Saturday, 14 April 2007


Beautiful coastal shots - South Victoria to Merimbula

The day commenced with overcast skies and the forecast of low cloud. We decided to make a late start to allow the skies to clear.

The Wickhams telephoned, then visited to show us their morning’s work. They had attempted to return the injured and nearly dead quail chick back to it’s parents and found the remainder of the clutch cold and in the same almost dead state in the aviary. A falcon was on the roof and had scared the parents away from the babies therefore they were suffering in the cold morning air. Jim & Jenny rescued all babies and after the remedial “breath of life” into all chicks and catching the parents they moved them all into a crate with overhead light. Wow these quail were certainly getting the best of care.

Jim and Jenny then took us to their hangar at Tyabb and showed us their collection of aircraft and toys. A Yak 9 painted with the leopard colour scheme, a 7/8 scale Mustang and a Yak 52 with a magnificent eagle paint scheme. Their other “toys” consisted of mini motor bikes that the “boys” rode around the apron.

After lunch we departed Tyabb and headed for the Lakes Entrance coastline.

What can one say about the beaches, bays and inlets. Very pretty – now very polulated areas with Easter holiday makers boating in all directions.

We arrived Merimbula airport at approx 5 pm just as the sun was setting and tied Lady Bird down in the grass at the northern end of the airfield’s parking area. A phone call to the local taxi company brought a helpful (ex chef) who took us to a central motel with many restaurants nearby. He offered suggestions and advise on the next day’s activities and then left us. What a helpful guy. The motel owner was also very helpful and friendly. The whole town was very welcoming.


We had planned to train it to Melbourne so up early and walked (much to Kev’s disgust) up to the train station. A friendly local helped us scrounge enough change for the train tickets which could only be purchased via a machine. The conductor helped us on board with our tickets then we settled in for the 15 minute ride to Frankston where we changed trains. The first train was a diesel loco then we moved onto the electric rail to Flinders Street Station a trip which took 1 hour. The graffiti on the walls was great to see as well as the ever changing styles of buildings.

The day was overcast but Melbourne was bustling with people and tourists everywhere. We enjoyed a coffee and snack at the rail whilst K & S fed the sparrows and pigeons.

A quick check at the Tourist Centre found ourselves on a tram up Elizabeth Street to the Victoria Markets. A bustling crowded fascinating array of clothes, food and gift items was met with delight by myself and Sarah however Kev found it boring and tiring – all that walking. We had a few items each we wanted to buy however came away with nothing due to time constraints.

Back through the food area we bought large slices of pizza for lunch YUM for the small sum of $7.50 (why is fast food so cheap?) and sat on the sidewalk watching the passing parade of human beings. It started to rain – of course, so back on a tram for the traditional walk over the Yarra River bridge. A loop walk through South Bank shops and bars back over the Yarra to the train station.

Another long train ride back to Frankston where we chose to catch a bus instead of train. Well after another half hour like the outback milk run we rushed to the Warehouse Antique Shed for a quick browse. Well you can’t quickly browse through hundreds of square metres of antiques covering everything from clothes to furniture but I restrained myself and we walked on home to Peter and Irenes.

They had arranged for us to visit their friends Jim and Jenny Wickham. Peter collected us and drove us up there then returned once again to work. Jim and Jenny have Qtr horses and allowed Sarah to ride Lenny an 11yo chestnut gelding that they had bred themselves. She enjoyed herself greatly even getting a flying change or two. Lenny had been taught to lay down but decided tonight wasn’t the night for it so Jim spent frustrating time trying to complete the exercise to Jim’s satisfaction – not Lenny’s. Jenny brought in who was unrideable due to an injury but he excelled in his demonstration of lying down on command. Their 20 year old horse was lame due to losing a shoe but he still worked beautifully for Jim.

After being shown all their parrot aviaries and nearly stepping on baby quail Jim found a baby that was near to death. He blew on it for a while, brought it inside and placed it on a heat pad in a container overnight.

