Flying the outback – day 1
I have had my pilots license for nearly 20 years, and never ventured further west than Dubbo… my buddy Peter went on a jaunt a couple of years ago with one of his mates, Greg, and he owns a Piper Archer and has thousands of hours experience. They ended up stuck out there when the dust storms hit hard… anyway, this year, he asked if I wanted to go on a trip with Greg into the outback… I didn’t even hesitate… I just said hell yeah!
Our plan was to depart on a Thursday morning and return the following Monday… however, the weather gods kept us on the ground until Saturday… our enthusiasm (well mine anyway) was not dampened and I was keen to get in the air and take advantage of what looked like 3 of the best flying days I have seen!
On day 1 we departed from Bankstown airport and tracked over Parkes and landed in Cobar for fuel. I love how friendly the country folk are, a quick call and our refueler was on his way. Once refueled we pointed the nose of our Archer to White Cliffs and enjoyed the view from 8500′.
One thing about the outback is it is easy to spot each town, unlike on the coast, each town is isolated and a bunch of corrugated roofs in the middle of the red dirt makes them easy to see. We had about 25 mins until sunset as we landed in White Cliffs. Like a lot of outback destinations the publican also looks after refueling the aircraft, and your overnight accommodation… Once landed I made a quick call to the publican, Geoff. He was there in a few minutes to help us refuel, packed our bags into the back of his trusty Landcruiser and drove us into town (about a 3 minute journey!)
White Cliffs has a population of 200, and I think they’re including cats and dogs in these numbers! It is known for it’s Opal Mining.
We stayed at the White Cliffs Hotel, Geoff and Helen had only just taken over managing the Hotel from Graham Wellings, who from what I understand has been running the Pub for the last 37 years… the hotel is what you would expect from outback accommodation, basic but enough… at only $80 for the night it was a bed and a shower. The standout for me was the hospitality of Geoff and Helen. I felt like I was being welcomed into their home… dinner was around a table with a bunch of other guests, Geoff and Helen were always making sure we were comfortable, Geoff even lent us his car to take a look around town… thanks Geoff!
There is an underground motel in town, and if I find myself in White Cliffs in the future, I will stay here for the experience…
the daily pic – White Cliffs or the Moon…
One of the benefits of being a pilot is we get a birds eye view… this is White Cliffs from the air… yes you would be correct in saying there are no cliffs! Not that you can see from the air anyway… there are plenty if cliffs if you look underground!
That is the town in the distance… there are two hills, and this is where most of the locals live… a lot of them live in dugout homes, it is much cooler and it doesn’t take many resources to build. What you can see in this photo is all of the disused mine shafts, they have been mining out here since the early 1900’s…