My second planned activation for Saturday 3rd June 2017 was the Messent Conservation Park 5CP-133 & VKFF-0799. This was a short 5 minute drive for me from Martin Washpool Conservation Park. I drove out of the gate and followed a dirt track for about 1 km until I reached the south western corner of Messent.
The track leading to the park is tricky in parts and has become a lot boggier since I was last there. I probably wouldn’t try traversing it in a conventional vehicle.
Messent Conservation Park is about 1,250 hectares in size and is one of the most significant areas of natural vegetation left in the Upper South East of South Australia. The park has great plant diversity, including brown stringy barks, white and ridge-fruited mallee, desert banksias, fringed myrtle and yacca which grow in the sandy flats. A number of wild orchids are also found in the park. Over 300 plant species have been recorded in the park.
A large amount of native wildlife can be found in the park including Western Grey kangaroos, Common Wombats, echidnas, and the Silky Mouse. Over 130 species of bird have been recorded in the park including the Emu and the endangered Malle Fowl.
I set up at the south western corner of the park. There is a sandy 4WD track that branches off from here which follows the southern boundary of the park, and another 4WD track which heads north following the western side of the park.
After setting up I called CQ on 7.144 on the 40m band and this was answered by Chris VK3PAT, followed by my wife Marija VK5FMAZ, and then Les VK5KLV. Contact number 10, qualifying the park for VKFF, was reached in 12 minutes, with a Park to Park QSO with Michael VK3FMPP/p who was in the Grampians National Park VKFF-0213. This was followed by Mark VK3KMF/8 who was in the Iytwelepenty/Davenport Ranges National Park in the Northern Territory.
The 40m band had certainly improved since my first activation at Martin Washpool. Signals from the eastern States were much stronger. As a result I had a lot more callers, and it wasn’t long for the mini pile up to commence. Thanks to everyone for being patient. For those that called and gave up, please be patient and persistent. I will get you eventually.
Contact number 22 was with Peter VK3YE who was portable at Chelsea Beach for Melbourne QRP by the Bay. Shortly afterwards I had another Park to Park, this time with Rob VK4AAC who was in the Solitary Islands Marine Park VKFF-1411. About 12 QSOs later I spoke with Ben VK3FBIC who was also portable at Chelsea Beach, running just 5 watts. Ben was a strong 5/8 signal.
I reached contact number 44 in around 47 minutes, and that was with John VK4IAA/2. A few QSOs later I started to experience a lot of bleedover from 7.146. A station from Puerto Rico had moved in and was working into Europe. I remained on 7.144 for another 5 minutes and decided the QRM was just too great to continue. I know there were some weak stations calling me, including a station from France, but I was just unable to pull them through due to the QRM.
I decided it was time to try 20m. I called CQ on 14.310 and this was answered by Hans VK6XN who had followed me up from 40m. I then worked Mick VK6AY, Gerard VK2IO, and then John VK4TJ. I was running short of time and decided after a few minutes of calling CQ with no further callers, that I would head to 80m.
I called CQ on 3.610 and this was answered by Greg VK5GJ, followed by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, Chris VK3SOT, and finally Marija VK5FMAZ. Marija advised that Jonathan VK7JON and Helen VK7FOLK were on 7.095 in a park, so I quickly took out the 80m links and headed to 7.095. I logged both Jonathan and Helen who were in the Mount William National Park VKFF-0366.
My next park activation was to be Bunbury Conservation Park. The maps had shown that there was a road heading east-west from Messent out towards the northern side of Bunbury. But that road was in fact a track behind a gate leading into private property near the north eastern corner of Martin Washpool CP. The only other way I could see to get through was to follow the sandy 4WD boundary track on the southern side of Messent. The GPS was showing a different route, with a distance of around 100 km and it was now after 4.00 p.m. local time. So I decided to cancel the activation of Bunbury, and head to the Mount Boothby Conservation Park instead.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK3FMPP/p (Grampians National Park VKFF-0213)
- VK3KMF/8 (Iytwelepenty/Davenport Ranges National Park VKFF-0133)
- VK4AAC/ (Solitary Islands Marine Park VKFF-1411)
- VK7JON/p (Mount William National Park VKFF-0366)
- VK7FOLK/p (Mount William National Park VKFF-0366)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
Owens H.M; Robinson AC; Lang P.J.; 1994, ‘A biological survey of Messent Conservation Park’.