VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 225

Yesterday’s activation of Ferguson Conservation Park was my 225th unique VKFF park as an activator.

Many of those parks I’ve been back to 3-7 times over, so they all count towards the Boomerang Award. But Ferguson was my 225th unique.

Thankyou to all of the Hunters that participate in the VKFF program. I’ve had a huge amount of fun activating and have seen some great places around Australia.


VK5PAS VKFF Activator Honour Roll 225.png

Ferguson Conservation Park 5CP-066 and VKFF-0880

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.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Ferguson Conservation Park in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

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.

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Above:- Aerial shot showing the Ferguson Conservation Park in the foreground, surrounded by the eastern suburbs of Adelaide.  Image courtesy of google maps.

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.


Above:- Simpson Newland.  Image courtesy of http://www.adb.anu.edu.au

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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Ferguson Conservation Park showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

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:-

  1. VK2IO/p (Towra Point Nature Reserve VKFF-2004)
  2. VK7DIK
  3. VK3AHR
  4. VK2QR
  5. VK2EXA
  6. VK2HHA
  7. VK3MRG
  8. VK7JON
  9. VK3UH
  10. VK3FCMC
  11. VK1AT
  12. VK4FDJL
  13. VK4AAC
  14. VK2JNG/p (Woomargama National Park VKFF-0547)
  15. VK2NP
  16. VK2LEE
  17. VK1DI
  18. VK7FOLK
  19. VK5NJ
  20. VK5FMAZ
  21. VK6POP
  22. VK3BBB
  23. VK2UH
  24. VK3XV/m
  25. VK3YSP/m
  26. VK3FOWL/m
  27. VK3TKK/m
  28. VK4ARW
  29. VK3BCM
  30. VK5BJE
  31. VK3PF/m
  32. VK3UA
  33. VK3PAH
  34. VK2VW
  35. VK2KYO/3 (Rutherglen Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2185)
  36. VK5FPAC
  37. VK5LA/p (Lawari Conservation Park VKFF-1767)
  38. VK5FANA
  39. VK4AAC/2 (Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1979)

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS/p (Moorook Game Reserve VKFF-1729)
  2. VK5NJ
  3. VK5DW/p (Moorook Game Reserve VKFF-1729)
  4. VK5FMAZ
  5. VK5FANA
  6. VK5FMWW

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2JNG/p (Woomargama National Park VKFF-0547)
  2. VK2NP
  3. VK2HHA
  4. VK4GMH
  5. VK4SMA
  6. VK2IO/p (Towra Point Nature Reserve VKFF-2004)
  7. JA8RJE



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&gt;, 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


Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park 5CP-003 and VKFF-0866

Today (Tuesday 17th April 2018) I headed down south to activate a brand new park for me, the Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park 5CP-003 & VKFF-0866.  The park is located about 48 km south of Adelaide, and about 60 km south west of my home.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park, south of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park is 266 hectares in size and was proclaimed on the 7th November 1985.  It is home to a diverse range of rare plants and is recognised as a significant area for the conservation and protection of the region’s flora and fauna.  The park represents one of the last remnant patches of native coastal scrubland along the Adelaide coastline.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park.  Image courtesy of google maps.

The area which is now the Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park was part of the territory of the Kaurna aboriginal people.  The scrub and adjacent coastline  yielded a rich and bountiful supply of food and materials used for utensils.   Shellfish, fish, marsupials, reptiles, birds and plant foods such as nardoo, muntries, yams and quandongs were abundant in the area.  It is believed that Aldinga is a corruption of the aborignal word ‘Nal-dinga’ meaning ‘open wide’.  However there are other suggestions that it means ‘much water’, while other sources suggest it means ‘good place for meat’, ‘open, wide plain’ or ‘tree district’.


Above:- A Kaurna tribe.  Image courtesy of http://www.researchgate.net

The nearby town of Aldinga was laid out by Lewis Fidge (1827-1895), farmer of Aldinga, circa 1857, who had arrived in the colony of South Australia aboard the Duchess of Northumberland in 1839.

In the 1960s the Willunga Council became concerned that subdivision of the area would cause erosion of the important sand dunes in the area.  Between 1965 and 1982, 300 hectares were purchased at Aldinga to be managed by the State Planning Authority as an Open Space Reserve.  In 1985 the reserve was declared Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park.

The park contains sand dunes, sand blows which are mobile dunes, mallee box woodland, remnant river red gum forests and closed heaths.  There are areas of bracken and tall shrubland dominated by Golden Wattle.  There are several rare species found in the park including the unique Lacy coral lichen, Aldinga dampiera and numerous native orchids.

