Today (Tuesday 16th April 2019), me, Ivan VK5HS and Danny VK5DW, activated the Long Island Recreation Park VKFF-1724 on the mighty Murray River, at Murray Bridge. This was the first time that the park had been activated for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. The park is located about 80 km east of Adelaide.
The Long Island Recreation Park is 8 hectares (20 acres) in size and encompasses the full extent of Long Island in the Murray River, immediately east of the city of Murray Bridge. According to the Ngarrindjeri aboriginal people, the island represents a lentlin (spear) thrown by Ngurunderi at Ponde (the fish) as it made it’s way to Wellington creating the river.
The island first received protected area status on 9th October 1958 as a recreation reserve proclaimed under Crown Lands Act 1929 and to be managed by the Corporate Town of Murray Bridge. On the 1st day of September 1966, it was proclaimed as a fauna sanctuary under the Fauna Conservation Act, 1964-1965. On the 8th day of July 1976, the recreation reserve was resumed under Crown Lands Act 1929 and then proclaimed as the Long Island Recreation Park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.
After breakfast, I drove up to Murray Bridge and met up with Ivan VK5HS and Danny VK5DW who had driven down from the Riverland. On the way, I chatted to John VK5BJE/p who was activating the Kinchina Conservation Park 5CP-277 & VKFF-1764 near Murray Bridge. John had headed out hoping to get a Park to Park with us on 2m. John was booming into the mobile.
We launched the boat at the end of Long Island Road and headed the short distance to the island.
Unfortunately, we found it incredibly difficult to find any spots to moor on the island. The vegetation was very thick and there were no obvious banks that we could land on. We travelled the majority of the western side of the island and just couldn’t find a suitable spot.
We then travelled around to the eastern side of the island, and our situation did not improve. There just didn’t appear to be any suitable spots to moor the boat and get onto Long Island.
We travelled around the northwestern tip of the island and then back down the Murray Bridge side of the island until we finally found a spot where we could pull in and jump ashore.
But we didn’t have much room to move. We were confronted with very thick vegetation and reeds that were 6-7 feet tall. As it was a hot 32-33 deg C day, we were less than keen walking through the dense vegetation, due to our fear of snakes. It really was something like out of a Tarzan jungle movie.
Unfortunately, during this activation, we were unable to operate on the 80m band due to the vegetation. As a result, we probably missed out on a lot of local VK5 contacts, but we just didn’t want to end up being the victim of a snake bite.
Also, a hindrance to our signal was our VSWR on 40m which was very high, which I suspect impacted on our signal strength. I presume the VSWR was due to the amount of vegetation near the antenna and its close proximity to the ground. We couldn’t even get the 7-metre squid pole up to its full height.
As I mentioned earlier, John VK5BJE had headed to nearby Kinchina Conservation Park hoping for a 2m Park to Park contact. So we had a 2m antenna with us mounted on a tripod.
I kicked off the activation on 7.144 on the 40m band, with first in the log being Peter VK3PF with a strong 5/9 signal. This was followed by John VK5BJE/p at Kinchina Conservation Park who was 5/9 plus. Next was Geoff VK3SQ, Dennis VK2HHA, and then Nick VK3ZNK/p who was in the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park VKFF-0745.
Sadly band conditions appeared to be quite poor, and our high VSWR didn’t help. But I soon had 10 contacts in the log, qualifying the park for VKFF, the Australian arm of the WWFF program.
I logged 15 stations on 40m before swapping the mic with Danny VK5DW who also soon had his 10 required QSOs in the log.
Next up was Ivan VK5HS, who also qualified the park for VKFF on 40m.
While Ivan was on air, Danny and I made contact with John VK5BJE/p on 20m. It was great to get a Park to Park on that band. But sadly that was our only contact on 2m.
The boys then fired up the BBQ, whilst I tried to get to my 44 contacts for the global WWFF program. I logged a further 20 stations on 40m including Tony VK7LTD/p and Angela VK7FAMP/p on SOTA peak VK7/ EC-006.
I now had 36 stations in the log and decided to try 20m before we stopped for lunch. I logged 4 stations on 20m and was now just 4 short of my 44. We took a lunch break, enjoying some snags, patties, tomatoes, potatoes and onions in bread.
After lunch I put out a few more calls on 40m and soon had 44 contacts in the log, qualifying the park for WWFF. Contact number 44 was with Ray VK3ECK.
As this was a rare park, Danny and Ivan decided to jump in the boat and head downstream for a contact with me on 2m. After doing so, I jumped into the boat and made contact with Danny.
It was time for us to pack up and head back across the river to Murray Bridge. All three of us had qualified the park for VKFF, and I was very lucky to qualify the park for WWFF.
As I mentioned a little earlier in the post, we were unable to try 80m during this activation. The dense scrub on the island prevented us from stretching out the 80m legs of the linked dipole. We apologise to anyone who was looking for an 80m contact, but the risk of a snake bite outweighed our chance to operate on that band. The two photographs below show just how dense the scrub and reeds were at our operating spot.
It is interesting to note that the park is designated as a recreation park. After our visit, the three of us wondered if it should be a conservation park, as there are certainly no recreational facilities on the island, and it is very difficult to access.
THANKYOU to Ivan VK5HS for the use of his boat. And thanks to both Ivan and Danny for making the 2-hour drive down from the Riverland. It was a great day. We will go back to the park after doing a bit more homework on a possible better operating site.
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK5BJE/p (Kinchina Conservation Park VKFF-1764)
- VK3ZNK/p (Cape Liptrap Coastal Park VKFF-0745)
- VK7LTD/p (SOTA VK7/ EC-006)
- VK7FAMP/p (SOTA VK7/ EC-006)
I worked the following stations on 2m:-
- VK5BJE/p (Kinchina Conservation Park VKFF-1764)
I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-
The Rural City of Murray Bridge, 2019, <https://www.murraybridge.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=860>, viewed 16th April 2019
Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island_Recreation_Park>, viewed 16th April 2019