Friday, 23 March 2007


We awoke TFriday to gusty hot winds. There was a front coming and knew it would be windy but not this bad. The air show practise went on a scheduled even in the conditions.

We headed off to the Airshow to have a few things repaired – namely the transponder and locker door latch. We were also going to wash the Lady with buckets of water only as there were no hoses allowed due to the drought and water restrictions.

As the morning progressed it was obvious that washing her was going to be impossible – it would only get dirtier from flying dust and debris. We explored the trade centres with the exemplary standard of companies showing their business. We caught up with Ivan and Sandy Campbell from New Zealand with their custom made helmets. Kevin had one made many years ago and was still remembered and welcomed by Sandy. Arrangements were made for some photos to be taken in the Stinson by Ivan – just for a promo. They had heard via the airshow grapevine that our machine was great and would win the Concourse! And they hadn’t even seen it.

We continued venturing around until Kevin caught up with the team from Microair who promised to call out after closing to check the transponder’s problems.

The wind became so strong and gusty that Kevin was not prepared to leave Lady for one moment. There was nothing that Sarah or I could do to help so we abandoned the outdoors for a trip to Geelong for some girl-time.

After navigating our way through a tourist map to a parking area – good work by Sarah in a strange city – we parked the little camper (rego SAR 292) and trudged through the windy down to the shopping area. We found a great little mall and spent a few hours window shopping and buying a few bargains for Sar. She is so easy to buy for but we had to be careful not to overload our baggage limit.

We enjoyed freshly made salad sandwiches in a food hall watching the shoppers of the city. Great pass time for Mundi gals. We returned to the airshow after purchasing freshly cooked chicken for dinner – much easier and cheaper than eating out.

Poor Kev had experienced a stressful day. The wind was still gusting – we had turned her tail into wind in the morning – but since then he had double-staked down the tail and tied it to the star picket fencing with miles of rope. Many Ground Ops crews and Marshalls had spent the day with Kevin & Ben tying and physically holding down some small aircraft in the adjacent parking area. One particular Storch had been locked up but with controls not fixed. Officials had to get in and tie it all down as it had begun to fly within the constraints of its ropes from the strength of the wind. Two other machines were being lifted off the ground and all hands had been necessary to avoid disaster.

By the time Sarah and I had returned the wind was abating and Kev was really ready to double and triple check everything and return to the campgrounds for a well-earned shower, dinner and early collapse into bed.

However we spent until 11 pm in the campers kitchen/office trying to bring the Blog up to date. Well we caught up with lots of days – lots of groaning from W.A. family and friends. What do they think I am doing all day – enjoying myself and not updating our website??? YEP
That evening we watched the most spectacular night air show. A motorised glider with sparklers on wing tips and jet fighter re-ennactments. All great to watch but impossible to photograph. The finale was fireworks and an explosive wall of flame.


We awoke on the 7th day of our trip. I couldn’t believe that we had left Perth Thursday last week and now we were at Avalon. The morning dawned clear and warm so after breaky and ‘blutions we headed off to the airport to check on Lady Bird. The officials had parked us in a Special Interest Aircraft area however we had been advised previously that she was to be near the Gold Pass pavilion. After many official conversations and disagreements between themselves we realized we couldn’t do anything about it, so left the field for a tourist day.

Onto the Freeeway at 11.30 we stopped at the first roadhouse for a quick lunch. Such a lovely new clean establishment at Little River. Twas a pleasure to eat there sitting in the sun with no time limits or worries in the world.

Arrived Weribee Park Zoo at 1.00 and after looking at the shop (Oh! No!. says Kev) we watched the Meerkats in their enclosure until the bus arrived.

The park is set on river flats, breakaways and small hills making all the areas easily separated from each other. Electric gates and high fences keep the species apart and it was beautifully landscaped with fenced off tree areas. Due to drought conditions the open paddock areas were void of grass but under the trees it was lush. Must have been frustrating for the animals not being able to access the long grass but it was essential as most large animals would destroy the trees without some protection.

