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Going to Birdsville this year? Better book a hotel..


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From the dark side (aka PPRUNE):

  • AVIATION WRITER
    @ironsider
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  • 10:36AM MARCH 2, 2021

The decades-long tradition of *pilots camping under the wing of their aircraft at the Birdsville Races has been banned by the council in a move declared “un-Australian” by veteran aviator Dick Smith.

The entrepreneur is leading calls to have the Diamantina Shire Council’s ban overturned, before the race meeting in September. Council imposed the ban because of the cost involved in operating a “special events zone” at the Birdsville airstrip.
d33b78bf249932c1fd450e3443154cfe?width=6Owen Ruschen and Ian Dewick, camping next to their plane, flew in from Wagga.Diamantina chief executive Leon Love said under the airstrip’s tier-three security status, council would have to provide 24-7 *security and install fenced *walkways. “Those type of requirements have always been there but council is more risk averse and its insurers have become more risk averse,” he said. “Higher standards equals higher cost, and council also provides amenities, collects rubbish, empties portaloos, and all of those things combined cost us more than the landing fees we collect during that week.”

He said the council took the view the operation of the airstrip should be cost neutral in race week, and eliminating the special events zone achieved that.

“Maintaining a multimillion-dollar airport on a shoestring budget, something’s got to give,” he said.

Mr Smith said the ban *appeared to be an “over-reaction” and he was hopeful it could be reversed.

He said there was nothing more Australian than flying to the outback town and sleeping under the wing.

“First climbing Ayers Rock (Uluru) was banned and now this. You wonder what’s next?” he said.

“Now pilots going to Birdsville will have to carry all their stuff to another camping area where it’s completely packed with people who know nothing about aviation.”

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association executive director Ben Morgan said they were hopeful of finding a solution to the problem facing council and would work together if possible.

A petition launched by AOPA opposing the ban had attracted more than 2000 signatures in 48-hours, and Mr Morgan said the issue highlighted a bigger problem for general aviation.

“It needs to be stressed, this is a critical moment in time. We need to implement a solution that will enable events at remote airstrips,” Mr Morgan said.

Already a “boycott Birdsville” hashtag was circulating pilot groups on social media, to the concern of local business operators.

Birdsville Hotel owner and pilot Talia Ellis, said the races were critically important to the whole region this year after being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID.

“When people fly out to Birdsville, most do so because they can camp out under their wing,” Ms Ellis said.

“There’s lots of little towns that benefit with them stopping and refuelling, staying over night. It won’t only be Birdsville and the races that are impacted if this ban goes ahead.”

She said there had been no safety breaches in the past to warrant such action and she was hopeful they could find a way to make it happen.

“There is another way to skin a cat so to speak, so we think they can resolve the issues in a financially viable way,” said Ms Ellis.

“There’s a lot of passionate people in the aviation industry who would be keen to help in any way they can.”

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This is a quaint way of balancing the books; I wonder what the spend is from visitors to Diamantina Shire over that weekend?

Do they leave the roads ungraded too, on the basis of maintaining normal costs for normal events?

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The idiots running councils usually have bugger-all business and management ability. This move is idiocy, and it serves them right if all the flyers boycott the event.

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I was reading through the whole thread on the other site (first time I have been to it in a very long time), and some were of the belief it is due to an obstinate security manager at a certain airline that flies into Birdsville. Apparently, Birdsville and a few others were supposed to be coming off the list of airports requiring security (and therefore the ASIC card), apparently in line with Dept of Home Affairs advice, however, at the last minute it decided not to.. and a few others that the certain airline fly to that were supposed to come off the secured airfield list (or whatever it was called) but changed their mind at the last minute.. Althogh, apparently a coupel of others decided not to take the airline's advice.

 

Regardless, still up to the council to apply common sense and logic.

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