Flight to the Farthest Corner of Australia - 2019.

I'd flown over most of Australia as shown on this map:


But one place that I hadn't been was the very south-west corner of the continent.
I looked on the charts and found an airstrip at Augusta, just as far SW as you can go.
It looked like a very quiet airstrip right near town, so that was ideal....

I also wanted to view the mines in the Goldfields area of Western Australia, so routed through the centre on the way out. This also avoids the prevailing westerlies along the south coast.
Then return along that spectacular coastline along the south coast, and ride those tailwinds.

You can zoom in for a close look, or click on markers for locations mentioned in the text.

5,200 nm, 9,666 km, 73 hrs.

Loading up at Kilcoy airfield.

Tarong coal-fired power station smoking up the atmosphere....

Nearby Coopers Gap wind farm under construction.

I landed at Chinchilla for a quick pee beside the runway then way again in minutes.
Later received an invoice for a $10 landing fee.
We joke about the $100 hamburger, but this is a $10 pee fee.....
I guess I'll use the bottle next time.....

Flying out along that Warrego Highway brought back memories
of flying the little single seat Beaver ultralight on it's first flight to Birdsville in '95.
That was a real adventure in such an aircraft, but it all went very well.
Then many more times since, such that it's now just a lot of boring mulga scrub....

The Diamantina River with lots of water now.

But so many bush flies after that rain!!
What do the flies do for entertainment when we're not there??

Looks like different grazing regimes on either side of that fence, eh.....

With a good tailwind, got all the way to Jundah first day, 7.8hrs.
Nice quiet strip right on the edge of the very small town, easy walk to the pub.
A couple of beers and friendly yarns in the pub.

I had wanted to fly the most direct route to the centre by the French Line across the Simpson Desert.
But both Eyre Creek and the Diamantina were flooded, so there wouldn't be any 4wds
making the crossing now, so no assistance if I got stranded out there.
So decided to go north around the desert by the Plenty Highway.

On to Boulia, hoping to fill up with Premium in town.
Walked in with my fuel cart, only to find the servo tanks were empty.....
So had to call for Avgas, on a public holiday,
so cost an extra $50 callout fee.
The fueler pointed out that this is a Council fee and she doesn't set it....


This is my fuel cart, made from a salvaged golf clubs cart.
Really easy to cart fuel, even on rough ground.

It weighs a bit over a kilo and folds like this.

So much tedious flat mulga country down there, day after day.....

Then the Eastern MacDonnel ranges and some spectacular variety at last.
Down the eastern side of those ranges and across to Orange Creek station on the Stuart Hwy.

Had a look at nearby Rainbow Valley, where I had done a week-long camel trip in '92.


There's some really wild country in the James Ranges west of here.

These north-facing caves must have been a welcome shelter for Aboriginals.

These are some of the Henbury meteorite craters.

Alice Springs area is a real problem for fuel.
I had hoped to do more exploring in those James Ranges and West MacDonnels,
but fuel limits ruled that out.
The station owner had driven me with my jerry can twice to the nearest roadhouse, 
but couldn't ask him to do more.

So headed south to Kulgera Roadhouse where it's easy to get fuel.
Didn't taxi across the highway, as some have been doing, cause I think that's very unwise....
Once again the fuel cart was very useful.
Only downside was the 'earworm' that I picked up from the constant music playing.
Johnny Cash with that absurd tune, 'Burning Ring of Fire'.
I'm sure that was the same tune playing the last time I was here several years ago.....

Then headed west, just south of the NT/SA border, 
some of it along the old Gun Barrel Highway.
Hardly a highway, but a good road that gives access to several communities.
Stopped at Amata and Jameson, both good bitumen strips.

This is a great example of mosaic burning.
Localized slow-burning fires spaced out so that the game has refuge between.
Then, next rains the burned area will green up first, providing good grazing.

Fueled again at Warburton.
Had considered to overnight there,
 but the fueler advised not a good idea to park an aircraft there overnight
due to young rascals who access the airfield.
A pack of them arrived as we were refueling and he had to chase them away.....

So headed down the Great Central Road,
which is becoming a good highway now, with more and more bitumen.

This particular piece of bitumen on the Great Central Road at Tjukayirla Roadhouse,
is marked out as an airstrip with piano keys.
So I presumed I was allowed to land there if no traffic in sight, 
but soon found out that it was NOT allowed....
So don't land on any of those airstrips that you see marked out on highways!!
There are several across the Nullarbor and one I've seen south of Boulia, Qld.

Found this in the bush, telling a sad story for someones trip...

A wild, cold, rodeo-rough flight next morning.

Approaching Laverton this is the first of many gold mines in Western Australia.
Big holes in the ground everywhere, a lot of hard work for the precious metal....



Two rides on the bike into Leonora for fuel,
then a couple of beers and a 'Hi-Vis Special' steak at the popular Central Pub,
full of miners in hi-vis shirts and boots.

The famous Sons of Gwalia mine near Leonora.
Herbert Hoover was manager of this mine early on.


Tailings from Gwalia flowing away......

I think one of those small underground mines is the Beta Hunt, 
where recently several huge nuggets were found, worth about $15 million!
Kambalda and Lake Lefroy in the background.

Yet another mine.....

The water pipeline from near Perth to Kalgoorie, 530km long, built in 1903.

The Boddington Gold Mine, SE of Perth.
This is now considered to be the largest gold mine in Australia.


Bauxite mining nearby.

The largest lithium mine in Australia at Greenbushes.
It's one of the earliest mines in Western Australia,
but originally they were just after the tin,
and the lithium had no value, until the recent battery revolution.
Now of course it's partly owned by China, 
and they are also building lithium processing plants on the coast.