After such a mucked up afternoon it was revealed that the Bernardis and Attwaters were joining us for dinner. Jenny went on to produce a lovely meal of steak and fish with salad followed by fresh fruit salad – lovely raspberries!

We had a great evening with Jim and Sarah alternately playing the baby grand piano and much wine and fun was had by all.


Parked at Bernardi's - Tyabb

Lady Bird was overdue for her 25 hourly so Kev spent the day dropping oil, refilling, checking filters and attempting to reduce oil leaks. He also found a broken baffle which needed repair. He attempted to sort out the intermittent fault in the brand new pre-oil pump solenoid – frustrating. Seems it is faulty.

Sarah and I took Mia and Tibby for a very long walk that morning to enjoy the sunshine and to hopefully move some of the fruit and nut mix that they had helped themselves to out of our bags. (Oops my fault – I left our room door open). Those two dogs are a great pair – Mia is the investigator – even gets into sealed plastic containers then when things are dug out Tibby comes in and helps clean up the findings. They were great companions for Sarah who was missing our pets terribly.

We settled into a day of school work and washing etc blended with time out in the sun.

Another crayfish feast ended the day!


Jenny seeing us off - Wynyard

After a pack up, lift to airport from Jenny, refueling etc we finally departed Wynyard airport at 10am. We flew under low cloud, past the “Nut” one of Tassie’s strange landmarks on the NW coastline, then out over the sea for 90 nautical miles to stop at King Island.

The island “looked” almost flat with many paddocks hedged to help break the wind. After tying down we taxied into Currie with the wonderful King Island Ambassador “Geraldine”. She was full of information about the local businesses, islands economy, history, weather etc. What a lovely person. We were dropped off in town – amazingly outside a bakery! Kevin feasted on a steak & kidney pie followed by a sausage roll whilst I enjoyed a camembert and asparagus pie and Sarah ate healthily – a salad roll! She let the side down. All washed down with flavoured milk or coffees. A brisk walk followed down to the waterfront and museum – but found the museum closed.

King Island On foreshore King Island

On the foreshore we watched the surf roll in through craggy rocks and explored pools. Further around the shore we watched the local’s hauling in kelp for a business that makes chutneys and sauces from it. Unfortunately we didn’t get to taste or buy any – mind you it didn’t really sound that appetizing.

Geraldine picked us up as arranged and took us to the King Island Dairy where we tasted all the available cheeses. It was so hard to choose a favourite but we decided upon the Lighthouse Blue and a Triple Cream Camembert. Then found in the freezer – caramel and chocolate desserts (YUM!) and a creamy yoghurt which I could not resist.

Our taxi driver, ambassador then drove us to the Crayfish Co-op where Kevin was intoxicated by the smell and purchased 4 of the largest crayfish I have seen since my scuba diving years!!! They were a gift for Peter and Irene at Tyabb in appreciation of their hospitality.

Back at the plane by 2.30 we re-arranged the luggage to fit in our scrambling, struggling take-away dinner!! And departed King Island by 3 pm.

The sky was still overcast so at 3,500 feet we tackled the 110 nautical mile flight over water – with no islands en route. With the clouds blending into the ocean Kevin experienced his first real sensation of not believing the instruments and had a strong urge to turn left – even though our GPS pointed faithfully ahead. So I took control and held the heading – aiming at nothing till finally the Victorian coast appeared on the horizon and Tyabb appeared miraculously on Lady Bird’s nose. A beautiful descent into Tyabb concluded a memorable crossing.

The afernoon’s activities consisted of locating the largest cooking pot known to exist in Tyabb – thanks to Bob A. who took us on a tour of his newly restored house on the hill. The entire house was a pleasure to see – even his workshop, said Kevin.
The drowning and cooking of the cray-monsters took quite a few hours with many tears shed by Peter as he didn’t like the idea of them suffering but that was quickly overcome by the eating of the meat when meal time arrived. Once again Irene provided wonderful accompaniments to the crays and we all had our fill. (Even me, who doesn’t eat crayfish).


