Long Island Recreation Park VKFF-1724

Today (Tuesday 16th April 2019), me, Ivan VK5HS and Danny VK5DW, activated the Long Island Recreation Park VKFF-1724 on the mighty Murray River, at Murray Bridge.  This was the first time that the park had been activated for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  The park is located about 80 km east of Adelaide.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Long Island Recreation Park VKFF-1724.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The Long Island Recreation Park is 8 hectares (20 acres) in size and encompasses the full extent of Long Island in the Murray River, immediately east of the city of Murray Bridge.  According to the Ngarrindjeri aboriginal people, the island represents a lentlin (spear) thrown by Ngurunderi at Ponde (the fish) as it made it’s way to Wellington creating the river.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Long Island Recreation Park, looking south east.  Image courtesy of google maps

The island first received protected area status on 9th October 1958 as a recreation reserve proclaimed under Crown Lands Act 1929 and to be managed by the Corporate Town of Murray Bridge.  On the 1st day of September 1966, it was proclaimed as a fauna sanctuary under the Fauna Conservation Act, 1964-1965.  On the 8th day of July 1976, the recreation reserve was resumed under Crown Lands Act 1929 and then proclaimed as the Long Island Recreation Park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

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Above:- The South Australian Government Gazette, September 1, 1966

After breakfast, I drove up to Murray Bridge and met up with Ivan VK5HS and Danny VK5DW who had driven down from the Riverland.  On the way, I chatted to John VK5BJE/p who was activating the Kinchina Conservation Park 5CP-277 & VKFF-1764 near Murray Bridge.  John had headed out hoping to get a Park to Park with us on 2m.  John was booming into the mobile.

We launched the boat at the end of Long Island Road and headed the short distance to the island.

Unfortunately, we found it incredibly difficult to find any spots to moor on the island.  The vegetation was very thick and there were no obvious banks that we could land on.  We travelled the majority of the western side of the island and just couldn’t find a suitable spot.

We then travelled around to the eastern side of the island, and our situation did not improve.  There just didn’t appear to be any suitable spots to moor the boat and get onto Long Island.

We travelled around the northwestern tip of the island and then back down the Murray Bridge side of the island until we finally found a spot where we could pull in and jump ashore.

But we didn’t have much room to move.  We were confronted with very thick vegetation and reeds that were 6-7 feet tall.  As it was a hot 32-33 deg C day, we were less than keen walking through the dense vegetation, due to our fear of snakes.  It really was something like out of a Tarzan jungle movie.

Unfortunately, during this activation, we were unable to operate on the 80m band due to the vegetation.  As a result, we probably missed out on a lot of local VK5 contacts, but we just didn’t want to end up being the victim of a snake bite.

Also, a hindrance to our signal was our VSWR on 40m which was very high, which I suspect impacted on our signal strength.  I presume the VSWR was due to the amount of vegetation near the antenna and its close proximity to the ground.  We couldn’t even get the 7-metre squid pole up to its full height.

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Above:- The 7m telescopic squid pole supporting the linked dipole, showing the very cramped conditions.

As I mentioned earlier, John VK5BJE had headed to nearby Kinchina Conservation Park hoping for a 2m Park to Park contact.  So we had a 2m antenna with us mounted on a tripod.

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Above:- Our 2m antenna

I kicked off the activation on 7.144 on the 40m band, with first in the log being Peter VK3PF with a strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by John VK5BJE/p at Kinchina Conservation Park who was 5/9 plus.  Next was Geoff VK3SQ, Dennis VK2HHA, and then Nick VK3ZNK/p who was in the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park VKFF-0745.

Sadly band conditions appeared to be quite poor, and our high VSWR didn’t help.  But I soon had 10 contacts in the log, qualifying the park for VKFF, the Australian arm of the WWFF program.

I logged 15 stations on 40m before swapping the mic with Danny VK5DW who also soon had his 10 required QSOs in the log.

Next up was Ivan VK5HS, who also qualified the park for VKFF on 40m.

While Ivan was on air, Danny and I made contact with John VK5BJE/p on 20m.  It was great to get a Park to Park on that band.  But sadly that was our only contact on 2m.

