Day two – Cooltong Conservation Park 5CP-046 and VKFF-0823

The repairs on the interface for the antenna took a little longer than expected. Many thanks to Ivan for all his hard work. Upon leaving Ivan’s house we headed to our ‘planned’ park activation for the day, the Cooltong Conservation Park 5CP-046 & VKFF-0823.

Cooltong Conservation Park is located about 262 km northeast of Adelaide and about 11 km west of the town of Renmark.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Cooltong Conservation Park in the Riverland region of S.A. Map c/o Location SA Map Viewer.

This was another park that Marija and I had previously activated and qualified for both the World Wide Flora & Fauna (WWFF) program and the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

Cooltong Conservation Park is about 3,710 hectares in size and was proclaimed on the 8th day of April 1983. Cooltong is an aboriginal word meaning ‘short cut’. The park was dedicated to preserve mallee vegetation and habitat for various Mallee birdlife of the area including the Mallee Fowl.

Above:- The boundaries of the Cooltong Conservation Park. Image c/o Location SA Map Viewer.

The Cooltong Conservation Park is dominated by mallee vegetation. It has undulating dunes and shales. Mallee refers to various low-growing shrubby Australian eucalypts. Some of the mallee species found in Cooltong include Blue-leaf Mallee, White Mallee, Narrow-leaf Read Mallee, and Red Mallee.

Above:- An aerial view of the Cooltong Conservation Park, showing the Murray River and the town of Renmark. Image c/o Google maps

Birds SA have recorded about 109 species of bird in the park including Malleefowl, Mulga Parrot, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Purple-backed Fairywren (Variegated Fairywren), Southern Whiteface, Weebill, Grey Butcherbird, Chestnut Quailthrush, Spotted Nightjar, Black-eared Cuckoo, Black-backed Fairywren (Splendid Fairywren), Striated Grasswren, Redthroat, and White-backed Swallow.

Sadly the park has been used as a dumping ground in recent years by people who are just too lazy to take their rubbish to the appropriate places. See the story below on the ABC website…….

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-30/massive-illegal-dump-in-sa-national-park/12403946

The park is well signposted. We accessed the park via the Sturt Highway and then Santos Road.

We took a little 4WD track off Santos Road and found a clearing in amongst the scrub. As we normally do, we ran the Yaesu FT-857d and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation.

First in the log was a Park to Park with Marty VK4KC/p who was activating the Bouldercombe Gorge Conservation Park VKFF-1483. Marty was a strong 5/8 and gave us 5/5 from his park in Queensland.

We then moved down to 7.150 and logged another Park to Park QSO, this time with Peter VK3TKK/p who was in the Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218.

I then started calling CQ and within 30 minutes I had 38 QSOs in the log from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7.

I then swapped the mic with Marija and it didn’t take long for Marija to accrue a mini pile-up. It only took Marija about 35 minutes to reach the 44 QSO mark, thus qualifying the park for the global WWFF program. Contact number 44 was with Gavin VK3MLU.

We also logged another Park to Park, this time with Hans VK6XN/p who was in the Leuwin-​Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283.

I then jumped back into the operator’s chair and logged a further 21 stations on 40m. Contact number 44 for me was Ian VK5CZ in the Clare Valley.

We were running short of time as we had a dinner commitment that night, so we apologise to those that were still calling on 40m. We wrapped up the activation with a quick 5 minutes on 80m where I logged 9 stations from VK2, VK3, and VK5.

Marija logged the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4KC/p (Bouldercombe Gorge Conservation Park VKFF-1483)
  2. VK3TKK/p (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  3. VK3SRC
  4. VK3FOWL
  5. VK4NH
  6. VK4DXA
  7. ZL4TY/VK4
  8. VK4HMI
  9. VK3HJJ/2
  10. VK2HHA
  11. VK2LEE
  12. VK4FDJL
  13. VK5HS
  14. VK5CZ
  15. VK3GB/p
  16. VK1DA
  17. VK2PBC
  18. VK5FANA
  19. VK3ATO
  20. ZL1TM
  21. VK3CWF
  22. VK5HAA
  23. VK2DG
  24. VK2KMI
  25. VK2FA/m
  26. VK3PF
  27. VK1DI
  28. VK2PKT
  29. VK3ARH
  30. VK4HNS
  31. VK6XN/p (Leuwin-​Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)
  32. VK2YK
  33. VK5GA
  34. VK2VH
  35. VK4AAC/2
  36. VK5CIA
  37. VK4SMA
  38. VK2IO
  39. VK3VDX
  40. VK5XB
  41. VK2NZ
  42. VK5PE
  43. VK6FBOS
  44. VK3MLU
  45. VK3ALF