We drove through separate exhibits showing Bison, Prezwalskis Horses, Camels, Hippos (who hid under water), Bantu cattle, antelope, Giraffe, Zebra, rhinos and finally walked through landscaped walkways to the monkey and lions enclosures.

The bus tour was very informative and made traveling all the enclosures very easy as it was a warm 33deg day. We had such an enjoyable time.

On the return drive to Avalon we were drawn into the B-24 Liberator Memorial Restoration Museum. For the mere cost of a gold coin donation we were given a personal tour of all aspects of the huge exhibit. Our guide had been a Liberator radio operator and was full of interesting stories. It was an honour to watch the volunteer worksmen at their craft rebuilding this magnificent machine.

The fuselage had been found being used by a homebuilder as his temporary residence whilst his “real” house was being built. The hangar in which it was being restored was huge however the craft would have to be de-winged before moving to an even larger hangar some 60m down the paddock. That would be a great day.

We returned to Avalon to check UXL for the night and was approached by a 6’4” American pilot by the name of Ricardo Travern. He was the F18 Super Hornet pilot and told us he had a V77 back home. The V77 is the military version of the Reliant Gullwing and he was so pleased to see one – newly restored in Australia. He gave us all F18 badges to wear and was very friendly – promising to bring photos of his V77 to show us when he had time on Friday. His son, Victor was also with the group – he was attending the swimming competitions being held in Melbourne whilst his Dad was flying for the airshow. What a family.

We ate at the local Lara sporting club that evening – a huge meal piled high on our plates. Grilled fish for us girls whilst Kev had the lamb. And we got to watch McLeods Daughters – a bonus for us McL D fans – even though the volume was turned down.
Oh No. Did Jodie and Matt really get blown up in that car?????


Away from Robyn’s by 7am with Simon aboard to see the Stinson we arrived at Murray Bridge with a rain squall right behind us. We loaded all the gear aboard and applied the fabric patch being ready for a lift off by 8.30.

Slav armed us with weather details and acted as our SAR for this leg so we said our goodbyes and and lifted off into rain and marginal visibility. Our first fly through rain! We headed for clear skies about 20 miles south where the rain stopped but poor visibility and low cloud continued right through to Mount Gambier.

Our flight took us down the Coorong to Kingston where we turned inland for Mt Gambier. We could see however that the weather was improving south of this point so having flown around the Blue Lake and craters nearby tracked on for Portland. We arrived 2 hrs 15 minutes from liftoff and upon landing found we had lost another 30 minutes due to time zones.

Portland airport had a cute Nissan hut as an aero club and the same design as their terminal. We lunched in the aero club and chatted to a local fire bombing pilot who had been stationed there for 3 months.

After checking weather ahead of us and knowing that rain was following us we decided to fly direct to Avalon instead of overnighting at Apollo Bay as planned. After contact with Avalon to confirm arrival clearance we flew on to Warrnambool only 30 minutes down the track.

We commandeered their local flying clubhouse and whilst Sarah caught up with some school work Kev cleaned some of the Nullarbor dust, exhaust grime and oil from Lady Bird. If we had more time there we would have visited the Museum – everyone raved about it – maybe on our return journey!

The flying displays at Avalon were due to finish at 5.30 local time so we departed after much organizing of flight times etc. We tracked over the coast marveling at the cliffs, finger like peninsulars and tiny bays. The country side ranged from river flats to mountainous steep country.

The highlight of this flight was the 12 Apostles (well we only counted 9). We had to stay clear of the airways above this tourist attraction due to commercial tourist operators. We understood this pre-caution as 3-4 helicopters were buzzing back and forth with their paying passengers whilst we trundled past and got many fantastic photos. Absolutely Fan-bloody-tastic.