Numerous native animals call the park home including Western Grey kangaroos and Short-beaked echidnas.  Various reptiles can also be found in the park including the Common Brown snake, Lined Worm Lizard, Marbled Gecko, and the Bearded Dragon.

Numerous native birds can be found in the park.  Birds SA have recorded a total of 133 species including Crested Pigeon, New Holland Honeyeater,  Eastern Spinebill, Striated Thornbill, Dusky Woodswallow, Australian Golden Whistler, Painted Buttonquail, Peaceful Dove, Tawny Frogmouth, White-winged Triller, and the Red-browed Finch.  Some of the birds I spotted and photographed are shown below.

I travelled to the park from home via Echunga, Meadows and then Willunga.  I travelled to the end of Hart Road and soon reached the north eastern corner of the park.  There were some terrific views here of the Southern Vales wine region, one of the most famous wine growing areas in Australia.

I parked the Toyota Hil Lux alongside the gate at the end of Hart Road.  There is a carpark here.  I was surprised to find the gate open, with the padlock not having been cut.   I started unloading the vehicle and found a nice shady spot about 30 metres from the gate.  As I was carting gear from the vehicle to my operating spot a National Parks truck and trailer arrived and I had a chat with the 3 park rangers who were very friendly.  One of them remembered me from  a recent activation on the Fleurieu Peninusla.  They advised that there was a working bee at the park involving The Friends of Aldinga Scrub Group.  They have an excellent website with lots of information on the park.

I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, set at 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation.  The dipole was supported on the top of a 7m telescopic squid pole.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park showing my operating spot in the north eastern corner.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

To kick off the activation I had a tune across the 40m band and found Gerard VK2JNG/p in the Livingstone State Conservation Area VKFF-1343.  Gerard was 5/9 plus.  After working Gerard I moved up the band and called CQ on 7.150.  This was answered by Mark VK3UA, followed by Dennis VK2HHA, and then Peter VK5ZPG.  There was a slow and steady mini pile up and within 13 minutes into the activation I had ten contacts in the log, thus qualifying the park for the VKFF program.

It was a weekday and activity on the band was much slower than a weekend.  I logged a total of 21 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5, before callers dried up.  I took the opportunity of tuning across the band and logged Jeff VK3HJA/p in the Alpine National Park VKFF-0619.

I then lowered the squid pole and inserted the links for the 80m band and headed to 3.610.  Sadly there was a strength 7 noise floor on 80m and the Over the Horizon radar.  My CQ call was answered by John VK5BJE, then Tony VK5MRE, John VK5NJ, and finally Adrian VK5FANA.  There were others calling but sadly I wasn’t able to pull them through due to the noise floor.

I then headed back to 40m and put out a few CQ calls on 7.144.  John VK5NJ at Mount Gambier was first in the log.  This was followed by Mark VK3MDH mobile and then John VK2YW.  It was really slow going and I logged a further 8 stations including Horst VK2HL/p who was in the Coolah Tops National Park VKFF-0111.


Above:- ‘The Shack”, a magnificent outlook across the scrub and the vineyards to the southern Mount Lofty Ranges

I now had 38 contacts in the log and required another 6 to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.  The squid pole was lowered again and I removed the links for the 20m band.  I put out a CQ call on 14.310 and this was answered by John VK4TJ, followed by Colin VK4PDX.  Sadly they were my only callers, so I headed down the band and booked in to the ANZA DX Net.  I logged a total of 9 stations on the net including Peter ZL2BAQ in New Zealand.  I also spoke to my good mate Ted VK6NTE who was 5/9 +++.

I checked the various Facebook pages on my phone and saw that David VK5PL had listened out for me on 80m but had missed me.  So I sent a message back to David and headed to 3.610.  I logged David who was 5/9, but despite spotting on parksnpeaks, David was my only caller.

I headed back to the 40m band and found Bill VK4FW/p on 7.141 who was activating the Tarong National Park VKFF-0479.  I called Bill and at the same time Bill received a phone call, and whilst he was on the phone, Rob VK4AAC/2 snuck in to log me.

I then moved down the band and called CQ on 7.130.  Peter VK2NEO called in with his normal booming signal.  This was followed by Gerard VK2JNG mobile and then Keith VK2PKT.  I logged a further 21 stations, including some interesting contacts.  One of those was Joe VK3YSP who was portable at the Moorabin & Districts Radio Club with some students from he and Julie’s School Amateur Radio Club Network.  I had a quick chat with some of Joe and Julie’s students: Henry, Stefano, and Hannah.

