My final activation for Monday 8th June 2015 is certainly one of the wildest weather wise that I have ever undertaken. I’ve activated a few parks in lousy conditions. But this was certainly up there. And the park that takes the prize is……….the Nene Valley Conservation Park VKFF-801.
The weather conditions were appalling with extremely strong winds and regular showers. But this was another unique park for me for the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program, and I really wanted to activate it and hopefully get my 44 contacts.
Nene Valley CP is located about 35 km west of Mount Gambier and about 455 km south east of Adelaide.
Above:- Map showing the location of the park. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
The Nene Valley was declared a Conservation Park in 1972 and is about 373 hectares in size. It is named after the Nene Valley, a 333 ton wooden barque, launched in England in 1852. Built for the colonial trade to India and Australia it was on its second voyage to the southern hemisphere in 1854, bound for Portland Bay and Port Fairy in Victoria, from Gravesend in England. During this period, international sailing ships travelled on Great Circle Routes: south down the mid-Atlantic and then east across the Southern Ocean. Navigation was still uncertain and the first approach to land was always a risky business. In October 1854, the lookout on the Nene Valley saw breaking surf in the darkness and reported land ahead. The Captain decided it was only low cloud and sailed on.
The Nene Valley went aground soon afterwards immediately in front of what is now the town of Nene Valley. The stranded vessel was driven ashore and broke up. The crew and nine passengers all survived, but four sailors drowned the following day during a salvage attempt. The shipwreck was a local landmark on the beach until the 1930s. I have not been able to find a picture of the Nene Valley.
I last activated this park in June 2014 and set up off a little track not far from the Nene Valley town itself. It was quite noisy there due to power lines. For more information on that activation and extensive information on the park, please have a look at my previous post at…..
This time around I followed a sandy track on the north eastern side of the park and set up amongst the scrub. I was hoping that the scrub would afford me some protection from the winds. I was wrong.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
I started calling CQ on 7.090 and fortunately it wasn’t long before I had a little pile up going. I am thankful to all the callers for keeping their overs short. And I must apologise for this. I normally like a little bit of a chat, but the weather conditions were so terrible, I wanted to get to 44 QSOs as quickly as possible and get back into the warmth of the 4WD.
Second up was Rex VK3OF, another amateur who has recently qualified for a number of WWFF & VK5 Parks certificates. This was followed by Tony VK3CAT mobile, and Alan VK5FAJS. Alan had made the wise decision after Tantanoola Caves to seek out a warm location.
My 13th contact in the park was not unlucky at all. It was Rob VK4FFAB who was portable in the Kondalilla National Park, VKFF-266 with a nice 5/5 signal. I also spoke with Ken ZL4KD who called in from Christchurch, and Erwin VK3ERW who was portable on SOTA peak Maher Hill VK3/ VE-233 with a beautiful 5/9 signal.
It was exceptionally hard to keep the squid pole up during this activation. It collapsed about 6 or 7 times and on many occasions, the legs of the dipole were either flapping around in the wind or were dragging along the ground. And it only got worse, as the aluminum squid pole holder, bent at almost right angles (see below).
After getting 49 contacts in the log, it was time to make a hasty retreat. I was cold and wet and I didn’t know how much longer the squid pole would take the punishment. It was off to Col VK5HCF’s house for a nice warm coffee and then out for tea to the South Aussie Hotel at Mount Gambier with Col, and John VK5NJ and his wife Tanina.
The following stations were worked:-
- VK4FFAB/p (VKFF-266)
- VK4AAC/5 (Kangaroo Island)
- VK3ERW/p (SOTA VK3/ VE-233)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, ‘Small Coastal Parks of the South East Management Plan’ 1994.
District Council of Grant, https://www.dcgrant.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=663