The 2017 VKFF Activation took place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November 2017. This annual event is very popular and is all about promoting the World Wide Flora & Fauna (WWFF) program down here in Australia. Marija and I had planned to activate 4 parks in the Riverland region around the Morgan area, and we had booked in to stay at Morgan for 2 nights.
Marija took the Friday (24th November 2017) off work, and I was on holidays, so we headed up to Morgan on Friday morning. There are a few ways for us to get to Morgan from our home in the Adelaide Hills, but we chose to take the Birdwood, Sedan, Blanchetown route.
After travelling through Mount Pleasant we started heading down the hills towards the Angas Valley. There are some nice views to be enjoyed as you head down the Angas Valley Road. The Angas Valley was once a small settlement back in the late 1800’s of Prussian settlers.
We then travelled north through the town of Cambrai along the Ridley Road until we reached the small town of Sedan, about 110 km north east of Adelaide. Sedan is located about half way between the Barossa Valley and Swan Reach on the River Murray. The town was proclaimed in 1870 and was named Sedan by one of the first settlers, J.W. Pfeiffer, after a town in France in honor of the great Prussian (German) victory in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.
There are a number of historic buildings located in the town, and we took the time to have a bit of a drive around the town admiring these, and taking a few photographs.
Here is a link to an excellent website which tells the story of the history of Sedan…..
We continued on to Annadale, located at the corner of Ridley Road and the Sturt Highway. There are some pepper trees here which was the site of the Annadlae Hotel and Cafe, known as ‘Halfway House’ which operated from 1876-1957. There is also an installation here, which I suspect has something to do with aircraft, which has a very nice dipole system. I admired the two towers and wished I had them in my backyard.
We then drove east on the Sturt Highway and soon reached the southern boundary of the Brookfield Conservation Park, VKFF-0822 which borders the Highway. I have activated and qualified this park previously, but Marija had not activated the park. So we decided to call into the park for a quick activation.
Brookfield is located about 130 km north east of Adelaide, and about 15 km west of the town of Blanchetown.
The Brookfield Conservation Park is a large park, consisting of 5,515 hectares. It is managed by Conservation Volunteers Australia. Some areas of the park are restricted to the public and permission to enter those areas is required. The public section of the park is open from 7.00 a.m. until sunset, 7 days a week.
Various vegetation can be found in Brookfield Conservation Park. On the ridge in the northern section of the park, and extending north into the adjacent area, ridge-fruited mallee, red mallee and narrow-leaved mallee dominate over porcupine grass and sparse bitter saltbush. The northwestern corner of the park is dominated by yorrell open mallee over sparse bitter saltbush and pearl bluebush.
In the southeastern section of the park the understorey consists of a large expanse of regenerating pearl bluebush. Central areas of the park are covered by low woodland and tall shrubland typically dominated by sheep bush and sugarwood in varying densities. Dryland tea-tree is often found around claypans. The understorey is characterised by Australian boxthorn, bullock bush, caustic weed and heron’s bill.
The history of the park is very interesting. Dr. Peter Crowcroft, the former Director of the South Australian Museum, and the then Director of the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago in the USA, initiated moves to purchase land for the conservation of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat. The land which is now the park was originally a large sheep station known as Glen Leslie Station. In 1971 the Chicaho Zoological Society purchased the station and renamed the property as the Brookfield Zoo Wombat Reserve.
In 1977, due to rising finanical costs, the Reserve was gifted to the South Australian State Government. In August 1977 the then Department for the Environment assumed financial and managerial responsibility for the reserve and on the 6th July 1978 the reserve was proclaimed as the Brookfield Conservation Park.
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is one of three species of wombat found in Australia, and is the smallest of all three species. It can be found from the eastern Nullabor Plain to the New South Wales border region. Among the oldest southern hairy-nosed wombats ever documented were a male and a female from Brookfield Zoo. Their names were Carver, which lived to be 34, and his mother, Vicky, which lived to be 24
Other native animals found in the park include the Fat-tailed Dunnart, Common Dunnart, Red Kangaroo, and Western Grey Kangaroo. About 141 species of native bird have been recorded in the park including Crested Pigeon, Brown Treecreeper, Purple-backed Fairywren, Splendid Fairywren, Southern Whiteface, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, and Australian Magpie.
Below is a photograph of the old Glen Leslie Homestead which can be found in the park. There are eco-tourism ventures which take people out to Brookfield for wombat monitoring, with the homestead providing accomodation.
During our visit to the park there was plenty of evidence of wombat activity, with lots of burrows. Wombats are excellent diggers, with their burrows measuing from 3 to 30 metres in length and up to 3.5 metres deep.
Marija and I entered the park through the closed (but unlocked gate) off the Sturt Highway. There is a dirt track here which leads through the park, which is in good condition.
Marija and I drove a short distance down the track and set up alongside of the information board, which offered some shade from the heat of the day. It was only mid morning, but it was already quite warm.
I spotted Marija on parksnpeaks and sent out a few SMS messages, whilst Marija called CQ on 7.144. Her first station in the log was John VK5BJE who was 5/9 plus into Brookfield. John reciprocated with a 5/9 for Marija. This was followed by Marc VK3OHM who was also 5/9 plus, followed by park regular Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.
But it was really hard going, with very few callers. It took Marija 25 minutes to get 10 contacts in the log. That being a contact with Hans VK5YX from the southern suburbs of Adelaide who was 5/9 plus. Marija logged 2 further stations, Adrian VK5FANA and Nick VK3ANL, before we decided it was time to pack up and head off to Morgan.
Marija had qualified the park for the VKFF program, with 12 contacts, albeit under very difficult conditions.
As it had been so slow going for Marija, I had sent out a few SMS messages to some of the park ‘die-hards’ to advise that Marija was on 7.144. One of those was Jonathan VK7JON, who had advised he was mobile and that he was on 10m. So on our way out of the park I tuned across the 10m band but could not hear anyone. I decided to put out a few CQ calls from the mobile on 28.490 on the 10m band, and this was answered by Rick VK2RR who was a good 5/7. I then tried 7.144 from the vehicle and logged Tony VK5MRT, Barry VK5KBJ and Ivan VK5HS, before reaching the boundary of the park. It was great to get a few contacts from the mobile, particularly the contact on 10m.
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following station on 10m SSB (from the mobile):-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB (from the mobile):-
Birds SA, 2017, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/brookfield-conservation-park/>, viewed 2nd December 2017
Flinders Ranges Research, 2017, <https://www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/angasvalley.htm>, viewed 3rd December 2017
National Parks South Australia, 2017, <https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Murray_River/brookfield-conservation-park>, viewed 2nd December 2017
Sedan Progress Association, 2017, <http://www.sedan.sa.au/town-history/>, viewed 2nd December 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_hairy-nosed_wombat>, viewed 3rd December 2017
Wombat Information Centre, 2017, <http://www.wombania.com/wombats/wombat-burrows.htm>, viewed 3rd December 2017