Day ten and the Passage Camp Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2173

After packing up at Tol Tol, Marija and I drove south along the Murray Valley Highway until we reached the little town of Boundary Bend which is about 50 km east of Robinvale and Euston. We stopped here for a coffee.

Boundary Bend is a thriving horticultural area with very large olive groves and almond plantations. It is named for the river bend, at the point where the boundary fence between Narrung and Yungera Pastoral Stations met with the Murray River. The town offers a magnificent sweep of the Murray River as its view. There is a small monument here re the old Boundary Bend School which closed in 1925.

Boundary Bend was the home of Arch Conner who died in 1980 at age 93. Known as ‘The Old Man of the Murray’, he was famous in the area as a fisherman on the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. In his latter years he was a fully qualified paddle steamer ‘Master’.

Above:- Photos of Arch Conner, c/o State Library of South Australia B 63241/2, PRG 1258/4/79; and whiteburys.com

We then turned off the highway onto River Track and followed the 4WD track through magnificent River Red Gum forest and along the mighty Murray River. Our destination was to be the junction of the Murray and the Murrumbidgee Rivers.

We then took the Murrumbidgee Junction Track and soon reached the junction of the two rivers. This was a place I had always wanted to visit, and I was not disappointed. It was a beautiful spot and incredibly quiet.

The Murrumbidgee is a major tributary of the Murray River and is the second longest river in Australia. Murrumbidgee is an aboriginal word meaning ‘plentiful water’ or ‘big water’. It flows through the Australian States of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory towards its confluence with the Murray near Boundary Bend.

In January 1830, explorer Charles Napier Sturt (1795-1869) and his party rowed down the lower half of the Murrumbidgee River in a stoutly built, large row-boat, from Narrandera to the Murray River, and then down the Murray River to the sea. They then rowed back upstream, against the current, to their starting point.

Sturt wrote:-

“Suddenly the Murrumbidgee took a southern direction but in its tortuous course swept round to every point of the compass with the greatest irregularity. We were carried at a fearful rate down it’s gloomy and contracted banks. At 3 p.m., Hopkinson called out that we were approaching a junction, and in less than a minute afterwards we were hurried into a broad and noble river.” 

Above:- Image of Charles Sturt and map showing his expeditions. c/o Wikipedia.

We kept following River Track and headed to the Passage Camp Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2173. The park is located about 46 km south-east of the town of Robinvale.

This was to be a first time activation of the park by myself and Marija. Mike VK6MB had previously activated the park back in 2019.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Passage Camp Nature Conservation Reserve. Map c/o Protected Planet.

The Passage Camp Nature Conservation Reserve is 0.21 km² in size and was established in 2015. The park is divided in two by an anabranch of the Murray River.

Above:- Aerial view showing the Passage Camp NCR. Image c/o Protected Planet

Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell (1792-1855) was a surveyor and explorer of south-eastern Australia. Mitchell’s third expedition which commenced in March 1836 was to explore and survey the lower part of the Darling River with instructions to head up the Murray River and then return to the settled areas around Yass.

At the time it was the largest and most costly expedition which had been mounted in Australia. A total of 11 horses, 52 bullocks, 100 sheep, 22 carts and a boat carriage accompanied Mitchell, his Assistant Surveyor Granville Stapylton, and 22 convicts, all outfitted in grey trousers, red shirts and white cross braces.

From near Orange in New South Wales, Mitchell followed the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee Rivers to the Murray River and continued downstream to a major river junction. He proved that this was the Darling which he had previously explored.

Returning upstream along the Murray, Mitchell launched his boats at the present day Boundary Bend, crossed the Murray River and entered what is now the State of Victoria on the 13th June. On the 13th to 16th June 1836 Mitchell and his party camped at Passage Camp.

Above:- Portrait of Major Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, c. 1830’s. Image c/o Wikipedia

We found an information board at Passage Camp with lots of information about Mitchell which was very interesting. We also stopped to have a look at Pelican Point.

The park was well signposted.

It was another beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed some terrific views of the Murray River from the park.

I kicked off the activation at Passage Camp and called CQ on 7.139 which was answered by Peter VK3PF, followed by Ian VK1DI, and then Steve VK3SMW. Contact number ten was with Brian VK2CCP.

I logged a total of 23 stations on 40m before callers dried up. Contacts were made into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5. This included a Park to Park contact with Stuart VK3UAO/p who was activating the Jallukar Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2155. Marija also logged Stuart for a Park to Park QSO.

Marija then jumped into the operator’s chair. Marija’s first contact was with Peter VK3PF, followed by Deryck VK4FDJL and then Joe VK3SRC. Marija’s tenth contact was with Adrian VK5FANA.

Marija logged a total of 29 stations on 40m SSB before handing the mic back to me.

I was keen, if possible, to get my 44 contacts and qualify the park for the global WWFF program. Callers were slow, and with 43 contacts in the log, Marty VK4KC suggested we try 40m AM. I switched off and logged Marty, 5/9 both ways on AM.

I then headed to 80m and called CQ for 5 minutes but had no takers.