Fern Glade - Burnie Gaynor & Us

We woke early and after making a Kevin a cuppa in bed I wandered upstairs to catch up with Gayn before she had to go to work. We had so many years to catch up on. We had kept in touch but hadn’t seen each other for all that time.

Well that hour disappeared quickly so after breakfast and cleaning up we set off to explore Burnie with the use of Gaynor’s car. (Thanks again Campbell & Gayn). We drove into the city of Burnie for a stroll around and ended up buying a long sleeved jumper for Sarah – she was feeling the cold through her WAssie type tops! Burnie is still a very quiet little city but quite a few shops were new. The new surf club on the foreshore was an impressive building as was a new apartment building being built on a rock cliff face.

Gaynor had an appointment in Melbourne the next day so was catching the ship out of Burnie that night. Campbell brought his car home for a swap so that we could have a car to use – and Campbell could see Gaynor off.

As we had the day to ourselves, we drove east out of Burnie for a look then on our return drove up to a pretty Fern Glade where we enjoyed the peace and quiet as well as the crystal cold stream. Sarah was determined to find a platypus or animal of some sort and succeeded in spotting ducks bathing and splashing on the far side of the stream. Looked impressive until we saw what they were.

Later that afternoon we drove up to Jenny & Jeff Newling’s property to visit them. We had seen many photos of their farm from John & Meg however had never been there ourselves. We were taken with their lovely herd of “Hairy cows” Highlanders – who were friendly enough to take apples from your hand. They also had …………..suffolk sheep who do not require shearing as they drop their wool. Their beautiful property also holds a dam where their two boys Jack and “…..” were experimenting with their brand new trick kayak. They were having a great time – but it was about 5 pm - only 8 degrees and they we in shorts only! Brrrrrrrr

Jenny, Jeff and the boys are heading off to China for a holiday in 6 weeks. The plan of their journey was layed out on the table and the photos were very inviting. We enjoyed wine, cheeses and nibbles with them, comparing trip notes and returned home for a meal with Campbell.

We had a kangaroo roast and salad with Campbell before saying our thanks and goodbyes as we were planning to depart next morning.


Saturday morning brought a little sunshine and the plan to attend the famous and enjoyable Salamanca Markets on Hobart’s waterfront.

We had a little of a late start due to the cold weather but arrived at Salamanca by 10.30 am.

After parking within one of the empty wharf buildings we joined the throngs of locals and visitors who attend this infamous market place. We pushed and twisted ourselves among the stalls – some of which offered for sale - foodstuffs, wood carving, glassware, knitted craft, clothing, dried and fresh fruits, jewellery, trinkets, folk art etc. Whilst there I phoned and caught up with a Tasmanian friend Clare Elliss who joined us at the markets for a coffee. We chatted about their life and travels since they left Perth some 5 years ago. We all sat in the Sun and enjoyed the passing parade of tourists.

The buskers at the market were truly varied with one Japanese lady on her traditional “lyre type instrument?” accompanied by a young Aussie playing his clarinet. There was also a South American type band as well as young folk on guitars and keyboards. The sounds and smells are cosmopolitan to say the least.

A very tired and footsore group headed home after a quick lunch. A quick phone call to brother (No. 2) Stephen found him in the city (killing time whilst Karen was busy sewing) so we picked him up on the way and headed home to meet Tamara (Sarah’s cousin) who was meeting us there. Karen and her daughter Sarah also met us there so we could catch up before heading off on our next leg of our trip.

We stopped at the best Fish and Chip Shop in Glenorchy and bought enough fish and chips for 8 of us. It was quite a long wait unfortunately but we had so much when we got home that we were all stuffed and very satisfied.


Sarah & Koala - Zoo Doo

Kevin’s wiring loom arrived as promised from Queensland so we all headed off to Cambridge. Whilst Kev undertood the installation Sarah and I headed off to historic Richmond town sightseeing.

