My third and final activation for Saturday was the Murray Sunset National Park. This was my first of two Victorian park activations for the 2013 KRMNPA weekend.
Prior to activating the park, Marija and I headed to the town of Underbool, where we met up with Larry VK5LY and his wife Di. After a nice cold beer, Larry loaned me one of his home brew 40m dipoles. The VSWR on my linked dipole had been very high, so I was very appreciative of Larry’s offer of a spare antenna.
Murray Sunset National Park is 6,330 km2 in size and is the second largest National Park in Victoria. It is about 438 km northwest of Melbourne and is situated in the northwestern corner of Victoria, bordering South Australia to the west and the Murray River to the north. The Sturt Highway passes through the northern part of the park, but most of the park is in the remote area between the Sturt Highway and the Mallee Highway, west of the Calder Highway.
Murray Sunset NP was created in 1991, and in 1999, the park was expanded to encompass Pink Lakes State Park. This is the area of the park that Marija and I activated. The lakes are dubbed “pink” after the beta-carotene pigment that colours it in late summer, caused by the algae Dunaliella salina. Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, especially carrots and colourful vegetables. Between 1916, through until 1975, this area was the site of a major salt industry. At its peak, 10,000 tons of salt was harvested and railed from Lake Crosbie, Lake Becking, and Lake Keynyon to the nearby town of Linga. Marija and I drove through Linga, and sadly it is a shadow of what it previously was at its boom.
Over 600 species of plants have been recorded in the Murray Sunset National Park. Some of the more notable plants include the Murray Lily, Silvery Emu bush, porcupine grass, and Blue leaved Mallee. During springtime, there are numerous wildflowers including spider orchids, Azure Sun orchids, Desert Heath myrtles, and the interestingly named Poached egg daisies.
The park is home to many Australian native birds. In fact over 300 species of birds have been documented. The majority of the Murray Sunset NP lies within the Murray Sunset, Hattah, and Annuello Important Bird Area (IBA), identified by BirdLife International. This is due to the fact that the agra contains mallee habitats which support numerous threatened mallee bird species, including the Malleefowl, Black eared Miner, and the Mallee Emu wren.
The park also supports a large amount of wildlife including both Western Grey and Red Kangaroos. When we were leaving we saw a group of Western Grey’s grazing in some of the grassy area.
Marija and I pulled into the Lake Crosbie campground which was buzzing with activity. There were numerous campers and caravaners here. But we did manage to find a parking spot, very close to the shores of Lake Crosbie, and set up the gear here at a table with benches, and conveniently placed under the shaded of a nearby gum tree.
The 40m band appeared to have ‘repaired itself’ a bit since the morning. Of course, it was a much better time of the day for the band as well. Signals appeared much stronger. My first contact within the park was with Peter VK3ZPF who was portable on SOTA peak, West of England Range, VK3/ VW-013, which is contained within the Kara Kara National Park (formerly known as St Arnaud Range National Park). Peter had a beautiful strong 5/8 signal and I received 5/8 back. Things were looking promising. This was followed by a QSO with Joe VK3YSP and his wife Julie VK3FOWL, who were both portable in the Churchill National Park (5/9 both ways).
I then worked into VK1, VK3, & VK5. Larry VK5LY then called in to say g’day. He was with his wife Di, portable in Wyperfeld National Park, which I planned on activating on Sunday (5/7 both ways). Following this I had a steady flow of callers from VK2 & VK3.
My final contact of the day was with the same station I had started off with. That being Peter VK3ZPF who had moved, and now was portable on top of SOTA peak West if England Fire Tower, VK3/ VW-016, which was still within the Kara Kara National Park.
After 2 very enjoyable and pleasant hours in Murray Sunset NP, it was time to pack up, and head back to Pinnaroo, and catch up with Larry & Di. I had a total of 26 QSO’s on 40m SSB.
I worked the following stations:-
Peter VK3ZPF/p; Joe VK3YSP/p; Julie VK3FOWL/p; Matt VK1MA; Ron VK3AFW; Kevin VK3EC; Tim VK5AV; Ivan VK5HS; Ian VK5CZ; Larry VK5LY/p; Brian Vk3MCD/p; Ernie VK3DET; Clive VK3FCMR; Kev VK3AKT; Bob VK3XP; Frank VK3GFS; Joe VK3YSP/p; Mal VK3AZZ; Colin VK3LO; Laurie VK3AW; Peter VK2NEO; Tim VK3MTB; Peter VK3TKK, Lloyd VK2KNS; and Peter VK3ZPF/p.
I have uploaded a video of this activation to You Tube. It can be found at…..