Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve VKFF-2887

After packing up at Mount Gawler I headed to the Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve VKFF-2887.  This would be another first-time activation of this particular park.  The park is located about 8 km north of the town of Kersbrook and about 37 km north east of the city of Adelaide.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve is 842 hectares in size and comprises a parcel of scrub representative of the original vegetation of the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges.

The park is part of a large area of native forest which extends southward from the South Para Reservoir about 5 km south-west of Williamstown in the southern part of the Barossa Vallet.  The forest area is referred to as Old Kersbrook.  The park is surrounded by private land holdings.  The Para Wirra Recreation Park and Humbug Scrub private sanctuary adjoins the west side of Kersbrook NFR.

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Above:- Map of the Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve.  Map courtesy of Forestry SA.

The devastating January 2015 Sampson Flat bushfire burnt out most of the Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve, stopping in the north of the park at the Castle yard Track.


The Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve is one of 15 NFR’s in the Mount Lofty Ranges.  The reserve is dominated by Long-leaf Box and Pink Gum, over a diverse shrub and understorey of native plants.  Two species of nationally endangered native orchid occur here.

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Above:- An aerial shot of the Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve, looking north towards the famous wine growing region of the Barossa Valley.  Image courtesy of google maps.

I headed north on the Kersbrook Road and soon saw a significant plume of smoke off in the distance.  It appeared to be very close to where I wanted to go.  A check of the Country Fire Service website failed to reveal any active fires, so I presume it was a controlled burn.


Above:- Looking north from the Kersbrook Road.

It was a bit of a challenge to get into the reserve.  I had studied the maps prior to leaving home and it appeared that this may have been a walk in.  My GPS first took me down Sheoak Road which was meant to run into Ridge Road.  However, Sheoak Road was a no through road.

So I turned around and headed back out onto the Kersbrook Road, travelling south.  The GPS then took me into another track which turned out to be a dead end.  Things were not looking good.  It was time to study the map again.

I decided to head north along Bassnet Road which took me into the little locality of Humbug Scrub which was severely impacted by the Sampson Flat bushfire.  During the 1800s, German settlers on their way to the Barossa Valley called this area Hamburg Scrub.  English speaking locals re-named it Humbug Scrub because the bushland was considered to be ‘very deceptive and incomprehensively embarrassing’ with people often getting lost in the scrub.

There is a bus shelter here which tells the history of the Humbug Scrub area.  The bus shelter was built in the 1970s.  At school drop off and pick up times the bus shelter became a popular meeting place for parents.  In the aftermath of the Sampson Flat bushfire, the bus shelter once again became a popular meeting place for local residents, despite the fact that it had been damaged by fire.  It was subsequently redesigned and information boards were placed at the shelter.


I continued north on Bassnet Road which soon led into Humbug Scrub Road.  It was not looking good for access points into the park.  But upon reaching the corner of Humbug Scrub Road and Bassnet Road I saw a sign for the park.  It was a welcome sight.

There were some beautiful views here of the reserve and the adjacent pine forests and hills.


Sadly, there was a lot of rubbish dumped here which did not seem to be attracting the attention of the authorities with respect to clean up.

As I was offloading my gear a Foresty SA vehicle pulled up and I explained what I was doing.  He seemed fine and discussed an old radio he previously had which he listened to overseas broadcast stations on.  I also confirmed that the smoke was from a controlled burn off.

After setting up on Cattleyard Track, I headed to 7.144 where I found Helen VK7FOLK/p and Jonathan VK7JON/p activating the Stanley Conservation Area VKFF-2919 in Tasmania.  I logged both Helen and Jonathan, and then headed down the band to 7.139.  I asked if the frequency was in use and Peter VK3PF came back to advise the frequency was clear.

After logging Peter, I called CQ and Deryck VK4FDL responded, followed by Peter VK3ZPF and then Damien VK3FRAB.  A flurry of callers followed, and it took me just 6 minutes to get contact number 10 in the log, a QSO with Cliff VK2NP.  I had qualified the park for VKFF.  Contact number 11 was another Park to Park, this time with Mike VK6MB/3 who was activating the Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620.

