On Tuesday morning (11th October 2016) Andrew VK6AS and I were on the road by 8.30 a.m. and on our way to Mount Gambier. We had a scheduled talk that evening at the clubrooms of the South East Radio Group (SERG). Our talk the previous night at the Blackwood Community Centre, hosted by AHARS, attracted around 100 amateurs from most of the Adelaide metropolitan clubs.
It was a 404 km trip ahead of us and we had decided to activate a park along the way and introduce Andrew to the wonderful world of park activating. However, the weather was not on our side. It was drizzling with rain.
Above:- Map showing our route for the day, down to the South East of South Australia. Map courtesy of plotaroute.com
As we headed further south east, the weather behind us appeared to be quite clear. But ahead of us, the sky was quite black, and light showers accompanied us for most of the drive. I decided to take Andrew to the Mount Monster Conservation Park 5CP-149 and VKFF-0800. Mount Monster is situated around 13 km south of the town of Keith on the Naracoorte/Keith Road (Riddoch Highway).
Above:- Map showing the location of the Mount Monster Conservation Park. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
The park is well signposted on the Highway and is just a short drive down Mount Monster Road, which is dirt but in good condition. As we pulled in to the park, the showers eased a little much to our pleasure. We headed for the main parking area, where the track takes you to Mount Monster peak. We set up the fold up table and the deck chair, and ran my Yaesu FT-857d set at 40 watts, and a 20/40/80m linked dipole, supported on a 7m heavy duty telescopic squid pole.
Above:- Aerial shot of the Mount Monster Conservation Park showing our operating spot within the park. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
Mount Monster Conservation Park is around 95 hectares in size and was dedicated as a Conservation Park in September 1976. The park was originally donated to the South Australian State Government by the Buddle, Ellis and Davis families. The park is noted for the Mount Monster summit, a granite outcrop with rises to a height of 93 metres above sea level. Sadly not a SOTA summit as it does not have the required prominence of 150 metres. Despite it not being the highest summit in the world, Mount Monster offers some terrific views from the trig point. We did not climb to the top on this occasion due to time constraints.
Around 176 different plant species have been recorded in the park, including 30 different types of orchids. One of those, Cradle of Incense is considered to be nationally endangered. The main vegetation located in the park is Blue gum woodland, pink gum/melaleuca woodland, peppermint box/mallee woodland, golden/prickly wattle shrublands, and broombush heath. Sheoaks, banksias and hakeas are also located in the park. The park also protects the endangered monarto mintbush which is found naturally only in two regions of South Australia: at Mount Monster, and also as the name suggests, at Monarto.
The park is home to a wide variety of native wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas. Birdlife here is also plentiful as we found out. Galahs, wrens, and a large number of Red rumped parrots were seen during our visit.
The former Gold Escort route passes through Mount Monster Conservation Park. This is the route that was used to bring gold from the Victorian goldfields into South Australia. Commissioner Alexander Tolmer led the first of 18 police escorts of gold between March 1852 to December 1853. A total of 528,509 ounces of gold were conveyed along this route.
Above:- Map showing the Gold Escort route from Victoria into South Australia. Image courtesy of http://www.prospectingaustralia.com
I had been to the park previously, but this was prior to Mount Monster being added to the World Wide Flora & Fauna (WWFF) program, so I was keen to get my 10 contacts to qualify the park for the Australian (VKFF) chapter of the program. But it was unlikely that I would have sufficient time to get the required 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global program. I started off, calling CQ on 7.144 on 40m, and first in the log was Brian VK3BBB. This was followed by Ken VK3UH, Dennis VK2HHA and then Scott VK7NWT. All had 5/9 signals to Mount Monster.
After I had my ten contacts in the log I handed the mic over to Andrew. This was Andrew’s first ever park activation. Andrew had soon reached his required quota of 10 contacts as well, and had qualified the park. I worked a further 5 stations on 40m, before we lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole for 80m.
Andrew worked a total of 8 stations on 80m in the Adelaide Hills, the Murraylands region of SA, western Victoria, and Mount Gambier. On 80m for me I spoke with John VK5BJE, Brian VK5FMID, and Adrian VK5FANA. We also put a few calls out on 14.310 on 20m but sadly had no takers there.
Fortunately the rain had held off during our activation. But time was marching on and we were keen to get to Mount Gambier, so it was away with the gear and back on the road. I had a total of 18 contacts in the log, which means another trip back to this park to pick up the remaining 26 contacts required for the WWFF global program.
Many thanks to Adrian VK5FANA for spotting us on parksnpeaks.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
- John VK5BJE
- Brian VK5FMID
- Adrian VK5FANA
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1997, Mount Monster Management Plan.
Friends of Parks South Australia, 2016, <http://www.friendsofparkssa.org.au/members-directory/friends-of-mount-monster>, viewed 13th October 2016
Sydney Morning Herald, 2016, <http://www.smh.com.au/news/South-Australia/Keith/2005/02/17/1108500204330.html>, viewed 13th October 2016