Horsnell Gully Conservation Park 5CP-094 and VKFF-0894

Yesterday (Saturday 16th September 2017) I activated the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park 5CP-094 & VKFF-0894.  As I have activated this park previously, and qualified it, this activation was to go towards the newly released Boomerang Award for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

The park is located about 11 km east of the city of Adelaide, and about 33 km north west of my home.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.22.20 am.png

Above:- Map showing the location of the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The Horsnell Gully Conservation Park is about 137 hectares in size and was first proclaimed on 1st January 1947 as the Horsnell Gully Pleasure Resort.  The park adjoins the Giles Conservation Park which was formerly Horsnell Gully’s upper eastern section.  Giles was set aside in its own right as a Conservation Park in 1964.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.01.23 pm.png

Above: Article from The Advertiser, Wed 6 Aug 1947.  Courtesy of Trove.

Horsnell Gully Conservation Park protects some of the most rugged terrain in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.  It features steep gullies, wooded hillsides and a 15m waterfall.  The park contains the watershed for Third Creek, one of the five main tributaries of the River Torrens.  There are a number of walking trails in the park including the Heysen Trail.

Numerous native bird species can be found in the park including Adelaide Rosella, Rainbow Lorikeet, White-throated Treecreeper, Superb Fairywren, New Holland Honeyeater, Crescent Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Black-winged Currawong, Silvereye, Painted Buttonquail, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, White-winged Chough, and Hooded Robin.

Fourteen species of native mammals have been recorded in the park including Western Grey Kangaroo, Koala, Ringtail possum, Brush tail possum, Southern Bush Rat and the Yellow footed antechinus.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.32.10 pm.png

Above:- Aerial shot of the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park.  Image courtesy of Google maps.

The park is named after the State Governor’s coachman, John Horsnell.  Horsnell was born in Essex in 1812 and emigrated in 1839 at age 27 to South Australia with his wife Elizabeth aboard the SS Lysander.  Enroute to Australia the couple fell ill with smallpox, along with many others aboard the ship.  Sadly, Elizabeth died at sea of the diesease.  Following Horsnell’s arrival in Adelaide, he was quarantined at Torrens Island until he was well enough to leave.  Horsnell visited the infirmary on North Terrace Adelaide and saw the Colonial Surgeon Dr. Cotter.  It is reported that he removed all of Horsnell’s finger nails and toe nails, in an effort to rid him of smallpox.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.37.04 am.png

Above:- John Horsnell.  Courtesy of State Library SA.

It was at this time that Horsnell had just a few shillings to his name.  James Cobbledick, a friend of the Governor of South Australia, George Gawler, found John Horsnell his first job as coachman to the Governor and his wife.  Whilst driving Governor Gawler along Coach Road checking on the progress of surveys, it is reported that Horsnell spotted the gully now known as Horsnell Gully and the sources of the Five Creeks.   At this time, Horsnell resided at Belair working on Government Farm, taking care of the horses and tending the gardens.  Horsnell then moved to Waterfall Gully, where he grazed dairy cattle, prior to establishing a garden and grazing property at Woodvale off Third Creek near Magill.

In 1842 John acquired 10 acres of land near Magill plus the Gully, where he built a house and farm stocked with animals from the Government Farm, and established a garden and orchard with plants from the Botanic Gardens, donated by James Cobbledick.  The property was named ‘Wood Vale’.   Horsnell continued to purchase more land for lease in Ashton, Basket Range, Uraidla, Carey’s Gully, Morialta and Deep Creek.

Prior to European settlement the Kaurna aboriginal people inhabited the area.  They were quickly displaced as European settlers fenced the land into farms and properties.  The lack of adequate provisions and the rapid spread of European diseases decimated the aboriginal population.  A small group of Kaurna aboriginals lived in a cave in Horsnell Gully during the first years of Horsnell’s settlement of the area.  Between 1842 to 1853, two brothers known by the Horsnell’s as ‘Billy’ and ‘Jimmy’, their wives and two teenagers used their hunting skill to help Horsnell hunt for wildlife.  They also collected wood for the Horsnell’s neighbours, the Ghandis in exchange for wine.  The family eventually left the valley and was last seen by John Horsnell in Norwood in late 1853.