We were packing up when we saw a spot for Gerard VK2IO/p in a park on 40m. So we quickly hoisted up the 7 metre squid pole and logged Gerard who was activating the Jervis Bay Marine Park VKFF-1408.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3UAO/p (Jallukar Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2155)
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK4FDJL
  4. VK3SRC
  5. VK5WG
  6. VK5SCR
  7. VK2HRX
  8. VK3MCK
  9. VK3EJ
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK1MAL
  12. Vk2DG
  13. VK3UH
  14. VK3SMW
  15. VK5CZ
  16. VK2TM
  17. VK5GY
  18. VK2LEE
  19. VK3PI
  20. VK3YV
  21. VK2VH
  22. VK4AAC/2
  23. VK7QP
  24. VK2VW
  25. VK2HFI
  26. VK4KC
  27. VK4MAD
  28. VK4DOG
  29. VK3TKK/m
  30. VK2HBG/p (Jervis Bay Marine Park VKFF-1408)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK1DI
  3. VK3MSW
  4. VK5GY
  5. VK7QP
  6. VK5CZ
  7. VK2IO
  8. VK5FANA
  9. VK3BBB
  10. VK2CCP
  11. VK4NH
  12. VK4DXA
  13. ZL4TY/VK4
  14. VK5TOM
  15. VK3ZPF
  16. VK5LTD/p
  17. VK3UH
  18. VK3JP
  19. VK3TKK/m
  20. VK5WG
  21. VK2TM
  22. VK3UAO/p (Jallukar Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2155)
  23. VK4FDJL
  24. VK4KC
  25. VK4MAD
  26. VK4DOG
  27. VK3SRC
  28. VK3BXG
  29. VK2VH
  30. VK4AAC/2
  31. VK3SQ
  32. VK5FDMG
  33. VK3KV/m
  34. VK7DIK
  35. VK2QM
  36. VK2FMPC
  37. VK3PI
  38. VK3MCK
  39. VK5AYL
  40. VK3ZSC
  41. VK4KC
  42. VK4MAD
  43. VK4DOG
  44. VK2HBG/p (Jervis Bay Marine Park VKFF-1408)

I worked the following station on 40m AM:-

  1. VK4KC

References.

Discover Murray, 2021, <http://www.murrayriver.com.au/boundary-bend/>, viewed 9th May 2021.

Protected Planet, 2021, <https://www.protectedplanet.net/314794>, viewed 10th May 2021.

Robinvale-Euston Visitor Centre, 2021, <https://www.robinvaleeuston.com/murrumbidgee-junction/>, viewed 10th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murrumbidgee_River>, viewed 10th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mitchell_(explorer)>, viewed 10th May 2021.

Day ten and the Tol Tol Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2458

It was now day ten (Thursday 15th April 2021) of our trip. We had planned on heading out to Mungo National Park today, but after a visit to the Robinvale Visitor Information Centre, we were convinced to leave that trip til the next day and leave bright and early.

While at the Visitor Info Centre we had a look at the old Robinvale Railway Station. It was built in 1924 at the terminal station on the Korong Vale line to service north western Victoria. This line took a period of almost 40 years to reach from Korong Vale. The Robinvale Station is classified as a 1919 Type C design and is the only remaining example of its type. The Edwardian 1919 design incorporates a lobby one end, an office area and ladies waiting room with a verandah facing the platform, with a yard toilet on the opposite end.

With our plans changed, we decided to activate a couple of parks and visit the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers.

Our first park activation for the day was the Tol Tol Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2173, which is located about 10 km south of Robinvale.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Tol Tol Flora & Fauna Reserve in north-western Victoria. Map c/o Protected Planet.

We headed out of Robinvale on the Murray Valley Highway and then turned right onto Cook Road. We soon reached the park which was well signposted.

This was to be another first time activation of this park for both of us. The park had however been activated back in 2019 by Mike VK6MB.

The Tol Tol Flora & Fauna Reserve is 2.62 km² in size and was established in 2009. The park takes its name from the locality of Tol Tol. The Tol Tol Post office was open between 1924 and 1926.

Above:- An aerial view of the Tol Tol Flora & Fauna Reserve. Image c/o Protected Planet.

The park is a small piece of remnant scrub which is surrounded by cleared farming land.

We found an open gate and drove into the park a short distance along the 4WD track.

We were set up and ready to go about 50 minutes before the UTC rollover which we hoped to use to our advantage to get to 44 QSOs. Marija placed a spot up for me on parksnpeaks while I called CQ on 7.144. This was answered by regular park hunter Gerard VK2IO, followed by Peter VK3TKK mobile, and then Glen VK4HMI.

Callers were quite spare and contact number ten for me was 16 minutes into the activation, with a QSO with Ray VK4NH.

Once I had qualified the park for VKFF with 10 contacts, I swapped the mic with Marija. Her first contact was with Ray VK4NH. Marija’s tenth contact was with Peter VK2KA.

Marija was happy that she had qualified the park for VKFF, and I jumped back into the operator’s chair with the hope that I might be able to get 44 contacts. However, it did not look promising as callers were slow.

Fortunately as the morning went on, the number of callers increased and I logged a total of 32 stations on 40m before the UTC rollover.

