Murray Sunset National Park VKFF-373

My first park for Sunday (3rd May 2015) was to be the Murray Sunset National Park, which is located about 29 km down the Sturt Highway from Renmark and is just over the border in the State of Victoria.

To get to the park I travelled east on the Sturt Highway, back out towards the Pike River Conservation, where I had been on Saturday night.  I stopped briefly at a lookout area to view the park during the daylight and also at a few items of interest including an old timber jinker.  I continued on towards the Victorian border, and stopped very briefly at Yamba.  The Yamba road block was set up in March 1957 to protect South Australia from any fruit fly outbreaks that are likely likely to occur inter State.  Initially the road block operated from a caravan which was located on the Sturt Highway, at the Victorian border.  Currently it operates from a permanent site located east of Renmark.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Murray-Sunset National Park, in Victoria’s far north-west corner, is in one of the few remaining semi-arid regions in the world where the environment is relatively untouched.  This is a big park.  It is 677,000 hectares in size and is Victoria’s largest National Park after a further 44,000 hectares were added to the park in 2012.  It stretches from the Murray River at Lindsay Island in the north to Pink Lakes near Underbool in the south.

The park which was declared in 1991, protects 183 species of threatened plants and animals.  And I certainly saw quite a bit of wildlife including Western Grey kangaroos and emus.  Victoria’s largest flower, the Murray lily, the restricted Silvery Emu-bush and the rare Blue-leafed Mallee all grow within the park.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 09.17.51

Above:- Map showing the location of Murray Sunset NP.  Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

Once I crossed the Victorian border, the signs for the park were very visible either side of the Sturt Highway.  I decided to take a track on the northern side of the Sturt Highway.  I travelled a few km along the track until I found a nice clearing and that is there I set up.  I would not recommend this track if you only have a conventional vehicle….you will get bogged.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 09.17.36

Above:- Map showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of mapcarta.com

It was quite a nice mild morning, although when I first got up it was extremely cold.  The fog that I experienced as I approached the Victorian border was starting to burn off and the sun was coming in with quite a bite to it.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 10.05.15

Above:- Map showing the park and my operating spot.  Courtesy of parks Victoria.

For this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the top of the 7m squid pole.  As I was setting up I was fortunate enough to see quite a bit of the local wildlife, including Western Grey kangaroos and Emus.

I headed for 7.095 and started calling CQ there and this was immediately answered by Scott VK7NWT with a great 5/9 signal, followed by John VK5BJE who was portable in the Belair National Park, VKFF-022, in the Adelaide Hills.  John was a nice 5/8.  My next caller was local Renmark resident Ivan VK5HS, followed by Adrian VK5FANA over on the Yorke Peninsula, and then Richard VK5U mobile 3 near Barmah.

Quite a steady flow of callers followed from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6.  Band conditions on 40m were very good, with excellent signals from all parts of Australia.

It is always great to work the QRP stations, and this activation didn’t disapoint.  My first QRP contact for the activation was with Gerard VK2JNG running 2 watts from Orange (5/7 sent and 5/9 received).  This was followed by Nick VK3FNCE running 3 watts (5/9 both ways) and then Peter VK3PF running 5 watts (5/9 both ways).  Regular park hunter and regular QRP operator, Amanda VK3FQSO then gave me a shout with just 500 milliwatts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received).  Next up was Bill VK2YKW running 5 watts from his X1M and an inverted vee antenna from the Hunter Valley, and then George VK4GSF.  George initially called on high power (5/9 both ways).  He then lowered his power down to 5 watts and was 5/5 with me.  And then lowered the power again to just 2 watts, and was still a good 5/4 signal.  A little later I spoke with Greg VK5GJ running 4 watts from Meadows in the Adelaide Hills and my last QRP contact was with Damien VK5FDEC running 5 watts from north of Adelaide.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also was fortunate to be called by two ACT Summits on the Air (SOTA) activators.  The first being Andrew VK1DA portable on Mount Majura, VK1/ AC-034 (5/7 sent and 5/8 received).  And then Ian VK1DI portable on Booroomba Rocks, VK1/ AC-026 (5/8 both ways).

