My second planned park activation for Friday 16th September 2016 was the Ironstone Hill Conservation Park, VKFF-0895 and 5CP-095, just a relatively short drive away from Munyaroo Conservation Park. The park is around 50 km south west of Whyalla.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Ironstone Hill Conservation Park on the Eyre Peninsula. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
Ironstone Hill Conservation Park was proclaimed on the 26th August 2010. The park’s total are is 19,650 hectares (196.50 km2). Sections 10 and 13 of the park, comprising 5,862 ha, were added to the park on 6th September 2012. Prior to be declared a Conservation Park, the land was part of the Shirrocoe Pastoral Lease. In 2014, the conservation park was described as being “particularly significant for the protection of sandy dunes, which are preferred habitat of the endangered Sandhill Dunnart.
Above:- A Sandhill Dunnart. Image courtesy of Australia & Pacific Science Foundation
The park is predominantly malle vegetation, and protects various plant species including the Desert Greenhood and Sandalwood which are listed as vulnerable under the National Parks and Wildlife Act“. The conservation park is bounded on its western side by the private protected area, the Secret Rocks Nature Reserve. Arium’s Iron Duke mine is situated immediately to the east of the park.
Over 60 species of birds have been recorded in the park including Mulga Parrots, White-eared Honeyeaters, Weebill, Striated Pardalote, Willy Wagtail, and Jacky Winter. Mallee Fowl have been sighted in the park, and many have fallen victim to traffic on the surrounding roads. A series of powerpoint presentations were delivered in January 2012, by the Environmental Representative of HWE Mining Pty Ltd. This was to raise awareness of the presence of Mallefowl on the Lincoln Highway, south of the Iron Duke mine towards Cowell. Notices were also placed in crib-rooms and small items submitted in work bulletins. It wasn’t long before mine workers began reporting sightings of Malleefowl on the entrance road to the mine.
Above:- A Mallefowl. Image courtesy of wikipedia.
Above:- Aerial shot showing the park and its proximity to the mine. Image courtesy of Google Maps.
I entered the park off the Lincoln Highway, to the south west of the entry into the Arium mine. There is a small section of the park here that abuts the Lincoln Highway. However, it is not signposted, so please ensure that you are within the boundaries of the park.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the park. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
A large portion of the park appeared to be recovering from a fire. I have since read that a controlled burn took place in the park in September last year. I suspect it is still recovering from that. But in amongst the burnt vegetation, there were a number of flowering plants.
A very significant fire burnt through the park back in 1991, and crossed the Lincoln Highway into surrounding countryside.
Again for this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 80/40/20m linked dipole. I was ready to go by just after 0630 UTC (4.00 p.m. South Australian local time). I immediately headed to 7.144 again and found Les VK5KLV who was still in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757. After working Les he kindly handed the frequency over to me, and a mini pile up soon ensued. The first caller being Mick VK3GGG, followed by Rob VK4AAC/3 and then Ross VK7ALH.
The flies here were no less forgiving than Munyaroo, and they were joined in tag team action by mosquitos. And no matter how much insect repellant I applied, they would not take no for an answer.
Nine QSOs into the activation I had a further Park to Park contact in the log. This was with Rob VK4FFAB who was portable in Conondale National Park VKFF-0109. Rob had an excellent 5/8 signal to me, and reciprocated with a 5/9 for me.
I worked a total of 40 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. Band conditions were very good, and the frequency was very quiet until around 45 minutes into the activation when a ZL4 came up on 7.143 calling CQ.
I then QSY’d to 20m and commenced calling CQ on 14.310. This was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, followed by Gyula HA6OB in Hungary, Jonathan VK6JON/7, and finally Peter VK4PHD. Sadly despite conditions appearing to be quite good, I had no further callers on 20m. The Over the Horizon Radar did not help and was running at strength 8-9 to me.
I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the links for the 80m section of the antenna and started calling CQ on 3.610. This was answered by Marc VK3OHM who was 5/9 to me, but who was sadly struggling with noise at his end. Next was Adrian VK5FANA (5/9 both ways), and then Nev VK5WG who was running QRP from his little X1M transceiver. I worked a further 7 stations on 80m from VK2, VK3, and VK5. All with great signals. Who says that 80m is only open at night!
It was now just after 5.30 p.m. and the sun was starting to set. I still had the Whyalla Conservation Park to activate, so it was time to pack up and hit the road.
Other than the amazing sunset, I was also rewarded with a glorious full moon which occasionally darted in behind the clouds.
I had a total of 55 contacts in the log and another successful and unique VKFF park activation completed.
Thanks to the following stations who spotted me: Mick VK3GGGG, Marc VK3OHM, Adrian VK5FANA and Rick VK4RF.
Birds SA, 2016, <http://www.birdssa.asn.au/location/ironstone-hill-conservation-park/>, viewed 21st September 2016
National Mallefowl Recovery Team, 2012, ‘Around the Mounds’ newsletter, Spring 2012 Edition Two.
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironstone_Hill_Conservation_Park>, viewed 21st September 2016