Bucks Lake Game Reserve VKFF-1690

Marija and I both finished work early on Friday 9th June 2017 and then packed the Hi Lux and headed south east for Mount Gambier.  We had planned to stay at Mount Gambier for 3 nights, and attend the annual convention/buy and sell/fox hunting championships hosted by the South East Radio Group (SERG).

This was a 400 km journey for us from our home in the Adelaide Hills.

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Map showing our route down to Mount Gambier from the Adelaide Hills.

Along the way we stopped briefly for a bite to eat and a drink at Coonalpyn.  The silos there have recently been the subject of some great artwork by Guido van Helten.  I had viewed this during a recent interstate trip, but this was the first time Marija had viewed this very impressive artwork.

We also had a quick look at Coonalyn Tunnel Vision, which was originally developed in 1995 to brighten up the railway pedestrian underpass with local art.

We then continued on to Mount Gambier, arriving just after 6.00 p.m. local time.  After booking in to our motel, the Tower Motor Inn, we headed out for tea at Jens Hotel at Mount Gambier, where we enjoyed a very nice meal.  It was then back to the motel room to watch a very nice win by the Adelaide Crows football team.

Our first activation for the trip away was on Saturday 10th June 2017 and was at the Bucks Lake Game Reserve VKFF-1690 which is located about 40 km south west of Mount Gambier, and about 440 km south east of Adelaide.

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Map showing the location of the Bucks Lake Game Reserve in the South East region of South Australia.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Bucks Lake Game Reserve is 138 hectares in size and consists of near pristine seasonally-inundated coastal wetland.  It is located at the southern end of Lake Bonney which was the primary source of water to  Bucks Lake.  Due to influences by man, the water level of Lake Bonney has descreased, resulting in Bucks Lake and other wetlands near Lake Bonney, becoming degraded from the lack of water supply.

The reserve was originally created as a National Park in 1968 under the National Parks Act 1966 and was re-proclaimed as a game reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 for the purpose of the conservation of wildlife and management of game.

Hunting is allowed in the Reserve during a proclaimed open season with hunters requiring to have an ‘endorsed hunting permit’ and only to harvest maximum numbers of specific species.

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Aerial shot showing the Bucks Lake Game Reserve with Carpenter Rocks Conservation Park in the foreground.  Image courtesy of Google maps.

The reserve protects habitat for important fauna species such as the state endangered Swamp Antechinus and the Southern Bush Rat.  The Swamp Antechinus is a small carnivorous marsupial which has a very scattered distribution on the Australian mainland, limited to small pockets in South Eastern South Australia and south western Victoria.  It is also found in Tasmania.

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Swamp Antechinus.  Image courtesy of Nature Glenelg Trust

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Map showing the habitat of Swamp Antechinus.  Image courtesy of Nature Glenelg Trust

Marija and I were on the road by 7.30 a.m.  We made a quick detour to the local Subway where we purchased some lunch and also a bacon & egg roll for breakfast.  We then headed south west out of Mount Gambier on the Carpenter Rocks Road.  This is kangaroo and wombat country as was evident by the signs.

Prior to activating the reserve, we had a quick look around the little town of Carpenter Rocks which is renmowned for its rugged coastline which provides exceptional fishing and diving locations.


The coastline at Carpenter Rocks.

We then travelled out along the Cape Banks Lighthouse Road until we reached the northern section of the reserve.  We found a 4WD drive which followed the northern boundary of the park, but could not find anywhere really suitable to set up.  We followed this track all the way around the boundary of the park until we reached the Carpenter Rocks Road again.

We then saw a sign on the northern side of the road which said ‘Fire Water’, so we decided to take this track, heading north, following the western boundary of the reserve.  We then came to a track on the right which took us into the park, and we soon found a sign marking the reserve.


There was an open gate here and a 4WD heading further east into the park.  We set up just off this track.

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Aerial shot of the Bucks Lake Game Reserve, showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

For this activation we ran the Yaesu FT-857d and the 80/40/20m linked dipole, inverted vee, supported on the 7m heavy duty telescopic squid pole.  Power output was 10 watts PEP for Marija and 40 watts for myself.

During the week, Al VK2OK, who had been part of the my team out into the field on the Sunday at the 2017 WIA AGM/Convention, sent me a wooden stand for the transceiver which had a Benelec speaker mounted at the front.  It was a great set up, and one which I will continue to use.  Many thanks Al.


The shack, showing the stand & speaker for the Yaesu FT-857d.

This was to be a unique park for both Marija and I for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  And hopefully a new park for the hunters.

Marija started off first, working Gerard VK2IO who was on SOTA peak Middle Brother VK2/ MN-066.  Marija and I swapped the mic, so we both could log Gerard.  We then tuned across the 40m band and found Mick VK3PMG/p calling CQ from the Crawford River Regional Park VKFF-0963.  Although Mick’s signal was quite low, we both logged Mick comfortably as there was no noise in Bucks Lake.

