Thursday, 14 April 2011

April 14 – Day in Canberra with the Nells

Up at a reasonable 7.30am, breakfasted and ready to depart we set off in the car for a day at the War Memorial in Canberra.  Dick had advised that certain re-enactments at the Aviation Centre of the WM were very interesting and well worth watching.

A beautiful gum outside War Memorial

Arriving at Canberra about we followed Dick at speed to the appropriate wing of the WM to watch a film showing 1916 biplanes and triplanes dog fighting on 2 x 10 metre wide panoramic screens.  It was very realistic and very confronting.  Another film was the story of the G for George a Lancaster involved in some 70 sorties and the plane is on display for all to see.

We enjoyed a coffee and light lunch in the café then Dick & Margaret left us to look around whilst they attended to some business.

The whole War Memorial displays are all fantastic in their content, different ideas and extent of the coverage of all wars from WW1 to Vietnam.  One interesting section was the Research dept where we found the service records of our families.

We finally departed the WM to take a drive to Parliament House as Kevin had never seen inside it.  We walked through the vast granite filled entry, huge hall ways, the Great Hall and House of Senate to finally take the lift to the roof for the fantastic views.
We drove back to Goulburn to enjoy a quiet time – in Kevin’s case and a walk in my case before heading out again to the Workers Club in town for dinner.  For a very reasonable price we enjoyed a very reasonably priced meal in a lovely setting of rustic pictures and local wool bales.

The next day’s plan is to meet Kim Jones at the airport and see his recently completed homebuilt Vagabond.  We were then heading off to Luskintyre Tiger Moth Club near Maitland.  The weather forecast is not good for the afternoon so we need to leave in the morning.

April 13 Mt Beauty to Goulburn

Pay's residence Bogong

Saffi and a group of Pay deer

The sun rose to a clear day, no rain but the clouds were still on the mountain tops.  We said our Goodbyes to Carolyn (Cooney) as she was off to Albury for the day.  Following a short walk up their property and a call from Carolyn we were advised that the weather was clear out of the valley and we could set off.

We packed our gear and Alan took us into the airfield.  We had planned to look around the cute little town and catch up with Pollack however as the weather closes in quickly Alan suggested we go whilst it was clear.

We pushed Stinson out of the cavernous hangar after loading all our gear, did all the necessary checks, climbed aboard ready to set off …..then……nothing.   She wouldn’t fire.  Kept trying a few things.  New battery, so that wasn’t the problem.  Alan advised that he couldn’t smell fuel outside and then Kevin realized that the primer was not working.  There was not the usual squeaking noise as he pushed the knob in.  He immediately knew what the problem would be so we climbed back out, got the necessary tools and commenced the removal of the primer.  Alan had to continue on with his day – so he departed – however 2 workmen from an adjacent block helped us out with tools as needed.  Kevin got covered in fuel but removed the assembly and found one of the jets blocked with grease – just as he had suspected.

Whew…. I didn’t really want to be held up here in Mt Beauty for another night because more bad weather was due.  Re-assembly complete and repacked, we renewed the starting procedure to have her roar into life – just like normal.
Lift off from Mt Beauty

 It was about 10 degrees C outside so she took quite a bit of warming up but then we slid down the strip with about 5 knots on the nose.  Pulling her up in the crisp air I marveled again at the beauty of the valley ahead.  We cruised a low level to locate the Pay residence from the air and spotted it easily.


Climbing to 3,000 ft we overflew smaller mountains on a direct track to Albury.  We dropped into Albury to refuel and then headed off again to Goulburn.  We headed 030 for Gundagai an easy 80 miles then headed 070 for 40 miles to Yass.  Across the high country at 3,700ft we headed east with a 120 knot groundspeed due to a fantastic tail wind.  We sighted Goulburn on the nose and had to descend and lose speed to join the circuit for a landing on the grass strip – rwy 26.  Kev was quite happy with his 3 pointer landing.

