After activating the Pooginook Conservation Park, Marija and I headed to the Murray River National Park. The park is located in the Riverland region of South Australia, and is about 220 km north east of Adelaide. The park qualifies for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and is VKFF-372.
Above: Map showing the location of the Murray River NP. Courtesy of mapcarta.com
On the way we stopped off and had a look at the Lake Bonney Hotel ruins. This is also known as Napper’s Ruins, and is located on the north side of Lake Bonney. Napper’s Ruins once stood strong as a hotel built for former workers of Cobdogla Station. It was originally called Lake Bonney Hotel and consisted of 11 rooms that included a well stocked bar and an eating room that could cater for 12 people. This room was occasionally used as a dance room. The hotel is now nothing more than ruins and includes some interpretive information signs.
The ruins are the remains of the accomodation house which was built by William Parnell in 1859 and later sold to William Napper in 1863. Napper’s first wife is buried in Cobdogla and was the first white woman buried in the Riverland. The graves of William Napper and his second wife are also in this cicinity. The cottage behind the ruins is locally known as the Fisherman’s cottage. During the 1956 flood, this building was inundated with water.
The buidlings belong to the local branch of the National Trust but unfortunately have fallen victim to vandals. We were saddened to see all the grafitti over the Fishermans cottage.
We continued on south down through Loveday and into the Katarapko Section of the Murray River National Park. The park is very well signposted and easy to find. We headed down to the water’s edge of Katarapko Creek and set up there, right alongside of the creek.
The Murray River National Park is 13,000 hectares in size and consists of three separate areas: Katarapko, Lyrup Flats, and Bulyong Island. The largest and most popular area of the park is Katarapko. This area features floodplains and several permanent and semi-permanent wetlands. The area is a breeding ground for most of southern Australia’s waterfowl and other waterbirds.
Above: Map showing my operating spot. Map courtesy of National Parks SA.
It was still quite overcast, but fortunately no rain, so ideal for park activating. And it was a very idealic setting alongside of Katarapko Creek. I went to my nominated operating frequency of 7.144 and called CQ and this was answered by my old mate Dave VK3VCE in Victoria, followed by Tom VK5FTRG in Millicent, and then Rex VK3OF and then Les VK5KLV in Port Augusta. This was a good spread for the first 4 callers, all the way from the north of South Australia down to the very south east and across to Victoria. All had 5/9 signals.
Many thanks to Arno VK5ZAR, who was my fifth contact, for placing me on parksnpeaks. A steady flow of callers followed from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.
But only five calls in, I started to receive extremely bad bleed over from somebody nearby. I tuned down the band and found that it was one of the AM fellas on 7.125. And boy was he wide. I thought perhaps it might have been the sensitive front end of the Yaesu FT-857, but Andrew VK1NAM agreed. The VK2 on 7.125 was 10kc wide.
I worked a total of 21 stations on 40m including a few QRP stations. This included Peter VK3PF and Cleeve VK2MOR who was running just 2 watts (5/9 sent and 5/8 received).
I then QSY’d up to 20m and started calling CQ. My first taker there was Cleeve VK2MOR who had followed me up from 40m. This was followed by Gerard VK2IO and then the first of the DX, Swa ON5SWA and then Albert S58AL. A very big pile up ensued with so many stations calling it made it very very difficult to pull out callsigns. So for the first time ever, I operated split. Because I had not operated split previously using the FT-857d, I had to quickly work out via the menu on how to do this. I couldn’t find out how to listen up, so I listened down 5 kc.
I worked a total of 43 DX stations in Belgium, Italy, Spain, England, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Canary Islands, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Puerto Rico, & USA. This included my very good mate Marnix OP7M. And also some VK’s amongst the DX including Greg VK8GM, Adam VK2YK, John VK6NU in the Avon National Park, and Mike VK6MB.
I then headed back to 40m briefly, on 7.144, for any last desperados who would like Murray River National Park. First taker there was John VK2YW in Wagga, followed by Adam VK2YK, Ian VK5CZ, Adrian VK5FANA, and then Adrian VK4FBMW who was running QRP 5 watts.
Whilst I was working Adrian, I heard a very pronounced noise coming from behind me. It sounded like a big gust of wind. However, it was quite calm up until this point and the sun had just set and it was now almost completely dark. As I looked over my should downstream along Katarapko Creek, I soon worked out what the noise was. It wasn’t wind. It was rain…and heavy rain! So unfortunately in the middle of the QSO with Adrian I had to shut down in huge hurry and rush back to the 4WD with the FT-857D. Sorry to cut it short so quickly Adrian. And I am also sorry to others that I know were waiting to work me including Rob VK4FFAB.
So after 90 minutes in Murray River NP, I had a total of 74 contacts in the log. We then headed off the the Barmera Hotel for our evening meal and a few beverages.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
- VK6NU/p (Avon National Park)
Barmera Visitor Information Centre, Historical Icons