2019 Oceania DX Contest

The 2019 Oceania DX Contest has been and gone for another year.  And this year I found band conditions really difficult.

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The Oceania DX Contest is one of the longest-running contests in the amateur radio calendar.  It is an annual competition between radio amateurs to make contacts on the HF (shortwave) bands, specifically DX (long distance) contacts with stations in Oceania.

The contest ran for 24 hours from 0800 UTC Sat 5th – 0800 UTC Sun 6th October 2019.

Fighting off some bronchitis after my overseas trip, I had a very early night on Saturday night and as a result, I missed out on a lot of contacts.

I still haven’t done anything about a dedicated 80m antenna at home, so my handful of 80m contacts were made on my 40m dipole.

In the end, I made a total of 112 contacts on 15, 20, 40 & 80m SSB.  This was way down on my efforts in previous years:-

  • 2018 – 279 QSOs
  • 2017 – 497 QSOs
  • 2016 – 273 QSOs
  • 2015 – 400 QSOs
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Above:- Bar graph showing my QSOs per band during the contest.  Graph courtesy of https://nces.ed.gov

I worked the following DX entities:-

  1. Asiatic Russia
  2. Australia
  3. China
  4. European Russia
  5. Hawaii
  6. Hong Kong
  7. Indonesia
  8. Japan
  9. New Caledonia
  10. New Zealand
  11. Taiwan
  12. Thailand
  13. Tokelau Islands
  14. Tonga
  15. Ukraine
  16. United States of America

The map below shows my contacts around the world during the contest.

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Above:- Map showing my contacts around the world during the contest.

The vast majority of my contacts were around Australia on the 40m band.

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Above:- Map showing my contacts around Australia during the contest.

I worked very little in the way of Europe during the contest other than European Russia and Ukraine.  Those contacts were made during the early evening on 20m on the shortpath and on 15m short path.  I did not hear any opening to Europe on 20m long path.

Indonesian stations were very well represented during the contest.  I heard numerous Indonesian stations on 40m during Saturday evening, but my 100 watts and wire antenna just weren’t cutting it with most of those stations.

Sadly there was no major opening to Japan on 15m, with just a handful of Japanese stations worked on that band.

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Above:- Map showing my contacts into Asia during the contest.

The highlight for me this year was working A35JT on Tonga and ZK3A on Tokelau Islands, both on the 40m band.

2019 VK Shires certificate

Hi all,
 
I checked the WIA website tonight and saw that I won the 2019 VK Shires Contest in the Single Op – Rover category.
 
I activated 6 parks in the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, and the Fleurieu Peninsula in 6 different Shires.
 
Thanks to everyone who called and many thanks to the organisers.
 
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Kyeema Conservation Park 5CP-107 and VKFF-0826

Yesterday (Saturday 24th August 2019) I headed to the Kyeema Conservation Park 5CP-107 & VKFF-0826, which was to be another park towards the South Australia National Parks & Wildlife Service certificate which is on offer during August 2019.

I have activated and qualified Kyeema on numerous previous occasions.

Kyeema is located about 62 km (by road) south of the city of Adelaide and about 15 km east of the town of Willunga.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Kyeema Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The Kyeema Conservation Park is about 346 hectares (850 acres) in size and was established on the 12th day of November 1964.  The park was first proclaimed as a Wild-Life Reserve on the 12th day of November 1964.  It became the Kyeema National Park on the 3rd day of August 1967.  It was reconstituted as the Kyeema Conservation Park on the 27th day of April 1972.  A further 25 hectares of land was added to the park in 1974.

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Above:- An aerial shot of the Kyeema Conservation Park looking back towards my home (marked with the blue pin).  Image courtesy of Google Maps.

The area surrounding the park was mined for alluvial gold back in the 1880s and was abandoned in 1890 due to a low yield.  A few years later, some the scrub was cleared for pine plantations and in 1932 a labour prison reserve was established here.  The camp which opened on 22nd March 1932 was South Australia’s first prison camp.  It was originally known as the Kyeema Afforestation Camp and was later known as the Kyeema Prison Camp.

The Prison Camp was used by low-security risk prisoners and on average, around 13 prisoners worked in the area at any one time, guarded by only 2 prison guards.  The prisoners cut a road through the stringybark forest to the camp, and sank wells, grew their own vegetables, carted water from the creek when the wells failed, showered from buckets, cut firewood, planted trees, put up fences and built bridges.   

