VK100AF at Mount Lofty VK5/ SE-005 and the Cleland Conservation Park 5CP-042 and VKFF-0778

On Friday 7th May 2021, I activated Mount Lofty summit VK5/ SE-005 which is within the Cleland Conservation Park 5CP-042 & VKFF-0778, using the special callsign of VK100AF. The activation qualified for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program, World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF), and the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

VK100AF is a special event callsign for the 100 year anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Mount Lofty summit is 727 metres above sea level and is the highest peak in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’. It is located about 15 km east of the city of Adelaide.

The summit is worth 4 points for the SOTA program. It has been activated 96 times for SOTA. This includes a number of activations by myself and Marija.

Above:- Mount Lofty summit. Image c/o Google maps

The summit is accessed via Summit Road from the South Eastern Freeway at Crafers, or from the eastern suburbs of Adelaide via Greenhill Road and the Mount Lofty Scenic Route. For those who are keen, you can walk up the gully to the summit from Waterfall Gully. It is a challenging walk.

An aerial view, looking west towatds the city fo Adelaide. Image c/o Google maps

Mount Lofty was named by Matthew Flinders on the 23rd day of March 1802, during his circumnavigation of the Australian continent. The summit was first climbed in 1831 by Collet Barker (1784-1831) a British military officer and explorer. This was about 6 years before Adelaide was settled.

Above:- Captain Matthew Flinders. Image c/o Wikipedia.

The road from Crafers to Mount Lofty summit was originally known as Ridge Road. The route of the present day Summit Road varies in places from the original. Numerous stately homes were built along the road during the 1800’s, as summer retreats for families of the so-called ‘Adelaide Establishment’, a group of wealthy landowners and industrialists.

The first was ‘Mount Lofty House’. Frequently, extensive grounds complemented the grand houses on Ridge (Summit) Road. The houses gave employment to local families as servants and gardeners.

Construction commenced of Mount Lofty House in the mid 1850s by Arthur Hardy (1817-1909), the patriarch of the famous South Australian Hardy family. Hardy arrived in South Australia in 1839 from England, aboard the Platina. He had received doctor’s advice to seek a warmer climate, and as a result he emigrated to Australia.

Above:- Arthur Hardy. Image c/o Wikipedia.

While building Mount Lofty House he planted three Californian Redwood Sequoias and through further plantings on the grounds of Mount Lofty House, he set the foundations for what would become the current day 97 hectare Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens.

In Australia, Hardy went on to be a pastoralist, barrister, quarry owners, business and politician.

On the ridge-line near Mount Lofty summit are three television transmission towers for Adelaide television.

There is also the ruin of St Michael’s House. The property was originally called Koralla and was left to the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide in 1943 by Mrs. Audine G. O’Leary, the widow of Dr. Arthur Pryce Evelyn O’Leary. Soon after this, Bryan Percival Robin, the Bishop of Adelaide, invited the Society of the Sacred Mission to establish themselves in Adelaide at the property which was to become their monastery and theological college. The building was destroyed during the devastating Ash Wednesday Bushfires in February 1983.

The summit is located in the Cleland Conservation Park

The park is named in honour of Sir. John Burton Cleland CBE (1878-1971) who was a renowned Australian naturalist, microbiologist, mycologist, and ornithologist. Following a successful career in medicine and pathology, Cleland became keenly interested in wildlife conservation.

Above:- John Burton Cleland. Image c/o Wikipedia.

Cleland Conservation Park is about 11.25 km2 in size and was established on the 1st day of January 1945.

At Mount Lofty summit you can find the fire spotting tower which is 34 metres tall and commenced operation in 1982. It is one of two fire spotting towers in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

Mount Lofty summit also has a visitor information centre, cafe and restaurant. The old 1958 built tearooms at the summit were replaced with the new summit restaurant in 1997.

Just outside of the building is a paved outdoor area, with a number of spots under cover to enjoy a coffee or a meal.

Some sensational panoramic views of the city of Adelaide and its suburbs can be enjoyed from Mount Lofty summit.

You can also find the obelisk known as Flinders Column. It was named in honour of the famous explorer Captain Matthew Flinders, who in 1802 from Kangaroo Island, discovered and named Mount Lofty. The obelisk was originally erected as a trig station in 1885.

