At the airport by 7.45am we loaded up, checked everything and taxied off to Runway 29 which had a gently 10 knot north westerly wind blowing. As we lifted off Ceduna township and the bay looked very pretty in the morning light. We only had 76 knots ground speed and flew low across farmland and scrub until we picked up the eastern edge of the Great Australian Bight. We tracked along the beach as this would be the last time we could fly over the coast before the long overland stretch ahead. I spotted a pod of dolphins and Kev banked the plane so we could have a good look and take photos. We kept seeing more dolphin groups, both small and large. We even saw some surfing the waves however could not take any good photos due to how quickly we moved over head. It was so exciting to see so many dolphins in large family groups with lots of young.
Pod of Dolphins off the Bight Wombat hole damage Beach at Head of the Bight
Up over the cliffs at the Head of Bight we overflew Nullarbor to inspect the strip. Our ground had improved, taking one 1 hour 40 minutes to reach there which meant we had sufficient fuel to track the extra 150 nm across the desert to Forrest. After a quick team conference, the decision was agreed to continue on. We tracked 280 out across the flat staying below headwinds. The scenery below had changed considerably since our outbound trip due to the rains – there were puddles shining in the sun everywhere. About 30 miles we saw a group of camels, adults dark brown, fawn coloured sub-adults and a white baby. The next group we saw, we overflew and they all looked very healthy despite existing in a normally waterless, featureless plain. About 10 miles short of Forrest we saw 3 black, what we thought, were dingoes before landing at Forrest with diminished fuel reserves.
Darryl and Lyn (Forrest Refuellers) greeted us together with their extended families who were visiting from Victoria, with the normal warm reception. While Kevin completed the refueling procedure we went inside to have a bit to eat with Lyn and catch up on details of our trip. We had just gained 1.5 hours so even though we were eating lunch – it was only 10.30am in W.A.
Bay mob on the Nullarbor Small mob in the vastness
Surface conditions at Kanandah were calm and as we were landing Sarah spotted a kangaroo close to our starboard wing and called out. The distraction broke Kevin’s concentration resulting in a bouncy landing or two. We were met by Mark and a Swedish stockhand and refueling was quickly completed. A quick trip to the house, we joined Karen in a cuppa then returned to Lady Bird as time was “of the essence”.
Airborne once again we were hoping to reach Kalgoorlie before sunset. We saw many of Kanandah’s Brahman cattle quite close to the homestead but none of the “goats” we had seen on our first stop. The last of the treeless plain slipped below us and the remainder of the flight was uneventful, sliding into Kalgoorlie at 4.50pm. On the CTAF frequency our radio again faulted, making it difficult to communicate with other aircraft in the circuit.
A taxi into town to our Motel room completed a long flight. Our taxi driver had dropped us at one place but upon finding the cost to be $165.00 per night for the room, we decided to check around. That had been the highest cost of any Motel room we had found all around Australia! We walked up the road and settled into the Midas for only $105.00 per night – a very nice spacious room. Too tired to go to a restaurant, we walked into town for some take-away dinner as we were keen to sleep and start on our final leg HOME!