The camp soon developed the reputation of being the most humane’ development in the history of the South Australian penal system’.  As was the case with other inmates a prison camps, the prisoners were called by name, not number, and were paid at a higher rate for their labours than other prisoners.  Upon completion of their work, the prisoners were allowed to yarn, read or play dominoes.  The prison camp was closed during the mid 1950s.

The park consists of thick scrub including messmate stringybark, pink gum, cup gum and candle bark gum. The name Kyeema is believed to be local Kaurna aboriginal language meaning ‘dawn’.

Numerous native mammals can be found in the par including Western Grey kangaroos and Southern Brown Bandicoot.

Birds SA have recorded about 88 species of bird in the park including Superb Fairywren, Striated Thornbill, Brown Thornbill, White-browed Scrubwren, Crescent Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-thrush, Southern Boobook, Elegant Parrot, Eastern Shriketit, Willie Wagtail, and Bassian Thrush.

The park was devastated during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, and a number of the eucalypt trees located in the southwestern part of the park were planted by school students during the 1980s as part of a long-term revegetation program.  About 20,000 seedlings were planted in the first three years.  The area is known as the ‘Children’s Forest’ to recognise the many children who helped to re-create the valuable habitat.

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Above:- Article from the Victor Habour Times newspaper, Wednesday Sept 28 1983.  Courtesy of trove.nla.gov.au.

Another significant fire burnt the park during November 2015.  During my visit to the park, I noted a lot of burnt scrub.  It appears the park has been subject to another recent fire, however, there was a lot of regrowth.

The famous Heysen Trail passes through the park.  The 1,200 km Heysen Trail runs from Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula to Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges.  There are other walks in the park including the Myrtaceae Hike (6km return – 3 hours) and the Mulurus Hike (1.2 km return – 30 minutes).

There is a large car parking area off Woodgate Hill Road and a cleared area between the roadway and the scrub which is an ideal operating spot.

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For this activation, I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 30 watts, and the 20/40/80 m linked dipole supported on the 7-metre heavy duty telescopic squid pole.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Kyeema Conservation Park showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

After setting up and turning on the transceiver I tuned across the band to find a clear frequency.  The 40m band was very much alive with lots of stations, including some very strong signals coming out of Europe.  I found 7130 clear and asked if the frequency was in use.  Steve VK4JSS came back to my call to advise he was about to start calling CQ and was in the Venman Bushland National Park.  It was a good way to start off the activation with a Park to Park contact.

After logging Steve I moved right up the band to 7.175 and started calling CQ.  Rob VK2VH came back to my call with a strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Bruce VK2HOT, Peter VK2UXO, and Marija VK5FMAZ.

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Above:- View of gate three and my operating spot.

In between contacts, I managed to place up a self spot on parksnpeaks.  It didn’t take long for this to drag in some of the regular park hunters.  I ended up logging a total of 43 contacts on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK7, and New Zealand.

The 40m band was in reasonable shape.  Signals from Victoria were very strong, although signals from New South Wales seemed to be down a little.  I was called by Max IK1GPG amongst the Australian callers.  Sadly on this occasion, I was not able to make it to Italy on 40m.

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I then lowered down the squid pole and removed the links for the 20m band and headed to 14.310.  I placed up a self spot on parksnpeaks and soon had my first caller in the log, Bob VK6POP in Western Australia.  Unfortunately, Bob was my only caller on 20m.  However, he had qualified the park for me for the global WWFF awards, being contact number 44 in my log.

To conclude the activation I moved down to the 80m band and called CQ on 3.610.  John VK5BJE at Scott Creek was first in the log on that band with a strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by Andy VK5LA and Danny VK5DW in the Riverland, and then Marija VK5FMAZ.  I logged a further 9 stations on 80m

The temperature had dropped from 14 deg C down to 8 deg C and it was time for me to pack up and go for a quick walk in the park.  I had a total of 57 contacts in the log,

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I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4JSS/p (Venman Bushland National Park VKFF-0507)
  2. VK2VH
  3. VK4AAC/2
  4. VK2HOT
  5. VK2UXO
  6. VK5FMAZ
  7. VK2VW
  8. VK3PF
  9. VK5GJ
  10. VK3MKE
  11. VK4SMA
  12. VK3SQ
  13. VK4GSF
  14. VK5BJE
  15. VK4CZ
  16. VK2QK
  17. VK3FIAN
  18. VK7ROY
  19. VK4HNS
  20. VK5VBR
  21. VK3XON
  22. VK3DOU
  23. VK1TX
  24. VK2LEE
  25. VK2RSB
  26. VK3MCK
  27. ZL1TM
  28. VK3MPR
  29. VK4MGL
  30. VK3FRC
  31. VK7QP
  32. VK4FOMP
  33. VK3FVRN
  34. VK3ANL
  35. VK7WN
  36. VK3GER/4
  37. VK3FJAC
  38. VK4TJ
  39. VK4/AC8WN
  40. VK4/VE6XT
  41. VK4SSN
  42. VK2PKT
  43. VK4MWB