The boys then fired up the BBQ, whilst I tried to get to my 44 contacts for the global WWFF program.  I logged a further 20 stations on 40m including Tony VK7LTD/p and Angela VK7FAMP/p on SOTA peak VK7/ EC-006.

I now had 36 stations in the log and decided to try 20m before we stopped for lunch.  I logged 4 stations on 20m and was now just 4 short of my 44.  We took a lunch break, enjoying some snags, patties, tomatoes, potatoes and onions in bread.

After lunch I put out a few more calls on 40m and soon had 44 contacts in the log, qualifying the park for WWFF.  Contact number 44 was with Ray VK3ECK.

As this was a rare park, Danny and Ivan decided to jump in the boat and head downstream for a contact with me on 2m.  After doing so, I jumped into the boat and made contact with Danny.

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Above:- ‘the shack’ on Long Island.

It was time for us to pack up and head back across the river to Murray Bridge.  All three of us had qualified the park for VKFF, and I was very lucky to qualify the park for WWFF.

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Above:- The Captain Proud paddleboat on the Murray River.

As I mentioned a little earlier in the post, we were unable to try 80m during this activation.  The dense scrub on the island prevented us from stretching out the 80m legs of the linked dipole.  We apologise to anyone who was looking for an 80m contact, but the risk of a snake bite outweighed our chance to operate on that band.  The two photographs below show just how dense the scrub and reeds were at our operating spot.

It is interesting to note that the park is designated as a recreation park.  After our visit, the three of us wondered if it should be a conservation park, as there are certainly no recreational facilities on the island, and it is very difficult to access.

THANKYOU to Ivan VK5HS for the use of his boat.  And thanks to both Ivan and Danny for making the 2-hour drive down from the Riverland.  It was a great day.  We will go back to the park after doing a bit more homework on a possible better operating site.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK5BJE/p (Kinchina Conservation Park VKFF-1764)
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK2HHA
  5. VK3ZNK/p (Cape Liptrap Coastal Park VKFF-0745)
  6. VK5KLV
  7. VK1POP/2
  8. VK4TJ
  9. VK7JON
  10. VK2KNV/m
  11. VK2SLB
  12. VK3AHR
  13. VK2MOR
  14. VK3TKK/m
  15. VK5FANA
  16. VK2KYO
  17. VK3UH
  18. VK7LTD/p (SOTA VK7/ EC-006)
  19. VK5LA
  20. VK5BMC
  21. VK2XSE/m
  22. VK2IO
  23. VK7FAMP/p (SOTA VK7/ EC-006)
  24. VK3WAR
  25. VK4AAC/3
  26. VK2VH/3
  27. VK2VK
  28. VK4/AC8WN
  29. VK4/VE6XT
  30. VK1XP
  31. VK2ADB
  32. VK3KAI
  33. VK3GV
  34. VK2APA
  35. VK2VW
  36. VK3VCR
  37. VK3HP
  38. VK2YK
  39. VK3ECK
  40. VK2PBC/p
  41. VK4FDJL

I worked the following stations on 2m:-

  1. VK5BJE/p (Kinchina Conservation Park VKFF-1764)
  2. VK5DW/mm
  3. VK5HS/mm

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4TJ
  2. VK4/AC8WN
  3. VK4/VE6XT
  4. ZL1TM

 

 

References.

The Rural City of Murray Bridge, 2019, <https://www.murraybridge.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=860>, viewed 16th April 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island_Recreation_Park>, viewed 16th April 2019

Cromer Conservation Park 5CP-049 and VKFF-0779

On Saturday afternoon (13th April 2019) I headed out to activate the Cromer Conservation Park 5CP-049 & VKFF-0779.  I have activated and qualified Cromer previously, so this activation was for a bit of fun, and to go towards the Boomerang Award.

The park is located about 38 km northeast of about 5km north of the town of Birdwood in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘Adelaide Hills’.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Cromer Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The Cromer Conservation Park is 44 hectares (110 acres) in size and was proclaimed on the 22nd day of January 1976.  The park contains one of a few areas of natural vegetation in the Mount Lofty Ranges, with the main vegetation in this park is woodland comprised of Long-leafed Box (Eucalyptus goniocalyx) with Pink Gum (E. fasciculosa).  The park is in pristine condition, having never been grazed by stock.

