I had one planned park activation for Sunday 13th November 2016 and that was the Barmah National Park VKFF-0739, which is located about 250 km north of Melbourne. This was to be another unique park for me as an activator for both the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.
Above:- Map showing the location of the Barmah National Park in Victoria, near the New South Wales border. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
There were some concerns prior to leaving home for my VK3 trip that I may not be able to get into Barmah National Park due to the recent heavy rain and flooding. But after speaking with Parks Victoria staff and locals in Barmah it became evident that I could get out to the park via Moira Lakes Road. In fact on Saturday night after activating Terrick Terrick and getting back in to Barmah, I went for a drive out on Moira Lakes Road and confirmed this.
The caravan park where I was staying still had left over sandbags on its permiter from the heavy rain and floods a few weeks prior.
Moira Lakes Road is bitumen and takes you to the south western corner of the park. The road was in good condition but there were still the tell tale signs of flooding present with the sandbags on the side of the road. On my way out to the park I spoke with Peter VK3ZPF who was portable in the Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158.
About 7 km out of Barmah I reached the entry to the Barmah National Park. The road leading in to the park normally takes you out to Barmah Lake, howver this was blocked off due tof the flooding.
As there was still a lot of water lying around, many of the tracks in the park were closed. However the up side was that there was a huge amount of birdlife including White Faced Herons, Spoonbills, and Egrets.
There was also an abudance of Western Grey kangaroos. Other native wildlife in the park includes Koalas and Emus.
Barmah National Park was created in April 2010 to protect and enhance the River Red Gum forets in Victoria. It is a large park and comprises 28,521 hectares. Together with the adjoining Murray Valley Regional and National Parks in New South Wales, Barmah forms the largest River Red Dum forest in the world. The forest provides important habitat, particularly for waterbirds, with over 200 species of bird recorded in the park. Barmah is one of Victoria’s largest waterbird breeding areas.
River Red Gums, some which reach 45 metres in height and are 500 years old, line the Murray River for most of its length. Barmah protected about 38 rare or threatened plants including Fruit Saltbush and Winged Peppergrass. Yellow and Black Box grow on the ridges. The River Red gums require periods of flooding and can survive water inundation for months. Their seeds are washed onto higher ground during a flood and germinate and grow before the next flood reaches them.
Prior to European settlement the aboriginal Yorta Yorta people occupied this land. Scarred trees, mounds, stone artefact scatters, middens and burial sites can be found throughout Barmah National Park.
The park also has a rich European history. The Barmah Muster yards site has been used continuosly from the 1880’s as an essential component of cattle grazing activity by local farmers in River Red Gum forests along the Murray River. The large timber post and rail yards were designed for management of cattle grazed in the surrounding River Red Gum forests.
The Barmah Muster is an annual three day weekend event set in and around the yards at the edge of the Barmah National Park.
There are various interpretive signs in the park. One that I did find was for a fallen log from a River Red Gum. It once grew near the island lagoon in the park, but unforunately it fell down in 1999. It is recorded in the Significant Trees section of the 1992 Barmah State Park and Barmah State Forest Management plan as ‘Assessors Pile’ with a height of 42.2 metres and a girth of 2.9 metres. It was subsequently placed in its current position by the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment Forests Service.
I set up alongside of the Barmah Muster yards. It was quite a miserable morning with continual drizzle and rain and just 12 degrees C. So despite my best attempts to operate from outside of the vehicle it was not possible. I ended up like a drenched rat as it was whilst putting up the 80/40/20m linked dipole. So I propped the Yaesu FT-857d on the passenger seat and ran the coax from the antenna through the passenger side window.
Above:- Map showing my operating spot in the south western section of the Barmah National Park. Map courtesy of Protected Planet.
Prior to calling CQ I had a tune around the band and found Peter VK3ZPF on 7.090 operating portable from the Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158. I logged Peter (5/9 both ways) and then headed up the band to find a clear frequency. I commenced calling CQ on 7.110 and this was answered by Brian VK5FMID in Mount Gambier and then Les VK2FLEZ who was portable in the Wyrrabalong National Park VKFF-0550. I went on to work a total of 44 stations on 7.110 from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7, thus qualifying the park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WFF) program. This included the following further Park to Park contacts:
- Malcolm VK3MEL/p, Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055
- Julie VK3SRC/p, Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333
- Allen VK3ARH/p, Alfred National Park VKFF-0618
- Rex VK3OF/p, Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291
- Warren VK3BYD/p, Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069
- Gerard VK2IO/p, Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447
- Peter VK3PF/p, Mitchell River National Park VKFF-0321 and SOTA VK3/ VG-134
- Bernard VK3AV/p, Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264
- Tony VK3XV/p, Lower Goulburn National Park VKFF-0741
Conditions on the 40m band were quite good, however as the morning went on, the static crashes increased in strength.
When callers slowed down I took the opportunity of tuning across the band, hoping to get some more Park to Park contacts in the log. It didn’t take long and I found Mick on 7.105 calling CQ from the Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742. Mick was quite low down, 4/1, but as there was no man made noise on the band from Barmah, I was able to work Mick very comfortably with a 4/1 received from Mick. I then found Jim VK1AT on 7.130 operating portable from the Lower Molonglo River Corridor Nature Reserve VKFF-0990, with a very strong 5/9 signal.
After speaking with Jim I headed back to 7.110 and started calling CQ again. This was answered by Peter VK3FPSR, followed by Tom VK5NFT and then David VK5PL, all with good signals. I worked a further 12 stations from VK2, VK3, VK5, and Vk7, including two further Park to Park contacts:
- Johnno VK3FMPB/p, Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333
- Tim VK3MTB/p, Morwell National Park VKFF-0626
Another interesting contact was with Dave VK2WQ who was using a home brew 2 watt double side band transceiver (5/7 both ways).
I then headed off to 20m and called CQ on 14.310 for around 5 minutes. My only taker was Mike VK6MB who was very low down. I was able to hear Mike but sadly he was unable to copy me.
Time was marching on, and I had hoped to activate the Murray Valley National Park in New South Wales, so I had one final tune around the 40m band before going QRT. I found Allen VK3ARH on 7.100 who was operating portable from the Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119 with a nice strong 58 signal. As I was signing with Allen, Paul VK3ZT called, and Allen kindly allowed me to log Paul before I hit the switch from Barmah.
So despite the rather dismal weather I had enjoyed my visit to Barmah and the activation. I had a total of 64 contacts in the log, including 16 Park to Park contacts.
The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-
- VK3ZPF/p (Errinundra National Park VKFF-0158)
- VK5FMID (Wyrrabalong National Park VKFF-0550)
- VK3MEL/p (Brisbane Ranges National Park VKFF-0055)
- VK3SRC/p (Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333)
- VK3ARH/p (Alfred National Park VKFF-0618)
- VK3OF/p (Little Desert National Park VKFF-0291)
- VK3BYD/p (Burrowa Pine Mountain National Park VKFF-0069)
- VK2IO/p (Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447)
- VK3PF/p (Mitchell River National Park VKFF-0321 and SOTA VK3/ VG-134)
- VK3AV/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264)
- VK3XV/p (Lower Goulburn National Park VKFF-0741)
- VK3PMG/p (Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742)
- VK3GGG/p (Warby Ovens National Park VKFF-0742)
- VK3FMPB/p (Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333)
- VK3MTB/p (Morwell National Park VKFF-0626)
- VK3ARH/p (Croajingolong National Park VKFF-0119)
Parks Victoria, 2014, ‘Barmah National Park Visitor Guide’.