Richmond was one of Tasmania’s first convict prison holding towns and the original gaol has been restored and opened for public viewing. The details of individual prisoners lives were scarce however the reality of solitary confinement cells of 2m long x 1m wide made of solid sandstone block with wooden floors and doors was mind blowing. Prisoners spent up to 21 days in these cells without seeing the light of day. Rations of bread and water were slid through feeding slots and the “night bucket” was replaced the same way! Sarah and I locked ourselves in one to experience the total blackness and cold of it. The place has an eerie quiet feel to it – where other tourists speak in whispers and 2 10-12 year old boys chose to stay outside in the sunny courtyard – maybe many spirits walk the corridors and watch us visit their final resting place.

The remainder of Richmond was much more inspiring. Sarah and I undertood to explore a Maze system. It was so much fun yet frustrating to try to find the centre point and come up against dead ends time and time again. Sarah has a great sense of direction and found the second central point and we returned tired and happy to receive our prize from the management. The magic word written in the central point was THESEUS. Who was he?

We returned to Cambridge to collect Kev who had successfully installed the wiring and re-installed the seating. We then all took a drive back through Richmond and enjoyed lunch beside the beautiful river admiring the 1846 convict built bridge. Sarah used photos of the bridge and it’s reflections as part of her art assignment. You couldn’t ask for a better choice.

We then went to the Zoo Doo an open style of Zoo just near Tea Tree and met wallabies, koalas, Tasmanian devils, quolls plus many deer and farm animals.

The bus trip to meet the friendly folk entailed emus and ostriches eating out of your feed bag OR taking the complete bag and eating that too! A water buffalo and gentle camels also enjoyed their handouts whilst sticking their huge heads into the open bus. They also had monkey exhibits and a pony race which was very exciting as Sarah’s pony won the race and she had her photo taken with him! No she didn’t ride him – he was only 30” high.

Tasmanian Devil at Zoo Doo Feeding albino wallaby


Spent day at Nanny Milly’s chatting and catching up on family.

Sarah spent time sketching her preliminary drawings for her art assignment and practicing stippling technique.

We spent hours wandering around her packed garden admiring all flowers, trees and enjoying raspberries picked from the canes.

Sarah and Nanny Milly spend time going through all the paintings and talking technique.

Friday, 13 April 2007


Ben Sharpe VH-BVH over Freycinet Wine Glass Bay Prosser River Orford
National Park

Well after a few days rest at Peter & Irene’s lovely house with a bit of running around by Pete to find things for us. Much appreciated Pete!! We planned to head off Wednesday morning (weather permitting) for the Bass Strait Crossing.

Kev flew to Moorabbin with Bob Attwater for a fuel run Tues avo and was met upon his return by Rob Fox from Flypast magazine. As the Stinson had won Concourse at Avalon, Rob was hoping to take some air to air shots of our beast for his mag. After a short discussion on positioning requirements for specific shots etc, Rob and Bob in VH-RED – Bob and Peter’s Yak52, took off before it became too late. Yogendra Kumar and his son had arrived to see the Stinson and they were quickly hustled into the Stinson for a flight. I didn’t even give them a chance to object! Both machines blasted off into the late afternoon sky and after, what seemed only 20 minutes, they returned with all happy on board. Peter and Bob rushed off to a meeting whilst the rest of us viewed the wonderful shots Rob had taken. The light had been perfect, the air calm as was expected at nearly sundown.

We chatted and checked restoration photos over a scotch or 2 before Rob departed for home and we settled down to a lovely meal (once again) with Irene. Upon Peter’s return we chatted about the following day’s plan to depart over the water.

Dawn arrived far too soon with neither Kev nor I sleeping well. We always seem to wake up early on departure days. Loaded lighter for this leg as we would be returning to Tyabb, we took off at 8 am to overcast skies.

Upon climbing it was immediately apparent we had a great tail-wind and with GPS showing 105k whilst the ASI indicated 95k. Wow it certainly would help the fuel consumption and time with the distance we had to fly.

