Loch Luna Game Reserve VKFF-1723

Day three of our trip was Thursday 13th October, 2016, and this involved a 265 km drive back to Adelaide from the Riverland.  Andrew and I were very pleased with the way our talks on the WIA were received in Mount Gambier and the Riverland.

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Above:- Map showing our route from Barmera in the Riverland, to Adelaide, and then back to Mount Barker for me.  Map courtesy of plotaroute.com

Andrew and I had planned to activate the Moorok Game Reserve, but as we drove along the Sturt Highway we saw the sign for the Loch Luna Game Reserve, and decided that Loch Luna would be our park for the morning.  Loch Luna Game Reserve VKFF-1723 is situated about 225 km north east of Adelaide and about 3 km west of Barmera.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Loch Luna Game Reserve in the Riverland region of S.A.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Loch Luna Game Reserve if about 2,059 hectares in size and comprises a range of water bodies including narrow creeks and shallow swamps.  This habitat provides an important habitat for numerous aquatic birds and native mammals.  The rare White Bellied Sea Eagle can be located in the park.

The park was proclaimed on the 7th November 1985 with exception to a parcel of land known as Sugarloaf Hill within the boundaries of the game reserve which has been excluded from protection for the purpose of mining activity.

The park is a game reserve and the hunting of waterfowl is allowed in the reserve, but only on declared days.

The main entrance to the reserve is near Nappers Bridge on the western side of Lake Bonney, about 10 kilometres from Barmera.  But Andrew and I headed to an area of the park called the Kaiser Strip.  It is a small section of the park, over the Kingston Bridge, opposite the town of Cobdogla.  We found a small cleared area alongside the Murray River, and it was here that we established the station which consisted of the Yaesu FT857d, 40 watts and the 20/40/80m linked dipole.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the park showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

I started off on 40m and started calling CQ on 7.144.  It was incredibly slow going.  Not surprising as we had not advertised on parksnpeaks our intentions.  But eventually I had a responder to my CQ calls.  My first contact was with Trent VK7HRS, followed by Kevin VK3CKL, and then Peter VK3PF.  Once I had my 10 contacts in the log I handed the mic to Andrew.

Directly opposite us on the other side of the river was the nest of a Whistling Kite, high atop a dead gum tree on the edge of the river.  Whistling Kites are a medium sized raptor bird of prey.  During our activating we were rewarded with the call of the birds which is a clear descending whistle which is often followed by a rapid series of rising notes.

I took the opportunity of photographing some other birds I observed in the park, whislt Andrew was on air.  They included Crimson Rosellas, WHite Plumed Honeyeaters, Pelicans, Spoonbills, and Cormorants.

Other than 40m, Andrew put out a number of calls on 80m but we had no takers.  During our activation the local ranger arrived and we had a quick chat about amateur radio.  He advised that he had found amateurs in parks previously in the Riverland region, and he was aware of the parks program.

It was time to pack up and get back into Adelaide, and drop Andrew off at the airport.  I will go back to this park in the near future to pick up the remaining contacts to add towards the 44 required QSOs to qualify the park.

Thanks to Mick VK3GGG, Col VK5HCF, and Peter VK3PF for spotting us on parksnpeaks.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7HRS
  2. VK3CKL
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK3GGG
  5. VK3PMG
  6. VK1DI
  7. VK7CW
  8. VK5EE
  9. VK2CPR/m
  10. VK3VEF

 

References.

Department for Environment and Heritage, 2009, ‘Parks of the Riverland’

Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loch_Luna_Game_Reserve&gt;, viewed 14th October 2016

A talk in the Riverland and Peebinga Conservation Park

Day two of our road trip was Wednesday 12th October 2016 and this involved a 451 km drive from Mount Gambier in the south east of South Australia to Barmera in the Riverland region.  This took Andrew and I along the Riddoch Highway through the wine growing region of the Coonawarra to Narracoorte, and then along the Narracoorte Road through Western Flat to Bordertown.  From there we took the Ngarkat Road which dissects the extremely large and remote Ngarkat Conservation Park.

