Australia has a Queen. The Queen has a birthday. Several, in fact: In New Zealand they had a long weekend for it on June 4th, June 11th was most of Australia's turn -- except Western Australia, where they'll do it on October 1st.
Must be great to be a Queen. So many birthday presents.
So anyway, there's a 3-day weekend, nice weather, and an RV-6 in the hangar. What to do, what to do?
I was talking about it with my brother a few weeks ago, and we decided that it'd be good fun to make a trip to Lake Eyre
For most of its existence, calling it a "Lake" is a bit ambitious. Lake Eyre
is usually a dry salt pan, about 9 to 15 metres below sea level, deep in the South Australian outback. The lake is fed by the Warburton River, which also spends almost the entirety of its existence as a dry river bed. But when times are wet, its catchment area covers about two thirds of Queensland and nearly one third of New South Wales.
And times have been wet
in those parts lately. It took about four months after the floods, but the trickle of water down the Warburton turned into a flow, then a flood, which added to the remnants of a 2009 partial fill to produce the highest water levels the lake has seen in 60 years. We're now about a year and a half into the three years it'll take to evaporate.
The water brings life to the outback. Usually white salt, red rocks, billions of flies and almost nothing else, the lake's waters bring birds, insects, even frogs and fish.
Visiting it while it's full is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Visiting it while it's half-full, like it is now, is perhaps a thrice in a lifetime opportunity
So with that background out of the way, what do we do about it?
A series of phone calls to my brother during the week told him what to expect about travel in the smallest plane he's flown in. "Pack light."
The plan was to fly to Rawnsley Park Station, a sheep station next to Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges which happens to have an airstrip, (expensive) AVGAS, and accommodation.
Departing Parafield, we accepted a nice 7 kt tailwind to track around the Edinburgh airforce base to St Kilda, then up to Bowmans, Jamestown, and Rawnsley Park. More or less the same track as last year
, about 1.5 hours on the Hobbs.
Arriving in the Flinders Ranges with the Elders in the background.
Wilpena Pound from the North.
To be continued...