Some very wild and wet weather here in Adelaide has prevented a lot of portable activity. Already this year Adelaide has well and truly exceeded its annual average rainfall. And up here in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’ where I live it has been incredibly wet and windy, with lots of flooding. But yesterday (Friday 29th July 2016) was a nice sunny afternoon, so I packed up the portable gear and headed down to the Kyeema Conservation Park VKFF-0826 and 5CP-107.
I have activated and qualified Kyeema previously, but my main reason for heading there was to book in to the newly formed VK Shires Net and hopefully hand out a new VK shire number to some of the participants.
Kyeema is about 35 km south of my home, and around 62 km south of Adelaide. It is situated on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south west of Meadows, and east of Willunga.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Kyeema Conservation Park, south of Adelaide. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
Previously I had activated the park from the southern side off Woodgate Hill Road, so this time after reviewing maps, I decided to try to access the park from the north. It appeared after looking at maps, that there was a track which ran off Brookman Road and traversed through the northern section of Kyeema.
I travelled from home out through Echunga and on to Meadows. I then took the Brookman Road, heading south towards Willunga. I normally continue on to Woodgate Hill Road, but this time I kept an eye out for the track leading off to the east. But sadly it appeared that the tracks I was viewing on maps, were tracks leading through Kuipto Forest which had locked gates from Brookman Road. I reached Woodgate Hill Road and decided to turn around and head back to Brookman-Connor Road, hoping that somewhere from there I might find a track leading off to Kyeema. Unfortunately I could not access the park from this side, as all the gates to the adjoining Kuipto pine forest were locked.
So I contined on until I reached Blackfellows Creek Road, and commenced heading south. It wasn’t long until I was able to see the north eastern corner of the park, across the cleared farming land.
I then turned right onto Woodgate Hill Road and started travelling west towards the carpark, from where I normally set up. This south eastern corner of the park is quite steep in terrain and it was very pleasing to see a lot of regrowth in the park after recent bushfires.
As I drove along Woodgate Hill Road, the Mount Magnificent Conservation Park and the summit soon come into view. Sadly, the summit does not qualify for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program, despite offering some amazing views from the top of the surrounding Fleurieu Peninsula.
I soon reached the carpark on the northern side of the road. There is plenty of room here for vehicles, and just to the west of the carpark is a cleared area, and this is where I set up.
There is a cleared area between the western side of the carpark and the scrub and the far western boundary of the park. It is an ideal spot to string out a dipole. And as I had the larger 80/40/20m linked dipole with me today, this location was perfect.
Above:- Aerial shot of the Kyeema Conservation Park, showing my operating spot in the south western corner of the park. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
Kyeema Conservation Park, which was first proclaimed on 1st January 1964, is about 360 hectares in size. An additional 25 hectares of land were added in 1974. The park consists of thick scrub including messmate stringybark, pink gum, cup gum and canlebark gum. The name Kyeema is believed to be local Kaurna aboriginal language meaning ‘dawn’.
The park contains a large amount of native fauna including Western Grey kangaroos and the Southern Brown Bandicoot. Around 88 species of birds can be found in the park. Whilst I was there I spotted a number of Scarlet Robins.
The park was devastated during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, and a number of the eucalypt trees located in the south western part of the park were planted by school students during the 1980’s as part of a long-term revegetation program. About 20,000 seedlings were planted in the first three years. The area is known as the ‘Childrens Forest’ to recognise the many children who helped to re-create the valuable habitat.
Above:- Article from the Victor Habour Times newspaper, Wednesday Sept 28 1983. Courtesy of trove.nla.gov.au.
The park continues to have an active Friends of Kyeema Conservation Park group.
