Gunbower National Park VKFF-0740

My first planned activation for the 2016 activation weekend for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award was Saturday morning, 12th November, 2016, at the Gunbower National Park VKFF-0740.  The park is located on the banks of the Murray River and is around 250 km north of Melbourne.


After leaving Kerang I headed out along the Murray Valley Highway to the little town of Gunbower.  Along the way I spoke with Gerard VK2IO who was portable in Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298.  It was here in Gunbower, that I met up with Bob VK3SX, a Gunbower resident, who I had spoken to the day prior and who had promised me access to the park, as many sections of Gunbower and various other parks along the Murray were closed due to recent flooding.  We drove out from Gunbower to Masters Landing where we accessed the park via a wet and boggy 4WD track.  Access was definitely only via 4WD.

As we approached the park I spoke with Jonathan VK7JON and Rod VK7FRJG on 40m.  Both had great signals into my mobile.

Our operating spot was a great location, right alongside of the Murray River.  There was even a wooden table and bench in place as a ready made shack.  It was quite a mild morning with a rather strong breeze.


Above:- Map showing our operating spot in the southern section of the park at Masters Landing.  Map courtesy of Parks Victoria.

Gunbower National Park is 8,892 hectares in size and was established in June 2010.   Gunbower Forest, including the Gunbower National Park and Gunbower State Forest, is an internationally significant floodplain system and is the second largest River Red Gum forest in Victoria.  Gunbower has around 200 plant species.  The two main forest types are River Red Gum in the wetter north-west and Black Box and Grey Box in the higher south-east sections.

We were set up in very close proximity to Masters Hut.  In 1860 Frederick Masters left Echuca in a rowing boat for Swan Hill.  He made camp at the site now known as Masters Landing, where he subsequently built a permanent shelter from the bark of Grey-box trees.  The house is still standing more than 150 years later.

During the period of the Echuca river trade between the late 1850’s and the late 1880’s, a riverboat landing stage was located at Master’s house.  Goods were off loaded at Masters Landing and taken to Gunbower by horse drawn dray or wagon.  Produce was brought to the site for the return trip to Echuca of loaded on to boards headed up the Darling River.

Frederick Masters was a commercial fisherman and worked along the length of Gunbower Island.  He is also said to have built his own boatds and took his catch to market in Echuca and surrounding towns by horse and cart.  He was married to Emma and they had 12 children.  Ancestors of Frederick lived in the house until 2010, when the Victorian Government evicted them due to a sweeping ban on private homes on crown land.

Over 190 species of native fauna have been recorded at Gunbower.  A total of 30 of those are threatened species and include the Inland Carpet Python, Silver Perch, Giant Bullfrog, Broad-shelled Turtle and Squirrel Gliders.  Kangaroos, emus and koalas can be found in the park.  Over 200 species of birds have been recorded in the park, which is one of the largest breeding grounds for waterbirds in Victoria.  This includes some of the 100 breeding pairs of White-Bellied Sea Eagles remaining in Victoria.  Other birds found in the park include the Great Egret, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, White necked Heron, Spoonbills, Darters, Australian White Ibis, and Australian Grebe.

It was a beautiful mild morning with just a few people camping around 200 metres away from where Bob and I set up.  We were all set up and ready to go by around 2240 UTC (around 9.40 a.m. local time).  I headed to 7.144 on 40m and started calling CQ and this was answered by Neil VK4HNS who was portable in the Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427.  A nice way to start the activation with a Park to Park contact.  Next up was Karl VK2GKA, followed by John VK5BJE, and then Mike VK6MB who was portable in the Walpole-Normalup Inlets Costal Park VKFF-1456.


I went on to qualify the park for the global WWFF program, with 47 contacts in the log.  This included the following further seven Park to Park contacts:

  • Gerard VK2IO/p, Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298
  • Tim VK3MTB/p, The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484
  • David VK3TUN/p, Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296
  • Hiro VK3EHG/p, Dandenong Ranges National Park VKFF-0132
  • Joe VK3SRC/p, Point Nepean National Park VKFF-0268
  • Mick VK3PMG/p & VK3GGG/p, Kara Kara National Park VKFF-0629
  • Bernard VK3AV/p, Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055

Bob then jumped on the radio for a short time making a total of 7 contacts into VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK7.  Bob then left but not before we arranged for me to head to Bob’s place at the end of the activation.

It had now clicked over to be a new UTC day and I resumed calling CQ on 7.144.  This was answered by Lesley VK5LOL/3 who was portable in the Murray Sunset National Park VKFF-0373.  I worked a further 9 stations from VK2, VK3, and VK5 before things started to slow down a little with callers.  So I took the opportunity of looking across the 40m band.  I found Gerald VK2HBG using the special call of VI2HQ40 on 7.088 and gave Gerald a shout.