After the UTC rollover I logged a further 20 stations including three Park to Park QSOs: Joe VK3SRC/p and Julie VK3FOWL/p in the Churchill National Park VKFF-0621; and Marcel VK1ZAX/p in the Kosciuszko National Park VKFF-0269.

Contact number 44 was with Damien VK3EJ.

I also tried 80m where I logged 3 stations from VK2 and VK3.

And then 3 contacts on the 20m band into VK4.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK4NH
  2. VK4DXA
  3. ZL4TY/VK4
  4. VK4KC
  5. VK4MAD
  6. VK4DOG
  7. VK1DI
  8. VK4HNS
  9. VK3ZM
  10. VK2KA

I worked the following stations before the UTC rollover on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO
  2. VK3TKK/m
  3. VK4HMI
  4. VK4WTN
  5. VK2HRX
  6. VK4HNS
  7. VK3ZM
  8. VK3MCK
  9. VK3NFS
  10. VK4NH
  11. VK4DXA
  12. ZL4TY/VK4
  13. VK4FDJL
  14. VK1DI
  15. VK2VW
  16. VK2HFI
  17. VK5HAA
  18. VK2AB
  19. VK4KC
  20. VK4MAD
  21. VK4DOG
  22. VK3ZPF
  23. VK3ANP
  24. VK5FB
  25. VK3IH
  26. VK7QP
  27. VK7AN
  28. VK3SKT
  29. VK3PF
  30. VK2ABS
  31. VK3CWF
  32. VK1BUB

I worked the following stations after the UTC rollover on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3SRC (Churchill National Park VKFF-0621)
  2. VK3FOWL (Churchill National Park VKFF-0621)
  3. VK3CWF
  4. VK4KC
  5. Vk4MAD
  6. VK4DOG
  7. VK7QP
  8. VK2VW
  9. VK2HFI
  10. VK5WG
  11. VK5FB
  12. VK3EJ
  13. VK4NH
  14. VK4DXA
  15. ZL4TY/VK4
  16. VK3TEK
  17. VK3PF
  18. VK1ZAX/p (Kosciuszko National Park VKFF-0269)
  19. VK7AN
  20. VK3ZPF
  21. VK1DI

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3MCK
  3. VK2DG

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4KC
  2. VK4MAD
  3. VK4DOG

References.

Protected Planet, 2021, <https://www.protectedplanet.net/314763>, viewed 9th May 2021.

Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tol_Tol,_Victoria>, viewed 9th May 2021

Day nine and the Kemendok National Park VKFF-1174

After packing up at the Merbein South Flora Reserve, Marija and I headed over the Murray River and into New South Wales. We travelled south along the Sturt Highway and soon reached Trentham Estate Winery. The winery has been operating since 1988 and has grown from a 30 tonne crush to today’s ability to handle 5,000 tonnes of premium fruit each vintage.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed a glass of red and a platter with cheese, meats, dips and various other condiments. I could have easily stayed there and had a few more glasses of wine, but I knew I had to drive.

The winery is located right alongside of the Murray River and we enjoyed some great views of the mighty Murray while we enjoyed our wine and platter.

We then continued along the Sturt Highway and detoured off to have a look at Bottle Bend, a sharp bend in the Murray River.

We then continued south on the Sturt Highway and turned off onto Tapalin Mail Road, and then took a 4WD track into the Kemendok National Par VKFF-1174.

This was to be a first activation of the park by Marija and myself. The park had been activated on two previous occasions: Nick VK3ANL and Mike VK6MB in 2019.

The Kemendok National Park is located on the far west of New South Wales, about 40km south-east of Buronga and about 36 km north-west of Euston. The western boundary of Kemendok is defined by the Murray River (the State border between New South Wales and Victoria).

Above:- Map showing the location of the Kemendok National Park. Map c/o Protected Planet.

The Kemendok National Park is 9,794 hectares in size and was established on the 1st day of July 2010. Prior to this it was known as the Mallee Cliffs State Forest, dedicated way back in 1922 for the purposes of timber production and other uses including apiary and grazing.

The area which is now the park was back in 1851 known as the Bengallow Run, a 12,432 hectare run which had a capacity of 4,000 sheep and was leased to John McKinlay. By 1879 the Bengallow Run was part of the Tapalin Pastoral Holding which comprised 13 runs. The Tapalin Homestead was located in the southern section of the park and today this area is referred to as The Mulberries. Nil remains of the buildings, however three mulberry trees can still be found, along with a grave which is believed to be that of a farm labourer.

By 1884 there were two homestead leases on the Murray River including Bengallow Station homestead which was owned by John Grace.

Above:- Newspaper article re the death of John Grace, from the Freeman’s Journal (Sydney) Sat 17 Aug 1901. Image c/o Trove

The Kemendok National Park surrounds the Kemendok Nature Reserve which was gazetted in 1988. Limited access is allowed to the Reserve. Adjacent to the eastern boundary of Kemedok is a 8,190 hectare privately managed conservation reserve.

Across the river in Victoria are Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, Murray-Kulkyne Park, River Murray Reserve and Karadoc Nature Conservation Reserve.