After working a total of 46 stations on 7.095 I went for a look around the band.  I found special event station, VK100ANZAC calling CQ on 7.100 and gave him a call (5/9 sent and 5/8 received).

I then went to 7.105 and again called CQ and much to my great pleasure, my old mate Larry VK5LY gave me a call from nearby Renmark.  This was followed by a well known Victorian park activator, Joe VK3YSP, and then Arno VK5ZAR and another Riverland local, Peter VK5FLEX.

I worked a total of 14 stations on 7.105 and I was just about QSY to 20m when the goat bleeted on my i-phone.  It was a spot for Ian VK5CZ operating portable from SOTA peak VK5/ SE-007.  So I hurriedly headed to 7.112 and found Ian calling CQ, with a very nice 5/9 signal from his end fed antenna.

I then spoke with Andrew (VK1NAM) operating the special call of VI1ANZAC from SOTA peak, Orroral Hill, VK1/ AC-012, contained within the Namadgi National Park VKFF-377  (5/7 sent and 5/8 received).

After working Andrew I headed to 14.310 on 20m and started calling CQ.  However, my only taker there was Barry VK5KBJ who was portable on the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide.  So I headed back to 40m and worked Stef VK5HSX who was operating portable from the Hallett Cove Conservation Park south of Adelaide (5/9 both ways).  My last contact in the park was with Andrew (VK1NAM) operating as VI1ANZAC on SOTA peak Orroral Hill, VK1/ AC-012 (5/9 both ways).  My i-phone had bleeted again just after working Stef, so down came the squid pole and out came the links again in the dipole.

I did listen around on 20m before going QRT but I did not hear a lot of activity.  I did hear OD5ZZ in Lebanon, working lots of stations in the USA.  I called a number of times, but just couldn’t break through the North American pile up.

This was another very enjoyable activation with a total of 66 contacts in the log, including four SOTA contacts, 2 ACT Park contacts, and 2 South Australian park contacts.

After packing up I headed back over the Victorian/South Australia border, and on to Yamba where I stopped for a cup of coffee and a healthy hot dog with the lot.  I then travelled back over the Murray River, where I stopped briefly for some more photographs of the historic Paringa lifting bridge and the mighty Murray River.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7NWT
  2. VK5BJE/p (Belair National Park)
  3. VK5HS
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK5UK/3
  6. VK5FTVR
  7. VK2JNG/p
  8. VK5AKH
  9. VK3FNCE
  10. VK3PMG
  11. VK3UP
  12. VK5KBJ/p
  13. VK3PF
  14. VK3NBL
  15. VK3FQSO
  16. VK5WG
  17. VK2YKW
  18. VK3PI
  19. VK4GSF
  20. VK3DAC
  21. VK5FMJC
  22. VK5FMID
  23. VK6MB
  24. VK3FCAS
  25. VI2IO
  26. VK5EE
  27. VK3TKK
  28. VK1UU
  29. VK3HK
  30. VK5KLV
  31. VK3SQ
  32. VK5ZGY/m
  33. VK3DF
  34. VK5GJ
  35. VK5AR/m
  36. VK5CZ/m
  37. VK2FMIA
  38. VK1DA/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-034)
  39. VK7FMPR
  40. VK3HRA
  41. VK1DI/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-026)
  42. VK3FSPG
  43. VK2FW/p
  44. VK2QK
  45. VK2PKT
  46. VK5KKT
  47. VK100ANZAC
  48. VK5LY
  49. VK3YSP
  50. VK5ZAR
  51. VK5FLEX
  52. VK5LDM
  53. VK5JP
  54. VK5FDEC
  55. VK5FTRG/m
  56. VK5KLV
  57. VK5NQP
  58. VK5NAQ
  59. VK5RZ
  60. VK3NSC
  61. VK5BJE/p
  62. VK5CZ/p (SOTA VK5/ SE-007)
  63. VI1ANZAC/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-012 and Namadgi NP VKFF-377)
  64. VK5HSX/p (Hallett Cove Conservation Park)

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK5KBJ/p
  2. VI1ANZAC/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-012 and Namdgi NP VKFF-377)

Below is a short video of some of the stations that I heard, in particular Stef VK5HSX/p, John VK5BJE/p and Andrew VK1NAM/p.