I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6POP

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5LA
  3. VK5DW
  4. VK5FMAZ
  5. VK5PL
  6. VK5FANA
  7. VK2RSB
  8. VK3MVP
  9. VK5GJ
  10. VK2LEE
  11. VK3DEK
  12. VK4HNS
  13. VK5MRE

 

 

 

References.

Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/kyeema-conservation-park/>, viewed 25th August 2019

Taylor; B, 2010, ‘Prisons without Walls: Prison Camps and Penal Change in Australia, c. 1013-c. 1975’.

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyeema_Conservation_Park>, viewed 25th August 2019

Spring Mount Conservation Park 5CP-219 and VKFF-0789

Yesterday (Saturday 17th August 2019) I drove down to the Fleurieu Peninsula and activated the Spring Mount Conservation Park 5CP-219 & VKFF-0789.  My noise floor at home has dropped from strength 9 down to strength 7, but it is still annoying enough that every opportunity I get I like to head out and activate portable.

This weekend was the International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend (ILLW) and the Remembrance Day Contest (RD).  Unfortunately, in my opinion, the two events clash.  Some may disagree, but I believe the two events should remain autonomous and should be held on different dates.  I was hoping to log some of the ILLW operators but was happy to hand out some numbers for the RD contest.

I have activated and qualified Spring Mount previously.  This is one of my favourite parks.  It is a beautiful stringybark forest which has a number of great walks within the park.

The park is located about 72 km south of the city of Adelaide and about 15 km (by road) south-east of the town of Myponga.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Spring Mount Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

I drove down to Willunga along Brookman Road and onto the Victor Harbor Road.  I then turned right onto Pages Flat Road and then left onto Hindmarsh Tiers Road.  I soon reached Springmount Road and headed up towards Spring Mount.  There are some very nice views of the surrounding countryside to be enjoyed from Springmount Road.

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Above:- View of the countryside from Springmoutn Road.

Spring Mount Conservation Park is about 2.79 square km in size and was established on the 3rd day of February 1966.  Spring Mount preserves a relatively undisturbed mature stringybark forest and is located in an undulating ironstone plateau with a handful of small but quite steep valleys.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Spring Mount Conservation Park, looking north back towards the wine-growing region of McLaren Vale.  Image courtesy of Google maps.

The park first acquired protected area status as a Wild-Life Reserve on the 3rd day of February 1966.  On the 27th day of April 1972, the Wild-Life Reserve was reconstituted as the Spring Mount Conservation Park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. In 1973 and 2013, additional land was added to the park.

During my visit to the park, some of the native flowers were out in bloom.

The park’s large trees provide breeding habitat for the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, a large cockatoo with is native to the southeast of Australia.  Its plumage is mostly brownish-black and it has prominent yellow cheek patches and a yellow tail band. 

The park also contains some nice walks through the stringybark forest.

Birds SA have recorded about 90 species of bird in the park including Adelaide Rosella, White-throated Treecreeper, Superb Fairywren, Crescent Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, Scarlet Robin, Brush Bronzewing, Sacred Kingfisher, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Bassian Thrush, and Beautiful Firetail.

During my visit, I observed a number of birds, many of which were too quick for me.  But I did manage to snap the shots below of a female Superb Fairy Wren and a Scarlet Robin.

I parked the 4WD in the carpark on Springmount Road and claimed a small fence and set up on a boundary rail that ran parallel to Springmount Road.  There was plenty of room here to string out the 20/40/80m linked dipole.  The park is very heavily forested and the gap between the forest and the roadway offered a good operating spot.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Spring Mount Conservation Park, showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

Before calling CQ I tuned across the band to log some of the ILLW operators.  First in the log was VK3ILH at the Port Albert Museum Citadel Light AU0110.  Next was VK2MB at the Barrenjoey Lighthouse AU0046, followed by Dick VK7DIK/p at the Table Cape Lighthouse AU0039.

