Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary VKFF-1880

Yesterday (Monday 14th August 2017) I commenced a few days off from work, and as it was such a beautiful sunny day I decided to head down to Port Adelaide and activate one of the newly added parks for the World Wide Flora Fauna program, the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary VKFF-1880.  This was to be the first time that this reference was put on air.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.  Map courtesy of Google maps.

The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is located near Port Adelaide.  You could spend days here wandering around the streets of the Port.  Port Adelaide is well known for its well preserved 19th century buildings which reflect the maritime history of the area.

Amongst the many things to see is the and the Clipper ship, the City of Adelaide, which is the world’s oldest surviving clipper ship.  The City of Adelaide was built in Sunderland, England, and launched on 7th May 1864.  The ship was commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Carrick between 1923 and 1948 and, after decommissioning, was known as Carrick until 2001.  At a conference convened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 2001, the decision was made to revert the ship’s name to City of Adelaide, and the duke formally renamed her at a ceremony in 2013.

When the City of Adelaide was decommissioned she was towed to the River Clyde in Scotland where it remained until 1991, when she sank.  She was recovered by the Scottish Maritime Museum and remained there in the slipway until the Scottish Maritime Museum was issued an eviction notice by the owners of the slipway.

In 2010, the Scottish Government decided that the ship would be moved to Adelaide, to be preserved as a museum ship. In September 2013 the ship moved by barge from Scotland to the Netherlands to prepare for transport to Australia. In late November 2013, loaded on the deck of a cargo ship, City of Adelaide departed Europe bound for Port Adelaide, Australia, where she arrived on 3 February 2014.

Port Adelaide is a busy port, although a large amount of the very large ships now berth at Outer Harbor.

Also located close to the sanctuary is the Adelaide Submarine Corporation, a naval shipbuilder for the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins class submarines and Hobart class destroyers.

The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary was established in June 2005 as a result of community concerns about the safety of the dolphins living in the Port Adelaide River and Barker Inlet and their environment.  During 2002 the South Australian Government undertook public consultation to gain an understanding of how the community wanted the dolphins cared for.  As a result of overwhelming support, the Parliament proclaimed The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Act 2005.

The sanctuary which is known as one of the best and most easily accessible Dolphin Sanctuaries in the world, consists of an area of 118 square kilometres and is located on the eastern shore of Gulf St Vincent.  The sanctuary includes the Port Adelaide River and Barker Inlet and from there it stretches around to North Haven Marina, then north around Outer Harbor and up the coast to the Port Gawler Conservation Park.  The area includes a 10,000 year old mangrove forest, seagrass, saltmarsh, tidal flats, tidal creeks and estuarine rivers, all of which combine to provide habitat for dolphins and their food resources.

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The sanctuary is home to around 30-40 resident Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.  Around 300 or so dolphins are thought to regularly visit the area.  This species of dolphin grows to 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) long, and weighs up to 230 kilograms.  They are not to be confused with Common bottlenose dolphins.  Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins live in groups that can number in the hundreds, but groups of five to 15 dolphins are most common.  Their life span is around 40 years.  Dolphins can dive to depths of more than 500 metres, but they must surface for air every few minutes.  Like whales, dolphins breathe through a blowhole on the top of their heads.


A Port River dolphin.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Other wildlife located in the sanctuary include Long nosed fur seals, Southern Eagle Rays, and the endangered Australia Sea Lion.

The area is also a popular bird watching site and shares most of its northern coastal habitat with the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary.   The sanctuary is home to many species of birds including some rare and endangered species.  More than 250 species have been recorded.  Certainly during my visit, the area was alive with birdlife.  Some of those that I observed are captured in the photographs below.

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The dolphins within the sanctuary are regularly under threat.  This includes marine litter and entanglement, harrassment and disturbance, disease, habitat degradation and pollution, and vessel strikes and noise.  Human activities include dredging, boat-generated wave action, anchoring, bait digging, illegal rubbish dumping, human foot traffic, industrial discharges, stormwater runoff, construction of wharves and shore reclamation.  Discarded fishing gear poses a high threat to dolphins within the sanctuary, with a number of dolphins having become entangled by fishing line, nets and rope.


Above:- the nearby power station.