The track to Wilson’s Promontory was quite clear with lots of dams shining in the early morning sun and low cloud in the valleys north toward Melbourne. Quite a beautiful sight. I was amazed at the mountainous terrain of the prom. It was a huge change from the surrounding countryside. We were at 5,500’ on climb to 7,500’ and the Strait did not seem so daunting with a great tail-wind and Lady Bird purring along.

The oil leak that continuously speckled my windscreen had not been fixed much to Kevin’s dismay so the familiar speckles soon dotted my view ahead. It didn’t matter, the little islands, the roads, valleys, beaches and tracks along the southern coast tip were all great to see out the side window. We though the photos would be great - but unfortunately due to the grey sky – they did not seem as speccy as what we had witnessed.

The islands slipped beneath our wings as we consistently showed 115k or more on the GPS. Then Flinders Island came into view – and once again I was surprised. It was nothing like I had envisaged. Such a large, pretty looking island – with properties dotted around and a fantastic airport site – alongside the coast. It was desperately calling for us to stop there and stay awhile. However, not to be, we had plans to get to Hobart before the front came – which was due that afternoon.

Then Tassie came into sight. With dotted cloud, then sheet cloud the north-eastern most tip of the coastline came into view. Once again – spectacular. White, white beaches, rolling hills moving up to farmland and then the mountain ranges. We marvelled at the lovely landscape. I had never seen this part of Tassie from the air. The Launy airport was easy to find as the controller there was so helpful. We found the reporting point in a valley between two peaks – and made our descent onto right base for the runway. We had quite a bit of height to wash off and speed so had to wait till mid finals to put flaps down which kept us both quite busy. We then realized that the aircraft that had just landed and rolled off the runway in front of us was none other than Ben Sharpe in VH-BVH!

He had departed Tyabb Tuesday and stayed in Georgetown overnight – then the co-incidence of arriving at Launy together was amazing. The ATC was in awe of the Stinson and was very complimentary.

Many staff came to see over the bird whilst we fuelled up. After enjoying a coffee in the clubhouse – and seeing a photo or two of our Stinson when she lived there many years ago as VH-KAF – we set off in company of the Sharpes for the east coast and Cambridge.

The open valley changed into craggy mountains with the tree tops (nearly) scraping my bottom, we flew to meet the east coast. We came out south of Friendly Beaches and headed directly to the Freycinet National Park. I had told the family about Wineglass Bay and wanted to see it from the air. My only other sightings had been via posters or the once when I climbed over the craggy rocks to see it for myself some 30 years ago.

It did not look like the posters due to the overcast day. However we had a much more unusual sight of the Sharpe’s Cessna 170 silhouetted against the sky and the hill tops.

The familiar coastline passed all too quickly and before I knew it we were at Triabunna and then Orford (Nanna Milly’s stomping ground) and tracking for the reporting point of Buckland. I had to stop myself from plastering my nose against the window and concentrate on the topography and inbound reporting points for both UXL and BVH.

Cambridge airport is controlled by Hobart tower as they are only separated by 2 kms and a major highway. We had to obtain a clearance, track over the top of the Hobart airport and then line ourselves up for the duty runway. We were doing alright we thought until the tower advised us that we were headed to the wrong strip and needed to extend our base leg – then we noticed the piano keys were displaced due to a rise in the terrain and had to power on until the ground finally came up to meet us. Whew!

Then all was forgotten cause Nanny Milly was there to meet us. We were early on our estimated arrival time by more than 30 minutes but she had managed to get there and get some photos of our landing. After all the usual tying down, cleaning up, unpacking etc we headed off home. Little Hobart didn’t look any different. As we traveled up the outlet over the hill the Tasman Bridge and Hobart were stretched out before us. The Derwent River meandered north and opened up south toward the southern ocean.

Aunty Lisa joined us for the after noon and after hours of chatter and a beautiful turkey roast meal we settled into bed for a well earned sleep.

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.