Sarah spent a great deal of time hanging all around the cockpit getting great photos of the coastline, apostles, funny shaped inlets like giant fingers and the weather ahead. We climbed over the headland past the lighthouse and down into Apollo Bay. The airstrip at Apollo Bay didn’t look as scarey as we had been told. The town looked very pretty.
The hills inland were very steep with one particularly vertical cliff face not far upstream from the town.

We continued up the coast until turning north inland to track west of the Avalon control area and onto our reporting point at Anakie. We had taken much time and care in reading the Notam which was quite logical. I had the radio frequencies written down as well as the relevant info. Due to the number of incoming aircraft expected the first rule was to listen to the Atis (area terminal information service), then monitor the Barwon West radio for instructions. The rule once again was to monitor – but not respond however we were lucky enough to get in the circuit pattern with a real “hillbilly or hayseed”. The pilot of a small high wing craft could not see the strobe that was set as a reporting or turning point. It was difficult to see however he kept on calling up and complaining that it might not be working. The controller was very polite despite him breaking the rules and finally acknowledged that strobes were “funny things”. “You see” he said. “Its like this – Now they’re working. Now they’re Not.” Well that broke us up laughing but the hick did not get the joke. Later we mentioned to the tower controller that the strobe light was rather difficult to see due to trees. His reply that it should be fixed next year – probably with a chainsaw.

We were left in the circuit pattern for over half an hour due to an Orion with a wheel problem. We were finally given a direct track approach to 18R which was a long dirt strip.


Kevin was up early and gone with Nigel by 7.20am for his lift into the city and onto Parafield. Plans went perfectly. Marc Michelle appeared and kindly drove him to Adelaide to collect the new transponder. Mick Wright of Eagle Aircraft bench tested the unit to confirm it’s operational status before Kevin installed it in Lady Bird.

Mick re-confirmed it operational and blast off for Murray Bridge occurred by noon. To his amazement Kevin found that, upon first call to Adelaide control, the transponder had again failed! So he proceeded OCTA over the Adelaide foothills and onto Murray Bridge. The local flying club CFI , Slav, was more than fantastic offering us hangarage, fuel, accommodation and almost the shirt off his back – lovely bloke.

At this stage the luggage locker door which we had been picking every day, had decided to jam shut and Kevin was faced with the awful decision of having to cut a hole in the fuselage fabric in order to access our luggage and repair the lock. The local maintenance boys sold us some “sticky – backed” patch material and the dastardly deed was done!!!!
Oh boy - We nearly cried. All that beautiful fabric work, immaculate paint job and polishing had to be defaced! The only consolation was that the hole was underneath and could only be seen from below.

Meanwhile back at Robyn’s place in the hills I arose with Kev and then proceeded to do the washing. After a leisurely breakfast the 3 of us took Indi their 9 month old Doberman dog for a walk down the bush. Their property backs on to a reserve donated by a local property owner which has been used by Scout, Church and School groups as their yearly camping and outdoor education weeks. There was the original mud and daub house which had been built by his grandparents and restored for use by the campers. Sheds had been built along side the water holes and all the area had been terraced for tent sites. The amount of work that had gone into maintaining the area for future children was inspiring. Not far from the property fence line Indi tracked a koala (by nose) back past us to a tree and there at only 10-12’ from the ground was a fat happy koala staring indignantly at the dog. We took some great photos until it moved higher in the branches. The remainder of the walk was via tiny trails around the steep terrain until we returned to the old daub hut. Just behind us near the waterhole I saw movement on the ground and to our amazement, the koala was slowly trudging across a clearing to another tree. He was not worried about our presence at all. However Indi in her blundering way, found his track again and he high-tailed it up another tree out of her way.

Back to the house for a well earned shower we hit the road and Robyn drove us to Adelaide city showing famous landmarks, buildings and places of interest on the way. Adelaide is renowned for it’s churches however I was surprised at the large number of period buildings that were still being used and in great condition. We stopped in the city and strolled the mall. Buskers, from digeridoo players to dancers, were very entertaining. People were everywhere which was quite a change from the past week of empty skies and airfields.

