After leaving Ewens Ponds Conservation Park I headed off to the Piccaninnnie Ponds Conservation Park (CP), which was to be another unique park for me for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.
Piccaninnine Ponds CP is located about 32 km south east of Mount Gambier, and about 480 km south east of Adelaide. It is very close to the South Australian/Victorian border.
Above:- Map showing the location of the park. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
Piccaninnie Ponds has been recognised as a wetland of international importance. The park is very popular with scuba divers and snorkellers. The crystal clear waters have been slowly filtering through the limestone and forming the Pond’s features over thousands of years. The freshwater rising to the surface under pressure has eroded a weakness in the limestone to form The Chasm. This same process has formed the large underwater cavern known as The Cathedral creating its majestic white walls of sculptured and scalloped limestone.
The park also incorporates the beachOn land, take a walk along the beach and see the freshwater springs bubbling up onto the sand. These springs are used by birds for freshwater and are also a favourite spot for shellfish.
There is also a walking trail through coastal wattle and beard heath to the ponds outlet. The walk then leads inland via boardwalks into silky tea-tree and cutting grass to a lookout where views of the wetland and bamboo reed and bulrush can be seen.
I drove down the Glenelg River Road and then turned into Piccaninnie Ponds Road. The park is very well signposted.
I drove into the main ponds carpark, which was absolutely chocker block full of cars and activity. There was a young lad with a generator running, filling up oxygen tanks for the divers that were about to head off for a dive. There was no room to set up here and it was definitely too noisy. But I did take the opportunity of walking down the track a short distance to the ponds, which were alive with activity. A number of scuba divers had just entered the water. There was also a large amount of birdlife including Geese and Herons.
I then drove down to the carpark at the end of the road near the beach. I would have liked to have set up on the beach itself, but it was extremely windy and operation from there would have been too oppressive. So I turned back around and headed back along Piccaninnie Ponds Road and found a track leading off into the scrub. That is where I set up. And with some difficulty. It was exceedingly windy.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot. Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
Prior to calling CQ I had a tune around the band and found Rod VK2TWR calling CQ on 7.090 from SOTA peak Pine Hill, VK2/ SM-083. Rod was QRP 5 watts and had a good strong 5/8 signal. Not a bad way to start the park activation, with a SOTA QSO. I then moved down to 7.085 and started calling CQ and this was answered by Adam VK2YK who was portable in the Worimi National Park VKFF-614, running just 5 watts (5/3 both ways).
A steady flow of callers followed from VK3, VK5 & VK7. And then amongst the VK’s, I heard Ken again, ZL4KD with a good 5/5 signal. Not bad considering this was just before 12.30 p.m. on 40 metres. Ken gave me a 5/5 into Christchurch. A few calls later, I had a SOTA trifecta. Bernard VK2IB/3 was first to call, on SOTA peak VK3/ VE-241, south east of Wodonga. Next was Andrew VK1NAM portable on SOTA peak Bullen Range VK1/ AC-035, and then Allen VK3HRA portable on SOTA peak Mount Byron VK3/ VW-015 which is located in the Black Range State Park VKFF-751.
A few calls later, I received a call from Gordon VK5GY who was portable in the Morgan Conservation Park. It was a pleasant surprise to get a VK5 Park to Park contact with Gordon.
My last contact on 40m was with Jeff VK5JK at Encounter Bay, who always has a strong signal. I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole, and started calling CQ on 14.307. First taker there was Adam VK2YK mobile, followed by Daniel VK6LCK and then Ian VK6DW.
It was approaching 1.00 p.m. and I still needed to get back to Mount Gambier for the SERG Convention, so it was time to pack up and hit the road. I had a total of 35 contacts in the log, including four SOTA contacts, one VK5 Parks contact, and two VKFF park contacts.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK2TWR/p (SOTA VK2/ SM-083)
- VK2YK/p (VKFF-814)
- VK2IB/3 (SOTA VK3/ VE-241)
- VK1NAM/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-033)
- VK3HRA/p (SOTA VK3/ VW-015)
- VK5GY/p (Morgan Conservation Park)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
- Adam VK2YK/m
National Parks South Australia, 2015, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/Piccaninnie_Ponds_Conservation_Park>, viewed 12th June 2015