I also logged Andrei ZL1TM in Auckland, New Zealand and Owen ZL4CY in New Zealand.  And I was very pleased to have been called by Grant (VK5GR) YJ0AG in Vanuatu.  Grant is holidaying on Efate Vanuatu, and I was Grant’s first SSB contact.


Above:- my gear, the Yaesu FT-857d and my hand written log

So after a very slow start to this activation I now had 78 contacts in the log, including 4 Park to Park QSOs.  It was 4.30 p.m. and time to pack up and head home.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2JNG/p (Livingstone State Conservation Area VKFF-1343)
  2. VK3UA
  3. VK2HHA
  4. VK5ZPG
  5. VK3AHR
  6. VK4FDJL
  7. VK3HJ
  8. VK5LV
  9. VK4HNS
  10. VK3WAR
  11. VK5WF
  12. VK5FANA
  13. VK3SQ
  14. VK2IO
  15. VK3ANL
  16. VK4TJ
  17. VK4/AC8WN
  18. VK4/VE6XT
  19. VK5KIK
  20. VK2VW
  21. VK2NP
  22. VK3HJA/p (Alpine National Park VKFF-0619)
  23. Vk5NJ
  24. VK5JN
  25. VK3MDH/m
  26. VK2YW
  27. VK4NH
  28. VK4DXA
  29. ZL4TY/VK4
  30. VK3XP
  31. VK2EXA
  32. VK4PDX
  33. VK2HL/p (Coolah Tops National Park VKFF-0111)
  34. VK3MEG/p
  35. VK4AAC/2
  36. VK4FW/p (Tarong National Park VKFF-0479)
  37. VK2NEO
  38. VK2JNG/m
  39. VK2PKT
  40. VK4GSF
  41. VK6POP
  42. VK5MCB/p
  43. VK2LEE
  44. VK3YSP/p
  45. VK5VC
  46. VK3TKK/m
  47. VK7HCK
  48. VK5PET
  49. VK3VGB
  50. VK7LTD
  51. VK3FOWL/p
  52. ZL1TM
  53. VK3NCR/2
  54. VK3MLU
  55. YJ0AG
  56. VK7AN
  57. ZL4CY
  58. VK4FARR
  59. VK3TB
  60. VK6QM

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5MRT
  3. VK5NJ
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK5PL

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4TJ
  2. VK4/AC8WN
  3. VK4/VE6XT
  4. VK4PDX
  5. VK6NTE
  6. VK7XX
  7. VK4DV
  8. VK4NH
  9. VK4DXA
  10. ZL4TY/VK4
  11. ZL2BAQ
  12. VK2HOT
  13. VK4DGU



A Compendium of the Place Names of South Australia, 2018, <http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/digitalpubs/placenamesofsouthaustralia/>, viewed 17th April 2018

Birds SA, 2018, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/aldinga-scrub-conservation-park/>, viewed 17th April 2018

National Parks South Australia, 2018, <https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Fleurieu_Peninsula/aldinga-scrub-conservation-park>, viewed 17th April 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldinga_Scrub_Conservation_Park>, viewed 17th April 2018

Mantung Conservation Park 5CP-269 and VKFF-1055

Our second park for the day was the Mantung Conservation Park 5CP-269 & VKFF-1055.  The park is located about 228 km north east of the city of Adelaide and about 45 km west of Loxton.  Again, this was to be a unique park for both Marija and I as activators, for both WWFF and the VK5 Parks Award.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Mantung Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer

The Mantung Conservation Park is about 1,696 hectares (4,190 acres) in size and was proclaimed on the 16th October 2014.  So in the scheme of things, Mantung is a relatively new park.

At the opening of the park, Natural Resources South Australian Murray-Darling Basin District Manager, Mallee and Coorong, Paul Gillen stated:

“Proclaiming the Mantung area as a Conservation Park complements a large network of adjoining Vegetation Heritage Agreements in the area which are well-managed by local farmers and the Mantung-Maggea Land Management Group with support from the Murray Mallee Local Action Planning group and Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin…….The local community has really taken Mantung under its wing, taking part in extensive native habitat restoration work in recent years.”