Above:- An aerial shot of the Kemendok National Park. Image c/o Protected Planet

The Kemendok National Park contains significant vegetation which is otherwise poorly represented around Australia. This includes River Red Gum-Black Box Woodland, and Chenopod-Mallee Shrubland. Some of the River Red Gums are 20 metres in height.

The park is home to numerous native animal species and birds. This includes the eastern subspecies of the Regent Parrot which is listed as threatened at both State and National level. Other birds found in the park include White-bellied Sea Eagle, Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Black-eared Miner, Rufous Field-wren, Little Eagle, and Gilberts Whistler.

Prior to propping on a frequency and calling CQ, Marija and I logged a Park to Park contact with Daryl VK3AWA/p who was activating The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484.

We then moved down the 40m band to 7.115 and I started calling CQ. This was answered by Ray VK3NBL, followed by Mal VK5MJ and then Cam VK2DG. Contact number ten for me was with Chris VK2NAP/p who was in the Booderee National Park VKFF-0043.

Band conditions on 40m were excellent and it only took me about 45 minutes and I had 44 contacts in the log. Contact number 44 was with Mike VK3ZMD in Melbourne.

With 45 contacts in the log I swapped operator positions with Marija.

Marija soon had her own pile-up to deal with. Marija’s 10th contact was with Ray VK4DXA, and within 35 minutes Marija had qualified the park for the global WWFF program. Contact number 44 was with Graham VK7ZGK. Marija logged a further 2 stations and then handed the mic back to me. Marija’s contacts were into VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7.

I called CQ on 14.310 and this was answered by Marty VK4KC. Sadly the Over the Horizon Radar was present on 20m again and was strength 9 plus. It certainly made things very difficult at times. I logged a total of 9 stations on 20m from VK4 and New Zealand.

To conclude the activation I called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged a total of 8 stations from VK3, VK4, and VK5.

This had been a particular good activation with a total of 115 QSOs in the log between the two of us.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3AWA/p (The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484)
  2. VK2HRX
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK5TOM
  5. VK5FANA
  6. VK5HS
  7. VK3EJ
  8. VK5WG
  9. VK4NH
  10. VK4DXA
  11. ZL4TY/VK4
  12. VK2VH
  13. VK4AAC/2
  14. VK3TJK
  15. VK3SQ
  16. VK3PI
  17. VK2EAC
  18. VK3GL/p
  19. VK3MPR
  20. VK3LL
  21. VK4KLA
  22. VK4HNS
  23. VK3GB
  24. VK2NMZ
  25. VK3BBB
  26. VK2CCP
  27. VK4HAT
  28. VK5JP
  29. VK5VC
  30. VK4KC
  31. VK4MAD
  32. VK4DOG
  33. VK5BMC
  34. VK3SRC
  35. VK2DG
  36. VK2PKT
  37. VK2KMI
  38. VK5MJ
  39. VK3MKE
  40. VK3NFS
  41. VK5MSA
  42. VK3AJK
  43. VK5KLV
  44. VK7ZGK
  45. VK3ZPF
  46. VK5LB

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3AWA/p (The Lakes National Park VKFF-0484)
  2. VK3NBL
  3. VK5MJ
  4. VK2DG
  5. VK5TOM
  6. VK3CWF
  7. VK3PF
  8. VK5GY
  9. VK5HS
  10. VK2NAP/p (Booderee National Park VKFF-0043)
  11. VK5MRE
  12. VK5PL
  13. VK3BBB
  14. VK5RK
  15. VK4FDJL
  16. VK5WG
  17. VK3XCI
  18. VK5BMC
  19. VK2IO
  20. VK4NH
  21. VK4DXA
  22. ZL4TY/VK4
  23. VK4HMI
  24. VK2VH
  25. VK4AAC/2
  26. VK5FDMG
  27. VK5FANA
  28. VK3DAC
  29. VK3SQ
  30. VK3PI
  31. VK7ME
  32. VK7QP
  33. VK3GYH
  34. VK3TJK
  35. VK3MPR
  36. VK7EE
  37. VK2KYO
  38. VK3HY
  39. VK1DI
  40. VK4KC
  41. VK4MAD
  42. VK4DOG
  43. VK3FRC
  44. VK3ZMD
  45. VK2EAC
  46. VK5LB
  47. ZL1TM
  48. VK5MSA
  49. VK3ZPF
  50. VK2STG/m
  51. VK3UH
  52. VK3YV

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4KC
  2. VK4MAD
  3. VK4DOG
  4. VK4BXX
  5. VK4/NN3Z
  6. VK4HB
  7. VK4PHD
  8. ZL4NVW
  9. VK4HAT

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3MCK
  3. VK5FANA
  4. VK4NH
  5. VK4DXA
  6. ZL4TY/VK4
  7. VK3ARH
  8. VK3HRA

Rather than heading back to the highway we took the dirt back roads which at times was slow due to stock crossing the road.

We then drove into Robinvale on the Victorian/New South Wales border and booked into our accomodation, the Robinvale Motel. That evening we enjoyed a beautiful meal at the motel’s restaurant.

References.

Kemendok National Park Plan of Management, 202, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.

