Lake St Clair Conservation Park 5CP-112 and VKFF-1047

Our second park for Saturday 10th March 2018 was the Lake St Clair Conservation Park 5CP-112 & VKFF-1047.  The park is located about 20 km south of the town of Robe and about 350 km south east of Adelaide.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Lake St Clair Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Lake St Clair Conservation Park is about 189 hectares in size and was proclaimed on the 29th June 2006.  The park was established to protect remnant Swamp Antechinus habitat of Silky Tea-Tree/Cutting Grass that fringes the lake.  The park protects the largest remaining example of intact native vegetation around the Lake St Clair wetland and lagoon, providing an important habitat for many rare and threatened native wildlife species.

Lake St Clair, a shallow, saline lake below sea level, forms the middle lake in a series of three large coastal salt lakes between Robe and Beachport.  It contained water during our visit, although we did not get close to the water’s edge.

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Above;- Aerial shot of Lake St Clair, showing the park to the north east of the lake.  Image courtesy of National Parks SA.

The park is a haven for bird species, with the swamp providing habitat for many waders. Two nationally significant birds can be found in the park, the Orange-bellied parrot and the Hooded plover.  Nationally significant numbers of the migratory Golden Plover have been recorded at Lake St Clair.  During our visit we spotted a number of Wedge Tailed Eagles soaring high in the breeze.  Unfortunately they weren’t quite close enough for great photos.

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The park is also frequented by Eastern grey kangaroos, Red-necked wallabies, Common wombats, Swamp Wallabies, and echidnas.

After leaving the Little Dip Conservation Park, Marija and I travelled south on the Nora Creina Road and then turned left onto Powells Road.  Lake St Clair soon came into view on the right of the vehicle.

We continued along Powells Road and finally found a gate, which of course was locked.  The only way in to the park was to scramble over a rickety barbed wire fence.  We stopped briefly to check this location out but found no real shade, and as it was such a hot afternoon (in the mid 30 deg C), we decided to continue on to see if we could find an alternative operating spot.

We turned right onto the Southern Ports Highway and travelled south, keeping an eye out for possible spots to set up.  But they appeared to be non existant, and we soon reached the southern boundary of the park.  We continued on to Bog Land and drove all the way back around the lake again.  We decided to head back to the gate we had come across and try to find some shade.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Lake St Clair Conservation Park.  Image courtesy of google maps

The Department of Environment Water & Natural Resources (DEWNR) website has very limited detail on the park, and actually states “Go bushwalking and experience the park’s diverse range of flora species….“.  Sadly, the reality is that access to the park is not easy.  Okay if you are prepared to scramble over the barbed wire fence, but if you were elderly or disabled, there is no chance of accessing this park.  There were also no apparent walking trails.

In any event, we set up the fold up table and deck chair, hard up against some shrubs, trying to get a little shade from the very hot afternoon sun.  We ran the Yaesu FT-857d and the 80/40/20m linked dipole for this activation.  There was a nice cleared area here to stretch out the antenna.

Prior to propping on a frequency we tuned across the 40m band and made two Park to Park contacts.  The first being with Ian VK1DI/p in the Old Naas Travelling Stock Route (TSR) Nature Reserve VKFF-0992, and then Gerard VK2IO/p who was activating the Heathcote National Park VKFF-0232.

I then called CQ on 7.155.  This was answered by Fred VK3DAC/p who was in the Lerderderg State Park VKFF-0763, and then Peter VK3PF/p who was activating the Glenmaggie Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2094.  I made my 10 contacts, qualifying the park for the VKFF program, and then swapped the mic with Marija who soon also had 10 contacts in the log.  Contact number 10 being with Peter VK5ZPG at Quorn in the north of South Australia.  Marija made a total of 18 contacts, before we again swapped operating positions.  I was hoping to get my 44 to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.

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The band conditions were okay and there was a welcomed steady flow of callers.  We were keen to get out of the park asap, as it was a hot afternoon.  Contact number 44 for me was a QSO with Malcolm VK3OAK.  I logged a total of 58 contacts on 40m including some further Park to Park contacts (Marija also logged the P2P contacts):

  • VK5HSX/3 (Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964)
  • VK6MB/p (Midgergoroo National Park VKFF-0650)
  • VK5HMB/3 (Murray Sunset National Park VKFF-0373)
  • VK5KLV/p (Telowie Gorge Conservation Park 5CP-227 & VKFF-1105)

Callers then dried up, so I tuned across the band and logged Wade VK1MIC/p who was activating SOTA peak Mount Ainslie VK1/ AC-040 in the Mount Ainslee Nature Reserve VKFFF-0850.  Wade was activating the summit as part of a regular VK/ZL/EU/JA SOTA event.