I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the dipole and headed up to 14.310 on 20m.  Sadly the Over the Horizon Radar was very strong and made it particularly difficult.  Only two stations were logged on 20m.  They being John VK6NU and Hans VK6XN.

I then headed back to 40m and called CQ on 7.150 and this was answered by Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland region of South Australia.  Next was Greg VK2QE mobile, followed by two more Park to Park contacts: Gerard VK2IO in the Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298 and Tim VK3MTB in The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484.  Despite a number of CQ calls I only logged one further station and that was Karl VK2GKA.

So I had one last tune around the 40m band before going QRT and logged three further Park to Park contacts.  The first being with Tony VK3XV who was portable in the Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620.  Next up was Rob VK2QR who as activating the Wollemi National Park VKFF-0544.  And my final contact from Gunbower was with Peter VK3PF who was portable in the Baw Baw National Park VKFF-0020.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4HNS/p (Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427)
  2. VK2GKA
  3. VK5BJE
  4. VK6MB/p (Walpole-Normalup Inlets Costal Park VKFF-0514)
  5. VK1DI
  6. VK3PF
  7. VK2IO/p (Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298)
  8. VK2VW
  9. VK3MTB/p
  10. VK3SFG
  11. VK8GM
  12. VK3TUN/p (Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-0296)
  13. VK5WG
  14. VK3KMH
  15. VK3SQ
  16. VK7DW
  17. VK2KYO
  18. VK5FMWW/m
  19. VK5FVSV/m
  20. VK3EHG/p (Dandenong Ranges National Park VKFF-0132)
  21. VK2LX
  22. VK5FMID
  23. VK3UH
  24. VK3SRC/p (Point Nepean National Park VKFF-0268
  25. VK5ZEA/m
  26. VK3GGG/m
  27. VK3PMG/m
  28. VK5EE
  29. VK1AD
  30. VK5GR
  31. VK2MOR
  32. VK3ZT
  33. VK5KLV
  34. VK3XV/m
  35. VK2XXM
  36. VK3FOTO/m
  37. VK5FDEC
  38. VK3FCMC
  39. VK2HL
  40. VK3MLU
  41. VK3PMG/p (Kara Kara National Park VKFF-0629)
  42. VK3GGG/p (Kara Kara National Park VKFF-0629)
  43. VK5FANA
  44. VK1AT
  45. VK3XPT
  46. VK3BKT
  47. VK3AV/p (Birsbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055)
  48. VK5LOL/3 (Murray Sunset National Park VKFF-0373)
  49. VK3FRAB
  50. VK4FDJL/2
  51. VK3HBG
  52. VK5JK
  53. VK3ZMD
  54. VK2FJCQ
  55. VK5KKT
  56. VK5TW
  57. VK5IS
  58. VI2HQ40
  59. VK5HS
  60. VK2QE/m
  61. VK2IO/p (Macquarie Pass National Park VKFF-0298)
  62. VK3MTB/p (The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484)
  63. VK2GKA
  64. VK3XV/p (Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park VKFF-0620)
  65. VK2QR/p (Wollemi National Park VKFF-0544)
  66. VK3PF/p (Baw Baw National Park VKFF-0020)

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6NU
  2. VK6XN

So after 3 hours in the park I had a total of 68 contacts in the log including 15 Park to Park contacts.  This was another unique park for me for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and a unique park as an activator for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award.

At the end of the activation I headed around to Bob VK3SX’s place, or ‘The Ranch’ as he calls it.  A very nice DXing spot.  After a coffee and a chat, it was time to hit the road and head to the Terrick Terrick National Park.




Parks Victoria, 2014, ‘Gunbower National Park Visitor Guide’.

Herald Sun, 2016, <;, viewed 19th November 2016

Australian e-Heritage Portal, 2016, <;, viewed 19th November 2016

Kerang Regional Park VKFF-0970

My second planned activation for Friday 11th November 2016 was the Kerang Regional Park VKFF-0970, which is located on the edge of the town of Kerang itself.


Above:- Map showing the location of the Kerang Regional Park.  Map courtesy of whereis.

Kerang Regional Park was established in June 2010 and is 1,138 hectares in size.  The Loddon River flows through the park.  Kerang is believed to an aboriginal word for Cockatoo.

The park was alive with birds during my visit.  The Eastern Rosella below sat on a branch just above the vehicle for a good 30 minutes.  He/she seemed totally unphased by my activity.

I accessed the park via a 4WD track on the eastern side of the Loddon River.  This took me right down alongside of the Loddon.

