For yesterday’s Friday afternoon/evening event (Friday 20th January 2016) for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award, I headed out to the Warren Conservation Park 5CP-247 and VKFF-0941. The park is situated about 60 km north east of Adelaide and about 5 km south east of the town of Williamstown, in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Warren Conservation Park, north east of Adelaide. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
I last activated the Warren Conservation Park in August 2015 and on that occasion, due to very poor band conditions, I only managed to work a total of 14 stations. So I needed a total of 30 more contacts to qualify the park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. For WWFF, a total of 44 contacts are required for the park to be qualified for the global WWFF program. I had also activated the park way back in July 2013 as part of the VK5 Parks Award (prior to the park being added to WWFF). So this was to be my third time to the park.
Details on my prior activations can be found at…..
Warren Conservation Park is 364 hectares in size and was first proclaimed in 1966. It was re-proclaimed as Warren Conservation Park on the 27th April 1972. The park is named after the Hundred of Warren, which in turn was named in honour of John Warren (1830-1914), who was an Australian pastoralist and politician. More information can be found at: http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/warren-john-1198
Above:- The Hon. John Warren. Image courtesy of wikipedia.
The park is characterised by steep country with views over forests, the nearby Warren and South Para Reservoirs, pastures and bushland, above the spectacular Warren Gorge. The park comprises Messmate stringybark, Pink Gum, Hakeas, Native Currant, Flame Heath, and long-leaved box woodland. The park contains numerous native orchids, rock ferns, and lilies.
The park is a haven for some of Australia’s rarest animals. Native animals that call the park home include Western Grey kangaroos, echidnas, and lizards. Numerous birds can be spotted in the park including Superb Fairywrens, Crescent Honeyeaters, Australian Golden Whistler, White-throated Treecreepers, Bassian Thrush and Grey Currawongs
There are a number of spectacular walks through the park. This includes the famous Heysen Trail. On a clear day, the Yorke Peninsula on the other side of Gulf St Vincent can be seen.
I left home after placing an alert on parksnpeaks, and the various Facebook sites and headed north through Nairne, Woodside and on to Lobethal. I then took the Kenton Valley Road to Gumeracha, the home of the Big Rocking Horse, and then north on the Forreston Road, passing through the little town of Forreston, which is about 9 km south of the park (by road). The town was named after Alexander Forrest who arrived in South Australia in 1848, and settled in the Forreston area by 1850. By 1858, the village of Forreston had been laid out, with a post office, store, wine shop (every town has to have one of these), wheelwright, blacksmith (run by Forreston himself), butcher, and school.
In 1884, gold was found by John Watts in nearby Watts Gully, near the current day Warren Conservation Park. In fact it was Watts Gully Road that I was headed for. The area yielded gold nuggets as large as 14 ounces. As a result, Forreston boomed as a little town. From articles I have read on TROVE, it appears the area’s population swelled, with around 350-400 persons working on the diggings. Today very little remains, and don’t blink because you may miss the town.
Above: – Article from the ‘Evening News’ dated Sat 20 June 1885. Courtesy of Trove.
This is a beautiful part of the Adelaide Hills with quite steep terrain and it wasn’t long before I reached the Mount Crawford Forest, a grouping of several forest areas controlled by the South Australian Government. The largest of those encompasses the area around Mount Crawford. The forest consists of both pine and native eucalypt plantations.
The Warren Conservation Park can be accessed by walkers from the nearby Hale Conservation Park or from the Tower Track in the nearby Mount Crawford Forest. Or there is a small parking area off Watts Gully Road in the south western corner of the park, which is where I accessed the park.
Above:- Aerial shot of my operating spot in the south western corner of the Warren Conservation Park. Image courtesy of Protected Planet.
I parked the Hi Lux just outside the entry to the park, and started unpacking, carrying the gear to a shaded area under a large gum tree. There is a boardwalk at the entry to the park and this leads to the Heysen Trail. The area either side of the boardwalk was quite overgrown compared to the last time I was in the park. And due to the fact it was a warm day I made a point of making a bit of noise to hopefully scare of any snakes that may have been in the area enjoying the afternoon sun.
As I was setting up it was immediately noticeable that the park was absolutely alive with Superb Fairy wrens. They were everywhere. They are a small insect eating bird, who often come quite close to humans. The male has rich blue and black plumage on the upper body, whilst the female is mostly brown.
I ran my normal set up for this activation, comprising the Yaesu FT-857, 40 watts output, and the 80/40/20m linked dipole, supported on the 7 metre telescopic heavy duty squid pole. I headed to my nominated operating frequency of 7.144 on the 40m band and started calling CQ. This was immediately answered by Peter VK5KPR at Port Augusta in the north of the state, which a beautiful strong 5/9 signal. This was followed by Les VK5KLV who was operating portable in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757. Les was also booming through, and it was nice to get a Park to Park contact in the log. This was followed by a call from Deryk VK4FDJL/2 who was in the Goulburn River National Park VKFF-0211. Deryk was not specifically participating in the WWFF from the park, and I explained to him about the WWFF program. Hopefully I can recruit another park activator.
