about 3 minutes of calling I got through. I was very happy as this was a new DXCC entity for me on 40m whilst operating portable.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK3ANL/p (Terrick Terrick NP)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
- VK3PF/p (VKFF-758)