Yesterday morning (Saturday 24th June 2017) I enjoyed a bit of a sleep in on my weekend off. I then ventured up to the shack where I booked in to the Riverland Radio Club Net on 40m, whist enjoying a cup of coffee and some toast. At the end of the net I headed up to the study to check my emails and decided that heading out to a park or two was going to be a much more enjoyable option.
So I jumped on to Location SA Map Viewer to check out which parks I should head out to activate. I have pretty much flogged to death all of the parks within a 300 km radius from home, but there was one park which I had not qualified for the global World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. That being the Hale Conservation Park 5CP-086 & VKFF-0889, which is located near the town of Williamstown, about 60 km north east of Adelaide. The park is located on the southern boundary of the famous wine growing region, the Barossa Valley.
It is a beautiful drive out to the park from my home, through the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’. I headed out through Woodside and then on towards Mount Torrens. The GPS took me through some of the back roads and then north along Warren Road until I reached the park.
Hale Conservation Park was established in 1964 and was named after Herbert Mathew Hale, OBE (1895-1963), who was a Director of the South Australian Museum and Commissioner of National Parks and Wildlife until 1963. The park is 189 hectares (470 acres)in size.
Hale is mostly Woodland comprised of Long-leaf Box, Pimk Gum, Messmate Stringybark, Golden Wattle and Yacca. The park conserves the Oyster Bay Cypress Pine. For a few weeks each year in winter, there are stunning blooms of Red Flame Heath, and during my visit I was lucky enough to witness this. The landscape was alive with red flowers.
There are a number of challenging walking trails in the park which provide spectacular views of the South Para valley and reservoir. Thanks to the Walking Trails Support Group, there are a number of signs and distance markers along the trail.
The park is home to a large amount of native wildlife including Western Grey Kangaroos, Echidnas, and the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot. More than 85 species of bird have been recorded in the park including Superb Fairywren, Eastern Spinebill, New Holland Honeyeater, Crescent Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Australian Golden Whistler, and Black-winged Currawong.
Access to the park is on Warren Road, about 2 km out of Williamstown. The park is well signposted from the road, and there is a small carparking area here.
I set up along Hale Track, using my normal portable equipment: Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole, inverted vee @ 7 metres. Whilst setting up I had a chat with a lady who was out bushwalking with her young daughter. It turned out that she was aware of the hobby of amateur radio as she had been involved in the ARISS program as a school teacher.
On my way to the park I had worked Gerard VK2JNG/p who was activating the Eurobodalla National Park VKFF-0164. Gerard was one of 3 people I had taken out into the field on the Sunday of the recent WIA AGM & Convention at Hahndorf, and he has certainly been bitten by the portable bug. So prior to calling CQ, I tuned across the 40m band hoping to get Gerard in the log, Park to Park. I found Gerard calling CQ on 7.090 and logged Gerard, 5/9 both ways. I had been doing a bit of work at home during the week erecting a 2m yagi, 70cm yagi, and a 6m yagi, and I realised after working Gerard that I still had the tx set on 5 watts.
I then moved up the band to 7.144 and started calling CQ. First taker was Dennis VK2HHA in Albury with a nice 5/9 + signal, followed by Peter VK3PF and then Brett VK2VW. It was slow and steady going, with contact number 10 in the log after 12 minutes, thus qualifying the park for me for VKFF. Regular park hunter Sergio VK3SFG was contact number 10.
Fred VK4FE was contact number 11 in the log, and it was at this time that Mick VK3GGG sent me an SMS message to advise that Tony VK3XV wason 14.244 in a park in the USA. I was fortunate in that callers were slow on 40m, so I quickly lowered the squid pole and removed the links for 20m, and headed to 14.244. I could just barely hear Tony, certainly not strong enough for a QSO, but I could hear the USA park hunters giving Tony a shout for the Field Day.
I headed back to 7.144 and called CQ again, which was answered by John VK4TJ. A few calls later, I had another Park to Park contact in the log. This time with Bill VK3CWF/p who was activating Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750. Despite it being a weekend, there was not the normal flurry of callers, but rather a steady flow. It was clear that local propagation on 40m was not working, with my wife Marija VK5FMAZ texting me, advising that there was no copy back to our home QTH at Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills.
I logged a total of 46 stations on 40m, with contact number 44 being with Peter VK3FPHG in Ballarat. The 44 QSOs had taken me 1 hour & 15 minutes. Amongst these QSOs was another Park to Park contact, with Ian VK5MA/6 who was at Thomas River in the Cape Arid National Park VKFF-0076 near Esperance in Western Australia. Ian had a beautiful strong 5/8 signal and reciprocated with a 5/5 for me. I logged a few QRP stations including Glenn VK2GPT running 5 watts and a new loop antenna, and Jason VK2FAVL in Sydney Harbour who was running QRP 5 watts and a Buddipole.
I then headed over to 3.610 on the 80m band hoping to log a few of the VK5’s. First in the log was Roy VK3FRC who had followed me down from 40m. Next was Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland who was 5/9 +, Eric VK3BSG 125 km NW of Melbourne, and then Marija VK5FMAZ who was contact number 50. I worked a further 6 stations from VK3 and VK5, before heading over to 14.310 on the 20m band.
Sadly, my only station logged there was Rob VK4AAC/2 who was struggling to hear me. Not long after I had started calling CQ, a USA Field station had come up on frequency and started calling CQ. After a few minutes I decided it just wasn’t worth trying to compete with her on the same frequency, so I pack up and headed off to my next park, the Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park. I had a total of 57 stations in the log, and a unique park qualified for WWFF.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK2JNG/p (Eurobodalla National Park VKFF-0164)
- VK3CWF/p (Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750)
- VK5MA/6 (Cape Arid National Park VKFF-0076)
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-
Birds SA, 2017, <http://www.birdssa.asn.au/location/hale-conservation-park/>, viewed 25th June 2017
National Parks South Australia, 2017, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Barossa/hale-conservation-park>, viewed 25th June 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hale_Conservation_Park>, viewed 25th June 2017