Just some stuff I want to share with you

Monthly archives for March, 2009

Quick update

We are about to leave Alice Springs for Boulia and I don’t expect that I will have access to the Internet for the next 3 to 4 days. So just a quick update: the picture library holds all pictures up to and including Friday 27 March. This includes: Coober Pedy, the flight from Coober Pedy to Ayers Rock, Ayers Rock, the flight from Ayers Rock to Alice Springs and Alice Springs. I will add the stories when I have time (hey, I am on holiday and this blog is a time consuming thing). I have added Google Map’s to the blogs about the flying trips. So scroll down and back in time to see where we have been.

That’s it for now. CU later.

Coober Pedy here we come

On to our next stop: Coober Pedy. This place is all about opals. But first we need to get there and thus we need to fuel up and say goodbye to Birdsville.

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As you may have heart there were some flooding and rain problems in Australia some time ago. Today we will see the results as we will see water in rivers and lakes that most of the times are dry. Just look at the pictures and see what I mean.

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We landed at William Creek to take on some fuel and have some lunch. This is our first landing on a dirt strip or in this case: a gravel strip. Not all that exciting, but you will need to be careful not to damage the plane by rocks that are blown against it. This is a place in the middle of nowhere.

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After all that, it was time to move on to our destination: Coober Pedy. And look at the fabulous terminal building they have here ūüėČ

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As stated before this place is all about opals and therefore mining. And there are some great diggers here (or at least they used to be here), since our hotel room is actually a cave in a hill. So the views are a bit poor, but there is no need for an air conditioner, since the temperature in the room is a nice 23 degrees.

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It was a nice flying day again and we finalized it with the best dinner so far. This hotel has a really nice restaurant.

The track of today:

Sunday 22 March 2009

Birdsville

Today we will not fly, but will have a look around in the world famous town of¬†Birdsville. Since it can be very hot here, we decided to have an early walk, have breakfast and then on to the local museum. And so we did. Here’s an impression:

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The local museum is for sale by the way. So if you are thinking about leaving the big city and move to a place where there live only about 60 – 80 people and run a museum: this is your change!

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Oh, by the way did I mention that there are a lot of flies out here? Well, there are. Look at the shirt of Janice after about 5 minutes walking outside:

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In the afternoon we didn’t do much. It was too hot, so I decided to do some work on my website. Well, it turned out to be a very frustrating afternoon. I paid about 16.50 Australian dollars (that’s about 8.25 euro)¬†for each hour of Internet connectivity, but most of the time the connection was so poor that nothing seemed to work. During the 4 hours that I had access to the Internet, I managed to get 6 mails out.

And I promised I would come back with some reference of where we are. Well here it is:

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For the evening Clare organized a visit to the “Big Reds” to watch sunset and enjoy a glass of wine. This turned out to be a very pleasant evening. We had good fun in the dunes and the views were spectacular. The pictures don’t do justice to the real thing, so again: you have to come out here and see for yourself.

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We finished the day with a nice meal and then all went to bed. Tomorrow we move on to the next place to visit: Coober Pedy, the opal centre of the world (well at least of Australia).

Saturday 21 March 2009

On to Birdsville

Yesterday we flew to Charleville and today we will move on to Birdsville via Windorah where we will have lunch and fuel up the aircraft. This is a much longer track than that of yesterday. Now we are really going to enter the outback.

The day started by fueling up the planes, keeping the flies away and of course cleaning the windows.

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And then on to Windorah. Once you have passed Birdsville, you enter the outback. There are not a lot of towns anymore, but you will find grouped houses either being part of a single farm or several families living closer together. This is cattle land.

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Here’s the team in VH-JCU: Ray and myself upfront and our navigator/host/caterer/tour guide Clare in the back.

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Well as you can see there is a lot of space out there. The colors are great and changing constantly. I have tried to take some nice pictures of it, but they are by far not as nice as the real thing. You should come out here and see for yourself!

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On our way, we have passed several airfields. All the towns (or at least those of some size) will make sure that they have a decent airstrip, allowing the Royal Flying Doctors to come in when they need help.

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Today I also could take a picture of a so called “road train”; this is a big truck with several trailers hauling cargo over longer distances.

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There has been a lot of rain lately in this region, so besides a lot of relatively dry areas you will also see green and rivers containing water. This is a relatively flat area, so the rivers are not very deep, but when they get a lot of water, they will become very wide and cause flooding.

We could not make it directly to Birdsville and therefore landed at Windorah to refuel our planes and have lunch. Windorah is a really small place; there’s nothing on the airport except for an air conditioned cabin to have lunch and wait for the person who can fill up the planes. And then there are even more flies here then we had before in Charleville.

