Last Monday (2nd October 2017) was a public holiday here in South Australia….Labor Day. The public holiday has its origins in the eight hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. I had the day off as a grace day, so I headed out to activate the Porter Scrub Conservation Park 5CP-189 and VKFF-0787.
Porter Scrub Conservation Park is 104 hectares in size and is located at Kenton Valley in the Central Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’. It is situated about 30 km north east of the city of Adelaide. After purchase from the estate of the late J. J. Porter, the park was proclaimed on 20 October 2005.
Approximately 99 hectares of the park is land that was purchased from the estate of the late J. J. Porter with financial assistance from the National Reserve System Program of the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust and a contribution from the Nature Foundation SA Inc. The park also consists of a closed road reserve and 3.7 hectares of land that was previously an Adelaide Hills Council reserve.
For most of the 1900’s the Porter family were the freehold owners of the land comprising the park. The land was never cleared, however sheep were grazed until the land was acquired for conservation purrposes. The park was also used as a source of timber, with large numbers of saw logs being extracted. The stumps and coppice regrowth can be seen in the park. Bark was stripped from Golden Wattle trees for the tanning industry.
Early mining exploration occurred along Howard Creek with mines being established for talc extraction. There are numerous old mine shafts located within the park. Talc mining ceased in the late 1960’s due to competition in the industry. The primary mining site in the central part of the park was also a source of soapstone, which was used as “fire bricks” for use in ovens and kilns.
The park terrain is undulating to hilly, flanking a central valley along Howard Creek which flows into the River Torrens. It includes areas of messmate Stringybark Woodland and Candlebark Gum open forest, pink gum low woodland and river red gum woodland are found in the park. Candelbark Gum open forest is considered endangered in South Australia. The park also supports grassy woodlands of Messmate Stringybark and Manna Gum and South Australian Blue Gum. Pink Gum and River Red Gum are considered vulnerable at a state level.
During my visit to the park there were a number of the native plants in flower.
A large number of native birds have been recorded in the park including 11 bird species of conservation significance. Birds recorded in the park include White-throated Treecreeper, Superb Fairywren, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Grey Shrikethrush, Striated Pardalote, White-browed Scrubwren, Brown Thornbill, Australian Golden Whistler, Grey Shrikethrush, Grey Fantail, Common Bronzewing, Sacred Kingfisher, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Black-capped Sittella, and Willie Wagtail.
Various native mammals call the park home including Western Grey Kangaroo, Short beaked Echidna, Koala, Common Brushtail Possum, Common Ringtail Possum, and the nationally endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot.
I have previously activated from the southern side of the park off Maidment Road. This time I decided to try the northern side. So I headed out from home through Woodside and on to Lobethal. I then took Burfords Hill Road heading east and as I approached the park there were some great views of the western boundary of the park.
I parked my vehicle and walked a short distance into the park and started to set up the station. There was a small area here at the gate where I could pull the vehicle off the road.
As it was a warm 24 deg C day I chose the shade of some gum trees. I was also on the lookout for snakes. I ran my normal station for this activation which comprised the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole, inverted vee on the top of the 7 metre heavy duty telescopic squid pole.
I headed to my normal operating frequency on 40m, 7.144, and found Adam VK2YK there, calling CQ from the Medowie State Conservation Area VKFF-1349. It was a great way to start the activation with a Park to Park contact. I then moved down to 7.139 and asked if the frequency was in use. Peter VK3PF came back to advise it was free. Peter had followed me down from 7.144. I then logged regular park hunter Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, followed by Geoff VK3SQ and then Mike VK3ZMD.
The band was in quite good condition, with good signals coming in from VK2, VK3 and VK4. What was evident, was that close in propagation was not great again, with just Andrew VK5 mobile at Roxy Downs in the north of the State, and Greg VK5GJ at Meadows, making my log. My wife Marija VK5FMAZ had sent me a text to advise that I was unreadable at our home QTH of Mount Barker, about 30 km to the south of the park.
I logged a total of 32 stations on 40m including another Park to Park, with Bill VK4FW/p in the Cherbourg National Park VKFF-0669. I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the links for 40m, and headed to 3.610. The first station in the log there was Greg VK5GJ, followed by Mike VK5FMWW and then Marija VK5FMAZ. It was still bright sunshine, but the 80m band was working well, with 7 stations logged, including Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG in western Victoria.
I then moved over to the 20m band hoping to log some European stations. Long path to Europe on 20m has been quite good the past few weeks, so I was hopeful that I might be able to work a little bit of DX, despite the antenna not being ideal. My first station logged on 20m was Luciano I5FLN in Italy, followed by Hans VK6XN in Western Australia, and then Michele IZ8EFD in Italy. I ended up logging a total of 13 stations on 20m from Italy, VK6, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, VK4, and New Zealand. It was quite difficult at times, with the Over the Horizon Radar belting away in the background.
I had seen Andrew VK1AD spotted, on a SOTA peak on 14.315, so when things slowed down a little, I headed there, but could not hear a peep from Andrew. So I moved back to the 40m band and called CQ on 7.130. Peter VK3ZPF responded to my call, followed by Keith VK3FMKE, and then Sergio VK3SFG. I logged a total of 32 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7. This included a difficult Park to Park contact with Nigel Vk5NIG/p who was in the Cobbler Creek Recreation Park VKFF-1699. I initially could not pull Nigel through, who was running just 2 watts, but eventually we got there. Many thanks to those who were waiting and also thanks for nobody relaying, which would have made the contact void. It was also nice to have a bit of a chat with Jim VK2QA, and also Glen VK3GMC who had his 7 year old grandson Kai in the shack.
It was now 7.30 p.m. and I decided to try 80m again. I started off on 3.610, but unfortunately a Net commenced on 3.609 whilst I was speaking with stations, and they were not going to move for anyone. So I decided it just wasn’t worth the grief, and QSY’d to 3.600. I logged 11 stations this time on 80m from VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7. The strongest station worked was Nev in the Mid North of South Australia, who was 5/9 plus.
To finish off the activation I moved back to 40m and booked in to the 7130 DX Net. Sadly there wasn’t much DX around and I logged just 3 stations: Peter VK7PRN, George VK4GSF and Marcus VK2SK. The temperature had dramatically dropped down to 8 deg C and I decided it was time ‘to pull stumps’ and head home.
It had been a terrific activation, with a total of 98 contacts in the log. Just 2 short of a century.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK2YK/p (Medowie State Conservation Area VKFF-1349)
- VK4FW/p (Cherbourg National Park VKFF-0669)
- VK5NIG/p (Cobbler Creek Recreation Park VKFF-1699)
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/porter-scrub-conservation-park/>, viewed 4th October 2017
Department for Environment and Heritage, 2007, Porter Scrub Conservation Park Management Plan.