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Above:- Aerial shot showing the Mantung Conservation Park and the surrounding countryside.  Image courtesy of Google maps

Mantung is a local aboriginal word literally meaning ‘water on a native road’.   Aborigines traversing through the area, followed sandhills from Jadko about 6·5 km north of Swan Reach, via Bakara eastward to Loxton.  They obtained water from mallee trees, while sandhills contained root foods.  Needle bush roots also yielded water for indigenous travellers.

The Hundred of Mantung, County of Albert, was proclaimed on 15th June 1893.  The name was shown as an Aboriginal waterhole on an 1864 land tenure plan.  The town of Mantung, was proclaimed on 8th July 1915.

The conservation park is important for the conservation of the following bird species: Malleefowl, Southern Scrub Robin, Shy Heathwren, Inland Thornbill, White-browned Babbler, and Purple-gaped honeyeater.

After leaving Bakara, we travelled south on Start Road until we reached Bakara Well Road where we turned left and travelled east.  We continued east on Carnell Road and then Evans Road, and upon reaching the junction of Evans Road and Farr Road, we took Farr Road.  We soon reached the north western corner of the park.  There was an open gate at this location, with a Mantung Maggea Land Management Group sign.


We continued along Farr Road and found another open gate and a 4WD track leading into the park.  We travelled along the track for about 500 metres and set up underneath the shade of some trees.  It was a warm afternoon, with the temperature approaching 35 deg C.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 9.06.03 am.png

Above:- Aerial shot of the Mantung Conservation Park, showing our operating spot in the northern section of the park.  Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer

I kicked off the activation, calling CQ on 7.144.  This was answered by Mike VK5FMWW who had a big 5/9 plus signal.  It was great to see the 40m band open around South Australia.  Next in the log was Gerard VK2IO/p who was activating the Dharawal National Park VKFF-1167.  Marija and I swapped the mic so she could log Gerard Park to Park.  She then decided to stay in the operators chair and within7 minutes had logged 10 stations, qualifying the park for the VKFF program.  Contact number 10 for Marija was a QSO with Bill VK4FW/p who was activating the Baywulla Creek Conservation Park VKFF-1470.  I also logged Bill Park to Park.

I then jumped into the operators chair and called CQ.  Deryck VK4FDJL was the first taker, followed by Helen VK7FOLK and then Linda VK7QP.  The 40m band had improved quite dramatically compared to conditions during our first park activation at Bakara.  There was a steady flow of callers, with mini pile ups at times.  Contact number 44 was a QSO with Mike VK3FCMC.


I also logged the following Park to Park contacts (Marija also logged these):

  • Liz VK2XSE/p -Jerrawangala National Park VKFF-0248VKFF-0248
  • Nik VK3NLK/p – Gippsland Lakes Conservation Park VKFF-0747
  • Peter VK3ZPF/p – Cathedral Range State Park VKFF-0755
  • VK4SMA/p – Maryland National Park VKFF-0309
  • VK2IO/p – Dharawal State Conservation Area VKFF-1313

During the activation the wind really picked up and the squid pole came crashing down.  As we had so many callers we didn’t get the opportunity of hammering the squid pole holder back into the dry and rocky ground.  So Marija and I took turns holding the squid pole upright.  Apparently our signal was still strong, even when the squid pole was lying on the ground.

IMG_1112 2

After logging a total of 46 stations on 40m I headed off to 14.310 on the 20m band where I spoke with Peter VK2NEO and Rob VK7VZ.


It was now really hot and there wasn’t a huge amount of shade under the mallee shrubs, so Marija and I decided to call it a day.  Sorry, we didn’t try 80m during this activation.  It was just too hot and we wanted to get back into the air conditioned comfort of the Hi Lux.

