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boleropilot

TRIP TO COOKTOWN !

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boleropilot

G'day youse mob,

 

Glenn has been posting on the General Discussion forum about a planned trip from Victoria to Cooktown in June '18 - many of the participants have fallen by the wayside so I have decided to bite the bullet and plan a trip (primarily for 60 knotters) from Boonah to Cooktown, up the coast, returning via Longreach on the way home.

 

At this point I am looking at flexible dates around June 2018, I honestly believe that due to weather, mechanical and personal factors that pre-booking definite stopover dates will not work. I'm happy for experienced trippers to advise me of how those factors are managed !

 

The plan will be to fly a couple of hours in the morning, break for middle of day, then another couple of hours to the overnighter (which will have fuel available) - that would give about 250nm per "flying" day, and stopovers would be planned (where possible) where there are BEDS available - did I mention that I'm OLD ???

 

Anyway folks, it's all a dream at the moment, but I'm committed to the process - please do not hesitate to reply via this forum by post or pm, every single bit of advice will be gratefully accepted

 

Cheers

 

BP

 

PS anybody got ideas on how a support vehicle might work ???

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Head in the clouds

Hi BP, wish my DooMaw would be finished by then because I would have been joining your group for sure.

 

Anyway ... next time.

 

Having done that trip and other similar ones to the north, by Drifter, Cessna and helicopters on many an occasion, a couple of pointers that you might find useful -

 

Keep in mind that planning going up or back along the coast has several issues, the main ones being CTA and the risk of weather coming in from the sea and pushing you up against the Divide, or weather flowing off the land and pushing you offshore. Your chosen time of year does reduce the weather issues a fair bit though.

 

A support vehicle(s) can be mighty helpful but also a PITA when they can't keep up or access where you want to go. The cost of running the support vehicle, in my mind, is better spent getting locals to help along the way instead.

 

The main thing I noted from your OP was your intention to fly in the mornings and evenings. IMHO that's a really bad idea. From experience I'd suggest you get all your day's flying done as early as possible in the morning. Fuel up the day before, get up and breakfasted in the dark in the morning and be airborne at very first light. That way you can have five hours' flying done in the smooth air before 10am and before headwinds pick up - they're always headwinds, it doesn't matter which way you're travelling ...

 

Apart from the better climate for flying there are a number of other reasons to do it that way. You get your plane tied down early and are more likely to find people at airports who might help with your transport/fuelling needs, also sometimes hangar space, and certainly local knowledge.

 

Then you have the rest of the day to explore the local area before returning to your hotel and be able to relax instead of fuelling and tie-down, transport to town, and all that at last light.

 

And - most importantly - when something goes wrong, as it often does, if there's a mishap, bad weather, get lost etc ... you have lots of daylight to sort it out, whereas if something goes wrong during the evening flying leg of your day, it'll be a case of waiting until morning to sort it out, and if someone was injured that could make the difference between survival or not.

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boleropilot

magic stuff headsy, all taken on board - now get back into the living room (that's where you're building it, right?) and get that DooMaw finished

 

btw, when do you think you will finish it ? you got any pix posted here or elsewhere on the build? what motor?

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boleropilot

hey just found 12 pages of your DooMaw build - going to have a read right now...

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Blueadventures
G'day youse mob,

 

Glenn has been posting on the General Discussion forum about a planned trip from Victoria to Cooktown in June '18 - many of the participants have fallen by the wayside so I have decided to bite the bullet and plan a trip (primarily for 60 knotters) from Boonah to Cooktown, up the coast, returning via Longreach on the way home.

 

At this point I am looking at flexible dates around June 2018, I honestly believe that due to weather, mechanical and personal factors that pre-booking definite stopover dates will not work. I'm happy for experienced trippers to advise me of how those factors are managed !

 

The plan will be to fly a couple of hours in the morning, break for middle of day, then another couple of hours to the overnighter (which will have fuel available) - that would give about 250nm per "flying" day, and stopovers would be planned (where possible) where there are BEDS available - did I mention that I'm OLD ???

 

Anyway folks, it's all a dream at the moment, but I'm committed to the process - please do not hesitate to reply via this forum by post or pm, every single bit of advice will be gratefully accepted

 

Cheers

 

BP

 

PS anybody got ideas on how a support vehicle might work ???

Hi BP I will join in depending on actual dates etc. I'm in Mackay so can assist if any needs arise in this area. Tools and maintenance assist etc and there are many others up in this area that can assist any breakdowns etc. If possible plan to have two days at Thangool in late May as its an alternate to Old Station for 2018 and will be a good flyin / rest stop opportunity. Talk later. Cheers MIke

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Jaba-who

I have done lots of big group flying trips ( usually for a week or so) and was the main organiser for our aero club touring trips yearly from 2000 to about 2014.

