Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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#1726121
MichaelP wrote:Did Tom manage to put any of his stickers on your aeroplane?
Nut Powder... Never tried it though I know Tom quite well. I did my first flying in Thailand with him.

Some Australians have gone overboard with their interpretation of apparent regulations of which there are (too) many.
Lovely place but perhaps ‘can’t live there’.

Excellent read.


He did give me a lot of stickers, although none are on the aircraft yet!

It was a bit odd; he was very friendly and responsive up until arrival, but a few days after I'd come back to Iraq (with the aircraft parked up in Bang Phra) he stopped replying to emails and has been silent ever since. I've racked my brains but can't think of anything I'd have done to offend him!!
XX liked this
#1726143
We were up and outside the hotel a little before our scheduled pick-up time of 0630. The guy at the Kimberley Lodge had warned us that “all taxis in this town are terrible” and, sure enough, our ride never turned up. We set out to lug the bags on the 30 minute walk to the private side of the airport; meaning we were a little late for the appointment that I’d made late the previous night with BP. They had emailed their head office, copying me, and head office had replied with words to the effect of “of course you can fuel them, you plonkers”. We topped up the wings, shoe-horned Hiyo’s bags in, and started up.

BP, finally agreeing to fuel me
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My hitchhiking copilot
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Before 8am, the control tower at Broome is not open, so the field was operating as an uncontrolled field. I followed another aircraft and just copied him while getting my head around the procedures, which seemed very similar to those used in the US. Not everybody wanted to use the runway in the same direction, so after the aircraft in front of us departed we waited while another took off from the other end, and set off on our way. I turned left on course, and climbed to 3,500ft. It was calm this morning, and I wanted to enjoy the views!

Departure from Broome
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Final sight of the ocean
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When planning for this section of the trip, I had seen arrival in Australia as the end of the main “challenging bits”, at least regarding bureaucracy and hassle. This turned out to be correct; the Australian regulatory agency and politicians do seem to be doing their best to cause problems for pilots in general, but flying here is still much better than in most parts of the world. What I had not quite wrapped my head around, however, was the sheer size of the place; my brother helpfully sent me a picture showing Australia superimposed over the moon (Australia is bigger) to illustrate my oversight. In order to catch my 10am flight out of Sydney on Thursday morning (it was now Tuesday) I’d need to fly 18 hours over 2 days. Luckily, long distance flying is something of a specialty!

Covering plenty of ground on Australia, day 1
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Entering the Outback
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Within just a few miles, the landscape had turned arid and barren. There was very little sign of human activity, much less habitation, something that would continue with few exceptions to within a few hundred miles of the east coast. Eyes peeled in vain for kangaroos, we droned on towards Halls Creek. We could hear a King Air on frequency, announcing his progress from Broome to Fitzroy Crossing, and before long he appeared on my ADS-B screen as he overhauled us 15,000ft above. He descended ahead of us, and as we passed Fitzroy Crossing we could see him on the ground, unloading.

Cruising the outback
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Dust plume on a dirt road
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Desert ridges
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The day was heating up fast and it started to get bumpy during the last hour towards Halls Creek. My decision to keep a couple of air sickness bags staged in the glove compartment proved prescient, as Hiyo made use of both of them; a slightly concerning start as we still had more than 15 flying hours to go! Landing direction at Halls Creek was almost in line with my existing heading, so we came straight in and rolled to a stop in front of the BP fuel pump. The attendant came out to greet us and I topped the tanks again; with vast distances between airports out here, and even vaster distances between fuel stops, the more fuel in the tanks the better.

Filling up at Halls Creek
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The attendant was kind enough to drive us the few blocks into town, where we bought a few snacks, and some air-sickness tablets. The town had only about 1,500 people; he was here on a few year assignment while his wife taught at the local school. Apparently life was decent, but usually very quiet! He dropped us back at the aircraft and after the essential bathroom break, we were on our way.

Halls Creek
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Climbing out, slow and heavy, from Halls Creek
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I climbed steadily, to try and get above the turbulence. We eventually did; at 13,500ft! High above the outback, we cruised onward, enjoying the scenery unrolling below us. While conforming entirely to the “outback” category, it was endlessly changing, much as the deserts of Saudi Arabia had been; sand dunes, river beds, rocky plateaus, hill ranges, the list goes on. My route took us direct to Alice Springs; one of very few airports along this route; the plan was to get close, and then make a decision about whether to stop, or carry on.