Marija had qualified the park for VKFF with 16 contacts in the log, and I had qualified for the park for VKFF & WWFF with 48 QSOs.  We also had 14 Park to Park contacts in the log from Mantung.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO/p (Dharawal National Park VKFF-1167)
  2. VK3QB
  3. VK5FMWW
  4. VK7QP
  5. VK3CWF
  6. VK3PGK
  7. VK3FSPG
  8. VK3MPR
  9. VK7FOLK
  10. VK4FW/p (Baywulla Creek Conservation Park VKFF-1470)
  11.  VK2XSE/p (Jerrawangala National Park VKFF-0248)
  12. VK3NLK/p (Gippsland Lakes Conservation Park VKFF-0747)
  13. VK5FANA
  14. VK3ZPF/p (Cathedral Range State Park VKFF-0755)
  15. VK4SMA/p (Maryland National Park VKFF-0309)
  16. VK2IO/p (Dharawal State Conservation Area VKFF-1313)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5FMWW
  2. VK2IO/p (Dharawal National Park VKFF-1167)
  3. VK4FW/p (Baywulla Creek Conservation Park VKFF-1470)
  4. VK4FDJL
  5. VK7FOLK
  6. VK7QP
  7. VK3FSPG
  8. VK3MPR
  9. VK2LEE
  10. VK2USH
  11. VK3ZD
  12. VK7VZ
  13. VK5VBR
  14. VK7JON
  15. VK2NP
  16. VK3BBB
  17. VK3UH
  18. VK3PF
  19. VK2PKT
  20. VK3FRAB
  21. VK3UCD
  22. VK5HS
  23. VK7DW/p
  24. VK4HNS
  25. VK5FMLO
  26. VK2XSE/p (Jerrawangala National Park VKFF-0248)
  27. VK3ARH
  28. VK5DW
  29. VK3NLK/p (Gippsland Lakes Conservation Park VKFF-0747)
  30. VK5KLV
  31. VK5FANA
  32. VK3ZPF/p (Cathedral Range State Park VKFF-0755)
  33. VK7EK
  34. VK4TJ
  35. VK4/AC8WN
  36. VK4/VE6XT
  37. VK2NEO
  38. VK5PL
  39. VK2YE
  40. VK4SMA/p (Maryland National Park VKFF-0309)
  41. VK2IO/p (Dharawal State Conservation Area VKFF-1313)
  42. VK3ANL
  43. VK3HY
  44. VK3FCMC
  45. VK3SQ
  46. VK3KMA

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2NEO
  2. VK7VZ

After packing up we drove into the little town of Mantung.  There isn’t a huge amount here nowadays.  It is another town which has suffered at the hands of the closure of the railway line.  But there are a number of interpretive signs pointing out historic sites in the town, courtesy of the Mantung Centenary Committee.  At the old hall there are 2 brochures which detail the historic railway towns of Mantung, Mercunda, Maggea, Galga and Eastern Well, and also the Mantung Centenary Walk.

In 1893 the Hundred of Mantung was surveyed into 14 large sections, however virtually no interest was shown.  In 1910 the Hundred of Mantung was surveyed into 46 smaller sections and these were all taken up and new pioneer families moved onto their land.

We then travelled south west on the Galga Road, and we worked Gerard VK2IO/p from the mobile.  Gerard was in the Dharawal State Conservation Area VKFF-1313 and was a strong 5/8 into the mobile.

We stopped briefly to have a look at the old settlement of Mercunda, originally known as Mattala.  Again, there is not a lot here, as the town collapsed following the closure of the railway.  However there is an interpretive sign at the old Mercunda hall and school.  Mercunda once boasted a railway siding with goods platform, passengers platform, stock loading yards, wheat shed and wheat stacking area, cottages for railway workers, several saw benches set up by wood merchants in the 1920’s and 30’s, a general store, blacksmith, post office, twon hall, school, football and tennis teams and also a golf club (1965-1974).

Our next stop was the town of Galga which was surveyed in October 1915 by Mr. A. Thomas, after the Waikerie railway line from Karoonda to Waikerie was opened in 1914.  The town was gazetted on 10th February 1916 and in its heyday consisted of a post office (opened in September 1915), a telephone exchange, a general store (opened in 1921), the Galga hall used for dances, two churches, and a school.  In 1920 the Galga Football Club was formed and originally played in a paddock until recreational land was surveyed in the town in 1922.

Perhaps Galga’s most famous former resident is singer, Julie Anthony (1951-).  She was born in Galga and was raised on the family farm.


On the way home we spoke with Ian VK1DI/2 on 40m from the mobile.  Ian was in the Tallaganda State State Conservation Area VKFF-1375 and was a good 5/8 signal.  I also worked Bernie on 20m who was using the special call of VI4GAMES for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

We arrived home in the late afternoon.  We had a terrific time away.  Again, thanks to all of the organisers of the BRL Gathering, and thanks to those who called Marija and I during our park activations.



All Music, 2018, <https://www.allmusic.com/artist/julie-anthony-mn0000840426>, viewed 9th April 2018

Natural Resources SA Murray Darling Basin, 2018, <http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/samurraydarlingbasin/news/141125-mantung-cp>, viewed 9th April 2018

State Library South Australia, 2018, <http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/digitalpubs/placenamesofsouthaustralia/>, viewed 9th April 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantung_Conservation_Park>, viewed 9th April 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galga,_South_Australia>, viewed 9th April 2018