Marne Valley Conservation Park VKFF-0906

My first activation for Sunday 27th November 2016 and day two of the 2016 VKFF Activation Weekend was the Marne Valley Conservation Park VKFF-0906, which is located about 30 km north of Mannum , about 4 km east of the little town of Cambrai, and around 100 km north east of Adelaide.

I had been to this park a number of times previously and had qualified it for both the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

Screen Shot 2016-11-24 at 9.31.26 pm.jpg

Above:- Map showing the location of the Marne Valley Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Marne Valley was proclaimed on the 11th March 1976, and is 94 hectares in size.  The park is bisected by the Marne River.  The river valley formed part of the main Adelaide to Sydney stock route.

The major vegetation association in the Park is a River Red Gum open forest, with an understorey dominated by introduced species. This community extends from beside the watercourses, across the low-lying portions of the park. The other vegetation communities present in the park are tall open woodlands dominated by Mallee Box (E. porosa), and Narrow-leaved Mallee (E. foecunda) and Mallee Box and White Mallee (E. dumosa).

In the south western comer, along the eastern central boundary, and along the northern boundary the native vegetation has been largely cleared. The cleared areas are low open shrublands dominated by various exotic grasses and ephemerals and Small-leaved Bluebush (Maireana brevifolia), Climbing Twinleaf (Zygophyllum eremaeum), Bassia (Sclerolaena uniflora), Balcarra Grass (Austrostipa nitida), and Bladder Saltbush (Atriplex vesicaria).

Much of the surrounding land was cleared of many of its Red Gums by the early 1900’s.  A saw mill was located in the area, and the local red gum was considered superior to many other varieties for use as railway sleepers.

A large amount of birdlife can be found in the park including Adelaide Rosellas, Mallee Ringneck parrots, Brown Treecreepers, White Plumed Honeyeaters, and Striated Pardlotes.  Western Grey kangaroos call the park home.

The Marne River which passes through the park was originally known as the South Rhine River, with the nearby town of Cambrai originally being known as Rhine Villa.  However it was one of many Australian towns renamed during World War One to remove any connection with German place names and named after the Battle of Cambrai.

To get to the park from my home I drove out along Onkaparinga Valley Road through the towns of Woodside, Charleston, and then on to Birdwood and Mount Pleasant.  After leaving Mount Pleasant I started the decent out of the Mount Lofty Ranges and onto the Murray River plain along the Angas Valley Road.  There are some nice views from here out towards the east.

I then turned onto Ridley Road and it wasn’t long before I reached the Marne River, just on the outskirts of the town of Cambrai.

The gum trees here along the river were absolutely alive with very noisy Corellas.

I continued on into Cambrai and then turned right onto Black Hill Road and commenced to travel east towards the Marne Valley Conservation Park.  There are a number of turf farms here, and the lush green lawns broke up the already dry surrounding countryside.

As I drove towards the park I made contact with Gerard VK2IO who was portable in the Upper Nepean State Conservation Area VKFF-1386.  Gerard had a very nice signal into the mobile.

I then reached the southern boundary of the park on Black Hill Road.  This is from where I have operated in the past.  What I did notice this time was that the vegetation leading to the park boundary was very overgrown.  It worried me a bit as it was already a warn day and I was very cognisant of snakes.


I parked the Hi Lux near the southern gate, which is locked.  However, the fence alongside of the gate is in a very bad state of repair and is easily stepped over.  I set up my fold up table, deck chair, the Yaesu FT-857d and the 80/40/20m linked dipole on the 7 metre squid pole.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Marne Valley Conservation Park, showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

Sadly the previous access track into the park at this location which lead to a picnic area near the Marne River is no longer accessible.  This part of the park is the River Red Gum forest and it afforded me shade from the already hot sun.

I was up and ready to go by around 9.15 a.m. South Australian local time.  Prior to calling CQ I tracked down Gerard VK2IO so I could get a Park to Park contact with him from Upper Nepean State Conservation Area VKFF-1386.  As it was a Sunday morning, many of the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) broadcasts were occurring from 7.130 and above, so 7.144 was not an option for me to operate from.  I headed to 7.095 and started calling CQ.  This was answered by Mick VK3PMG/VK3GGG, followed by Joe VK3YSP, and then Peter VK5KPR who was portable in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757.

I went on to work a total of 28 stations on 40m including another Park to Park contact, with Les VK5KLV who was with Peter in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757.  Band conditions on 40m were less than ideal, with signals being quite well down compared to normal.  Callers for me came from VK1, VK3, VK3, and VK5.

I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the links for the 80m section and headed off to 3.610.  I started calling CQ and this was answered by Adrian VK5FANA who was activating the Eastern Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1706.  Adrian was very low down, as I was to Adrian.  But we were able to hear each other perfectly and exchanged 5/1 signal reports.  Sadly I had no mobile phone coverage and I was not able to spot myself on parksnspeaks, so around 5 minutes of CQ calls on 80m went unanswered.

