Just some stuff I want to share with you

Posts in category Looking down on Australia

It’s a big island and therefore flying is the best way to get arround.

All good things come to an end…

Today we leave Fraser Island to fly back to our starting point Toowoomba. We will first land at Maroochydore where Marjie and Harold will return their plane to the Maroochy Aero Club. Clare has organized transport for our luggage from there directly to our hotel in Brisbane and Marjie and Harold will fly back with us to Toowoomba. Well that’s the plan….

When looking at the weather forecast, it is going to be marginal. It will not be a nice picture day, but we are going to operate well within the margins. Therefore we decided to take off. While still on Fraser Island, it’s raining and the cloud base here is quite low. But the forecast states that in a few hours we will have good conditions in Hervey Bay.

And the forecast was correct. By the time we got to Hervey Bay, the clouds were rapidly disappearing. Time to pack out luggage in the planes, put some fuel in and get airborne. But before we leave, we will take some last pictures of the whole group…

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While we were waiting for the fuel man to appear, a Flying doctors plane came in. And it became clear it was not there for fun. The plane had 2 “customers” on board and an ambulance was already waiting to transport them. The ambulance had another patient that needed to be transported by the plane. Busy busy busy these doctors are.

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Reg and Janice take off and a few minutes later Harold and Marjie are also airborne. Time for us to follow them. Today Clare will be flying and I will take pictures and be the annoying passenger.

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We will fly to Fraser Island and take some snapshots and of course just enjoy the views.

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Then it’s on to Maroochydore. Reg is in the leading plane and he first reports good visibility. But then he reports rain, bad weather and not so good visibility. It’s safe to continue, but it’s sure not pretty. Reg passed the rain showers by flying to the east (that’s to the sea), whereas Harold tried to pass them by going to the west (inland). Reg reported hardly any problems, but Harold had poor visibility…

We were lucky and had hardly any rain. Hence why I have the best pictures 😉

When I took this picture, I saw something blue in the sand. But I couldn’t identify it. When you zoom in, you can see that we were not the only birds in the sky today.

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We heard Reg on the radio talking to Maroochydore tower as he requested his landing clearance. Sometime later, Harold reported that he was in Maroochydore airspace a bit earlier than planned due to the weather. The tower responded very professionally and helped wherever they could. Then Harold also landed safely.

This airport handles a lot of commercial flights as well. So by the time we had the airport in sight, the tower asked us whether we could do a straight in with some tailwind. Clare and Ray decided that that was okay and a few minutes later we joined the other two planes in the parking area.

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I took some pictures while Harold and Marjie unpacked their plane.

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And then it started to rain. No, let me rephrase: it started to RAIN… And that was the end of our flying adventure. The cloud base on route to Toowoomba was so low that flying was not an option anymore. Clare had to do some work now… The taxi that was here to transport our luggage was now going to bring Harold and Marjie to their next address. So it was time to say goodbye to them.

Clare arranged another taxi to take the rest of the group to the hotel in Brisbane. Well, almost… He forgot that we had Ray on board now. So, Clare had a nice train ride back to Brisbane.

The day didn’t go completely as planned and it was a rushed goodbye from Harold and Marjie. But then: all good things come to an end and that is also true for this part of my holiday. I thank Janice, Reg, Harold, Marjie, Ray and Clare for their good company and making this trip such a success. I really enjoyed the air safari. We have been to great places, we met wonderful people and we all enjoyed the flying.

For me it’s time to switch transportation. I will continue my holiday by car. First track: from Brisbane to Sydney. More on that later.

The track of today:

Friday 3 April 2009

Stuck on the island…

Todays plan was to fly back to Toowoomba. “Was”… The weather at Fraser Island is fantastic, but when going south and/or west the cloud base is very low, it’s raining and therefore these are no go regions. And Toowoomba is in the middle of it all.

So we decided to stay another day on Fraser Island. The resort has everything we need: beer, a pool and beds 😉

For me: I found it too hot outside and this unplanned extra day was a nice opportunity to work on my website and to exchange photos with the others.

So nothing exciting to mention today.

Thursday 2 April 2009

Fraser Island: they have a lot of sand here…

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It’s about 125 kilometers long and about 22 kilometers at its widest point. On the island you will find loads of fresh water lakes, a rainforest and more. It’s all about the nature and then of course the tourists. Like us… So today we are going on a whole day tour, showing us all the nice things this island has to offer.

It is 1 April today and our driver has a good sense of humor. So he starts by explaining the safety regulations and that in case of issues with the bus he may need some help. Therefore, he creates two groups: the women will push the bus and the man will take pictures. That got us going. It will take over an hour to cross the island.

On our way over, we stop at a moving dune. This dune slowly moves land inwards and we stroll down to it to take some pictures.

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When everybody is back on the bus, it doesn’t start anymore… The driver announces that this isn’t a yoke… And that everybody should leave the bus; the women to push and the men to take pictures. Well, he wasn’t yoking, the bus didn’t want to start anymore. Then our hero, Reg, helped out by smashing a big pipe at the right spots and they got the beast to live again.