It took me just 24 minutes to qualify the park for the global WWFF program with 44 contacts.  I logged a total of 56 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK7, New Zealand and Spain.  This included a Park to Park with Neil VK4HNS/p who was in the Main Range National Park VKFF-0300, a contact with Peter VK3YE/p who was pedestrian mobile on the beach at Chelsea, and a contact with Deme EA5IPC in Spain which was a big surprise.


I then decided to try my luck with some DX on 20m.  I headed to 14.310 and found Greg VK4VXX/6 calling CQ from Stokes National Park VKFF-0468.  I then moved down to 14.305 and started calling CQ.  Murray VK4MWB came back to my call, followed by Glenn VK2WGW, and then Giancarlo IZ1AWC in Italy with a good strong 5/9 signal.  I logged a further seven stations on 20m including IZ8DFO in Italy and UT5PI in Ukraine.

One sad point of this activation was the response I received from an amateur on 14.307.  I had been operating on 14.305 for 15 minutes when some German speaking stations came up on 14.307, just 2 kc above me.  It was clear that one was from Australia, as he was very strong.  I went up to 14.307 and asked politely if they would QSY a little bit away from me.  I was ignored.  I asked again and was told by the Australian station ‘we have used this frequency for 30 years’.  I informed this gentleman that he did not ‘own’ the frequency and again asked if they would mind QSYing.  Sadly they ignored me, and I decided not to push the issue and I headed to 80m.  So I apologise in advance to anyone who may have been calling me.

I then called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band and this was answered by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula with a big signal.  I logged a further 6 stations from VK1, VK3, & VK5, including my wife Marija VK5FMAZ.

To conclude the activation I moved back to 40m where I logged a further 9 stations, including a Park to Park with Greg VK4VXX/6 in VKFF-0468.


I now had 84 contacts in the log, including 6 Park to Park contacts, and the temperature had dropped to 12 deg C.  It was getting cold and dark and it was time to pack up and head home.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7JON/p (Stanley Conservation Area VKFF-2919)
  2. VK7FOLK/p (Stanley Conservation Area VKFF-2919)
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK4FDJL
  5. VK3ZPF
  6. VK3FRAB
  7. VK2LX
  8. VK4RF
  9. VK4HA
  10. VK2NP
  11. VK6MB/3 (Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620)
  12. VK3SQ
  13. VK3DBP
  14. VK4SMA
  15. VK4AAC/3
  16. VK2VH/3
  17. VK3NCC/m
  18. VK3BSG
  19. VK3DAC
  20. VK4CZ
  21. VK7DW
  22. ZL1TM
  23. VK4FARR
  24. VK7ME
  25. VK3ZE
  26. VK4NH
  27. VK4DXA
  28. ZL4TY/VK4
  29. VK3LTL
  30. VK2HHA
  31. VK2IO/m
  32. VK4HNS/p (Main Range National Park VKFF-0300)
  33. VK3AHR
  34. VK2PKT
  35. VK3FPSR
  36. VK3ARH
  37. VK2YK
  38. VK3ANL
  39. EA5IPC
  40. VK3UH
  41. VK1CT
  42. VK2JXA
  43. VK3TKK/m
  44. VK2MG
  45. VK3YE//p (pedestrian mobile)
  46. VK2YE
  47. VK3FBAA
  48. VK4MWB
  49. VK2FRKA
  50. VK3BHR
  51. VK3PI
  52. VK3MCK
  53. VK4BX
  54. VK3UCD
  55. VK2JAZ
  56. VK2VW
  57. VK1TX
  58. VK3MPR
  59. VK3GB
  60. VK4TJ
  61. VK5WU
  62. VK3ATO
  63. VK2UH
  64. VK3BCM
  65. VK4VXX/6 (Stokes National Park VKFF-0468)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4VXX/6 (Stokes National Park VKFF-0468)
  2. VK4MWB
  3. VK2WGW
  4. IZ1AWC
  5. VK4NH
  6. VK4DXA
  7. ZL4TY/VK4
  8. VK4BX
  9. VK4TJ
  10. IZ8DFO
  11. UT5PI

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA
  2. VK3BSG
  3. VK5FMAZ
  4. VK5FLEA
  5. VK3MAB
  6. VK1DI
  7. VK3ZPF
  8. VK3MPR




Forestry SA, 2016, Kersbrook & Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserves Management Plan.

