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MOUNT HAGEN, PNG to PERTH, AUSTRALIA

2014

6th September to 27th September, 2014

Last Updated 9th November, 2014 @ 18.00 hrs

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This web site will be up-dated regularly to the end of September 2014 and will cover the trip from Mount Hagen (PNG) through to Perth, Australia. Our planned route will take us through the following places...

Horn Island
Cairns
Burketown
Adel's Grove
Mount Isa
Boulia
Bedourie
Birdsville
Oodnadatta
Ayres Rock
Alice Springs
Tennant Creek
Tindal
Darwin
Kunanura
El Questro
Cape Leveque
Broome
Port Headland
Marble Bar
Learmonth
Sal Salis
Carnarvon
Shark Bay
Geralton
Cervantes
Northam

SAT 6 SEPTEMBER - MOUNT HAGEN (AYMH) - To - HORN ISLAND (YHID) - TO - LAURA (YLRA)
Todays flight was 635 Nautical Miles and was 5 hours and 15 minutes flight time. The weather in PNG was not so good but on leaving the PNG mainland abeam Daru it fined up dramatically.

It was a little long to push onto Cairns so I stopped in Laura for the night. The Laura Hotel is only about 300 meters from the Laura Airstrip and the propritor of the general store, Harold Tavner, also has a cessna 182. He spent quite a lot of time in Santo, Vanuatu before settling into Laura.

SUN 7 SEPTEMBER - LAURA (YLRA) - To - CAIRNS (YBCS)

Todays flight was 130 Nautical Miles and was 1 hours and 10 minutes flight time. It was a good flight, the weather was fine with few clouds but there was a 15/20 knott head wind.

Sergey was already in Cairns and waiting for Bob and we decided to do the tourist thing by driving to Port Douglas and coming back to Cairns via Mount Malloy, Mareeba and Kuranda.

A call at the coffee works in Mareeba was an essential stop to check out all the nick nacks in the shop and to have a double iced coffee with chocolate and cream. It was also an essential part of the Cairns ritual to have dinner at a Sushi Train in Cairns before retiring.

The photo at the right is an old espresso coffee machine that was used in Argentina in the 1920's and was on display in the Coffee Works at Mareeba.

MON 8 SEPTEMBER - CAIRNS (YBCS) To BURKETOWN (YBKT)

Todays flight was 363 Nautical Miles and was 3 hours and 10 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was fine with almost no clouds and the winds were neutral.

Burketown in on the "Savannah Way" which is a "tourist drive" drive from Cairns to Broome. It is also near the place where Burke and Wills finally reached the "Northern Coast" in their ill fated expedition that crossed Australia. Both Burle & Wills perished on their return journey near Coopers Creek.

Burketown is also known as the Barramundi Capital of Australia, however we who come from PNG know Bensbach as the Barramundi Capital of the World.

Morning Glory Clouds are a peculiar cloud formation that occurrs in th elast part of the year, usually September to November. They are tubular cloud formations that roll out of the Gulf of Carpentaria in the early morning, often in lines of three or four, extending from horizon to horizon. The Morning Glory's associated winds attract many light aircraft thrill seekers who surf the clouds for hundreds of kilometeres.

TUE 9 SEPTEMBER - BURKETOWN (YBKT) - To - ADEL'S GROVE (YALG)
Todays flight was 80 Nautical Miles and was 40 minutes. It was again a good flight, the weather was fine with no clouds and little wind.

Instead of doing the usual trip up Adels Gorge in a paddle canoe we decided to try a solar powered boat. This had only been operating for about 7 weeks and it seemed to be a good way to go. It had eight solar panels on the roof providing shade and was driven by a 48 volt DC motor running the outboard leg. It had four 100 amp hour batteries fitted as well. These could be charged up externally if need be but the solar panels were more than enpugh to provide all the power necessary to drive the boat.

The boat took 8 people plus the driver/guide and glided through the water smoothly and quietly. It was a displacement hull and would therefore operate at a fast walking pace.

There were large cat fish in the river and the accuracy of the archer fish with their water spitting antics was simpling amazing.