Band conditions on 40m seemed to be down a little, with signals from Victoria being much lower than usual. There were strength 6-7 static crashes present, but as is the case in the vast majority of park and SOTA activations, there was absolutely no man made noise, e.g. plasma TV noise, solar inverter, etc
Unfortunately around 10 contacts into the activation I started to experience some interference (QRM) from a net on 7.146. I have politely asked these gentlemen to move in the past and sadly they have declined to move. So I grit my teeth and grinned and bared the bleedover, being able to comfortably work most stations that were calling me.
Fortunately the interference held off just long enough for me to work Adrian VK5FANA who was portable in the Eastern Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1706 on the Yorke Peninsula. Adrian was very weak, but was perfectly readable due to the non existant man made noise in Warren. I went on to work a total of 35 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.
I then headed over to 20m where I called CQ on 14.310. This was answered by John VK6NU in Western Australia who was quite weak, but a successful exchange of signal reports meant that the contact was good. I only logged a further 3 stations on 20m. They being Alan VK4ALA, and then park stalwart Rick VK4RF/VK4HA. Signals from Queensland on the 20m band were noticeably lower than usual.
I then inserted the links in the linked dipole and headed off to the 80m band, hoping to get some South Australian hams in the log. It was apparent from conditions on 40m, that close in propagation was non existant on that band. My first contact on 80m was with John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills (5/9 both ways). This was followed by Trevor VK5TW (5/9 both ways) and then Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG in western Victoria (5/8 sent and 5/7 received). Adrian VK5FANA called in, with another Park to Park logged from the Eastern Spencer Gulf Marine Park (5/5 both ways). Despite conditions being quite good on 80m, I only logged 2 further contacts, they being with Mike VK5FMWW/VK5FVSV.
Time was marching on, and it was now 7.30 p.m. local time (0830 UTC). I hadn’t planned on being in the park this long and I was absolutely starving hungry. But I put out a few more CQ calls on 40m hoping to pick up some of the park hunters that had missed me on the first go around on 40m. I logged 7 contacts on 7.144, including Lewis VK6LDX who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Shadforth VK6/ SW-054. Lewis had an excellent 5/8 signal coming in from south western Western Australia, near Albany.
But callers were few and far between, so I had a quick look across the band and found Robert VK7VZ speaking with Beth MW0VOW in Wales. I tried giving Beth a call but sadly she was not able to pull me out of the noise. I was a little disapointed as this would have been a new country for me on 40m whilst operating portable.
John VK6VZZ mobile gave me a shout and we moved a little higher up the band for a quick chat. As it was just a little before 8.00 p.m. local time I then headed to 7.130 for the 7130- DX Net. I remained on the net for 2 rounds, logging 6 contacts in VK2, VK4 and VK7, before packing up. I did try calling on the net, Bill W1OW from Massachusetts USA, who I know is a keen park hunter. I have worked Bill many times before, but it was not to be tonight, as he was experiencing a very high level of static and also other stations on the frequency.
The sun was just starting to go down, and as a result the Western Grey kangaroo population in the park was quite active with many keeping a watchful eye on me.
I had exceeded the 30 required contacts I needed to qualify the park, with a total of 60 contacts in the log on 40m, 20m, and 80m. Thankyou to everyone who called me, and many thanks to those who took the time to spot me on parksnpeaks, Facebook, etc.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5KLV/p (Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757)
- VK4FDJL/2 (Goulburn River National Park VKFF-0211)
- VK5FANA/p (Eastern Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1706)
- VK6LDX/p (SOTA Mount Shadforth VK6 SW-054)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
- VK5FANA/p (Eastern Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1706)
Birds SA, 2017, <http://www.birdssa.asn.au/location/warren-conservation-park/>, viewed 20th January 2017
Cockburn, 2002, ‘South Australia. What’s in a Name?’
National Parks South Australia, 2017, <https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Adelaide_Hills/warren-conservation-park>, viewed 20th January 2017
Walking SA, 2017, <http://www.walkingtrailssupportgroup.org.au/documents/leaflets/WarrenTowerbrochureNov2009tmsnewrmnsmallerpics.pdf>, viewed 20th January 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Warren_(Australian_politician)>, viewed 20th January 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forreston,_South_Australia>, viewed 21st January 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Crawford_(South_Australia)>, viewed 21st January 2017
Hi Paul, I like your post and I was pleased to have a contact on 80m. I knew you were there on 40m but just too far down and the band was noisy for a successful contact. The blue wren male is great – a splendid picture.
The park was absolutely alive with wrens. Dozens of them. I must do the tower walk in this park one day, which takes you out to the high points in Mt Crawford Forest. But for this activation, the little area just off the boardwalk sufficed.
Thanks for another excellent write-up Paul. Always great to keep up with the VK5 park happenings.
Thanks for stopping by as always Chris and leaving a message.