I then headed over to the 20m band where I logged a total of 5 stations, including John VK6NU/p who was on the top of SOTA peak Mount Randall VK6/ SW-039.  I also logged two Japanese stations, Tadashi JA1VRY and Etsuro JH1IED.  The strongest station worked was Hans VK6XN in Perth who was 5/9 +.  I saw 2 spots on parksnpeaks for Jonathan VK7JON and Wynne ZL2ATH, both on SOTA summits, but sadly they were not readable.

To finish off the activation for me I put a few calls out on 80m and logged Tony VK5MRT and Nik VK3NLK.

DSC_0363

Marija had 22 contacts in the log and I talked her into getting back on air to get another 22 to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.  And that was done quite quickly, within about 25 minutes.  Contact number 44 being with Peter VK2KNV.

So with a total of 113 contacts in the log between us, including 17 Park to Park contacts, it was time to pack up and head back into Robe to freshen up and get some dinner.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK1DI/p (Old Naas Travelling Stock Route (TSR) Nature Reserve VKFF-0992)
  2. VK2IO/p (Heathcote National Park VKFF-0232)
  3. VK3DAC/p (Lerderderg State Park VKFF-0763)
  4. VK3PF/p (Glenmaggie Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2094)
  5. VK4NH
  6. VK4DXA
  7. ZL4TY/VK4
  8. VK2FAAA/p
  9. VK3SQ
  10. VK5ZPG
  11. VK5FMWW
  12. VK7FGRA
  13. VK7QP
  14. VK5KFB
  15. VK2PKT
  16. VK3TKK/m
  17. VK2HHA
  18. VK4AAC/2
  19. VK5HSX/3 (Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964)
  20. VK6MB/p (Midgergoroo National Park VKFF-0650)
  21. VK5HMB/3 (Murray Sunset National Park VKFF-0373)
  22. VK5KLV/p (Telowie Gorge Conservation Park 5CP-227 & VKFF-1105)
  23. VK3ANL
  24. VK6PCT/3
  25. VK4FDJL
  26. VK5HS
  27. VK2NP
  28. VK4SMA
  29. VK3IRS
  30. VK5NJ
  31. VK3FLCS
  32. VK4TJ
  33. VK4/AC8WN
  34. VK4/VE6XT
  35. VK2LAX/p (SOTA VK2/ HU-092)
  36. VK5FMLO
  37. VK3FXBR
  38. VK3TKK/m
  39. VK3FDAN
  40. VK6XN
  41. VK3GQ/2
  42. VK3NLK
  43. VK4FJFM
  44. VK2KNV
  45. VK7ZGK
  46. VK4FARR
  47. VK2NEO

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK1DI/p (Old Naas Travelling Stock Route (TSR) Nature Reserve VKFF-0992)
  2. VK2IO/p (Heathcote National Park VKFF-0232)
  3. VK3DAC/p (Lerderderg State Park VKFF-0763)
  4. VK3PF/p (Glenmaggie Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2094)
  5. VK3SQ
  6. VK5PL
  7. VK7QP
  8. VK4NH
  9. VK4DXA
  10. ZL4TY/VK4
  11. VK4AAC/2
  12. VK5FMWW
  13. VK3TP
  14. VK2UH
  15. VK4FDJL
  16. VK5FMLO
  17. VK2KYO
  18. VK2HHA
  19. VK3UH
  20. VK2LEE
  21. VK5ZPG
  22. VK5HSX/3 (Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964)
  23. VK7EV/m
  24. VK5DC/m
  25. VK5JK
  26. VK3VAR
  27. VK3VGB
  28. VK4TJ
  29. VK2VW
  30. VK2NP
  31. VK3FLCS
  32. VK3UCD
  33. VK3ANL
  34. VK3TKK/m
  35. VK3PNG
  36. VK2USH
  37. VK2PKT
  38. VK6MB/p (Midgergoroo National Park VKFF-0650)
  39. VK2ZVG
  40. VK5HMB/3 (Murray Sunset National Park VKFF-0373)
  41. VK3AXH
  42. VK4VXX/3
  43. VK5NRG
  44. VK3OAK
  45. VK5KLV/p (Telowie Gorge Conservation Park 5CP-227 & VKFF-1105)
  46. VK3MAB
  47. VK5HS
  48. VK5YX/2
  49. ZL2ALK
  50. VK3BBB
  51. VK3ZE
  52. VK2ASS
  53. VK5VC
  54. VK5KDK
  55. VK3AHR
  56. VK7PSJ
  57. VK7FTAS
  58. VK4GSF
  59. VK1MIC/p (SOTA Mount Ainslie VK1/ AC-040 & Mount Ainslee Nature Reserve VKFFF-0850)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6NU/p (SOTA Mount Randall VK6/ SW-039)
  2. VK6XN
  3. VK4SMA
  4. JA1VRY
  5. JH1IED

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5MRT
  2. VK3NLK

As we drove back into Robe I spoke with John VK6NU/p who was activating SOTA peak VK6/ SW-039.  John was a good 5/5 into the mobile.