WED 10 SEPTEMBER - ADEL'S GROVE (YALG) - To - MT. ISA (YBMA) - To- BOULIA (YBOU) - To - BEDOURIE (YBIE) - To - BIRDSVILLE (YBDV)

Todays flight was 472 Nautical Miles and was 4 hours and 10 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was fine with no clouds and only a small headwind component. We broke the flight up into four sectors so that each flight was on an average only about an hour.

It was the Birdsville Races last weekend (The 1st Weekend in September) and the Birdsville pub was full so we had to settle for the Bridsville Caravan Park for our accommodation. However we did have our meals at the Birdsville Pub, after all everything is within walking distance from the airstrip.

Most people had already left Birdsville and from talking to the locals there were about 6,000 people in town as well as about 100 aircraft and there would have been about 2,000 vehicles in Birdsville as well. This swelled the population from the usual 100 people and one aircraft. The pub flew in an additional casual 20 staff from Brisbane for the weekend as well.

THU 11 SEPTEMBER - BIRDSVILLE (YBDV) - To - ALICE SPRINGS (YBAS)

Todays flight was 312 Nautical Miles and was 2 hours and 30 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was fine with no clouds and we had about 15 to 20 knots of tailwind.

At least two hours of the flight was across the Simpson Desert and the desert was just a continuing sea of red sand dunes as shown on the right. The desert started as soon as we took off from Birdsville and lasted until about 50 miles from Alice Springs.

The settlement of Alice Springs in the 1800's played a pivotal role in opening up Australia. Surrounded by a sea of red sand the size of Europe, Alice Springs attracted many famous pioneering characters, from legendary explorers to prospectors, miners, cattlemen and pioneering women looking to improve their fortunes. These characters brought invention and ingenuity with them undertaking a number of ambitious projects and achieving many great Australian "feats", including:

. Layimg of the overland telegraph line
. Establishmant of the old Gahn Railway
. The invention of the motorised road train

We hired a car in Alice Springs and drove out to a few of the nearby tourist attractions, like Flynn's grave, Anzac Hill and Simpson's gap.

FRI 12 SEPTEMBER - ALICE SPRINGS (YBAS) - To - AYRES ROCK - (YAYE)

Todays flight was 180 Nautical Miles and was 1 hours and 20 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was fine with no clouds and a good tailwind.

We again hired a car at Ayres Rock Airport and went out to Kata Tjuta (Olgas) abd Uluru (Ayres Rock). We of course also, along with a thousand other tourists had to go out to the marked place and watch the sun set on Uluru.

One does not have much of a choice as to where to stay. The Ayers Rock Resort has it all from camping grounds to a five star resort called "Sails in the Desert".

This is one of Australia's most iconic stmbols of the outback environment and is World Heritage-listed.

About 500 million years ago, the whole of the area of Uluru and Kata Tjuta became covered by the sea. Sand and mud fell into the bottom of the sea and covered the seabed. The weight of the new seabed turned the area into rock. The rock became conglomerate rock and parts of iy turned into sandstone. About 100 million years later the sea disappeared and the whole of central Australia began to be subjected to massive forces. Some rocks folded and tilted only slightly but the part that eventually became Uluru tilted almost 90 degrees.

Uluru like Kata Tjuta is the tip of a huge slab of rock that continues below the ground for possibly 5 - 6 kilometers.

SAT 13 SEPTEMBER - AYRES ROCK (YAYE) - To - TENNANT CREEK (YTNK) - To - MATARANKA HOMESTEAD (YMKA)

Todays flight was 676 Nautical Miles and was 5 hours and 35 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was fine with no clouds and a good tailwind. We stopped at Tennant Creek for fuel and from there on it became quite rough with the afternoon thermals.

Mataranka Homestead had a wonderful natual thermal pool in the forest. The water was a constant 34 degrees all year and it was plesant just to sit in the pool and soak up the warm water. It seemed that everyone at the homestead had the same thoughs, for there were quite a few people in the thermal pool.