 

The park takes its name from the area of Cromer, which is named after Cromer in Kent in England.   Cromer in South Australia was the site of an alluvial gold rush at ‘Bonney’s Flat’ in 1870.  A school was opened at Cromer in 1898 and was known as ‘Para Wirra’, and closed in 1950.  The Cromer Post Office was opened in 1910 and closed in 1944.

The park is one of only three sites in South Australia, where the critically endangered blue star sun-orchid can be located.

Birds SA have recorded a total of 110 bird species in the park including Adelaide Rosella, Superb Fairywren, Crescent Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Striated Thornbill, Grey Fantail, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, White-browed Babbler, Hooded Robin, and Diamond Firetail.

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Above:- An aerial view of the Cromer Conservation Park, looking north towards the Barossa Valley.  Image courtesy of google maps

I travelled to Birdwood and then headed north on the Cromer Road.  Not long after passing Lucky Hit Road, I reached the park which is well signposted.  Do not confuse the scrub to the south of Cromer, as it is not part of the park.

I parked alongside gate number one, and walked a short distance into the park and set up my station.

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Above:- Gate one at the Cromer Conservation Park

For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-897, 30 watts output and a 20/40/80m linked dipole, supported on a 7-metre heavy duty telescopic squid pole.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Cromer Conservation Park, showing my operating spot in the park.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

Prior to calling CQ I tuned across the band and found John VK5EMI/p on 7.120, activating his very first park, the Mungo National Park VKFF-0370.  John was an excellent 5/9 signal, and it was a pleasure to get him in the log.

I then worked Mike VK6MB/3 who was activating the Alpine National Park VKFF-0619.  Mike was a strong 5/8 signal.  Next, was another Park to Park, this time with Rob VK2XIC/p who was in the Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447.  Rob was quite low down, but as there was no man-made noise in the park, he was easily worked.

It was nearly 3.00 p.m. local time, and the 40m band was very busy, and as a result, it was very difficult to find a clear frequency.  I eventually propped on 7.130 and started calling CQ.  First in the log on 7.130 was Peter VK7ALB, followed by Don VK3MCK, and then Linda VK7QP.  I soon had a little pileup, which was made a little more difficult as an FK8 station from New Caledonia had moved in on 7.128 and was bleeding over onto the frequency.

I logged a total of 23 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK7.  This included Peter VK3PF and Peter VK3ZPF both of whom were QRP running just 5 watts.

Ray VK4NH informed me that VI9NI on Norfolk Island was on 14.244, so I took the opportunity of heading up to the 20m band, hoping that I could hear the team on Norfolk Island.  The VI9NI team had messaged me earlier to advise that they would be activating VKFF-0392 and SOTA Mount Bates VK9/ NO-001.  It was with great pleasure that I heard VI9NI calling CQ on 14.244 with just 2 watts, and they were 5/5.

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After logging VI9NI I moved up the band to 14.310 and started calling CQ.  I logged 18 stations from VK2, VK4, VK7, New Zealand, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, European Russia.  It was a real treat to be able to log a handful of European stations on the long path on 20m.

When callers slowed down I tuned across the 20m band and logged another 2 stations, one from VK7 and one from VK6.  I did hear some other European stations, but their signals were quite low down, and the opening to Europe appeared to have closed.

I then headed to 80m and called CQ on 3.610, but I didn’t seem to be getting any power out of the transceiver (more on this later).

I then headed back to the 40m band and called CQ on 7.160.  Ian VK1DI came back to my call with a 5/9 signal, followed by John VK5NJ, and then Charlie VK5VC.  For a short time, HC5VC from Ecuador came up on the frequency and started calling CQ.  Sadly he could not hear my signal.

I worked a total of 43 stations on 7.160 from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, Italy, and France.  It was terrific that there was an opening around South Australia, with a number of VK5 stations logged, including my lovely wife Marija VK5FMAZ.

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Above:- Map showing the local VK5 contacts.  Image courtesy of qsomaps.org

 

Even more surprising was a call from Max IK1GPG in Italy, and then Sam F4GYG/p in France Flora Fauna FF-0041.  It was a real surprise to be called by Sam, who wad a good 5/7 signal, and gave me 5/5 into his park in France.

The audio below is courtesy of Charlie VK5VC.