NSW NPWS, 2021, <https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/kemendok-national-park>, viewed 8th May 2021

Trentham Estate, 2021, <https://trenthamestate.com.au/the-winery>, viewed 8th May 2021

Day nine and Merbein South take two

It was now day nine (Wednesday 14th April 2021). Our plans today were a revisit to the Merbein South Flora Reserve, a visit to Trentham EstateWinery, and an afternoon activation of the Kemendok National Park.

We started the day with breakfast again at the Langtree cafe for breakfast.

We also visited the W.B. Chaffey statue in Mildura. It was erected by his many friends in Mildura and throughout Australia.

We also had a look at the Chaffey fountain in Mildura. This is the original fountain. A replica is located in front of Rio Vista House. The fountain was turned off and remained idle following the tragic drowning of one of the Chaffey children in 1897. The fountain was later donated to the people of Mildura in 1936.

Our next stop was the Mildura Homestead cemetery which consists of two adjacent graveyards. The earliest contains the graves of Joseph Hawdon and the other where the Chaffey women are buried. One solitary grave stood in the Homestead cemetery, the first cemetery in Mildura, for nearly 40 years. In 1848, John Hawdon, a former employee at Kulnine Station, fell from his horse. He later died in a tent on the riverbank. John was the son of Joseph Hawdon who, with MC Bonney, drove 340 cattle from Melbourne to Adelaide along the Murray, passing Mildura early in 1838.

We then indulged our sweet tooth propensity and visited the Ye Olde Lolly Shoppe in Mildura. It was like stepping back in time with all different sorts of lollies and chocolates. The shop was Mildura’s original lolly shop and was first opened in 1938. The shop continues to operate with all the original fittings and magic of old fashioned stores providing over 4000 lines of confectionery from all over the world.

We then headed to Lock 11 and the Mildura Weir. The Mildura Weir was constructed between 1923 and 1927. It is a Dethridge type weir comprising 24 steel trestles, each weighing about 11 tonnes. Lock 11 is unique in that the lock was built inside a bend of the river, with the weir in the bend itself. A channel was dug to the lock, creating an island between it and the weir.

Lock 11 is a concrete chamber 61.54m long, 17.1 m wide and 7.6, deep. Each of the four steel lock gates is 9.4m, 6.9m high, and is made of 12mm steel plate and weighs 18 tonnes.

I spent quite a bit of time here birdwatching and taking some snaps. Some of my shots can be seen below, including some of Whistling Kites.

We then drove out to the Mildura cemetery to view the headstone of W.B. Chaffey, the founder of Mildura.

It was then time for us to head back to the Merbein South Flora Reserve VKFF-2383. Access was via Midgey Road.

Above:- View of Midgey Road

As I only need 13 contacts from this park (31 in the log from yesterday), we operated from the vehicle. First in the log was Rob VK2VH. Ray VK4NH was my 13th caller and 44th in total.

I ended up logging a total of 23 stations on 40m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5. This included a Park to Park contact with Stuart VK3UAO/p who was activating the The Spit Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2452.

To conclude the activation I put out a few quick calls on 20m and logged just the one station, Linda Vk7QP in Tasmania.

Marija worked the following station on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3UAO/p (The Spit Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2452)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2VH
  2. VK4AAC/2
  3. VK5WG
  4. VK3AWA
  5. VK4KLA
  6. VK3SQ
  7. VK3UAO/p (The Spit Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2452)
  8. VK7QP
  9. VK2IO
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK4NH
  12. VK4DXA
  13. ZL4TY/VK4
  14. VK3UH
  15. VK3XCI
  16. VK2UK
  17. VK3TKK/m
  18. VK4KC
  19. VK4MAD
  20. VK4DOG
  21. VK1NK
  22. VK2YW
  23. VK3VRA

I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK7QP

References.

Mildura Rural City Council, 2021, <https://www.mildura.vic.gov.au/Latest-News/Rio-Vista-Fountain-returned-to-former-glory-in-conservation-project>, viewed 8th May 2021.

Visit Mildura, 2021, <https://www.visitmildura.com.au/Operators/Family-Fun/Bushells-on-Tenth-Ye-Olde-Lolly-Shoppe.aspx>, viewed 8th May 2021

Day eight and the Merbein South Flora Reserve VKFF-2382

Today, day eight (Tuesday 13th April 2021) we planned on an entire day of sightseeing, and no park activating. As it turned out, we did slip in one quick park activation which you can read about a little later in this blog.

After breakfast we headed across the Murray River into New South Wales and visited the Mildura Holden Motor Museum at Buronga. We spent quite some time here admiring all of the magnificent Holden motor vehicles. It brought back a lot of memories. The museum houses a private collection of Holdens dating way back to the very first 48-215 (FJ) to the recent model Monaro and Statesman.

The museum’s website tells the very interesting story behind the collection. About 35 years ago, the owner of the now Mildura Holden Motor Museum, Ron Morello, ran an earthmoving business. He was called upon to clear his neighbour’s land and prepare the land for construction. He was ordered that ‘everything must go’. A storage shelter was crushed which contained a ‘pristine’ FX Holden.

In 1975, after realising what he had done, Ron started looking for an FX to buy. In January 1981 he purchased an original FX Holden with only 42,000 miles on the clock.