From my experience I agree wholeheartedly with HITC.

 

Get your flying done early. Turbulence can be a pain in the afternoons ( that time of year is usually OK but even in winter you can get turbulent if it warms up.

There's often plenty to see at your destination so give yourself time to look around. Nothing worse then arriving somewhere with lots of things to see but have no time to do it. "Been there but not actually been there" If you know what I mean.

If you must fly in the afternoons OK but get it over with as early as you are happpy with.

You have to allow sometimes significant amounts of time for refuelling and tieing down etc. not all places have self serve bowsers or if they do they can be broken and have to use refuellers. In the bush refuellers are not always there when you arrive. I've had guys promise to be there but were off in town, fishing or uncontactable when we arrived. Also refuellers go home - sometimes early if it's a quiet day and some will charge a call out fee to come back if you are a minute after they have clocked off for the day. Etc.

 

You can get hotels etc happily come and pick you up during working hours but after hours they are trying to run restaurants and get their own meals and close the books for the day and book in late car travellers who arrive. They can be reluctant to come pick you up then. And lots of small places don't have taxi services or they also can be difficult to get late in the day.

 

Booking ahead is a two edged sword. You know you have a bed - if you get there. But it puts pressure of push-on-Itis to get there when the better thing to do is divert. But not booking ahead also has risks. Depending on the size of the group you can find you get to a place unannounced and not have enough beds. Murphy law says There will always be the rodeo or the camel races or B & S Ball ( if they still exist) on that day that you turn up and the town will be booked out. And some small towns don't have much accomodation anyway.

 

It's worthwhile limiting your numbers severely. Our big groups ( used to have anywhere up to 15 aircraft and 30 or so people) purposely folded about 5 years ago and we now do small groups doing their own thing. We found the biggest easy-to-deal-with number is three aircraft and six people. Few enough that getting an unannounced hotel room isn't usually a problem. Enough people that if someone starts getting on your nerves there's others to dilute it, but enough to be doing stuff together. More than that starts to become problematic with beds, fuelling times, varying speeds of aircraft means some people are waiting at airports for ages or delaying everyone else etc.

 

If you decide to prebook - make all participants do their own booking.

From bitter experience I learned that for a group booking while you get a bit of a discount you usually have to pay upfront or at least they have a hefty cancellation fee and long period beforehand with a significant cancellation fee. So you cancel because of weather - you will never know about the weather until the day - so you'll lose the fee ( on your own card) and then some of your group will resist requests to split the cost of the fee and won't repay you. Sadly I have lost hundreds of dollars to beligerent a..holes who I thought were mates until it came to parting with $.

So yep - find the hotels and check they have rooms and then get everyone to book their own rooms directly.

 

I could go on for ages about the details of big group flying safaris. Glad to impart more experience to you later if needed.

Specifically to your planned route that's right through my home turf so can also advise quite a bit about best routes or ideas.

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boleropilot

reply first to Mike - thanks for the input m8, it's all gold to me - I would love to hear your comments about a place to stay that has beds and fuel around Mackay - see below for some interesting news!

to jababloke, thanks to you too m8, some good info there for sure, much appreciated - now for the news:

 

because of Mikes comments re. Thangool, The Trip now has at least some dates - we will be arriving in Thangool early on Friday 25th May for the Fly-In, flying out on Sunday 27th May.

there is little accommodation available in Thangool, I have booked a cabin for Friday and Saturday nights at MAS Country Biloela Countryman Motel, 15km to the North, they state they have "a shuttle to the airport"

a long time away I know but if you book through Booking.com you do not have to pay anything up front and there is a 100% refund if you cancel within certain dates

Stage 1 of the plan is now starting to look like: Boonah - Gympie - Mundubbera - Monto - Thangool - then over to Gladstone or thereabouts to finally get to the coast...we shall see !

with those dates set I reckon we would be leaving Boonah on Wednesday 23rd May - I haven't done any navexs for those flights yet but I will post again here when I have (soon)

 

please be patient with the way this is being put together, I'm a newbie in this area and am (so far) making decisions that may or may not be the right ones - PLEASE tell me if you see a problem !

 

cheers

 

BP

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Head in the clouds
we will be arriving in Thangool early on Friday 25th May for the Fly-In, flying out on Sunday 27th May - PLEASE tell me if you see a problem !

 

cheers

 

BP

 

Don't shoot the messenger ...