I then propped on 7.135 and logged a total of 52 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, and VK7 before 0300 UTC which was the scheduled starting time of the RD Contest.  This included a further 5 lighthouses and 3 Park to Park contacts.

I took a few minutes off-air with some radio silence for the RD Contest and about 3 minutes after 0300 UTC I started calling CQ again.  I logged 15 stations, and although I wasn’t really competing in the RD, I handed out a few numbers for those who were taking part.  I also logged Patrick (VK5MPJ) operating as VK5BAR from the Marino Conservation Park VKFF-1056 and Allen VK3ARH/p who was activating SOTA peak VK3/ VW-002 in the Grampians National Park.

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Above:- View from gate 3 to my operating spot.

I then tuned across the band and logged three more ILLW stations: Brad VK3SPL at the Split Point Lighthouse AU0032, Tony VK3WI at the Williamstown Timeball Tower AU0036, and Ken VK3ATL at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse AU0028.

I then moved down to the 80m band where I called CQ on 3.610.  I logged 5 stations from VK3 and VK5 including Allen VK3ARH who was activating SOTA peak VK3/ VW-002 in the Grampians National Park VKFF-0213.

I then headed up to 14.310 on the 20m band and logged 8 stations including Nick VK6CNL at the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse AU0010 & Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283, and Anthony VK6CLL at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse AU0008 & Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283.

I moved back to 40m and logged Ray VK4XXX/p at the Sea Hill Point Lighthouse AU0060.  To complete the activation I propped on 7.142 and logged a further 31 stations including Ian VK3ATL at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse AU0028, and Alan VK2MG/p at the Bemboka National Park VKFF-0049.

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Above:- My operating spot in the park.

Lighthouses worked on 40m SSB:

  1. VK3ILH – Port Albert Museum Citadel Light AU0110
  2. VK2MB/p – Barrenjoey Lighthouse AU0046
  3. VK7DIK/p – Table Cape Lighthouse AU0039
  4. VK3CSH/p – Cape Schanck Lighthouse AU0012
  5. VK6CLL – Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse AU0008
  6. VK6XN/p – Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse AU0008
  7. VK2HBG/p – Warden Head Lighthouse AU0035
  8. VK3EG/p – Point Hicks Lighthouse AU0027
  9. VK3SPL – Split Point Lighthouse AU0032
  10. VK3WI – Williamstown Timeball Tower AU0036
  11. VK3ATL – Point Lonsdale Lighthouse AU0028
  12. VK4XXX/p – Sea Hill Point Lighthouse AU0060

Lighthouses worked on 20m SSB:-

  • VK6CNL – Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse AU0010
  • VK6CLL – Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse AU0008

Park to Park contacts worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK6CLL – Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283
  2. VK6XN/p – Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283
  3. VK3EG/p – Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119
  4. VK4HNS/p – Cape Byron State Conservation Park VKFF-1295
  5. VK5BAR/p – Marino Conservation Park VKFF-1056
  6. VK3ARH/p – Grampians National Park VKFF-0213 (also SOTA VK3/ VW-002)
  7. VK2MG/p – Bemboka National Park VKFF-0049

Park to Park contacts on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6CNL – Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283
  2. VK6CLL – Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283

