It was a bright and early start for me on Saturday 17th September 2016. I had four planned park activations for the day, with the first being the Heggaton Conservation Park VKFF-1037 and 5CP-089. So after some toast and a coffee I was on the road by just after 7.00 a.m. I had about a one hour drive to get out to Heggaton.
One thing that was reinforced with me from this activation was, don’t always rely on the GPS. It took me the long way! Instead of taking me down the Lincoln Highway to Cowell, I was guided out of Whyalla along the Lincoln Highway and then told to turn off on the Middleback Road through the very impressive Middleback Ranges. It was slow going as the dirt was quite slippery in sections and there were a lot of kangaroos out and about. The Middleback Road then became Sectus Tanks Road and this brought me out onto the Eyre Highway. And directly in front of me was the Lake Gilles Conservation Park. I was very tempted to stop off here for a quick activation.
Above:- Sectus Tanks Road at Bama.
But I decided not to stop, and I continued south west on the Eyre Highway and into the little town of Kimba. The word ‘Kimba’ is derived from the local aboriginal word for ‘bushfire’. The town is known as being ‘halfway across Australia’ as the crow flies. It is also well known for the Big Galah. I stopped here briefly to stretch the legs and take a few photos.
I then travelled south out of Kimba along the Cleve-Kimba Road and then turned right onto Whitwell Road and on to the Old Cleeve Road. A short distance up the Old Cleeve Road I turned right onto King Hicks Road. The northern section of the park soon came in to view.
I set up in this northern section off King Hicks Road, in a clearing in the scrub. Cleared land for cropping bordered the park at this location.
I was unable to find a lot of information about the Heggaton Conservation Park on the internet. The park is 6,476 hectares in size and is located to the south east of Kimba and the south west of Whyalla. The park which was proclaimed on the 6th September 2012, provides important habitat for the Mallefowl and also the rare Gilbert’s Whistler.
It was quite a mild morning and the flies had not taken a rest from yesterday. They were out in force again and no matter how much insect repellant I applied, it had no effect. There was enough room in the clearing for me to string out the longer 80/40/20m linked dipole which is what I did. I was all set to go by about 0020 UTC (9.50 a.m.). It had taken me a lot longer to get to the park than expected.
My first caller of the morning on 7.144 on 40m was Brian VK5FMID at Mount Gambier who was 5/9. This was followed by Geoff VK3SQ, Les VK5KLV and then Greg VK5ZGY mobile in the South East of South Australia.
About eight contacts into the activation, I had my first Park to Park contact in the log. It was with Rob VK4FFAB who was portable in the Conondale National Park VKFF-0109. Rob’s signal was quite low, 5/4, but he was very readable as there was no man made noise at all on the band from within the park.
Shortly after I made a few QRP contacts. The first was with Peter VK3PF who was 5/5, running just 1 watt. And then Adrian VK5FANA running 5 watts who was 5/9 from the Yorke Peninsula. About 12 QSOs later I was called by Greg VK5GJ running 4 watts from Meadows in the Adelaide Hills. Greg was a terrific 5/9 signal to Heggaton. This was followed by Ian VK5IS running just 5 watts from the Mid North of South Australia, and he too was 5/9. Nev VK5WG, also in the Mid North, followed soon after running 5 watts (5/9 both ways). The 40 m band was in great shape, and despite the quite strong static crashes, I was hearing everyone extremely well.
Peter VK3YE then called in, running just 5 watts, operating as a flagpole station with a kite antenna at Chelsea Bicentennial Park. As it turned out, it was International Talk Like A Pirate Day, on which the Manly Warringah Radio Society run a Flagpole Contest. Peter was a nice 4/4 signal, with Peter receiving me at 5/7 at his end.
But the QRP contact of the activation was with Greg VK5GJ. After initially working him on 4 watts, Greg called back running just 400 milliwatts. Greg had not dropped from a 5/9 down to a 5/2 but was still perfectly readable. He called back shortly afterwards running just 40 milliwatts and had dropped to a 4/1. AMAZING. This was the highlight of this park activation for me. Greg’s QTH was about 300 km to the east of Heggaton, across the Spencer Gulf and the St Vincent Gulf.
I worked a total of 53 stations on 40m before having a quick listen on 20m where I spoke with Cleeve VK2MOR, Lee VK2LEE and then John VK6NU. Finally I headed over to 80m where I logged 2 contacts, Bill VK5MBD at Red Hill in the Mid North of SA, and then Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland region of SA.
Time was marching on, and the weather was moving in rapidly from the west. A lof of rain was predicted and I still had three planned park activations.
Thankyou to the following who spotted me: Rick VK4RF, Robert VK2XXM, Adrian VK5FANA, Lee VK2LEE, and Cleeve VK2MOR.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK4FFAB/p (VKFF-0109)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 80m SSB:-
Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources, Eastern Eyre Peninsula Parks Management Plan 2014