In 1844 when Horsnell was gored by a bull, he sought medical treatment from neighbour Dr Penfold.  Following his treatment Horsnell returned and shot the bull with a glass marble from a bottle in his stores.  Horsnell was employed him as his gardener until 1856.  Horsnell planted the historic vines for Dr Penfold, which still flourish today.

In 1848, John married his second wife Elizabeth Smyth who had been working for Dr & Mrs Penfold as a maidservant.  In 1860 Horsnell built a new home which is now part of the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park and has an onsite caretaker.   At the time of his death  on 23rd November 1895, John Horsnell owned 1,420 acres of land, and left an estate valued at £18,209/13s/6d equivalent to more than $2.5 million.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.52.38 pm.png

Above:- from The Register, 27 Nov 1895.  Courtesy of Trove

At the start of the walking trails at the end of Horsnell Gully Road you can find the remains of the coaching sheds, stable and dairy.  A little further along the trail you can find the old homestead.

On my way to the park I stopped briefly on Old Norton Summit Road to watch the rock climbers.  Not for the faint hearted.

I also stopped briefly to have a look at some of the interpretive signs along Old Norton Summit Road.

I accessed the park via Horsnell Gully Road.  The park is well signposted.

I wasn’t quite sure whether to set up in the picnic ground or head back up old Norton Summit Road to the eastern side of the park at Coach Road, from where I have operated previously.  The picnic grounds offered plenty of shade, but I wasn’t able to utilise the two benches/seats as there were trees overhead and this prevented me from erecting the 7m telescopic squid pole.  It was also quite busy.  As it was a beautiful sunny day, there were lots of bushwalkers out and about, and the 80/40/20m linked dipole does take up some room.  I decided to stay put, and I walked a short distance uphill to the old dairy and set up there underneath the shade of some gum trees.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.22.05 am.png

Above:- Aerial shot of the park showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

I headed to 7.144 and heard VK2BNN calling CQ from the Sydney Harbour National Park.  They were very very weak, but I decided to try my luck and gave them a shout.  Sadly they were unable to hear me.  So I headed to 7.140 and started calling CQ.  Greg VK2MTC at Cooma was first in the log with a good 5/8 signal.   This was followed by Tony VK5TT and then a Park to Park, with Les VK5KLV/p who was activating the Whyalla Conservation Park VKFF-0808 on the west coast of South Australia.

Band conditions were quite poor, with signals from Victoria being way down compared to normal.  It took me around 15 minutes to get contact number 10 in the log, that being with Lee VK3BSP (VK3FLJD at the mic).  I went on to work a total of 21 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, including another Park to Park, with Dave VK2ZK/p who was in the Blue Mountains National Park VKFF-0041.  Andew VK7DW had told me Gerard VK2JNG was in a park a little further up the band, and when things slowed that is where I headed.

I logged Gerard VK2JNG who was in the Tapin Tops National Park VKFF-0477, with a nice 5/6 signal.  I then headed back to 7.140 and called CQ again.  Mark VK7MPR was my first caller, followed by Rob VK4AAC/p in the D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129.  Although we were quite low to each other, Rob and I were able to work each other comfortably due to the non existant man made noise in both parks.  I worked a further 12 stations on 40m including Ron VK3DX at the Warnambool Maritime Museum, and Neil VK4HNS/p who was activating the Bendidee National Park VKFF-0030.

I then headed to 3.610 on the 80m band.  But despite 5 minutes of CQ calls there, my only contact was with my wife Marija VK5FMAZ.  I then tried my luck on 14.310 on the 20m band where I logged Rob VK4AAC in the D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129, and Ray VK4NH.  To complete the activation I headed back to 40m where I logged 5 stations including Gerard VK2IO/p who was in the Muogamarra Nature Reserve VKFF0-1973.

