Sunday, July 11, 2010

Witnessing Natural History

Picture chronological order is from the bottom up

Fogged in at Shepparton (our two aircraft are at the far end)

Flight line (our aircraft is in the foreground) at the disused airstrip
(unserviceable aircraft is on right being tied down)

Approaching Wilcannia NSW just North of the Darling River (on the
way back to Broken Hill from the Paroo River)

Flying Over the Paroo River

Paroo River Wetlands

Paroo River System

"Back o' Bourke" (on the way to the Paroo River)

White Cliffs Opal Mining Town (on the way to the Paroo River)

Glenn and I at Swan Hill, Victoria

Hello Everyone,

Firstly, I would like to say that our Jess continues to inspire and evoke memories of an incredible few months. This inspiration led me to embark on a little adventure of my own.

When my flying club out at Tooradin, Victoria invited a bunch of us to fly up to Broken Hill NSW, I was thrilled to bits and accepted. So Friday before last, Glenn (a pilot mate of mine) and I were the first to get off the ground at Tooradin and tracked due North over the Cardinia and Sylvan dams past Lilydale and then on to Kilmore on a generally North Westerly track to Swan Hill and Broken Hill. We decided that I would fly up and Glenn would fly back.

It was at Kilmore that we met our first challenge in the form of a lowering cloud base and a rising ground - net effect is cloud on ground so there was no way we could have gone through that ! I decided to do a 180 and head back to Lilydale where I thought we would land and wait for the weather to clear.

It so happened that when I looked over my shoulder, there was a brilliant ray of sunshine right in the centre of the weather system. I doubled back to Kilmore and headed straight for the hole and managed to get around the weather and as we continued to Swan Hill where we decided to stop for a leg stretch and catch up with other flyers, the weather became progressively better.

The rest of the flight up to Broken Hill was reasonably eventful, dodging isolated rain showers and low cloud but nothing too daunting.

The highlight of the trip was the next day when we flew North East of Broken Hill to have a look at the Paroo River and its series of drain lakes. It was on our return that we were advised that this vast catchment has had water in it only twice in the last 200 years ! This is only the third time in 200 years that it has literally flooded ! See attached pictures.

The trip up saw one of our club aeroplanes make an emergency landing at a disused strip about 60 miles south of Broken Hill. This was due to an engine failure. The two pilots on board did an incredible job, not only staying in one piece but also keeping the aeroplane intact. All the emergency training kicked in and literally saved them from possible serious harm.

On our way back, the lot of us decided to visit the disused strip and help tie down the unserviceable aircraft and marvel at the true "Back o' Bourke". This resulted in us not having enough daylight to make it all the way back to Tooradin the same evening so two aeroplanes (Glenn and I included) decided to divert to Shepparton for the night.

We woke up the next morning to thick fog and 2degC temp. Long story short, we only left Shepp at 2:30pm and finally landed back at Tooradin just before 4 pm. What an adventure !

I am attaching a few pics. I hope you like them.

Again I say this - this pales in comparison to what Jess had to go through but I just loved it. The various challenges, flying over vast desolate areas, marveling at the incredible landscape in the floodplain and just the sheer joy of being in the air was a one of a kind experience.

Have a great weekend everyone