 

 

References.

Government of South Australia, 2015, <http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/&gt;, viewed 13th May 2015

Parks Victoria, 2015, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au&gt;, viewed 6th May 2015

Pike River Conservation Park, VKFF-831

Most of Saturday (2nd May 2015) I spent around the home of Ivan VK5HS at Renmark, having my new Codan 9350 antenna installed on my Toyota Hi Lux.  During the morning Peter VK5FLEX called in, as did John VK5FANG.  It was a long day.  In fact we didn’t finish until late in the afternoon, and after a few beers I headed back to my motel room.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But there wasn’t a lot on the television, so I decided to head out to activate the Pike River Conservation Park, which was to be another new unique park for me as an activator.  The park is just a short drive out of Renmark along the Sturt Highway towards the Victorian/South Australian border.

To get to the park, you need to cross the historic Paringa lifting bridge which I took the opportunity of stopping here for some photographs.  The Paringa Bridge, which was constructed in 1927, is one of only two opening bridges in South Australia.  The other is at Port Adelaide.  The Paringa Bridge is technically a ‘lift span’ bridge as it has a section that lifts up to allow large vessels through.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Pike River CP is about 296 hectares in size and consists of a major floodplain and a branch system of the River Murray.  The park has a number of species of national significance including the Southern Bell Frog, Murray Cod, and the Regent Parrot.  It also contained an additional 18 species with State Conservation significance.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 09.08.16

Again, this park is not at all signposted.  So you will need to rely upon your GPS.  There is an open and unlocked gate on the western side of the Sturt Highway which takes you into the park.  The track is okay, but in 2WD, you will only be able to reach a certain point.  I drove all the way down to the water’s edge and set up on the edge of the track.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 09.08.52

As it was quite late  (4.45 p.m.) I headed straight to 20m.  For this activation I ran the Yaesu Ft-857d, 70 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  I called CQ only once, on 14.310, and to my surprise, my CQ call was immediately answered by ON6PV in Belgium.  And I was even more surprised when my second caller was Danny OT6V who was portable in a park in Belgium, Rodebos en Laanvallei, ONFF-391 (5/3 sent and 5/5 received).  Here is a link to Danny’s page about that activation…..

http://www.on4vt.be/

eqsl_ot4v_onff391

I was then called by Rod VK4NUM, followed by Ray VK4NH portable near Bourketown, and then Aaron AL4Y in Alaska.  Aaron was a very nice 5/8 signal and he gave me a 5/6 signal report.  Aaron was also kind enough to spot me on the DX cluster and this resulted in a large pile up.  In fact I worked a total of 60 stations in Belgium, VK4, Alaska, Italy, VK6, Denmark, Hungary, Germany, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Sweden, Azores Islands, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Estonia, Portugal, Canary Islands, Ireland, Netherlands, USA, and England.  And again, I spoke to my good friend Marnix, OP7M in Belgium.

Thanks to everyone that spotted me on the DX cluster.

Screenshot 2015-05-12 22.21.02

Image courtesy of http://www.dxwatch.com

I then moved over to 40m.  It was now totally dark and the local time was 6.00 p.m.  I called CQ on 7.110 and this was answered by Adam VK2YK in Newcastle, followed by John VK5NJ in Mount Gambier, and then Rex VK3OF.

I had some excellent QRP contacts on 40m whilst in the park.  This included Amanda VK3FQSO running 500 milliwatts (5/7 both ways), Roald VK1FIVE running 5 watts (5/6 sent and 5/9 received), Tony VK3VTH running 500 millwatts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received), Adrian VK5FANA running 5 watts (5/9 both ways), Peter VK3PF running 5 watts (5/9 both ways), Dave VK2BDR rnning 5 watts (5/9 both ways), Steve VK2FAJF also running 5 watts (5/9 both ways), Alan VK2AJG running 5 watts (5/8 both ways); Doug VK2FMIA running 5 watts (5/8 sent and 5/9 received), and Rob VK3EY running 1.5 watts (5/7 sent and 5/9 received).  Band conditions on 40m were excellent.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also managed a park to park contact with newly licenced amateur, Brendon VK5FFCC who was operating portable from the Morialta Conservation Park.  Brendon had a nice sounding station with his Elecraft KX3, 10 watts and end fed antenna.  Not a bad effort at all Brendon.  Licenced for one week, and already out in a park, and sounding like a pro.  Congratulations.  Below is a quick video of what Brendon sounded like to me……

I also worked Ken ZL4KD in new Zealand, who has now become a familiar caller and is a member of the VK5 Parks Yahoo group.