We spotted Dick driving in the gate just as we were taxiing in – perfect timing.  We tied her down, loaded our gear into the car and were driven to the Nell household by 4.30pm. - a very easy day’s flight.  As Kevin and Dick have been friends since about 1976 they always have lots to talk about with the conversation ranging from our journey to Dick & Margaret’s latest acquisition (another motor bike) to current affairs.
Over top Goulburn

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

April 12th Mt Beauty - Falls Creek

Awaking to the sound of steady rain it was obvious we were not going any where today. Alan was off to Falls Creek for business and invited us to join him.  Having never been there we jumped at the opportunity.  Before leaving the house Kevin spotted a mob of roos only 50m up the drive and a few remaining deer wandered in close paddocks.
Road to Falls Creek Ski resort

Cloud base was only 300 ft above the valley floor and having retrieved a few necessities from the aircraft we drove 31 kms of continuously winding and steep road through cloud and drizzle to Falls Creek ski resort.

A smattering of snow lay about with a few cars passing us by covered in snow on roof and bonnet.  Although cloud and steady drizzle limited the spectacle we were greeted with occasional snow falls, something Kevin had never seen.

Alan and Cooney run the Ski Resort Transport Company and a few restaurants so with the ski season nearly upon them they were organizing staff and machinery maintenance in preparation for the 380,000 visitors expected during the 3 month ski period.

Arriving at Falls we spent time updating the daily blog whilst Alan dealt with work issues with Jason – his Manager.   Whilst we waited it started to SNOW! Yippee…. Jason and Jim (maintenance man) took us by 4WD up to the Cloud 9 restaurant which was at the top of the ski runs and chair lifts. 
Falls chair lift

The higher we climbed the deeper the snow got.  With the explanation that the roads we were driving on are under 2 metres of snow during ski season we understood why the travellator stairs and lifts were way higher than any person could reach.

We played in the snow with Kev getting a direct hit on me with snow balls (whilst I wasn’t looking).  With the temp down to 2 degrees we couldn’t stay outside for long so we wandered the empty restaurant making phone calls to family at home gloating about being up in the snow. {Sorry family} hehehe.

The quiet eeriness of a snow filled land was in contrast to the offices where the team was organizing staff for the coming season. Thank goodness one café was open to feed the current maintenance workers and staff so we headed there and enjoyed steaming bowls of minestrone stewp served with chunks of fresh bread.  A few coffees later we returned to various restaurants and with work over drove back down the mountain to Mt Beauty. 
Ravine with creek view

Although a direct track to Falls Creek is only 12 nautical miles the continuously winding road climbing through steep ridges and heavy forest is 31 kms making it a spectacular drive with endless valley views and cascading creeks from the persistent rain.

Back at ‘The Farm’ we enjoyed another pleasant evening with Alan, Cooney, Sue and Roi (local restaurant owners/friends) who prepared a beautiful roast with vegetables dinner. Quite a few bottles of red were consumed before we all retired listening to the rain again.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

April 11 Monday. Tyabb to Mount Beauty

Up early we had to drive to Frankston again to purchase a new battery for the Stinson.  We also had to deviate to Moorabbin fuel suppliers to retrieve Kevin’s credit card which he had inadvertently left behind (again!).  Within their office we sighted two photographs of the Stinson taken in the 30’s showing a group of Vacuum Company employees next to the aircraft and their vehicle.  We had never seen this shot before so photographed it for our historical record.

  The other photo was of her flying over Melbourne city – a copy of which we already have. The weather forecast had been for deteriorating conditions later in the day although the morning was beautiful, sunny with clear skies.

Leaving Bernardi s at Tyabb

Back to Tyabb by 11.30 – the skies began to cloud over.  By the time we had packed our gear, filled her with fuel at the Peninsular Aero Club and said our goodbyes to Peter, Irene, Tibby & Mia, we lifted off at 1.42pm.  

Clouds getting ominous
More showers ahead
Tracking for Lillydale we climbed to 4,000 ft to cross the mountains into the Eildon valley.  Spectacular scenery all around us, we headed for Mansfield, a beautiful little town surrounded by farmland before tracking north for Benalla.  Forced to descend under deteriorating conditions we were confronted with low scud and minimal horizon still 20 miles south of Benalla.  However after an orbit or 2, we crept in over the Benalla airfield in misty drizzle and scud to head north along the highway to Wangarratta.  Overflying the strip, to the east we could see improving conditions so we tracked towards a mountain 4,000 ft high passing the little town of Myrtleford before breaking out into the beautiful Mount Beauty valley.

Valley opening out before us

GPS whilst flying down the valley

The flight up the valley with towering mountains both sides was spectacular.  Mt Beauty lay before us at the end of the valley, the strip being positioned such that a take off to the south could not be achieved due to mountainous terrain.
Mt Beauty  one-way airstrip

Alan Pay was there to meet us as Peter B had phoned ahead to advise him of our impending arrival.  Tucking the Stinson into his cavernous hangar, we were whisked away in his landcruiser to their beautiful home 18 kms down the valley.