Also logged was Hans VK6XN/p who was activating the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283 in Western Australia.  Hans had a nice 5/7 signal.

I now had 90 contacts in the log.  It had been a brilliant activation.  I decided to have a look at 80m again, and this time I worked out what the problem was.  I had the transceiver in a different mode to LSB.  I called CQ on 3.610 and logged a total of 12 stations.  Contact number 100 was with Peter VK3GV.

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I then messaged Hans VK6XN to see if he wanted a Park to Park contact on 20m.  I logged Hans on 14.310 and then had a final tune across the band before calling it a day.  My final contact was with DX1CC in the Philippines.

It had been a most enjoyable activation with a total of 104 contacts into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Italy, France, Slovenia, Czech Republic, European Russia, & Philippines.  This included seven Park to Park contacts.

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Above:- Map showing my QSOs during the activation.  Image courtesy of qsomap.org

The highlight of the activation was to work F4GYG Park to Park on 40m.  Closely followed by the Park to Park contact with VI9NI on Norfolk Island.

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Above:- Map showing my local VK and Pacific contacts during the activation.  Image courtesy of qsomaps.org

Thank you to everyone who called, and a BIG THANK YOU to those who took the time to spot me.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5EMI/p (Mungo National Park VKFF-0370)
  2. VK6MB/3 (Alpine National Park VKFF-0619)
  3. VK2XIC/p (Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447)
  4. VK7ALB
  5. VK3MCK
  6. VK7QP
  7. VK4FDJL
  8. VK2IO
  9. VK3PT
  10. VK2YK
  11. VK7FLAR
  12. VK3SQ
  13. VK3WAC/m
  14. VK2PKT
  15. VK3ZPF
  16. VK3PF
  17. VK3AHR
  18. VK7JON
  19. VK3ANL
  20. VK4TJ
  21. VK3CRG
  22. VK3MLU
  23. VK4NH
  24. VK4DXA
  25. ZL4TY/VK4
  26. VK7KEV
  27. VK1DI
  28. VK5NJ
  29. VK5VC
  30. VK2LX
  31. VK3FDZE
  32. VK5FANA
  33. VK2QK
  34. VK5FMAZ
  35. VK3MPR
  36. VK4SMA
  37. VK3IC
  38. IK1GPG
  39. VK3FPSR
  40. F4GYG/p (FF-0041)
  41. VK5PL
  42. VK2MG
  43. VK3ARH
  44. VK5IS
  45. VK3FORD
  46. VK5KLV
  47. VK3SIM
  48. VK3EIR
  49. VK3MDH/m
  50. VK5HT
  51. VK3DAC
  52. VK5LA
  53. VK2VOO
  54. VK6XN/p (Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)
  55. VK3AMX
  56. VK2MKE
  57. VK3FRAB
  58. VK3FLES
  59. VK3FLJD
  60. VK5WG
  61. VK3ZNK
  62. VK5MCB
  63. VK3RD
  64. VK2BZW
  65. VK7FOTR
  66. VK3FPEM
  67. VK2FALE
  68. VK2BHO
  69. VK3GB

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VI9NI (VKFF-0392 & VK/ NO-001)
  2. VK4NH
  3. VK4DXA
  4. ZL4TY/Vk4
  5. VK4MWB
  6. VK7QP
  7. ZL1TM
  8. VK4AS
  9. IK4GRO
  10. VK4SMA
  11. S58N
  12. OK7WA
  13. S52ZZ
  14. UA3EDQ
  15. IK4LZH
  16. IZ2IHO
  17. VK2IO
  18. VK4PDX
  19. VK4PHD
  20. VK7VZ
  21. VK6NAD
  22. VK6XN/p (Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)
  23. DX1CC

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA
  2. VK5FLEA
  3. VK5FMAZ
  4. VK5BMC
  5. VK5VC
  6. VK5KDK
  7. VK2HRX
  8. VK3PF
  9. VK3KAI
  10. VK3GV
  11. VK3CWF
  12. VK2SR

 

References.

