I started a couple of days off yesterday (Saturday 15th July 2017) after a few afternoon shifts at work, and with a few days of wet weather coming, I decided to head out to activate the Finniss Conservation Park 5CP-068 & VKFF-1030. The park is located about 70 km (by road) from Adelaide, and about 43 km south of my home.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Finniss Conservation Park. Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
The Finniss Conservation Park is 123 hectares in size and was first proclaimed on 29th January 1976. An additional 56 hectares was added between 1985 and 2005. The park is undulating with Woodland consisting of Pink Gum and Golden Wattle, and Low woodland consisting of Cup Gum and Pink Gum over Tate’s Grass-tree.
Above:- Aerial shot of the park with my home QTH in the background. Image courtesy of Google Maps.
The park is located just 7 km (by road) to the north east of the settlement of Nangkita, Interestingly it is located about 20 km to the north west of the settlement of Finniss which was originally known as Queen’s Own Town, after the Queen’s Own Regiment of Foot. The name of the town was changed in 1940 to Finniss, in in honour of an early surveyor and the first Premier of South Australia, Colonel Boyle Travers Finniss.
Above:- Colonel Boyle Travers Finniss. Courtesy of wikipedia.
Over 62 species of native bird have been recored in the park including Laughing Kookaburra, Galah, Adelaide Rosella, Superb Fairywren, New Holland Honeyeater, Grey Fantail, Eastern Spinebill, and Australian Golden Whistler.
The park is located in close proximity to a number of other conservation parks, including Cox Scrub, Mount Magnificent, Kyeema, and Bullock Hill.
Above:- Map showing the location of the park, in close proximity to numerous other conservation parks. Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
I have activated the park once before, back in 2013, but this was prior to the park being added to the WWFF Directory. My previous activation of the park was for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award. For more information on my previous visit to the park, please check out my previous post at…..
Last time I activated the park I parked on Mount Magnificent Road and walked in to the park along the Heysen Trail from the northern side. But this time I decided to have a look at accessing the park from the southern side. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to get in that way, but thought it was worth investigating.
I travelled along Bull Creek Road out of Ashbourne, passing the Cox Scrub Conservation Park. I turned right onto the Nangkita Road and through the little settlement of Nangkita. In the local aboriginal language Nagkita means ‘place of little frogs’.
Typical countryside in the Nangkita district
I then turned right onto Stones Ford Road. I soon reached the intersection with Ridge Road. I veered to the left and continued along Stones Ford Road.
This is beautiful country with rolling green hills at this time of the year. I continued on, passing over the creek crossing on Stones Ford Road.
Much to my surprise, the road took me all the way to the park boundary.
Above:- The southern boundary of the park.
I parked the vehicle and then commenced to set up my station, about 10-15m inside the park boundary. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d set at 40 watts, and the 80/40/20m linked dipole for this activation. There was no sun on this occasion, so the solar panels remained in the vehicle.
My operating spot was right alongside the Heysen Trail, a walking trail which is about 1,200 km long.
Above:- My operating spot. The Heysen Trail is marked in red. Map courtesy of heysentrail.asn.au
Prior to calling CQ I logged Gerard VK2JNG who was activating the Marrangaroo National Park VKFF-0598. There was a significant amount of QSB (fading) on Gerard’s signal, but as we both had low/non existant man made noise at our locations, we were able to comfortably log each other.
I then headed down to 7.139 and asked if the frequency was in use, with Peter VK3PF responding that it was all clear. After working Peter I logged Nik VK3NLK/p who was in the Tocumwal Regional Park VKFF-0978. It was nice to have another Park to Park contact in the log.
Conditions were quite poor on the 40m band with lots of QSB, probably due to the Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun the day previous. It took me 16 minutes to get contact number 10 in the log, qualifying the park for VKFF. Unfortunately there was no close in propagation, with my wife Marija VK5FMAZ sending me an SMS, advising that she had no copy back in Mount Barker.
With just 16 contacts in the log after 30 minutes, I decided to try my luck on the 80m band hoping that I would be able to log the VK5’s on that band. But 5 minutes of CQ calls went unanswered, and another SMS from Marija advising there was no copy on 80m. This was not looking good. But I perservered on 80m and out of the blue I heard ‘VK5FMAZ’. It was Marija with a good 5/8 signal. The band had changed. Next up was Les VK5KLV up at Port Augusta in the north of the State. But sadly, they were my only 2 callers on 80m.
So it was back to 40m where the number of callers had picked up. I soon had 34 stations in the log which is always a good sign for me. I run a paper log out in the field, which has 34 lines on each page. So once I am on page 2 I always know I am on the downward slide to the 44 QSOs required for the WWFF global award.
Nik VK3NLK called in again, this time in the Barmah National Park VKFF-0739. I now had 39 contacts in the log and saw a spot on parksnpeaks for John VK1/VA7JBE. So I headed down to 7.090 and logged John was on Black Mountain VK1/ AC-042 which is located in VKFF-0835.
I then headed back to 7.139 and called CQ again. Contact number 44 was soon in the log, a QSO with Kerry VK4LKB. I logged a further 16 stations, and with 60 contacts in the log, I headed over to 14.310 on the 20m band. I self spotted on parksnpeaks and called CQ, and much to my surprise my first caller was Gerard F1BLL in France. This was followed by Hans VK6XN who had a strong 5/8 signal. But my excitement was shortlived, as I had no further callers.
I took the opportunity of stretching my legs and taking a few photographs. When I returned to the radio, I head stations working John VK1/VA7JBE on the frequency. Unfortunately was unable to hear John. I then moved down to 14.305 and called CQ which was answered by Guenter DL5WW in Germany. I logged a further 15 stations including a little more DX from Europe.
With 78 contacts in the log, and a unique park for me as an activator achieved, I packed up and headed home. Thanks to everyone who called and thanks to those who took the time ti spot me.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK2JNG/p (Marrangaroo National Park VKFF-0598)
- VK3NLK/p (Tocumwal Regional Park VKFF-0978)
- VK3NLK/p (Barmah National Park VKFF-0739)
- VK1/VA7JBE (SOTA VK1/ AC-042 & VKFF-0834)
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
Birds SA, 2017, <http://www.birdssa.asn.au/location/finniss-conservation-park/>, viewed 16th July 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finniss,_South_Australia>, viewed 16th July 2017