After leaving Ivan’s house, Marija and I headed back into the Renmark town centre and filled up with some fuel. We then grabbed some lunch and headed down to the riverfront. As we pulled up, the odd-looking houseboat known as ‘Willitsinkorwontit’ was pulling out, heading upstream. The boat is the home of Frank Turton, known as the ‘Chookman’.
We then had a quick look at the old Renmark Irrigation Trust building which was built in 1893. One of the original Chaffey Brothers pumps can be located here. The Chaffey brothers were Canadian born water engineering experts. They had developed irrigation schemes in California, and were asked to come to Australia in 1886 by Alfred Deakin who was at the time a Victorian cabinet minister (later to become Prime Minister).
Marija and I then stopped off at the historic Wilabalangaloo property. Janet Reiners was born in Renmark in 1895 and had a love for animals, natural beauty and open spaces. In 1941 she purchased the Wilabalangaloo property. Preceding her death in 1990, she had resolved to gift the property to the National Trust upon her death. There are some nice walking trails here and some terrific views of the Murray River.
We then headed for the final park activation of our trip, the Moorook Game Reserve VKFF-1729. The park is located just to the west of the town of Cobddogla and is about 242 km northeast of the city of Adelaide.
We accessed the park via the Kingston Road, which runs off the Sturt Highway.
The Moorook Game Reserve was dedicated in 1976 providing significant wildlife habitats, and popular recreation sites, particularly for river-based activities such as bird watching, canoeing, picnicking, camping, bushwalking and fishing. The park is 1,236 hectares in size and includes Wachtels Lagoon.
Prior to European settlement, the River Murray was a ‘self-willed’ river. Water levels fluctuated greatly. During extreme drought, the river would dry up to a series of waterholes. During the 1920s and 1930s, weirs and locks were built along the Murray to control the water flow. This aided navigation and supplied a reliable water source for irrigation projects. With the new water level being higher than before, low-lying areas were inundated and many thousands of River Red Gums drowned. Wachtels Lagoon is such an area.
During our visit to the park, we spotted quite a bit of birdlife. Unfortunately, we were a bit pressed for time, so I didn’t get a lot of time to take photographs.
The park takes its name from the nearby settlement of Moorook, which had earlier been one of the experimental Village Settlements. These were established by the South Australian government under Part VII of the Crown Lands Amendment Act 1893, in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the depression then affecting the Colony.
We followed a dirt track into the park and set up in one of the campgrounds on the banks of the Murray River.
It was a beautiful location, and equally beautiful day weather-wise, with virtually not a cloud in the sky.
Marija decided not to operate from the park as we were pushed for time. She was hoping that I would pick up my 44 contacts to qualify the park for the global World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.
After a self-spot on parksnpeaks and on Facebook, I started calling CQ on 7.144. First in the log was Peter VK3PF, followed by John VK4TJ, Jonathan VK7JON, and then Grant VK2LX. Within 10 minutes I had contact number ten in the log, a QSO with Deryck VK4FDJL.
I worked a total of 18 stations on 7.144, until I was pushed off the frequency by a New Caledonian station on 7.145. Apparently, a few of the park hunters running much more power than me advised him I was 1 kc below, but that didn’t seem to influence his decision to QSY. So I moved down to 7.130.
I worked a further 27 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, New Zealand and Italy on 7.130, and soon had contact number 44 in the log. That being a QSO with George VK4GSF in Queensland. I was pleased to work regular park hunter, Andrei ZL1TM. But the big surprise of the afternoon was to log Lauro IK4GRO from Italy on 40m.
Callers on 40m had slowed down, and this was probably a good thing because I then had UW1M start calling CQ Contest on 7.131 just above me.
I moved down to 3.610 on the 80m band and was very surprised to see that I had a strength 6 noise floor. Very strange! Unfortunately, I had no takers on 80m. Perhaps I was being called, but I couldn’t hear anyone through the noise.
To complete the activation, I headed up to 14.310 on the 20m band where I worked Ivan VK5HS and Anthony VK6MAC. Anthony was running QRP 5 watts and had a good 5/5 signal from Western Australia, a few thousand km away.
It was getting late, and we still had a 2 & 1/2 hour drive to get home. So we packed up and hit the road for home, stopping off at the Charleston Hotel in the Adelaide Hills for a meal. It was the end of a terrific 3 days away.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
Exploreoz, 2019, <https://www.exploroz.com/places/116870/sa+renmark-irrigation-trust>, viewed 8th April 2019
Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorook,_South_Australia>, viewed 8th April 2019