On Sunday 28th July 2019 I decided to do another quick park activation before heading off to work on afternoon shift. I chose the Ferries McDonald Conservation Park 5CP-067 & VKFF-0881.
This is another park I have activated and qualified many times before, so this activation would count towards the Boomerang Award.
Ferries McDonald is located about 71 km south-east of Adelaide and about 20 km southwest of the town of Murray Bridge.
I travelled east along the South Eastern Freeway and took the Monarto exit and then travelled south on the Ferries McDonald Road. I travelled passed the Monarto Conservation Park and soon was bisecting the park. I then turned left onto Chauncey’s Line Road.
Chauncey’s Line Road was surveyed in 1854 for the Government by civil engineer William Snell Chauncey (1820-1878). It commenced at Hahndorf and proceeded to Wellington on the Murray River. The road was planned for anticipated trade between the River Murray and Adelaide. The official designation of the proposed road was ‘The South Eastern Road, Hahndorf to the Wellington Ferry’ but it is frequently referred to in records as ‘Chauncey’s Line’. Chauncey had arrived in South Australia in 1840 aboard the Appoline and surveyed the Adelaide-Port Adelaide railway in 1848.
Eventually, a road and a railway bridge were built at Murray Bridge and the use of the historic ferry at Wellington decreased. This effectively saw Chauncey’s line sink into obscurity and the Woodchester locality becoming a quiet backwater.
The Ferries McDonald Conservation Park is about 880 hectares in size and consists of dense mallee habitat. During spring the park is alive with native orchids. The park contains numerous sandy ridges forming part of the Murray Plains. They provide evidence that this area was once part of the ocean bed.
The park is home to a variety of rare and endangered plant species. Resin Wattle 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.
The park was once part of a vast area of mallee bushland which was cleared for farming during the late 1800s. Fortunately, a few rocky outcrops were unsuitable for farming and were preserved in their original state. In January 1938, an area of 1,600 acres was gazetted under the Animals and Birds Protection Act, as a closed area for birds and animals, thus creating the first reserve in South Australian specifically for mallee fauna. A total of 233 acres were made available by Robert Sweet McDonald of ‘Preamimma’, Monarto, 583 acres made available by Mr. G Lemmey of Two Well, whilst a further 779 acres allocated by the State. It was initially known as Chauncey’s Line Scrub.
An addition to the park was made in 1953 from a bequest from James Ferries, thus creating the Ferries-McDonald Conservation Park.
Birds SA have recorded about 89 species of bird in the park including Galah, Variegated Fairywren, Weebill, Southern Scrub-Robin, Australian Magpie, Australian Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Spotted Nightjar, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Chestnut-rumped Hornbill, White-browed Scrubwren, and White-winged Triller.
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 easy prey for common predators such as foxes and feral cats and are now only found at a handful of sites across Australia, including Ferries McDonald.
I set up in my normal spot in the southeastern corner of the park. There is a carpark at this location. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 20/40/80 m linked dipole for this activation.
I called CQ on 7.144 and this was answered by Rod VK3OB who was mobile and had a strong 5/8-9 signal. This was followed by Rob VK4SYD, Cliff VK2NP, and then Ian VK5CZ/p who was activating the Hopkins Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0893 in the Mid North of South Australia.
A few QSOs later I had another two Park to Park contacts in the log. The first was with Gerard VK2IO/8 who was activating SOTA summit VK8/ AL-100 in the West McDonnell Ranges National Park VKFF-0532. And then Ian VK1DI/2 who was in the Broken Head Nature Reserve VKFF-1898.
The 40m band was very unstable and there was lots of fading on most signals, but this did not deter callers as on occasions I had quite a little pileup going.
I logged a total of 39 stations before a visitor arrived at the park. It was Steve, a member of the Friends of the Parks who was there to take photos of native orchids. As it turned out Steve follows my blog. He is not an amateur radio operator.
After having a quick chat with Steve I got back to the radio and logged a further 9 stations on 40m. Contact number 44 was with Adam VK2YK. I also snared another Park to Park, with Mike VK6MB/3 who was activating the Waitchie Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2469.
With 48 contacts in the log on 40m I headed down to the 80m band and started calling CQ on 3.610. First in the log was John VK5BJE, followed by Ivan VK5HS mobile 3 at Birchip, and Adrian VK5FANA. I logged a total of 7 stations on 80m from VK2, VK3, and VK5. This included my wife Marija VK5FMAZ.
I then moved to the 20m band and called CQ on 14.310. John VK7XX was first to call with a 5/5 signal with lots of fading. John was struggling to hear me and gave me a 3/1 signal report. I then logged Greg VK4VXX mobile, followed by Alan VK4XAC, and Mike VK6TX mobile. In total, I logged 10 stations on 20m from VK2, VK4, VK6, VK7, and New Zealand.
To complete the activation I moved back to the 40m band. Prior to calling CQ I tuned across the band and logged Ian VK1DI/2 who had moved into another park, the Cape Byron State Conservation Area VKFF-1295.
I then moved down to 7.139 and called CQ. Deryck VK4FDJL/8 was the first to give me a shout, followed by Lee VK2LEE, and then Ross VK7ALH. I logged a further 4 stations before it was time to call it quits for the day and head home for a shower and some lunch and off to work.
For this activation, I made a total of 73 contacts which included 5 Park to Park contacts.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5CZ/p (Hopkins Creek Conservation Park VKFF-0893)
- VK2IO/8 (SOTA VK8/ AL-100 & West McDonnell Ranges National Park VKFF-0532)
- VK1DI/2 (Broken Head Nature Reserve VKFF-1898)
- VK6MB/3 (Waitchie Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2469)
- VK1DI/2 (Cape Byron State Conservation Area VKFF-1295)
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/ferries-mcdonald-conservation-park/>, viewed 29th July 2019
National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2019, <https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Fleurieu_Peninsula/ferries-mcdonald-conservation-park>, viewed 29th July 2019
State Library South Australia, 2019, <http://www.slsa.ha.sa.gov.au/manning/pn/c/c6.htm>, viewed 29th July 2019
State Library South Australia, 2019, <http://www.slsa.ha.sa.gov.au/digitalpubs/placenamesofsouthaustralia/W.pdf>, viewed 29th July 2019
Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferries_McDonald_Conservation_Park>, viewed 29th July 2019