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Windorah is a small town, but with a high tech solar station to generate the power they need here. And they must consume a lot of power with their air conditioners otherwise it’s just too hot. Today is a “not too bad” day according to the locals; it’s only about 40 degrees.

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On our way over from Windorah to Birdsville you can find these amazing views. These are formed by water streams that resulted in vegetation and the dry areas cause this great contrast.

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Again we started last, but arrived first at Birdsville. And again it’s hot (about 40 degrees) and the moment you get out of the plane, you are covered with flies. Great…

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We are going to stay in the world famous Birdsville hotel for the next two nights. It’s been very pleasant day again. We saw some amazing views of the enormous country. Here you can fly or drive for hours before getting close to a town. I will have to take a picture of some of the road signs to show you how far away this place is from anything “nearby”. More on that in a later post. For now: time to have a bear and mingle with the locals.

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The track of today:

Friday 20 March 2009

Our first flight

Thursday 19 March: our first flying day in Australia. Today we fly from Toowoomba to Charleville. This trip is relatively short, but contains 1 more challenging hurdle: we need to cross the controlled airspace of the military base in Oakey. Once we have passed this space, we will not encounter any controlled airspace for almost a week. We started our day with a nice big Australian breakfast (I thought the American breakfasts were big, but the Australians are at least of that size) and then travelled to the Darling Downs Aero Club. Here, Ray was already busy preparing the aircraft and the flight plans.

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For me this is actually the first day I will fly in Australia. As posted before: Ray focused on the other pilots first, since they have to do the tour on their own and therefore need to be fully prepared. Ray and I will fly together in a Cessna 182 with retractable gear and constant speed propeller. So, at least two new things to control for me. We agreed that Ray will handle the radio for the next few days, allowing me to concentrate on flying the aircraft and what’s even more important: take pictures and enjoy what’s out there. Once everybody had their luggage on board and checked their aircraft, it was time for the briefing. Ray went over the track and explained once more how to handle the radio and get through the controlled airspace of Oakey.

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Then after all the checks we were ready to go. Well, almost. We first had to take a lot of pictures. Like these:

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The second picture above shows the whole group: (from left to right) Harold Fast, Marjie Fast, Janice Marks, Reg Willick, Clare McEwan, Ray Garner and Addie Janssen. Then it was time to go. Since our 182 is the fastest plane, we started last. The plane has more or less the same instruments as the PH-COU, the Cessna 172 M that I have flown for quite a few hours. But the propeller and retractable gear are totally new to me and therefore Ray has to assist and monitor me for the whole trip. He also has to make sure that the other 2 planes go in the right direction. So he is a busy man today. Once airborne, we have great first flight to Charleville. I have put all my pictures in the picture library, but here a few to give an impression:

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After about an hour of flying Reg and Harold were also getting more comfortable and we had our first laughter when Harold came on the radio and said “I have been flying IFR for such a long time”. Reg was confused “Flying IFR”? “Yes” Harold replied “I follow Reg”… On our way to Charleville, we overtook both other planes and therefore landed before they did.¬†Harold and Marjie overflying us and Reg and Janice arrive last (they have the slowest aircraft).

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There’s not a lot to see at this airport. But one thing is immediately very clearly there: lots and lots of flies…. And it’s hot here with temperatures high thirties. Once all planes were on the ground we went to the motel and after a fresh up we got on to the next event of the day: a tour through Charleville. So what’s there to say about the town: there are about 3.500 people living here. It has been flooded quite some time ago. And there was something about a guy with a great idea about making rain.

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That’s all I have remembered and that the nice lady (here she is with Ray on the left and Clare on the right) that drove us through town was very enthusiastic about this nice small town…¬† If you want more about this place: google!

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And check out the local chicks….

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Anyone know what there names are?

In the evening we had a lovely dinner at the¬†hotel Corones. But before that, Jackie Tanzer, one of the¬†owners of the hotel,¬†explained a bit more about the hotel and its history. I have some pictures of this, but have not been able to upload them yet. And don’t ask me what the history was: it was a very pleasant story about a guy from Italy or Greece that moved to Australia without any money and unable to speak English that eventually made a lot of money and build this nice hotel. If you want to know more, go to the website or even beter: visit the hotel ūüėČ And then we finilized the day with some star gazing at the Charleville Cosmos Centre. So how was the first flying day? Fantastic! We had great weather (it was 30+ in Charleville), the initial track was not too long and the route was along roads, therefore the navigation was not an issue today (well, it would probably never been an issue, since all planes have a GPS). Ray is a very relaxed guy and Clare had everything nicely organized.

The track of today (blue line = GPS recorded; red line = GPS failed, corrected by hand):

Thursday 19 March 2009