Park to Park contacts on 80m SSB:-

  1. Allen VK3ARH/p – Grampians National Park VKFF-0213 (also SOTA VK3/ VW-002)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3ILH (Port Albert Museum Citadel Light AU0110)
  2. VK2MB (Barrenjoey Lighthouse AU0046)
  3. VK7DIK/p (Table Cape Lighthouse AU0039)
  4. VK3FIAN
  5. VK3MKE
  6. VK2PKT
  7. VK3MPC
  8. VK3PF
  9. VK2LEE
  10. VK7QP
  11. VK3FLCS
  12. VK2MOP
  13. VK3MCK
  14. VK1MA
  15. VK4CZ
  16. VK3BNR
  17. VK3SIM
  18. VK3PKY/m
  19. VK3CSH/p (Cape Schanck Lighthouse AU0012)
  20. VK6CLL (Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse AU0008 & Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)
  21. VK6XN/p (Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse AU0008 & Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)
  22. VK2HBG/p (Warden Head Lighthouse AU0035)
  23. VK2EXA
  24. VK2VH
  25. VK4AAC/2
  26. VK3MPR
  27. VK3EG/p (Point Hicks Lighthouse AU0027 & Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119)
  28. VK2NP
  29. VK2XXM
  30. VK3ELH
  31. VK2ADB
  32. VK3LK
  33. VK7OT/p
  34. VK3PNG
  35. VK3MB
  36. VK3SQ
  37. VK3ER
  38. VK7MMT/p
  39. VK4JSS
  40. VK3ACT
  41. VK7EE
  42. VK3FADM/1
  43. VK4TJ
  44. VK4/AC8WN
  45. VK4/VE6XT
  46. VK4SSN
  47. VK3AWG/m
  48. VK3AHR
  49. VK2MOR
  50. VK3ANL
  51. VK5VCR
  52. VK3YSA
  53. VK3RW
  54. VK3MDH
  55. VK3FTJS
  56. VK4HNS/2 (Cape Byron State Conservation Park VKFF-1295)
  57. VK3UH
  58. VK3AZZ
  59. VK5BAR/p (Marino Conservation Park VKFF-1056)
  60. VK2MB (Barrenjoey Lighthouse AU0046)
  61. VK3SIM
  62. VK2RSB
  63. VK7HSD
  64. VK3JK
  65. VK3ASU
  66. VK2VW
  67. VK3TNL
  68. VK3ARH (SOTA VK3/ VW-002 & the Grampians National Park VKFF-0213)
  69. VK6CLL (Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse AU0008 & Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)
  70. VK3OB
  71. VK3SPL (Split Point Lighthouse AU0032)
  72. VK3WI (Williamstown Timeball Tower AU0036)
  73. VK3ATL (Point Lonsdale Lighthouse AU0028)
  74. VK4XXX/p (Sea Hill Point Lighthouse AU0060)
  75. VK3ATL (Point Lonsdale Lighthouse AU0028)
  76. VK3ER
  77. VK2MG/p (Bemboka National Park VKFF-0049)
  78. VK3TNL
  79. VK7FOLK/p
  80. VK3NCC
  81. VK3MDH
  82. VK3ZAP
  83. VK2LX
  84. VK3AMW
  85. VK2MT
  86. VK4QH
  87. VK3ADW
  88. VK7JON/p
  89. VK2UXO

I logged the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA
  2. VK3ARH/p (SOTA VK3/ VW-002 & the Grampians National Park VKFF-0213)
  3. VK5CB
  4. VK5CZ
  5. VK5BJE

I logged the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2LEE
  2. VK4TJ
  3. VK4/AC8WN
  4. VK4/VE6XT
  5. VK4SSN
  6. VK6CNL (Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse AU0010 & Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)
  7. VK4CZ
  8. VK6CLL (Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse AU0008 & Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)

With 118 stations in the log, I packed up and took a walk through the park for about 30 minutes. 

I then travelled down Mount Alma Road to Inman Valley Road.  I stopped briefly to log ZL6CC at the Cape Campbell lighthouse NZ0001.  ZL6CC was a genuine 5/9 into the mobile and gave me a 5/9 signal report which I was incredibly surprised with.  A big thank you to Greg VK2GJC who allowed me in to call the New Zealand lighthouse station.

I continued down Mount Alma Road enjoying some nice views of the Inman Valley which takes its name after Inspector Henry Inman, founder and first commander of the South Australia Police.

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I stopped briefly to have a look at Selwyn Rock, a glaciated pavement in the bed of the Inman River.  The rock was first described in 1859 and was named after ARC Selwyn, a Victorian Government geologist.  The rock dates back to the Permian period and was exposed when the Inman River eroded the topography to its present-day surface.

I then took Sawpit Road, and headed back towards Hindmarsh Tiers Road, stopping every now and again to view the dozens of Western Grey kangaroos grazing in the paddocks.

My next stop was Hindmarsh Falls which can be located at the end of Hindmarsh Falls Road.  A short walk from the carpark takes you to the falls.  The falls are located in the Hindmarsh Falls Recreation Reserve.

Along the way, I took the photo below of an Australian Golden Whistler.

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Above:- Golden Whistler at Hindmarsh Falls

It was then back to the 4WD and back off to home after a great day out.

 

 

References.

Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/spring-mount-conservation-park/>, viewed 18th August 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_Mount_Conservation_Park>, viewed 18th August 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow-tailed_black_cockatoo>, viewed 18th August 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inman_Valley,_South_Australia>, viewed 18th August 2019

WWFF Activator 264 certificate

In the past few days, I received in my Inbox my latest global World Wide Flora & Fauna certificate.

It is issued for having activated a total of 264 different references where 44 QSOs were logged.  I have activated 318 different references, and I have reached the 44 QSO threshold in 264 of those.

