Our second activation for Saturday 10th June 2017 was the Douglas Point Conservation Park 5CP-057 and VKFF-0795. The park is situated and about 42 km south (by road) of Mount Gambier and about 470 km south east of Adelaide.
The Douglas Point Conservation Park is 31 hectares in size and was proclaimed on 8th May 1997 to protect the state endangered and nationally vulnerable plant species, Sand Ixodia. Douglas Point is the only reserve in Australia containing this plant. In addition to this, the Park is a significant refuge for two plant species of conservation significance.
The habitats of the Douglas Point Conservation Park vary from exposed cliff top to coastal heath, principally Coastal Wattle / Coastal Beard-heath scrubland.
The Park is located within the traditional lands of the Boandik people. The remains of scattered middens are evidence of Aboriginal habitation in the past.
The exact origins of the name, Cape Douglas, are unknown. Lieutenant James Grant sailed through the area on the Lady Nelson in December 1800 and named several features including Cape Northumberland. On the 5th of April 1802, the French navigator Nicholas Baudin passed Cape Northumberland in his ship the ‘Geographe’ whilst travelling west along the coast. Baudin subsequently met Matthew Flinders, who was travelling from the west to east, in Encounter Bay. Later in 1802 Matthew Flinders charted the area on the Investigator, with crew including boatswain Charles Douglas. Captain William Bloomfield Douglas helped Captain Benjamin Germain chart the waters around Cape Northumberland and Port MacDonnell in 1860. It is possible that Cape Douglas was named during one of these exercises.
The park is home to over 60 species of bird. A total of those are of conservation significance including the Rufous Bristlebird and the Beautiful Firetail, and also the nationally endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.
During our visit to the park we spotted a Crested Tern and a Nakeen kestrel (I think).
Recreational activities undertaken in the Park include bush-walking, surfing, diving, fishing and 4WDriving.
Just outside of the park on the Cape Douglas Road, you can view an interpretive sign regarding the Admella, a passenger steamship which was shipwrecked on a submerged reef off the coast of nearby Carpenter Rocks.
It was during the early hours of Saturday 6 August 1859 that the ship struck the reef, resulting in survivors clinging to the wreck for over a week. Many took days to die as they glimpsed the land from the sea and watched as one rescue attempt after another failed. With the loss of 89 lives, mostly due to cold and exposure, it is one of the worst maritime disasters in Australian history. It remains the greatest loss of life in the history of European settlement in South Australia. Of the 113 on board 24 survived, including only one woman, Bridget Ledwith. Of the 89 dead, 14 were children.
The GPS showed that we had a short 20 minute drive to get to the park. WRONG!. It took us to a carpark at the end of Pelican Point Road at Blackfellows Caves. There was no access to the park via the coastal road as the GPS indicated. So we headed inland and eventually reached the park via Cape Douglas Road.
There weren’t too many operating options here. It is very exposed to the ocean as you are above some clifftops overlooking the ocean.
There is a 4WD track leading further into the park. And it is definitely 4WD. It is extremely rocky and then sandy.
For this activation we ran the Yaesu FT-857d and the 80/40/20 m linked dipole, supported on the 7m heavy duty squid pole. It took some belts of the hammer to drive the squid pole holder into the ground, as the ground was very rocky.
The rugged coastline of Douglas Point provided some great views along the coast and out across the Southern Ocean. Fortunately there was only a gentle breeze blowing and the rain was holding off.
There were also some nice views back out to Umpherstone Bay and back to Mount Gambier. Centennary Tower in Mount Gambier and Mount Schank were clearly visible in the distance.
This was to be another unique park for both Marija and I, for both the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award. Marija started off the activation calling CQ on 7.144. It didn’t take long and Marija had her first caller in the log, Geoff VK3SQ in norther eastern Victoria. This was followed by Greg VK2EXA, Andy VK3AJA, and then Paul VK3AFB. Marija had qualified the park for VKFF, with 10 contacts in the log within 10 minutes. After logging 11 stations, Marija was happy to hand over the mic.
I then called CQ on 7.144 which was answered by Peter VK3PF, followed by Don VK3MCK, and then Craig VK3NCR. Mike VK5FMWW then called in and although being quite low was readable in the park. Sadly Mike was struggling with noise at his end and we couldn’t quite complete the contact with a valid signal report exchange. Contact number 10 for me, qualifying the park for VKFF, was with Greg VK2MTC in Cooma.
I had reached contact number 40 on 40m within one hour. I still needed another 4 contacts to qualify the park for the global WWFF program. As things had slowed a little on 40m I headed off to 14.310 on the 20m band where I logged 4 stations from VK2, VK4 and VK4. Contact number 44 was with Allen VK3ARH whose signal was very low. But as there was no noise in the park, and Allen was suffering from a low noise floor at his end, we were able to comfortably log the QSO.
To finish the activation I headed off to 3.610 on the 80m band. Allen VK3ARH (signing as VK3HRA) had followed me down and was first in the log. I logged only one further contact, that being with Ken VK2KYO. Cliff VK2NP also tried, but although readable in the park, Cliff was unable to hear me above his noise floor.
With 11 contacts in the log for Marija, and 46 for me, it was time to pack up and head back into Mount Gambier.
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
At the end of the activation Marija and I headed in to Mount Gambier and the Scout Hall for the SERG Convention. It was great to catch up with a lot of familiar faces. I also had a browse through the buy and sell. My only purchase for the day, much to Marija’s pleasure, was a cup of coffee.
Department for Environment and Heritage, May 2003, Douglas Point Conservation Park Management Plan.
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Admella>, viewed 13th June 2017