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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK5BJE/p (Belair National Park)
- VK1DA/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-034)
- VK1DI/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-026)
- VK5CZ/p (SOTA VK5/ SE-007)
- VI1ANZAC/p (SOTA VK1/ AC-012 and Namadgi NP VKFF-377)
- VK5HSX/p (Hallett Cove Conservation Park)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
- 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.
Government of South Australia, 2015, <http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/>, viewed 13th May 2015
Parks Victoria, 2015, <http://parkweb.vic.gov.au>, viewed 6th May 2015