There followed an amazing evening with Alan and Cooney preparing a delicious Chilli Prawn and pasta dish with red wine topped off with coffee.  Their architecturally designed home is tucked on the side of the valley tastefully decorated with a fully self contained guest suite within. Our room looked onto an internal courtyard garden, through the house over the decking to the views beyond.   How spoilt are we?  None of this we expected. We had planned to camp but with the forecast night temperature of 6 degrees and more rain to come, Alan thankfully saved us!

April 10 – Tyabb Rest Day

With the weather forecast as it was we decided to unpack our camping gear that we had previously freighted to Pete’s.  Although the day dawned windy the rain had stopped.

Being Sunday the routine was for a late cooked breakfast as soon as Pete returned from the Newsagency.  Irene cooked up hash browns, scrambled eggs, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms.  We decided to call their home the Tyabb Hyatt. 

Whilst everyone else was eating breakfast I took Tibby & Mia for a walk around the airfield.  The wind was quite fresh but the dogs and I had a great time.

The remainder of the day was spent driving to Frankston for storage containers for the camping gear and an eski for the food we would need.  Later that afternoon back at Tyabb, we check packed the Stinson in between watching the Spitfire go for a fly, then Jim Wickham flew his mini Mustang in so Kev and Pete just HAD to drive up to have a chat with him.

The evening was spent with our hosts at Bob and Helen Attwater’s home enjoying a lovely meal together.  Our laughter filled conversation covered everything from today’s youth with piercings and tattoos (something we oldies cannot see the beauty of) to aviation in all its aspects.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

April 9th Tyabb – Nanny departs

Nanny taking photo at Lethbridge

The morning arrived, warm and balmy again – with rain forecast.  Nanny and I headed off to the Tyabb Packing Sheds antique stores.  Antiques of all types, from furniture to bric-a-brac, clothing, books etc etc are all held in huge warehouse type sheds.  We wore out Nanny’s legs wandering through all the stores until she had to finally collapse back in the car for a rest.  If we had the time, space and money we could have sent a container load of stuff back home…… hehe.

Pete kindly took some time off work to drive with us to Tullamarine Airport to put Nanny on the plane home.  He and Irene had also given Nanny a brand new walking frame that was no longer needed by their family.  So she had no excuse not to use one now!!

We then had to drive to Moorabbin airport to purchase oil for the Stinson.  The freeways and highways were very well layed out and we had a good look around all the surrounding suburbs.

It commenced raining and continued most of the evening.  The forecast was for rain for the next 4 days.

The evening was spent at the Marina Hotel in Hastings with the Taberner families:- Graham and Jenny, Craig, Lara & Annabelle and Rob and Nola Wettonhall.  The restaurant specialized in seafood so I had prawns and scallops Singapore (lightly curried sauce). Kev had a steak with seafood sauce and everyone else was very pleased with the quality of the meals. The Hotel was very popular and we would highly recommend it.
Barister Pete making a cappuccino

The evening was capped off with a cappuccino at home.

April 8th Lethbridge to Tyabb via City

The plan for the day was to fly via Melbourne (staying just over the water OCTA) to the Tyabb airfield where we were to stay with Peter and Irene Bernardi.

After a lovely morning at Geelong viewing the both the Wool & Ford Museums,

Early model Ford

Lara & Annabelle

Lara drove us to Lethbridge airfield and we packed all the luggage and ourselves back into Big Bird, said our goodbyes (especially to gorgeous 20month old Annabelle) for the flight.
We departed at 1.35pm in 8/8s blue sunny day with the temp about 26 degrees – perfect.  We flew NE to the coast with the city opening out on our left.  There was a little smoke haze but the buildings were very visible and quite spectacular.  We banked gently right to fly around Pt Phillip Bay then left to track directly to Tyabb airfield.

Nanny on flight past Melbourne City
The flight was very enjoyable being that Nanny Milly had never seen Melbourne city or the Bay from the air at close range (at 1,500 ft) and this was her last flight before returning to Hobart.

Landing at 2.18pm – just a short 45 minute flight – it took the total hours flown since Perth to 27.  Just right for a maintenance day.