Cape Leeuwin, farthest south west corner of Australia.
Great Southern Ocean on the left, Indian Ocean on the right.

Nearby Augusta town and airstrip.
It's mostly a holiday house and retirement town, so it's pretty quiet...
But the best fish and chips ever!
Grilled shark with lemon and pepper seasoning, not smothered in batter or crumbs.

The boat harbour at Augusta.
Not much shelter from that Great Southern Ocean.

Camped at Augusta airstrip.
It was a perfect place for a rest, quiet airfield and easy bike ride to town.
And no flies for a change!
I had planned to stay a few days, 
but second day found me just sitting around  waiting for dinner time,
and I'm too restless for that....
Besides, a nasty weather low was spinning in from the big ocean,
so didn't want to get caught by that, so headed east.....

Soon ran into low cloud and had to divert to Manjimup for a couple of hours.
Then a lot of haze, but no fires or dust, so a bit strange....


Camped at Orleans Farms airstrip.



Lake Hillier, on Middle Island.

Not just a little bit pink, but 'bubblegum' pink.






Ruins of the old telegraph station at Israelite Bay


The abandoned airstrip at Israelite Bay.
Looks plenty good for a bush flyer.


Another pink lake at Israelite Bay.

Lots of beach.

Bilbunya Dunes, the highest dunes in Australia.

That looks like a great bush flyer strip.
32.947 S 124.395 E
Lots of 4wd tracks show that it's hard.
I did a low pass but didn't land because a weather front was following close behind
and I needed to stay in front of it....

The very western end of those spectacular cliffs all along the Nullarbor.


Cocklebiddy Roadhouse and airstrip.

Camped at Border Village Roadhouse.
That's an exceptionally well-run roadhouse, with an extra good restaurant.

But during the night a very aggressive dog took exception to me being there.
Serious growling and prancing with hackles up and circling the tent.
Shone a powerful light in his eyes, but that didn't stop him.
Went on and on for a long time before he lost interest.
It seems he probably came from cattle trucks
 that were transferring stock nearby....

The old Eyre Highway, so long and straight.
Definitely Null-arbor (Latin for no trees)

On this new highway it looks like they maybe deliberately included some bends 
to break up the tedium......


This is one of the multiple caves in the limestone Nullarbor.

The abandoned Koonalda Roadhouse along the old Eyre Highway.
I would have stopped at that roadhouse
when I traveled that old highway in a VW Kombi in 1969.
It wasn't paved in those days, and was all potholes and huge clouds of limestone dust.
And being January it was extremely HOT, no aircon then....
That brave 1500cc VW plugged along all the way, then on around the rest of OZ.

This is a graveyard of vehicles that didn't make it across.
Each one a sad story of a trip gone bad.....

50's and 60's models.

More straight road.



Smoky Bay, SA

Venus Bay
A very popular surfing spot.

Refueling at Elliston.
Four 1.5 km trips to the service station. for 80 litres of Premium, good exercise.
Elliston wasn't nearly the town that I had hoped.
Not even a fish and chip shop in a sea-side town....

Farmers eaking out viable bits of soil among the sand hills.

Looks like a big worm has been moving around.

Coffin Bay.
A perfectly sheltered boating paradise.

Wind turbines getting a bite on that breeze off the ocean.

Recent rain has put the farmers to work planting new crops.



Farming right to the edge.

Whyalla steelworks.
It was in threat of closure, but British entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta
has bought it and intends to run the mill as well as a large horticultural project,
on renewable power - photovoltaic, wind and pumped hydro.
And to generate twice as much power as he needs in order to encourage
other industries to set up there due to low cost power independent of the grid.
Huge dreams, I do hope he can make it work....



Iron Baron mine, feeding the steel works.

Iron Knob mine also feeding the steel works.
I think it's some of these pits that Gupta is planning to use for pumped hydro.

Producing 17,000 tons of gourmet truss tomatoes each year, all year round,
Using just solar energy and seawater, which South Australia has lots of.....
Another new adventurous project that I do hope succeeds.....



The big Tesla battery.
Several right-wing politicians ridiculed this battery, but it's been a spectacular success!
First year revenue returns = $24 million for an installed cost of $91 million!
No wonder that several other big batteries are now on order.
Yet another project in South Australia leading the way.....
But it took a Frence company to see the opportunity
and commit the finance, no taxpayer subsidy......

Camped at Jamestown cause the strip is right at the edge of town.
Then on and on across miserable scrubby country to Wentworth.
An excellent airfield to refuel due to minimal traffic compared to Mildura....

Camped at Cobar with the rising moon.

PV solar array at Nyngan

This morning I had another example of how accurate the weather forecasts are from
Windy.com
I was pushing a 15kt headwind on track to Coonamble.
A look at Windy.com showed that there was a strong headwind on this track,
but just 20nm east was light and variable.
So I diverted, and it was uncannily accurate!!
Of course all the data for both Windy and the Area forecast comes from the same BOM data,
but the graphic presentation by Windy makes it so much easier to interpret.
Couldn't live without it now, just so much better than the confusing traditional presentation.

Home at last.....
Aircraft performed faultlessly all the way.

Immediately did an oil change while the engine was still hot.
Try to get rid of the lead from all that Avgas.
That faithful little engine had earned the attention......

John Gilpin
May 2019







Comments

  1. Pure magic. you have done well.. Nev

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fantastic work JG. One day I hope to fly similar expeditions. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brilliant

    Spreading your wings
    To share the vision
    With we, the people who care.

    ReplyDelete

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