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Down Under Tour 2015

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Thks for your comments, Graeme.  Fortunately, getting old has a few positive points, like having a lot more free time.    I read somewhere that you really get old when you stop learning, so after o

Haha !  As you know english is not my native language ( although I have a US High School diploma, a University Master and a British Chamber of Commerce    ) and besides this you are right I spent a lo

Yep, went for a little Alaska flight for my Air Hauler company. They were surprised to see me around ! 

@Wayne- I have to ask if you home windows get washed? As a carpenter by trade, nothing ever got done around my home I was always to tired at the end of the day. :D


@Loic- You speak better English than me and I was just joshing you as I never really have anything intelligent to say. ;) Nothing wrong with saying it as you wish. :)



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New South Wales - Day 11


The good weather is now well established with temperatures above 30° C during the day and I will continue the flights heading Northeast. Today's leg will take us to Coonabarabran YCBB.




I leave Dubbo in almost ideal conditions : a clear sky, top notch visibilitty and 35° C at 14:30 local. Only problem, some wind blowing at 14 knots from the Northwest will make me choose the secondary 29 runway. 


I will have to wait a few minutes for the landing of a commercial airline before I can take off.






At first I fly over a large forest. My destination airfield is 2100 ft high and I climbed to 5500 ft, which takes some time with the Waco.




I have no electronic assistance for this leg, so it's old time flying with compass and watch. I also have a good visual help as I know that YCBB is on the first hills right of the Mounts Warrumbungle which I can clearly see.




My path will make me fly along these mountains, a nice change from the plains in the last days !




I spot the airfield on the hills and switch the radio on 126.7 to give an arrival warning. I had to wait for take off, I will have to wait for landing. There is a Piper calling for take off on runway 29, and a Cessna is coming from the Northeast to land. It is slightly at the same distance from the airfield, so I decide to wait that everything calms down. I take a waiting circuit and I will make a few laps until the Cessna pilot confirms he has cleared the runway. The wind blows from the West now and I can make a cool landing almost into the wind.




Coonabarabran  is a town in Warrumbungle Shire with a little over 3000 inhabitants. Coonabarabran Memorial Clock Tower is a central feature of the town. It was built from local sandstone and dedicated in 1928.




Coonabarabran is the closest town to the Siding Spring Observatory which is home to the 3.9-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope,  the largest optical telescope in Australia. A dozen other telescopes are on Siding Spring Mountain, a number of which are operated by the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the Australian National University






For tonight I choose the Royal Hotel because of the pool room.  Beer and pool, best way to spend the evening ! 



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New South Wales - Day 12


The great weather holds on, so I keep going towards the north of New South Wales. From Coonabarabran YCBB I fly to Narrabri YNBR, about one hour all included. 




Further to the beer and pool evening, I had confirmation this morning that I was in Australia : I had a herd of kangaroos in my head and they were doing a lot of jumping around !  Consequently the departure was postponed to 15:00 local to be fit for flying.


The forecast is the same as yesterday, 30° C on the ground, and still some wind which turned to the southeast at 17 knots. I choose to take off from the main 11 runway and make a large trun to the north.




The climb won't take long, starting from 2112 ft I stabilize at 3500 ft for this leg. The arrival is at 787 ft and there is no high ground in between. For the navigation, I will just have to keep in sight the A39 highway going to the same place.




Most of the flight is above the State Forest of the Pilliga ( known as the Pilliga Scrub ) which is the largest temperate forest in Australia with 3000 km2. 




As I am getting close to Narrabri, I have a nasty surprise : far ahead some low clouds are in the vicinity of my destination airfield.




Must be my lucky day, there is a hole in the clouds at the right spot and I easily find the Narrabri  town and airfield.




The wind is still blowing at 15 knots from the southeast and I make a downwind leg to land on runway 18. It is a tense moment with a sliding approach but I manage to land right in the middle of the runway and I taxi to the parking with some sweat drops on my forehead. I'm glad that the Waco is heavier than a Nieuport 17 !




Narrabri ( around 6 000 people) is situated  530 km northwest from Sydney, on the river Namoi. Before the europeans arrived, it was the country of the aborigene "Kamilaroi" people who are still an important part of the community.

It is the centre of a major cotton-growing industry. Other agricultural industries in the area include wheat, beef and lamb. 




The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) is a radio telescope , twenty five kilometres (16 mi) west of the town . The telescope is an array of six identical 22-metre (72 ft) diameter dishes, which commonly operate together to produce radio images. Five of the dishes can be moved along a three-kilometre (2 mi) railway track. The sixth antenna is situated three kilometres west of the end of the main track. Each dish weighs about 270 tons.



At first sight, my hotel for tonight doesn't have a pool room. After all it's probably better so...



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Thks for your msg, Joe.