We then visited Orange World at Buronga which is a working 50 acre citrus property. We took a tractor train tour of the orchards and a commentary on the citrus industry. Fruit grown at Orange World includes various types of oranges, mandarin, grapefruit and avocados.

Orange World makes its own gourmet products including Murray marmalade which we purchased and can highly recommend.

We then headed to the town of Wentworth in New South Wales and visited the old Wenworth Gaol which is a heritage listed former gaol and school building. The gaol was designed by colonial architect James Barnet and was constructed from 1879 to 1881 by Whitcombe Brothers, Hay. It was the first of the Australian designed gaols, followed by Hay and Dubbo.

The gaol operated until 1927. Following its closure as a gaol, the building was utilised as extra classrooms for the Wentworth Central School until 1963.

There is a lot to see here, with many excellent displays, and we spent a number of hours wandering through the old gaol buildings.

We then had a look at the Ferguson Tractor Monument in Wentworth. The monument was erected by the people of Wentworth in honour of the TEA20 Harry Ferguson tractors’ part in the construction of the massive levee banks that protected the town of Wentworth against the devastating 1956 Murray River floods.

The stone cairn sits at the height which the water from the floods would have reached had it not been for the clay levee banks put in place with the use of the Ferguson tractors.

Next up we visited the Wentworth wharf and the Captain John Egge statue. Captain Egge was a Wentworth river captain and pioneer who lived from 1830 to 1901. He had arrived in Australia as a boy from China. He worked as a baker in Wentworth from 1857 for over three decades as a baker, river trader and riverboat owner.

In the early days Wentworth was the busiest inland port in New South Wales. During 1890 it was reported that some 425 paddle boats checked in at the Wentworth Customs Office. The record being 31 in just one wek. So prominent did the town become, that Wentworth was one of the last three places considered for the ‘capital’ of Australia at the time of Federation in 1901.

We then drove to the Murray River and Darling River junction and viewing tower. We climbed the tower and admired the view of the confluence of the Murray and Darling, which combined is the fourth largest river system in the world.

We then drove a short distance to have a look at Lock and Weir number 10 at Wentworth. The lock is 830 km from the river mouth and is 30.8 metres above sea level. Construction of the lock was completed in 1929.

We then drove out to Perry Sandhills, a very distinctive landmark in the flat floodplain behind the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. The sands originated in the river beds at a time when the rivers were much deeper and faster, and carried a sandy bedload rather than suspended clay as today. When the river flows dropped, sand from the exposed riverbeds was blown into river-side dunes, known as source-bordering dunes. The lunettes a Lake Mungo are also source-bordering dunes.

The dunes have not been directly dated, but they are at least 50,000 years old given the presence of fossils of giant extinct animals, the megafauna. The older layers could be over 100,000 years, dating back prior to the last ice age.

We headed back into Wentworth and had a look at McClymont House, a Murray Pine ‘drop log construction’ building which was built as Wentworth’s first court house in 1863. In 1879 it was replaced by the present structure. Later it became part of the Andrew McClymont home which was moved to this site in 1972 to enhance is preservation.

Nearby we also viewed the Tractor monument, which is to acknowledge all tractor rallies held in Wentworth to commemorate the 1956 Murray River flood and the role the Massey Ferguson tractor ‘Fergie’ plated in saving the town.

In the same park is a statue of ‘The Possum’. David James Jones (1901-1982) was a bush recluse who was born in New Zealand. He was shunned while attempting to get work around the Wentworth area as a shearer. As a result he shunned his back on society and headed for the bush and became a recluse. He was only ever seen by members of the public a few times in the next 52 years before his death.

The Possum’s body was found in 1982 at one of his camp sites on Ned’s Corner Station, about 70km west of Mildura. He was 81 years old.

We also had a look at the P.S. Ruby, which is a historic Paddle Steamer built at Morgan in South Australia by David Milne in 1907 for use by Captain Hugh King. The Ruby carried 30 passengers in style and comfort with three decks.

During the early 1930’s Ruby was taken off the run and was tied up at her home port of Morgan. In 1938 she was purchased and brought to Mildura and used as a houseboat. By 1968 the Ruby had deteriorated substantially and was purchased by the Wentworth Rotary Club and was towed to Wentworth.

In 1996 the Wentworth Rotary Club placed the Ruby into the trusteeship of the Wentworth Shire Council.  Restoration then commenced and in July 2004 the Ruby was re-commissioned.

Nearby there is also an excellent display of old tractors, machinery, and various other old equipment.

Our next stop was Junction Island Nature Reserve near the junction of the Murray and the Darling. We had hoped to do some birdwatching here, but the small pedestrian bridge to the island was closed. We viewed the old Canoe tree which was made many ??? years ago by local aboriginals.

To make the canoe, the first step the aborigines took was to make an outline of the shape of the canoe they required with cutting stones or stone tools. Once this was marked, they cut deeply into the tree to what is known as the heartwood or xylem, prying the bark off in one piece with a stick or rocks.

