Totness Recreation Park VKFF-1754

Late yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 14th March 2017) I activated the Totness Recreation Park VKFF-1754, with a view to logging a few Victorian (VK3) stations for the Victorian Local Government Award Challenge, and hopefully working a little bit of DX.  As it turned out, I did manage to log a number of VK3 stations, but the DX was virtually non existant.

Totness Recreation Park is located just 2.5 km west of my home QTH and about 35 km east of Adelaide.  I have activated this park twice in the past.  For information on those activations, please see my previous posts…….

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Totness Recreation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The Totness Recreation Park is 41 hectares (101 acres) in size and was established in 1970.  It is divided into two sections by the busy South Eastern Freeway (the main highway between Adelaide and Melbourne).  The northern section consists of 9 hectares (22 acres) of scrub and a dam.  The southern section comprises 32 hectares (79 acres) of scrub.  The park is surrounded by rural properties which are primarily used for grazing.

The park consists of Messmate Stringybark and Manna Gum woodlands, which at one time prior to European colonisation were common throughout the Mount Lofty Ranges.  More than 180 native plants species have been recorded within the park.  Plant species of conservation significance recorded within the park include the state rare Manna Gum and the regionally rare Spider Orchid.

A variety of native animals and birds call the park home.  This includes the Western Grey kangaroo, Common Ringtail Possum, Short-beaked Echidna, and Koala.  Various bat species can also be found in the park.  A total of 36 species of native bird have been recorded in the park, including the rare Shining Bronze cuckoo and declining woodland birds including the white-throated treecreeper, scarlet robin and Bassian thrush.

Introduced species that can be found in the park include Fallow deer.  During my previous visits to the park I have always seen deer, and this occasion was no different, with two deer sighted on my way home.

The park takes its name from Totness in Devon in the United Kingdom.  The southern section of Totness was originally granted in 1854 to John Dunn (1802-1894), a parliamentarian, philanthropist, and a prominent citizen of Mount Barker.


John Dunn.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The area around the dam was leased by the District Council of Mount Barker for wood and bark harvesting. The bark of the golden wattle Acacia pycnantha was taken for use in the Mount Barker tannery for tanning leather.  While the messmate stringybark Eucalyptus obliqua trees were cut for firewood for use in steam boilers and brick kilnds

The land that is now Totness Recreation Park was formerly the property of the South Australian Railways and the Department of Transport.  On the 15th January 1970 the land was transferred to the (former) National Parks Commission and dedicated for reserve purposes, under the National Parks Act 1966.  Totness Recreation Park was constituted on 22nd January 1972 under the new National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 to protect natural habitat and provide recreational opportunities for the local community.

During the construction of the South Eastern Freeway during the mid 1960’s, the park was dissected into two uneven portions totalling 41 hectares.  The dam in the northern section of the park was constructed in 1884 and was used up until 1944 to supply the steam locomotives travelling to and from Victor Harbour until 1955.  Water was piped to an outlet at the Mount Barker Railway Station, approximately five kilometres away.  Until the Mannum to Adelaide pipeline was completed in 1955, the dam served as a water sourced for the township of Mount Barker.  Today, you can fish for Redfin in the dam.  The southern section of the park was totally burnt out during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires.


Above:- Construction of the South Eastern Freeway in the Adelaide Hills, c. 1968.  Image courtesy of

In 2006, the Minister for Environment and Conservation released a discussion paper on a review of the reserve classification system in South Australia.  Under the model proposed, Totness would become a Conservation Park.  However, it appears that this paper has not progressed very far.

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Above:- Aerial shot showing the proximity of the park to my home QTH.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I operated from the southern section of the park, in my normal spot off Haines Fire Track, which runs off Liebelt Summer Track.  The road is signposted that local traffic only is allowed.  However I have never been quizzed by the authorities.  The road is dirt and is quite steep and rocky in parts, but is passable in a conventional vehicle.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the park showing my operating location.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The more I go to parks, the more I come to the conclusion that the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, do not want people in their parks.  A significant number of parks that I have been to are often locked up by gates with multiple padlocks and no pedestrian access other than climbing over barbed wire fences.  Totness does have a pedestrian access point in the southern section.  But as you can see by the photo below, it is not designed for people unless they are of skinny build.  Certainly not user friendly for the frail or handicapped.  During my visit to Totness, I spoke to some mountain bikers who had to carefully lift their bikes over the gate to each other.  And yet Totness is declared to be a ‘recreation’ park.