 

The first time I flew to the far north was 1989, two of us in a Drifter, no ground crew. Left in May, returned in September. As far as I recall the trip was Kooralbyn - Dalby - Roma - Augathella - Blackall - Barcaldine - Longreach - Lorraine Station - Cloncurry - Mt Isa - Gunpowder - Burke & Wills R'house - Gregory Downs - Normanton - Burketown - Doomadgee - Lawn Hill ... from there we went via Hells Gate and Nathan River - Borrololla - Ngukurr - Mataranka - Curtin Airbase - Pine Creek - Darwin (MKT) and then return via stops in Kakadu - Arnhemland (various) - Tennant Ck - Barkly Homestead - Camooweal - Lawn Hill - Cloncurry - Lorraine Station - Emerald - Rolleston - Taroom - Miles - Kooralbyn

 

The point of writing all that was more than just a trip down memory lane, though a good one of that it was anyway ..., but 1989 was a La Nina year, just like this one is looking like being, and the first half of our trip was a comedy of getting bogged every time we landed off 'made' surfaces, even on the grass alongside runways, and bogged to the boomtube wherever there was blacksoil which is most of central and north Qld as far as the Gulf. And - I had big golf buggy wheels on! It was fun since we had the time for it not to be an issue but had we known how wet it would still be, we might have left a month later.

 

Just something to keep in mind. Once you're north of the Gulf and hit the clay, redsoil, sandy or rocky ground it's not a problem, but a hint of moisture on blacksoil areas and you're done for, so take a folding shovel ...

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Blueadventures
reply first to Mike - thanks for the input m8, it's all gold to me - I would love to hear your comments about a place to stay that has beds and fuel around Mackay - see below for some interesting news!

to jababloke, thanks to you too m8, some good info there for sure, much appreciated - now for the news:

 

because of Mikes comments re. Thangool, The Trip now has at least some dates - we will be arriving in Thangool early on Friday 25th May for the Fly-In, flying out on Sunday 27th May.

there is little accommodation available in Thangool, I have booked a cabin for Friday and Saturday nights at MAS Country Biloela Countryman Motel, 15km to the North, they state they have "a shuttle to the airport"

a long time away I know but if you book through Booking.com you do not have to pay anything up front and there is a 100% refund if you cancel within certain dates

Stage 1 of the plan is now starting to look like: Boonah - Gympie - Mundubbera - Monto - Thangool - then over to Gladstone or thereabouts to finally get to the coast...we shall see !

with those dates set I reckon we would be leaving Boonah on Wednesday 23rd May - I haven't done any navexs for those flights yet but I will post again here when I have (soon)

 

please be patient with the way this is being put together, I'm a newbie in this area and am (so far) making decisions that may or may not be the right ones - PLEASE tell me if you see a problem !

 

cheers

 

BP

Check if after Thangool Emu Park is within your planned legs. Emu park is a top airstrip that you can walk to town and has plenty of accomodation and food places. Cheers Mike

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boleropilot

thanks guys, planning is going ahead slowly and in some chaos - I've taken a deep breath and have made some decisions:

 

1. flying will be done betwixt dawn and noon

2. limiting numbers seems to be important so it should probably be based on first in are in (having said that I won't be saying No to anyone - wanna be where we are? - go right ahead)

3. navigation and bookings will be arranged by individuals - some people may not appreciate my nav options and accom bookings are obviously a minefield

4. I will stop posting info on a detailed itinerary - basically, I will post events and dates as a rough guide and as we get close to the departure date I will post The Plan

5. the support vehicle is unlikely to work so that idea is a fond memory - sad for me because fat Drifter drivers need a little help in managing weight...both in the PIC seat and essential items

 

that just about covers where I am at the moment - I will add that the first waypoints are now: Watts Bridge - Kingaroy - Mundubbera - Monto - Thangool - Emu Park

keep the advice coming guys, it's all gold to me

 

cheers

 

BP

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Jaba-who

Sounds great.

When you get up north - level with Cairns you may have to go west - due to CTA covering all of coastal route around cairns.

 

If you are wanting a stop for a pee break or an overnight and fuel then consider atherton. Lovely little grass strip airport, no landing fees, a gas credit card self serve bowser and lots of hotels and accom. There is some limited accommodations at the airport itself and a caravan park with some cabins ( I think I can check) in walking distance at the road into the airport. Very active and welcoming aeroclub there with no pretentiousness about GA or RAA rivalry etc. if you are planning on a weekend day there the troops would probably put out the welcome mat and fire up the Bbq. Only downside is that the weather can be a bit more dodgy than the other option - Mareeba which is just down the road about 13 nm. All same points as outlined above except they have landing fees.