Outback
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A dirt strip in the desert
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In the event, we were both feeling fine, and decided to keep flying another few hours to the town of Birdsville. This town has a population of about 150, although in the first weekend of September about 7,000 people descend upon it for the famous “Birdsville Races”. Given that it wasn’t the first weekend in September, we were hopeful that there’d be rooms available to stay! I used the Garmin InReach to message my father, and ask him to investigate accommodation options; he found the Birdsville Hotel, right next to the airport, but wasn’t able to confirm space. We figured we’d land and try our luck.

Alice Springs
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Haze building below us
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The sun set slowly over the desert, and we droned onwards in the darkness. Hiyo took that opportunity to fill up a couple more air sickness bags, despite the calm air. As we approached Birdsville, I flew the GPS approach in visual conditions, to make it easier to find and line up on the airport. It was at this stage that a serious deficiency in my pre-flight preparation became apparent; in the US, one clicks the microphone 7 times on the airport frequency to remotely turn on the lights. In Australia, things are apparently different; and it was a very dark night.

Sunset over central Australia
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My Stene Aviation Quasar wing tips came into their own here. With both of the high intensity LED landing lights on full, complementing the hull mounted LED landing lights, the ground was just about visible from minimums on the GPS approach! This allowed us to land safely, and we rolled out to end, and parked up at the end of a long line of Cessna 210s and secured the aircraft for the night.

Parked up in Birdsville
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We headed straight to the hotel. The bad news was, they had no rooms remaining. The good news, the kitchen was open for another ten minutes, and there was another place that might be able to accommodate us. As there were two of us, we were able to divide forces; Hiyo stayed in the bar to receive the food, while I went off and secured rooms at the Birdsville Lodge (which turned out to be very similar to the pre-fab accommodation that we have in Iraq!) On my return, the food was waiting. I later reflected that perhaps ordering fish 1,000+km from the coast, in a desert, was not the best choice, but it turned out to be very good!

Dinner at the Birdsville Hotel
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It was while eating that I received some bad news. The hangar space that I had been promised in Cessnock, from now until early December, was no longer available; and I didn’t exactly have a lot of time available to find an alternative! I threw out the question to a couple of the major Australian pilot groups and was inundated with responses; although my preference for “close to Cessnock” was interpreted by some in Australian terms, which seems to mean “within about a day’s travel”.

The other occupants of this part of the bar were a big group of Australians who turned out to be celebrating no fewer than 3 birthdays. They insisted we join them for a bit, and seemed interested to hear about the round the world flight. As we were chatting, another man walked into the bar and loudly inquired “Which one of you is Ross?” To my amazement, he was a pilot who was spending the night and had seen my online plea for help, and figured out somehow that I was in this bar. A friend of his had a space to offer, south of Sydney; added to the potential hangar space available at the airport next door to Cessnock, I was suddenly back in good shape on the hangar front. We made our excuses before it got too late, and went to bed; yet another early start was coming.

The birthday celebrations
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Dave W, mick w, Melanie Moxon and 3 others liked this
#1726221
Picking up good company... That Cessna 182 must be a real ‘bird puller’. My Condors never did that :(
Kirei

Another favourite: miryukuteki desu

Great write up.

First time Naruk flew with me she was likewise sick three times, but that was in an awful Zenair 601 which replaced the VP1 as my least liked aeroplane.
Later she would fly with me in the RV9 and this was a much better ride.
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kanga, Lockhaven, Katamarino liked this
#1726251
"A dirt strip in the desert"

How else is the post going to be delivered, or the kids taken to school, or the RFDS deliver their services? Much like Alaska, the Australian outback services are delivered by air!

How on earth you felt the need to be at 13500 eludes me; we should compare flying notes one day :thumleft:

Rob
#1726254
Rob L wrote:"A dirt strip in the desert"

How else is the post going to be delivered, or the kids taken to school, or the RFDS deliver their services? Much like Alaska, the Australian outback services are delivered by air!


Well... yes! I wasn't expressing any confusion about why it was there :lol:

Rob L wrote:How on earth you felt the need to be at 13500 eludes me;


That was the lowest I could find smooth air, and my passenger had already used all the sick bags!!

