Day two of our road trip was Wednesday 12th October 2016 and this involved a 451 km drive from Mount Gambier in the south east of South Australia to Barmera in the Riverland region. This took Andrew and I along the Riddoch Highway through the wine growing region of the Coonawarra to Narracoorte, and then along the Narracoorte Road through Western Flat to Bordertown. From there we took the Ngarkat Road which dissects the extremely large and remote Ngarkat Conservation Park.
Above:- Map showing our route on day two, from Mount Gambier to Barmera, Map courtesy of plotaroute.com
As mentioned this is quite a remote area, and as you travel through the 270,000 hectare Ngarkat Conservation Park, all you can see for miles and miles is the mallee scrub of the park. To put this into perspective, Luxembourg in Europe could fit into the park quite comfortably.
After a brief stop at the Pinnaroo bakery for some lunch we continued north on the Browns Well Highway, following the South Australian/Victorian State border just to our east. Prior to reaching our intended destination of Barmera, Andrew and I agreed we would stop off at the Peebinga Conservation Park 5CP-173 and VKFF-0830 and activate the park.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Peebinga Conservation Park, near the SA/VIC State border. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
I had activated Peebinga twice previously. The first being in November 2013, and then again in November last year following the park being added to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. Sadly on that occasion I had not reached the 44 QSO threshold required to qualify the park for the global WWFF program. So I was keen to pick up a few more QSOs to get over the line.
For information and photos on my previous activations, have a look at the following links…..
Andrew and I set up near the intesection of Browns Well Highway and Kringin Road, in the north eastern corner of the park.
Above:- Aerial shot of the park showing our operating spot in the north eastern corner. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
Peebinga Conservation Park is about 3,400 hectares in size and is located abut 240 km east of Adelaide and just 10 km west of the South Australian/Victorian State border. The park was originally used for agriculture but was eventually gazetted as a park to preserve the habitat of the rare Western Whipbird which is now believed to be locally extinct. The park has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) as it supports a large population of Malleefowl.
Vegetation within the park varies as some of it has been cleared and remains grassland. The remainder of the park is characterised by low stabalised sand dunes with opern scrub featuring Ridge-fruited and Seldner-leaved Mallee with Warty Cypress over Broom Bush. The higher areas of the park have Square-fruited, Red-fruited, Red and White Mallee. Over 150 different native flora species have been recorded in the park, with 14 of those being of conservation significance.
We set up close to the old railway line which once passed through this area of South Australia. The Peebinga railway line was opened on 28th December 1914 and ran east for a distance of 106km, from Karoonda and terminated at Peebinga, just 2 km from the Victorian State border. The line was closed on 7th December 1990. The cost of construction of the line was £207,000 plus £56,690 for rolling stock
I started off calling CQ on 7.144 and first contact in the log was Col VK5HCF, followed by Dennis VK2HHA and then Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG. Despite no warning given of the activation, and the fact that it was a workday, we soon had a steady flow of callers from VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK5. I logged a total of 21 stations and then handed the mic over to Andrew. The novel contact of the afternoon for me was with Adrian VK2ALF who was bicycle mobile.
After Andrew had qualified the park I put out a few final 40m calls and logged a further 7 contacts. We then lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed to 3.610 on 80m. Andrew made a total of contacts there, but conditions were quite difficult. To conclude the activation, we put out a few CQ calls on 20m, but sadly had no callers there.
The flies were certainly out in force during our activation at Peebinga.
Thanks to Mick VK3GGG, Col VK5HCF, and Peter VK3PF for spotting us on parksnpeaks.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK2ALF/m (bicycle mobile)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2011, Reserves of the Billiatt District Management Plan 2011
Mallee Highway Touring Route, 2016, <http://www.malleehighway.com.au/html/parks-sa-mallee.html#peebinga>, viewed 14th October 2016
Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peebinga_railway_line>, viewed 14th October 2016