After leaving Wyperfield National Park I hit the road again and continued my journey east along the Mallee Highway, through the towns of Ouyen, Kulwin, Manangatang, and then Piangil, heading for the Yanga National Park (NP) VKFF-0554, near my intended overnight stop at Balranald in the far southwest of New South Wales (NSW).
Above:- Map showing the location of Yanga National Park in New South Wales. Image courtesy of google maps
After reaching the junction of the Mallee Highway and the Murray Valley Highway I turned left and headed into the little town of Tooleybuc. This is where you cross over the mighty Murray River which forms the border between the States of Victoria and New South Wales. Tooleybuc is the home to a historic bridge which was constructed in 1907. The bridge was designed to rise to allow paddle steamers to pass through. I stopped briefly here for a photo stop and some lunch, and then made a shot detour into the Tooleybuc cemetery to take some photographs of some headstones, as family history is another hobby of mine.
I then continued north on the Mallee Highway, passing through the little town of Kyalite, and on to Balranald. I booked in to the caravan park, and offloaded some of my gear, and I then headed back out to the Yanga National Park. If you are passing through this area, I would highly recommend the caravan park here at Balranald. It is situated on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, which is Australia’s second longest river and is a major tributary of the Murray River. I stayed in a self contained cabin which was very clean and contained all the required essentials.
I accessed Yanga National Park via Woolshed Road, which runs off Windomal Road to the south west of Balranald. This part of the park is very well sign posted. You can also access the park off the Sturt Highway.
Yanga National Park was established in February 2007 and is a large park, comprising 667,334 hectares. It has a 170 km frontage on the Murrumbidgee River. The park was formerly an important pastoral station which was established in the 1830’s, by explorer, William WENTWORTH. Yanga Station was in its time, the largest privately owned station in the southern hemispherem covering 210,000 acres including the historic Yanga homestead which was built in around 1870. In July 2005, the NSW Government announced that it had purchased the station with the intention of creating a National Park. About 2 years later, on the 28th February 2007 the park was gazetted as a National Park.
Above:- William WENTWORTH. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Over 300 plant species have been documented in the Yanga National Park. The park comprises River red gum forest and woodland, black box woodland, and lignum/nitre goosefoot shrubland, and spike rush dominated sedgeland. Yanga NP incorporates a number of wetlands and as a result, a large amount of native wildlife can be found in the park. A total of 24 reptile species including geckos, goanna, dragons, skinks, snakes and turtles can be found in the park. A total of 18 fish species also call the park home. And around 33 mammal species and about 150 species of birds can also be found in the park. The number of bird species varies dependant on the amount of water in the wetlands.
Prior to activating the park I stopped off at the historic Yanga woolshed, which when constructed, was once the Riverina region’s largest. The wooldshed was built during the late 1800’s and housed 3,000 sheep and provided work for up to 40 shearers at a time. Yanga was a working woolshed up until 2005. There are a number of interpretive displays in the shed which give you a great insight into the history of the woolshed. If you visit the park, this is a must see.
After visiting the woolshed I headed to the Mamanga campground area, and followed the dirt tracks to a nice quiet spot alongside the Murrumbidgee River. There were plenty of options, with a number of campspots alongside of the river. Should you decide to camp here, there are great facilities including picnic tables, wood barbecues, and toilets.
Above:- Map of Yanga National Park, showing my operating spot. Image courtesy of
For this activation I again ran the Yaesu FT-857d, 40 watts, and the 20m/40m linked dipole, supported on the top of the 7 metre telescopic squid pole. There was a strategically placed wooden table and benches in the camp ground I chose, so I secured the squid pole to the table with the help of a long octopus strap. As it was a nice sunny day, I also had the solar panels out to top up the battery.
I was on air and ready to go by just after 0500 UTC (4.00 p.m. New South Wales local time). I headed for my nominated operating frequency of 7.144 and started calling CQ. My CQ call was answered by the ever reliable John VK5BJE who was a very nice 5/9 signal to Yanga. This was followed by another park devotee, Mick VK3PMG, and then Rob VK4AAC who was portable in the Kelvin Powrie Conservation Park, VKFF-0899.
After working a total of 31 stations on 40m in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7, I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole and headed for my nominated operating frequency of 14.310. Once I got there I found that the frequency was already occupied by another WWFF park activator, YP1WFF in Romania. Unfortunately they were a little low down for me and had a very big pile up from Europe. I gave half a dozen calls but soon realised that it was going to be very very difficult to break through. So I headed up to 14.315 and started calling CQ. Sadly I had no takers there, so I decided to head down a little lower and started calling CQ on 14.299.
This was answed by Mike VK6MB in Perth in Western Australia with a good 5/5 signal to New South Wales. Not bad considering that is a distance of about 3,000 km. We call that a local contact down here in Australia. There are many other parts of the world where that would be DX, with multiple countries in between. My next caller was Jozsef HA6NF in Hungary, followed by Luciano I5FLN in Italy, and then Max IK1GPG in Italy.
The 20m band on the long path into Europe seemed to be in reasonable condition, and I had a good steady flow of callers from Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Germany, Russia, Israel, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Pol;and, and Estonia. Many of the callers were the regular European WWFF park hunters, but there was a scattering of new callers. But the European run did not last for long and after working 19 stations on 14.299, things went very quiet. So I took the opportunity of having a look across the band. I found special event station LZ130SAK in Bulgaria calling CQ on 14.213 with a good 5/9 signal. After a few calls I got through. I then found FM/VE8DX with a massive pile up on 14.188. It would have been a real thrill to get Martinique Island in the log, but the pile up was huge from Europe and it just wasn’t worth a shot. I also heard PJ2/IK7YTT on 14.216 in Curacao, but again the pile up was enormous.
I then found a clear frequency on 14.275 and called CQ and this was answered by WWFF parks activator and hunter, Swa ON5SWA with a 5/7 signal from Belgium. Two more Belgium stations followed, Gilbert ON4GI and then Luk ON4BB. I worked a further 43 stations from Belgium, Russia, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain, Ukraine, Austria, Sweden, Germany, France, Poland, England, Luxembourg, and Estonia.
After things had slowed down on 20m I headed back to 40m to see if I could get some of the park desperados in the log. Unfortunately I could not get back onto 7.144 as the frequency was occupied by some European stations. And I did find it hard to get a clear frequency as there were some very good signals coming in from Europe. I called CQ about 7 or 8 times on 7.150, but unfortunately had no takers. It was 6.30 p.m. local time and I was starting to get hungry. So I packed up the gear and headed in to Balranald to the local pub for a few cans of Bundy rum and coke, and a nice feed. I was very happy with this activation, with a total of 94 contacts in the log.
But there was a hitch with this activation. John VK5BJE and a few others pointed out that they believed Yanga National Park was in fact now known as Murrumbidgee Valley National Park. It was also pointed out that on the WWFF Australia website, both Yanga and Murrumbidgee Valley had the same VKFF reference number. I now vaguely remember reading about these 2 parks when I become the VKFF co-ordinator. However, all of the park signs referred to Yanga National Park. The NSW National Parks website states ‘…Also known as Murrumbidgee Valley National Park….”. I am now awaiting official word back from NSW National Parks and Wildlife and hope to sort out this issue.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK4AAC/5 (Kelvin Powrie CP, VKFF-0899)
The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2015, <http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/historic-buildings-places/Yanga-Woolshed>, viewed 3rd November 2015.
Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooleybuc>, viewed 3rd November 2015.
Wikipedia, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanga_National_Park>, viewed 3rd November 2015