I did in early 90s did a centre trip in pure gliders and motorgliders and can still remember flying 699km from Mt Isa to Tennant Creek and arriving in PIK20 E at 4pm and wondering what to do for the next 2 hours if ever a 1000km day that was it.
In a totally different way this was just as interesting. Briefly fuel at St George because the computer locked up at Goondiwindi. Places like Eulo were great in that it was 300m from tie down to pub and store. Fuel at Thargamina (they have a dash8 service with 2 passengerson the day we were there) then over Nocondra pub strip too wet then old now dead jackson oil field then every 30 min you would see a total change below like green channel country then moonscape then mars scape to arrive at Inaminka then north to Birdsville. Caravan park units good value and highlight was Birdsville working musuem – a total must and just as good as Aust nat musuem in Canberra or stockmans hall of fame at Longreach. Then down to Mungeranie pub (met us at strip and went for lunch coffee $1.50 and Pie $3.50 so no ski field prices like Birdsville pub) – would consider it for overnight stay – hot pool and accommodation. then fly to Marrie – a bit of a dive but good $10 feed at caravan park. Next day on to Lake Eyre and then William Creek. Progress has reached William Creek as the airstrip now have a FENCE!!! and you can no longer taxialong road up to fuel pumps at pub. Progress!! There is a photo around the club of GLA and KIR at pub petrol pumps 10 years ago. Then on to Coober Pedy. Crag was organiser there at it was excellent. We did a desert tour for $40. Initally thought it was expensive but it was EXCELLENT. Then back to Marrie and long wait for fuel. John and Terry (Maule) and Craig (C172) made it thrugh but 2 dimonas turned back because of bad weather. NExt day a 6.30 am dep to catch up but buggered again by fog so had to find a station airfield to land or a few hours waiting for fog to lift. John Michell found a tar strip short of Bourke at Wangaarang but not after the publican drove us in and out for lunch at Tibaburra. No mob at Wangaarang – just fly over the pub.and out he came and carted us standing up in the back of a truck. Evidently out there it is legal to stand in back of a truck so long as speed is less than 15kph – no seat belt are required according to policeman!! Then on way John was on the ground at Walgett but all acc was booked out so while stil in the air we diverted to Lightning ridge. More time should have been spent there but it is local!! We did find a great outback art Gallery (John Murray I think). We returned via overnight at Warwick and John Michell and terry made it through to Casino.
What can I say – John Michells organisation was EXCELLENT and Craig was great at organising Birdsville Museum and Coober Pedy tour acc and transport (+ discounts). I would go with John Michell anyday on such a trip
What did I learn – well in future we must teach take offs and landings overweight before anybody goes away. It would have been almost impossible to go in falke so thankyou John Witham for organising same but not coming and letting me take Dimona. Fuel can be a problem especially when you have to buy a 200 lit drum. I did take a 13 lit drum but in futre I would take a 25 lit surf rescue fuel bag which could be used to pick up a bit of mogas in towns for overnight stays. There is NO internet except when Johns Next G service was available. I would also say it is essential to be able to navigate with lat and log to find a field and to also work out where you are- I have never done it before but sure learnt it this time. I could say most of our navigating to Cober Pedy was map and 10 min intervals but our way back was down to 400ft. Bad weather is not the time to learn low level navigation – you do that on blue days. Probably more time and less long runs would be a good idea. ie add a few more days.
I would also consider a trolly to cart gear or fuel. Also do a carbon fibre job on the glider to remove weight!!
Airports have fences but the fences and gates are to keep the Kangaroos (and emus) off the landing field. Airport Security!!! Whats that. Not once did I need that red security card which I do not have!! I usually add a bright green shirt at airports like Ballina
Sawer engines are amaizingly reliable – all our engines are – an aero engine had no idea if it is over the desert of AUS or water or anythiong else. People bogged in those closed roads had heaps more problems!!!! THe worst places are in the northcoast wilh all the trees. Out back no worries.
Costs – average accommodation was $30 to $40 each plus evening meals $10 to $20. Fuel ranged from $1.44 at St George (Barnaby’s country) to $2 to $2.50 at Birdsville, Maree, Cober Pedy (no where had 98 and only 95 at Birdsville otherwise all 91 only) Time of trip was about 25 hours If I flew at 95kts 2450 rpm I would use 55lit of AV gas while Bill and Vall in Rotax falke would use 48 litres. If I slowed down to 2250 to 2300 rpm and 10 kts slower I think the Sauer Dimona was even less fuel than other Dimona (rotax 80hp)
The future. I could only recommend such a trip and John Michell is a great organiser/leader. THe Pilkingtons (Wendy and Allen- both pilots) have done many aviation trips in their working days and as Wendy says there are many great sites to visit by air in inland Queensland. I would totally recommend to all -go and do it and any motorglider is a great way to go with just a bit of preparation (esp tools and organising fuel).
A great local trip is Hecks field, Dunwich, Tangalooma (poss overnight), Cobulture (aeroclub lunch weekends), Boonah(poss overnight) then home. Others would be Moree (hot pool) Lighting Ridge then to wherever. Keepit always have a safari late Nov early Dec.
I would have to say the 3 great aviation/gliding things I have done is 1 going to Barron Hilton Cup with Brad Edwards as his guest 2 gliding safiri around centre of AUS which included Longreach Mt Isa, Tennant Creek, Allice Springs, Ayres Rock, Cober Pedy Wilpena Pound and finally this trip. Flying at 26000ft in wave or 750km flights are just minor as all that takes it a good day. There is a web site of trip think it is www,byrongliding.com\cns
Ian McPhee .
THANKS FOR ALLOWING ME TO SHARE YOUR GREAT ADVENTURE TO THE CENTRE OF AUSTRALIA WHILE SITTING AT MY LAPTOP AT HOME.