After getting back into Robe we decided to get some Chinese take away and head back to the motel.  Whilst waiting for the order I took a stroll down Smillie Street which contains a number of very historic buidlings.

We then headed back to our accomodation at the Robe Harbour View Motel, which we would recommend for anyone visiting Robe.  Very friendly staff and clean and tidy rooms.

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There is also a nice view of the Lake Butler Marina across from the motel.

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References.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2011, ‘Lake St Clair Conservation Park Supplementary Document to Management Plan 2011’.

National Parks South Australia, 2018, <https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/lake-st-clair-conservation-park>, viewed 13th March 2018

Little Dip Conservation Park 5CP-120 and VKFF-0904

It was now day two of our trip (Saturday 10th March 2018).  We had two planned activations for the day, with the first being the Little Dip Conservation Park 5CP-120 & VKFF-0904.  The park is located about 5 km south of Robe.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Little Dip Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Little Dip Conservation Park is 21.5 km2 in size and was established on the 21st August 1975.  The park comprises two distinct landscapes.  Firstly a coastal strip containing sand dunes, cliffs, shore platforms, reefs and islets.  The coastal strip is about 11 km long.  The park also conserves a number of small lakes, with each lake having its own unique character, ranging from the open, marshy and shallow Lake Eliza to the very salty Big Dip Lake, and the deep Fresh Water Lake.

The area features a ruggedly beautiful coastline including a large area of coastal sand dunes.  The coastal scrub that gives way to thick groves of melaleuca, dense rushes and samphire flats surrounding the lakes is a haven for birdwatchers. The beaches provide good opportunities for beachcombing and surf fishing.

The foreshore of Lake Eliza was home to the Boandik aboriginal people some 10,000 years ago.  Large numbers of middens (shellfish remains) can still be seen in the park today.

Several species of native animals can be found in the park, which were once wide spread in the South East area.  They include the Swamp Antechinus and the Swamp Rat.  The rare and endangered Orange-bellied Parrot frequents the park as it migrates along the Victorian and South Australian coast during winter.  The vulnerable Rufous Bristlebird can also be found in the park.

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Above:- Rufous Bristlebird.  Image courtesy of wikipedia.

We travelled south out or Robe along the Nora Creina Road and soon came across the park sign.

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We tried a number of tracks but there didn’t appear to be too much opportunity of stretching out the dipole.  This included the track down to Little Dip Beach.

We ended up going to the Long Gully campground area and this was ideal.  There was only one caravan in the campground, and plenty of room for us to set up.

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Above:- Map of the Little Dip Conservation Park, showing our operating spot at Long Gully campground.  Image courtesy of National Parks SA.

Long Gully is essentially a paddock in amongst the scrub and the sand dunes.  The camp ground has toilet facilities, but very little shade.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the park showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps.

As there wasn’t much shade we rolled out the awning on the Toyota Hi Lux and made ourselves comfortable in the deck chairs.  It was already a warm morning, with the top temperature expected to be around 34 deg C.

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After setting up we tuned across the 40m band hoping to get some Park to Park contacts in the log.  It didn’t take us long, finding the Riverland Radio Club boys on 7.150 activating an island on the Murray River.  We logged Peter VK5PE/p, Danny VK5DW/p, Ivan VK5HS/p, and Andy VK5LA/p on Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058.  They were booming in to Little Dip with S9 plus signals.

We then found Tony VK3XV/5 on 7.139 portable in the Grass Tree Conservation Park 5CP-080 & VKFF-0885.  As Tony was quite close to us, signals were low down, but we made it comfortably exchanging 5/1 signal reports.

I then found a clear frequency and started calling CQ on 7.155.  This was answered by Eric VK7EV mobile, with an excellent 5/7 signal.  This was followed by Les VK5KLV/p who was activating the Clements Gap Conservation Park 5CP-043 & VKFF-0812.  Each time a park activator popped up, Marija and I would swap the mic so she could log the Park to Park contact.

I had a steady flow of callers from across Australia, but it was noticeable that there were not as many VK5 park activators out this year.  I’m not sure of the definitive reason why?  However it was pleasing to see a number of interstate park activators out and about taking advantage of the Park to Park opportunities.

