When the BRL Gathering started to wrap up late on Saturday afternoon (16th April 2016), Marija and I headed out to the Pooginook Conservation Park, 5CP-186 and VKFF-0929, for a quick park activation. This is exactly what Marija and I did last year. The BRL Gathering wound up and we headed out to Pooginook, about 23 km further up the Goyder Highway. So it was a repeat performance of last year. We had time restrictions this year though, as we had arranged to go out for tea that night.
Pooginook Conservation Park is located about 200 km north east of Adelaide and about 70 km west of Renmark.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Pooginook Conservation Park in the Riverland region of South Australia. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
Although I had activated Pooginook previously, this was to be a unique park for me for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. The park was not on the WWFF list at the time I last activated it for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award.
On the way out to the park we stopped off briefly on the Goyder Highway to admire the view out to the Murray River and the Overland Corner Hotel.
We then stopped briefly at the Overland Corner cemetery. Some of the older headstones in the cemetery belong to the Brand family, who have a long history associated with the Overland Corner Hotel.
We continued along the Goyder Highway for a number of km until we reached the sign for the park which is on the northern side of the road. If you only have a 2WD vehicle, you can enter the park through the open gate and operate just inside the boundary. But if you have a 4QD vehicle, there is a sandy 4WD track which follows the eastern boundary, and this is what Marija and I did.
Don’t attempt the track if you have a conventional vehicle. You will get bogged.
The Pooginook Conservation Park is a large park, comprising 2,862 hectares of gently rolling sand dunes covered by multi-stemmed mallee. The park contains dense mallee scrub in the northern section and open mallee in the south. This area was once used largely for wheat farming. The park provides refuge for a large amount of native wildlife including Western grey kangaroos, Red kangaroos, echidnas, hairy-nosed wombats, fat-tailed dunnarts and the rare malleefowl. Over 20 species of reptiles have been recorded in the park including Desert skinks, Nobbi dragons, Barred snake-lizards and Jewelled geckos.
The name Pooginook, comes from Aboriginal words meaning ‘place of good food’. The Ngawait aboriginal tribe occupied this area. Pooginook Station was established in 1851 by John Taylor.
We drove a few km along the 4WD track and found a nice clearing and started setting up the gear. We used the normal portable station for this activation: the Yaesu FT-857d (set on 40 watts for me, and 10 watts for Marija), and the 40m/20m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre heavy duty telescopic squid pole.
Above:- Aerial shot showing our operating spot in the eastern side of the park. Image courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.
It was a warm aftermoon so we south the shade of some of the gum trees. I commenced calling CQ on 7.144 and our first contact was with Ivan VK5HS who was mobile from Overland Corner back into Renmark. Not surprising that Ivan was 5/9 plus to Pooginook. Next up was another mobile station. This time it was David VK3DMX with a good 5/7 signal. This was followed by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, Bob VK5FPAC, and then Adrian VK5FANA. It wasn’t long before all the regular park hunters had come out of the woodwork and were calling.
But amongst all the locals I heard my good mate Danny ON4VT in Belgium. Danny was an excellent 5/5 signal and gave me a 4/4. It was a real pleasure to get Danny in the log on 40m, whilst running just 40 watts and a simple little dipole.
I worked a total of 45 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7, before handing the mic over to Marija.
Marija was cognisant of our time restrictions in the park and was just seeking 10 contacts to qualify the park for the VKFF program. Which is what she did in a very short space of time. Marija’s first contact was with Greg VK4VXX/2, followed by Brian VK3BBB, Mick VK3GGG and then Geoff VK3SQ. Marija worked a total of 16 stations before handing the mic back over to me.
I worked just 4 more stations on 40m including Gerard VK2IO portable on Summits on the Air (SOTA) peak Barraba Trig VK2/ HU-065. Our time in the park was running short, so I quickly headed to 20m and started calling CQ on 14.310. This was almost immediately answered by Don G0RQL in England, followed by Adam VK2YK, and then Danny ON4VT for a second band. A steady flow of callers followed from Europe and Australia. Sadly, despite the pile up I needed to go QRT. I’m sorry to all those that were still calling.
I worked a total of 32 stations on 20m from Australia (VK2, VK4, VK6, VK7 and VK8), England, Belgium, Canary Islands, Italy, Germany, Slovak Republic, France, Hungary and Switzerland.
We had a bit of trouble during this activation to keep the squid pole in place as the ground was very hard. We propped up a number of large rocks against the squid pole holder, but as it was quite windy, I had to stand up and hold the squid pole in place whilst Marija was on air. Marija got quite a laugh at that: me at work whilst she was enjoying some air time!
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5HS mobile
- VK3DMX mobile
- VK5HEL mobile
- VK5ZGY mobile
- VK5QI mobile
- VK2IO/p (SOTA VK2/ HU-065)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
It was a quick pack up and off we headed to Renmark. On the way back into Renmark I had a good chat with Paul VK3HN from the mobile. After arriving back at the hotel, we freshened up and headed out for tea with Ivan VK5HS and his wife Sheryl, Di (the XYL of Larry VK5LY – SK), and Peter VK5FLEX. We enjoyed a very nice meal at Ashley’s Restaurant and a few refreshing ales. It was then back to the motel room to see the last quarter of the football and a great win by the Adelaide Crows.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, June 2011, Parks of the Riverland.
National Parks South Australia, 2016, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Murray_River/Pooginook_Conservation_Park>, viewed 20th April 2016