I didn’t plan on doing a park activation today (Saturday 21st April 2018), but when I heard so many park activators out this morning, I decided to head out and enjoy the sunshine myself. We have been experiencing very unseasonal weather here, with some very warm days for April. And today was no exception, with the temperature being about 28 deg C.
I chose to head to the Ferguson Conservation Park 5CP-066 & VKFF-0880, which is a park I have not previously been to. The park is located in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide, in the suburb of Stonyfell, about 7 km east of the Adelaide central business district.
This was to be my 225th unique park as an activator in the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.
The Ferguson Conservation Park is about 8 hectares (20 acres) in size and was established on 1st January 1949. The park consists of undulating land in the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges. The highest point in the park is around 180 metres above sea level (ASL). The lowest point in the park is around 140 metres ASL. Two creeks drain the park, including the Stonyfell Creek which is the larger of the two. The park is bordered by Stonyfell Road, Marble Terrace, and Hallett Road in the suburb of Stonyfell and is surrounded by housing the St Peters Girls School.
The park consists of open woodland, with remnant blue gum, native pines and sheaoks. Over 145 native plant species have been recorded from the park, including 17 species of grasses, 23 species of orchids and 14 species of lilies. It is quite amazing to think that the Adelaide Plains once looked like this prior to European settlement in the 1800’s.
The history of this park is extremely interesting. Between 1879-1881 Simpson Newland (1835-1925) purchased two parcels of land which nowadays, together comprise the St Peters Girls School and the Ferguson Conservation Park. Newland was born in Staffordshire England and was a pastoralist, author and politician. He was a competent stockrider and bushman and served in parliament from 1885-1886. During his life he was President of the South Australian branch of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, and the South Australian Zoological and Acclimatization Society.
Newland purchased 3.5 hectares of land in December 1879 (shown as Area A below) and in 1882 he purchased a further 4.5 hectares (shown as Area B below). The current day Ferguson Conservation Park is composed of Areas A and B. In 1881, one portion of the land purchased by Newland, now the school, was sold.
Above:- The Ferguson Conservation Park is composed of the areas designated as A and B above. Image courtesy of National Parks SA
In 1902 Simpson Newland transferred the remaining property to his son, Sir Henry Simpson Newland (1873-1969). Henry Newland was a surgeon and served during World War One with the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt, Lemnos, Gallipoli and France, gaining experience of military surgery at Ypres and Passchendale in Belgium. He was knighted in 1928.
Above:- Sir Henry Simpson Newland. Image courtesy of SA State Library
In 1926, following the death of Simpson Newland, Alexander Melrose (1865-1944) acquired the land. Melrose was a solicitor, writer and patron of the arts. He was a governor of the Botanic Garden, Adelaide (from 1927), and of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of South Australia (1928-40). Miss Alice Euphermia ‘Effie’ Ferguson (1871-1949), Melrose’s niece, lived with him and cared for him at his home Chiverton, at Wattle Park (adjacent to the park) in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide until his death in 1944.
Above:- Alice Ferguson? at Chiverton, c. 1910. Image courtesy of State Library of South Australia
Upon his death in 1944 it was his wish that his niece, Alice Ferguson, be offered the land. Miss Ferguson purchased the land from his estate and shortly before her death in June 1949, at the suggestion of Sir Henry Newland, she gave the land to the South Australian Government ‘for the benefit of the public in perpetuity’. It was just 7 days before her death that she added a codicil to her will by which she bequeathed the property to the Minister of the Crown.
The South Australian Premier at the time, Thomas Playford said:
“With the expansion of the metropolitan area, the need for parks in the outer areas is becoming more acute….Miss Ferguson;s gesture will do much to preserve the high reputation for open spaces that Adelaide possesses”.
Above:- Article from The Advertiser, Fri 24th June 1949. Courtesy of Trove.
In 1957 Sir Henry Simpson wrote the following of his father’s and Alexander Melrose’s interest in the Ferguson Park property:
“I have had an interest, dating from boyhood, in the welfare of the native woodland at Erindale, now known as the Ferguson Reserve. My father cherished its bird life. When the late Mr. Alick Melrose acquired the property he continued to bestow the same care on it and planted many native Australian trees and shrubs with his own hands, adding to its attractions. When he died it appeared likely that subdivision and housing would be its fate. However Miss Ferguson, a very old friend and my patient at the time, adopted my suggestion that she should purchase that portion of her uncle’s estate. With the co-operation of his executors, and the devoted interest of her agent, this was achieved, the property at Miss Ferguson’s wish becoming a public recreation reserve in perpetuity”.
Ferguson was initially managed by the South Australian Government Tourist Bureau as the Ferguson National Pleasure Resort. In 1972 it came under the control of the National Parks & Wildlife Service and until 1976 it was known as the Ferguson Recreation Park.
Mr. Ken A. Preiss (posthumously recognised with an Order of Australia in the 2014 Australia Day Honours for his contribution to conservation, the environment and the community) submitted several reports highlighting the importance of preserving the native bushland in Ferguson Park. In 1973 Preiss made a submission through the Nature Conservation Society of South Australia to the National Parks & Wildlife Advisory Council that the park be rescheduled as the Ferguson Conservation Park. Following receipt of Preiss’s submission, the Council recommended to the Minister of Environment & Conservation that the Ferguson Recreation Park should be managed as a Conservation Park.
The then Minister enquired of the South Australian Crown Solicitor if reclassifying the park would violate the terms of Miss Alice Ferguson’s bequest. This was again this could take place and subsequently recommended to the South Australian Governor, Sir Mark Oliphant.