Kevin immediately started removing cowls after settling in I helped Kev with the maintenance then Mum and I prepared for her departure.

A friend Bob Attwater had offered us the use of his car so Pete took us up to his home to catch up and collect the car.  His property is absolutely beautiful with gorgeous gardens, a beaut pool, with a lovely outlook and very well maintained.  After a coffee, chat and walking around the gardens Bob saw us off with his car.  (What a great friend he is!)

Pete and Irene run the Tyabb Newsagency (Best little NA on the Peninsular) and work until quite late therefore Friday evenings were normally concluded by having Fish and Chips for dinner.  So, who were we to break their routine?  We all enjoyed huge pieces of fish, potato cakes, dim sims and copious amounts of chips. What a feast! YUM YUM
There goes the healthy living again!

April 7th Apollo Bay to Geelong

Nanny Milly Karen & Vicki at Apollo Bay

Saying sad goodbyes to Karen and family set off on the return drive via the GOR back to Geelong.  We decided not to drive via Colac as we had seen lots of bush land on the day’s drive and wanted to enjoy the morning sunshine on the ocean. We enjoyed the views in the return direction and Kevin really enjoyed the challenging driving.

We stopped at the Lorne Bakery for a meat pie (for Kev) and a coffee break.  The remainder of the journey was enjoyable and uneventful through the road works and past lots of tourist areas..  At Torquay Kevin stopped at the Tiger Moth World to meet the owner and stayed chatting whilst Nanny and I drove to Breamlea to kill time.  We could not get to see the beach from the road so returned back to the airfield to collect Kevin.  He reluctantly came out and we continued on our way back to the Taberner’s home via the shops where we bought food for dinner.

The sun was still shining; the temperature about 26 degrees and it was a perfect end to two very enjoyable days.

April 6th Apollo Bay sightseeing

After meeting Karen’s friend Brooke, we packed a lunch and headed out quite early for our big day out.  Kev organized a wheelchair for Nanny because there was to be quite a lot of walking throughout the day.

The first stop was Maits Rest an 800m round walk through the rainforest. Nanny grumped a bit about the chair and at steep points it was safer to let her walk otherwise Kev pushed her up and down the windy paths, stopping at magnificent majestic trees that disappeared up through the canopy to sunlight.  At some very difficult sections we needed 2 locomotives (Vicki too) to push Nan in the wheelchair up through the pathways.

The next point of interest was on the way to Cape Otway Lighthouse.  At or near the Blanket Bay turnoff a colony of koala lived and I spent the driving time with eyes glued to the treetops.  We found them easily of course, because other cars were already stopped to take photos of the sleeping gorgeous furries.

We saw at least 20 individuals of all sizes lazing in tree forks or even splayed along branches with curious eyes looking down at our antics trying to take photos.

We begrudgingly left the colony to drive onto the Cape Otway Lighthouse.  Once arrived and with Nan in the chair we walked around the pathways, first to the old Telegraph House, then on past the keepers house down the path to the lighthouse itself.  It is quite an old lighthouse, being completed in 1847.  Nan courageously climbed the 78 stairs to the top and we were amazed at how windy it was up there because it was a very calm day below at ground level.  The history and layout of all the photos, paintings and video were very interesting. Well worth a visit. 
Nanny & Vicki top Cape Otway Lighthouse

Leaving there we backtracked to the Gt Ocean Road and turned left to see the Apostles.  This section of the road was through thick forest with steep and windy corners and stretches.  We virtually popped out of the bush to see the coastline stretching ahead and behind us.  There were also heaps of buses, cars, bikes and tourists (like ourselves) milling around the kiosk and walkway to the lookouts.  The quiet was interrupted by the constant stream of helicopters taking joy rides over the apostles from a landing area just behind the carpark.

We loaded Nanny (he he) and set off down the easy walk to the lookout points.  The day had remained a brilliant sunny, calm one and we were very appreciative of the opportunity to take excellent photos and see all the landforms in the best light.

We took in as much as we could before returning to the car for the 1 ¼ hour drive back to Apollo Bay.  I prepared the vegetables and put the roast in the oven before taking Gus and Daisy for a quick walk.  I enjoyed the dog’s company and loved looking around Apollo Bay streets.  Everyone was very friendly – greeting me like a local??

Poor Kev fell asleep on the couch after dinner listening to Karen, Nanny and I chatting a little bit more.  (the understatement  of the day!!!!!!)

Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL

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

About Us

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