I’m happy to give info on all options.

A thought - a long way ahead - Cooktown airport is a long way out of town so you’ll have to add transport into your planning. But the accom proprietors are pretty good. We can usually can get the place to come pick us up so no problem just add it to your list of planning bits.

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boleropilot

thanks again Jabba, your input is going to continue to be really helpful - I would like to go as far as Cooktown because I spend 3 months living in a tent at the airport there back in the '70s! I was an Aircraft Handler in Army Aviation then and they were tasked to support survey operations across the Cape - we had mainly Sioux choppers and they needed fuel dumps all over the Cape, I spent a lot of time in Caribou dropping off 44 gallon drums of Avgas in little caches all over the place. On one occasion after getting the last drums off at Kowanyama we went up to 7,500 feet for the trip back to Cooktown - one of the pilots wanted to have a nap and the other wanted to play cards with the boys in the back - so guess who flew the Caribou all the way back to Cooktown, up front, all by himself? I did naturally have a very good knowledge of how everything works in a cockpit after many hours of up-front flying in AAAvn aircraft (including a fair bit of hands-on stuff - the AHs used to fly the aircraft while the students studied the map on navexs)...I was quite comfortable with the Caribou until the PIC stuck his head up between the seats and said "hey Tonxy, there's Cooktown right on the nose - good navigating mate - now, ya reckon ya can land this sucker?" Shat meself I did...he laughed so hard at my reaction that he nearly peed himself - wild days for sure....all of that didn't happen of course, I just made it up...

 

Atherton is definitely on the list, sounds exactly like what I am looking for as a stopover. I'll have a look at the airspace boundaries, maybe we'll turn North-West at Babinda and track for Mareeba?

 

cheers

 

BP

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Jaba-who

Would be great to have a safari drop in. That’s for sure.

With regard the route to atherton.

Bad news is that it is very Weather dependant in which way you can go.

 

Best case scenario - turn as you suggested at Innisfail not Babinda. The mountains behind Babinda are way too high Bartle Frere is highest mountain in Qld (5200 odd feet) and 2nd highest Belenden Ker ( just under at about 5000 ft) big areas of rain forest and tiger country. No one ever goes over that except in a Qantas or virgin.

Just to south of these there’s a nice escarpment and only a short strip of rough stuff before you get onto the tableland and farm country ( still hills but at least open paddocks and roads). Get up high enough to see where the shortest leap over evil stuff is and take that.

 

That route is easily clouded in though.

Next best is to keep heading north till you get to gordonvale just south of cairns. Stay under the CTA steps and you are fine. Turn west and follow the Mulgrave River Valley climb to below 4500ft and cross the escarpment and you are right level with Atherton. Just cross the dam and farm lands etc and you’re there.

 

If the weather is really crappy though you will need to go west. The weather here can be socked in anywhere but typical places are around Ingham, at Innisfail, the valley south of cairns and atherton itself. The weather here does not move through fast unlike down south. it can stay in for days or even weeks. So if you wanted to just wait and let the weather go through check the forecast. Sometimes you’ll be waiting weeks.

 

Going west - you may need to go west anywhere south of here. Or if you are going via Thangool consider staying west the whole time. Thangool -emerald-Clermont -charters towers - then a long stretch to abeam Mareeba. Fuel may be an issue there. Come in via Petford and Dimbulah (YDIM) the valley there is in a rain shadow - it’s our failsafe entry route to all our trips. Can usually ( never say always) get in from the west that way. Get to Mareeba then turn back south to atherton. Alternate is Mareeba -as they say in the ads “300 sunny days a year “ there.

 

Just a bit more stuff to digest.

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boleropilot

Thanks Jabba - I'm not sure if I've interpreted your 'avoid Cairns' info - can you tell me if the following is workable? if not, modification/s needed?

 

Innisfail - East Palmerston - Millaa Millaa - Atherton (overnighter) - Mareeba

 

cheers

 

BP

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Raytol

Try to put Undarra Lava tubes on your list.

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boleropilot

OK Ray, I'll have a look to see if it fits in with our planning - BP

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Erik Snyman

Hello Bp

I would LOVE to go with. I fly an old C172, so can keep up with the 60 knotters.....(is that a new word?) I live in Central West NSW (Parkes) and can supply overnight sleeping space here. Parkes has a lovely airport to boot!

Please, please, can I go with?

Erik in Oz.