Kyeema Conservation Park has an extremely interesting history. The area surrounding the park was mined for alluvial gold back in the 1880’s and was abandoned in 1890 due to a low yield. A few years later, some the scrub was cleared for pine plantations and in 1932 a labour prison reserve was established here. The camp which opened on 22nd March 1932 was South Australia’s first prison camp. It was originally known as the Kyeema Afforestation Camp, and was later known as the Kyeema Prison Camp. It was used by low security risk prisoners and on average, around 13 prisoners worked in the area at any one time, guarded by only 2 prison guards. The prisoners cut a road through the stringybark forest to the camp, and sank wells, grew their own vegetables, carted water from the creek when the wells failed, showered from buckets, cut firewood, planted trees, put up fences and built bridges.
The camp soon developed the reputation of being the most humane’ development in the history of the South Australian penal system’. As was the case with other inmates a prison camps, the prisoners were called by name, not number, and were paid at a higher rate for their labours than other prisoners. Upon completion of their work, the prisoners were allowed to yarn, read or play dominoes. The prison camp was closed during the mid 1950’s.
I found some very interesting articles on Trove relating to the Camp.
I was on air by 0625 UTC, 5 minutes ahead of my posted activation time on parksnpeaks and Facebook. I headed to 7.144 and asked if the frequency was in use and this was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who had a booming signal. This was followed by Ken VK3UH, Mike VK6MB with a good 5/8 signal, and then Michael VK5FVSV. The 40m band appeared to be in quite good shape, with good signals coming in from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. I also had a bit of QRM on the frequency with two other QSOs taking place. I could hear a strong EA5 in Spain chatting away, and there was also a LU2 in Argentina.
About 18 contacts into the activation I was called by Rob VK4FFAB/p who was activating the Great Sandy National Park VKFF-0126. Rob had an excellent 5/9 signal and reciprocated with a 5/9 for me. A Park to Park contact is always a nice bonus during an activation.
I continued to work a steady flow of callers with good signals. Hauke VK1HW almost blew me out of my chair with a huge 5/9 plus plus signal from Canberra. It was nice to work Glenn VK2LDN who has recently upgraded from his Foundation call, and Eric VK7EV who has also upgraded from his F call.
I soon started to experience some very strong QRM from 7.146 and headed up there to find out who was there. I politely asked if the 2 stations would mind QSYing a little higher up and they kindly obliged. I then headed back to 7.144 and worked Les VK5KLV/p who was activating the Mount Brown Conservation Park VKFF-0914 and 5CP-145. Les was extremely strong. My last contact on 40m at this time was with Peter VK3PF and I left the frequency with Les VK5KLV.
I headed up to the VK Shires Net on 14.240, which was just starting to wrap up. Sadly I just worked Lyn VK4SWE and Scott W5/MM0LID. When the net wrapped up I headed off to 7.185 and the 40m version of the VK Shires Net which was being run by Bill VK4FW. I logged Bill, Glen VK2FQSL, and Chris VK3QB. Sadly there weren’t too many participants in the net.
I then went back to 7.144 and called CQ and worked William VK2NWB, Gerard VK2IO, Russell VK4ARW, Phil VK6ADF mobile and finally Roald VK1MTS mobile. Both Phil and Roald had beautiful strong signals.
To conclude the activation I went to 80m and worked 5 stations on 3.610. Michael VK5FVSV was first, followed by Mick VK3PMG/VK3GGG, followed by William VK2NWB and finally Gary VK5FGAZ. Despite the signals being extremely good, I had very few callers.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK4FFAB/p (Great Sandy National Park VKFF-0126)
- VK5KLV/p (Mount Brown Conservation Park VKFF-0914 and 5CP-145)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 80m SSB:-
Birds SA, 2016, <http://www.birdssa.asn.au/location/kyeema-conservation-park/>, viewed 30th July 2016.
Government of South Australia, 2016, ‘Thirty years for Friends of Kyeema’.
National Parks South Australia, 2016, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Fleurieu_Peninsula/kyeema-conservation-park>, viewed 30th July 2016
Taylor; B, 2010, ‘Prisons without Walls: Prison Camps and Penal Change in Australia, c. 1013-c. 1975’.
Weekend Notes, 2016, <http://www.weekendnotes.com/hidden-secrets-battunga-country/?wns=2>, viewed 30th July 2016