A Compendium of the Place Names of South Australia, 2019, <2019>, viewed 15th April 2019

Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/cromer-conservation-park/>, viewed 15th April 2019

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

Moorook Game Reserve VKFF-1729

After leaving Ivan’s house, Marija and I headed back into the Renmark town centre and filled up with some fuel.  We then grabbed some lunch and headed down to the riverfront.  As we pulled up, the odd-looking houseboat known as ‘Willitsinkorwontit’ was pulling out, heading upstream.  The boat is the home of Frank Turton, known as the ‘Chookman’.

We then had a quick look at the old Renmark Irrigation Trust building which was built in 1893.  One of the original Chaffey Brothers pumps can be located here.  The Chaffey brothers were Canadian born water engineering experts.  They had developed irrigation schemes in California, and were asked to come to Australia in 1886 by Alfred Deakin who was at the time a Victorian cabinet minister (later to become Prime Minister).

Marija and I then stopped off at the historic Wilabalangaloo property.  Janet Reiners was born in Renmark in 1895 and had a love for animals, natural beauty and open spaces.  In 1941 she purchased the Wilabalangaloo property.  Preceding her death in 1990, she had resolved to gift the property to the National Trust upon her death.  There are some nice walking trails here and some terrific views of the Murray River.

We then headed for the final park activation of our trip, the Moorook Game Reserve VKFF-1729.  The park is located just to the west of the town of Cobddogla and is about 242 km northeast of the city of Adelaide.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Moorook Game Reserve.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

We accessed the park via the Kingston Road, which runs off the Sturt Highway.

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The Moorook Game Reserve was dedicated in 1976 providing significant wildlife habitats, and popular recreation sites, particularly for river-based activities such as bird watching, canoeing, picnicking, camping, bushwalking and fishing.  The park is 1,236 hectares in size and includes Wachtels Lagoon.

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Prior to European settlement, the River Murray was a ‘self-willed’ river.  Water levels fluctuated greatly.  During extreme drought, the river would dry up to a series of waterholes.  During the 1920s and 1930s, weirs and locks were built along the Murray to control the water flow.  This aided navigation and supplied a reliable water source for irrigation projects.  With the new water level being higher than before, low-lying areas were inundated and many thousands of River Red Gums drowned.  Wachtels Lagoon is such an area.

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During our visit to the park, we spotted quite a bit of birdlife.  Unfortunately, we were a bit pressed for time, so I didn’t get a lot of time to take photographs.

The park takes its name from the nearby settlement of Moorook, which had earlier been one of the experimental Village Settlements.  These were established by the South Australian government under Part VII of the Crown Lands Amendment Act 1893, in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the depression then affecting the Colony.

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Above:- Moorook Village Settlement, River Murray, 1890.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia

We followed a dirt track into the park and set up in one of the campgrounds on the banks of the Murray River.

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Above:- An aerial view of the Moorook Game Reserve showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

It was a beautiful location, and equally beautiful day weather-wise, with virtually not a cloud in the sky.

Marija decided not to operate from the park as we were pushed for time.  She was hoping that I would pick up my 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

After a self-spot on parksnpeaks and on Facebook, I started calling CQ on 7.144.  First in the log was Peter VK3PF, followed by John VK4TJ, Jonathan VK7JON, and then Grant VK2LX.  Within 10 minutes I had contact number ten in the log, a QSO with Deryck VK4FDJL.

I worked a total of 18 stations on 7.144, until I was pushed off the frequency by a New Caledonian station on 7.145.  Apparently, a few of the park hunters running much more power than me advised him I was 1 kc below, but that didn’t seem to influence his decision to QSY.  So I moved down to 7.130.

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Above:- My operating position in Moorook Game Reserve

I worked a further 27 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, New Zealand and Italy on 7.130, and soon had contact number 44 in the log.  That being a QSO with George VK4GSF in Queensland.  I was pleased to work regular park hunter, Andrei ZL1TM.  But the big surprise of the afternoon was to log Lauro IK4GRO from Italy on 40m.

Callers on 40m had slowed down, and this was probably a good thing because I then had UW1M start calling CQ Contest on 7.131 just above me.

I moved down to 3.610 on the 80m band and was very surprised to see that I had a strength 6 noise floor.  Very strange!  Unfortunately, I had no takers on 80m.  Perhaps I was being called, but I couldn’t hear anyone through the noise.

To complete the activation, I headed up to 14.310 on the 20m band where I worked Ivan VK5HS and Anthony VK6MAC.  Anthony was running QRP 5 watts and had a good 5/5 signal from Western Australia, a few thousand km away.