It was time to pack up and head off to my second park of the day, Giles Conservation Park.  I had a total of 45 QSOs in the log including 7 Park to Park contacts.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2MTC
  2. VK5TT
  3. VK5KLV/p (Whyalla Conservation Park VKFF-0808)
  4. VK3KMH
  5. VK2LL
  6. VK3OHM
  7. VK2VU
  8. VK3IRM
  9. VK2VW
  10. VK3BSP
  11. VK3SQ
  12. VK3PF
  13. VK5GJ
  14. VK4XAC
  15. VK1TX
  16. VK2SR
  17. VK3LY
  18. VK7DW
  19. VK2ZK/p (Blue Mountains National Park VKFF-0041)
  20. VK4RF
  21. VK4HA
  22. VK2JNG/p (Tapin Tops National Park VKFF-0477)
  23. VK7MPR
  24. VK4AAC/p (D’Aguilar National Park VKFF-0129)
  25. VK7JON
  26. VK2HHA
  27. VK3KLB
  28. VK3DX
  29. VK5JDS
  30. VK7FOLK
  31. VK3MBW
  32. VK4TJ
  33. VK2EXA
  34. VK3ZPF
  35. VK3FMKE
  36. VK4HNS/p (Bendidee National Park VKFF-0030)
  37. VK2IO/p (Muogamarra Nature Reserve VKFF-1973)
  38. VK3ELH
  39. VK2BHO
  40. VK2YK
  41. VK3QA
  42. VK3OAK

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FMAZ

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4AAC/p (VKFF-0129)
  2. VK4NH


Birds SA, 2017, <http://www.birdssa.asn.au/location/horsnell-gully-conservation-park/&gt;, viewed 17th September 2017

The Pioneers Association of South Australia, 2017, <http://www.pioneerssa.org.au/files/42%20Horsnell%20APPROVED.pdf&gt;, viewed 17th September 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsnell_Gully_Conservation_Park&gt;, viewed 17th September 2017

12 thoughts on “Horsnell Gully Conservation Park 5CP-094 and VKFF-0894

  1. G’day Paul,
    Thanks for the contact on Saturday from Horsnell Park. It’s very interesting to find out about the NP activations and now I can see exactly where you set up your station. I’ll keep an eye out for your next activation.

    Hopefully we’ll catch up on the air again soon.

    Excellent website too,
    Cheers Keith. VK3FMKE.

  2. Hi Paul, I sent you an email but unsure if you received it. You mention Kaurna aboriginals lived in a cave in Horsnell Gully during the first years of Horsnell’s settlement of the area. Can I ask if you know where this cave is and where you found this information? Kindest Regards Corina

  3. Hi there, I have tried to make contact via email as I wish to know if you know where the cave is that you mentioned and where did you find this information ?

    ‘a small group of Kaurna aboriginals lived in a cave in Horsnell Gully during the first years of Horsnell’s settlement of the area.’

    Kindest Regards Corina

  4. Hi Paul, It was from this Blog : https://vk5pas.org/2017/09/17/horsnell-gully-conservation-park-5cp-094-and-vkff-0894/
    Seeing as you wrote it I thought you might know where the information on the Cave and the Aboriginal family came from. White Rock Quarry wants to do a massive expansion which will increase the quarry’s footprint by 300%. My community is pushing back and we are aware of a cave on the Northern Ridgeline of the quarry’s property which may have cultural significance.


    • Hi Corina,

      The info came from one of the three references at the bottom of the blog. I cannot now recall which one.

      I have now joined the ‘Residents Against White Rock Quarry’ Facebook group. I was not aware of the proposed expansion. I will follow the proposal closely now.



      • Oh I see, thank you. I will investigate. Thank you for your support, greatly appreciated. Cheers Corina

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s