I was keen to get back to Mount Remarkable National Park to complete 44 plus contacts for WWFF. I had been to this beautiful park many times, including camping at Mambray Creek and have operated my portable station from three locations within the Park. Here is a link to my previous activation:
Mount Remarkable from Matthew Flinders Lookout over Gulf
This time I wanted to operate from the Napperby Block. The Park is in two sections and my last three activations were in the Mount Remarkable section. I checked the DEWNR web page and found that the Department was conducting pest eradication in the Napperby Block and the nearby Telowie Gorge Conservation Park. Now while some people might consider amateur radio operators ‘pests’, I did not want to be in their ‘sights’. The most common pests are goats, not Mountain Goats of the Summits On The Air type, but four legged ones! So I decided the the Mambray Creek camping and picnic area would be a good choice. Mount Remarkable National Park attracts fees for campers and vehicles. For day visitors the cost is $10 ($8 concession). I knew from my last visit to Mambray Creek that internet coverage is only available near the main entrance and soon disappears within the folds of the hills. I stopped and paid my fee using my Ipad and credit card and saved the receipt so I could show that I had paid the appropriate fee.
I was soon in the park and drove through to the day visitors area. There was only one other couple present although there were school buses parked suggesting that there were school children camping and or walking in the park.
I was soon set up and ready to go and after checking the frequency called CQ about 10 minutes before UTC rollover. But the new day dawned before I made my first contact! I was fortunate to obtain 21 contacts as band conditions on 40 and 20 metres were poor. Contacts were made with VK 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 stations. I also tried 20 metres without success. I was hoping to be heard in VK6. Thanks to all who gave me a call and to those who patiently waited until the band opened and gained a contact quickly. Signals were not loud and QSB (fading) was rapid. I now have 44 plus contacts for this park.
This photo shows the Mambray Creek in flood.
The weather was great, warm, sunshine and no wind. It was in fact the calm before the storm! The Mambray Creek which runs through the Park was flowing rapidly and just within its banks. The Rangers had posted warnings about taking care near the creek and this Park and many others in the State were closed the next day as a result of the very severe weather system.
This photo shows the warning notice about the creek.
The activation was leisurely and I had many visitors both human and animal (grey kangaroos, grey butcher birds, kookaburras and many little brown birds (LBBs). A number of visitors were interested in what I was doing and, in turn, I heard stories of knowing amateurs and having a grandfather who was an amateur.
About mid-afternoon it was time to drive to our accommodation in Port Augusta and to a later dinner engagement. Tuesday evening we had dinner with Les, VK5KLV and Kaye and Peter, VK5KPR and Kate. We had a splendid evening talking about many things, not just amateur radio. Peter and Kate are long-time and active members of the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society Inc. and early Wednesday morning I accompanied Kate on a special visit to to the Memorial Operations Centre to see the Afghan Express and steam locomotive NM 25.
This train, entirely comprised of ex-Commonweath Railways rolling stock is stabled at Port Augusta. The train will make a return journey to Quorn over the long weekend ahead. One preserved carriage was used by General Douglas MacArthur to travel from Alice Springs south and eventually to Melbourne and later Brisbane to oversee the allied war effort against the Japanese. It was at the Telowie station that MacArthur made his famous speech, ‘I shall return’. Anyone who visits this part of South Australia should, if at all possible, take a trip on the Pichi Richi Railway. Here is a link to a previous post featuring the Pichi Richi Railway:
NM 25 ex-Commonwealth Railways locomotive
Builder’s plate NM 25: many steam locomotives were built at Thompson & Co
Memorial to Joy Baluch AM: Mayor of Port Augusta for 29 years
Australian Coat of Arms affixed to side of carriage
Unfortunately I could not continue with my proposed activations on Wednesday and Thursday as the wind was too strong and the heavy rains were just beginning. It was raining lightly when I arrived at the Memorial Operations Centre to see the train. I knew before I left home that rain was predicted but not the cyclonic conditions that impacted quite widely on the State. At about 4.00 pm the power supply to the state shut down. We spent the evening having dinner by candlelight. The motel staff were able to complete cooking by gas and when we returned to our room we listened to ABC local radio from Port Pirie and 891 Adelaide to keep up with the unfolding drama. We decided to remain in Port Augusta on Thursday to avoid being on the roads but travelled home early Friday morning to ensure we were not further delayed by road closures at Port Wakefield. CFS crews were placing sand bags around the Lower Light Hotel as we drove past and the highway was later closed at Port Wakefield as predicted. Water was lapping at the top of the culverts on the highway at Lower Light when we passed by.
VK2CIM P2P Hattah Kulyne National Park