Thanks to everyone who has called me during my activations, and thank you to Friedrich DL4BBH the Awards Manager.

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Sandy Creek Conservation Park 5CP-204 and VKFF-0933

My final park for Tuesday 13th August 2019 was the Sandy Creek Conservation Park 5CP-204 & VKFF-0933.  This is another park which I have previously activated and qualified.

The park is located about 56 km north of the city of Adelaide and about 3 km west of the town of Lyndoch in the southern Barossa Valley.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Sandy Creek Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The Sandy Creek Conservation Park is about 142 hectares in size and was established on the 7th day of October 1965.  It is one of the few remaining tracts of undisturbed and undeveloped native bushland in the Barossa Valley.  As a result, it plays a vital role in providing habitat for various native wildlife and birds.  The park is surrounded by sand quarries, cleared farmland and vineyards.

The park is located in the localities of Lyndoch and Sandy Creek.  Nearby Cockatoo Valley is named for the flocks of corellas.  The park takes its name from the nearby town of Sandy Creek just a few km down the road.  The settlement of Sandy Creek grew around the Irish Harp Hotel which was built c. 1850.  It takes its name from the soil in the area which is deep, loose sand.

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Above:- An aerial view of the Sandy Creek CP looking north towards the wine-growing region of the Barossa Valley.  Image courtesy of Google maps.

On the 7th day of October 1965 Section 72 of the Hundred of Barossa was proclaimed as a Wildlife-Reserve.  Further sections of land were added on the 25th day of May 1967 and the park was gazetted as the Sandy Creek National Park.  It was re-proclaimed as Sandy Creek Conservation Park on the 27th day of April 1972.  Further parcels of land were added to the park in 1991, 1994, and 2006.

During the first half of the 1900s much of the Sandy Creek Conservation Park was cleared and planted with vines.  The vineyards were subsequently abandoned due to low soil fertility.  Sections of the park were named after life-long ornithologists and conservationists, Cecil Rix and Mark Bonnin who identified many native bird species in the area.

Cecil Rix was a former Commissioner of the National Parks Commission.   The following is taken from his obituary:-

“One of the many parks that Cecil sought to be dedicated, I must tell you of Sandy Creek in 1962.  It was a nasty hot day with a north wind and Cecil was working in the Barossa area.  He drove down a narrow lane into some shady scrub to east his lunch.  At once he discovered the beautiful bushland to be a haven of numerous species of birds.  A delight for Cecil.  He sought to get Sandy Creek purchased as a Park, but treasury would not provide the money.  At the end of the year, the Minister of Lands, Mr Quirke, officially thanked Cecil on behalf of the Premier Tom Playford for all of his good work during the year.  Cecil, never stuck for a quick reply said; ‘Tell Tom that if he wants to thank me he could buy Sandy Creek land for a national Park’.  Next day, at a meeting of the Cabinet, Mr QUirke passed on Cecil’s words to the Premier.  At 2 p.m. Cecil’s phone rang. The caller said, ‘Quirke here.  We’ve bought your birds.'”

Today many areas that Cecil Rix identified have become National Parks and Conservation Parks.  This includes Sandy Creek, Para Wirra, Innes, Spring Gully, Cape Gantheaume, Ngarkat, Hambidge, Hincks, Mount Remarkable, Coorong, Coffin Bat, Canunda, and Cox Scrub.  In 1938 there were just three National Parks in South Australia.  But by 1972, when Rix retired from the National Parks Commission, there were 109 parks.

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Above:- Plaque in the park to commemorate Cecil Rix.

The Sir Keith Wilson section of the Sandy Creek Conservation Park was a gift from the Wilson family and the Nature Foundation of SA Inc.  Sir Keith Cameron Wilson (3 September 1900 – 28 September 1987) was an Australian lawyer and politician.

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Above:- Sir Keith Cameron Wilson.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The park conserves a rare patch of plains/valley vegetation.  It is dominated by stands of native Southern Cypress-pine and Pink Gum.  Blue Gums and Peppermint Box also provide a canopy to a rich variety of shrubs such as Silver Broom, Guinea Flower and Sticky Hopbush.

There are two walks in the park: the Wren Walk which is a 3.5 km loop, and the Boundary Walk which is a 4 km loop.

Birds SA have recorded about 45 species of bird in the park including Peaceful Dove, Common Bronzewing, Superb Fairywren, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill, Black-winged Currawong, Willie Wagtail, Diamond Dove, Brush Bronzewing, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, White-winged Triller, and Zebra Finch.