I decided to travel down Grand Trunkway and onto Garden Island.  The island was a major landfill site until 2001.   Garden Island is well known as being a ship’s graveyard.   Instead of scuttling obsolete vessels in deep water, the South Australian Harbours Board decided that an easier and cheaper option was to beach and further dismantle the stripped hulks at Garden Island.  There are a total of 25 wrecks known to have been abandoned at Garden Island.

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Above:- Aerial view of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Google maps.

I travelled to the end of Garden Island Road and set up on the lawned area close to the waters edge, overlooking Angus Inlet.  As it was a warm and sunny day, this was an ideal place to set up, underneath the shade of the trees.

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Above:- Aerial shot showing my operating spot.  Image courtesy of Google maps.

I was a little worried about potential noise, as the power station was nearby, along with the huge power lines running out of the station to Adelaide.  And my fears were confirmed when I switched on the Yaesu FT-857d.  I had strength 8 noise.  I decided to box on and put up with the noise, rather than packing up and relocating.  I suspect that most operating spots in the sanctuary would be noisy due to the large amount of industry in the area.

First in the log was Yern VK2KJJ, followed by Dennis VK2HHA, and then Tom VK5ZTS in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.  Tom had a great 5/9 + signal.  It was clear that propagation into Adelaide was going to be good during this activation, due to ground wave.  Contact number 10, qualifying the park for me for VKFF was with Nik VK3NLK, about 15 minutes into the activation.

The noise floor did drop to strength 7 during the activation, but it was still very hard going pulling out some of the lower signals.  I apologise to those who were calling that I was unable to work.  I know there were a number of stations who called that I was just unable to pull through the noise.

I logged a total of 47 stations on the 40m band from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6 and VK7.  I then called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged 3 contacts.  They being with Ron VK5MRE in the Riverland, who had followed me down from 40m.  Also Greg VK5GJ in the Adelaide Hills and Yern VK2KJJ in Wagga Wagga.  Very pleased with that contact considering the time of day on 80m.

To wrap up the activation I called CQ on 14.310 on the 20m band.  Unfortunately Rick VK4RF/VK4HA was the only station logged there.

Whilst activating I observed a number of dolphins cruising by in Angus Inlet.

After just short of 2 hours in the park it was time to go QRT and head for home.  I had a total of 52 contacts in the log and another unique park to add to my activator tally.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2KJJ
  2. VK2HHA
  3. VK5ZTS
  4. VK3ARH
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK7JON
  7. VK2YK
  8. VK4RZ
  9. VK3SQ
  10. VK3NLK
  11. VK5KIK
  12. VK5KDK
  13. VK4TJ
  14. VK4/AC8WN
  15. VK4/VE6XT
  16. VK5BJE
  17. VK3FLJD
  18. VK3HBG
  19. VK4HNS/p
  20. VK2QK
  21. VK2JNG/m
  22. VK3FNQS
  23. VK3NQS
  24. VK3AMX
  25. VK4RF
  26. VK4HA
  27. VK5HYZ
  28. VK3GGG
  29. VK3PMG
  30. VK2YW
  31. VK3BNJ
  32. VK3LCW
  33. VK2KYO
  34. VK5KLV
  35. VK3BBB
  36. VK3VGB
  37. VK3MROZ/m
  38. VK3MRH
  39. VK2NP
  40. VK6XN
  41. VK4SMA
  42. VK5MR
  43. VK3FI
  44. VK2TH
  45. VK3FLCS
  46. VK5MRE
  47. VK3SFG

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5MRE
  2. VK5GJ
  3. VK2KJJ

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4RF
  2. VK4HA



Department for Environment and Heritage, 2007, Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Management Plan.

Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources, 2017, <;, viewed 15th August 2017

Government of South Australia, 2014, Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary users Guide

National Parks South Australia, 2017, <;, viewed 15th August 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <;, viewed 15th August 2017

Wikipedia, 2017, <;, viewed 15th August 2017

7 thoughts on “Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary VKFF-1880

    • I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the USA, Paul – EN34lw – about 200 mi (323km) SW of the W end of Lake Superior. 73 de Mike, KEØGZT

      • Hi Mike,

        Always interested to see where readers are from. Many thanks for checking out my WordPress site.

        Hope to chat on air one day soon.


        Paul VK5PAS.

    • G’day Chris,

      I think the best way of exploring this area is by kayak. You can rent kayaks down there and they also have guided kayak tours where you can explore the ships graveyard.


      Paul VK5PAS

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