Nurragi Conservation Reserve VKFF-2247

On Saturday 15th October 2022, the annual VKFF Team Championship was held for the World Wide Flora & Fauna (WWFF) program. Marija and I formed a team called ‘The Walky Talkies” and we entered into the Two ops/single tx/40m & 80m/wire antenna category.

We activated the Nurragi Conservation Reserve VKFF-2247 which is located about 67 km southeast of Adelaide.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Nurragi Conservation Reserve. Map c/o google maps.

The Nurragi Conservation Reserve is a former railway line that now serves as a vital corridor for flora and fauna. The Reserve consists of about 65 hectares. Nurragi is an aboriginal word meaning ‘scrub’.

Above: Map of the Nurragi Conservation Reserve. Map c/o Nurragi Conservation Reserve Walkers Guide

The park is an important piece of vegetation in a region where 98% of the native vegetation has been cleared. About 300 native plant species can be found in the reserve, with 50 of those being of conservation significance.

Below is a short video about the Nurragi Conservation Reserve.

There is an excellent Nurragi Walkers Guide which can be found in boxes in the Reserve.

The Sandergrove to Milang railway line operated between 1884 and 1970. It was a branch line of the Adelaide to Victor Harbor railway line. It left the main line to Victor Harbor at Sandergrove, about 9 km south of the town of Strathalbyn. The line then proceeded for about 13.1 km in a southeasterly direction to the river port of Milang.

Above:- A map showing the Milang line and the railways associated with it. Image c/o Wikipedia.

The Milang line opened on the 17th day of December 1884 and was formerly closed on the 17th day of June 1970.

Prior to the arrival of the railway, horse teams and wool wagons would assemble at Milang’s wool stores for the 100 km journey to Port Adelaide and subsequent export to Britain.

In the 1870s, a Select Committee was appointed by the South Australian Government to investigate the construction of a connecting line of about 30 km from Strathalbyn to the Adelaide-Melbourne line which was at the time under construction.

One member of the Select Committee was the prominent and highly respected Member of Parliament, Albert Landseer. He had founded the town of Milang in 1856. He had numerous business interests in the Milang district including flour milling, ownership of river steamers and barges, agent for the paddle steamer pioneer Francis Cadell, and wool warehousing. Landseer ensured that the Committee heard evidence supporting a branch line to Milang. Landseer stated that this would allow steamboats to use what he considered to be a more conveniently located railhead than Goolwa.

In November 1881, assent was granted to an Act – The Mount Barker and Strathalbyn Railway Act, which not only authorised a link to Mount Barker but the branch line from Sandergrove to Milang.

It was reported in The Southern Argus, Thursday 17th November 1881:-

“Our readers are already aware that this line, so long suggested as one of the most desirable and probably most reproductive in the colony, has at last met with a favorable reception in our Parliament………we have the pleasure of feeling that the great majority of our rulers have acknowledged our right to equal travelling facilities as are afforded other parts of this advancing colony….”

Above:- Part of an article from the Southern Argus, Thurs 17 Nov 1881. c/o Trove

In April 1882 tenders were called for the building of the line. In June 1882, Walker and Swann were awarded the contract for both lines. The contract price was £143,678 for the main line and £25,600 for the branch line.

In November 1883, a total of 500 men commenced construction of the main line from Mount Barker junction via Philcox Hill to Strathalbyn. It was completed in September 1884. In late August 1884, work commenced on laying the rail and steel sleepers and ballasting on the Milang branch line. Earthworks had already been completed.

The branch line opened three months later, on the 17th day of December 1884, which was the same day as the line from Strathalbyn to Goolwa changed over from horse to steam power. An opening ceremony was not held, however the public were given free rides and a special train brought invited guests from Strathalbyn, stopping almost halfway between Sandergrove and Milang for a picnic in the scrub, followed by entertainment at Milang’s Institute Hall in the late afternoon.

When the line was opened in December 1884, The Southern Argus newspaper reported that line was ‘Landseer’s line’.

Above:- A portion of the article from the Southern Argus, Thurs 4 Dec 1884. c/o Trove

The Milang railway terminus consisted of a main line, a passing siding and a stock siding, and a 16.2 metre human propelled turntable to turn locomotives and railcars.

