Our third and final park for the day was the Marne Valley Conservation Park VKFF-0906. This was another park that Marija and I had previously activated from and qualified. The park is located about 106 km northeast of the city of Adelaide.
Marne Valley Conservation Park is about 94 hectares in size and was first proclaimed on the 11th day of March 1976. The major vegetation association being River Red Gum open forest. The southwestern corner, along the eastern central boundary, and along the northern boundary the native vegetation has been largely cleared. The park is bisected by the Marne River.
Prior to the establishment of the park, the land was part of the main Adelaide to Sydney stock route.
The Marne River was originally known as the ‘South Rhine River’ until 1918 when it was renamed due to anti-German sentiment. It was named the Marne due to a 1914 German advance of troops was checked at the Marne River in France. Anti-German feeling ran high during World War One and a Nomenclature Committee was set up to make recommendations for changes from names of “foreign enemy origin” to British or South Australian native names. The Committee suggested ‘Pongaree River’ meaning ‘shade reflection in water’ but it was rejected by the government.
In pre-European times, the Ngarrindjeri aboriginal people used the Marne Valley as a route up into the hills to trade with the Peramangk people in the Barossa Valley and to cut bark canoes from the River Red Gums in the hills which had thicker bark than those near the Murray. The original name of the Marne River was Taingappa, meaning “footrack-trading road”.
Birds SA have recorded about 68 species of bird in the park including Galah, Adelaide Rosella, Mallee Ringneck, Brown Treecreeper, Noisy Miner, White-plumed Honeyeater, Striated Pardalote, Common Bronzewing, Purple-backed Fairywren, Red-capped Robin, and Magpielark.
I have been to the park many times before and have always access it via Black Hill Road. This time Marija and I decided to see if we could get into the park a different way. We travelled down Muellers Road hoping to access the park via Havelberh Road. However, the road had a locked gate and access was not possible.
We continued north along Muellers Road and turned left onto Sleep Track and headed west. We then reached an un-named dirt road and travelled south down to the north-western corner of the park at Havelberg Road and Tamkes Road. We travelled down Tamkes Road but could not find a suitable spot. We also travelled east on Havelberg Road following the northern boundary of the park. There was no shade so we decided to head back around to Black Rock Road.
Once we got to the Black Rock Road entrance to the park I noticed that a pedestrian gate and new park sign had been installed since my last visit.
There was plenty of room here to string out the 20/40/80m linked dipole. We used one of the fence posts as a securing point for the telescopic squid pole, with the help of an octopus strap.
Unfortunately, the static crashes had not subsided, nor had the contest traffic. As a result, it was very hard to find a clear spot on the 40m band. I called CQ on 7.142 and Mark VK4HYD called soon after, to be number one in the log. Lee VK2LEE followed, then Wayne VK7NET, and then Mark VK4SMA.
But it was really tough going, and with just 9 contacts in the log, callers dried up. It was at this time that I swapped the mic with Marija.
Marija’s first contact was with park regular John VK4TJ, followed by Lee VK2LEE, Andrei ZL1TM, and then Peter VK3PF. Marija logged just one further contact, with Brett VK2WWV, before her callers also dried up.
We decided to tune across the band to see if I could work some of the ‘big guns’ in the CQ World Wide Contest. The first DX station to be logged was Dan W7WA in Washington state. Next was VK9NC on Norfolk Island, followed by KL7RA in Alaska.
KL7RA was so strong that I decided to get Marija to give him a call. And with a legitimate 10 watts, Marija logged Alaska (after a few repeats of her call sign). This was Marija’s first-ever contact into Alaska.
I then logged VK6LLL, K3EST in California, and VK4SDD. I tried calling some of the other DX stations, but my 40 watts and little bit of wire just weren’t cutting through.
We then headed down to the 80m band where we logged a total of 16 contacts between the two of us, into VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.
To complete the activation I went back to 40m. I again tried calling some of the contest stations, but I just wasn’t getting through all the interference. The band was extremely busy. I logged just the one station K7RL in Washington.
It was now 8.30 p.m. local time and it was almost dark. It was time to pack up and head for home. We had activated three parks and made a total of 157 QSOs on 40 & 80m SSB. This included 43 Park to Park contacts.
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
Marija worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/marne-valley-conservation-park/>, viewed 29th October 2019
Family History SA, 2019, <https://www.familyhistorysa.org/sahistory/germanplacenames.html>, viewed 29th October 2019
National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia, 2019, <https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Murray_River/marne-valley-conservation-park>, viewed 29th October 2019.
State Library South Australia, 2019, <http://www.slsa.ha.sa.gov.au/digitalpubs/placenamesofsouthaustralia/M.pdf>, viewed 29th October 2019
Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marne_River_(South_Australia)>, viewed 29th October 2019