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I logged a total of 39 stations on 40m including the following further Park to Park contacts:

  • VK5WAT/3 (Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2031)
  • VK1DI/p (Crace Grassland Nature Reserve VKFF-0838)
  • VK3ANL/p (Gresswell Forest Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2103)
  • VK3FMPB/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-2103)
  • VK5HSX/3 (Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964)
  • VK5PET/p (Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park 5CP-276 & VKFF-1763)
  • VK4AAC/2 (Tarlo River National Park VKFF-0478)

We then lowered the squid pole and inserted the links for the 80m section of the dipole.  Marija had seen quite a few spots pop up on parksnpeaks for VK5 activators who we were unable to hear on the 40m band.  We were hopeful they would see our spot on 80m on parksnpeaks and follow us down for a contact.  But sadly that didn’t happen, except for Adrian VK5FANA/p who was in the Bird Islands Conservation Park 5CP-021 & VKFF-0871.  Our only other contacts on 80m were with Peter VK3PF with a good 5/6 signal, and John VK5BJE who was a strong 5/8.

I now needed just 2 more contacts to get my 44 QSOs, required to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.  So I headed back to 40m where I (we) logged the Riverland boys again, who this time were in the Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087.  This time around the signal of Andy VK5LA, Peter VK5PE, Ivan VK5HS, and Danny VK5DW was down quite low.  But we were able to comfortably exchange signal reports, and it was great to get another brand new park in the log.  Even better, Park to Park.

After working the boys I headed to 7.135 and called CQ where I logged Adrian VK5FANA/p in the Bird Islands Conservation Park 5CP-021 & VKFF-0871, followed by Bob VK3SX.

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Marija had already qualified the park for the VKFF program, but I encouraged her to get back on air and see if she could get 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.  So it was back into the menu and lowering the power back down to 10 watts PEP.  Marija quickly had a little pile up going and within 30 minutes had 44 contacts in the log.  Contact number 44 was with Martin VK7GN, the husband of Linda VK7QP, who has become a keen park activator and hunter in recent times.

Whilst Marija was on air we were visited by two of the local DEWNR rangers, who were very friendly and talkative and were aware of the parks program.

We then had a tune across the 40m band and logged Tony VK3XV/5 who was activating the Mullinger Swamp Conservation Park 5CP-153 & VKFF-1065.  This was another new park for both Marija and I.

I then tried my luck on the 20m band, but the only caller there was Gerard VK2JNG/p, who was not in a park on this occasion.  A very rare event indeed, as Gerard has become a very very active park activator.

I then moved back to 40m where I logged a further 29 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7, including another Park to Park contact, this time with Gerard VK2IO/p who was in the Heathcote National Park VKFF-0232.

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It was now 1.45 p.m. and time to pack up and head off to our second park, the Lake St Clair Conservation Park.  Together we had 128 contacts in the log, and 44 Park to Park contacts.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5PE/p (Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058)
  2. VK5DW/p (Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058)
  3. VK5HS/p (Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058)
  4. VK5LA/p (Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058)
  5. VK3XV/5 (Grass Tree Conservation Park 5CP-080 & VKFF-0885)
  6. VK5KLV/p (Clements Gap Conservation Park 5CP-043 & VKFF-0812)
  7. VK5WAT/3 (Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2031)
  8. VK1DI/p (Crace Grassland Nature Reserve VKFF-0838)
  9. VK3ANL/p (Gresswell Forest Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2103)
  10. VK3FMPB/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264)
  11. VK5HSX/3 (Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964)
  12. VK5PET/p (Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park 5CP-276 & VKFF-1763)
  13. VK4AAC/2 (Tarlo River National Park VKFF-0478)
  14. VK5LA/p (Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087)
  15. VK5PE/p (Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087)
  16. VK5HS/p (Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087)
  17. VK5DW/p (Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087)
  18. VK5FANA/p (Bird Islands Conservation Park 5CP-021 & VKFF-0871)
  19. VK3SX
  20. VK3AHR
  21. VK1RZ
  22. VK3BBB
  23. VK5ZPG
  24. VK3MRG/p
  25. VK3PF
  26. VK4TJ
  27. VK4NH
  28. VK4DXA
  29. ZL4TY/VK4
  30. VK3TJC
  31. VK2AB
  32. VK3UH
  33. VK7QP
  34. VK2KYO
  35. VK2GKA
  36. VK3SQ
  37. VK2JNG/p
  38. VK1FCLU
  39. VK2FABE
  40. VK3FSPG
  41. VK3MPR
  42. VK7GN
  43. VK4FDJL
  44. VK3KAI
  45. VK3DRH
  46. VK3XV/5 (Mullinger Swamp Conservation Park 5CP-153 & VKFF-1065)
  47. VK2IO/p (Heathcote National Park VKFF-0232)

