Just some stuff I want to share with you

Posts in category Australia 2009

Well I have taken some time of to see a lot of the smallest continent, which seems rather big to me.

Alice Springs to Boulia

Time to leave the “big city” and move on to Boulia. Boulia???? Yes, it does exist. And yes, it’s not that big or interesting… We are on our way to the coast and we are too far inland to get there in just 1 day. Boulia is therefore just a “one-nighter”.

So here we are again at an airport, fueling up the planes and planning to do some serious airtime. I explained a bit about the Royal Flying Doctor Service in my previous post. Well, here’s one of their planes, being prepared for another flight to help those who are sick or injured.

P1010743
P1010744
P1010746
P1010749

After watching the two other planes take off, it was time for us to leave as well. Initially it’s not that good a day to take pictures. There’s a haze low to the ground and the sun is not strong enough yet to burn it off. When leaving Alice to the east or north you cross some nice hills/mountains.

P1010753
P1010756

The sky is clear and it’s a bit bumpy at the lower altitudes. So we climbed up to 9500 feet. At that level it’s much colder which is nice when you come from a 30+ level. But after flying at that level for some hours I was freezing…

P1010760
P1010764

Getting closer to Boulia the colors of the land turn from green to red/orange/brown. It’s one of these things that make flying here special. The colors are constantly changing and the vast distances are incredible.

P1010765
P1010766
P1010768

Look a white spot below us (halfway in front of the strut). Ohh, that’s one of our mates heading to Boulia as well.

P1010773
P1010770
P1010772

And when there’s one, then the other should not be too far away. Ahaa, there they are…

P1010777
P1010778
P1010779

For those who did not know: it rained a lot lately in Australia. As a result there is water in rivers that normally hold no water. And when there’s water, there are plants, trees and animals.

P1010781
P1010785
P1010787
P1010789

There it is: Boulia in all its glory. No, this is not just West Boulia; this IS Boulia.

P1010790
P1010791

Back on the ground. Temperatures are up again (30+) and I have a lot of fly(-ing) friends again. One of the reasons to fly around the town was to inform the taxi that we arrived. Although this is a small town, you do not want to walk to the motel with your entire luggage with these temperatures and flies around.

P1010797
P1010799

A quick shot of all the local attractions: the windmill and the water tower. Well, this is not entirely fair. Boulia has a Olympic sized swimming pool and sports centre. You can’t see it on the pictures, since the building is blocked by the strut… When reading the information bulletin in the motel, it became clear that the town invested over 3 million dollar in those facilities. So they do have all what’s needed to survive in the Outback: a swimming pool, an airport and a pub;-)

And let’s not forget to mention the terminal building of Boulia with all its facilities and its permanent residents (no, not the one with the cap…).

P1010800
P1010802

So, where are we now?

P1010803

Time to find the local pub and have a cold one. Oh, there it is. At the end of the main street; that building with all the cars parked in front of it. On to meet the locals.

The track of today:

Saturday 28 March 2009

Alice Springs

After all the small towns in the Outback, we have now arrived in the “big city” Alice Springs. Well with a population of about 26000 it’s far bigger than the other towns (Birdsville had about 60 – 80 and a place like Charleville about 3500 people). So we have a “shopping mall”, several restaurants and bars etc. We will stay one day here and Clare has organized a nice tour again.

We start the day by going to the Alice Springs Desert Park, a place with all sorts of fauna and flora. It’s a fairly big park and we strolled around it for a few hours seeing all sorts of plants and animals. So I had another opportunity to get close to a Kangaroo…

P1010630
P1010631
P1010636
P1010637
P1010642
P1010647
P1010652
P1010658
P1010660

We also visited a very interesting bird of prey demonstration. And for those smart .ss.s out there: no it’s not about the big bird in the first picture…

P1010686
P1010687
P1010698
P1010702
P1010704
P1010710
P1010713

After all the nature stuff, we moved on to the Royal Flying Doctors Service museum. Here you can find a lot of information about the history of this organization and what’s going on today. Alice Springs has its local command centre and there are 4 planes based here to provide the medical services all around.

P1010727
P1010728
P1010730
P1010731
P1010732
P1010734
P1010737

Later on we went for some shopping (some of us had to have a real Australian hat or get their hair cut) and for a nice refreshing beer in one of the bars here.

In the evening we visisted a didgeridoo show in the Sounds of Starlight theatre. If you ever have the opportunity to visit it, do so! It’s an amazing show and we all had to play our part as well. Here we found out that Clare CAN actually play the didgeridoo, although I would like to advice him not to give up his current job yet.

P1010740
P1010742

 

Again we had a very pleasant day. The weather is good again (temperatures in the high 30’s). And it’s clear that this is not a regular Outback town. It’s too big and there are too many shops and facilities around to have that nice Outback feeling to it. But it’s also good to see some more people around. I even found some Dutchies here… they are just everywhere aren’t they?!?!?

Friday 27 March 2009

Ayers Rock to Alice Springs

Today we will see all sorts of highlights, so I will be a passenger and Clare will fly the plane. This will allow Clare to do some time flying here and gives me the opportunity to take loads of pictures;-)

P1010456

We will start by flying to Ayers Rock then to the Olgas and then we will head on to Alice Springs. When overflying Ayers Rock and the Olgas you will need to follow specific routes and altitudes (look at the map below and you will see what I mean). First to Ayers Rock:

P1010471
P1010493

And then on to the Olgas:

P1010513
P1010519
P1010522

And then on to fly overhead Ayers Rock airport to fly to lake Amadeus.

