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Albury to Cairns and back


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It started early on a frosty Thursday morning, I loaded the Brumby for a flight to QLD. The light fog was rolling in from the north east but the the north west was clear. I departed Albury into clear crisp air for Coonamble, my first stop.

I met up with my flying companion ,(flying a Glasair) and I topped up the fuel. After a brief stop we both departed for Moree, it was a short and uneventful trip but for a stiff head wind.

After securing the planes, we walked to the caravan park resort and they were busy with caravan travellers, unfortunately our accomodation was closer to town, so we had to order the community light bus to take us there, too far to walk. We walked around Moree for awhile which was easy as it is all flat. In the evening we dined at the PO hotel very pleasant, then returned to our accomodation.

Next morning we headed for St George, unfortunately the head wind stayed with us and it was getting hotter. Arriving at St George we were treated to a ill mannered cross wind , which changed direction halfway down the runway.

After fuelling, we were delivered into town by Julie the fuel lady, although it was not far into town ,it was good of her to take us there. Our brief stay in St George was pleasant and the meal at the local cafe was delicious.

My flying companion and I walked back to the air field and departed for Emerald. Again, the joys of a gusting cross wind and with added increase in temperatures made the going a little tougher. I tried 5000ft but the wind was stronger so down to 2500 ft for less wind but a more robust ride due to a few thermals. As we transitioned through the beautiful country side we came to a magnificent set of ranges, this unique range is part of the Carnarvon gorge district, a wonderful natural system of gorges and escarpments . The west facing escarpments were lit up by sun , truely a magnificent sight. The dark clouds started to gather and we were treated to a light show of descending dark cloud with streams of sunlight passing through. Our arrival at Emerald was welcomed, we set about securing the planes for a couple of nights . At Emerald we had use of a friends car which gave us the ability to explore this lovely and quaint outback QLD town and surrounding area. The weather was good to us during our stay with warm days and little wind . Monday morning my flying companion departed for Hervey bay and I decided to keep heading North to Cairns. Would you believe it, more head winds off the nose,this time it’s a bit gusty and a cloud base that would not allow any additional altitude. With the wind being as it was I decided to put a little extra fuel in at Charters towers, although I had enough fuel by my calculations for the journey. The ( legal) low cloud base , rain events and wind made me err on the side of caution. As I headed North i could not believe the terrain , wooded (tiger country)for hours only broken by an odd hill or ravine. I did try and spot the cattle stations and landing areas, it was a little difficult for both.

The Brumby forged ahead with the relentless headwind eroding my ground speed to 70 / 75 kts , an extra 20/30 kts Ground speed would have been so good. As I closed in on Mareeba the cloud was sitting on top of the last and final hill blocking my direct route to Mareeba, so I had to go around and then navigate back to Mareeba . Tying down the Brumby and then unloading my gear for an extended stay seem to take ages, all the while my lift was waiting to take me to Cairns. A day or two later I flew to Cooktown, starting off over the hills and valleys and finally over the sea along the beach . At Cooktown was blowing a strong wind which made landing interesting. The $50 taxi ride in and $50 out made the day a bit expensive, but the prawns were delicious. Returning to Mareeba was scenic with its tropical wood lands , ranges and sea views . So as not to bore you to much, the trip back to Albury was an epic feat of endurance on my part and thanks to the Brumby’s autopilot, though I was hand flying for stages. Leaving Mareeba the first stop was Barcaldine for a top up and walk ,last stop of the day was Bourke, 9 hours flying time for the day and the wind was coming up from South Aus. so a hefty head wind all the way , I could not believe it, Head wind coming up and a Head wind going back. The friendly staff at the Kidman camping ground where helpful in every way,so big thank you, your assistance with unequaled service and courtesy show no bound. After being delivered to the air port,It was so cold that morning the engine oil was reluctant to leave the bottle and the up took addition time to carry out. As I departed Bourke I was thankful I had a heater in the Brumby. How nice it is to see the local land scape as your returning home.

By lunch time the Brumby was in the hangar resting for the next adventure and winter was still here,I can only dream of being back in FNQ

Edited by stevron
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There is nothing like the trip you made to lighten ones heart. Well done.

Two things that come to mind that can improve such ventures. Fly in the morning and enjoy your stopping point in the afternoon. Less thermals and less fatigue. Flying 9 hours in one day is not a good idea. Fatigue is one of those things that get forgotten until an emergency happens and then you realise your thinking is not as sharp as it should be. Too late, you have now used up two points (emergency, fatigue) and if anything else goes wrong, such as weather, it is usually fatal.

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