Marija worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5FANA/p (Bird Islands Conservation Park 5CP-021 & VKFF-0871)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5PE/p (Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058)
  2. VK5DW/p (Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058)
  3. VK5HS/p (Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058)
  4. VK5LA/p (Media Island Conservation Park 5CP-132 & VKFF-1058)
  5. VK3XV/5 (Grass Tree Conservation Park 5CP-080 & VKFF-0885)
  6. VK7EV/m
  7. VK5KLV/p (Clements Gap Conservation Park 5CP-043 & VKFF-0812)
  8. VK3SQ
  9. VK2LEE
  10. VK5WAT/3 (Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2031)
  11. VK3BBB
  12. VK2EXA
  13. VK1DI/p (Crace Grassland Nature Reserve VKFF-0838)
  14. VK2PKT
  15. VK3ANL/p (Gresswell Forest Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2103)
  16. VK3FMPB/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264)
  17. VK2HHA
  18. VK3MRG/p
  19. VK5HSX/3 (Creswick Regional Park VKFF-0964)
  20. VK4FDJL
  21. VK5PET/p (Monarto Woodlands Conservation Park 5CP-276 & VKFF-1763)
  22. VK3FLCS
  23. VK3FSPG
  24. VK3MPR
  25. VK2KYO
  26. VK7JON/m
  27. VK7FOLK/m
  28. VK7QP
  29. VK3UH
  30. VK2KMI
  31. VK2IO
  32. VK2NP
  33. VK3FMKE
  34. VK3PF
  35. VK4TJ
  36. VK2USH
  37. VK4AAC/2 (Tarlo River National Park VKFF-0478)
  38. VK3MWD
  39. VK3GMC
  40. VK5LA/p (Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087)
  41. VK5PE/p (Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087)
  42. VK5HS/p (Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087)
  43. VK5DW/p (Rilli Island Conservation Park 5CP-198 & VKFF-1087)
  44. VK5FANA/p (Bird Islands Conservation Park 5CP-021 & VKFF-0871)
  45. VK3SX
  46. VK3XV/5 (Mullinger Swamp Conservation Park 5CP-153 & VKFF-1065)
  47. VK3PAT/p
  48. VK5MRT
  49. VK2LX
  50. VK2VW
  51. VK5BMC
  52. VK5ZPG
  53. VK3FRJD
  54. VK7EK
  55. VK5PL
  56. VK5YX/2 (Kosciuszko National Park VKFF-0269)
  57. VK5LOL/2 (Kosciuszko National Park VKFF-0269)
  58. VK3VAR
  59. VK5FANA/m
  60. VK3FXBR
  61. VK3HOT
  62. VK3TKK/m
  63. VK3DQ
  64. VK7VZ/p
  65. VK3BF
  66. VK5KFB
  67. VK7NWT
  68. VK3DAC
  69. VK3TP
  70. VK4NH
  71. VK4DXA
  72. ZL4TY/VK4
  73. VK5VBR
  74. VK3FHCT
  75. VK2IO/p (Heathcote National Park VKFF-0232)

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK5BJE
  3. VK5FANA/p (Bird Islands Conservation Park 5CP-021 & VKFF-0871)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2JNG/p

 

References.

National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment and Planning, ‘Little Dip Conservation Park Management Plan’.

National Parks South Australia, 2018, <https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/little-dip-conservation-park>, viewed 13th March 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Dip_Conservation_Park>, viewed 13th March 2018

Butcher Gap Conservation Park 5CP-027 and VKFF-0793

The weekend just gone (Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th March 2018) saw the special activation weekend for the 5th anniversary of the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.  The Award which commenced in April, 2013, promotes portable activity from South Australia’s National & Conservation Parks.  And every year in March or April a special activation weekend is held to celebrate the anniversary of the award.

On Friday 9th March 2018, my wife Marija VK5FMAZ and I headed down to the South East region of South Australia to activate some parks, and spend 3 nights in the beautiful seaside town of Robe.  It is about a 300 km drive from our home in the Adelaide Hills to Robe.  We decided to take the Princes Highway from Tailem Bend down to Meningie, and then onwards to Robe following the coastline and the Coorong National Park.

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Above:- Our journey from the Adelaide Hills to Robe in the South East of South Australia.  Map courtesy of plotaroute.com.