Mount Gawler VK5/ SE-013 and the Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserve VKFF-2888

Yesterday (Sunday 28th April 2019) I activated Mount Gawler VK5/ SE-013 for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program, which is located in the Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserve VKFF-2888.

I have activated Mount Gawler many times previously, but this was a new calendar year and I would pick up another 2 SOTA activator points.  This brings my SOTA activator points up to 397.  At this rate, I will end up getting to Mount Goat level by the time I am 65.  A big fat 1,000 points are required to reach the illustrious Mountain Goat level.

This was to be a first-time activation of the Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserve VKFF-2888, which has only just recently been added to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

Mount Gawler is located near Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills, about 35 km northeast of the city of Adelaide.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserve.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

I left home at around 10.30 a.m. and headed towards Kersbook.  It is a beautiful drive from my home in Mount Barker, north out through the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’, through the towns of Nairne, Woodside, Lobethal, Gummeracha and then Kersbrook.

I travelled down Checker Hill Road towards the South Para Road and admired the terrific views towards Mount Gawler.  Checker Hill Road is often used in the Tour Down Under cycle race as part of the King of the Mountain Hill climb.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) categories Checker Hill as a category 2 climb (the second hardest).  Checker Hill is described as short but fierce, boasting an average gradient of 14.2%, with a maximum of around 20%.  It has been described as a challenge even for the pros to conquer.


I then travelled into the town of Kersbrook which was named in 1841 by John Bowden who had arrived in South Australia aboard the Royal Admiral in 1838.  He took up land in the district and called his property ‘Kersbrook’ after his birthplace in Cornwall, England.

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Above:- John Bowden, who founded Kersbrook.  Image courtesy of SA State Library

I then travelled west on the Kersbrook-One Tree Hill and soon reached Mount Gawler Road where I turned left.  On your right, you will see a sign for Mount Crawford Forest.  This is on the western side of Mount Gawler Road.  This is not the park.  Nor is the pine plantation on the eastern side of the road.  The park is a little further up on the eastern side of the road.


Above:- The pine plantation near the corner of Kersbrook Road & Mount Gawler Road.

This area was devastated by the Sampson Flat bushfire in January 2015.  The fire was the most destructive in the Adelaide Hills for more than 30 years.  It burnt an area of 12,569 hectares and destroyed 24 homes, 146 other structures, and five business premises.   The majority of the Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserve was burnt out.

The Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve is part of the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve.  It is 1,044 hectares in size and is a significant conservation area as it is representative of the original vegetation in the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges.

The park has two distinct sections.  One on the eastern side of Mount Gawler Road, and the other on the western side of the road.

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Above:- Map showing the Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserve, and my operating spot.  Map courtesy of Forestry SA

Numerous native bird species can be found in the park, however, it is suspected that bird abundance and diversity has been reduced due to loss of habitat resources.  The Nationally Endangered Chestnut-rumped Heathwren was recorded in Mount Gawler prior to the Sampson Flat bushfire.

Native mammals found in the park are Western Grey kangaroo, Yellow-footed antechinus, koala, Short-beaked echidna, and Common Brush-tailed possum.


Above:- A Western-grey kangaroo I encountered on the Mount Gawler Road.

Mount Gawler is 541 metres above sea level and is the most activated SOTA summit in South Australia.  It was first activated by Andy VK5AKH and has been activated 35 times since.

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Above:- Graph showing activations per year of Mount Gawler VK5/ SE-013.  Graph courtesy of Summits on the Air.

I set up just inside gate MG19, which is almost directly opposite the Mount Gawler trig point.  The trig point is located on private property.  This is well and truly within the activation zone of Mount Gawler.  I made a few trips to and from the car, and as this was an easy activation I had the luxury of my fold up table and deck chair.