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boleropilot

g'day Erik, m8 you are welcome to come along but the original trip from Holbrook is a different trip to the one I am planning...we will be leaving from Boonah (S E Qld) around the end of May '18 and hoping to go (mainly) up the coast to Cooktown (there's lots of airspace and Cumulus Granitis up North - apparently!) and back inland via Undara (thanks Ray - nice glamping tents available there for $75 per night, and the airport is close by) and Longreach etc. So you would need to zip up to Boonah and meet us there.

 

the only issue I could see is that the 60 knotters (my new word for the Inglish Langrage) are a little more STOL than your lovely old 172 - having said that, I doubt we would be overnighting anywhere without a nice long runway...

 

watch this space m8...please keep in mind that all pilots will be responsible for their own navigation and accommodation bookings - I will supply all those who turn up at Boonah for departure with a file containing where I am going, where I hope to be overnight, and my IFR flight plans (I Follow Roads, Railways and Rivers)...due to the myriad of things that can go wrong (particularly weather) the majority of dates will be flexible

 

with the 172 you will be able to 'straight line' a lot more than what I am planning, with my little two stroke motor I need to make sure I stay close to some form of road - so my planned tracks can be a little wonky...twood be nice to have someone along for the trip who can get ahead of the group, land at our stopover or overnighter, then give us the word on what's happening on the way there and on the ground. We'll have to get you a Pathfinder badge !!!

 

cheers

 

BP

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boleropilot

sorry, what I should have said is "I will be supplying participants with details of the proposed trip well beforehand, and also a printed copy on arrival at Boonah".

 

cheers

 

BP

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Erik Snyman
sorry, what I should have said is "I will be supplying participants with details of the proposed trip well beforehand, and also a printed copy on arrival at Boonah".

 

cheers

 

BP

Hello BP

That would be awesome!!!! I will get myself up to Boonah, and we take it from there. I might also be able to take some of the other 60 knotter`s excess luggage..Don`t worry, I also love to follow roads. I don`t mind to potter along at low-and-slow speed. I can do that all day long!

Kindest regards, and please keep me in mind for future plans.

Erik.

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boleropilot

Erik, that is fantastic news about the fact that you might be able to take along some 'excess luggage' - please put me down for 100kg...

 

cheers m8

 

Dave aka BP

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boleropilot

sorry Erik - when I said 100kg, I actually meant 10 crates of vino - will that fit? ah yeah - and a wine fridge.....

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Blueadventures
thanks guys, planning is going ahead slowly and in some chaos - I've taken a deep breath and have made some decisions:

 

1. flying will be done betwixt dawn and noon

2. limiting numbers seems to be important so it should probably be based on first in are in (having said that I won't be saying No to anyone - wanna be where we are? - go right ahead)

3. navigation and bookings will be arranged by individuals - some people may not appreciate my nav options and accom bookings are obviously a minefield

4. I will stop posting info on a detailed itinerary - basically, I will post events and dates as a rough guide and as we get close to the departure date I will post The Plan

5. the support vehicle is unlikely to work so that idea is a fond memory - sad for me because fat Drifter drivers need a little help in managing weight...both in the PIC seat and essential items

 

that just about covers where I am at the moment - I will add that the first waypoints are now: Watts Bridge - Kingaroy - Mundubbera - Monto - Thangool - Emu Park

keep the advice coming guys, it's all gold to me

 

cheers

 

BP

Hi BP re stop over at Kingaroy. A chance of budget accomodation may be the bunk house of Kingaroy Soaring Club. Good beds and showers etc. Get meal in town. Not far from where you tie down aircraft. Last time I stayed there was $15 per night. Would need to contact the club to confirm if available. Cheers Mike

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Erik Snyman
sorry Erik - when I said 100kg, I actually meant 10 crates of vino - will that fit? ah yeah - and a wine fridge.....

That`s ok.......I just need to get the trailer`s rego up to date and fit a tow hitch to the old 172....

Erik in Oz.

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Jaba-who
Thanks Jabba - I'm not sure if I've interpreted your 'avoid Cairns' info - can you tell me if the following is workable? if not, modification/s needed?

 

Innisfail - East Palmerston - Millaa Millaa - Atherton (overnighter) - Mareeba

 

cheers

 

BP

Yep that's a good path.

But I would have a plan for a western approach as well because of potential for weather issues.

 

For what it's worth in order of ease and picturesqueness etc

 

1. Innisfail - East Palmerston - Millaa Millaa - Atherton (overnighter) - Mareeba

 

2. Innisfail - Gordonvale - Atherton

 

3. From West of the ranges - Petford -Dimbulah - Mareeba - Atherton.

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