Between Tailem Bend and Meningie we had a tune across the band and found Rob VK4AAC/2 calling CQ from the Bungonia National Park VKFF-1163.  Rob had a good 5/7 signal and gave us a 5/5 signal report from the mobile.  Soon after we worked Tony VK3XV/5 who was activating the Desert Camp Conservation Reserve VKFF-1705.  Tony had come over with his wife Sheryl from Victoria to take part in the 5th year anniversary event.  Many thanks Tony and Sheryl.

Our first stop of the morning was at Salt Creek, a small settlement about 61 km south east of Meningie.  We stopped briefly to have a look at the Oil rig monument.  In 1892, a group of entrepreneurs, who believed there was oil located in the Coorong, drilled Australia’s first oil well.  They were unsuccessful, as it was later discovered that the ‘oil’ was in fact a flammable, compacted vegetable substance known as ‘coorongite’.

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Above:- Marija at the Oil rig monument at Salt Creek.

Marija and I decided to venture off the Princes Highway and take the Coorong Loop Road through the Coorong National Park 5NP-005 & VKFF-0115.  The loop road commences at Salt Creek and travels about 13 km through the park before joining up again with the Princes Highway.  Whilst on the Loop Road we stopped briefly to make a Park to Park contact with Tony VK3XV/5 in the Desert Camp Conservation Reserve.

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Above:- Our view of the Coorong during our contact with Tony VK3XV.

Our next stop was just a little further down the road at Chinaman’s Well which is located in the  Coorong National Park.  The area is so named due to a freshwater well which was constructed in the 1850’s.

During the 1850’s thousands of Chinese people landed in South Australia with the prospect of making their wealth on the Victorian goldfields at Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, and Beechworth.  Those that did arrive in South Australia walked the 800 km to the goldfields across wetlands, desert, hills and plains.

Why walk from South Australia?  Why not land in the Port of Melbourne?  In an attempt to limit the number of Chinese on the Victorian goldfields, a law was passed which stated that any Chinese person entering the Colony of Victoria would pay a ten pound tax and one pound protection fee, for the right to mine and live in the colony.  As a result ships arriving from overseas would drop the Chinese arrivals off in Sydney or Adelaide.

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Above:- A Chinese emigrant on the journey to the Victorian Goldfields..  Image courtesy of http://www.kidcyber.com.au/gold-rush-in-australia/

Between 1857 and 1863 it is estimated that over 17,000 Chinese walked from South Australia to the Victorian goldfields.  In 1859, at the peak of the Victorian gold rush, the Chinese population in Victoria reached 46,000.  The Chinese made up about 1/5th of the total male population in the mining towns in Victoria in this period.

You can do a 45 minutes walk here and view the sandstone and limestone quarries and the well itself.  Although there are interpretive signs, sadly the walk is not well signposted.  But it is well worth doing and gives you a very good impression of the oppressive journey that the Chinese undertook in the hope of finding gold.

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Marija and I continued south on the Princes Highway towards Kingston SE.  Along the way we logged Tony VK3XV/5 who was now in the Padthaway Conservation Park 5CP-169 & VKFF-0924.

We stopped briefly at the town of Kingston SE.  The town was named after Sir George Strickland Kingston, a South Australian politician, surveyor and architect.  The town was established in 1861 and was originally known as Kingston.  The extension on its name is to distinguish Kingston in the South East (of South Australia) from another ‘Kingston’ in the state which is now officially named “Kingston On Murray” was added in July 1940.

One of the famous attractions in the town is the Big Lobster, known as ‘Larry’ by the people of Kingston.   ‘Larry’ is a sculpture of a spiny lobster, and stands around 17 metres tall.  It can be located outside of a former visitor centre and restaurant, which sadly is no longer in operation.

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‘Larry’ the Lobster

Another attraction in the town is the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse, which is a decommissioned lighthouse formerly located on Margaret Brock Reef near Cape Jaffa on the south east coast of South Australia.  The tower has been located in the town of Kingston SE since 1976.

We stopped off at a local cafe and picked up some lunch and headed down to the foreshore and enjoyed lunch whilst watching the ocean.

It was around 2.30 in the afternoon and we were quite close to Robe, so we decided to do a quick park activation at the Butcher Gap Conservation Park 5CP-027 & VKFF-0793.  This was to be a new park for both Marija and I, for both the VK5 Parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

The park is located about 6 km south of the town of Kingston and about 294 km (by road) south east of Adelaide.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Butcher Gap Conservation Park in the South East region of South Australia.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Butcher Gap Conservation Park is 180 hectares in size and was first proclaimed on 29th March 1990.  It is one of the last remaining significant coastal scrubs between the Coorong and Robe.  The park encompasses Salt Lake and Butcher Lake, and is separated by the Butcher Gap Drain which brings large amounts of fresh water from the farmlands, through the park and out to sea.

