Day one (Friday 16th November 2018) of our 16 day trip to Victoria, involved a 582 km journey from our home in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, to Bendigo in central Victoria.
We left home at around 7.00 a.m. local time and headed east along the South Eastern Freeway and onto the Dukes Highway. As we approached Murray Bridge I checked in to the Mid South Coast 40 metre Net on 7.065, run by John VK2NJP. John was strength 9 and gave me a 5/7 signal report. I also spoke with Ray VK2AX, Joe VK4BYE, and Neil VK4HNS.
Our first stop for the day was at Coonalpyn, a small town about 163 km south east of Adelaide. The town’s name is derived from the Aboriginal word Coonalpyn, meaning Barren Woman. Coonalpyn in recent times has come to the attention of tourists due to the artwork on the silos in the town.
We normally stop at the Coonalpyn Silo Cafe for a coffee, but this time we chose to pay another cafe a visit in the town, ‘Waffles and Jaffles’. And I am very pleased we did. Not only was the coffee great, but the waffles were absolutely delicious. It was like a little slice of Belgium in country South Australia.
We continued east, and travelled over the State border of South Australia and Victoria, and onto the Western Highway. Our next stop was Loch lel (Pink Lake), just north west of the town of Dimboola. And today, the lake was certainly pink. The pink colour of the water comes from a pigment secreted by microscopic algae. The intensity of the pink varies with the amount of water in the lake.
While at the Pink Lakes, both Marija and I spoke with Andy VK5LA/p who was activating the Swan Reach Conservation Park VKFF-0832. Andy had a nice 5/9 signal into the mobile.
Marija and I then turned off at Dimboola and travelled out along the Dimboola-Minyip Road, with our first intended activation of the trip being the Barrett Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2264.
We soon reached the Murra Warra Wind Farm, east of Minyip. The wind farm is under construction and will feature up to 116 turbines with hardstands. The height to the tip of the blade at its highest point is up to 220 metres.
A short distance off the Dimboola-Minyip Road, we reached the park. It was well signposted.
The Barrett Flora and Fauna Reserve is about 223 hectares in size and is located at the north eastern corner of Dogwood Road and Bolwells Road, Wallup, south of Warracknabeal. It consists of Buloke Woodlands. Buloke woodlands are characterised by the buloke tree, which is a leafless casuarina or sheoak tree that grows to about 15m and has twisted branchlets and cones.
I was unable to find much information on this park on the web. The Parks Victoria website only shows a map of this park, and no other details. The park is signposted as a Flora & Fauna Reserve and this is its title in the CAPAD 2016 data, under the category of a Nature Conservation Reserve. So depending on what map/s you look at, the park may be referred to as a Flora & Fauna Reserve, or a Nature Conservation Reserve.
The eBird website shows that 41 species of native bird have been recorded in the park including Black Honeyeater, Red-rumped parrot, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill.
We set up off Dogwood Road. This was a quiet country road, with plenty of room to pull off the road. As it was quite a warm day, we set up underneath the shade of a tree. For this activation we ran the Yaesu FT-857d and the 20/40/80-m linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre telescopic squid pole. Power output was 10 watts PEP for Marija, and 40 watts for me.
This was a unique park for Marija and I as activators, and the very first time that the park had been activated. First in the log was Andy VK5LA/p who was activating the Swan Reach Conservation Park VKFF-0832. Marija also logged Andy, before we moved up the band to 7.150.
I called CQ, while Marija placed a spot for me up on parksnpeaks. Phil VK2HPN called in, followed by Peter VK3PF, Dennis VK2HHA, and then Geoff VK3SQ. Contact number 10 came 13 minutes into the activation, with a QSO with regular park hunter Ken VK2KYO. I logged one more station, Alan VK2MG, before swapping the mic with Marija.
Within nine minutes, Marija had 10 contacts in the log, thus qualifying the park for the VKFF (Australian chapter) of the WWFF program. Marija logged a total of 15 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.
We had both qualified the park for VKFF, so I headed off to the 80m band. Marija threw up another spot on parksnpeaks and I called CQ on 3.610. Peter VK3PF was first in the log on 80m, followed by Geoff VK3SQ, Mike VK3MKE, and then Ken VK2KYO.
To conclude the activation I called CQ on 14.310, where I was very pleased to log Stuuie VK8NSB in Darwin. Ray VK4NH followed, but despite a further 5 minutes of CQ calls I had no further takers on that band.
So with a total of 34 QSOs between the 2 of us, Marija and I packed up and headed off to Minyip.
Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5LA/p (Swan Reach Conservation Park VKFF-0832)
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5LA/p (Swan Reach Conservation Park VKFF-0832)
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
Australian Government, 2018, <http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/buloke-woodlands>, viewed 2nd December 2018
eBird, 2018, <https://ebird.org/pa/hotspot/L2551670?yr=all&m=&rank=mrec>, viewed 2nd December 2018
Cheal, D; Lucas, A; & Macaulay, L, Native Recovery Plan for Buloke Woodlands of the Riverina and Murray Darling Depression Bioregions, 2010.
Renewable Energy Systems, 2018, <http://www.murrawarra-windfarm.com/the-project/project-summary/>, viewed 2nd December 2018
Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coonalpyn,_South_Australia>, viewed 2nd December 2018