Yesterday, Easter Monday (2nd April 2018), Marija went out for lunch with a girlfriend, so I headed out into the field to activate three Mallee parks. Two of these, Ettrick & Lowan, I had activated before for both WWFF and the VK5 Parks Award. But Bandon Conservation Park was to be a first for me. I had a bit of a drive ahead. In fact during the day I covered a distance of around 286 km.
My first park for the day was the Ettrick Conservation Park 5CP-267 & VKFF-1029 which is located about 35 km north east of the town of Murray Bridge and about 112 km east of the city of Adelaide.
The park is 479 hectares in size and was gazetted on the 31st October 2013. It is named after the Hundred of Ettrick, which was proclaimed on 4th May 1893. It was named by Governor Kintore who hailed from Scotland where there is a ‘Parish of Ettrick’ in Selkirk, derived from the Gaelic eadar-dha-eas – ‘between two waterfalls’. There are certainly no waterfalls out here at Ettrick. It is typical harsh mallee country. There is also a place called Ettrick in the Mid North of South Australia, near Riverton.
The park is a piece of remnant mallee which is surrounded by cleared farming land. The park is located in relatively close proximity to the mighty Murray River (which can be seen in the image below, to the right of the picture).
The park consists mostly of Low Very Open Woodland with Mallee Box with Dryland Tea-tree. It is also home to one of the few remaining examples of tussock grassland in this particular part of the Murray-Darling Basin.
More than 65 species of bird have been recorded in the park by Birds SA. This includes Mallee Ringneck, Galah, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Spotted Pardalote, White-browed Babbler, White-winged Chough, Peaceful Dove, Purple-backed Fairywren, Splendid Fairywren, Grey Butcherbird, Black-faced Cuckooshrike, and Gilbert’s Whistler.
During my visit to the park I took the photos below of a Whistling Kite and also a Brown Falcon. The Falcon, he/she was kind enough to sit up in the tree long enough for me to take a few shots.
After leaving Murray Bridge I took the Burdett Road and then turned right onto the Bowhill Road. About 4 km up the road I turned left onto Boundary Road. The western boundary of the park soon came into view. There is a lot of other scrub surrounding and adjacent to the park. I wonder whether one day this will be incorporated into Ettrick.
I headed to Glenburr Road and found an entry into the park. I drove a short distance along the track and found a clearing in the scrub and set up.
After setting up I put our a call on 7.144 to see if the frequency was in use. A few voices came back to me to advise the frequency was clear. One of the those was Peter VK3PF with a strong 5/9 signal. I then logged Ron VK3AHR, followed by Geoff VK3SQ and then Neil VK4HNS. Contact number 10, qualifying the park for me for the VKFF program, was a a QSO with Hans VK6XN in Western Australia. This came ten minutes into the activation.
I was then called by VK3VG who asked if I wouldn’t mind moving frequency as the Old Timers broadcast was about to commence on 7.146. So I moved down to 7.140 where I logged Jern VK2KJJ, Graeme VK3PGK, John VK4TJ, and then Keith VK2PKT.
Band conditions on 40m were average, with quite a bit of fading (QSB) on most signals. However it was pleasing to have a steady flow of callers from all across Australia. My 44th contact, qualifying the park for the global WWFF program, came with a QSO with Jarrad VK3BL, about 50 minutes into the activation.
I logged a total of 47 stations on 40m, before lowering the squid pole and removing the links and then heading to 14.310 on the 20m band. Unfortunately I had no internet coverage so I was unable to self spot on parksnpeaks. I called CQ and this was answered by Russell VK4ARW, followed by Stuie VK8NSB in Darwin who had a strong 5/9 signal, and then Mark VK4SMA. John VK4TJ followed, and then Snow VK4ME. But despite 5 minutes more of CQ calls, I had no further takers.
John VK4TJ told me that Liz VK2XSE was in a park and was on 7.170. So it was down with the squid pole and back in with the links, and off to 40m. I logged Liz VK2XSE/p who was in the Lachlan Valley Regional Park VKFF-1784. Liz had a strong 5/8 signal and reciprocated with a 5/8 for me.
I then lowered the squid pole again and inserted the links for the 80m band. I had just enough coverage on the mobile to give Marija a quick call, and she became contact number 1 on 80m. David VK5HYZ then called in, followed by John VK5BJE. Despite band conditions being very good on 80m around South Australia, I had no further callers.
To complete the activation I put up the 1/2 wave 15m dipole and put out a few calls on 21.244, but had no takers.
It was time to pack up and head off to my second park, the Lowan Conservation Park. I had a total of 56 contacts in the log.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB before the UTC rollover:-
I worked the following stations on 40m after the UTC rollover:-
- VK2XSE/p (Lachlan Valley Regional Park VKFF-1784)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
Birds SA, 2018, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/ettrick-conservation-park/>, viewed 3rd April 2018
Murray Valley Standard newspaper, 2018, <http://www.murrayvalleystandard.com.au/story/1966160/ettrick-conservation-park-proclaimed/>, viewed 3rd April 2018
State Library of South Australia, 2018, <http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/digitalpubs/placenamesofsouthaustralia/>, viewed 3rd April 2018