There was an annoying noise on 7.110 though.  I am not sure what it was.  I’ve attached a video below, so if anyone knows what the noise is, I would be pleased to hear from you…..

When things slowed down a little I had a tune around the band and heard NP4A calling CQ on 7.129.  I patiently waited my turn and gave Pedro a call and got through on the first go.  I have worked Pedro a few times before whilst I’ve been out in a park, and he always puts a great signal into Australia.

This was a very successful activation, with a total of 118 contacts in the log, including some nice DX contacts.

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. ON6PV
  2. OT4V/p (ONFF-391)
  3. VK4NUM
  4. VK4NH/p
  5. AL4Y
  6. VK4MWG
  7. I5FLN
  8. VK6MB
  9. OZ5HP
  10. ON7AB
  11. HA6OB
  12. IZ0UIM
  13. IK1GPG
  14. DL7UXG
  15. IZ5JMZ
  16. F5IDJ
  17. HB9CXZ
  18. F5OUD
  19. F2YT
  20. S58AL
  21. LY3A
  22. SM5EPO
  23. DK0EE
  24. F6CAM
  25. CU3BL
  26. DL1EBR
  27. S52KM
  28. DL5EBG
  29. RY3D
  30. IZ1JMN
  31. ON5SWA
  32. EA3MP
  33. OM7OM
  34. ES1IP
  35. CT1EEQ
  36. EA2DT
  37. DJ8QP
  38. HA0LG
  39. CR8ABC
  40. ON4CB
  41. EI2HW
  42. I8OCA
  43. DK4RM
  44. EA1DFP
  45. PA5WK
  46. OZ4RT
  47. OK2TS
  48. EA4DTV
  49. DL9GWD
  50. W1ASB
  51. EA8AIN
  52. DK9JI
  53. W4FOA
  54. EI4II
  55. ON1JU
  56. EA8UP
  57. G8CMU
  58. G0MJS
  59. EI7IP
  60. OP7M

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2YK
  2. VK5NJ
  3. VK3OF
  4. VK3PMG
  5. VK3VCE
  6. VK3TKK/m
  7. VK4HNS/m
  8. VK3FQSO
  9. VK1FIVE
  10. VK3MOW
  11. VK3VTH
  12. VK5FANA
  13. VK3PF
  14. ZL4KD
  15. VK2BDR
  16. VK2FAJF
  17. VK2AJG
  18. VK2FMIA
  19. VK5PO
  20. VK3EY
  21. VK3GUY
  22. VK3NSC
  23. VK3DAC
  24. VK5NQP
  25. VK5HS
  26. VK5ZAR
  27. VK5AV
  28. VK3ANL
  29. VK5JP
  30. VK2MZZ/m
  31. VK5LI
  32. VK2JNG/p
  33. VK5FFCC/p (Morialta Conservation Park)
  34. VK2JCC
  35. VK2FDJO/m
  36. VK5HSX
  37. VK3FEUG
  38. VK3TAL
  39. VK4FAAS
  40. VK5FMJC
  41. VK2EIR
  42. VK3FMDS
  43. VK3HRA
  44. VK3GDM
  45. VK3IO
  46. VK2IO
  47. VK5CZ
  48. VK3HSR
  49. VK5FEKH
  50. VK3FILB
  51. VK5FTRG
  52. VK4QQ
  53. VK5EE
  54. VK5FLEX
  55. VK4FBMW
  56. NP4A
  57. ZL2ASH
  58. VK2JE

References.

Paringa House, 2015, <http://www.paringahouse.com.au/History.html&gt;, viewed 12th May 2015.

Pike River Land Management Group, 2015, <http://pikeriver.net/about/&gt;, viewed 12th May 2015.