Adelaide was settled by German and European descendants who planted trees from their home country therefore Liquid Ambers, Golden Ash and Oak abounded and the colours were fantastic. The hills area of Stirling was very surprising as one minute we were driving up a winding bush road and then turning we found ourselves in a shopping centre carpark. Whilst Robyn attended to business Sarah and I toured the local shops which specialized in bakeries and coffee shops.

As the drive to collect Kevin from the airfield was at least 45 minutes we set off after confirming that he was ready to be collected. He had flown from Parafield to be clear of the hills and possible associated weather problems.

We finally found the Murray Bridge airfield – more by luck than by good navigation – as Sarah saw a sign post as we passed by, and collected Kevin to return to their house in Ironbank.

On the return trip Rob took us through Haandorf the original German village with it’s period houses and business that was unfortunately all closed as it was about 6 pm. Daylight savings is on here too and it’s light till 8 o’clock.

After a BBQ dinner we enjoyed the evening with family whilst Elise face painted all of us just to practice for her job. She attends Uni studying Education and has part time jobs at a child care centre and face painting gigs. Simon has worked for a Mitre 10 store for 18 months and is hoping for a plumbers apprenticeship. It was great for Sarah to get to know her cousins – she and Elise really hit it off.


A beautiful morning with a 10 knot tail wind forecast, we fueled up and blasted off to a salute from the Captain of a Rex Airlines Commercial flight who had just arrived prior to our departure.

Climbing out over Port Lincoln township and Bay with the islands and gulf ahead of us was breathtaking. The islands looked uninhabited however were fenced and stocked with sheep. How did they get there? Sarah asked. On a ship or boat of some sort, we answered and then she couldn’t imagine sheep loading onto a ship. Climbing to 5,500 ft we settled into a 110 knot groundspeed with the York Peninsular some 30 nautical miles (50 kms) and Kangaroo Island visual beyond that. Turning at the tip of York Peninsular we picked up Adelaide approach on 124.6 who vectored us across to Kingscote (regional town for K island). The island looked like New Zealand with its hedges and rock walls as wind breaks and fences for the properties. The island appeared intensively farmed with lots of small paddocks. The coast line varied from cliffs to tiny white beaches.

Overflying Kingscote we were cleared by Adelaide approach past Penneshaw and back to the mainland for an approach into Hunt Field, just 12 mile south of Adelaide city. A wind turbine farms dotted the steep hills on the southern tip of the mainland. After the almost smooth country side of Kangaroo Island, the hills looked rugged and almost devoid of bush. Further up the coast small towns were dotted in breakaway country. Closer to Adelaide there was a newly developed golf course estate which led to a private marina on the coast.

Another superb descent at 120 knots, glassy smooth air and a panoramic view of the Adelaide foothills and city led us to Hunt Field. An extremely challenging approach in turbulent cross wind conditions over tall trees and into a short dirt strip kept Kevin on his toes and me with my eyes shut. To our amazement the local aviators stood clapping as we emerged from the Stinson. We had been invited in by Ivor Paech to view his collection of Yak 52, Stearman, Chipmunk and Tiger Moth. We were warmly welcomed and joined them for a lovely salad sandwich lunch.

Airborne and with a fresh clearance we were guided towards the city and on to Parafield where we had heard that the local Aviation Museum was holding an open day. On landing we were confronted with some 50 + aircraft and 2,000 or more spectators who flooded us with interest, questions about the aircraft and took multiple photographs. The organizers presented us with a plaque for attendance and filled our tanks with 120 litres of avgas FREE!. Unbelievable.