SUN 14 SEPTEMBER - MATARANKA HOMESTEAD (YMKA) - To - TINDAL (YPTN) - To - COOINDA (YCOO)

Todays flight was 180 Nautical Miles and was 1 hours and 30 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was fine with no clouds. We stopped at Tindal for fuel and then continued onto Cooinda.

Sergey was all fired up to find a Crocodile in Kakadu National Park and went out searching. He came upon one that wanted to snarl at him but he was not daunted by the croc's actions and just went on taking photos of it.

The days are starting to warm up outside and we spent the heat of the day indoors catching up in some outstanding issues "back home" as well as trying to book and plan ahead for the next day or two of our trip.

Most of the accommodation and tour business in the "top end" of Australia is coming to the end of this years season and they are starting to wind down and visitors numbers have started to drop off so it has been easy for us to make all our booking on the day we arrived or at the earliest the day before we arrived.

MON 15 SEPTEMBER - COOINDA (YCOO) - To - JABIRU (YJAB)

Todays flight was only 26 Nautical Miles and it took us about 13 minutes. It was a short flight but we had to be in Jabiru by 7.00 am to catch the Arnhem Land tour. However Jabiru exists because of the Ranger Uranium Mine, it is located quite close to the Jabiru Airstrip, not because it is one of the entry points to Kakadu National Park.

The tour was done in a 4 wheel drive Isuzu bus that had seating for about 20 people. The tourist season is winding down in the "top end" as it is starting to get warm and there were only 13 people on the tour including a family of 4.

The tour went into Arnhem Land and covered quite a number of rock painting sites, both old and new. Our Guide told us that some of the sites were up to 10,000 years old, while others were relatively recent at only 100 years old.

We also visited a nice "beach" on a billabong as depicted on the right. It was hot, the water looked inviting, the sandstone "backdrop" was amazing and the sand was soft under our feat. However in the Billabong we could see crocodiles cruising around on the surface of the water and that was enough to immediately put off any thought of going in for a dip to cool off out of ones mind.

We stayed at the quaintly designed "Crocodile Hotel" in Jabiru that you can see in the potograph below.

TUE 16 SEPTEMBER - JABIRU (YJAB) - To - DARWIN (YPDN)

Todays flight was 120 Nautical Miles and it took us 1 hour and 10 minutes.It was another easy flight and this is the first time since we left Cairns that we came across a few clouds, however they had all disappeared by the afternoon.

Darwin was named after the well known and controversial zoologist Charles Darwin.

We went to an aviation mueseum on the Darwin airport today and it had a hangar full on interesting stuff, including a B52 bomber, an F111, a Mirage and a Sabre. There was also a lot of historical stuff there as well about what happened to Darwin during the second world war.

In World War II the Japanese conducted their first raid on Darwin on 19 February 1942. There were 54 land based bombers and 188 attack aircraft that came from 4 Japanese Aircraft carriers. There were 243 people killed and somewhere between 300 and 400 wounded. The Japanese continued to bomb Northern Australia up ro November 1943 and they conducted a total of 64 raids.

WED 17 SEPTEMBER - DARWIN (YPDN)

Today is a non flying day. We hired a car and drove out to East Point and around the "beaches" of Darwin. Despite the warm weather and nice days no one was swimming in the sea, there were corocdile notices at what looked liked to be nice swimming spots.

Darwin was devastated by a category 5 cyclone called "Tracy" on Christmas Eve/Day in 1974 and the town had 70% of its houses destroyed and there were 65 people killed. The recorded winds reached 217 kph before the Bureau of Meterology wind speed indicator was destroyed.

Darwin has been rebuilt with hi rise buildings now dominating the skyline.

Darwin was easy to drive around, the roads seemed adequate for the size of the city, the traffic flowed freely and there were no traffic jams.

The photo at at the right shows us parked at the entrance to the Bullo River Homestead. We could taxi up to the front door.

THU 18 SEPTEMBER - DARWIN (YPDN) - To - BULLO STATION (YBUL) - To - KUNNANURRA (YPKU) - To - EL QUESTRO (YEQO)

Todays flight was 320 Nautical Miles and was 2 hours and 50 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was fine.

Our first stop was at Bullo River Station to have a cuppa with Franz, Marlee was away mustering on the property somewhere.