P1010526
P1010529
P1010530

Our next point of interest was Kings Canyon:

P1010536
P1010538
P1010541

And again on to the next one: Gosses Bluff a meteor crater.

P1010567

Well as stated, today is all about the views, so the next on the list is: Palm Valley. It’s interesting to see palm trees in such a dry area.

P1010576
P1010577

After flying over the Palm Valley, we got to Hermannsburg. Here’s a nice solar station to provide electricity to the town.

P1010579

And after all these nice views, we got to Alice Springs. We tried to find Stanley Chasm and Simpsons Gap and they maybe on the pictures but I am not sure.

P1010586
P1010602
P1010607

After landing and tying the planes down, we got on our taxi to the hotel. On our way over, we stopped at the Anzac hill memorial. This is quite a high point, so it’s a nice place to take some pictures of the town.

P1010616
P1010617
P1010619
P1010623
P1010625

It’s been an interesting day again. On this track we saw by far the most “interesting points” so far. Well look at the picture library for more.

The track of today:

Thursday 26 March 2009

Ayers Rock or Uluru

Today we will walk along Ayers Rock (also called Uluru) and find out what it’s all about. Therefore we booked a guided tour with somebody that knows a lot of the rock, its history and the people that used to live around it: the Aboriginal people. Since our tour guide does not speak English, we also have a translator.

P1010360

There’s a cultural centre close to the rock that gives an overview of everything you possibly would like to know about the Aboriginal people that used to live here and the history of the struggle of these people with the government about ownership and use of the land around the rock. Very informative and it’s clear that there has been (and probably still is) a lot of emotion related to this place.

One subject is very visible. The Aboriginal people don’t want you to climb the rock. The information board by the rock states that you should not climb the rock, but the reason here is only the safety of the climbers. When you ask the people in the cultural centre or our guide there are far more reasons not to do so. But a lot of people want to take on this challenge. It’s a difficult climb and the views from up there must be magnificent. Well I did not climb the rock. If this place has special meaning to the Aborigines then let’s stay of it.

P1010370
P1010371

 

Our guide takes us to several cages alongside the rock. He explains about their use and history. At certain positions along this route, you will find signs prohibiting you from taking pictures of the rock. These places have special meaning and therefore you are not allowed to take pictures. All in all, it was a very informative walk and this thing is impressive. Here’s a small overview (have a look at the picture library for more pictures):

P1010374
P1010378
P1010379
P1010382
P1010383
P1010386
P1010390
P1010391
P1010398
P1010400
P1010418
P1010424
P1010427
P1010434

Tomorrow we will fly along the rock and we will also see the Olgas. The Olgas are rocks close to Uluru and we planned to see them as well. But since there was no way to get to both places in one day, we will have to do with a view from above. Since all other tours were full, we spend the afternoon at the pool. The weather was great and it’s also very nice to just relax a bit, do some shopping and have a beer.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Time to find the big rock

Today we will fly to one of the most famous and popular places in Australia: Ayers Rock.

The day started with something unusual: rain, wind and cold weather. Yesterday it was 35 – 40 degrees. This morning it’s cold (less than 20 degrees). Feels like home 😉 After fueling up the planes we took off; according to the weather information, we would fly away from the bad weather quite soon. And the forecast was correct.

P1010249
P1010250
P1010251

The distances here are enormous. You can fly for hours and hundreds of kilometers without seeing a single house or vehicle. It’s amazing that somebody would want to live out here, but they do. This is the Outback and live is harsh. We moved from dry and dead to green and saw all possible colors on our way over. Just look at the pictures.

P1010258
P1010262
P1010264
P1010267

Since the distances are enormous and we are flying VFR (meaning we find our way by looking outside and navigate based on visual information) over land that hardly has any usable visual points, navigation has to be taken seriously. I fly based on the GPS but Clare constantly looks outside to verify we are heading in the right direction and when the GPS would fail, we know where we are.

P1010254
P1010255
P1010256

 

When we got mount Conner in sight, we knew we were getting close to that big rock. But first we did a 360 and had a close look at this little brother of the famous one.

P1010284
P1010286
P1010287
P1010297

On our way to Ayers Rock we caught up with the other two planes that took off before us. This is the way we have things organized: the slowest plane starts first and the faster will follow. Since we have the fastest plane, we always start last but arrive first. So every flying day we have the opportunity to take pictures of the other planes. Well, if we can find them. Although we all fly the same route, for some reason we have passed Harrold and Marjie several times without seeing them. We think they have found a stealth button in their plane…

P1010303
P1010305

And then there he is…

P1010306

Ayers Rock airport (well actually its official name is Connellan airport) is quite a big, untowered airport. They were quite happy that we arrived earlier than planned, since they expected 4 big Quantas planes after us. This place is very busy. Well it’s one of THE tourist attractions of the country.

P1010311
P1010312
P1010314

We ended up in our hotel: Sails in the desert. And the name says it all.

P1010317
P1010320
P1010322
P1010324

After a nice dip in the pool and doing some laundry, it was time for dinner. Tonight we will be dining under the stars. So a bus picked us up and brought us to a nice place some hundred meters away from the hotel. Here we had a fantastic view on the rock and we waited here for sunset.

P1010328
P1010332
P1010337
P1010346

Then we walked for about hundred meters where they had setup our tables. The dinner was great and when we got to the desserts we heard the music of a didgeridoo. Up to today I only heard the sound of this instrument via my television and as I now found out, it is far better when it is played live by a good musician. We ended this evening by watching the stars. And then it was bedtime.

P1010356

The track of today:

Tuesday 24 March 2009