Boat trip to Bulyong Island, Murray River National Park 5NP-016 and VKFF-0372

It was now Sunday morning (7th April 2019), and the end of our quick trip to the Riverland.  However, we still had a few parks to activate.  The night before at the Mallee Fowl Restaurant, Ivan VK5HS had arranged to take me, Marija and Peter VK5PE out to the Bulyong Island section of the Murray River National Park 5NP-016 & VKFF-0372.

I last activated this part of the park back in 2013, when Marija and I, Ivan VK5HS, and our dear friend Larry VK5LY (now silent key) headed to Bulyong Island.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Murray River National Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

The Murray River National Park is 135.92 km2 in size and was established on the 27th day of April 1972.  It was proclaimed “to conserve a significant proportion of South Australia’s floodplain environments which are not represented widely in other reserve systems.”

The park consists of three sections adjoining the Murray River and extending from near Loxton in the south west to near Renmark in the north-east. The first which is known as the ‘Katarapko’ section is located on the north side of the river between Loxton in the south and Berri in the north. The second section which is known as the ‘Lyrup Flats’ section is located on the north side of the river midway between Berri and Loxton. The third section is known as the ‘Bulyong’ section is located on the west side of the river upstream from Renmark.

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Above:- Map showing the various sections of the Murray River National Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Our intended activating spot was the Bulyong Island section of the park.  This is only accessible via boat.

The area was originally home to the Erwirung aboriginal people who were a relatively small Aboriginal group that lived on the fertile plains of the Murray.  By 1851, the land surrounding Renmark was held under Pastoral Lease No. 95 by A.B. Cator.  In July 1859, a portion of this lease was taken by William Finke and was subsequently divided into 2 properties named ‘Bookmark’ and ‘Chowilla’.  During the 1860s and 1870’s, the leases transferred hands on a number of occasions.  In 1887 the land was acquired from Bookmark Station by the Commissioner of Crown Lands for the establishment of the Renmark Irrigation Trust by the Chaffey Brothers.  The Chaffey Brothers Irrigation Works Act, 1887, gave the legal right to develop 200,000 acres of land from Spring Cart Gully to the border for irrigation purposes.

At the conclusion of World War One, Bulyong Island was leased by the Returned Serviceman’s League (RSL) as part of its returned soldier repatriation program.  Primarily it was used for agisting horses while they were not being used for agricultural work.  During the mid-1960s the Renmark Irrigation Trust entered into negotiations with the RSL to obtain the northern portion of the Island for use as an evaporation basin.  The RSL acceded to these moves and by the late 1960s, a series of embankments and an inlet/outlet structure had been established.  On the 20th June 1991, the island was established as part of the Murray River National Park.

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Above:- Map of the Bulyong Island section of the Murray River National Parks.  Map courtesy of National Parks SA.

After breakfast at the motel, Marija and I headed to Ivan’s house in Renmark.  We then drove down to the banks of the Murray River and launched Ivan’s boat.


We then headed downstream to Bulyong Island.  It was an absolutely beautiful day, with bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.

This section of the River is quite amazing, with big River Red Gums along the bank of the river.

There were quite a few Whistling Kites in the gums above the river.  Whistling Kites are a medium-sized raptor which has a very pronounced loud whistling call, which it often gives in flight.

We found a nice little spot to pull the boat up and jumped out onto the island.

We then set up our station, a Yaesu FT-897 and a 20/40/80 metre linked dipole, supported on a 7 metre telescopic squid pole.  Unfortunately, we found that there was strength 5 noise on the 40m band, which really surprised us as we were in the middle of nowhere.  It really had us perplexed.


Marija was first up on air.  Geoff VK3SQ was first in the log, followed by John VK4TJ, and then Peter VK3PF.  Marija qualified the park in 9 minutes, with her 10th contact being Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs, which Marija was extremely happy with.  Marija logged a further 2 contacts before it was my turn to hop into the operator’s chair or the fallen log as it actually was.


We could not get on to the normal parks frequency of 7.144 as the broadcasts from the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) were in progress.  We tried to get on to 7.090, but the WIA broadcast from Perth was very strong on 7.088.  So we chose 7.105.

I started calling CQ on 7.105, and was then jumped on by VK5FUZZ who runs the 10am Smoko Net on that frequency.  I had totally forgotten the net.  So we moved up to 7.110 where I called CQ.  First in the log was Peter VK3PF, followed by John VK4TJ, and then Keith VK2PKT.

Our first Park to Park contact for the day was with Rob VK4AAC/3 and VK2VH/3 in the Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218.  We all logged Rob.

I logged a total of 13 stations before it was Peter’s turn to take charge of the microphone.

Peter logged a number of stations and he too had soon qualified the park for VKFF.  Sadly, the noise floor made it very difficult to pull out the weak stations calling us.


Next was Ivan VK5HS, who fell just 1 contact short on 40m for his 10 QSOs.  So we moved down to the 80m band, and it wasn’t long before Ivan had his 10th contacts in the log.


We then moved back to 40m where I logged a further 12 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.  This included Gerard VK2IO/p who was activating VKFF-2014.  We all swapped the mic to log Gerard.

To complete the activation we each made a handful of contacts on 14.310 on the 20m band, including a Park to Park with Greg VK4VXX/6 in the Quarram Nature Reserve VKFF-1871.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3SQ
  2. VK4TJ
  3. VK4/AC8WN
  4. VK4/VE6XT
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK2WQ
  7. VK4FDJL
  8. VK2FHIT
  9. VK5NJ
  10. VK8GM
  11. VK3ZPF
  12. VK5MRE/m
  13. VK4AAC/3 (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  14. VK2VH/3 (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  15. VK2IO/p (Wambina Nature Reserve VKFF-2014)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK4TJ
  3. VK4/AC8WN
  4. VK4/VE6XT
  5. VK2PKT
  6. VK3SQ
  7. VK3NXT
  8. VK4AAC/3 (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  9. VK2VH/3 (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  10. VK4FDJL
  11. VK3ZPF
  12. VK5TS
  13. VK3ARH
  14. VK2IO/p (Wambina Nature Reserve VKFF-2014)
  15. VK7JON
  16. VK4SMA
  17. VK5HYZ
  18. VK2LEE
  19. VK3UH
  20. VK1BUB
  21. VK5FANA
  22. VK7ME
  23. VK3CU
  24. VK2UH
  25. VK3FPSR
  26. VK3MKE/5

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK2LEE
  2. VK4VXX/6 (Quarram Nature Reserve VKFF-1871)
  3. VK4SYD

Sadly band conditions were quite poor, and our noise floor was high, but we all qualified this rare section of the Murray River National Park.




Wikipedia, 2019, <>, viewed 8th April 2019

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