Thursday, 28 April 2011

April 27 Mackay to Lakeside Airpark - Bloomsbury

Day 37 of our Trip

Having listened to lots of rain showers and high winds most of the night we awoke about 6am not thinking we would get out of Mackay this morning.

Garry & Hilda at Lakeside had telephoned in the evening to say that it was clear and the wind would be negligible in the early part of the day.

Departin Mackay in rain

Mackay city - murk beyond
Showered, packed and dressed we were ready to depart about 7.15 then we checked the radar forecast once again.  Our newly made friend, the generous Mike Jones dropped in just to make sure we hadn’t slept in.  We saw that there would be about a 10 minute break in the rain showers so hastily gave our goodbyes and jumped in the Stinson.  Obtaining a taxi and departure clearance it didn’t take long to complete the run-ups and with the oil temp at a safe level, we blasted off into the rain.  Turning right we could see clear skies ahead.  We could not, however, see an incoming aircraft to right of our track.  The tower advised it was past us so we turned for the valley between the hills.  The only visibility was the city beneath us but beyond that a wall of cloud.

Out to the coast we marveled at the start of the islands, the meandering rivers and the small coastal towns.  We passed Sarina Beach and lots of farm and bushland until we turned inland to the airpark.  Easily spotted from about 6nm out we made our incoming call, overflew the field for a look, then set her up for a landing from the south. 

Lakeside Airpark
The approach looked clear though hilly however there were fences on both sides of the strip.  It looked OK until the turbulence hit and we were jostled about with the cross wind about 5 knots.  Kev was working hard in the rough air when the cross wind just dropped which made landing easier.  It was an arrival that I won’t forget.  The total flight had only taken 23 minutes from Mackay.

Garry & Hilda came out to meet us with neighbour Peter.  We were immediately invited in for eggs and bacon breakfast on their deck.  And….. what an amazing location for their house!  The deck overhangs a huge 40 acre lake which is stocked with barramundi and home to numerous ducks, swans, egrets, jacanas (the lily walking water “Jesus” birds), kingfishers, turtles and other fish life.  It was a very tranquil setting especially with the Santa Gertrudis cattle and horses grazing on the surrounding paddocks.

After breakfast we were driven by Garry up to John Waymouth’s property about 20km up the road.  Driving around sugar cane paddock tracks and through a river crossing where the tyres starting spinning at one stage, we couldn’t believe that anyone could live out there.  Around a corner and up a rise we saw a helicopter parked next to a lovely old farmhouse.  John and Donna introduced themselves and their little dog Alfie – such a cute little crossbreed.  Whilst Donna and I went and visited her horse Princess, a neat dark brown stock horse mare, the men went for a fly over John’s property in his ‘copter. 

Donna showed me around some of the property in the Polaris 4wd then we went down to the paddock and brought Princess into the yard.  Inside the farmhouse, known affectionately as the ‘snake house’ the renovations and décor were very tasteful with lots of white cupboards, walls and with larger windows installed.  The house is known as the snake house due to a large python that resided in there prior to their renovations.

We enjoyed a lovely cuppa whilst the men flew around the 3 properties John owns.  Returning ½ an hour later with Hilda (they had been all the way to Lakeside and collected her in the chopper!!), the men had a drink then invited me for a fly in the chopper back to see the Stinson.

John Waymouth's Jetranger - my first chopper fly
I was a bit reluctant to fly in one as I never have, however Kev reassured me that John was a superb pilot with the most hours of any chopper pilot in Australia.  Donna agreed to come with so climbing aboard and strapping in, we were soon aloft and the feeling was pleasantly comfortable.

He took us on a tour of all his stock-Brahmans, hundreds of acres of partially cleared paddocks, manager’s residence etc, the surrounding rivers with rapids – all very beautiful country.  We also went down to about 20 feet off the deck and flew straight at a car coming in one access road – quite a hair raising experience for me – but not for the car driver as it was John’s manager.

Whilst flying Donna spotted wild pigs in one area by a waterhole, which we chased for a bit.  I was also shown another house - their retreat – I could only see the roof above the trees however when flying closer – the house revealed itself as a magnificently presented wooden ‘mansion’.

Flying back into Lakeside (with our lovely Stinson sitting there) we were offered the use of a car so we shot off to Airlie Beach to catch up with Alan and Margaret Jarrett (Sam’s parents) to make plans to see them later and also dump some excess luggage with them.  It was so nice to see them again.  Their beautiful home is set amongst exquisite gardens – very lush and wet but beautiful.  We hadn’t seen each other since Mill and Sam’s wedding 11 years ago.  “Thanks for storing our stuff guys”. 

The plans (being organized for us) were to stay at Lakeside until Saturday when we would fly into Shute Harbour airfield for a Sunday airshow.  If the weather permits we would book a snorkel on the island for the Saturday.  So after leaving Alan and Margaret’s (it was raining there) and driving to Shute, we introduced ourselves to Geoff, the airshow organizer and inspected the airfield.  It was absolutely immaculately designed and finished.  We had seen advertisements for house and land packages for sale on this airpark over the past few years.  It was great to see it in real life.

Back again, we met the 3 young horses that had been bred on the property.  We were then joined by Adele – another neighbour )and caretaker when Garry and Hilda are away at another property).  Peter, John and Donna joined us and we dined on mud crab entrée, followed by quick fried fresh barramundi washed down with Muscato – my favourite wine.  What a lovely evening.    

What an action packed day

1 comment:

Son John n Lizzy said...

Hello to the travellers! Everything sounds so delicious..... x Son

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.