Marc Michelle a friend of many years, greeted us warmly and as so often happens we were flooded with offers of assistance in overcoming our transponder problem. The transponder had failed on the first outbound leg of our trip from Perth and was needed for our entry in controlled airspace – mainly Avalon. Being Sunday no workshops were available however plans were made to acquire a new transponder from David Ford Avionics at Adelaide Airport the next morning after liaison with MicroAir in Queensland.

Bob Jarrett the Museum owner kindly housed our Stinson for the night and we were met by Kev’s sister Robyn and her number 2 daughter Elise.


After a hot cooked breakfast and watching the local dingos scouting around the buildings and Stinson we fueled up ($2.36 per litre) ouch! and we were airborne by 9am heading for our next stop of Ceduna.

Kev initially tracked due south and dropped over the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight to show us the most magnificent rock faces and panoramic view of the coastline for as far as you could see. I had been across the Nulla before and looked out over the edge but this angle of the cliffs was just mind blowing. Turning east we ran along the cliffs out over the ocean and on up to the Head of the Bight, then down along the beaches running 30 feet above the waves. The water was crystal clear blue with white tipped waves breaking in long lines – What a buzz!

Climbed up to 1500 ft and on to Ceduna by 11. The first sighting of the airfield was a very large strip, wide open taxi ways and a cute arrival centre. Sarah pointed out a paddock planted with trees in a unique pattern – big bird? Then I saw the windsock!! It was nearly across the strip. Lady Bird does not like cross winds due to her large wings which blanket the rudder. But once again Kev landed us safely and taxied very slowly across the slope to a tie down area. The wind was so strong I had to get out and act as a wheel chock (stop laughing!!) until he found some bricks to chock her with. We caught a taxi into town looking for specialty tools to aid in opening up the locker door. Bugger!! Saturday and everything was closed. We were lucky enough to catch a deli just closing up and enjoyed home-made sausage rolls for lunch.

Back to the airport and the silence was broken by the arrival of the Nanchang, Texan and a CT4, all W.A. pilots also heading toward Avalon Air show in Victoria. Fueled and oiled, we taxied once again through the blustering cross wind for a departure for Port Lincoln – down the Eyre Peninsular.

Beautiful flight of 1.5 hours down a picturesque coast with a smooth descent down from 5,500 feet into Port Lincoln. The town itself was to our right on the Bay – a pretty sight. The field was of first class standard as regular commercial flights operated from there. Our next challenge was obtaining fuel on a Saturday without a carnet card, as one had been delayed in the post and we only had a faxed letter and copy of it. A few local aviators came to our assistance with a phone that worked (CDMA needed) and called the re-fueller who agreed to come out next morning.

Another local offered us a lift to our motel – nothing was too much trouble. We settled into our pretty room with a 4 poster bed at the First Landing Motel. A beautiful take-away fish dinner we retired for a well earned sleep.

First however we needed a briefing for our first serious water crossing planned for the next morning. Detailed procedures for a ditching were practiced including the use and inflation of our life jackets. The knowledge from this discussion boosted Sarah’s confidence and eased any apprehension she had been feeling.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007



Up early with a liquid breakfast (brekky on the Go – Not beer) and booked a taxi to the air port in the dark. Lovely clear sky beautiful 25 + degrees we soared into the daybreak at 7.08 am.
Flew out around open pit a few times whilst Sarah took many deep cut photos.

With 2 hrs flying over scrubby low bush we saw goats, camels, cows on our way to Kanandah Station - 2.5million acres. We did a pass over the long strip which looked fairly rough at one end. All looked clear until we were on the ground then horses and kangaroos were seen running beside and over the strip as we landed.

Mark Forrester and Martin (German packpacker) met us at the hangar. Sarah and I drove to the house – a lovely old brick building with huge high ceilings, bright huge rooms and were met by Karen F. (who was very pretty with dark hair and looked far too young to have 18yo twin boys + yr 9 daughter & another yr 7 son) who showed us hospitality for the rest rooms and then drove us back to the field to photograph the Stinson and joined us in morning tea. We had a great chat about the station – their station life – they had come down from Carnarvon 7 years ago, their Cessna 180 which was able to fly them to Jandakot in 3.5 hours. A trip that had taken us 6.5 hours.

