Last week I had to travel to Victoria to attend a funeral in Horsham in the Wimmera region of Victoria. One of my Uncles had been battling cancer for some time and succumbed to the illness. So to break up the drive I decided to activate the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park (CP), 5CP-103 and VKFF-0899 on Tuesday 29th March 2016. That morning I had attended a morning coffee session in Mount Barker with other amateurs, so straight after coffee I headed east towards the Victorian border.
Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park is situated about 217 km south east of Adelaide, and around 8 km north west of the town of Keith.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park in the South East of the State. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
I had activated Kelvin Powrie CP previously (back in November 2014) for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, but the park was now part of the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, so this was to be a unique VKFF activation for me.
The park consists of an area of about 17.66 hectares and was gazetted in 1971. It is a narrow strip of scrub located between the busy Dukes Highway (main Highway between Adelaide-Melbourne), and the Adelaide-Melbourne rail line. The park was named after James Kelvin Powrie (1926-1968), who was an agricultural scientist. Powrie undertook research into what minerals were required to improve the soil quality of the infertile sands of the region. This entire region was once classified by farmers as ‘unproductive scrub’. Powrie was one of those who helped transform the district into valueable grazing and farming land.
Sadly Powrie died in his early 40’s, on the 22d day of May 1968 as a result of a motor car accident on the 20th May near Penola. His obituary stated:
“Kelvin Powrie was a gentleman; and nobody – student, colleague or friend – could help but be aware of it, no matter what his nationality or cultural background’.
Not doubting this individual’s achievements, but it is a little surprising that a piece of scrub was named in honour of someone who played a hand in clearing the land.
On the way to the park, as I was passing through Tailem Bend I had a chat with Luke VK3HJ who was also mobile, and Gary VK5ZK on 7.095. As I travelled further east, between Tailem Bend and Coomandook I spoke with Ray VK3NBL in Melbourne, and then Tim VK3TJK near Bendigo.
Just prior to reaching the park I stopped off at the Ngarkat Rest Area on the Dukes Highway. There are some interesting plaques here telling the story of the Ninety Mile Desert and the breakthroughs of the many agricultural scientists, including Powrie.
I continued a short distance up the road, until reaching the turn off on the Dukes Highway, into the park. It is not signposted. So don’t blink. You will miss it. The sign to the park is only visible once you’ve entered the carparking area.
There is a nice area here, with plenty of room to park the car. I set up just outside of the carpark, in a small clearing on the south eastern side. I didn’t have a lot of time in the park, so I quickly set up the deck chair, the fold up table, the 7m squid pole and the remainder of the station.
I was fortunate in that I had the carpark all to myself. The sound of passing traffic on the busy Dukes Highway and the occasional train passing by were a reminder that this park is a little piece of paradise surrounded by road, rail, and farming land.
Above:- A map showing my operating position in the south eastern section of the park. Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
I headed for my nominated operating frequency of 7.144 and found that it was already occupied by Ben VK7BEN who was operating portable from the Peter Murrell State Reserve, VKFF-1146. Ben had a good 5/7 signal so I gave him a shout. As it turned out, this was Ben’s first time out in a park for WWFF. Ben had an antenna issue whilst we were chatting, and Peter VK3PF took the opportunity of calling in and getting me in the log. Kelvin Powrie CP was a unique park for Peter.
After chatting with Ben and Peter, I then headed down to 7.150 and started calling CQ and this was answered by Col VK5HCF in Mount Gambier, followed by Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Echuca Regional Park VKFF-0966. Not bad at all, two park to park contacts in just 4 QSOs. Despite the fact that it was a weekday, there was a steady flow of callers, with many of the regular call signs appearing in the log. The 40m band was in quite good shape, with signals into VK3 and around VK5 being strong. Signals into VK2 and VK4 were strong to moderate in strength.
It was pleasing to get two QRP contacts in the log. The first was with Damien VK5FDEC running 5 watts from the norther suburbs of Adelaide (5/9 both ways), and then Paul VK3DBP/2 also running 5 watts (5/3 sent and 5/8 received).
After working 25 stations on 40m I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole and headed to 14.310 on 20m. I commenced calling CQ and Cliff VK2NP came up to say hello with a strong 5/8 signal from Sydney. Cliff had also called me on 40m, and he was an S point stronger on 20m. This was followed by Mr. Reliable, Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who was his normal 5/9, and whom kindly spotted me on parksnpeaks. Gerard VK2IO mobile then called in, followed by Martin VK6ZMS mobile in Fremantle, and finally John VK6NU.
I was only up to contact number 31. I had spent just under an hour in the park, and I really needed to get back on the road and continue my journey to Horsham. I would not be qualifying the park for the global WWFF program this time around. But I did have my 10 contacts, so I had qualified the park for the Australian (VKFF) program.
After packing up I took the time to climb the short distance to the top of the sandhill for a view accross the park. At the start of the walk there is a small plaque to honour Kelvin James Powrie.
There is a very easy walk and the path is well maintained. The park was alive with native flowers including Banksias and Correas, and of course the honeyeaters were out in force. Despite the fact that it was overcast, it was quite a warm day, so I made as much noise as possible, in the hope that it might scare off any unwelcome visitors in the form of snakes.
The view from the top of the sandhill is quite impressive. Although not really high, it gives you a very good feel for the park. The busy Dukes Highway and the passing traffic is clearly visible to the south, and to the north of the park you can see the Adelaide-Melbourne rail line and the surrounding farm land.
I returned to the 4WD and continued on my trip towards the Victorian border. Kelvin Powrie is a great little park, which I suspect most people would not even know about. So if you are down in the south east, don’t forget the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK7BEN/p (Peter Murrell State Reserve VKFF-1146)
- VK4AAC/3 (Echuca Regional Park VKFF-0966)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
After leaving the park (and whilst between Bordertown & Keith) I heard Rob VK4AAC/3, still in the Echuca Regional Park. Rob had such a good strong signal that I couldn’t resist calling him. After chatting with Rob, I headed up the band a bit and called CQ again and this was answered by Grant VK5VGC, followed by Tony VK5FTVR, and then Ian VK3VIN. Ian and I had quite a chat until I got to Kaniva in western Victoria.
After leaving Kaniva I again called CQ and spoke with Ed VK3EE and then had an enjoyable chat with Jen VK3FJEN. As I approached Nhill I was called by John VK5EMI, and as I entered Nhill I again spoke with Ben VK7BEN/p in the Peter Murrell State Reserve. I continued east on the Western Highway, and as I approached Horsham I booked in to the Kandos Group on 7.093 and spoke with VK2ARK (Ron VK5MRE).
Australian Society of Soil Science, 1968, ‘Soils News’ No. 24 June 1968