Yesterday (Monday 6th May 2018) was my first of 2 days off from work after working 7 straight. The weather forecast was for a fine and sunny day with lots of rain to follow on Tuesday. So I packed the 4WD and headed to the Little Mount Crawford Native Forest Reserve VKFF-2884.
The reserve is located about 50 km northeast of the city of Adelaide, and about 8 km southeast of the town of Williamstown which is on the southern fringe of the Barossa Valley wine growing region.
This would be a unique park for me, and a park which has only just been added to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.
The Little Mount Crawford Native Forest Reserve is about 177 hectares and consists of native vegetation which is located in the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve. The park is surrounded by pine plantations and farmland. The reserve was proclaimed on the 15th day of March 2001. The reserve was formerly known as ‘Jenkins Scrub’ as the land was owned by the Jenkins family. It is assumed that Little Mount Crawford was named due to its close proximity to Mount Crawford which rises to 562 metres above sea level.
The aboriginal name for Mount Crawford was Teetáka. However, there are various versions of how Mount Crawford was named by the Europeans. It is believed however that it was named in 1839 by explorer Charles Sturt after James Coutts Crawford (1817 – 1889) who arrived overland from New South Wales with his drovers in April 1839 with 700 cattle. They set up a hut and cattle run at the base of the mount.
The park contains plant species of high conservation value including Banksia marginata (Silver Banksia) Woodland. The Nationally Vulnerable Pale Leek-orchid can be found in the park. The reserve is characterised by a large number of hollow trees and logs which provide important fauna habitat. This has mainly occurred due to the area not being burnt since about 1920. Firewood cutting has not occurred since the early 1970s, and grazing has not occurred since the early 1950s.
This is a particularly beautiful part of the northern section of the ‘Adelaide Hills’ Mount Lofty Ranges, with rolling hills, scrub, and vineyards.
Native birds located in the park include the Yellow-tailed black cockatoo, Scarlet Robin, and White-winged Chough. Native mammals which call the park home include Western Grey Kangaroo, Short-beaked Echidna, Bush Rat, Common Brushtail possum, and Common Ringtail possum.
I travelled from home through the towns of Nairne and Woodside, and then on to Charleston. I then headed north to Birdwood, the home of the National Motor Museum, and then north on Warren Road. I soon reached the reserve which is well signposted on Mount Road.
There are a number of potential operating spots along Mount Road. I headed to the northwestern section of the park. There is a large area here where you can pull in off the road, and plenty of room to stretch out a dipole.
I ran the Yaesu FT-857d and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation. Power output was 40 watts.
I headed for the WWFF operating frequency of 7.144 and asked if the frequency was in use. Peter VK3PF came back to me advising that it was all clear. After logging Peter who had a strong 5/9 signal, I spoke with Tom VK3ATO and then Geoff VK3SQ.
Despite it being a weekday it did not take me long to get the required 10 contacts to qualify the park for the VKFF program. Contact number ten was with Alex VK3MPC who had a strong 5/9 signal.
Band conditions were average, with some good strong signals to and from Victoria, but apparent average-poor conditions down to Tasmania. I logged a total of 34 stations on 7.144 from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7. This included some local stations: David VK5PL at nearby Williamstown, Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, Ian VK5CZ in the Clare Valley, and Les VK5KLV/p who was activating the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757.
It was a beautiful sunny morning with hardly a cloud in the sky. The serenity of the park was only broken occasionally by light aircraft on their way to the Parafield Airport in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
With just 10 contacts to go for my 44, I headed to 14.310 on the 20m band. After a self spot on parksnpeaks I called CQ. Brett VK2VW, who I had worked on 40m, came back to my call. Although we were both low down to each other, we were able to comfortably exchange signal reports. I logged a further 8 stations, all from Queensland, bar Cliff VK2NP in Sydney.
I was now just one short of 44, and it was off to the 80m band. Les VK5KLV/p in VKFF-1757 was first in the log on 80m and credited for getting me over the line with 44 QSOs. I logged a further 5 stations on 80m, all from South Australia, excluding Mike VK6MB/3 who is on a trip through Victoria.
I then moved back to 40m and called CQ on 7.139, logging a further 10 stations from VK2, VK3, and VK4. I then lowered the squid pole and replaced the linked dipole with my 15m dipole. I spotted on parksnpeaks and called CQ on 21.244 for about 10 minutes, but sadly had no takers. I tuned across the band and did not find a single signal on the band.
I then saw a post on Facebook from Hans VK5YX to say he was listening on 15m but could not hear me. I arranged to give Hans a call on 80m. It was quickly down with the 15m antenna, and back up with the linked dipole. I logged Hans on 80m from the southern suburbs of Adelaide, with a 5/9 plus signal.
I had been in the park for about 2 & 1/2 hours and it was time to pack up. I had qualified the park for WWFF and VKFF with 60 contacts in the log, including two Park to Park QSOs.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5KLV/p (Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
- VK5KLV/p (Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park VKFF-1757)
After packing up I drove along Mount Road to the old Murray Vale Presbyterian Church. All that remains are the stone ruins of this church which was built in 1843. The church served several denominations until it was destroyed by a bushfire in 1869. Remedial works to preserve the remains of the church were undertaken by the Barossa Council in July 2018.
The adjacent Mount Crawford cemetery was established in 1845 and is still being used as a public cemetery.
I then travelled back along Mount Road to the Jenkins Scrub Walking Trail, and took a walk along the 2.9 km circuit. There is an information board here with lots of interesting facts about Forest Reserves and this section of scrub.
This is an easy walk which takes between 30-60 minutes. I highly recommend it if you are visiting Little Mount Crawford.
The track is well signposted and parts of the track form the famous Heysen Trail.
I took the zoom lens with me during my walk and took the time to take a few bird photographs along the way.
In the top section of the walk, you can see an old mine shaft. Gold mining commenced in 1884 and continued into the early 1900s. Small quantities of gold were found here, but this mine was not profitable. The Gummeracha Goldfields to the southwest produced significant amounts of gold and are still visited by many keen fossickers.
I then headed home for a late lunch. Thanks to everyone who called me during the activation, and a big thanks to those who took the time to spot me.
Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/little-mount-crawford-native-forest-reserve-jenkins-reserve/>, viewed 7th May 2019
Forestry SA, 2016, Little Mount Crawford Native Forest Reserve Management Plan
Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Crawford_(South_Australia)>, viewed 7th May 2019