Rob L wrote:We should compare flying notes one day :thumleft:


That'd be a pleasure!
kanga liked this
#1726276
We woke at 0630, and were at the airfield (a mere 2 block walk) for 0700. There were a couple of other pilots there preparing their aircraft, including my new friend from the previous night. The fuel attendant helped us to top off, and after some chatting about the flight and some photographs, we back-taxied and took off in the direction of Sydney. As we climbed out over the town, it was clear just how tiny it was – just a couple of blocks from side to side and end to end!

Morning in Birdsvilles
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New friends at Birdsville (fueler, and future RtW pilot)
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Climbing out from Birdsville
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At this time of day the air was still fairly calm, and I climbed up to 7,500ft. The first planned stop of the day was Bourke, a little more than half way between Birdsville and the Cessnock area. I still didn’t know where I’d be parking the aircraft, and was hoping that news would have come in by the time I reached this stop! The landscape was red and desolate, with barely a sign of human influence, although we did pass one huge mine that had its own long, paved air strip. This was apparently quite busy as we heard two flights coming in just during the time we were monitoring the traffic frequency.

Back to barren outback
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Waves in the desert
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Some green, for a change!
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Approaching Bourke
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As we drew closer to Bourke, the occasional splash of green started to appear, and by the time we neared the airport it was noticeably more developed and arable; still a far cry from the UK or any of the lush Asian landscape I had been crossing recently, though! The first things we noticed on arrival were the flies; they were numerous and incredibly aggressive about getting into our faces. The existence of Australian hats with corks hanging for the brim was suddenly made clear! We jogged to the little terminal building, swatting at our heads, and managed to get inside without taking too many of them with us.

The final day's route
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I checked my phone, and received some good news; a hangar had been located at Maitland airport, just a short hop from Cessnock! This had been organised by two of the leaders of AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) Australia, Ben and Gerard. A couple of phone calls, and all was arranged; it was a huge relief to have this taken care of, and to know the airplane would be in the best possible hands during its long stay there.

Fueling up in the fly kingdom
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Some map checking revealed that there was very little within walking distance, so we decided to simply refuel and head on. We ran back to the aircraft and Hiyo dug some bug spray out of her bag, which had very little effect. I attempted to fuel one handed, leaving one to wave around at the flies, and soon we were on our way; keeping the windows closed until the engine was running, and the air flow too intense to allow any flies through! Their concentration in this area may well have been due to what looked like an entirely unexplained severed kangaroo’s tail lying by the fuel pump; very odd.

Departing from Bourke
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Some clouds at last!
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Plenty of clouds, in fact...
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We climbed to 9,500ft, well clear of the bumps, and set off over what was now unmistakably cultivated and developed land. As we drew closer to civilization, I got in contact with Brisbane Control, and they provided me with whatever the Australian equivalent of Flight Following is as we headed towards Maitland. The previous day, and this morning, the area had apparently been hit by torrential rain, and the contacts I had been talking to did not expect that I’d be able to make it in. Indeed, as we crossed the ranges of hills that separate the dry interior from the coastal region, there was fairly thick cloud; but it never became so thick that we had to switch to instruments.

Huge mines near Maitland
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As we closed in on Maitland, we flew over vast open mines, being worked by equally vast machines. The countryside was lush and green and well developed; after what seemed like endless outback and desert, this was a hugely welcome sight! There was a stiff breeze, but conditions were otherwise lovely as we approached Maitland, setting up for final approach to the shorter and narrower tarmac runway, as it was mostly into the wind. We touched down and rolled out; section 3 was complete at last! I backtracked on the runway to the fuel pumps; there were grass taxiways but they appeared to be mostly underwater. Clearly they’d had serious rain here.

Almost like England
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Section 3, complete!
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My aunt, Gerard from AOPA, and another gentleman from Cessnock called Harry were all there to meet and assist. Harry helped me fuel the aircraft, and then led me over to Gerard’s hangar where Planey would be staying. After saying our hellos, I took care of a quick oil change; best to leave the aircraft with clean fresh oil whenever possible if it’s going to sit for a while, and the new oil I put in had anti-corrosion additives to help keep it in good condition. We re-positioned the airplane to perform an engine run-up and leak check, which is where the danger of being in a hurry presented itself. In my rush to get things finished up, and get on the road to Sydney, I entirely forgot to put the oil filler cap back on. Just as I was thinking to myself “Did I put the filler cap on…?” Harry made the symbol to cut the engine; that would be a “yes”, then. We did learn, at least, that oil won’t blow out the filler if you leave the cap off, at least when stationary on the ground!