The branch line from Milang to Sandergrove consisted of minimal facilities. At Sandergrove there was a platform and a small shed, while at Nurragi were was a passing loop and a very short platform. At Punkulde there was a passenger stopping sign where the Finniss to Milang road crossed the line.

During its early years the Milang branch line saw a large amount of activity due to the traffic of wool and supplies up and down the Murray River. However by the late 1920s when road transportation was deregulated, traffic along the line declined. BY 1931 the Transport Control Board requested the South Australian Railways to provide a report on the estimated savings to be made by closure of unprofitable branchlines, which included the Milang branch line.

Above:- Milang station c. 1905. Image c/o Wikipedia

Steam trains carrying goods and passengers operated on the line up until 1925, at which time Brill Model 55 railcars commenced running daily between Adelaide and Milang. A goods train worked several times a week from Strathalbyn. By the late 1930’s, the larger Brill Model 75 railcars operated on the line.

Above:- A Model 75 railcar on the Milang line. Image c/o Wikipedia.

The passenger service along the line was halted in 1968. This was the same year that legislative protection of goods traffic on the South Australian Railways ceased and as a result traffic along the Milang line plummeted. Two years later the line was closed.

A special charter trip was operated on 15 June 1970, two days before the line was formally closed. The last train to run on the line was an R.X. steam engine which had four coaches with 300 passengers from Adelaide to Strathalbyn. Upon arrival at Strathalbyn, another coach with 50 additional passengers was added.

Above:- Article from The Coromandel newspaper, Thur 18 Jun 1970. c/o Trove

We set up on a wooden bench alongside the walking trail off Nurragi Road. We ran the Yaesu FT857d, 40 watts, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for the activation.

Sadly the band conditions were awful and it was very hard going during the day.

After packing up at Nurragi, Marija and I headed down to Milang located on the shore of Lake Alexandrina. Here you can find the Port Milang Historic Railway Museum.

Below is a great video about the Milang Railway Museum.

After leaving Milang we then headed to Finniss where we had a look at the old Finniss railway siding.

We then called in to the Finniss General store for some fantastic hamburgers and some ice cold Bundies and Coke.

We made a total of 142 QSOs on 40m & 80m SSB for the Championship.

As things were so slow on 40m and 20m we also made 38 QSOs on 20m SSB, but these did not count for our category.

During the day we made a total of 57 Park to Park contacts and a total of 179 QSOs (but 141 for our category).

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2NMZ/p (VKFF-0056)
  2. VK1ACE/p (VKFF-0849)
  3. VK4MUD/p (VKFF-0587)
  4. VK3CWL
  5. VK3BEZ/p (VKFF-0480)
  6. VK1ARQ/p (VKFF-0377)
  7. VK1VIC/p (VKFF-0377)
  8. VK7QP
  9. VK3NDG/p (VKFF-0480)
  10. VK2YAK
  11. VK4YAK
  12. VK7SDL
  13. VK3UAO
  14. VK7ALB
  15. VK3UH
  16. VK3ASY/p (VKFF-2051)
  17. VI20222PRIDE
  18. VK4KLA
  19. VK4NH
  20. VK4DXA
  21. VK3GJG
  22. VK2PKT
  23. VK3SCM
  24. VK3KR/p (SOTA VK3/ VC-040 & VKFF-0972)
  25. VK7PSJ
  26. VK3ZPF
  27. VK3NCR
  28. VK2KYO
  29. VK7EE
  30. VK3DL
  31. VK2BKT/p
  32. VK2YAK/p (VKFF-1410)
  33. VK2OKR/p (VKFF-1410)
  34. VK2MET/p (VKFF-1410)
  35. VK2EG/p (VKFF-0511)
  36. VK2XSE/m
  37. VK2YW
  38. VK5AYL
  39. VK2MG/p (VKFF-0049)
  40. VK4MUD/p (VKFF-2590)
  41. VK2IO/p (VKFF-0049)
  42. VK4CZ
  43. VK8GM
  44. VK4MGL/p (VKFF-0300)
  45. VK4JM/p (VKFF-0300)
  46. VK3ACZ
  47. VK3CJN
  48. VK2NWT
  49. VK2VAR
  50. VK2JCP
  51. VK6MB

