Another fine day here (Friday 5th August 2016) in the Adelaide Hills and I was sick of going through emails, so it was in the 4WD and down to the Tolderol Game Reserve, VKFF-1752 for me. Tolderol has just been added to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, so this was to be a unique park activation.
Tolderol is situated about 80 km south east of Adelaide, and about 11 km south east of Langhorne Creek. The park is around 45 km south east of my home qth.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Tolderol Game Reserve with respect to my home QTH, the Murray Mouth, and The Coorong. Image courtesy of protected planet.
Tolderol which is located on the shores of Lake Alexandrina, was proclaimed in 1970 as an experimental area for growing of a variety of waterfowl food crops, in particular three-cornered bulrush. The total area of the park is around 428 hectares. A total of 226 hectares was proclaimed in 1870, with an additional 202 hectares added on 10th January 1980.
The Ngarrindjeri aboriginals are the traditional people of the area. The Ngarrindjeri name for Tolderol is Thultharrung (pronounced Thul-thar-rung).
The area is a mecca for bird watchers. it is reputed that Tolderol and the adjoining Boggy Lake are some of the best waterbird observation locations in South Australia. Just some of the species to be found here include Black Swan, Pacific Black Duck, Whiskered Tern, Straw-necked Ibis, Spur-winged Polver, Golden-headed Cisticola, and Australian Reed Warbler. Sadly, duck shooting is permitted in the park during restricted open seasons.
I headed out of Mount Barker along Wellington Road, and into the little town of Woodchester and the Bletchley. As I came down from the hills, there were some nice views out towards the park and Langhorne Creek. I also made contact from the mobile with Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158 (5/7 both ways).
I continued on to Langhorne Creek, passing through this famous wine growing region which has w wine history dating back to 1850. Langhorne Creek is traditionally a red wine growing district and is well known for production of outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. In fact these two red wine grape varieties constitute about 70% of the total vineyard plantings in the Langhorne Creek region. One of the big wineries that you pass is Bleasdale Wines which was established in April 1850 by Frank Potts. I have enjoyed many a bottle of Bleasdale over the years.
After leaving Langhorne Creek I drove out along the Langhorne Creek Road towards Wellington. I turned right onto Dog Lake Road. There is a sign here indicating Tolderol.
I soon reached the first of 2 gates on Dog Lake Road. The gate is unlocked, but please leave the gate as you find it.
I continued on a further few km until I reached a Y junction. There is a sign here indicating that Tolderol is to the left. A little further on and I reached the second gate. Again, the gate is not locked, but please leave it as you find it.
There is a park sign just inside the second gate and a little further on there are some interpretive/information signs.
It didn’t take long for me to start spotting a lot of birdlife in the park. That included Intermediate Egrets, Yellow Billed Spoonbills, and lots of Welcome Swallows.
I continued along a small track and caught my first glimpse of Lake Alexandrina from Tolderol. Lake Alexandrina is a freshwater lake which was named after Princess Alexandrina, the niece and successor of King William IV of Great Britain and Ireland. When the princess ascended the throne and took the name Queen Victoria there was some talk of changing the name of the lake to Lake Victoria, but the idea was dropped.
I set up in a cleared area about 20 feet away from the edge of the lake. The area is infested with Tiger snakes, so I made as much noise as I could. Prior to heading to Tolderol I head read on a number of websites that these snakes can even be seen in Tolderol on cool days. Tiger snakes are a venomous snake with symptoms of a bite including localised pain in the foot and neck region, tingling, numbness, and sweating, followed by a fairly rapid onset of breathing difficulties and paralysis. The untreated mortality rate from a Tiger snake bite is reported to be between 40 and 60%. They are a protected species, and you can incur a fine up to $7,500 for killing or injuring a Tiger snake, as well as the potential of up to 18 months imprisonment.
There was plenty of room to stretch out the 20m/40m/80m linked dipole which I supported on the 7m heavy duty squid pole. As there were no trees, the ends of the dipole were very low to the ground (about 1 foot off the ground). I used some tent pegs to secure the legs into the ground. There was even a concrete table and benches at this location, although the concrete was a bit cold on the backside. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d and 40 watts for this activation, and powered the radio with the 44 amp hour power pack.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the park. Image courtesy of protected planet.
I was ready to go by around 0400 UTC (1.30 p.m. South Australian local time). After setting up I headed to 7.144 on 40m and asked if the frequency was in use. This was answered by Dennis VK2HHA in Albury who had been waiting on the frequency for me. Dennis was a beautiful 5/9 plus signal and was the first in my log from Tolderol. I was then called by Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158 who was also 5/9. I was very pleased to get the Park to Park contact with Rob. Next up was Roscoe VK3KRH who almost lifted the transceiver off the table with a very strong signal as wlways.
