On Saturday afternoon (17th October 2015) I activated the Morialta Conservation Park, VKFF-0783, situated in the Mount Lofty Ranges.
The park was not my first preference for the day. I had nominated to activate the Cleland Conservation Park, but after driving along Summit Road and passed the entrance to the Mount Lofty summit, I found that Summit Road was closed just above the entrance to the Cleland Conservation Park. A speed cop was manning his post at this location and I soon found out that the road was closed due to the Classic Adelaide Car Rally. Bugger! So I turned around and headed all the way back down Summit Road and onto the Piccadilly Road. I stopped off briefly to admire the views out to the east from Summit Road. And although I was very frustrated, the drive through the Piccadilly Valley was very picturesque. The Piccadilly Valley is a market gardening centre which produces food for the Adelaide and overseas market. Premium ‘cool climate’ grape varieties are also grown in the Valley.
After reaching the little town of Summertown I turned left and travelled west along Greenhill Road, hoping to access Cleland Conservation Park from the northern side. But sadly, Greenhill Road was blocked off as well. Strike two. I didn’t feel like driving all the way back to Mount Lofty summit, so I decided to implement plan two, and head for Morialta Conservation Park.
Morialta Conservation Park is located about 10 km north east of the Adelaide Central Business District. The park contains some very rugged bush terrain, with a narrow gorge set with three waterfalls which are bounded by steep ridges and cliffs. It is truly an amazing park, right on Adelaide’s doorstep.
It is believed that the Morialta Conservation Park derived its name from the aboriginal Kaurna word, ‘moriatta’, meaning ‘ever flowing’ or ‘running water’. However other linguists suggest the name was derived from the Kaurna words ‘mari yeertalla’ meaning ‘eastern cascade’.
A number of activities are undertaken in the park including bushwalking, bird watching and rock climbing.
Wednesday 15th July 2015 marked the 100 year anniversary of the proclamation of Morialta Falls as a National Pleasure Resort. It later became a National Park in 1966/67, and then became the Morialta Conservation Park in 1972. The park is steeped in history. Between 1915 to 1956 a tram ran from Adelaide to the western entrance of the park.
Above:- Map showing the location of the park. Map courtesy of SA Maps Viewer.
I drove to the little town or Norton Summit and then travelled west along Norton Summit Road which straddles the southern edge of the park. But there was no where for me to park the car and the terrain along this section was just way too steep to activate from.
So I headed back into Norton Summit and turned left and travelled north along Colonial Drive. This took me passed the historic Morialta Barns. This was the site of the former Morialta Old Winery complex. The buildings were constructed by South Australia’s second Premier, John BAKER, who was a businessman, parliamentarian and pastoralist. The Barms were part of the Morialta House Estate built by BAKER, where he established a farm and orchard. By the 1860s, Baker had established vineyards and was exporting his wine to London. Guests to Morialta House included the Duke of Edinburgh and future King George V. Baker also built a hilltop horse racing track, on which he trained the winner of the 1873 Melbourne Cup, Don Juan.
Above:- The Hon. John Baker. Courtesy of State Library SA
Today the buildings are listed on the State Heritage Register, and are of State Heritage significance, dating from the second decade of colonial South Australia. The Barns were most recently used as a winery, but they were recently sold. I guess thats what all the scaffolding was about. This impressive complex of stone buildings includes two barns (one 3 storey and the other 2 storey), a well house, a bake house, a dairy, stables, a stoned walled enclosure around the barns, and the original stables and coach house. The Barns also accommodate a poultry shed, an old piggery, and a few other small farm buildings. The site itself has impressive views across the valley to the east. These functional stone buildings are excellent examples of the early colonial agricultural and viticultural structures of South Australia.
I then drove passed the historic Morialta Cottage on Colonial Drive. This is often confused for the Morialta Homestead built by John Baker in 1847.
This is a beautiful drive through this section of the Adelaide Hills. I highly recommend it to anyone who would like a nice weekend drive. A small creek follows the road which is lined by beautiful tall gum trees with an understorey of other plants including ferns.
I drove on to Moores Road and followed the northern boundary of the park. Moores Road is a dirt road, but is perfectly suitable for a conventional vehicle. Moores Road becomes a no through road. At the end is a large parking area. This is where I parked the 4WD and I climbed the boundary fence and set up the gear. For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre squid pole.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the park. Map courtesy of SA Maps Viewer.
As it was Springtime, many of the local native plants were out in flower. It was a beautiful spring day with the temperature being about 30 degrees C. And not a cloud in the sky.
After setting up I headed to 7.144 and found that it was already occupied by Rob VK4AAC who was booming in from Peebinga Conservation Park, VKFF-0830, near the South Australian/Victorian border. After working Rob I headed down the band to 7.135 and started calling CQ. My CQ call was immediately answered by a number of stations who had followed me down the band. First up was Tony VK3VTH mobile with a good strong 5/8 signal, followed by Mick VK3PMG, Roy VK5NRG, and then John VK5BJE.
About 15 minutes into the activation I was called by John VK2WG who was operating portable from the Fusion 15 Multicultural Festival at Wagga Wagga. Unfortunately John was struggling a little with my signal over to New South Wales. I also spoke with Ian VK5IS who was operating portable as part of the Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) weekend. I spoke briefly with Mckay, a young 8 year old cub to enable him to qualify for a badge.
A few QRP stations also called in, including Greg VK5GJ running his normal 4 watts from Meadows, Nev VK5WG up in the Mid North operating with just 5 watts, and Gary VK5PCM operating with just 2 watts. All had good signals into the park.
After working a total of 45 stations on 40m in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7, I lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed to 20m. I called CQ on 14.295 and this was answered by Bill VK4MWG with a very strong 5/9 plus signal. Bill was kind enough to spot me on the DX cluster which brought in the DX. But not before I worked Steve VK5SFA who lives near the western boundary of the park. My first DX contact was with Luciano I5FLN in Italy, followed by Xaver DK4RM in Germany, and then Emilio IZ8VYU in Italy. All with great signals. I went on to work a total of 50 stations on 20m in VK4, VK5, VK6, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, France, Czech Republic, Croatia, Russia, Sweden, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belgium, Poland, Netherlands, England, Balearic Islands, and Indonesia.
Band conditions on 20m were quite good, with signals long path from Europe quite strong. I did note that the Over the Horizon Radar (OTHR) was present intermittently on the band, and was very strong.
I also suffered a little bit of QRM about half way through the pile up. A couple of German speaking stations came up just 1 kc above me and they were very strong. They didn’t stick around for too long, as they were politely told by a number of the Europeans to QSY. It did take about 5 minutes but eventually they bowed to the pressure and moved up higher in the band. Apologies to the European stations that were calling me that I was struggling with. The QRM was just too severe.
I then moved back to 40m to hopefully pick up some of the die hard park desperados. And it didn’t take long. First taker was Hauke VK1HW, and this was followed by park stalwart Rob VK4FFAB. I also spoke to another park devotee, Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula. On my second round on 40m I worked a total of 11 stations before going QRT. The sun was down behind the trees and the ridgeline and it was getting quite cold (11 degrees C).
The 40m band was just opening up to North America, but it was getting very cold, so I didn’t persevere. I also heard V73D in the Marshall Islands on 7.182 working split with a great signal. But he had a massive pile up, with stations calling from Australia, North America, and Japan.
I had a total of 106 contacts in the log.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK4AAC/5 (Peebinga Conservation Park)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
Commercial Real Estate, 2015, <http://www.commercialrealestate.com.au/property/colonial-drive-norton-summit-sa-5136-2009911594>, viewed 18th October 2015