On the 24th June 1976 the park was gazetted as the the Ferguson Conservation Park. Interestingly, shortly after being gazetted it was realised that the correct procedure to gazette the park had not been followed. As a result the gazettal was found to be invalid and the park was correctly gazetted on 2nd June 1977.
A number of native animals call the park home including koalas, Common Brushtail Possum and Common Ringtail Possum. Numerous native birds can also be found in the park including Rainbow Lorikeets, Noisy Miners, Red Wattlebirds, and Kookaburras.
The park is well signposted and has an information board and a memorial plaque which reads:-
“This Park was presented to the Government of South Australia by the late Miss A.E. Ferguson in June 1949 at her express wish it has been dedicated as a National Pleasure Resort for the benefit of the public in perpetuity”.
There are some ornamental stone gates off Hallett Road on the western side of the park which were erected between 1950-1951.
I initially drove along Marble Terrace and followed the southern boundary of the park. Houses are located on the southern side of Marble Terrace, and I was a little worried that the noise floor might be a bit high. So I headed to Stonyfell Road and the northern side of the park. I parked the car on Stonyfell Road and entered the park near the eastern boundary of the St Peters Girls School.
Above:- Stonyfell Road, with houses on the left and the park on the right of the picture.
It was coming up towards 11.30 a.m. local time and it was quite a warm morning, so I chose a nice shady spot underneath some gum tree. For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-897, 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole.
I kicked off the activation by having a tune across the band, and found Gerard VK2IO/p on 7.139 in the Towra Point Nature Reserve VKFF-2004. Gerard was a good 5/7 signal from New South Wales. I then moved up to 7.144 and called CQ. This was answered by Dick VK7DIK in Tasmania, followed by Ron VK3AHR and then Rob VK2QA. Signals were down a bit compared to normal, due to a recent eruption from the sun, throwing the HF bands into a bit of a spin.
I had 10 contacts in the log after 12 minutes, thus qualifying the park for VKFF. That makes 225 unique VKFF references for me as an activator. Four QSOs later I logged another Park to Park contact, this time with Gerard VK2JNG/p who was in the Woomargama National Park VKFF-0547. It was great to be able to log Bob VK6POP all the way over in Western Australia, around 2,100 km away (a local QSO here in Australia). I also logged my lovely wife Marija VK5FMAZ.
But callers dried up very quickly, so I took the opportunity of heading to the 80m band. I found Ivan VK5HS/p on 3.610 in the Moorook Game Reserve VKFF-1729 with a booming 5/9 plus signal. Ivan was logged Park to Park and kindly handed over the frequency to me. Here is a link to the Riverland Radio Club website about Ivan and Danny’s activation….
Next in the log was John VK5NJ down in Mount Gambier, who had followed me down from 40m. Danny VK5DW/p who was with Ivan in the Moorook Game Reserve then called in, followed by Marija VK5FMAZ, Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, and finally Mike VK5FMWW. But once again, despite the band being in quite good shape, I didn’t receive any further calls, particularly from the VK5’s.
With 27 contacts in the log, I moved back to 7.139 on 40m and called CQ. Brian VK3BBB was first up, followed by Andrew VK2UH, and then Tony VK3XV/m with Joe VK3YSP/m and Julie VK3YSP/m. All were mobile on their way to Murrayville in western Victoria. And wow, did they have a great signal coming out of the mobile, strength 9 plus.
I logged a further 14 contacts on 40m, including a Park to Park with Ken VK2KYO/3 in the Rutherglen Nature Conservation ReserveVKFF-2185.
I then moved to 20m and headed to 14.310 where I found Gerard VK2JNG/p in the Woomargama National Park VKFF-0547 VKFF-0547. It was great to log Gerard Park to Park on a second band. Gerard kindly handed over the frequency to me, and in response to my CQ call, Cliff VK2NP called in, followed by Dennis VK2HHA. I logged a total of 7 contacts on 20m, including a Park to Park with Gerard VK2IO/p in the Towra Point Nature Reserve VKFF-2004 VKFF-2004, and also Kyoyu JA8RJE in Japan.
To finish off the activation I headed back to 40m and put out a final CQ call on 7.139. Bob VK5FPAC gave me a shout with a 5/9 plus signal, followed by Andy VK5LA/p in the Lawari Conservation Park VKFF-1767 and then Adrian VK5FANA. Prior to ‘calling stumps’ for the day I tuned across the band and logged Rob VK4AAC/2 who was activating the Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1979.
Despite a fairly slow start, I had qualified this new park for VKFF & WWFF, with a total of 57 contacts, including 9 Park to Park QSOs. And my 225th unique park as an activator.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK2IO/p (Towra Point Nature Reserve VKFF-2004)
- VK2JNG/p (Woomargama National Park VKFF-0547)
- VK2KYO/3 (Rutherglen Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2185)
- VK5LA/p (Lawari Conservation Park VKFF-1767)
- VK4AAC/2 (Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1979)
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
- VK5HS/p (Moorook Game Reserve VKFF-1729)
- VK5DW/p (Moorook Game Reserve VKFF-1729)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
- VK2JNG/p (Woomargama National Park VKFF-0547)
- VK2IO/p (Towra Point Nature Reserve VKFF-2004)
Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2018, <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/melrose-alexander-11105>, viewed 21st April 2018
Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2018, <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/newland-simpson-sim-7828>, viewed 21st April 2018
Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2018,<http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/newland-sir-henry-simpson-7826>, viewed 21st April 2018
Burnside Historical Society Inc, 2009, Newsletter March 2009
Christian Clare Robertson, 2018, <https://ccrobertson.com/adelaide/>, viewed 21st April 2018
National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1984, ‘Ferguson Conservation Park Management Plan’
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferguson_Conservation_Park>, viewed 21st April 2018