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4KC/p (Bouldercombe Gorge Conservation Park VKFF-1483)
  2. VK3TKK/p (Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2218)
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK3SQ
  5. VK2HHA
  6. VK2IO
  7. VK4NH
  8. VK4DXA
  9. ZL4TY/VK4
  10. VK3SRC
  11. VK3FOWL
  12. VK3YSP
  13. VK3MCK
  14. VK3MPR
  15. VK2XOR
  16. VK3CMC
  17. VK2KYO
  18. VK4BXX
  19. VK4/NN3Z
  20. VK4FDJL
  21. VK2EAC
  22. VK5HS
  23. VK4HNS
  24. VK2HRX
  25. VK2YES
  26. VK4HAT
  27. VK5PE
  28. VK3CWF
  29. VK3ARH
  30. VK3ATO
  31. VK3LF
  32. VK5ATJ
  33. VK2FPAR
  34. VK2FAPC
  35. VK1NV
  36. VK3ABI
  37. VK4HMI
  38. VK2AGB
  39. VK6XN/p (Leuwin-​Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283)
  40. VK5PL
  41. VK5XB
  42. VK5KKS
  43. VK7ALH
  44. VK5CZ
  45. VK2VH
  46. VK4AAC/2
  47. VK6YR
  48. VK5KLV
  49. VK2KMI
  50. VK3AJA/5
  51. VK3MLU
  52. VK3BBB
  53. VK2CCP
  54. VK4SMA
  55. VK5SCR
  56. VK3CRG
  57. VK5KHZ
  58. VK4PDX
  59. VK4LJB

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS
  2. VK4PDX
  3. VK5KHZ
  4. VK5XB
  5. VK3CRG
  6. VK3BBB
  7. VK5FANA
  8. VK2HHA
  9. VK5LTD

Marija and I hurriedly packed up and headed back into Renmark to our motel. We had a quick shower and then headed out for dinner at Ashleys Restaurant at our motel with Ivan VK5HS and his wife Cheryl, Peter VK5PE, Danny VK5DW, and Di the wife of Larry VK5LY (SK). Larry was a very keen park activator and hunter and is sorely missed by all. It was an absolutely brilliant night out with plenty of ‘war stories’ and laughs with great people.

References.

  1. Birds SA, 2021, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/cooltong-conservation-park/>, viewed 26th April 2021
  2. A compendium of Place Names of South Australia, 20201, <https://published.collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/placenamesofsouthaustralia/>, viewed 26th April 2021

Day two and the Pike River Conservation Park 5CP-180 and VKFF-0831

Day two of our trip and it was Wednesday 7th April 2021. We didn’t really plan on activating any parks today, but rather, head to our friend’s house Ivan VK5HS to do some work on the interface between my transceiver in the vehicle and the antenna. However, Ivan had some commitments in the morning, so after breakfast we headed out to the Pike River Conservation Park 5CP-180 & VKFF-0831.

Pike River is located about 270km northeast of Adelaide and about 9km by road out of Renmark along the Sturt Highway.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Pike River Conservation Park. Map c/o Location SA Map Viewer.

Marija and I have activated and qualified Pike River previously. In fact we have been there four times previously (2015, 2016, 2018, & 2019).

Pike River Conservation Park is 2.88 km2 in size and was created on the 1st day of February 1979. It is named after Pike River, a stream which flows through its eastern end. On 10 December 2009, crown land in section 84 of the Hundred of Paringa which was formerly the Mundic Forest Reserve was added to its extent.

Above:- An aerial shot of the Pike River Conservation Park. Image c/o Location SA Map Viewer.

The Mundic Creek, the Pike River, and Pike Lagoon form part of the park. Water flows into the Mundic and Pike River anabranch system from the River Murray above Lock 5.

Above:- An aerial view of the park showing the Murray River, Mudic Creek and Pike River. Image c/o Google maps

The park is a permanent wetland area and adjacent land on the River Murray flood plain.  It is a valuable feeding and breeding habitat for various water birds.

The Pike floodplain covers more than 6,700 hectares between Renmark and Paringa. After many years of irrigation, land management changes and fewer natural flooding events, the Pike floodplain has become very salty. Fortunately changes have taken place and the restoration of life to the Pike floodplain has commenced.

Marija and I observed a number of birds during our visit to the park including Red-rumped parrots, Red-kneed Dotterels, Pied Cormorants, White faced Herons, Great Egrets, and Chestnut-rumped Thornbills.

Keep an eye out for the park signs. There is no sign from the Sturt Highway indicating the park, and the signs located within the park have certainly seen better days.

We accessed the park via Sturt Highway, which is our normal access route. From looking at maps it appears you may be able to access the western side of the park via Mundic Creek Road.

We managed to set up with just 6 minutes to spare before the UTC rollover at 9.30 a.m. South Australian time. First in the log was park regular Peter VK3PF, followed by Daryl VK3AWA, and then Ian VK5IS. I managed to squeeze in 9 QSOs before the new UTC day.

I logged a total of 18 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5 before swapping the microphone with Marija. This included a contact with special event station VK100AF celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Marija then took charge of the radio. Her first contact with with Ken VK3UH, followed by Greg VK4BXX, and then Ian VK5CZ. Marija went on to log a total of 28 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5. Marija also logged the special event call VK100AF.