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On we go and there it is: the beach on the other side of the island. We will now drive along the beach for about an hour to get to some interesting places. Well at least that was the plan. But there is some weather building up in this part of the country and the wind has created high waves. Although it’s another 2 hours before high tide, we can’t get on anymore because the beach is getting to small to drive on.

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Turned around and drove back to a nice spot for some teas and coffees. And to take pictures of course. The black stuff is not oil that spilled on to the beach. It’s sand! But with hundreds of years of vegetation in it. You can find this stuff all over the island.

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Along the beach you will also find quit some streams of water coming from the island. Like this one:

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During our stop here, we go for a stroll to the same sand dune we saw before.

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Then it’s time to get on the bus again. After lunch we move back inland to a part of the rainforest where we go for a nice walk. The driver explains all about the trees, the water etc. I can’t remember a thing he told, but it is beautiful here…

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After that exercise it was time for another highlight of the island: Lake McKenzie. This is considered to be the prettiest lake on the island. So we had to go for a swim.

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Then back to the resort and the tour was over. We spent almost the whole day on this tour and I found it quite interesting. Now it’s time for a beer, dinner and a good night sleep again.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Time to leave Longreach; Fraser Island here we come

Today we will end up on Fraser Island. But since their’s no usable airport on the island itself, we will fly to Hervey Bay and then go on by boat. This trip will be the longest flight of the whole air safari, so we start early. Weather looks good and we have already fueled the planes when we landed at Longreach. So time to say goodbye to Longreach. And take a last nice snapshot on the ground; look at the tip of the propeller of that plane.

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Again we see the scenery constantly change colors. And after a while we encounter this strange bird in the sky (oh look: Janice is imitating a Japanese tourist).

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Navigation is easy today: we go VFR (visually following road).

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Because of the lenght of the route we do today, we can’t make it without refueling. Therefore we land at Emerald, fuel up and move on again. We are more or less in a hurry: we need to cover a whole lot of miles today.

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The planners included some interesting things today. Like this gorge.

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And this dam.

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We should have seen a meteor crater as well, but we couldn’t find it. Later on we discovered we went over it, but it’s so big that we should have gone much higher to actualy identify it as a meteor crater…

Hey another strange bird…

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Bundaberg in sight and therefore the coast. Time to get down to a nice 500 feet above water and enjoy the views.

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After a nice landing at Hervey Bay and tying down the planes, it was time to find our boat.

We went much faster today then foreseen. So we had enough time to have some beers and enjoy the views in the harbour.

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Time to get on board of the Kingfisher II and fly low… This thing goes…

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Doing the Titanic thing…

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And then there she is: our home for the next two nights.

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Look at this view from my room. What more do you want when you’re staying in a place like this?

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We finished the day with a nice diner and then everybody had enough. It’s been a long day and tomorrow we “do” the island.

The track of today:

Ferry to Fraser Island:

Tuesday 31 March 2009

Doing the tourist thing in Longreach

Although Longreach is not the biggest town in this country, it has some interesting things to offer. Today we will explore most of them. We started the day with a visit to a station (or farm). We got picked up at the hotel by Trevor in a more or less oversized “bus” aka “truck”. From there on we drove to the station where we picked up Marie. Marie and Devan Pearce run Strathmore station and she was going to tell us all about this place.

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And so she did. These stations are big. You start at say 50.000 hectare, with about 10.000 sheep and about 1.000 cattle. Marie told us all about the different types of grass and the trees that are on their land. It became clear that she loves this place, since there was so much passion in the way she talked about it.

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Living here means that you have to take care of water. Either by keeping it away from your house (as said before: when it rains, it RAINS. And since the “rivers” have no boundaries, they become very wide and can cause flooding) or by making sure that there is enough. We started by looking at a windmill. This one is used to pump water from the Thomson River up to about 20 Kilometers inland. It feeds several dams and drinking stations and there are more mills like this to push the water onwards. These things are big (well over 45 meters) and expensive, but luckily Maries father bought a few a long time ago, so they have spare parts (look at the picture and you will see one that was blown over by a storm some time ago).

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After driving around on their property, we ended up at their home where we were invited for a cup of coffee. Here we also met her husband Devan who proudly showed us the cattle ready to be marked and the bulls ready to be castrated…

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Although they are so busy to run their business, the house and the garden are really clean and maintained. These people must be working 24 hours per day all days…

After playing with their dogs and Janice sort of shocking both Marie and Devan by telling that she dresses up her little doggies (Marie’s response: we have nothing unusable at the station…), it was time to move on.

Next stop: the Qantas museum. Well it’s just that: it explains the history of Qantas. Furthermore, they have parked two biggies here that you can visit. We did one: the 747-200.

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Well, been there, done that, next… We moved on to the “Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame“; “a living memorial to the pioneers who braved this vast untamed land”. A nice museum that tells the story of, well as stated before: the pioneers. It’s more an Australian thing; we foreigners will think it’s a nice museum, but the locals consider it to be more than that.

Again an interesting day down under. I must say that the tour to the station was very impressive. Probably because of the way Marie told her story and the fact that we were invited in their home to have coffees.

Time to go to bed now. Tomorrow we have our longest flying day of the whole air safari; we will push on to Hervey Bay, all the way east on the coast. Look at our little planie under the nose of the big fellow…

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Monday 30 March 2009