The park’s wetland area supports an association of dense South Australian Swamp Paperbark over marine meadow, while the remainder of the Park is a coastal scrub association.  Salt Lake usually holds water between June and January.

The park attracts an array of wildlife throughout the year. Seasonal waterbirds such as swans and white-faced herons frequent the lakes, while small bush birds may be seen along the park’s scenic walking trails.  During the months of spring and summer, the area is visited by Japanese snipe and other wading birds.  In winter the park provides an important refuge for the endangered orange-bellied parrot.

The following birds have been recorded in the park: Superb Fairywren, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Singing Honeyeater, Brown Thornbill, Silvereye, Beautiful Firetail, Latham’s Snipe, Common Bronzewing, Rufous Bristlebird, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, White-browed Babbler, Orange bellied parrot, and Red-browed Finch.

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Above: Orange bellied parrot.  Image courtesy of wikipedia

To get to the park we travelled along Pinks Beach Road which runs off the Southern Ports Highway.  As you enter the 50 kph area of Pinks Beach you will see a small brown sign on the southern side of the road which reads ‘Butchers Gap Conservation Park’.  There is a driveway here which leads to a small parking area.

We parked the vehicle and then walked about 50 metres down the wide track and set up our station which consisted of the Yaesu FT-897 and the 20/40/80m linked dipole.

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Map showing our operating spot in the park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Our intention was just to get 10 contacts and qualify the park for the VKFF program, so Marija and I decided to swap the mic during the activation.  This meant that we could only run 10 watts PEP due to Marija’s Foundation licence conditions.

Prior to calling CQ we tuned across the 40m band and worked Tony VK3XV/5 who was activating the Padthaway Conservation Park 5CP-169 & VKFF-0924.  Padthaway was only about 96 km away by road, so due to us being close to each other, signals were well down.  However due to the lack of man made noise on the band from each park, we were able to easily log each other.

We then moved down to 7.139 and started calling CQ.  This was answered by Peter VK3PF, followed by Peter VK5ZPG, and then Deryck VK4FDJL.  But it was really hard going, with very few takers.  Peter VK3PF came back to us and kindly gave us another one of his calls VK3KAI.  We were quite concerned that we weren’t going to get our 10 contacts to qualify the park for VKFF.

With 8 contacts in the log, I decided to take a few photos, and Marija kept persevering.  Finally, after 23 minutes, Marija had contact number 10 in the log, a QSO with Ross VK7ALH.

Marija logged a total of 24 stations and we then swapped the mic.  Marija took a break and I jumped into the ‘drivers seat’.  I logged a total of 24 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7, before deciding to try the 20m band.

I headed to 14.310 and started calling CQ, but soon had to put up with the Over the Horizon Radar.  Ross VK7ALH was my first caller, who had followed me up from 40m.  This was followed by Dale VK4NBX and then Ray VK4NH.

I was now just 5 short of the required 44 QSOs to qualify the park for WWFF.  As I hadn’t logged many South Australian stations I decided to try the 80m band.  Greg VK5GJ was first in the log there, followed by Ivan VK5HS and then Norm VK5GI.  Marija also logged Greg, Ivan, and Norm.  Sadly, they were our only takers on 80m.

So with just 2 QSOs needed, I headed back to 40m and called CQ again on 7.139.  Ivan VK5HS had followed me back to 40m and he was my 43rd contact, followed by Mick VK3DDZ who was the magical 44th contact.

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It was now around 4.30 p.m. and time to pack up, with a 40km trip ahead of us down to Robe.  Marija and I had both qualified the park for the VK5 Parks Award, and VKFF.  And despite hard work, I had also qualified the park for the global WWFF program.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3XV/5 (Padthaway Conservation Park 5CP-169 & VKFF-0924)
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK5ZPG
  4. VK4FDJL
  5. VK3KAI
  6. VK2HHA
  7. VK5FANA
  8. VK3SQ
  9. VK2EXA
  10. VK7ALH
  11. VK2RP/m
  12. VK2PKT
  13. VK2KYO
  14. VK3UH
  15. VK3MIJ
  16. VK7FRJG
  17. VK5KLV
  18. VK3WAR
  19. VK3ZD
  20. VK2AKB
  21. VK3FSPG
  22. VK3MPR
  23. VK7QP
  24. VK3SIM
  25. VK5GJ
  26. VK5HS
  27. VK5GI