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Above:- My shack in Moorook Game Reserve. 

It was getting late, and we still had a 2 & 1/2 hour drive to get home.  So we packed up and hit the road for home, stopping off at the Charleston Hotel in the Adelaide Hills for a meal.  It was the end of a terrific 3 days away.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK4TJ
  3. VK4/AC8WN
  4. VK4/VE6XT
  5. VK7JON
  6. VK2LX
  7. VK3UH
  8. VK3BBB/m
  9. VK2ADB
  10. VK4FDJL
  11. VK5HS
  12. VK4CZ
  13. VK1MIC
  14. VK7ALB
  15. VK2YK
  16. VK5LA
  17. VK3MPR
  18. VK2KT
  19. VK4NH
  20. VK4DXA
  21. VK4/ZL4TY
  22. VK2YW
  23. VK3SQ
  24. VK3FGDN
  25. VK3DN
  26. VK4SMA
  27. VK2FHIT
  28. VK3AFM
  29. VK2IO/m
  30. VK1MCW
  31. VK3FPEM
  32. VK7QP
  33. VK3UP
  34. ZL1TM
  35. IK4GRO
  36. VK2SK
  37. VK2EXA
  38. VK5DW
  39. VK2QK
  40. VK2TM
  41. VK2PKT
  42. VK2HRX
  43. VK2UH
  44. VK4GSF
  45. VK3VLY

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS
  2. VK6MAC

 

 

References.

Exploreoz, 2019, <https://www.exploroz.com/places/116870/sa+renmark-irrigation-trust>, viewed 8th April 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorook,_South_Australia>, viewed 8th April 2019

Boat trip to Bulyong Island, Murray River National Park 5NP-016 and VKFF-0372

It was now Sunday morning (7th April 2019), and the end of our quick trip to the Riverland.  However, we still had a few parks to activate.  The night before at the Mallee Fowl Restaurant, Ivan VK5HS had arranged to take me, Marija and Peter VK5PE out to the Bulyong Island section of the Murray River National Park 5NP-016 & VKFF-0372.

I last activated this part of the park back in 2013, when Marija and I, Ivan VK5HS, and our dear friend Larry VK5LY (now silent key) headed to Bulyong Island.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Murray River National Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The Murray River National Park is 135.92 km2 in size and was established on the 27th day of April 1972.  It was proclaimed “to conserve a significant proportion of South Australia’s floodplain environments which are not represented widely in other reserve systems.”

The park consists of three sections adjoining the Murray River and extending from near Loxton in the south west to near Renmark in the north-east. The first which is known as the ‘Katarapko’ section is located on the north side of the river between Loxton in the south and Berri in the north. The second section which is known as the ‘Lyrup Flats’ section is located on the north side of the river midway between Berri and Loxton. The third section is known as the ‘Bulyong’ section is located on the west side of the river upstream from Renmark.

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Above:- Map showing the various sections of the Murray River National Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Our intended activating spot was the Bulyong Island section of the park.  This is only accessible via boat.

The area was originally home to the Erwirung aboriginal people who were a relatively small Aboriginal group that lived on the fertile plains of the Murray.  By 1851, the land surrounding Renmark was held under Pastoral Lease No. 95 by A.B. Cator.  In July 1859, a portion of this lease was taken by William Finke and was subsequently divided into 2 properties named ‘Bookmark’ and ‘Chowilla’.  During the 1860s and 1870’s, the leases transferred hands on a number of occasions.  In 1887 the land was acquired from Bookmark Station by the Commissioner of Crown Lands for the establishment of the Renmark Irrigation Trust by the Chaffey Brothers.  The Chaffey Brothers Irrigation Works Act, 1887, gave the legal right to develop 200,000 acres of land from Spring Cart Gully to the border for irrigation purposes.

At the conclusion of World War One, Bulyong Island was leased by the Returned Serviceman’s League (RSL) as part of its returned soldier repatriation program.  Primarily it was used for agisting horses while they were not being used for agricultural work.  During the mid-1960s the Renmark Irrigation Trust entered into negotiations with the RSL to obtain the northern portion of the Island for use as an evaporation basin.  The RSL acceded to these moves and by the late 1960s, a series of embankments and an inlet/outlet structure had been established.  On the 20th June 1991, the island was established as part of the Murray River National Park.

