Sunday, 3 April 2011

March 30 Ballarat

Dawn photo by Keith

The dawn came very calm and warm.  We caught the complimentary bus to the airfield just prior to the briefing for the day’s leg. The bus dropped all pilots at their respective airplane parking areas – which we thought was a lovely gesture.  Every thing about this event has been so well thought out.  After breakfasting at the club, we had nearly 2 hours to kill until our departure time.  I went for a lovely long walk back out of the airport and down a quiet country road.  A dirt track at a corner enticed me and I followed it for quite a while watching a big mob of kangaroos bound off the track and down into a creek line.  At least 8 of the mob stopped and watched me as I soaked up the scene.  The male would have been over 6’ tall and all were in fat healthy condition due to the lovely rains the area had received recently.   I returned to the road and followed it around to the next aerodrome gate and entered past the Sports Aviation Association clubrooms.  This portion of the airport property was in vast contrast to the Aero Club as this had neat gardens, mown lawns, lovely caravans and fairly new clubrooms. 

I moved between the Austers and stopped at the Chipmunk owned by Murray who had won an award at the Temora function.  He had a bubble on his Chippy that was made in WA and was exactly the same as on our Chippi. (Glen and Kevin purchased three when they were doing their restoration) I moved onto the Yaks – all very tall and streamlined but with large paddle prop blades.  Past various other types and then had a good look at the Black and Yellow CT4 that had won Best Military.  This unit was very clean, neat and tidy and really deserved its award.

I finished my walk just in time to tidy a last few things and then climb aboard ready for departure.  Kev had been interviewed by a TV station WIN whilst I was out walking.   This trip James, another photographer was joining us.  We taxied out after the Dragon and Drover with the Stearman following behind us.  We took off on runway 23 at 10.27.  The sky was overcast with low cloud however the countryside below was picture card perfect.  Almost English type paddock squares as far as the eye could see interspersed with hedges and irrigation canals.  Once again the Stearman formated on us and James was able to get some lovely photos.  We were also catching up with the Drover who was only achieving 86 knots against the strong headwind. So------ we overtook the Drover – great photo opportunity and then left her behind.

We finally arrived at Ballarat at 12.10pm local time to a light shower on the windscreen.  We landed behind the Dragon and taxied up past  PC9’s to park on the tarmac out from the Aero Club.  A huge crowd of about 1000 people were there to see the arrivals and bus loads of school children were arriving constantly.  About 3,500 school children were given the opportunity to view all the aircraft as well as watch the Roulettes do their amazing aerobatic display over head.  The weather was bitterly cold but we were well received and fed in a hangar out of the cold wind.  We caught up with Jim and Jenny Wickham who had dropped a friend at Ballarat to join the pilgrimage.

We caught the bus into town to book into our hotel and then go into Ballarat for some sightseeing. 

 The amazing old buildings in the city were very well preserved and presented.  It is truly a pretty city with very wide streets, angle parking and a median strip garden down the centre.  We wandered into the Mining Exchange Gold shop which was the first purpose built gold exchange in 1880.  We browsed the historial information, natural gold nuggets and then the jewellery.  An exquisite nugget set in a white gold ring caught my eye and after a short discussion – Kev bought it for me as my Eternity ring. Its simply superb…..lucky me.  Continuing our browsing around the city we made our way back to the bus pickup point and then back to the motel once again for a quick turn around, then out to dinner at the Ballarat Golf Club.  It  was within walking distance from our Motel so we quickly joined the Shines, Murray and Andy and also “Spot” and “Philthy”, the aircraft ATC unicoms for the event. (For the uninitiated –Unicoms are radio controllers {usually ground stations} who listen to the radio calls for departing and incoming aircraft but don’t give advice unless needed).  Another fantastic meal at this club was had with much laughter and stories from the two ATC guys.  These groups of aviators are all truly enjoying this memorable event and everyone’s company.

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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.