A cairn of stones was erected on the summit in 1865, along with a table & chairs and a wooden flagstaff. The wooden flagstaff was replaced in 1885 when the stone tower was built.

At the summit you can also find a number of memorials, including one which honours the firefighters who fought the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983. The fires commenced on the 16th February 1983 on a day when the temperature reached 40 deg C with a strong, hot northerly wind. The fires resulted in the death of 28 people including 3 Country Fire Service volunteer firefighters. A total of 363 homes and 200 other buildings were destroyed and 160,000 hectares were burnt.

Another one acknowledges Thomas Charles Hockridge, the stonemason who erected the obelisk in 1885.

For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT857d, 40 watts, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole.

First in the log for the activation was Peter VK3PF, followed by Alan VK2MET, Neil VK4HNS, and Gerard VK2IO. With 4 contacts in the log, the summit has been qualified.

Callers were a bit thin, but I boxed on and logged a total of 23 stations on 40m before the UTC rollover at 9.30 a.m. South Australian local time. Contacts were made into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and New Zealand.

After the UTC rollover I logged 12 from VK2, VK3, VK7, and New Zealand.

I then moved to the 80m band where I logged just 3 stations, all VK5’s.

I then headed to 20m and lgoged three stations from VK2 and New Zealand.

To conclude the activation I moved back to 40m and put out a few final CQ calls on 7.144, logging a total of 7 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, and VK7.

Adjacent to where I was operating was Carminow Castle which was built in 1885 in Scottish baronial style as a summer house by the Scottish migrant Sir. Thomas Elder (1818-1897). Elder was a highly successful businessman, philanthropist, politician, race-horse owner and breeder, and public figure.

His main house was called Birksgate and was located at Urbrae. His summer house was Carminow.

Above:- Sir Thomas Elder. Image c/o Wikipedia.

It was later owned from 1902 by Sir. Langdon Bonython, a proprietor of the Advertiser newspaper. The castle was inherited by his grandson Kym Bonython (1920-2011). During the Second World War it was used to house up to 120 troops at a time.

With 48 QSOs in the log, it was time to pack up and head off to the Kyeema Conservation Park for a park activation using VK100AF.

I worked the following stations before the UTC rollover on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK2MET
  3. VK4HNS
  4. VK2IO
  5. VK2RO
  6. VK6XN
  7. VK4NH
  8. VK4DXA
  9. ZL4TY/VK4
  10. VK1MIC
  11. VK5HS
  12. VK3ARH
  13. VK3SQ
  14. VK5GA
  15. VK3FIMD
  16. VK2VW
  17. VK2HFI
  18. ZL3RIK
  19. VK5JK
  20. VK5CZ
  21. VK4HMI
  22. VK2ZK
  23. VK2SLB

I worked the following stations after the UTC rollover on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3FIMD
  3. VK2VW
  4. VK2HFI
  5. ZL3RIK
  6. VK3SQ
  7. VK2IO
  8. VK2SLB
  9. VK7LTD
  10. VK7FAMP
  11. VK2AB
  12. VK3MDH
  13. VK6BMM
  14. VK2HRX
  15. VK4KLA
  16. VK2RR
  17. VK7RV
  18. VK4GJP
  19. VK3PI

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA
  2. VK5CZ
  3. VK5ST

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. ZL1BYZ
  2. VK2VW
  3. VK2HFI


Australian Institute for Disaster Resiliance, 2021, <https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/bushfire-ash-wednesday-victoria-and-south-australia-1983/>, viewed 17th May 2021.

flickr, 2021, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/82134796@N03/49944624172>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Medievalism in Australian Cultural History, 2021, <https://ausmed.arts.uwa.edu.au/items/show/536>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Monument Australia, 2021, <https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/landscape/exploration/display/51271-matthew-flinders>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Mount Lofty House, 2021, <https://www.mtloftyhouse.com.au/about/#mtloftyhistory>, viewed 17th May 2021.

SOTA, 2021, <https://summits.sota.org.uk/summit/VK5/SE-005>, viewed 16th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lofty>, viewed 16th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Hardy_(businessman)>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lofty_Botanic_Garden>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_Establishment>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Michael%27s_House>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleland_Conservation_Park>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Elder>, viewed 17th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collet_Barker>, viewed 17th May 2021.

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