I then headed to 14.310 on 20m and started calling CQ.  This was answered by Ray VK4XXX.  What a great suffix.  Next up was Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who had a very strong 5/9 signal.  Rick was kind enough to replay an SMS message to my wife Marija to let her know I was safe in the park.  Thanks Rick, greatly appreciated.  I then worked Neil VK4HNS, Park to Park.  Neil was activating the Moogerah Peaks National Park VKFF-0326.

As 15m had performed well the day before, I then headed to 21.244 where I called CQ and this was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, followed by Neil VK4HNS in the Moogerah Peaks National Park VKFF-0326, then Rob VK4FFAB, and finally Ray VK4NH.  The 15m band was certainly open to Queensland, with signals being quite good, ranging from strength 7 to strength 3.  Sadly I then started to experience some QRM from a JA1 who started calling CQ 1 kc above me on 21.245.  I gave him a shout but he was unable to hear me.  I then tuned across the 15m band and heard no further signals, so I headed back to 40m.

Before propping on a frequency and calling CQ, I tuned across the band and logged a few more Park to Park contacts.  These were with Rob VK2QR in the Brindabella National Park VKFF-0054, Tony VK3VX/p in the Werribee Gorge State Park VKFF-0775, Ian VK1DI in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve VKFF-0989, and Adrian VK5FANA/ P in the Eastern Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1706.

I then started calling CQ on 7.105 where I logged a further 11 stations.  This included two more Park to Park contacts with Rob VK4AAC/3 in the Cobboboonee National Park VKFF-0728, and Neil VK4HNS/p in the Moogerah Peaks National Park VKFF-0326.  This was my third band for Neil.  I also had an interesting contact with Glenn VK3YY who was operating pedestrin mobile/portable from Lysterfield Park.  Glenn was using his Elecraft KX2 handheld, with the internal microphone and a loaded whip on the radio.  Glen had a good 5/7 signal and he reciprocated with a nice 5/8 for me.


Things were pretty slow, so I again tuned across the band and logged a further five Park to Park contacts before going QRT.  The P2P contacts were with Greg VK5ZGY/p in the Dingley Dell Conservation Park VKFF-1025, Andrew VK7DW/p in the Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve VKFF-1145, Tom VK5EE and Col VK5HCF both activating the Penola Conservation Park VKFF-0803, and finally Peter VK3PF/p who was in the Colquhoun Regional Park VKFF-0962.

After about 2 and 1/2 hours in the park I had a total of 58 contacts in the log on 15m, 20m, 40m and 80m.  This included 17 Park to Park contatcs.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO/p (Upper Nepean State Conservation Area VKFF-1386)
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK3GGG
  4. VK3YSP
  5. VK5KPR/p (Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757)
  6. VK5HCF
  7. VK3SQ
  8. VK3DAC
  9. VK5KLV/p (Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757)
  10. VK2GKA
  11. VK3PF
  12. VK3SFG
  13. VK2VW
  14. VK3NBI/p
  15. VK3MIJ
  16. VK2XXM
  17. VK3MRH
  18. VK2PKT
  19. VK3XPT
  20. VK2VU
  21. VK3PAT
  22. VK3MLU
  23. VK1AD
  24. VK3FPHG
  25. VK2MTC
  26. VK2KYO
  27. VK3ARH
  28. VK6MB
  29. VK2QR/p (Brindabella National Park VKFF-0054)
  30. VK3VX/p (Werribee Gorge State Park VKFF-0775)
  31. VK1DI/p (Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve VKFF-0989)
  32. VK5FANA/ P (Eastern Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1706)
  33. VK3CM
  34. VK5FMID
  35. VK3FSPG
  36. VK3YY/p
  37. VK3FOTO/m
  38. VK3FRAB
  39. VK7FPRN
  40. VK4AAC/3 (Cobboboonee National Park VKFF-0728)
  41. VK5NFT
  42. VK4HNS/p (Moogerah Peaks National Park VKFF-0326)
  43. VK3BHR
  44. VK5ZGY/p (Dingley Dell Conservation Park VKFF-1025)
  45. VK7DW/p (Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve VKFF-1145)
  46. VK5EE/p (Penola Conservation Park VKFF-0803)
  47. VK5HCF/p (Penola Conservation Park VKFF-0803)
  48. VK3PF/p (Colquhoun Regional Park VKFF-0962)

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA/p (Eastern Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1706)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4XXX
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK4HNS/p (Moogerah Peaks National Park VKFF-0326)

I worked the following stations on 15m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK4HNS/p (Moogerah Peaks National Park VKFF-0326)
  4. VK4FFAB
  5. VK4NH



Birds SA, 2016, <;, viewed

National Parks and Wildlife, 1994, ‘Marne Valley Conservation Park Management Plan’

Cockburn R, 1990, South Australia What’s in a Name?

2 thoughts on “Marne Valley Conservation Park VKFF-0906

  1. Hi Chris,

    Yes this area is quite rich in history with the Prussian emigrants. A lot of people mention German, but there was no such country back in those days, it was the Kingdom of Prussia…….current day Germany, parts of Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, etc.


    Paul VK5PAS

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