We went into Kunanurra for our second stop to get fuel.

While our third stop was our destination El Questro.

It was a big time change for us today and we are now two hours behind PNG and the eastern capitals of Australia.

The photo at the right are the Bungle Bungles. The Bungle Bungle Range is one of the most extensive and impressive occurrences of sandstone tower (or cone) karst terrain in the world. The Bungle Bungles were a plateau of Devonian sandstone, carved into a mass of beehive-shaped towers with regularly alternating, dark gray bands of cynobacterial crust (single cell photosynthetic organisms). The plateau is dissected by a 100200-metre (330660 ft) deep, sheer-sided gorges and slot canyons. The cone-towers are steep-sided, with an abrupt break of slope at the base and have domed summits. How they were formed is not yet completely understood.

FRI 19 SEPTEMBER - EL QUESTRO (YEQO) To - HALLS CREEK (YHLC) - To - BROOME (YBRM)

Todays flight was 320 Nautical Miles and was 2 hours and 50 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was fine.

From El Questro we tracked to overhead the Argyle Diamond Mine and then south for a low level flight over the Bungle Bungles.

We then headed further south to the Wolfe Creek Meteor site and did a circuit around it before heading off to Hall's Creek for fuel.

The Wolfe Creek Crater is a well-preserved meteorite impact crater (astrobleme) in Western Australia.

The crater averages about 875 metres in diameter, 60 metres from rim to present crater floor and it is estimated that the meteorite that formed it had a mass of about 50,000 tonnes, while the age is estimated to be less than 300,000 years (Pleistocene).

The crater was brought to the attention of scientists after being spotted during an aerial survey in 1947, investigated on the ground two months later.

SAT 20 SEPTEMBER - BROOME (YBRM) - To - MARBLE BAR (YMBL)

Todays flight was 240 Nautical Miles and was 2 hours and 15 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was cloudless.

The only hotel in town, the Iron Clad Hotel, built in 1890, was full so Sergey and Bob rented a caravan each in the Marble Bar Caravan park. There was a party at the Iron Clad Hotel that night, there was a live band playing and we could hear the music while we were trying to get to sleep in our their respective caravans.

Some tourists were sleeping outside on the ground beside their vehicles in the caravan park. After all it is hot and it is not going to rain and probably the easiest way to keep cool during the night.

Marble Bar has an arid climate with very hot summers and mild to warm winters. The town set a world record of most consecutive days of 100 F (37.8 C) or above, during a period of 160 days from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924.

During December and January, temperatures in excess of 45 C (113 F) are common.

The manager of the caravan park gave us a quick trip around town and up to the Marble Bar Swiming hole and water supply on our way to the airport.

SUN 21 SEPTEMBER - MARBLE BAR (YMBL) - To - PORT HEADLAND (YPPD) - To - EXMOUTH (YEXM)

Todays flight was 360 Nautical Miles and was 3 hours and 30 minutes flight time. It was good flight, the weather was again cloudless but we had our first headwind of the trip and this cut our speed by about 20 kts. We stopped at Port Headland for fuel only.

We hired a car on arrival at Exmouth and went around the local tourist spots. It was rather windy on the western side of the peninsular so we retreated back to the eastern side. Bob assured Sergey that there were no crocodiles around so Sergey went for his traditional swim in the waters of Exmouth Gulf while Bob kept watch.

The photo at the right was taken from the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse on the western side of the Exmouth Pensular and and looking towards north west cape. It is also the most northerly part of Ningaloo Reef.

The Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt is located on the northwest coast of Australia, 6 kilometres north of the town of Exmouth. The town of Exmouth was built at the same time as the communications station to provide support to the base and to house dependent families of U.S. Navy personnel.

The station provides very low frequency (VLF) radio transmission to United States Navy and Royal Australian Navy ships and submarines in the western Pacific Ocean and eastern Indian Ocean. The frequency is 19.8 kHz. With a transmission power of 1 megawatt, it is the most powerful transmission station in the Southern Hemisphere.

