Our final activation for the VKFF Activation Weekend, the Ridley Conservation Park VKFF-0932

Our final activation for the 2017 VKFF Activation Weekend was the Ridley Conservation Park VKFF-0932, which is situated about 111 km north east of the city of Adelaide and about 26 km south west of the town of Swan Reach.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Ridley Conservation Park north east of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

After leaving the Swan Reach Conservation we headed back east on the Stott Highway and then turned right onto Murraylands Road passing through the little locality of Langs Landing.  There are some nice spots to stop here to enjoy the great views of the Murray River.

We soon reached the northern section of the park.  Whilst travelling along the Murraylands Road we logged Les VK5KLV/p from the mobile.  Les was in the Whyalla Conservation Park VKFF-0808 on the Eyre Peninsula.  We turned down a dirt track at the intersection of Murraylands Road and Railway Sleeper Track.  Don’t try this if you are in a conventional vehicle.  The track is very narrow and is rocky.

The Ridley Conservation Park is a long and narrow park (10km by 0.4 km) and has a total area of around 414 hectares.  The southern boundary of the park lies on the edge of the valley of the River Marne, with the highest point in the park being located in this southern section.  The remainder of the park to the north comprises flat country which is typical of the limestone plaines west of the Murray River.  The park covers a transition zone in the natural vegetation just to the south of Goyder’s Line between the mallee open scrub to the south and the semi-arid, low woodland to the north.

The park is covered by two major vegetation formations: 35 per cent comprises an open scrub of red mallee and stands of murray pine and associated areas of shrubland dominated by hop bush.  The remaining 65 per cent of the park comprises low open woodland of native apricot and false sandalwood.  The understorey consists of spear-grass and ephemeral herbs; wait-a-while  also occurs in this formation.  A small area near the southern boundary of the park and much of the northern part is almost devoid of trees and can be sub-categorised as open grassland.

The park was originally set aside to conserve native vegetation and bird habitats, but in addition, the open areas of the park include a number of warrens of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat.  Other native animals found in the park include echidna and Western Grey kangaroos.  Various birdlife can be found in the park including Mallee Ringnecks, Purple-crowned Lorikeets, Regent Parrot, White-winged Fairywren, and Butcherbirds.  A total of 109 species of bird have been recorded in the park.


Above:- the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat.  Image courtesy of wikipedia.

Ridley was once part of a Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR) which ran for roughly 5-10 kilometres parallel to the River Murray.  This reserve linked the stock market of Burra to the north with Murray Bridge to the south.  In the early days of the colony of South Australia, sheep and cattle were driven overland from New South Wales to stock the newly-developed pastoral industry in South Australia.  During the early 1860’s when the Hundreds of land were proclaimed on the western plains of the Murray River, it became necessary to provide areas under the Crown for the localised movement of stock and to give access to markets.  Travelling Stock Reserves, which normally consisted of 20-chain (approx 400 metres) width, were given fixed boundaries and often followed existing stock tracks.


This particular stock route, as with others, became uncessary with the advent of mechanised transport such as the railway.  The Morgan to Adelaide railway was completed in 1878.  Increasingly there were moves to resume and allot the TSRs to adjoining landowners.

By 1901 local landowners in the Ridley area had approached the Department of Lands, requesting that the TSR in the Hundreds of Ridley and Fisher be resumed and made open for allotment.  During 1901 and again in 1907, proposals went before Parliament, but were not approved.  In 1910 farmers adjoining the reserve requested permission to erect fences and graze sheep on the TSR, claiming that the unused TSR harboured vermin and tied up valuable grazing land.

By 1934 the District Council of Caurnamont had contacted the Director of Lands requesting that the TSR be resumed for allotment, again claiming that it was a home for vermin and was a drain on council funds.  Similar requests were made again in 1937.  In 1939, the ranger of the Crown Lands Department, Inspector Klau inspected the TSR and reported that it was used for camping and watering stock when feed was scarce in the districts to the north of the TSR.  He recommended that the TSR not be resumed as he believed the reserve would be used for this purpose again in the future.

During 1838-1940 there were a number of requests to cut wood in the reserve for charcoal burning and a proposal to clear 28 hectares of the reserve north of Haywards Hill.  The ranger described the reserve as ‘an asset to the State’ and recommended the TSR be retained in its uncleared state.

By 1956 there were further requests to utilise the TSR and on this occsion Annual Licences were granted for grazing purposes.