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Above:- Map showing our route on day two, from Mount Gambier to Barmera,  Map courtesy of plotaroute.com

As mentioned this is quite a remote area, and as you travel through the 270,000 hectare Ngarkat Conservation Park, all you can see for miles and miles is the mallee scrub of the park.  To put this into perspective, Luxembourg in Europe could fit into the park quite comfortably.

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After a brief stop at the Pinnaroo bakery for some lunch we continued north on the Browns Well Highway, following the South Australian/Victorian State border just to our east.  Prior to reaching our intended destination of Barmera, Andrew and I agreed we would stop off at the Peebinga Conservation Park 5CP-173 and VKFF-0830 and activate the park.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Peebinga Conservation Park, near the SA/VIC State border.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

I had activated Peebinga twice previously.  The first being in November 2013, and then again in November last year following the park being added to the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  Sadly on that occasion I had not reached the 44 QSO threshold required to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.  So I was keen to pick up a few more QSOs to get over the line.

For information and photos on my previous activations, have a look at the following links…..

https://vk5pas.org/2013/11/18/peebinga-conservation-park/

https://vk5pas.org/2015/11/22/peebinga-conservation-park-vkff-0830/comment-page-1/

Andrew and I set up near the intesection of Browns Well Highway and Kringin Road, in the north eastern corner of the park.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the park showing our operating spot in the north eastern corner.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

Peebinga Conservation Park is about 3,400 hectares in size and is located abut 240 km east of Adelaide and just 10 km west of the South Australian/Victorian State border.  The park was originally used for agriculture but was eventually gazetted as a park to preserve the habitat of the rare Western Whipbird which is now believed to be locally extinct.  The park has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) as it supports a large population of Malleefowl.

Vegetation within the park varies as some of it has been cleared and remains grassland.  The remainder of the park is characterised by low stabalised sand dunes with opern scrub featuring Ridge-fruited and Seldner-leaved Mallee with Warty Cypress over Broom Bush.  The higher areas of the park have Square-fruited, Red-fruited, Red and White Mallee.  Over 150 different native flora species have been recorded in the park, with 14 of those being of conservation significance.

We set up close to the old railway line which once passed through this area of South Australia.  The Peebinga railway line was opened on 28th December 1914 and ran east for a distance of 106km, from Karoonda and terminated at Peebinga, just 2 km from the Victorian State border.  The line was closed on 7th December 1990.  The cost of construction of the line was £207,000 plus £56,690 for rolling stock

I started off calling CQ on 7.144 and first contact in the log was Col VK5HCF, followed by Dennis VK2HHA and then Mick VK3GGG/VK3PMG.  Despite no warning given of the activation, and the fact that it was a workday, we soon had a steady flow of callers from VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK5.  I logged a total of 21 stations and then handed the mic over to Andrew.  The novel contact of the afternoon for me was with Adrian VK2ALF who was bicycle mobile.

After Andrew had qualified the park I put out a few final 40m calls and logged a further 7 contacts.  We then lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed to 3.610 on 80m.  Andrew made a total of  contacts there, but conditions were quite difficult.  To conclude the activation, we put out a few CQ calls on 20m, but sadly had no callers there.

The flies were certainly out in force during our activation at Peebinga.

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Thanks to Mick VK3GGG, Col VK5HCF, and Peter VK3PF for spotting us on parksnpeaks.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5HCF
  2. VK2HHA
  3. VK3GGG
  4. VK3PMG
  5. VK3BBB
  6. VK3PAT
  7. VK3SQ
  8. VK3MCK
  9. VK5EE
  10. VK5DK
  11. VK3PF
  12. VK5FMID
  13. VK3MCD
  14. VK3VBI
  15. VK3VM/5
  16. VK2NEO
  17. VK5KLV
  18. VK5NM
  19. VK2IO
  20. VK2FADV
  21. VK2ALF/m (bicycle mobile)
  22. VK2JAZ
  23. VK2GAZ
  24. VK3MRH
  25. VK3FARO
  26. VK1AT
  27. VK5VRB
  28. VK5AKG

References

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2011, Reserves of the Billiatt District Management Plan 2011

Mallee Highway Touring Route, 2016, <http://www.malleehighway.com.au/html/parks-sa-mallee.html#peebinga&gt;, viewed 14th October 2016

Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peebinga_railway_line&gt;, viewed 14th October 2016