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Above:- An aerial view of Mount Gawler, showing the location of the trig point, and my operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps.

There were some very nice views from here out to the east towards Mount Pleasant and the Eden Valley.

I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation, with a power output of about 40 watts.  There was plenty of room to stretch out the dipole.

I headed to 7.144 after setting up and found Mike VK6MB/3 calling CQ from the Chiltern- Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620.  Mike had a strong 5/9 and reciprocated with a 5/9 for me.  I then moved down the band to 7.139 and started calling CQ.  Cliff VK2NP in Sydney responded.  This was followed by David VK5PL/p who was activating the Little Mount Crawford Native Forest Reserve VKFF-2884.

A few calls later I had my first Summit to Summit in the log for the activation.  It was with Bill VK1MCW/2 who was on the top of Mount Mundoonen VK2/ ST-053 near Yass.

As this was a first-time park activation it did not take long for a fairly significant pile up to form.  I apologise to those who did not get through.  My only advice is not to give up.  If you can’t crack the pile up, then stand by on the side, as things generally do slow down.


Above:- My shack for the afternoon.

I logged 42 stations in around 30 minutes before callers dried up on 40m.  So it was down with the squid pole and out with the 20m links and off to the 20m band.  I called CQ on 14.310 and this was answered by Mike VK6MB/2 in the Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park.  It was great to get Mike Park to Park on another band.  Although, both out signals were much lower on this band (5/1 both ways).

I logged a total of 18 stations on 20m which included four New Zealand stations: ZL3GA, ZL1BYZ, ZL1WA and ZL4QJ.  The Australian States worked on 20m were VK2, VK4, and VK6.

I then lowered the quid pole once again and inserted the links for the 80m section of the antenna.  I logged my wife Marija VK5FMAZ on 3.615 and then saw a spot go up on parksnpeaks for Liz VK2XSE/p who was on 3.610 activating a park.  I moved down to 3.610 and logged Liz who was in the South West Woodland Nature Reserve VKFF-2724.

I then moved back to 3.615 and logged a further 5 stations, all from South Australia.  Despite conditions on that band being excellent, they were my only stations logged on the 80m band.


Above:- The 20/40/80m linked dipole, being support by the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  Note the plane in the top right of the photo.

I moved back to 40m and called CQ on 7.144.  This was answered by Ron VK3AHR, followed by Terry VK3UP, and then Robert VK2YMU.  A few calls later Liz VK2XSE gave me a shout from the South West Woodland Nature Reserve.  Liz’s signal was much stronger here on 40m compared to 80m.

I logged a further 22 stations on 7.144 from VK2, VK3, and VK4.  This included a Summit to Summit with Gerard VK2IO/p who was activating SOTA peak VK2/ MN-112.  Perrin VK3XPT called in once again, using his Clansman military transceiver.

I saw a spot come up on parksnpeaks for Tait VK1FTRA who was activating a SOTA summit on 7.095.  Tait was on Black Mountain VK1/ AC-042 which is within the Black Mountain Nature Reserve VKFF-0834.  I quickly whizzed down there to log Tait for another Summit to Summit, before returning back to 7.144 where I logged a further 7 stations, including a Summit to Summit with Ben VK3FXBR who was activating Mount Kerang VK3/ VU-010.


Above:- The transceiver and the log.

It was time to pack up and head off to my next activation, the Kersbrook Native Forest Reserve.  It had been a terrific activation with a total of 102 contacts in the log, including 6 Park to Park contacts and 4 Summit to Summit contacts.

Thank you to everyone who called, and a big thank you to those who took the time to spot me.

I worked the following stations:-

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A Compendium of the Place Names of South Australia, 2019, <>, viewed 29th April 2019

Bushfire & Natural Hazards, 2019, <>, viewed 29th April 2019.

Forestry SA, 2016, Kersbrook & Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserves Management Plan.

Summits on the Air, 2019, <>, viewed 29th April 2019