In 1966 when land was being resumed and purchased for the purpose of national parks, the Land Board proposed that portions of the TSR “be retained and dedicated as a Wildlife Reserve under the control of the Commissioners of the National Parks and Wildlife Reserves at the expiration of the current Annual Licence”.  In September 1967, a field officer for the National Parks Commission, Mr. G.C. Cornwall inspected the TSR and stated “Although a long narrow strip of land such as this is not the ideal shape for a national park, the idea of preserving natural vegetation and bird habitats by setting aside portions of the Travelling Stock Reserve is an excellent one and the area under investigation is suitable for this purpose‘.

First proclaimed as Ridley National Parks Reserve on 30 May 1968 and re-proclaimed on 27 April 1972 as Ridley Conservation Park.

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Unfortunately I didn’t look down when setting up the awning/annexe on the Toyota Hi Lux.  We had set up just 3 metres away from a number of ants nests.  Fortunately they kept their distance and didn’t cause us any dramas during the activation.


After setting up we immediately went to 7.150 and logged Les VK5KLV/p, Park to Park, from the Whyalla Conservation Park VKFF-0808 in the ‘Iron Triangle’ region of South Australia.  Marija then headed down to 7.130 and called CQ, which was answered by Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, followed by Neil VK4HNS/p in the Girraween National Park VKFF-0198.

The static crashes were terrible, strength 9 plus at times and it made operating very difficult.  Under some very trying conditions, Marija logged a total of 24 stations before deciding that the static crashes were just too annoying.  Included in these contacts were a number of further Park to Park contacts as follows…..

  • Mark VK4SMA/p in the Crows Nest National Park VKFF-0121
  • Dave VK2ZK/p in the Yellomundee Regional Park VKFF-0558
  • Dave VK2JDC/p in the Yellomundee Regional Park VKFF-0558
  • Rob VK4AAC/p in the Clear Mountain Conservation Park VKFF-1511
  • VK2IO/p in the Pitt Town Nature Reserve VKFF-1984

I then put out some calls on 7.130 and despite the very severe static crashes, was able to log 19 stations from VK1, VK3, VK3, VK4, and VK7.  Marija and I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the 80m links and headed to 3.610.  I logged 5 stations on 80m, the first being Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG, followed by John VK5BJE, Adrian VK5FANA, and finally Adrian VK5FANA.

Whilst on 80m Marija received a call from Greg VK8GM, who was part of the VK8ZKZ team in a park in the Northern Territory.  He advised that they were on 15m, so Marija and I quickly put up the 15m 1/2 wave, but sadly could not hear a peep from Greg and his team.  I called CQ on 21.244 and logged Tadashi JA1VRY in Japan.

Greg phoned back to ask if we could try 20m.  So it was off to 20m, but again we could not hear Greg.  We could hear the VK2 and VK6 hunters.  Also at this time we saw Allen VK3ARH/p spotted on parksnpeaks on 40m in a park.  So rather than taking down the 15m dipole, we worked Allen from the vehicle.  He was a good 5/7 from the Mount Mercer Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2154.

Down came the linked dipole again, and back with the 15m dipole.  I logged just one more station on 15m, that being Nigel VK6NI, who although quite weak, was very workable from Ridley. I then re-erected the 20/40/80m linked dipole and headed to 14.310, where I found Phil VK6ADF/p in the Coalseam Conservation Park VKFF-1418.  I logged Phil, Park to Park, and then headed up the band to 14.315 where I logged 6 stations from VK4, VK6, VK7 and Japan.

To wrap up the activation I went back to 7.144 on 40m where I logged 13 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, and VK7, including a Park to Park with Nik VK3NLK/p who was in the Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2031.


It was time to call it a day and head home after a very enjoyable 2017 VKFF Activation Weekend.  From Ridley, Marija had 25 contacts in the log, including 9 Park to Park contacts, whilst I had 54 QSOs in the log, including