Looking up this thread you will see I already explained to Brian who made the same suggestion why I can't take anymore commitments as all my free time is already booked ( and I forgot to mention when not on the PC I am a nature photographer as second hobby... )  :)

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New South Wales - Day 13


Next leg will be a one hour flight from Narrabri YNBR to Inverell YIVL with a lasting nice weather.




Take off from Narrabri early afternoon with once again ideal conditions. Stable high pressures at 30.48 in, great visibility, a light 8 knots breeze from the south and no cloud in the sky. Temperature has gone down to 23° C, may be because of the mountains near by.




The highest ground on the way is also the closest from my departing airfield and I need to climb to 5500 ft. The Waco is not well known for its climb rate, but it will do the trick without having to circle.




In the valleys I fly over farms in the cleared areas.




Then the hills disappear and I fly over high plateaus with several rivers.




For navigation I have a good visual waypoint not far from arrival, the Copeton Waters State Park, a holiday and adventure park (http://www.copeton.com.au/)




From there it's easy to find the Inverell airfield and land on the asphalt runway.




The airfield is 5 miles south of the 10.000 people town. The region is mostly agricultural with a wide range of crops, but there is also some mining specially for sapphires and industrial diamonds.




The hotel for tonight sounds a bit like England ...



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New South Wales - Day 14


For the next leg I will throw in some navigation difficulty and I plan a stop on a country airfield, Baryuigil YBYL.. The only information I have is that the airfield is 691 ft high and it's a narrow bitumen runway. I have a waypoint in between over the airfield of Glen Innes YGLI.




Temperature is down, as the departing airfield in Inverell is almost 3000 ft high. We have only 20°C this afternoon, but the high pressures are still there, the wind still moderate with 8 knots from southeast.




After 20 minutes in the flight, I come right on Glen Innes.




From there I head towards the first hills, covered with the original forest of Australia, the "Gondwana Rainforest"  which is  a world heritage area.




And 35 minutes later I am close from my destination, surrounded by some clouds. As a visual clue, I know the airfield is close from the river bend we can see under the plane.




So it's not so difficult to find the strip and I fly over it for a first look.




After a wide left turn I am back to land on the runway, oriented 160°. The wind is now up to 15 knots, and I will need another sliding approach, except this time the runway is narrow !  

The training of many landings with light WW1 planes helps a lot and my landing is good and on the runway.




I'm lucky that some people are there at the airfield who will invite me for "bed and breakfast".




I will spend the night in the nice house nearby.



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New South Wales - Day 15  To the Pacific Ocean !


We made friends with the people who invited me and in the end I stayed over the weekend for the barbecue. Monday is time to keep on flying, and we're heading to Evans Head YEVD, on the east coast, making short leaps between airfields used as waypoints.




Take off around 14:30 local,  still nice weather , but now some clouds around 3500 ft. 25°C on the ground, and 12 knots of wind from the ENE. I will have to be careful with the flock of birds flying around the airfield !




I manage to find my way between the hills close from my departing airfield and the clouds.




After some twenty minutes, the hills have disappeared and I fly over Casino YCAS.




Then it's Lismore YLIS passing under the plane.




Ten more minutes and I reach the coast in Ballina YBNA.




Turn to the right, heading 189° and soon I am on finals at Evans Head YEVD. Once more I have a 13 knots wind 65 ° across the runway and I need another "crab approach". Normal, we are now by the sea !




On the taxiway I am surprised to see I've arrived in the middle of a local festival, and the airfield is full of people !




Evans Head is a small coastal town of around 3000 people, 725 km north of Sydney, and a holiday resort. It is sandwiched between two national parks, the Bundjalung National Park and the Broadwater National Park. Its wide curved beach is well known for fishing, swimming and surfing. Unfortunately, it is also the "garden" of great white sharks following the whale migration and several surfers have been attacked, specially this year in July. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-31/shark-activity-unprecedented-before-attack-on-surfer-evans-head/6661856)


There is a prawn fishing fleet permanently moored in the estuary. There is some sugar cane growing further inland




I found a nice hotel for tonight, the Hotel Illawong...





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New South Wales - Day 16  Along the Pacific coast
Plan for today is to fly down the coast to Coffs Harbour YSCH. Nothing difficult with navigation, just following the coastline, with the luxury of a VOR/DME in Coffs Harbour on 117 Mhz.
Still nice weather and clear sky, a bit of wind on take off in Evans Head ( 13 knots from NE ) and 24°C on the ground.
Flying down the Pacific coast, passing over the village of Yamba.
Soon afterwards I fly over my first waypoint, the private strip of Toumbal Plains House, in the middle of the Yuraigir National Park.
A few miles further I can confirm my position over  Diggers Camp.
My plane has been shaken during the whole flight, and my closing speed over 100 knots on the DME make me think it's blowing a bit in my back. As I close on Coffs Harbour, I pick up the ATIS report on the radio and I have confirmation there is now 22 knots of wind with gusts. Luckily it is blowing almost right in the heading of runway 03...  I will just have to enter downwind left hand for the landing.
The airfield is wide and the ground control sends me far away to the general aviation parking. Taxi is in the wind for the most part, so I need more throttle and the joystick to the belly for the tailwheel to stay on the ground !

