Saturday, 14 May 2011

May 8 Mt Isa, Barkly Homestead, Tennant Creek to Daly Waters


Big day planned.  We planned ahead to top up fuel and see the wonderful Barkly Homestead as well as fly into the Northern Territory and as far as necessary in one day.

Bob the Mt Isa refueller kindly picked us up and took us to the airport by 8.00 am.  Having refueled the previous day we quickly loaded up, set a SAR time for Barkly (no mean feat as CASA didn’t have them on their system) and blasted off over the rugged ridges to the west.  The terrain below was soon flat but at least green.
Flat green nothing with rivers

  Most of the stock sighted were around the water holes.  It soon leveled out to flat plains – not unlike the Nullabor – though a dark shade of green and yellow.  I left most of the flying to Kevin and lazily put my head down and dozed for the 1hr 50minutes leg to Barkly Roadhouse. 

Long straight road to no where

Seeing the Roadhouse in the distance, we set up our approach after flying over the top.  Taxiing up to the fuel bowser we disturbed about 12 hawks feeding on nearby rubbish.
Barkly outback truck
I walked up to the roadhouse to arrange the fuel and was invited to join 8 rouseabouts for a drink – but it was only 11.30 (Qld time).  We had just crossed the border and I had no idea of the time change.  The roadhouse was of very classic build with large timber doors, heavy roof beams and verandahs all round.  The station hand organized the paperwork for fuel and then ran us back to the airfield to complete the job.  He told us that the previous day had been Ladies Day and the rousies were left over from then.  They were kicking up their heels drinking and trying to chat up the roadhouse employees.

Having enjoyed a coffee in the dining room and checked maps and fuel useage we concluded that with obtaining some more fuel from Tennant Creek we could make Daly River by 4 pm.

We had decided not to stay in TC as fellow aviators had warned us that the town was suffering from a lot of vandalism and it would not be safe to leave the Stinson at the airport unattended.

The flight from Barkly to TC was only a mere 55 minutes through lots of haze due to burn offs.  As approaching Tennant we heard the Roulettes were just departing having stopped for fuel.  Those boys certainly got around – we had seen them on the 90th RAAF Pilgrimage, the Echuca AAA Airshow, Whitsunday Airlie Beach airshow and now they had been to Darwin and were returning to Sale, Victoria again.

The fuel stop at TC was very quick and the layout of the field confirmed that we could not camp for the night without being seen from many vantage points around the airport.

Blasting off once again I spotted the most beautiful camping area just outside TC.  A beautiful lake surrounded by green park like gardens looked very inviting even with 2 or 3 caravans already there.

Daly Waters WW11 Hangar
It wasn’t long before Daly Waters long wide airstrip came into view.  We overflew the pub and caravan park to advise the owners to send a car for us.  The pub was about 3km from the airstrip.  Landing long due to scrubby grass on the thresh hold we were immediately pleasantly surprised by the large war time hangar.  We pushed the Stinson inside to protect her from the weather and chocked her. 

Cute python with belly full

We unloaded our overnight necessities and then had a good look around the museum type room inside.  There were huge photographs of various types of planes that had flown in and out of this airstrip as well as the RAAF operations and civilian photos from that era.  A very historical place though very much in need of maintenance.  We noted that the wall timbers were white anted and it would only be time before they fall down – taking the photos with them   Whilst looking around I spotted a cute little python asleep on the bottom beam.  I photographed him and he looked like he had recently eaten.  We waited for over ½ an hour but no-one came to collect us so we began walking – assuming that someone would arrive soon.  It was about 4.30 in the afternoon and rather hot. (We were heading north after all!)  Kev stopped for a wash in the little Daly rivulet whilst I watched for crocodiles on the deep side of the crossing. If something had come out of the water I would have run first, then screamed for Kev to save himself!!!

Not one vehicle came down that road and we finally arrived at the Daly Waters Pub – very tired and hot when a 4WD screamed from behind the pub with a frazzled looking girl at the wheel.  When we stopped her asking if she was to pick up from the airport; her face sank soooo much and she apologized profusely.  She hadn’t heard our plane and was very busy but knew we were arriving around 4pm and finally got away to come down.  She shouted us a long lemon squash at the bar – which we accepted gratefully.  We browsed around the amazing pub looking at all the “collections” from bras to thongs, knickers to footy jumpers.  Very interesting and amazing.

We booked for the infamous “Beef and Barra” BBQ that night for KB and pumpkin soup for me, moved our gear into our spacious cabin and enjoyed a shower and refreshing drink.  Back to the pub about 7pm we joined the crowd waiting for their BBQ.  The system is that you nominate your preferred dinner time and the men at the BBQ do their best to cook it to perfection.  A few minutes past 7pm they started calling out names from tables/groups booked together. Other huge meals came out of the kitchen for those not Beef or Barrimundi ing to coincide with the set times.  The salad and damper were available buffet style and very well received.

The entertainment for the evening was “Chilli” an Aussie guitar playing, joking, story teller.  His sense of humour and songs were very much appreciated by all and we laughed solid for nearly 2 hours.  His only pay was donations from the attending visitors.  We gave generously and hope others did too because he was well worth it.

PS. Kevin’s barra was cooked superbly and quite a decent serve size – though not as fresh nor abundant as the barra cooked for us by Adele at Garry and Hilda’s at Lakeside – south of Proserpine…..  Mmmmm lovely memories.

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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.