Although I had previously qualified the park I was keen to get 44 contacts in the log, so I jumped back into the operator’s chair. I logged a further 21 stations on 44 to bring my total QSO tally for the activation to 38. This included a Park to Park QSO with Peter Vk3TKK/p who was activating the Wallaby Gully Flora Reserve VKFF-2470. Marija also logged Peter

Callers had really slowed down so we lowered the squid pole and inserted the links on the linked dipole for the 80m band.

I called CQ on 3.610 while Marija added a spot for me on parksnpeaks. First in the log on 80m was John VK5HAA in the Adelaide Hills, followed by Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, and then Ian VK5CZ and Ian VK5IS in the Mid North. This was followed by Charlie VK5VC who became my 44th contact. Hans VK5YX was my final caller on 80m.

I then briefly tried the 20m band hoping to get some of the VK6 stations in the log. However, only one contact was logged on 20m and that was with regular park hunter Andrei ZL1TM in New Zealand.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3UH
  2. VK4BXX
  3. VK4/NN3Z
  4. VK5CZ
  5. VK5IS
  6. VK2YW
  7. VK5KBJ/m
  8. VK4NH
  9. VK4DXA
  10. ZL4TY/VK4
  11. VK5MRE
  12. VK2IO
  13. VK4VCE
  14. VK3PF
  15. VK100AF
  16. VK3ARH
  17. VK3BBB
  18. VK2CCP
  19. VK3CU
  20. VK3ACZ
  21. VK4FDJL
  22. VK3MLU
  23. VK2HRX
  24. VK4HMI
  25. VK2VH
  26. VK4AAC/2
  27. VK2VW
  28. VK2HFI
  29. VK3TKK/p (Wallaby Gully Flora Reserve VKFF-2470)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3AWA
  3. VK5IS
  4. VK3TKK/m
  5. VK3ACZ
  6. VK3MCK
  7. VK2IO
  8. VK4FDJL
  9. VK5CZ
  10. VK5MRE
  11. VK3MCK
  12. VK4HMI
  13. VK4BXX
  14. VK4/NN3Z
  15. VK3UH
  16. VK2IO
  17. VK100AF
  18. VK3OA
  19. VK2VH
  20. VK4AAC/2
  21. VK2VW
  22. VK2HFI
  23. VK3CU
  24. VK3FCAT
  25. VK5FANA
  26. VK3VDC
  27. VK4KLA
  28. VK5VC
  29. VK3TKK/p (Wallaby Gully Flora Reserve VKFF-2470)
  30. VK2ADB
  31. VK2KP
  32. VK3FIMD
  33. VK4NH
  34. VK4DXA
  35. ZL4TY/VK4
  36. VK5KSW
  37. VK3PI
  38. VK3ADX
  39. VK5HAA

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5HAA
  2. VK5FANA
  3. VK5CZ
  4. VK5IS
  5. VK5VC
  6. VK5YX

I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-

  1. ZL1TM

Marija and I had 75 contacts in the log and it was time for us to pack up. We wanted to check out a few of the local sights before heading to Ivan’s house.

Our first stop was just down the road from the park where there is a small rest area with an old timber jinker which was used in the 1930s at the Renmark Irrigation Trust’s No. 1 pumping station to haul red gum logs into the irrigation settlement for various purposes including pylons in culverts over the irrigation channels. The jinker was hauled by a crawler tractor.

There is also a small information board to honour Maxwell Schmidt, a former councillor who was an advocate for improving the River Murray and was a Life Member of the Murray Darling Association Inc.

There is also a large Basalt rock which was mined from the Stoney Pinch Quarry.

There are also some information boards on what the authorities are doing to restore the Pike floodplain.

We then stopped in at the Bert Dix Memorial Park where you can obtain an excellent view of the historic Paringa Bridge which spans the mighty Murray River. The bridge was opened on the 31st day of January 1927 and is listed as a State Heritage Place on the South Australian Heritage Register. The bridge is a vertical-lift span and is opened twice a day for river traffic. Until 1982, it also carried the Barmera railway line.

You can also find a tree in the park which marks the flood level for the 1956 Murray River flood. The flood was and still is considered the biggest flood in the recorded history of the Murray. It is also described as “the greatest catastrophe in South Australia’s history”, in spite of no lives being lost.

We then headed to Lock 5 on the Murray at Paringa. The lock was built during the 1920s to regulate the flow and levels of the Murray River. The lock is one of eleven along the river.

Also on display is the Bunyip, an old river barge which was used to transport goods up and down the Murray River during the paddle steamer era.

We then headed off to Ivan’s place for some work on my vehicle.

References.

  1. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_River_Conservation_Park>, viewed 26th April 2021
  2. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paringa_Bridge>, viewed 26th April 2021
  3. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1956_Murray_River_flood>, viewed 26th April 2021