Every year in October, National Bird Week is held in Australia. This year is the 4th year the event has been held. The celebration of National Bird Week has its origins back in the early 1900s when 28th October was first designated by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, as the first ‘Bird Day’. BirdLife Australia organises and promotes Bird Week with the goal of inspiring Australians to take action and get involved in bird conservation efforts.
So last Friday (27th October 2017) I headed down to the Coorong National Park 5NP-005 & VKFF-0015 to do a bit of bird watching, and of course playing radio.
The Coorong National Park is located about 150 km south east of Adelaide. It was to be roughly a 200 km round trip for me (see map below). I have activated and qualified the park previously for both the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program and the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.
There are a few ways for me to get to the Coorong. Rather than travelling down the South Eastern Freeway I drove down through Woodchester and on to the wine growing region of Langhorne Creek via Wellington Road. The Langhorne Creek region is traditionally a red wine growing district, well known for production of outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
I continued on until I reached the little town of Wellington on the banks of the mighty Murray River. It is located just upstream from where the Murray empties into Lake Alexandrina. The town which dates back to 1840 was named after the Duke of Wellington. It was the original crossing of the River Murray for people, livestock and foods travelling overland between Adelaide and Melbourne, until the bridge at Murray Bridge was built in 1879. During the gold boom of 1852-1853, most of the gold escorted by the South Australian Police from the Victorian gold rushes, crossed the Murray at Wellington.
I crossed the ferry at Wellington, over the Murray, and I then travelled south along the Princes Highway and took the turn off to Narrung, travelling along the Potalloch Road, enjoying some great views of Lake Alexandrina.
As I travelled along the Potalloch Road my attention was drawn to a pair of crows who were chasing a Whistling Kite. I was fortunate to catch some nice shots of the Kite.
I passed the Point Malcolm lighthouse which is Australia’s only inland light station and the nation’s smallest lighthouse. It operated between 1878 and 1931 to mark the narrow passage between Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina.
I crossed the ferry at ‘The Narrows’ and entered the little town of Narrung. Don’t blink, because you’re likely to miss the town. There is not much here.
The word Narrung is derived from the aboriginal word ‘Ngnara-rung’ meaning ‘place of large sheoaks’.
I then travelled south on the Narrung Road, stopping every now and again for a few photo opportunities.
The sand dunes of the Coorong National Park soon came into view. The Coorong is a 130 km long stretch of saltwater lagoons protected from the Southern Ocean by the sweeping sane dunes. Over 230 species of bird have been recorded in the park.
First up I headed to Long Point to take a few more photographs and then headed to Long Point which is about 26 km west of the town of Meningie.
It was a hot 31 deg C day and extremely windy. So windy that I could not roll out the awning of the Toyota Hi Lux. So I bathed myself in sunscreen and huddled as close to the side of the vehicle as possible. I ran the Yaesu FT-857d and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation. My power output was 40 watts.
First in the log was Nik VK3NLK/p who was in the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747. It was a great way to start the activation. BUT my luck was to run out in a big way! The band conditions on 40m seemed to be down significantly, with signals from Victoria being quite low compared to usual.
I logged a total of 27 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7, before decided to have a listen on the 20m band. Everything started out fine there, with my first contact being UR5MW in the Ukraine. This was followed by Hans VK6XN in Western Australia. Towards the end of my QSO with Hans, a huge amount of noise suddenly came up on the transceiver…..S9 plus. This did not sound like propagation. And upon touching the radio I received a static electric shock. Now I was worried.
The noise was across all bands and each time I touched the casing of the radio I received a zap. So I turned the radio off and then back on, but it powered itself off after a few seconds.
So this was a very abrupt end to my activation of the Coorong. Not great timing, with my planned trip away to Victoria and New South Wales next weekend.
And the news gets worse. I dropped the radio off to a friend who is a radio tech, only to be advised that the repairs will need to be carried out in Victoria.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK3NLK/p (Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park VKFF-0747)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
I was very dejected at the end of this activation, but did manage some good bird shots during my trip, which you can view below.
Birdlife Australia, 2017, <http://birdlife.org.au/get-involved/whats-on/bird-week>, viewed 30th October 2017
Cockburn; R, 2002, ‘South Australia. What’s in a Name?’
Discover Murray Mallee, 2017, <http://www.murrayriver.com.au/paddleboats/river-boat-trail-point-malcolm/>, viewed 30th October 2017
National Parks South Australia, 2017, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/coorong-national-park>, viewed 30th October 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langhorne_Creek,_South_Australia>, viewed 30th October 2017
Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellington,_South_Australia>, viewed 30th October 2017