A number of native animals call the park home including Echidnas and Western Grey kangaroos.  The kangaroos were out in force enjoying the afternoon sun during my visit.

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The park can be accessed via Pimpala Road (southern section of the park) or via Conservation Park Road (northern section of the park).  I accessed the park from the north and parked in the carpark at the end of Conservation Park Road.  It was just a  short walk from the vehicle through the park gate to where I set up.

I ran the Yaesu FT-857d and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation.  Power output was just 20 watts.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Sandy Creek Conservation Park showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

I was set up and ready to go by around 0645 UTC, 4.15 p.m. South Australian local time.  It was starting to get a bit cool now with the temperature dropping to around 12 deg C.  The sun was also starting to go down and the 40m band had really opened up to Europe.  As a result, it was quite hard to find a clear spot on the band.

I started calling CQ on 7.145 and it didn’t take long for one of the park regulars to give me a shout.  It was Rick VK4RF/VK4HA with a strong 5/9 signal from Queensland.  Peter Vk3PF was next, followed by Rob VK2MZ and then Glen VK4FARR.

Contact number ten came 7 minutes into the activation.  It was Andrei ZL1TM in New Zealand who is a regular park hunter.  I continued on and eventually logged a total of 20 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and New Zealand.

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I then moved down to the 80m band and started calling CQ on 3.610.  There was quite a little pile up waiting for me.  First in the log on 80m was Lee VK2LEE, followed by John VK5BJE, Adrian VK5FANA, and then John VK5FLEA/p who was activating the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park VKFF-0782.

In the end, I logged a very pleasing total of 16 stations on 80m from VK2, VK3, and VK5.

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As it approached 5.30 p.m. local time I made the decision to pack up and head home.  I had qualified the park for VKFF which was my main goal, and I now had 5 South Australian parks activated during the month of August.  This meant that I had qualified for the special National Parks & Wildlife Award.

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Megan VK3AAK provided this short piece of audio of me operating…..

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK2MZ
  5. VK4FARR
  6. VK6JES
  7. VK4TJ
  8. VK4/AC8WN
  9. VK4/VE6XT
  10. ZL1TM
  11. VK3MPR
  12. VK3YW
  13. VK2UXO
  14. VK7OT/p
  15. VK4FDJL/6
  16. VK7MMT/p
  17. VK3UH
  18. VK7VZ
  19. VK1DI
  20. VK5CB

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK2LEE
  2. VK5BJE
  3. VK5FANA
  4. VK5FLEA/p (Mark Oliphant Conservation Park VKFF-0782)
  5. VK3BBB
  6. VK5SFA/m
  7. VK5IJ
  8. VK5DO
  9. VK3PF
  10. VK5CB
  11. VK2SLB
  12. VK5CZ
  13. VK5JW
  14. VK3UH
  15. VK2HRX
  16. VK5PL

As I drove home I was rewarded with a magnificent sunset.

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References.

Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/sandy-creek-conservation-park/>, viewed 16th August 2019

Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/images/saopdfs/Volume33/1998V33P031.pdf>, viewed 16th August 2019

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2010, ‘Sandy Creek Conservation Park’ brochure.

State Library South Australia, 2019, <http://www.slsa.ha.sa.gov.au/digitalpubs/placenamesofsouthaustralia/S.pdf>, viewed 16th August 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Creek_Conservation_Park>, viewed 15th August 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Creek,_South_Australia>, viewed 16th August 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Wilson_(South_Australian_politician)>, viewed 16th August 2019

Para Wirra Conservation Park 5CP-275 and VKFF-1739

My third park for Tuesday 13th August 2019 was the Para Wirra Conservation Park 5CP-275 & VKFF-1739.  I have activated and qualified this park previously.

Para Wirra is located about 38 km northeast of the city of Adelaide and about `12 km (by road) south-west of the town of Williamstown.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Para Wirra Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The Para Wirra Conservation Park is 1,417 hectares (3,500 acres) in size and was established on the 21st day of June 1962.  It is located in the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges at the corner end of the Adelaide metropolitan area.  The conservation park is part of a larger, 2,573-hectare (6,360-acre) block of contiguous native vegetation, the remainder of which is owned by Forestry SA, SA Water and private landholders.   Only 26% of the Mount Lofty Ranges remains uncleared.

The conservation park takes its name from the Aboriginal words, Para meaning “river” and Wirra meaning “forest”.