Feeling very disappointed that the Junction Island Nature Refuge was closed, we headed to the second option, the Thegoa Lagoon & Reserve drive. This is 4WD only with a number of marked features including canoe trees. Thegoa Lagoon was a great source of ‘bush tucker’ for aboriginals including plants like nardoo, cumbungi, and ruby salt bush, as well as kangaroos, lizards, yabbies, mussels and fish.

Unfortunately the Thegoa Lagoon was dry and bird watching opportunities were very limited. Thegoa Lagoon is an ephemeral (non-permanent) freshwater wetland having wet and dry cycles. Thegoa is believed to be an aboriginal word. The area was surveyed by Government Surveyor Francis McCabe and he first recorded the name Thegoa in 1850. He employed aboriginal people in order to follow the instructions of Surveyor-General Thomas Mitchell to record aboriginal place names wherever possible.

The only birds that we saw which were prevalent were White winged Choughs.

We then left Thegoa Lagoon and took some 4WD tracks which followed the Murray River, stopping every now and again to enjoy the views.

We then took the Silver City Highway and stopped briefly in the little town of Curlwaa. The town takes its name from an aboriginal word meaning native peach, the Quandong tree which is indigenous to the area.

There is a small monument here to commemorate the famous explorer Major Mitchell who camped in the area in 1836 after confirming Captain Charles Sturt’s discovery of the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers.

There is also a monument re the 1956 floods. It reads:-

“Erected by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission to commemorate the epic struggle of local residents, volunteers from surrounding districts, detachments of the armed forces and Police Department, supported by Ladies organizations against the waters of the record floos of July and August 1956. By their efforts the Curlwaa irrigation area was saved from complete inundation by the flood waters which reached and held for six consecutive days a height of 30 feet on the Curlwaa gauge’.

We then crossed over Abbortsford Bridge, over the mighty Murray River and back into the State of Victoria. We decided to do a quick activation of the Merbein South Flora Reserve VKFF-2382, from the vehicle.

We had been ‘warned’ about this little flora reserve which apparently was not the prettiest of parks.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Merbein South Flora Reserve. Map c/o Protected Planet.

Merbein South Flora Reserve is a tiny park, just 0.02 km² in size. It was established in 1990. It can be reached via Midgey Road which runs off McCarthy’s Road.

Above:- Aerial view of the Merbein South Flora Reserve. Image c/o Protected Planet.

The park is signposted and was quite easy to find once we consulted a map. The park takes its name from the town of Merbein. The settlement in the area was originally known as White Cliffs due to the white cliffs of the nearby Murray River. It was intended to be renamed “Merebin”, reputedly an Aboriginal name of a local sandhill, but it was mistakenly registered as “Merbein” instead.

It was late by the time we reached the park and we did not set up the portable gear, but rather, operated from the vehicle.

First in the log was Hans VK6XN who was activating the Blackwood River National Park VKFF-2949. Marija and I both logged Hans for a Park to Park contact.

We then moved down to 7.160 and I called CQ. This was answered by Brett VK2BDS, followed by Mark VK4SMA, and then Brian VK3BBB. After 5 minutes I had contact number 10 in the log, a QSO with Greg VK4/NN3Z.

I then swapped the mic with Marija and she soon had 10 contacts in the log, qualifying the park for VKFF. Contact number 10 was with Daryl VK3AWA.

Marija then handed me back the mic to see how many contacts I could log before we had to head back into Mildura. We did not want to miss out on a meal. I logged a total of 30 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and New Zealand. This included a Park to Park QSO with Tony VK3XV/p who was activating the Bass River Mouth Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2949.

To complete the activation we quickly ducked down to the 80m band to log our good friend Ivan VK5HS who was unable to hear us on the 40m band.

With 31 contacts in the log for me, and 11 for Marija, we headed off for our evening meal.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK6XN/p (Blackwood River National Park VKFF-2949)
  2. VK4BXX
  3. VK4/NN3Z
  4. VK2PBC
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK4FDJL
  7. VK4SMA
  8. VK2ABS
  9. VK2PKT
  10. VK3AWA
  11. VK3YV/p (Bass River Mouth Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2181)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK6XN/p (Blackwood River National Park VKFF-2949)
  2. VK2BDS
  3. VK4SMA
  4. VK3BBB
  5. VK2CCP
  6. VK4KC
  7. VK4MAD
  8. VK4DOG
  9. VK4BXX
  10. VK4/NN3Z
  11. VK3AWA
  12. VK3YV/p (Bass River Mouth Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2181)
  13. ZL4NVW
  14. ZL1THH
  15. VK2PBC
  16. VK2YK
  17. VK5GA
  18. VK4HNS
  19. VK2PKT
  20. VK2QM
  21. VK3NCR
  22. VK2IO
  23. VK5SCR
  24. VK2GMC
  25. VK3ZK
  26. VK3ANL
  27. VK3MPR
  28. VK3ARH
  29. VK3ZPF
  30. VK6JK

I worked the following station on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5HS

We headed back to our apartment and freshened up and headed out for dinner at the Seoul Korean restaurant in Mildura. What a sensational meal!

References.

