Ferries McDonald Conservation Park 5CP-067 and VKFF-0881

Last night (Tuesday 26th June 2018) I decided at the last minute to head out to active the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park 5CP-067 & VKFF-0881 using the special call of VI70MI.  This was my last night using the call, and as I currently have no dedicated 80m antenna at home, I headed out for an evening park activation, particularly focussing on the 80m band.

The Ferries McDonald Conservation Park is about 70 km east of Adelaide and about 25 km south west (by road) from Murray Bridge.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 8.53.01 pm

Above:- Map showing the location of the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

To get to the park I travelled east along the South Eastern Freeway until I got to the Monarto turnoff.  I then travelled along Ferries McDonald Road at a slow pace, as there were lots of kangaroos on the road.  The area is also known to be the home of the endangered Mallee Fowl and there are signs in place reminding you to drive with care with respect to the local wildlife.

The Ferries McDonald Conservation Park is quite a large park, comprising 842 hectares of dense mallee scrub.  Much of the land surrounding the current park was cleared years ago for agriculture, but a few rocky outcrops, not suitable for farming practices, preserved fragments of the original vegetation.  The park is home to a variety of rare and endangered plant species.  Resin Wattle (Acacia rhetinocarpa) is a compact, resinous spreading shrub that grows up to 2 metres in height with bright yellow flowers.  It is endemic to South Australia and is only found in a few locations across the state including three populations in Ferries McDonald CP.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 9.19.03 pm.png

Above:- Aerial shot showing the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park, looking south out towards the Coorong and the Southern Ocean.  Image courtesy of google maps

On 28th July 1938 the area was gazetted as a Closed Area for Birds and Animals, creating the first reserve specifically for mallee fauna. The area was named after Robert Sweet McDonald, the donor of much of the land.   In 1953 an addition to the park was made with monies from a bequest from James Ferries, thus creating the Ferries-McDonald Reserve.  The area was previously known as Chauncey’s Line Scrub.


A number of native animals call the park home including the Red, Western Grey and Euro Kangaroos.

A focus within the park has been the protection of the Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata), a native bird species that originally inhabited much of the natural mallee environment.  Malleefowl are listed as vulnerable nationally but are critically endangered in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.


Above:- Malleefowl.  Image courtesy of wikipedia.

Birds SA have recorded a total of 89 native birds in the park including Galah, Variegated Fairywren, Weebill, Southern Scrub Robin, Australian Magpie, Australian Golden Whistler, Grey Shrikethrush, Spotted Nightjar, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Chestnut-rumped Hornbill, White-browed Scrubwren, and White-winged Triller.

I set up in my normal operating spot, in the carpark in the south eastern corner of the park.  I braved the cold during this activation, with the temperature dropping down to 4 degree C during my time in the park.  I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, set at 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 8.52.42 pm

Above:- Aerial shot of the park showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

First in the log on 3.603 on 80m was John VK5NJ at Mount Gambier with a strong t/9 plus signal.  This was followed by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula who was equally as strong.  Adrian gave me a 40/9 signal report.  Conditions on the band were great, with no man made noise of course in the park, but also limited static crashes.

I logged 29 stations on 80m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7 and New Zealand.  This included a Park to Park contact with Gerard VK2IO/p who was activating the Eusdale Nature Reserve VKFF-1929.

I then moved to 40m as Les Vk5KLV up at Port Augusta was hoping to log me and did not have a dedicated antenna for 80m.  Sadly Les was unable to hear me on 40m.  But I did log 10 stations including Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs.

I moved back to 80m before packing up.  I logged a further 13 stations, including Les VK5KLV who was able to make it with his compromise 80m antenna.  I was pleased to get Les in the log.

I was now freezing and it was time to pack up and head home to the warmth.  I had a total of 52 contacts in the log which I was very happy with.

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5NJ
  2. VK5FANA
  3. VK4TJ
  4. VK2IO/p (Eusdale Nature Reserve VKFF-1929)
  5. VK5PL
  6. ZL1TM
  7. VK3VKT/m
  8. VK3BBB
  9. VK4SMA
  10. VK4FW
  11. VK2NP
  12. VK5YX
  13. VK5FMAZ
  14. VK3ACT
  15. VK3PF
  16. VK1DI
  17. VK2KTG
  18. VK3IRS
  19. VK3MAB
  20. VK2PMG
  21. VK3MEG
  22. VK3ARH
  23. VK3NLK
  24. ZL2OPB/VK5
  25. VK5LA
  26. VK3UH
  27. VK6GLX
  28. VK7NWT
  29. VK5GJ
  30. VK4DX
  31. VK5KLV
  32. VK2IK
  33. VK3HJ
  34. VK2FAJM
  35. VK3KG
  36. VK3SOT
  37. VK7FCIA
  38. VK3BMT
  39. VK5MR
  40. VK5UK/3
  41. VK5BC
  42. VK5TW

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4FARR
  2. VK4LOT
  3. VK5FMAZ
  4. VK4ATM
  5. VK8GM
  6. VK4RJ
  7. VK4GJW
  8. VK2MG
  9. VK4SYD
  10. VK4DX




Birds SA, 2018, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/ferries-mcdonald-conservation-park/>, viewed 27th June 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferries_McDonald_Conservation_Park>, viewed 27th June 2018

4 thoughts on “Ferries McDonald Conservation Park 5CP-067 and VKFF-0881

    • Hi Chris,

      I can’t wait to get the 80m dipole up in the air here at home. Just waiting for a mate to come over and help me up on the roof.

      73 mate,

      Paul VK5PAS.

      • More than happy to help! Flying home tomorrow. I’ll be out as soon as I get back, either to look at a newly heisted dipole or help put one up!


      • Hi Chris,

        Hopefully he will be coming over in the next few weeks, depending on the weather and my shifts. But I really appreciate the offer. I might get you over one day anyway to scrutinise the shack and see if I can improve things. John VK5BJE has offered to come over and help me set up for FT8.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s