Marija then propped on 7.132 and called CQ.  Her first taker was Peter VK3PF, who had activated Bucks Lake a few weeks earlier during his visit to VK5.  This was followed by Les VK5KLV, Jonathan VK7JON, and then Rob VK4AAC/2.

Marija soon had her 10 contacts in the log, qualifying Bucks Lagoon for VKFF.  Contact number 10 was with Rod VK7FRJG in Tasmania with a strong signal.

Marija was happy to qualify the park for VKFF.  I then jumped on the mic and called CQ on 7.132.  This was answered by Rod VK7FRJG, followed by Geoff VK3SQ, Les VK7OT, and then Helen VK7FOLK.  Signals out of Tasmania were exceptionally strong.

Contact number 10, qualifying the park for me for VKFF, was with Bruce VK3SOL/p, operating the club call of the Shepparton & District ARC, who was portable at the Echuca Steam Rally.

Whilst I was operating Marija went off for a walk to try to locate the actual lake in the park.  Sadly, all tracks leading to the lake were completely overgrown.

There was a steady flow of callers and despite a rather slow start, it looked like I was probably going to reach the 44 to qualify the park for WWFF.  I run a paper log out in the field, which contains 35 contacts on each page.  It is always a nice feeling when I reach page number 2, as that always means I only need another 10 contacts to qualify.

I worked a total of 44 stations on 40m within an hour, with contact number 44 being a SOTA contact with Ian VK5CZ/p who was activating Lagoon Hill VK5/ SE-008.  Marija also logged Ian.  Whilst Marija still had the mic she was called by Hans VK6XN who had a strong 58 signal from some 3,000 km to the west.  Not bad at all considering the time of the day.

I then headed off to 20m where I called CQ on 14.310.  This was answered by Hans VK6XN who had followed me up from 40m, and then Phil VK6ADF.  Sadly, they were my only 2 contacts on 20m, despite 5 minutes of CQ calls.

To finish off the activation I headed to 3.610 on the 80m band where I worked 4 stations from VK3, VK5, and VK7.  This included a contact with Mike VK3ZMD who advised that I was his 200th Australian park worked.  Congratulations Mike.

It was now just after 10.30 a.m. and it was time for Marija and I to pack up and head off to our next park, the Douglas Point Conservation Park.  Marija had qualified the park for VKFF, with a total of 12 contacts in the log, whilst I had qualified the park for VKFF & WWFF, with a total of 50 contacts in the log.  Thanks t everyone who called, and many thanks to those who took the time to spot Marija and I, either on parksnpeaks and/or Facebook.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO/p (SOTA Middle Brother VK2/ MN-066)
  2. VK3PMG/p (Crawford River Regional Park VKFF-0963)
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK5KLV
  5. VK7JON
  6. VK4AAC/2
  7. VK7FOLK
  8. VK2KYO
  9. VK2NP
  10. VK7FRJG
  11. VK5CZ/p (SOTA Lagoon Hill VK5/ SE-008)
  12. VK6XN

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO/p (SOTA Middle Brother VK2/ MN-066)
  2. VK3PMG/p (Crawford River Regional Park VKFF-0963)
  3. VK7FRJG
  4. VK3SQ
  5. VK7OT
  6. VK7FOLK
  7. VK5KLV
  8. VK1HW
  9. VK7JON
  10. VK3SOL/p
  11. VK5FANA
  12. VK7AN
  13. VK4AAC/2
  14. VK5MBD
  15. VK3PF
  16. VK7FGRA
  17. VK7WH
  18. VK3ARH
  19. VK2NP
  20. VK4WC/2
  21. VK4ICE/2
  22. VK5ZGY/m
  23. VK3WAC/m
  24. VK2LX
  25. VK6XN
  26. VK6FSEA
  27. VK2VW
  28. VK3ZPF
  29. VK2VAA
  30. VK3AJA/p
  31. VK4TJ
  32. VK4/AC8WN
  33. VK4/VE6XT
  34. VK2TDB
  35. VK3HKK
  36. VK6BEC
  37. VK3MCK
  38. VK7JON/m
  39. VK7FOLK/m
  40. VK5MA/m
  41. VK3JP
  42. VK7PSJ
  43. VK2JNG/3
  44. VK5CZ/p (SOTA Lagoon Hill VK5/ SE-008)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6XN
  2. VK6ADF

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA
  2. VK7CW
  3. VK3ZIE/p
  4. VK3ZMD



Department for Environment and Heritage,  2007, Management Plan Carpenter Rocks Conservation Park and Bucks Lake Game Reserve.

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucks_Lake_Game_Reserve&gt;, viewed 13th June 2017

4 thoughts on “Bucks Lake Game Reserve VKFF-1690

  1. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It’s pleasing to know that people do read the posts.

    All good about being a Carpenter Rocks boy. Nice part of S.A.


    Paul VK5PAS.

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