Encounter Marine Park VKFF-1707

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday 3rd March 2018), Marija VK5FMAZ and I went for a drive down to the Fleurieu Peninsula to undertake a beach activation from the Encounter Marine Park VKFF-1707.  It was a beautiful 26 degree C day so we decided sitting on the beach playing a bit of radio was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

The Encounter Marine Park is a large marine park which extends from near Port Noarlunga south of Adelaide, down to the north eastern coast of Kangaroo Island, and around to the Coorong National Park.  We decided on activating the park from Goolwa Beach, not far from the mouth of the Murray River.

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 3.45.39 pm.png

Map showing the location of the Encounter Marine Park.  Map courtesy of National Parks SA.

Marija and I left home early afternoon and drove down to the historic town of Strathalbyn and then down through the wine growing region of Currency Creek and on to the historic port town of Goolwa which is located on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

The Fleurieu was named after Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu, the French explorer and hydrographer, by the French explorer Nicolas Baudin as he explored the south coast of Australia in 1802.  It is a great part of South Australia, where I lived and worked back in the mid 1980’s.  The video below gives you a great snapshot of the Fleurieu….

After reaching the town of Goolwa, we drove to the end of Beach Road.  There is beach access here, but don’t attempt it in a conventional vehicle.  Unlike some other beaches which permit vehicular access in South Australia, Goolwa is only suitable for 4WD vehicles.  I’d recommend that if you do intend driving down onto the beach, that you lower your tyre pressure.  Once on the beach it is generally ok, but there is deep sand at the entry point.  And if you intend to go all the way to the mouth of the Murray River, you will definitely need low pressure in your tyres and will probably need to use low 4WD.

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 4.03.55 pm.png

Above:- Map of the park showing our operating spot.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

The Encounter Marine Park encompasses the waters off southern metropolitan Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula.  It extends past the Murray Mouth to the Coorong coast.  At its western boundary, the park includes all waters of Backstairs Passage and the eastern shores of Kangaroo Island.  The park is 3,119 km2 in size and represents 12% of the marine park network in South Australia.

The park contains some of Australia’s best preserved ocean wilderness, including amazing dive sites and spectacular reefs which provide refuge for vitally important fish breeding and shelter areas.  Fishing is very popular within the park, along with diving, and surfing.  Leafy Sea Dragons are found in the park, along with Sea Lions, and Southern Right Whales.

As it was a nice sunny day, there was quite a bit of activity on the beach.  There were lots of swimmers to the west of the Beach Road entrance where I suspect there were Surf Lifesavers on duty.  The waters here can be quite treacherous.  This is one of the most hazardous beaches in South Australia for swimming.


The beach is part of Encounter Bay, which was named by explorer Matthew Flinders after his encounter on 8 April 1802 with Nicolas Baudin, the commander of the French Baudin expedition of 1800-03.

As we drove along the beach we saw a large amount of birdlife including Sooty Oystercatchers and Gulls.  Sooty Oystercatchers eat molluscs, and invertebrates such as crustaceans and worms and are common on Goolwa Beach.


Marija and I travelled a few km along the beach and found a nice quite spot and started setting up our station.  We rolled out the awning on the 4WD and set up the fold up table and deck chairs.  For this activation we used the Yaesu FT-857d and the 80/40/20m linked dipole supported on the 7m squid pole, and the 15m 1/2 wave dipole.  Whilst Marija was on air we ran 10 watts as Marija is limited to that amount of power with her Foundation licence.  Whilst I was on air, I ramped up the output power to 40 watts.

As I have activated and qualified this park previously, Marija kicked off the activation, seeking 10 contacts to qualify the park for the VKFF program.  Marija’s first contact was Gerard VK2JNG/p who was activating the Werakata State Conservation Area VKFF-1391.  I also wrestled the mic from Marija and also logged Gerard Park to Park.  Within 12 minutes of being on air, Marija had 10 contacts in the log.  Her 10th contact was with Chris VK3PAT.

Marija continued on and logged a total of 20 stations from VK2 and VK3, including one further Park to Park contact, with Stef VK5HSX/3 in the Cobboboonee National Park VKFF-0728 in the south west of Victoria.


Marija then handed over the mic to me and I logged a total of 34 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7.  It was interesting that no VK4 (Queensland) stations were logged on 40m, and just two VK5’s: Les at Port Augusta some 350 km to the north, and Ron VK5MRE in the Riverland, about 250 km to the north east.

I then tuned across the band and found Liz VK2XSE/p on 7.155 who was in the Murrumbidgee Valley Regional Park VKFF-1786.  Liz sounded like she had an idealic spot as well, sitting on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River near Hay.  Marija also logged Liz Park to Park.

I then headed off to the 80m band hoping to log some more South Australian stations, but sadly, despite band conditions being quite good there, I only logged 2 stations: the ever reliable Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, and Michael VK5FMLO in the southern suburbs of Adelaide.