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Above:- Map of the Para Wirra Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of National Parks & Wildlife Service.

The park is predominately covered in eucalyptus; however, there is a wide variety of vegetation types including Woodland – Open Woodland (low open woodland) – Low open forest – Closed scrub – Eucalyptus open scrub – open scrub – Melaleuca uncinata closed heath.

On the 21st day of June 1962, the park was proclaimed under the Crown Lands Act 1929 as the Para Wirra National Park.  The national park was officially opened on 24th September 1963 by the then Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford.  It was the second reserve in the State of Australia to be proclaimed as a National Park.  On the 27th day of April 1972, the national park was reconstituted as a recreation park.  This reconstitution reflected the park’s role as a natural area catering to a wide range of recreational activities.  On the 2nd day of November 2015, Environment Minister Ian Hunter announced that to better recognise and protect the recreation park’s natural and heritage values, it would be upgraded to Conservation Park status.  The recreation park was abolished on 19 May 2016 and on the same day, its landholding was constituted as the Para Wirra Conservation Park.

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Above:- Sir Thomas Playford, c. 1956.  Image courtesy of wikipedia

Numerous native mammals can be found in the park including Western Grey kangaroos, Euros,  Yellow-footed antechinus,  Short-beaked Echidna, the Common ringtail possum and the Brushtail possum.

Over 120 species of birds have been recorded in the conservation park including the emu which was introduced into the park in 1967.  Other native birds include White-faced heron, White-browned Babbler, Black-chinned honeyeater, Scarlet Robin, Laughing Kookaburra and Red-rumped parrot.

A total of 38 recorded reptiles and amphibians can be found in the park including the long-necked tortoise, Bearded Dragon, Brown tree frog, Yellow-faced whip snake and Red-bellied black snake.

I set up on a track at the East gate on Humbug Scrub Road.  There were two locked gates here so I could not travel into the park along Wirra Road.  However, there was a small car parking area, and a dirt track leading to a water tank.

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Above:- the locked gates at the East gate entrance.

For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 20 watts output and the 20/40/80m linked dipole, inverted vee, supported by the 7-metre telescopic squid pole.

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Above:- An aerial view of the Para Wirra Conservation Park showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

As it was starting to get a little late in the afternoon, the 40m band had opened up into Europe, so I was unable to get onto 7.144.  I dropped down the band a little to 7.140 and started calling CQ.  Ian VK3BUF mobile came back to my call.  Ian had a strong 5/9 signal from about 40 km north of Wagga.  Next in the log were some of the park regulars, Geoff VK3SQ, David VK5PL, Peter VK3PF, and Ken VK3UH.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for a strong European station to pop up on my frequency.  They were a good 5/7 signal and I just couldn’t compete, so with 9 contacts in the log, I moved down the band to 7.130.

John VK5BJE had followed me down and was logged.  John was 5/5 from the Adelaide Hills and gave me a 5/1 signal report.  I then logged Lee and Robbie VK5FRSM in the Adelaide Hills who was very low down.  Next was Neil VK3VZE.  I was Neil’s first SSB contact in many years.

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Next in the log was Perrin VK3XPT who was using an old Wagner transceiver which was a former State Emergency Services transceiver.  My last contact on 40m was with Rick VK5VCR in the Adelaide Hills.

I then moved down to 3.610 on 80m and started calling CQ.  John VK5BJE had followed me down from 40m and was first in the log on that band, followed by Rick VK5VCR, David VK5LSB, and Perrin VK3XPT.

To complete the activation I called CQ on 14.310 on the 20m band.  I logged Rick VK4RF/VK4HA and Andrei ZL1TM in New Zealand.

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Above:- Perrin VK3XPT’s old Wagner transceiver.  Image courtesy of VK3XPT.

With 22 contacts in the log, it was time to pack up and head off to my final park for the day, the Sandy Creek Conservation Park.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3BUF/m
  2. VK3SQ
  3. VK5PL
  4. VK3PF
  5. VK3UH
  6. VK4FARR
  7. VK4TJ
  8. VK4/AC8WN
  9. VK4/VE6XT
  10. VK5BJE
  11. VK2LEE
  12. VK5FRSM
  13. VK3ZVE
  14. VK3XPT
  15. VK5VCR

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK5VCR
  3. VK5LSB
  4. VK3XPT

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA
  3. ZL1TM

 

 

References.

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Para_Wirra_Conservation_Park>, viewed 15th August 2019