After leaving the Heggaton Conservation Park I made my way to The Plug Range Conservation Park VKFF-1107 and 5CP-231. The Plug Range is located about
Above:- Map showing the location of The Plug Range Conservation Park on Eyre Peninsula. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
I thought that this was going to be a short 30 minute drive from Heggaton and I would be there. But that was not to be! I drove down the Mangalo-Kielpa Road into the little area of Mangalo, which is easily identified as there are two large grain silos at the intersection with Burton Road.
Above:- the grain silos at Mangalo
I then drove north on Burton Road, heading towards what I thought was the park. Unfortunately mobile phone coverage was very poor and it wasn’t long before I was lost. Fortunately a local lady came along and kindly turned her car around and guided me to where I wanted to be to get into the park. I am very appreciative of this. It was a set of gates on Watchanie Road with a dirt track leading towards the scrub through a farming property. Definitely no signs for this park.
Above: the track leading into the park (is actually a part of the park).
I drove to the end of the track and soon entered the scrub. The dirt track leading to the scrub is actually part of the park. You can see the narrow thin green line on the aerial below, which is the track leading to the park. I set up off a little track following a ridgeline in the south western corner of the park.
Above:- Aerial shot of The Plug Range Conservation Park, showing my operating spot in the south western section of the park. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
The Plug Range Conservation Park was established on the 6th September 2012 and comprises 2,582 hectares. The park is surrounded by farming land. Again, I could find very little on this park on the internet.
Above:- Aerial shot from Google Maps showing the location of The Plug Range Conservation Park in relation to Heggaton Conservation Park.
The wet weather was moving in fast and I had my doubts that I was going to get my 44 contacts from the park before the rain started coming down. I was on air at around 0315 UTC (1.45 p.m. local time), with my first contact in the log being a Park to Park contact with Adam VK2YK in the Glenrock State Conservation Area VKFF-1319. I then moved down the band to 7.130 and started calling CQ. This was answered by Mick VK3GGG who was mobile in the Grampians National Park VKFF-0213. Next up was Gerard VK2IO, followed by Chris VK5FR, and then Tony VK5MRT.
As the rain was fast approaching I moved through each QSO quite quickly during this activation. The band was completely devoid of any man made noise, but the static crashes were very strong from the nearby storms. I had reached contact number 40 within 30 minutes of activating. This was with Brian VK3BBB, when the heavens opened up. Damn, I had 4 more contacts to get in the log to qualify the park. So it was back to the 4WD and out with the bothy bag.
I returned to the deck chair and the fold up table, huddled underneath the bothy bag, and worked a further 5 stations before hurriedly going QRT. My last contact was with Steve VK5SFA. The rain was that heavy, that water was starting to seap through the bothy bag. So out from underneath the bothy bag I came, and I commenced packing up the gear in the rain. This normally only takes me around 2 minutes, but it was enough for me to be like a wet rat.
Unfortunately I did not have time or the opportunity to try any bands other than 40m during this activation. The rain had beaten me. But I had qualified the park with a total of 45 contacts.
Many thanks to the following stations who spotted me: Brett VK3FLCS, Rick VK4RF, and Robert VK2XXM.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK2YK/p (VKFF-1319)
- VK3GGG/p (VKFF-0213)
- VK3PMG/p (VKFF-0213)
Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources, Eastern Eyre Peninsula Parks Management Plan 2014