Western Australia

We’re off again. 3 rapid hops, Perth, Esperance, Forrest then Broken Hill. We’ll cover the hop to Esperance later. From Esperance, we flew along the beautiful beaches of the Cape Arid National Park, then across the red, arid desert to Forrest.

The airfield is run by Lee and Ilsa. Their welcome and hospitality was amazing. Quickly refuelled, we tucked the aircraft in the hangar, built in 1929 to help service the aircraft connecting east and west Australia. The airfield itself was sealed and used by RAAF and USAAF aircraft during the Second World War. Now it is a critical staging post for RAAF and civilian aircraft flying east west or deeper into the outback to the north. The airfield is supplied by train once a week and has several aircraft drop in each day.

Our accommodation was the old school house, converted into a lovely 3 bed house with history. Lee and Ilsa took us to see a majestic eagle’s nest, hosted a great dinner and chatted over beer about travel and adventure. We were joined by Graham and David, flying a much faster Cirrus in the opposite direction. A meeting of travellers.

In the morning we followed the 297 mile long straight railway track to the east, passing several sand airfields used to get people in to mend track and repair broken locomotives and wagons…driving somewhere takes forever out here. The scale of the country and the challenges faced by the pioneer explorers and aviators really became apparent to us. The salt lakes could have been an arctic tundra vista from our height; what a country.

Arrival at the historic mining town of Broken Hill was hard. The sun was setting directly down the into wind runway making it virtually impossible to judge height, so we changed to the sand cross runway. Despite teaching people to land aircraft many times and emphasising that you must look out the front into the distance, not look down…I looked down to check the surface was ok and promptly arrived, firmly, bounced then landed again. Oh well, any landing you can walk away from is a good one! 

Tomorrow, to Narromine.

Chris Pote