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5KLV/p (Whyalla Conservation Park VKFF-0808)
  2. VK3GGG
  3. VK3PMG
  4. VK4HNS/p (Girraween National Park VKFF-0198)
  5. VK3KIX
  6. VK3PF
  7. VK2HHA
  8. VK2TCL
  9. VK7JON
  10. VK3MDH/m
  11. VK3UH
  12. VK2XXM
  13. VK4SMA/p (Crows Nest National Park VKFF-0121)
  14. VK2ZK/p (Yellomundee Regional Park VKFF-0558)
  15. VK2JDC/p (Yellomundee Regional Park VKFF-0558)
  16. VK4AAC/p (Clear Mountain Conservation Park VKFF-1511)
  17. VK3ANL
  18. VK2IO/p (Pitt Town Nature Reserve VKFF-1984)
  19. VK3KMH
  20. VK2PKT
  21. VK2YK
  22. VK2YW
  23. VK2FOUZ
  24. VK4TJ
  25. VK3ARH/p (Mount Mercer Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2154)
  26. VK3NLK/p (Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2031)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5KLV/p (Whyalla Conservation Park VKFF-0808)
  2. VK4HNS/p (Girraween National Park VKFF-0198)
  3. VK4SMA/p (Crows Nest National Park VKFF-0121)
  4. VK2ZK/p (Yellomundee Regional Park VKFF-0558)
  5. VK2JDC/p (Yellomundee Regional Park VKFF-0558)
  6. VK4AAC/p (Clear Mountain Conservation Park VKFF-1511)
  7. VK2IO/p (Pitt Town Nature Reserve VKFF-1984)
  8. VK3GGG
  9. VK3PMG
  10. VK3PF
  11. VK3KAI
  12. VK3CRG
  13. VK4NH
  14. VK4DXA
  15. VK3FSMT
  16. VK3UH
  17. VK7QP
  18. VK2FOUZ
  19. VK2SK
  20. VK2XXM
  21. VK3KMH
  22. VK3MNZ
  23. VK1DI
  24. VK3FHCT
  25. VK4RF
  26. VK4HA
  27. VK3ARH/p (Mount Mercer Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2154)
  28. VK6YV
  29. VK3NLK/p (Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2031)
  30. VK3BBB
  31. VK1LAJ
  32. VK4FDJL
  33. VK3VGB
  34. VK7JON
  35. VK2AR
  36. VK3FMKE
  37. VK5NJ
  38. VK3ZPF
  39. VK7FRJG
  40. VK3RW

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PMG
  2. VK3GGG
  3. VK5BJE
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK5SFA

I worked the following stations on 15m SSB:-

  1. JA1VRY
  2. VK6NI

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6ADF/p (Coalseam Conservation Park VKFF-1418)
  2. VK4GSF
  3. VK4RF
  4. VK4HA
  5. VK6YV
  6. VK7JON
  7. JM4WUZ

After packing up Marija and I headed to Shell Hill, just off the Black Hill Road.  Shell Hill is so named due to the deposit of oyster shells which is believed to be about 5 million years old.  It is the only one of its kind above the surface of the earth in the Southern hemisphere.  It is quite a sight.

We continued along the Black Hill Road until we reached the little town of Black Hill which is located on the banks of the Marne River.  Until 1918, when many places in South Australia had their names changed due to anti German sentiment in World War One, the town was known as Friedensthal, meaning ‘Valley of Peace’.  In its day there was quite a community here, including a post office, school and shop.  But today all that remains are some farmhouses, the old church, and the hall.

We continued on to the Ridley Road and eventually home.  It was a relatively slow drive as there were many kangaroos out on the road.




Birds SA, 2016, <http://www.birdssa.asn.au/location/ridley-conservation-park/&gt;, viewed

Discover Murray, 2017, <http://www.murrayriver.com.au/swan-reach/shell-hill/>, viewed 4th December 2017

National Parks and WIldlife Service, 1984, ‘Conservation Parks of the Murraylands (Western Plains) Management Plans

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hill,_South_Australia>, viewed 4th December 2017

4 thoughts on “Our final activation for the VKFF Activation Weekend, the Ridley Conservation Park VKFF-0932

  1. Hi Paul,
    I was pleased with the qso on 80m. I bet you are glad to be at the end of the chapter, at least for a while. I must say I enjoyed the more passive journey as a chaser. All good fun. Thanks for the most interesting post and photos.
    John D

  2. Hi John,

    Yes it’s a fair bit of work to put together the stories on this site, but I guess when I fall off my twig, the kids will have something to read. Thanks as always for having a read and leaving a comment. I’m amazed really, the number of people who read my blog. I’ve now had over 100,000 hits.


    Paul VK5PAS.

  3. Hello Paul Thanks heaps for the site it’s great to be able to read your blog about the activations that both You and Marija get to do
    Neil VK4HNS

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