MON 22 SEPTEMBER - EXMOUTH (YEXM) - To - CARNARVON (YCAR) - To - SHARK BAY (YSHK)

Todays flight was 240 Nautical Miles and was 2 hours and 30 minutes flight time. This was our first day of some cloud and rain and we again had some 20/25 kts of headwind. We stopped at Carnarvan for fuel only.

It was wet cold and windy for our arrival and the 20 degree drop in temperature to what we had been used to was a shock to our systems.

No visit to Shark Bay would be complete without also going to Monkey Mia. Monkey Mia is a popular tourist destination located about 25 km away on the opposite side of the peninsular in the Shark Bay Marine Park and World Heritage Site.

The main attraction are the bottlenose dolphins that have been coming close to shore for more than fifty years. Rangers from the Department of Parks and Wildlife (Western Australia) carefully supervise the "close encounter" experience with the dolfins.

TUE 23 SEPTEMBER - SHARK BAY (YSHK) - To - KALBARRI (YKBR)

Todays flight was 117 Nautical Miles and was 1 hour and 10 minutes flight time. It was a fine day again.

We initially tracked towards Dirk Hartog Island and then tracked south along the coast to Kalbarri. The 500 foot high cliffs along the coast at the waters edge were spectacular. Dirk Hartog was the first recorded white man, a Dutchman, to arrive on Australian soil on October 25th 1616, 154 years before Captain Cook. he landed at Cape Inscription, the northern most point on the island which now bears his name. He nailed an engraved peweter plate to a wooden post to record his landing. 81 years later another Dutchman, William de Vlamingh, visited the site and replaced the peweter plate with one of his own, returning the original to Holland. This original plate now resides in Rijks Museum.

Kalbarri is a picturesque seaside town located midway along "Australia's Coral Coast". The town itself is located at the mouth of the Murchison River.

Surrounded by National Park, Kalbarri offers dramatic inland gorges, magnificent coastal scenery and at this time of the year a variety of wildflowers. The local population is less that 2,000 but this would swell considerably during the holiday season.

The photo above and to the right shows the coastline between Shark Bay and Kalbarri.

WED 24 SEPTEMBER - KALBARRI (YKBR) - To - GERALDTON (YGEL) - To - CERVANTES (YCVS)

Todays flight was 170 Nautical Miles and was 1 hour and 30 minutes flight time. It was a fine day again and we stopped at Geraldton for fuel.

The beaches in Cervantes are within walking distance the town centre.The area is renowned for vast displays of native wildflowers in season.

Nambung National Park is situated south of Cervantes. The Pinnacles of Nambung National Park are limestone pillars have been sculpted smooth as the wind erodes the sand. They are best seen at sunset or sunrise, the Pinnacles tours are an important part of the economy of Cervantes.

Lake Thetis located near Cervantes, its one of only six known locations in the world where thrombolites similar to stromatolites - the worlds oldest living fossils be easily viewed.

THU 25 SEPTEMBER - CERVANTES (YCVS) - To - NORTHAM (YNTM)

Todays flight was 110 Nautical Miles and was 1 hour and 10 minutes flight time. It was a fine day again with tail winds.

Northam was the end of this trip and Claude Meunier was there to greet us and look after us for our stay in Northam in his normal hospitable and friendly manner. Claude always makes us so welcome when we go there that it is not possible for us to go to that part of Australia without calling in to see him. Claude let us put our aircraft in his hanger at Northam until we were ready to come back and collect it and return it to PNG.

Claude also took us around the best eating places in Northam for the duration of our stay and acted as our own very knowlegable "tour guide"..

Claude drove us both to Perth airport, about 100 km away, where we said our goodbys from where Sergey flew back to Russia via Dubai and Bob flew back to PNG via Cairns.

Australia is an easy place to fly around VFR privately, there is minumal contact with Air Traffic Controllers and one can set ones schedule with little considerations apart from the weather. Sergey and Bob plan to return again next year to do another trip through Australia.

Bob went back to Perth on 1st November 2014 and left the next day for Mount Hagen and flew Northam - Leonora - Warburton - Ayres Rock - Alice Springs - Mount Isa - Cairns - Merluna - Horn Island - Daru - Mount Hagen.