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3XV/5 (Padthaway Conservation Park 5CP-169 & VKFF-0924)
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK5ZPG
  4. VK4FDJL
  5. VK3KAI
  6. VK2HHA
  7. VK5FANA
  8. VK3SQ
  9. VK3SIM
  10. VK5KLV
  11. VK2EXA
  12. VK7ALH
  13. VK2PKT
  14. VK3FSPG
  15. VK3MPR
  16. VK2NP
  17. VK2BDR/m
  18. VK2RP/m
  19. VK7VZ/p
  20. VK7FRJG
  21. VK3WAR
  22. VK1MIC
  23. VK7DIK
  24. VK3FLCS
  25. VK2USH
  26. VK3ZVX
  27. VK3UH
  28. VK4FARR
  29. VK2IO
  30. VK3BU
  31. VK3VGB
  32. VK7LH
  33. VK2YK
  34. VK3TKK/m
  35. VK5HS
  36. VK2DDZ

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK7ALH
  2. VK4NBX
  3. VK4NH
  4. VK4DXA
  5. ZL4TY/VK4

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5GJ
  2. VK5HS
  3. VK5GI

Once we had pack up Marija and I drove to the end of Pinks Beach Road to have a look at the beach on the Lacapede Bay.  There were plenty of fishermen there enjoying the late afternoon sun.

We soon reached the town of Robe, where we had booked in for 3 nights at the Robe Harbour View Motel.  After checking in and offloading some of our bags, we ventured out to explore Robe.  The town was named in 1846 after Governor Frederick Holt Robe who was apparently one of South Australia’s most unpopular Governors.  An editor of a particular newspaper at the time wrote of Robe: ‘never a man who worked so hard to make himself unpopular‘.  Whatever the origins of the town, this is a truly beautiful spot.

Our first stop was the Lake Butler Marina at Robe which was very busy.  A total of 32 commercial fishing boats and about 30 recreational boats moor in the marina.

We then had a look at the remains of the old Robe Gaol.  It was operational between 1860 to 1870 when it was closed.  It reopened in 1872 but was again closed in 1881.  The walls were reinforced with steel boiler plates from the wreck of the SS Admella in an effort to contain potential escapes.

We continued down Obelisk Road and checked out the Robe obelisk which is located on Cape Combey.  It was built in 1855 by local builder George Shivas at the cost of about 230 pounds.  It is 40 feet high and stands about 100 feet above sea level.  It was carried to its site by a 32 bullock wagon team.  There is also a nice walk here to the top of a hill which offers some great views of Robe.

Robe is full of historic buildings, and one of the most iconic is the Robe Customs House which was built in 1863 and used for about 25 years as a Customs House and office of Harbour Master & Receiver of Wrecks.  It later became a local council office.  It is now a National Trust Museum and sits on the top of a hill on Royal Circus, Robe.

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Just across the road is the monument for explorers Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin.  It features portrait busts of the explorers.  In 1801 Matthew Flinders set out from England aboard the Investigator.  A few months earlier Nicholas Baudin set sail from France aboard the Le Geographe.  Both men were charged with the tasks of scientific and geographical exploration and had intentions to map the Southern Contintent.  As it would happen, their voyages overlapped and they met in South Australia.

Another interesting memorial to have a look at is the Chinese Memorial.  During the years 1856-1858 around 16,500 Chinese landed at Robe and walked the 321 km (200 miles) to the Victorian Goldfields in search of gold.

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We then headed off to the Robe Hotel for a meal and some nice cold beverages.  The meal was very nice and the service was good.  This was reflected by the number of people that were there – it was a struggle to get a table.

Following our meal we drove down to the cliffs at Adam Lindsay Drive and enjoyed the sunset.  We then headed back to the motel room where Marija called it a night earlier, whilst I sat back in bed and watched Arnie Schwarzenegger in Predator.

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References.

Birds SA, 2018, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/butcher-gap-conservation-park/>, viewed 13th March 2018

Culture Victoria, 2018, <https://cv.vic.gov.au/stories/immigrants-and-emigrants/many-roads-chinese-on-the-goldfields/walking-to-the-diggings/different-routes/>, viewed 13th March 2018

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1994, ‘Small Coastal Parks of the South East Management Plan’.

District Council of Robe, 2018, <http://www.council.robe.sa.gov.au/>, viewed 13th March 2018

kidcyber, 2018, <http://www.kidcyber.com.au/gold-rush-in-australia/>, viewed 13th March 2018

Monuments Australia, 2018, <http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/landscape/exploration/display/102986-matthew-flinders-and-nicholas-baudin->, viewed 13th March 2018

National Parks SA, 2018, <https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/butcher-gap-conservation-park>, viewed 13th March 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_Creek,_South_Australia>, viewed 13th March 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_SE>, viewed 13th March 2018