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.
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.
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.
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:-
- VK3TKK/p (Wallaby Gully Flora Reserve VKFF-2470)
I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-
- VK3TKK/p (Wallaby Gully Flora Reserve VKFF-2470)
I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-
I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-
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.
- Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_River_Conservation_Park>, viewed 26th April 2021
- Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paringa_Bridge>, viewed 26th April 2021
- Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1956_Murray_River_flood>, viewed 26th April 2021