The Dig Tree

Flying the Outback – day 2

The Dig Tree

We woke fairly early and decided to take a drive around White Cliffs. The mounds of white dirt was like ant hills scattered throughout the town, I got out of the car a couple of times to take pics and was really careful as I jumped around. The old mine shafts are literally everywhere and some would be 30 feet deep. The last thing I needed was to fall down one of those!

At 9am breakfast was served at the pub and then it was time to say goodbye to White Cliffs. We wanted to go and check out the Dig Tree, this is the tree that is attached to the historical explorers, Burke & Wills.

The Dig Tree

The Burke and Wills ‘Dig Tree’ is one of Australia’s national icons and an enduring reminder of our pioneering spirit. Located on the Northern bank of Coopers Creek the ‘Dig Tree’ is a Coolibah (Eucalyptus microtha). It is believed that the tree is 200-250 years old. Before the base camp party deserted the depot (stockade Depot Camp 65), only hours before Burke and Wills did return from the Gulf, they had buried some provisions in the remote chance of Burke and Wills return and instructions to dig were carved into the trunk of the tree. The three blazes on the dig tree were:

B LXV Trunk, creek side
Dig 3FT NW Trunk, land side
Dec 6 60 April 21 61 Limb upstream

These Blazes have now been covered to help preserve the tree. Burke’s face was carved into another tree (the ‘Face Tree’) about 30m downstream of the ‘Dig Tree’ by John Dick in 1898 and is still clearly visible. Apart from the boardwalk structure built around the tree to help protect it, the site as you view it now is as Burke and Wills and companions would have viewed it nearly 140 years ago.

the daily pic – towers outback

It is hard to convey the vastness of the outback… there is a lot of flat ground out there!

(Click on the photo to order yourself a print or to download (please see licensing for the rules!)


Categories: Australian Locations, Outback | Leave a comment

White Cliffs.. or is it the moon?

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′.

Sunset at White Cliffs

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…

(Click on the photo to order yourself a print or to download (please see licensing for the rules!)

Categories: Australian Locations, Outback | Leave a comment

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