Screen Shot 2016-11-19 at 12.08.53 pm.png

Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the park.  Image courtesy of

It was physically impossible to operate from outside of the vehicle as the mosquitoes were so vicious.  It didn’t matter how much mosquito repellant I applied, they would not desist.  So rather reluctantly I operated from the drivers seat of the HiLux with the coax running in through the passenger window to the Yaesu FT-857d sitting on the passenger seat.

After setting up I headed to 7.144 and found Gerard VK2IO was there calling CQ from the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area VKFF-1329 with a very nice 5/9 signal.  After logging Gerard I then headed down the band to 7.139 and started calling CQ.  Rick VK4RF/VK4HA came back to my CQ call, followed by John VK5BJE and then Neil VK4HNS who was portable in the Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427.  This was a good start to the activation, with a few Park to Park contacts in the log.

The 40m band was in very good condition however the static crashes were S9 plus due to a large amount of electrical storms in South Australia and Victoria.  My wife had phoned me just prior to the activation to advise that many of the vehicles in her work car park had their windscreens smashed due to very heavy hail.

I was pleased to be able to log stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and New Zealand.  Sadly I know there were some other stations calling who I was just unable to pull out underneath the static crashes.  I logged a total of 19 sttaions on 40m before heading to the 80m band.  My last station on 40m before QSYing was Andrew VK1AD who was portable on SOTA peak Isaacs Ridge VK1/ AC-041 located within the Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0845.


After inserting the links in the 80m section of the 80/40/20m linked dipole I headed to 3.610 and commenced calling CQ.  My call was answered by Mick VK3PMG/VK3GGG with a good 5/7 signal.  This was followed by Chris VK3SOT, Ron VK3VBI, and finally Paul VK3IH.  Unfortunately it was incredibly noisy on 80m with very loud static crashes and despite numerous further CQ calls I had no more takers.

So I headed back to 7.139 on 40m.  It didn’t take long for a mini pile up to form.  Third contact was another Park to Park, with Rex VK3OF who was portable in the Hattah Kulyne National Park VKFF-0231.  About half a dozen contacts later I spoke with Marcus VK2SK who advised that there were some USA stations calling me.  So I had a listen and called for ‘stations outside of VK’ and logged Gordie W5AZ in Louisiana (5/9 sent and 5/5 received).  I put a few more calls outside of VK and spoke with John ZL1JRE in Whangarei in New Zealand.  A few QSOs later I also logged Rick WA7ND in Oregon, and Steve ZL1PWR in Auckland in New Zealand.

I also managed to bag my fifth Park to Park contact from Kerang, and this was with Tim VK3MTB who was portable in the Tarra Bulga National Park VKFF-0480.

I logged a total of 36 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, VK7, New Zealand and USA, before heading off to the 7.130 DX Net.  Sadly I was only to stay around for a short period on the net, logging Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington and Peter VK2STO in Lightning Ridge, before the electrical storm was on top of me.  It was time to go QRT and head back to the caravan park.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO/p (Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area VKFF-1329)
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK5BJE
  5. VK4HNS/p (Ravensbourne National Park VKFF-0427)
  6. VK3FCMC
  7. VK4CGW
  8. VK2YK
  9. VK2VW
  10. VK3MHY
  11. VK3STU
  12. VK7DW
  13. VK5KLV
  14. VK4VW
  15. ZL4KD
  16. VK5GJ
  17. VK2NEO
  18. VK1AD/p (SOTA Isaacs Ridge VK1/ AC-041 & Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0845)
  19. VK2GKA
  20. VK3SFG
  21. VK3OF/p (Hattah Kulyne National Park VKFF-0231)
  22. VK6MB
  23. VK4FFAB
  24. VK3MVP
  25. VK7FRJG
  26. VK3TKK/m
  27. VK2KDP
  28. VK2SK
  29. W5AZ
  30. ZL1JRE
  31. VK5WG
  32. VK5ZGY/m
  33. VK4SMA
  34. VK5FANA
  35. VK3LSD
  36. VK2FJCQ
  37. VK2DX
  38. WA7ND
  39. VK2QA
  40. VK5EE
  41. VK3ARH
  42. VK2QK
  43. VK2JMW
  44. VK3MTB/p (Tarra Bulga National Park VKFF-0480)
  45. ZL1PWR
  46. VK7VEK
  47. VK3FLCS
  48. VK3ZMD
  49. VK5FMID
  50. VK2QH
  51. VK3FSPG
  52. VK2PF
  53. VK2XRC/p
  54. VK3AAT
  55. ZL2ASH
  56. VK2STO

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PMG
  2. VK3GGG
  3. VK3SOT
  4. VK3VBI
  5. VK3IH


Parks Victoria, 2016, <;, viewed 19th November 2016

Wikipedia, 2016, <;