Mount George Conservation Park 5CP-147 and VKFF-0784

Yesterday afternoon (Friday 17th February 2017) for the Friday afternoon/evening event for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award I activated the Mount George Conservation Park 5CP-147 and VKFF-0784.  The park is approximately 25 km south-east of Adelaide near the town of Bridgewater.

I have activated this park many times before in the past and have well and truly qualified it for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, so this activation was purely for the VK5 Parks Friday event.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Mount George Conservation Park.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Mount George Conservation Park which was proclaimed on the 7th November 1996,  conserves 85 hectares of important native vegetation in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills.  The park is characterised by steep slopes which are adorned with Stringybark Open Forest.  The park contains a number of creeks including Cox Creek and Cascade Creek, wetlands, and freshwater bogs and soaks.  These provide important habitat for numerous native fauna species.   State endangered Mountain Gum Open Forest is generally found within the vicinity of these damper areas, particularly near the base of the gully that runs through the centre of the park. The park protects a diverse assemblage of flora, with several species considered to be threatened at a national, state or regional level, such as the nationally vulnerable Clover Glycine and the state endangered Mountain Gum.  Mount George summit, 520m ASL is located within the park.

A total of 15 native species of mammals have been recorded in the park including the Common Ring-tail Possum, the Yellow-footed Antechinus, Western Grey Kangaroo, Koalas, the Lesser Long-earred Bat, the Bush Rat, the Echidna and the Common Brushtail Possum.  The Southern Brown Bandicoot, which is considered vulnerable in South Australia is also found in the park.  A total of 66 species of birds have been documented in the park including the Bassian Thrush, Super Blue Wren, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Peregrine Falcon, Scarlet Robin, Red-browned finch, and Crested Shriketit.  A total of 14 species of reptiles and seven species of amphibians have been recorded in the park.

Images above courtesy of wikipedia.

During the 1840’s much of the land in the Mount Lofty Ranges was cleared for farming and mountain gardening.  The land which would become the Mount George Conservation Park was acquired by the then National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1989.  The park was originally 67 hectares before the boundaries were extended in 2003 to incorporate adjacent land of high conservation value.  An additional 18 hectares of land was added to the park on 16 October 2003.

There are a number of walking trails to explore in the park.  A section of the 1,200 km long Heysen Trail passes through the park.  Dogs can also be walked in the ‘recreation zone’ of the park, but they must be kept on a lead and under control.  Sadly, each time I have been to this park, this has not been the case.  There have been dogs and their owners, but the dogs have certainly not been on a lead.  And this activation was no exception.

When I arrived at the park there were about half a dozen people in the park all with their dogs, running free through the park.  Some of which came up to me, jumping onto me, and getting caught up in the coax.  I ran the Yaesu FT-857d set at 40 watts output and the 80/40/20m linked dipole sitting on the top of the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.

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Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the Mount George Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

After setting up I headed to 7.144 on the 40m band and started calling CQ.  It was quite noisy on the band with static crashes up to strength 8.  The map below shows all of the lightning activity around Australia resulting in the noisy band.  It took a few minutes before my first caller was logged.  It was Peter VK3PF who was a good 5/9 signal.   Next up was Peter VK3HSB who was portable in the Lake Eildon National Park VKFF-0625.  It was nice to get an unexpected Park to Park contact in the log.  I then spoke with Les VK5KLV at Port Augusta who was 5/9 plus.  Port Augusta is around 330 km north of Mount George, so it was clear that there was good propagation around South Australia at least out to that distance.

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Map of Australia showing lightning activity.  Image courtesy of weatherzone.com.au

I was just a few minutes into the activation when it started to drizzle with rain, right in the middle of my fourth QSO which was with Stuart VK3STU.  I was about ready to run back to the vehicle, when the showers cleared as quickly as they had appeared.  I worked just 3 more stations on 40m, all from VK3.  It was the quietest I had heard it on the band during  a park activation, for a long time.  I suspect the static crashes were certainly contributing to that.  I was pleased to log a new amateur to the bands, Robert VK3FRCS, who has just been licensed for a few months.

I lowered the squid pole and removed the links for operation on the 20m band.  Whilst I was doing this I had an interested onlooker approach me and ask inquisitively what I was up to.  I explained to him that I was an amateur radio operator, and told him a little bit about the hobby and the various parks awards.  He seemed quite interested and had heard of amateur radio previously.

I then started calling CQ on 14.310.  This was answered by John VK4TJ in Queensland with a lovely 5/9 signal.  John advised that VK3JBL was also on the frequency (I was unable to hear him), so I QSYd up to 14.315 where I spoke with Rick VK4RF/VK4HA who was 5/9 plus.  Rick advised that Gerard VK2IO was trying for me, but I could not hear a peep from Gerard, so band conditions into the eastern States appeared to be very poor.  Sadly, the drizzle started up again and this resulted in me having to hide underneath my both bag.  I must have been a strange sight…..somebody hiding underneath a bright orange piece of plastic with a squid pole in the air alongside of them.

As the weather was less than ideal I quickly headed off to 3.610 on 80m where I logged Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG in western Victoria who was 5/9, and then Hans VK5YX in the south suburbs of Adelaide.  Hans was 5/9 plus.  To complete the activation I headed back to 7.144 on 40m and logged just 2 further stations, Craig VK2KDP, and Gerard VK2IO.  Both advised that there had been storms in Sydney and they were suffering quite badly from static crashes.

Sadly the weather had really started to set in, with rain falling a little heavier.  So rather frustrated, I packed up and headed home.  Not one of my best activations.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3HSB/p (Lake Eildon National Park VKFF-0625)
  3. VK5KLV
  4. VK3STU
  5. VK3SFG
  6. VK3FRCS
  7. VK3MCK
  8. VK2KDP
  9. VK2IO

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4TJ
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3GGG
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK5YX

References.

Department for Environment and Heritage, 2006, Mount George Conservation Park Management Plan

National Parks SA< 2017, <https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Adelaide_Hills/mount-george-conservation-park&gt;, viewed 17th February 2017