Martin Washpool Conservation Park

After packing up at the Coorong National Park, I continued south east on the Princes Highway heading towards my next park, which was the Martin Washpool Conservation Park.

In September last year I had activated this park, which has a rather macabre history.  The park was named after Malachi Martin, who was a convicted murderer.  It was so named after the pool in which he washed the blood from himself after committing murder.  For more information on the park and my previous activation, have a look at …..

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 Map courtesy of Mapcarta

I set up in exactly the same spot as last year which was at the end of Salt Creek Road.  Access to the park is via a closed but unlocked gate at this location.  And as per last year, this park was absolutely alive with honeyeaters and wattlebirds, as many of the native trees and shrubs were in flower.


I used the park sign to attach my squid pole to, with the assistance of some octopus straps.  There is a track heading off to the south along the eastern boundary of the park, but I have never ventured up there, as the track is very sandy and boggy.  It would certainly not be passable in a conventional vehicle.  From looking at maps, this track takes you right down to the water in the park, which is fed by the Tilley Swamp Drain.


My first contact was with Greg VK5ZGY, who I was looking forward to meeting at Mount Gambier.  Greg and his wife Gabbie are very keen park activators and hunters.  Next up was Nev VK5WG from Crystal Brook with his normal enormous signal, and then Greg VK5GJ who has become a regular park hunter.  This was followed by Nigel VK5NIG and John VK5BJE.  A steady flow of callers followed from VK2, VK3 and VK5.

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Peter VK3PAH called in again, from his mobile, making this his 2nd park contact for the day.  Peter was using an Alinco DX70 and a whip and had a beautiful 5/8 signal.  I managed to get Col in the log again, using the special call of VI50CONV.  My only QRP contact was with Simon VK3SMC who was running his FT-817 and 5 watts into an end fed antenna at Bonnydoon near Lake Eildon.  Another mobile station that called in was Rod VK5KFB who was mobile on his way down to the SERG convention.


After 45 minutes in the park, it was time to pull stumps again and head off to the Messent Conservation Park, just a few km away.  I had a total of 20 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked:

Greg VK5ZGY; Nev VK5WG; Greg VK5GJ; Nigel VK5NIG; John VK5BJE; Tony VK5FTVR; Dennis VK5HH; Peter VK3PAH/mobile; Amanda VK3FQSO; Col VI50CONV; Simon VK3SMC/p; Tom VK2KF; Norm VK5GI; Hans VK5YX; Larry VK5LY; Albert VK3KLB; John VK2AWJ; Rod VK5KFB/mobile; Brian VK5FMID; and Col VK5HCF.

Coorong National Park VKFF-115

The weekend of Saturday 7th June 2014 and Sunday 8th June 2014 was the 50 year celebration of the South East Radio Group in Mount Gambier.  They were holding their annual convention and had kindly asked me to attend to deliver a presentation on the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.  So bright and early on Friday morning (6th June 2014) I headed off from home in the Adelaide Hills towards Mount Gambier in the south east of South Australia.  This being a journey of around 400 km.  I decided to head to Tailem Bend and then travel south east along the Princes Highway.

My plans were to activate 5 parks along the way.  Some of which I had activated previously, but there were two new ones on my activation list: Tilley Swamp, and Mount Scott.  My first stop was the Coorong National Park.  This park qualifies for both the VK5 Parks Award and also the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program.  The Coorong is VKFF-115

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Map courtesy of mapcarta

It was a very crisp morning.  When I left home the temperature was only about 2 degrees C.  However I was greeted by a spectacular sunrise as I travelled towards the Coorong.


I had previously activated the Coorong National Park, however I needed to accrue some more QSOs to get me over the 44 QSO mark to qualify the park for the WWFF global award.  Previously I had operated from Seven Mile.  This time I decided to operate from Parnka Point.

Information about my previous activation can be located at…..

Parnka Point is located at the end of a narrow strip of land.  This is the narrowest part of The Coorong as the water is less than 100 metres wide.  Parnka Point is where the northern and southern lagoons of The Coorong meet each other.  The water at this point is often referred to as Hells Gate.