I then moved to the 20m band and called CQ on 14.310 where I logged 7 stations including Hans VK6XN in Western Australia, Stuie VK8NSB in Darwin, and Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs.  Although no overseas DX appeared in my log on 20m, it is always nice to work the VK6 and VK8 ops.

  • Goolwa – Perth : 2,500 km
  • Goolwa – Alice Springs: 1,500 km
  • Goolwa – Darwin: 3,000 km

In some parts of the world those contacts would be classed as DX, across multiple countries.  Here in Oz, they are ‘local’ contacts.

To wrap up the activation I put a few calls out on 15m on 21.244.  Sadly just after starting to call CQ, the Over the Horizon Radar started, and made it hard to pick up a few weak stations that were calling.  I logged Cliff VK2NP and then Greg VK8GM, and decided to move down the band to 21.220 where my only taker was John VK4TJ.


With a total of 68 stations in the log between the 2 of us, and 7 Park to Park contacts, it was time to pack up and make the 45 minute drive back home to the Adelaide Hills.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2JNG/p (Werakata State Conservation Area VKFF-1391)
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK3FSPG
  4. VK2EXA
  5. VK2HHA
  6. VK3SQ
  7. VK4AAC/2
  8. VK2IO
  9. VK3ANL
  10. VK3PAT
  11. VK3MPR
  12. VK3ARH
  13. VK3OHM/p
  14. VK2PKT
  15. VK3STU/p
  16. VK2NP
  17. VK2ZK
  18. VK3NBI
  19. VK3TKK/m
  20. VK5HSX/3 (Cobboboonee National Park VKFF-0728)
  21. VK2XSE/p (Murrumbidgee Valley Regional Park VKFF-1786)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2JNG/p (Werakata State Conservation Area VKFF-1391)
  2. VK3VLY/p
  3. VK3PAT
  4. VK2EXA
  5. VK5HSX/3 (Cobboboonee National Park VKFF-0728)
  6. VK2GKA/p
  7. VK3SQ
  8. VK5KLV
  9. VK2PKT
  10. VK2KYO
  11. VK3AHR
  12. VK3CM
  13. VK4AAC/2
  14. VK3STU/p
  15. VK3RU
  16. VK3IC
  17. VK2YK
  18. VK3VIN
  19. VK2IO
  20. VK1DI
  21. VK3MPR
  22. VK3FSPG
  23. VK3UH
  24. VK3ZMD
  25. VK5MRE
  26. VK7NWT
  27. VK3KWB
  28. VK3ANL
  29. VK3PF
  30. VK2GPT
  31. VK2VX
  32. VK3YXC
  33. VK3FMPB/p (Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264)
  34. VK2USH
  35. VK2XSE/p (Murrumbidgee Valley Regional Park VKFF-1786)

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FANA
  2. VK5FMLO

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2NP
  2. VK6XN
  3. VK4TJ
  4. VK4SYD
  5. VK1LAJ
  6. VK8NSB
  7. VK8GM

I worked the following stations on 15m SSB:-

  1. VK2NP
  2. VK8GM
  3. VK4TJ

At the end of the activation Marija and I took a drive down to the mouth of the Murray.  It was a few km further down the beach from where we had been activating.  This is definitely low 4WD country.  Marija and I regularly see people bogged here, and this time was no different, with a vehicle bogged near the mouth.  Fortunately they had good help, with people digging them out with spades, and snatch straps at hand.


The mouth of the Murray River is an opening in the coastal dune system  which separates the river system from the Southern Ocean and which extends from near in a south-easterly direction along the continental coastline for about 145 kilometres.  This is known as the Coorong, which is a National Park.

The Murray mouth divides the dune system into two peninsulas. The peninsula on the west side is known as Sir Richard Peninsula,  which terminates at the mouth with a point named Pullen Spit.  While the peninsula on the east side is known as Younghusband Peninsula,  which terminates at the mouth with a point known in some sources as Sleepy Hollow.

Water flows throughout the mouth from two directions. Firstly, the flow from the west passes along a passage known as the Goolwa Channel which is bounded by Hindmarsh  Island to its north side and secondly, the flow from the east passes along a passage known as the Coorong Channel.

The Murray Mouth is influenced by the flow of River Murray water through the barrages and tidal movement from the Southern Ocean.  When river flows to South Australia are low, barrage releases are low and sand deposits occur inside the mouth causing restrictions and increasing the risk of closure.  As a result, dredging machines are stationed at the Murray Mouth.

The camping area at the mouth was very busy, with lots of 4WDers and fishermen.




Birdlife Australia, 2017, <http://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/sooty-oystercatcher&gt;, viewed 16th January 2017

National Parks South Australia, 2016, ‘Marine Park 15 Encounter Marine Park’

Wikipedia, 2017, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Mouth&gt;, viewed 16th January 2017

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleurieu_Peninsula>, viewed 4th March 2018