I ran my normal portable set up during this activation, which consisted of the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts output and the 20/40/80m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre heavy duty telescopic squid pole.  It was a warm afternoon, still being about 29 deg C at 4.15 p.m. South Australian local time at the time of setting up.  There is a nice cleared area between the fenceline and the scrub.

I put out a few CQ calls on 7.144 on 40m, and it wasn’t long before these were answered by Les VK5KLV with a very strong 5/9 plus from Port Augusta in the north of South Australia.  This was followed by Trevor VK5TW in the Adelaide Hills foothills, and then Matt VK5MLB in the southern suburbs of Adelaide.  Both Trevor and Matt were 5/9, and this was a promising sign for logging VK5 stations during the activation.  Conditions locally of late have been quite poor on 40m.

I logged a total of 27 stations on 40m, from VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK5.  This included 11 VK3 stations and one or two new Shires to go towards my tally.  Unfortunately I had to leave 7.144 as a VK2 net started up on 7.146 and one or two of the stations there were bleeding over onto 7.144.

I then headed off to 20m hoping to log some DX, following on from my successful activation of Mount Loft/Cleland Conservation Park on Friday.  But that was not to be.  No DX was logged.  In fact I only logged 2 stations, Hans VK6XN, and Andrew VK6AS.  Despite numerous CQ calls I had no further takers.  I tuned across the 20m band and only heard 2 or 3 European stations coming in on the long path, and they were quite weak.  What a difference a few days can make.

I then called CQ on 3.610 on 80m, where I logged 5 stations from VK3 and VK5.  Despite conditions being quite good on 80m my CQ calls went unanswered, so I headed back to have one last listen on 40m before heading home for dinner.  I logged a further 20 stations on 7.144 from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7, including my lovely wife Marjia VK5FMAZ who was 5/9 plus on ground wave to Totness.

Prior to going QRT I had a quick tune across the band and found Dom E51KTA in the South Cook Islands calling CQ on 7.170.  Dom’s signal was 5/9 and I was fortunate to find him with very few callers.  I also heard T2AQ from Tuvalu working split on 7.159 with a huge pile up from Japan, North America and VK.  I gave half a dozen calls, but sadly could not be heard amongst the dog pile.

After a few hours in the park I had a total of 55 contacts in the log.  The highlight of the activation was to log E51KTA on 40m.  I also had some interaction with a bushwalker and a couple of mountain bikers.  I took some time out to explain to them the hobby of amateur radio and the parks programs.  They seemed to be very interested.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5KLV
  2. VK5TW
  3. VK5MLB
  4. VK2HOT
  5. VK5RM
  6. VK4VXX/2
  7. VK3FSPG
  8. VK3MPR
  9. VK3FRAB
  10. VK3FCMC
  11. VK3MLU
  12. VK2IO
  13. VK2XSE/m
  14. VK3GGG
  15. VK3PMG
  16. VK5FAKV
  17. VK3MH
  18. VK2NEO
  19. VK3RU
  20. VK3MCK
  21. VK2XXM
  22. VK1DI
  23. VK5NFT/m
  24. VK3OHM
  25. VK3SIM
  26. VK3FOGY
  27. VK2KDP
  28. VK5FANA
  29. VK3FRJD/m
  30. VK7JON
  31. VK4GSF
  32. VK5FMAZ
  33. VK7DW
  34. VK2PEP
  35. VK3PNF/m
  36. VK2SR
  37. VK3FSLG
  38. VK3FOTO
  39. VK2YES/p
  40. VK3ZLD
  41. VK2NWB
  42. VK2FSAV
  43. VK4HNS
  44. VK2IFT
  45. VK2ND
  46. VK2QM
  47. VK6AV/p
  48. E51KTA

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6XN
  2. VK6AS

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3GGG
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK3VBI
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK5FMWW


Government of South Australia, 2007, ‘Totness Recreation Park Management Plan’

Wikipedia, 2017, <;,viewed 15th March 2017