The northern lagoon is partly fed by the waters of the River Murray, and varies in salinity from brackish to hyper saline.  In contrast the southern lagoon is always hyper saline.  While this narrow channel often appears calm, a change in wind direction or water levels can create treacherous currents through this narrow but deep channel.

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Map courtesy of mapcarta

Parnka Point was a significant meeting site for the five aboriginal tribes that formed the Ngarrindjeri clan.  Parnka is a Ngarrindjeri word meaning ‘sandy beach’.  As you look out across the lagoon, you can see wooden poles in the seater.  These are the remains of a ferry built last century to access the Younghusband Peninsula.  I ha previously camped here at Parnka Point, many years ago with my children when they were young.


The Coorong is located about 160 km south east of Adelaide.  Its name is thought to be a corruption of the local aboriginal word kurangh, meaning ‘long neck’, which is a reference to the shape of the lagoon system.  The name is also thought to be from the Aboriginal word Coorang, “sand dune”, a reference to the sand dunes that can be seen between the park and the Southern OceanMore information on the Coorong National Park can be found at…..

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I drove down to end of Parnka Point and set up my little fold up table and deck chair, looking out towards the southern lagoon.  It was a spectacular morning, with some fog over Younghusband Peninsula and the water.  And it was cold!  In fact, it was 2 degrees C.  The same temperature as when I had left home.

This morning I used my Yaesu FT-450, running 40 watts into the 40 m / 20 m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  I powered the radio with my 44 amp hour power pack.


There was lots of bird activity, of the feathered kind.  This included black swans and cormorants (see photos below), and various other water and wading birds.

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There were lots of very strong Europeans coming in on 40m so it was a bit difficult to find a clear frequency.  Finally I found that 7.105 was clear and I put out a CQ call to be answered by parks stalwart, John VK5BJE.  This was followed by Larry VK5LY in the Riverland and Brian VK5FMID down in Mount Gambier.  Greg VK5GJ then called in from Meadows.  Greg attended the SOTA & Parks symposium and since that time has been a regular parks hunter.

My first interstate caller was Paul VK7CC who I regularly talk to on the 7.130 DX Net.  Paul always calls in to say hi when he hears me in a park.  He had a beautiful 5/9 plus signal into The Coorong.  Then to my surprise, a few QSOs later I was called by Barry VK6WF who was a genuine 5/9 signal.  Barry gave me a 5/5 signal report from Kellerberrin, about 200 km east of Perth.  Next up was Col VK5HCF from Mount Gambier.  I also worked Col under the special call of VI50CONV for the SERG 50th year anniversary.

Some stations came up very close to me after operating for about 40 minutes, and one in particular was extremely wide and splattering badly.  This made things a little difficult at times.  However I did manage to work Craig VK3NCR/2 who was portable in the Warrumbungle National Park.  The QRM was so bad I QSYd up to 7.110 but was still being clobbered.  So it is with thanks to Ken VK3YXC, who was my final contact.  Ken was mobile and was very low down and was being killed off by the splatter.  But we perservered and I was finally able to get his call in totality.  Thanks Ken.  They were very trying conditions.

I read a blog tonight put out by Marshall VK3MRG who experienced the same over the weekend, with wide and over driving stations.  It makes it very difficult for everyone else.

After an hour of operating at this beautiful location, it was time to pack up.  I was already behind schedule.  But it was very hard to go QRT as I sat back in the deck chair and looked across the beautiful Coorong.  It is certainly a treasure of South Australia.

The following stations were worked:-

John VK5BJE; Larry VK5LY; Brian VK5FMID; Greg VK5GJ; Paul VK7CC; Tony VK5ZAI; Greg VK5ZGY; Craig VK5LI; Greg VK7FGGT; Charles VK5FBAC; Dave VK3DSB; Barry VK6WF; Col VK5HCF; Col VI5CONV; Nick VK3FNCE; Craig VK3NCR/2; Keith VK5ND; Nigel VK5NIG; Dennis VK5LDM; Don VK5NFB; and Ken VK3YXC mobile.