Marija worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5HS
  3. VK5CZ
  4. VK2YAK/p (VKFF-1410)
  5. VK4YAK/p (VKFF-1410)
  6. VK2OKR/p (VKFF-1410)
  7. VK2MET/p (VKFF-1410)
  8. VK1ADO
  9. VK4MGL/p (VKFF-0300)
  10. VK3BEZ/p (VKFF-0480)

Marija worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2MET/p (VKFF-1410)
  2. VK6MB
  3. VK6JK
  4. ZL1TM
  5. KG5CIK
  6. VK4SMA/p (VKFF-0326)
  7. VK4MWB/p (VKFF-0326)
  8. VK2HPN/p
  9. VK6XN/p (VKFF-1854)
  10. VK6ADF/p (VKFF-1854)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2NMZ/p (VKFF-0056)
  2. VK4KY
  3. VK7AN
  4. VK2PCH
  5. VK1ACE/p (VKFF-0849)
  6. VK3BEL
  7. VK2MET/p
  8. VK2TER/p
  9. VK2BM/p
  10. VK3PDB/p
  11. VK4MUD/p (VKFF-0587)
  12. VK3BEZ/p (VKFF-0480)
  13. VK1ARQ/p (VKFF-0377)
  14. VK1VIC/p (VKFF-0377)
  15. VK3NDG/p (VKFF-0480)
  16. VK1MA
  17. VK2RO
  18. VK3CMZ
  19. VK3PEF
  20. VK3ASY/p (VKFF-2051)
  21. VK3ZPF
  22. VK3CM
  23. VI2022PRIDE
  24. VK4KLA
  25. VK4PRO
  26. VK4NH
  27. VK4DXA
  28. VK3KR/p (SOTA VK3/ VC-040 & VKFF-0972)
  29. VK2MET/p (VKFF-1410)
  30. VK2OKR/p (VKFF-1410)
  31. VK2YAK/p (VKFF-1410)
  32. VK3SQ
  33. VK2EG/p (VKFF-0511)
  34. VK2XSE/m
  35. VK2YW
  36. VK2BKT/p
  37. VK5AYL
  38. VK7JFD
  39. VK3DL
  40. VK2MG/p (VKFF-0049)
  41. VK3MCA
  42. VK2LEE
  43. VK3MCK
  44. VK3ZSC
  45. VK2HHA
  46. VK3SAT
  47. VK4MUD/p (VKFF-2590)
  48. VK5WAT/3
  49. VK2UXO
  50. VK2IO/p (VKFF-0049)
  51. VK4MGL/p (VKFF-0300)
  52. VK2DWP
  53. VK4CZ
  54. VK3IK/m
  55. VK3SMW
  56. VK4FDJL
  57. VK6MB
  58. VK3FABS
  59. VK3ECG
  60. VK4ARW
  61. VK2PKT
  62. VK3TXD
  63. VK4JM/p (VKFF-0300)
  64. VK3ACZ
  65. VK3NCR
  66. VK3KRL
  67. VK3CJN
  68. VK3GJG

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5HS
  3. VK5CZ
  4. VK2YAK/p (VKFF-1410)
  5. VK4YAK/p (VKFF-1410)
  6. VK2OKR/p (VKFF-1410)
  7. VK2MET/p (VKFF-1410)
  8. VK1AO
  9. VK4MGL/p (VKFF-0300)
  10. VK3APJ
  11. VK5AYL
  12. VK3CIB
  13. VK3BEZ/p (VKFF-0480)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2MET/p (VKFF-1410)
  2. VK6MB
  3. VK6JK
  4. ZL1TM
  5. KG5CIK
  6. VK4SMA/p (VKFF-0326)
  7. VK4MWB/p (VKFF-0326)
  8. VK6XN/p (VKFF-1854)
  9. VK6ADF/p (VKFF-1854)
  10. VK5QD
  11. VK2HPN/4
  12. OH1MM
  13. DL2ND
  14. IK1GPG
  15. OH1XT
  16. IW2BNA
  17. IZ1GRH
  18. 4Z4DX
  19. DJ1SD
  20. IW2NXI
  21. ON4VT
  22. G1IZQ
  23. F1BLL
  24. OH6GAZ
  25. EA4FLS
  26. F4HZR
  27. ON4ON
  28. EA7JXZ


  1. Places names of South Australia, 2022, <>
  2. Wikipedia, 2022, <>, viewwed 19th October 2022.