  1. Discover Murray, 2021, <http://www.murrayriver.com.au/curlwaa>, viewed 8th May 2021
  2. Mildura Holden Motor Museum, 2021, <https://milduraholdenmuseum.com.au/our-history/>, viewed 8th May 2021.
  3. Orange World, 2021, <https://www.orangeworldmildura.com.au/about.html>, viewed 8th May 2021.
  4. Sunraysia Daily, 2021, <https://www.sunraysiadaily.com.au/your-100-years/1586742/possum-dies>, viewed 8th May 2021.
  5. Visit Wentworth, 2021, <https://visitwentworth.com.au/business/old-wentworth-gaol/>, viewed 8th May 2021.
  6. Visit Wentworth, 2021, <https://visitwentworth.com.au/attractions/ferguson-tractor-monument/>, viewed 8th May 2021.
  7. Visit Wentworth, 2021, <https://visitwentworth.com.au/attractions/darling-and-murray-river-junction-and-viewing-tower/>, viewed 8th May 2021.
  8. Visit Wentworth, 2021, <https://visitwentworth.com.au/attractions/junction-island-nature-reserve-canoe-tree-and-walking-track/>, viewed 8th May 2021.
  9. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wentworth_Gaol>, viewed 8th May 2021.
  10. WIkipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merbein>, viewed 8th May 2021

Day seven and the Yatpool Flora Reserve VKFF-2501

Today was day seven of our trip (12th April 2021) and after 2 days of lots of radio we decided to spend most of the day sightseeing in and around Mildura in north-western Victoria. We also had a commitment in the evening at the home of Cam VK2DG.

We again headed down the street to get breakfast and then drove across the Murray River into New South Wales and visited the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens at Mourquong. This is the southern hemisphere’s first semi-arid botanical gardens and was established in 1989.

We could have spent hours here, but we needed to be back in Mildura at about 10.00 a.m. for a cruise along the Murray River. There is a lot to see at the Botanicl Gardens.

We undertook one walk in the park, The Nature Trail. This little area of native shrubs, bushes, and trees was absolutely alive with birdlife. I spent quite a bit of time here taking snaps, some of which can be seen below.

Another interesting spot in the park which looked at was the Sturt Desert Pea bed. Swainsona formosa, or the Sturt Desert Pea is South Australia’s floral emblem. It is famous for its distinctive blood-red leaf-like flowers. The common name of the plant is named in honour of explorer Charles Sturt who recorded seeing large quantities of the flowers while exploring central Australia during 1844. The scientific name honours the naturalist Isaac Swainson

One of the Botanic Garden staff pointed us to an area behind a large bush where there were pink Sturt Desert Pea growing.

We also visited the rose garden which contains over 1,600 rose bushes.

It was then back across the Murray and back into the State of Victoria. We had a Murray River cruise booked aboard the historic PS Rothbury which was built in 1881 at Gunbower in Victoria. It was constructed as a large and powerful two boat and was used to tow barges for the wool and logging trade.

More information on the Rothbury can be found at ……

https://www.paddlesteamers.com.au/paddle-vessel-rothbury

It was an absolutely glorious sunny day and an excellent way to spend 2 hours, cruising downstream long the Murray.

Part of the cruise took us through Lock 11. We had seen a number of the locks along the Murray during our trip, but it was incredibly interesting to pass through one and see how they work.

The Murray River is Australia’s longest river at 2,508 km. The Murray rises in the Australian Alps and meanders northwest across Australia’s inland plains and forms the State Border between New South Wales and Victoria. It then flows into South Australia before emptying into the Great Australian Bight near Goolwa South.

The cruise along the river took us passed some pretty impressive homes.

And there was plenty of birdlife.

Once we arrived back on dry land we headed into Mildura city central and grabbed a bite to eat. I could not get through all of my meal.

After lunch we visited the magnificent Rio Vista historic house which was first occupied by William Benjamin (W.B.) Chaffey and his family in 1892. W.B. Chaffey was a Canadian engineer and irrigiation planner who with his older brother George Chaffey developed the town of Mildura.

The name of the house Rio Vista is Spanish meaning ‘River View’. The house was designed as a large family home in domestic Queen Anne style and remained a family home until the 1950s. It was built during the height of the Chaffey’s success, however the Chaffey Brothers Ltd Company went into liquidation in December 1895. The Chaffeys suffered financial ruin and this resulted in Rio Vista falling into a state of disrepair.

W.B. Chaffey lived in the house until his death in 1926. His second wife Heather ‘Hattie’ lived in the house until her death in 1950 at which time the house was purchased by the Mildura City Council for conversion into an art gallery.

Much of the original decor has been restored to its original condition.

We then visited the Mildura Station Homestead. The building on the site is a recreation of the Mildura Homestead which was constructed by brothers Hugh and Bushby Jamieson about 1850.

The area now known as Mildura was first settled on the 1st day of March 1847 when Francis Jenkins swam 900 cattle and 10 horses across the Murray River from New South Wales to the site of the Mildura Station Homestead. Jenkins believed he had settled in South Australia and he travelled to Adelaide ro register his selection. Meanwhile the Jamiesons obtained Departuring Licence for leasehold from Melbourne and named the property ‘Yerre Yerre. In 1858 the name was changed to Mildura.