After leaving Mount Bryan, Marija and I continued on the Dares Hill Tourist drive. Our next planned stop was the Caroona Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0875 and 5CP-037. The park is situated about 200 km north of Adelaide and around 35 km north east of Burra. This was to be a unique park for both Marija and I for both the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, and the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Caroona Creek Conservation Park in the Mid North of South Australia. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
We access the park via Dare Road which runs off Mount Bryan Road East. The park is well signposted. Please note that access to the park is via 4WD only. The signs indicate this, and we soon found out why.
To reach the park you need to cross a handful of small creek crossings. Depending on what time of the year you are travelling to the park, they can be flowing extremely well. The track is also very rocky and I would definitely not recommend trying this in a conventional vehicle. From what I have read on the internet it appears that access could be made via car from the eastern side of the park.
We soon reached the gate at the park boundary.
Caroona Creek Conservation Park is 4,630 hectares in size and is situated on the western edge of the Olary Plain. It was gazetted on the 16th October 2014. The park contains a range of landforms from steep rocky ridges and calcrete hills extending to alluvial plains. Caroona Creek conserves a representative sample of the transitional zone between the rounded hills of the Mid North to the beginning of the rocky gorge country of the Flinders Ranges. The northern area of the park contains the beautiful Tourilie Gorge and its surrounding rugged hilly terrain.
Although the park appears remote and desolate, there is a lot of life here. Kangaroos, emus, Euros, and a large amount of birdlife can be found in the park. A number of the plants were in flower during our visit.
There are no major facilities in the park. Touralie Gorge hut can be found towards the northern side of the park. There is a small shelter in the southern section of the park, and in the south eastern corner there is the main camp ground which contains an old shed.
As we were a bit short of time we set up a few hundred metres inside the park boundary from the gate we entered.
Above: Map showing our operating spot in the park. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
It was a warm day and there were no trees to afford any shade, so we rolled out the awning on the Toyota Hi Lux and operated from underneath the shade of the awning. For this activation Marija and I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, and the 80/40/20m linked dipole, supported on the 7m telescopic squid pole. I ran 40 watts and Marija ran her 10 watts.
I was not optomistic about getting my 44 contacts to qualify the park for WWFF program, but Marija kept encouraging me to be positive. I started off first on the mic and called CQ on 7.144. This was answered by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, with a beautiful 5/9 signal. Brett VK3FLCS followed, along with Ivan VK5HS and Les VK5KLV. It wasn’t long before I had my 10 contacts and I had qualified the park for the Australian chapter (VKFF) of WWFF.
It was now Marija’s turn to qualify the park. Marija’s first contact was with David VK5HYZ, followed by Greg VK5ZGY, Les VK5KLV, and Ivan VK5HS. Marija also racked up her 10 contacts quite quickly, which included a contact with Matt VK1MA who was on Mount Ginini VK1/ AC-008 in the Namadgi National Park VKFF-0377, and Gerard VK2IO who was on the top of Mount Elliot VK2/ HU-093.
I then took over the reigns of the mic again and slowly worked towards my 44 contacts. And it was slow going! The band conditions seemed to be quite good, with good signals from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7. But there wasn’t a consistent flow of callers. The 40m band was even open down to Adelaide, with a number of VK5’s logged, including Damien VK5FDEC who was running just 2.5 watts. I worked a total of 33 stations on 40m, before deciding to try my luck on 20m.
But I was to be sadly let down. I only worked two stations on 14.310 and they being Barry VK3LBW and Adam VK2YK mobile. We really needed to pack up and hit the road, and I had fallen short of the 44 required QSOs, by just 9 contacts. Oh well, a good excuse to come back to this park for the final contacts and further exploring in the 4WD.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK2IO/p (SOTA VK2/ HU-093)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK1MA/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-008 & VKFF-0377)
- VK2IO/p (SOTA VK2/ HU-093)
After leaving Caroona Creek we continued our trip along the Dare Hill circuit, travelling north east on Mount Bryan Road East and then along Wilkins Drive to the now restored Wilkins Homestead.
Sir George Hubert Wilkins was born at Mount Bryan East in 1888, the youngest of 13 children. He went to the local school and then continued his studies at the School of Mines in Adelaide where he studied electrical engineering. In 1909 he travelled to England where he became interested in aviation. Wilkins spent 3 years with an Arctic expedition as a photographer, and in 1916 he joined the Great War. He was awarded the Military Cross for his efforts in rescuing wounded soldiers during the Third Battle of Ypres.
Following the war, he took part in the famous England to Australia air race. This won fame for Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, but unfortunately Wilkins crashed his aircraft named ‘Kangaroo’ at Crete and was unable to complete the race.
In 1927 he made several unsuccessful attempts to fly over the Arctic and was stranded on an ice pack, having to walk for 13 days to reach habitation. He was later successful, and made several flights over the Arctic, receiving a Knighthood for his efforts.
Wilkins died in the USA in 1958. The US Navy later took his ashes to the North Pole aboard the submarine USS Skate on 17 March 1959 and his ashes were scattered at the North Pole in accordance with his wishes. The Wilkins Sound, WIlkins Coast and Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antractica are named after him, as are the airport at Jamestown in the Mid North of South Australia, and a road at the Adelaide Airport.
Australian entrepeneur Dick Smith provided financial support and inspiration for the restoration of the Wilkins homestead. Smith stated:
“In practically any other country other than Australia, his birthplace would be a national shrine. But here, many people don’t even know that it exists. Well, we’re going to change that”.
More information on Wilkins can be found at……
Above: Sir George Hubert Wilkins (left) and the Detroit Arctic Expedition (right). Images courtesy of wikipedia.
We then stopped at the old Mount Bryan East township, which is now desterted. The old school which operated between 1885 to 1919, and the church are all that is now left.
We then reached the Dare’s Hill summit which offers amazing views. Dares Hill is named after William Dare, a Mid North pastoralist. He was born in 1824 in London and migrated to Australia at age 14. After working at grubbing trees in Adelaide, he was employed as a shepherd in the Barossa Valley. In 1852 he went to the Victorian goldfields and made good. On returning to South Australia, he secured a lease on 50 square miles of country known as Pilitimitappa which, with the help of the local aborigines, he fences and stocked with sheep. He ran this property for 35 years. The ruins of the Dare homestead are located in the valley below the lookout. Dare died in 1892, having survived three wives.
We then entered into the Collinsville Station property, over the stock grid. Out next stop was the Pilitmitiappa homestead ruins, which were established by William Dare in the 1850′. It was one of the earliest homesteads in the area.
Coillinsville Station was established by John Collins in 1889. The Collinsville property is world renowned for its stud rams and excellent wool. The stud wasresponsible for about one third of the genetics in the Australian sheep flock. In 2011, following floods in a nearby creek, the bones of a Diprotdon were found on the property. A team from the South Australian Museum subsequently found a full adult skeleton nearby. More information on Collinsville can be found at…..
We then stopped at the old Ketchowla Station which was established in 1852 by Christopher Giles, father of explorers Ernest and Alfred. Christopher Giles had only arrived in the colony of South Australia in 1849. The old shearing shed was extremely interesting with the names and dates of various shearers painted on the wall of the shed.
As we continued along the circuit, the old wooden telegraph poles came into view. It was also quite slow going, as there were plently of kangaroos out and about. We also briefly stopped to have a look at Dave’s Hut ruins. This little hut was built by David Dearlove if Ketchowla in the 1930’s and it became a popular stopover for travellers. Sadly all that remains now is the fireplace and chimney.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2011, ‘Parks of the Mid North’
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collinsville_Station>, viewed 4th January 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia>, viewed 4th January 2017