A complete wireless sensor network solution for carpark management is presented in this paper. The system architecture and design are first detailed, followed by a description of the current working implementation, which is based on our DSYS25z sensing nodes. Results of a series of real experimental tests regarding connectivity, sensing and network performance are then discussed. The analysis of link characteristics in the car-park scenario shows unexpected reliability patterns which have a strong influence on MAC and routing protocol design. Two unexpected link reliability patterns are identified and documented. First, the presence of the objects (cars) being sensed can cause significant interference and degradation in communication performance. Second, link quality has a high temporal correlation but a low spatial correlation. From these observations we conclude that a) the construction and maintenance of a fixed topology is not useful and b) spatial rather than temporal message replicates can improve transport reliability.