Coffs Harbour  is a coastal city about 540 km (340 mi) north of Sydney, and 390 km (240 mi) south of Brisbane. Its population is around 45.000 people

Coffs Harbour has the most liveable climate in Australia, and it is nestled between a high mountain backdrop and dozens of beaches. Coffs Harbour's economy was once based mainly on bananas, now being superseded by blueberries as well as tourism and fishing




I choose the historical Pier Hotel near the harbour, which is standing there since 1905.
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New South Wales - Day 17  Still windy !


After looking at the map and the weather forecast, I decide to go for a short flight to Port Macquarie YPMQ. Both airfields have a main 03 runway, which roughly corresponds to the wind direction.




Athmospheric pressure is down to 29.92 in, but the sky is still clear and we have 24°C on the ground this afternoon. The wind is still blowing at 20 knots from the NE, and it's going to push me down the coast.




Following the coastline, I soon fly over Urunga.




In front of me the coast makes a curve all the way to the peninsula near Southwest Rocks.




From there I start flying inland and I fly over my next waypoint, the small town of Smithtown.




I need to fly around to come back on the main runway in Port Macquarie.




Along the way the wind has turned to a 60° heading, and I need once again my "crab landing" into the 23 knots of wind, with a high approach to keep speed.




Port Macquarie  is located on the coast, at the mouth of the Hastings River, and at the eastern end of the Oxley Highway (B56). Port Macquarie is a retirement destination, known for its extensive beaches and waterways. The town is also known for its koala population, being the home to the Billabong Koala Park, and the Koala Preservation Society's Koala Hospital, caring for koalas injured through bushfire, dog attacks and collisions with vehicles.


Port Macquarie was found to be the least affordable smaller city in Australia by Demographia's 2013 International Housing Affordability Survey.




I found a nice hotel on the coast with a nice view from my room's balcony.



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New South Wales - Day 18  - A weekend in paradise.


After a quick look at the map, I suddenly feel like having a nice weekend in a place known to be part of the top 10 of the world's paradise islands. Lord Howe Island is far from the east coast of New South Wales, 315 nm from Port Macquarie to be precise.


It's a little far away for the Waco, but I'm lucky to find a Lancair Legacy I can rent for the weekend. With its 220 knots cruise speed it will seriously shorten the flight ! For those who wouldn't know this beautiful bird, here is a picture of the office on the parking in Port Macquarie.




By the time everything is set up, it's 11:00 local when I take off from YPMQ heading for Lord Howe Island YLHI. On top of the GPS, I will have the help of a NDB and a DME. Wind is now down to 5 knots from the North, we have 20°C on the ground and broken clouds at 9300 ft.




I stabilize the plane at 5500ft, and it's straight heading for the moon... The autopilot is on, engine set on economy cruise  and the GPS shows a ground speed of 234 knots. I just need to find good music on the radio and enjoy the ride !  :)




One hour and twenty minutes later, Lord Howe Island has come out of the haze and I'm down to 2000 ft. I send my arrival advice on the 126.7 multicom, speed down to 160 knots with the airbrake, and I decide to make a first pass to see what it looks like. The runway is a bit short (800 m ) so I don't want to overshoot !




A first overfly of the airfield and I choose to land on runway 10.




I go make a large turn around 7 nm from the threshold, another push on the speedbrake switch, gear down, two steps of flaps, landing lights on and I come back for a 100 knots approach over the lagoon.




Almost no wind and I touch down on the runway right after the numbers. As soon as speed allows, I stand on the brakes and the plane stops right in front of the taxiway. While I switch off the strobes, landing lights and transponder on runway exit, I can already see it's going to be a nice weekend !




Lord Howe Island  is an irregularly crescent-shaped volcanic remnant in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, 600 kilometres (370 mi) directly east of mainland Port Macquarie. It is about 10 km long and between 2.0 km and 0.3 km wide with an area of 14.55 km Along the west coast there is a sandy semi-enclosed sheltered coral reef lagoon. Most of the population lives in the north, while the south is dominated by forested hills rising to the highest point on the island, Mount Gower (875 m or 2,871 ft). The Lord Howe Island Group comprises 28 islands, islets and rocks. 

The Lord Howe Island Group is recorded by UNESCO as a World Heritage site of global natural significance.




At the Capella Lodge, I find a nice room with a sea view for the weekend.




I will fly back to the mainland on Sunday afternoon.

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Best view from a hotel room yet. :cool: Great choice of aircraft for that leg, a fast runner but it can bite you if you don't keep on the throttle during approach. :D

Coffs Harbor and Port Macquarie would both make nice AH bases, it's a beautiful area to fly. :thum:

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