We departed from the long far end of their strip “looking out for roos” successfully and turned E once again. Next stop Forrest! How could some one name a town of 5 houses within the Nulla scrub “Forrest”. The history was that the beautiful long bitumen strip and domed hangar were built for the first Trans Australia flights in the DC3s. The cute little “Departure Lounge“ was beautifully planted with bushes and set out with picnic tables. We were met and served by Lyn and Darryl who were the most hospitable re-fuellers I have ever met. Home made biscuits accompanied the free tea or coffee as well as cold water to fill our bottles. Their aviation interest was refreshing and their attitude to managing the accommodation and refueling was delightful. After numerous photos we were once again on our way across the Null – arbor.

Now we had hit the real Nulla – the only growth was about 30-45cm high and all there was to see were a few puddles from the recent rains. We flew alongside the rail line and deviated slightly to get photos.



Well I don’t really know what I expected. I hadn’t slept well for the past 3 nights so getting up and ready a 5 am was just on auto mode. The past mornings had been perfect but you guessed it… a which meant taking off towards those power lines! So with the wonderful efficiency of the Carrs we loaded our personal luggage and ourselves into their car whilst Kevin took off solo and “fairly” light for Serpentine Airfield. Kev’s mate Clark Rees just HAD to join us in his Tiger 44 BTP and they flew down together in beautiful clear air to await the vehicle arrival.

We were so going to miss Pixi – she came down in the car with us and Harry held her tight whilst we climbed aboard and flew off into the sunrise…..Well - late sunrise 8.30 am.

The trip to Merridin was sunny, uneventful with Sarah working away on the laptop alternating with dozing. I too put my head down and almost dozed. The white fluffy clouds below us were so pretty and the Lady just purred along at 3,500 feet.

Landing at Merridin amongst the Southern China Training aeroplanes was non-eventful except for the dual arrival (ours….. only 2 bounces). We cleaned her oily belly, refueled, enjoyed a cup of coffee from our thermos and our morning tea. Quite a lot of interest was shown from the instructor pilots who came over for a chat and took photographs. Sarah and I struggling to answer the “Important” questions like what engine is it (blank) h.p., range, (blank) etc. I had known those things just a few days ago when we had the info board manufactured for the Avalon Airshow – but could I remember? No. Kev came to the rescue and faith was restored in the family who were happily flying across our huge nation in a beautifully restored Grand Old Lady.

We departed Merridin much later than anticipated. Much hotter now and the planned flight level was to be 7,500 with 15 knots of tail wind. The sky was dotted with 4/8s fluffies and the sky turned lumpy and unenjoyable for me. Kev loved the challenge. However my trusty air-band kept any nausea at bay so I concentrated on the scenery. I watched Southern Cross slide pass my window with the first sighting of deep open cut mines. (Hi Joy! – How could she live and work in that town I thought to myself?) Dear Sarah had put her head down and was fast asleep. I couldn’t even get to the camera in fear of waking her up. We checked headings, maps, listened to air chatter and generally kept myself interested in the flying so that the 400 ft lifts and sinks would not upset my stomach. Finally on the horizon we could see the pit heads and dumps announcing the city of Kalgoorlie/Boulder was close by. On a fairly fast descent from 7,500 feet - 123knots at one stage, we went into the circuit area to see a commercial airline parked at the terminal. We felt mighty small by comparison. Unfortunately for Sarah she awoke to the arrival descent and all the turbulence made her violently airsick. I felt so much for her. It was usually me.

Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL

Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL
over Perth city (Photo: Greg Hill)

About Us

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Flying farming couple who live on 135 acres. Kev is obsessed by aeroplanes. Vicki is devoted to horses and White Swiss Shepherds.