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Above:- Map of the Bulyong Island section of the Murray River National Parks.  Map courtesy of National Parks SA.

After breakfast at the motel, Marija and I headed to Ivan’s house in Renmark.  We then drove down to the banks of the Murray River and launched Ivan’s boat.

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We then headed downstream to Bulyong Island.  It was an absolutely beautiful day, with bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.

This section of the River is quite amazing, with big River Red Gums along the bank of the river.

There were quite a few Whistling Kites in the gums above the river.  Whistling Kites are a medium-sized raptor which has a very pronounced loud whistling call, which it often gives in flight.

We found a nice little spot to pull the boat up and jumped out onto the island.

We then set up our station, a Yaesu FT-897 and a 20/40/80 metre linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  Unfortunately, we found that there was strength 5 noise on the 40m band, which really surprised us as we were in the middle of nowhere.  It really had us perplexed.

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Marija was first up on air.  Geoff VK3SQ was first in the log, followed by John VK4TJ, and then Peter VK3PF.  Marija qualified the park in 9 minutes, with her 10th contact being Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs, which Marija was extremely happy with.  Marija logged a further 2 contacts before it was my turn to hop into the operator’s chair or the fallen log as it actually was.

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We could not get on to the normal parks frequency of 7.144 as the broadcasts from the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) were in progress.  We tried to get on to 7.090, but the WIA broadcast from Perth was very strong on 7.088.  So we chose 7.105.

I started calling CQ on 7.105, and was then jumped on by VK5FUZZ who runs the 10am Smoko Net on that frequency.  I had totally forgotten the net.  So we moved up to 7.110 where I called CQ.  First in the log was Peter VK3PF, followed by John VK4TJ, and then Keith VK2PKT.

Our first Park to Park contact for the day was with Rob VK4AAC/3 and VK2VH/3 in the Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218.  We all logged Rob.

I logged a total of 13 stations before it was Peter’s turn to take charge of the microphone.

Peter logged a number of stations and he too had soon qualified the park for VKFF.  Sadly, the noise floor made it very difficult to pull out the weak stations calling us.

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Next was Ivan VK5HS, who fell just 1 contact short on 40m for his 10 QSOs.  So we moved down to the 80m band, and it wasn’t long before Ivan had his 10th contacts in the log.

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We then moved back to 40m where I logged a further 12 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  This included Gerard VK2IO/p who was activating VKFF-2014.  We all swapped the mic to log Gerard.

To complete the activation we each made a handful of contacts on 14.310 on the 20m band, including a Park to Park with Greg VK4VXX/6 in the Quarram Nature Reserve VKFF-1871.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3SQ
  2. VK4TJ
  3. VK4/AC8WN
  4. VK4/VE6XT
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK2WQ
  7. VK4FDJL
  8. VK2FHIT
  9. VK5NJ
  10. VK8GM
  11. VK3ZPF
  12. VK5MRE/m
  13. VK4AAC/3 (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  14. VK2VH/3 (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  15. VK2IO/p (Wambina Nature Reserve VKFF-2014)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK4TJ
  3. VK4/AC8WN
  4. VK4/VE6XT
  5. VK2PKT
  6. VK3SQ
  7. VK3NXT
  8. VK4AAC/3 (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  9. VK2VH/3 (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  10. VK4FDJL
  11. VK3ZPF
  12. VK5TS
  13. VK3ARH
  14. VK2IO/p (Wambina Nature Reserve VKFF-2014)
  15. VK7JON
  16. VK4SMA
  17. VK5HYZ
  18. VK2LEE
  19. VK3UH
  20. VK1BUB
  21. VK5FANA
  22. VK7ME
  23. VK3CU
  24. VK2UH
  25. VK3FPSR
  26. VK3MKE/5

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2LEE
  2. VK4VXX/6 (Quarram Nature Reserve VKFF-1871)
  3. VK4SYD

Sadly band conditions were quite poor, and our noise floor was high, but we all qualified this rare section of the Murray River National Park.

A BIG THANKS to Ivan VK5HS.

 

References.

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_River_National_Park>, viewed 8th April 2019