Despite it being a weekday I was very pleased to have a good flow of callers from all across Australia including VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. Signals were quite good, but local propagation was nowhere near as good as when I was out portable on Wednesday in the Totness Recreation Park. In the first hour at Tolderol I only worked two South Australian stations. They being Les VK5KLV, and John VK5BJE. Les VK5KLV is at Port Augusta about 400 km to the north of Tolderol and was 5/8 (3/6 received). Normally Les and I hear each 5/9 both ways. John VK5BJE is located at Scott Creek, about 55 km north west of Tolderol. John was only a 5/3 and gave me a 5/1, but as we both had no man made noise, we were able to hear each other perfectly.
The band did open up to the South East of South Australia (about 400 km south east of Tolderol) at around 0530 UTC when I was able to make contact with Brian VK5FMID. Tom VK5EE, Col VK5HCF, and Robin VK5TN, all in Mount Gambier. All had 5/9 signals.
I was pleased to be able to get a further 3 Park to Park (P2P) contacts from Tolderol after working Rob VK4AAC/3. The first was with Neil VK4HNS who was portable in the Main Range National Park VKFF-0300 (5/3 sent and 5/5 received). The next P2P was with Brett VK2VW in the Kwiambal National Park VKFF-0274 (5/5 sent and 5/8 received), and finally a nice P2P with David VK5PL in the Para Wirra Recreation Park VKFF-1739. My contact with David was quite a challenge but we did manage to exchange signal reports.
Band conditions on 40m to Western Australia were a real surprise, especially considering the time of the day. I made contact with Mike VK6MB (5/7 sent and 4/5 received), Peter VK6APZ (5/9 both ways), Craig VK6VCK mobile at Leeman around 270 km north of Perth (5/3 sent and 5/1 received), and Jarred VK6FFAR who was operating portable on the beach with 10 watts (3/4 sent and 5/1 received).
I logged a handful of QRP operators including Peter VK3PF running 5 watts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received), Ron VK3MRH running 8 watts (5/9 both ways), and Chris VK3PAT mobile running 5 watts (5/7 sent and 5/9 received).
Mobile signals were also very good with the following movile stations logged on 40m: Jonathan VK6JON/7, Brett VK2VW, Chris VK3PAT, Craig VK6VCK, Ian VK3IAN, and David VK3GP.
The strongest signal of the afternoon on 40m was Ron VK3IO at Cockatoo, who was 5/9 plus plus. Closely followed by Roscoe VK3KRH.
After working a total of 57 stations on 40m I headed over to 14.310 on 20m and asked if the frequency was in use. This was answered by Phil VK6ADF mobile who told me he had been waiting for me as my signal was a little too weak on 40m for him to work me. This was followed by a contact with Paul VK2KTT. Sadly, these were my only 2 contacts on 20m. Phil had kindly posted me on Facebook and advised me that Danny ON4T in Belgium had posted that there was no propagation to Europe. I tuned across the 20m band and the only signal I could hear was John EA7BA on 14.156 who was very weak.
Whilst operating during the afternoon I had a constant stream of waterbirds flying overhead.
I then moved to 3.610 on 80m where I worked Greg VK5GJ at Meadows. Greg advised that my audio was intermittent so I checked the battery voltage and that appeared okay, although the VSWR was up a little high. I checked all the connections and they appeared all good, so I lowered the squid pole and adjusted the 4 links in the dipole. I went back to Greg and thankfully he advised that my audio was now 100%. Signals on 80m were excellent and I logged Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, Nev VK5WG, John VK5BJE, Peter VK2NEO, and Col VK5HCF.
It was starting to get a bit late in the afternoon so I started to pull down the antenna when I heard Tony VK5MRT calling me on 80m. I had some of the links out and the antenna was lying on the ground, so it was a quick effort to re-erect the antenna. Once back up I gave Tony a call and fortunately he was still there and made the log (just). I was then called by Brian Vk3BBB, and Don VK3MCK before I went QRT.
At the end of the activation I went for a bit of a drive through the labyrinth of tracks through the park. I encountered a number of local kangaroos.
I was very happy, with a total of 71 contacts in the log and a unique park activated. Driving back home through Langhorne Creek I enjoyed a beautitful sunset.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK4AAC/3 (VKFF-0158)
- VK4HNS/p (VKFF-0300)
- VK2VW/p (VKFF-0274)
- VK5PL/p (VKFF-1739)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 80m SSB:-
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langhorne_Creek,_South_Australia>, viewed 6th August 2016
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Alexandrina_(South_Australia)>, viewed 6th August 2016
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_snake>, viewed 6th August 2016