Tucked away safely for the next 3 months
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My saviour, Gerard
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After meeting Dave, the owner of the maintenance shop, and running through some preventative work and inspections that I wanted done while I was away, we jumped in my aunt’s car and headed for Sydney. Along the way I received a call from Ben, from AOPA Australia, and he spent a while interviewing me for an article about the flight for their magazine. We drove on through the darkness and occasional torrential rain, crossing the Sydney harbour bridge, which was an exciting way to arrive in the city! We stayed that night at the Sofitel in Darling Harbour, and had an incredible dinner at Cafe Sydney, overlooking the bridge and opera house. The next morning it would be back to work, and what would be a 12 week break in the trip in total.

Final night
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Hours so far: 170
Distance so far: 19,644
Countries so far: 29
Lockhaven, mick w, RichJordan and 4 others liked this
#1726331
mick w wrote:Amazing !! 8) :thumright:
not arf!

I’m so very much enjoying all the reports. Australia looks to have some incredible looking features from above, such an old and barren looking land. The patterns of wind (and water on the green bits above!) are amazing..

Following along with the descriptions, photos and experiences, it’s as if we are travelling along with you.

Thank you so very much for posting here :thumleft:

Keep the reports coming :salut:

(particularly gutted I chickened out nipping up to laddingford to meet you in May when you were over here - at least charles made it up from kittyhawk that day )
Katamarino liked this
#1726342
Katamarino wrote:...My aunt, Gerard from AOPA, and another gentleman from Cessnock called Harry...<snip>


It makes perfect literary sense, whichever way it's read! (What did Harry say after calls from all those people including your Aunt Gerard? :cheese: )

Glad to see you're set up for your return. :thumright:

The one flying trip I did in Australia was when twelve of our flying club rented six 172s from Brisbane (via the late GOANA company) and I recall the vast open-cast coal mines there which seemed to lay waste to a 200 mile long strip by a mile wide...strip mining at its best :cry:

I look forward to your next installment. In the interim and as you work towards it, can you post something on how you plan the next stage (planning for permissions, maintenance, fuel dumps, software upgrades etc...)

Rob
#1726443
The first things we noticed on arrival were the flies; they were numerous and incredibly aggressive about getting into our faces


Haha, the sticky flies are complete bastards, aren't they :lol: It seem the English flies generally bog off once you've waved your hands around a bit but Ozzie flies just see it as you encouraging them to visit your face. Fly nets are the 'go' from November until February. After that the atmosphere dries out and the flies seem to die off a bit.

A semi-interesting fact in our neck of the woods. A few years ago they experimented with spreading a bunch of dung beetles over quite a large area. These beasties then ate all the cow poo, horse poo etc and the flies went hungry. This led to a dramatic decrease in the fly population and it was noticeable even to the unscientific (like wot I is). Of course, it worked really well but the Government has far more important things to waste our tax money on, so we never saw it repeated :roll:

Flies feature a lot in our conversations in these parts :mrgreen:

For next time in the GAFA:

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#1726452
PaulSS wrote:A semi-interesting fact in our neck of the woods. A few years ago they experimented with spreading a bunch of dung beetles over quite a large area. These beasties then ate all the cow poo, horse poo etc and the flies went hungry. This led to a dramatic decrease in the fly population and it was noticeable even to the unscientific (like wot I is). Of course, it worked really well but the Government has far more important things to waste our tax money on, so we never saw it repeated


<thread drift>It's an ongoing and fascinating project. The native beetles eat marsupial dung but not cattle dung, and the latter piled up to great environmental detriment. Hence dung beetle species were imported from regions with native bovines and -- after prolonged biosecure testing -- released. The full story is one of the many interesting things (really!) in this book: https://pelagicpublishing.com/products/call-of-nature-secret-life-dung-richard-jones (declaration of interest: I copyedited/typeset the book -- but it's a great read.)
kanga liked this
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