Morning tour of Esperance, which overlooks the bay of isles.
Coastal scenery at the 318 square km Cape Le Grand National Park, 56km east of Esperance.
Overnight at Hannan's View Motel, 430 Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie.
David organized a convoy of the two taxis starting at 7:20. Since breakfast was not available until 7, this meant an eat and run. I hate that, so I snacked in my room and ignored breakfast. I was at the Ceduna airport by about 7:30 a.m. Alas, despite a timely arrival by all we could not take off. Although Border Village airstrip was only damp, there was a rain report further along. David started making plans for a third plane for the luggage if we had to divert and would not have sufficient fuel. Then we got the phone call that the runway was not throwing enough mud to stick to the car. That was the all clear signal.
I led a quick expedition to the terminal toilets, since we had been on the ground so long. We finally closed the hatch and prepared to take off at 8:45.
By then the sun patches of the early morning had turned to cloud. Our chances of whale sightings went way down.
At only 4000 feet we flew in briliant sunshine, above a dense layer of cloud. Soon we were flying within dense cloud, and after almost an hour were close to the point of no return. We will probably be descending to see if the cloud continues at a lower altitude.
At 10:15 we emerged from some of the cloud cover. From 4000 feet we could see herds of migrating whales in the ocean below. OK, so really it was just whitecaps, but I prefer to think whales.
We seem to have sufficient visibility to continue.
Lunch at Border Village, 1255 km west of Adelaide, on the Nullarbor Plain, at the South Australian and West Australian border. I believe this is one of a tiny number of hamlets using the nearly unknown Mid West Australian time, 45 minutes from South Australia, 45 minutes from West Australian time.
Took photos at Border village, at the junction of SA and WA. It even had Telstra 3G. We wandered around while the pilots refuelled the planes. We were ready to leave for Caiguna by 10:15 WA time. Turn watch back 1.5 hours.
We had a fuel stop at the Caiguna service station and motel. No mobile phone service here. There were some birds feeding from the hand of visitors. We have a 90 minute flight to Esperance.
We should be out of the Esperance airport around 2 p.m. WA time. Bus tour of Cape Le Grand National Park. We had only a fraction of the time previously allocated. The Cape is about 45 minutes away. We also had a substitute driver not familiar with the area. The Cape still presented as a magnificent area. The camping areas seemed well organized. Hellfire Bay and the fine white beach was a wonderful sight despite cloud blocking the sun.
We had to rush, but got back to the planes and boarding by 5:20 p.m. for the flight to Kalgoorlie.
We landed in the dark, despite being technically in time. The airstrip at this mining town seemed very well equipped. With some hints from our pilot Michael, I could watch a 737 land just prior to our first plane. I also got a good view of our red hot manifold in the twilight.
We had Harry, a great bus driver and guide. Despite the late hour, he gave us a wonderful tour of the main streets of Kalgoorlie. Harry also showed us the Super Pit open cut gold mine at night. The last stop on the night tour of town was the brothels, very visible and just behind the hotel David has us staying in. I don't know that David was aware of that when he booked us in.
Roast dinner at the hotel, with most of us soon collapsing. We have an early start tomorrow.
We had to be started breakfast at 5:45 so we could be on the bus at 6:30 a.m. The bus driver drove up the main street first, so we got a better view than at night. Late takeoff partly due to a Qantas arrival closing entry to General Aviation. We had to go through security. Half of us had scissors or tools. Luckily these could be handled by our pilot. Clouds and problems at our intended destination. To Albany instead without luggage. 310 nm or about 600 km. Michael will be making the long flight back to collect the luggage. We should get into Albany after 10. a.m. after a flight exceeding two hours.
Visit Porongurup National Park to the south, 40 km from Albany.
Stirling Ranges wildflower tour with an 81 year old wildlife expert who managed to scramble through the bush faster than most of us. Our wildlife expert Dennis was absolutely wonderful. A real character and very knowledgable. The bus driver Bert was also a character.
Our bags were at the hotel when we arrived. Dinner in their respectable restaurant. After most people had retired, David played the badly tuned piano
Breakfast at 6:30 a.m. before Bert drove the bus to the airport. Many of us bought his little joke book. Bush humour. We were in flight before 8 a.m. for the 40 minute flight to Manjinup to see Gloucester trees. We flew over Lake Muir so we are more than half there.
Land near Pemberton to see some of the tallest trees.
Our bus driver is Mike. Too wet for wheat, they have apples and cauliflowers. Bluegum, vines, woneries. Also truffles. Lots of five acre blocks. To Pemberton, an old timber town that still has a mill. Head for Karri Forest to see the Gloucester Tree. Gloucester Tree 3 km from Pemberton in Gloucester National Park. 153 rungs and a height of nearly 60 meters. It was selected as a fire lookout tower in 1947. Named by then Governor General His Royal Highness (joke) Duke of Gloucester.
Cascades at other end of park.
Warren National Park 2980 hectares NPA says old growth our bus driver says regrown. See Bicentennial Tree, tallest climbable tree in the world. It was around 62 metres. Dale Evans Bicentennial Tree in nearby Warren National Park. 60 metre climb both fire observation towers in the crown of giant karri trees (Eucalyptus diversicolor).
We even had a welcome Devonshire Tea at the site.
Beedelup National Park and Beedelup Falls and suspension bridge. We are about an hour late. Drive through jarra forest. Another attractive walk to fine falls. We were due at the planes about when we left.
Boarded and engines started at 1:10 p.m. for our Margaret River flight.
Fly west to the Margaret River region. Visit Cape Leeuwin where the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet. Tour some of the famous Margaret River wineries.
Overfly Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. Michael did a couple of low circuits so we had good chances for photographs.
We visited Watershed Wines cafe for lunch and had a very nice lunch. Alas, no time for a wine tasting, but they ship a case freight free.
Then we hastened to Voyager Wines where we had an excellent tour. Alas, once again no time for a wine tasting as we hastened off on the bus to rush back to the landing strip.
We arrived at 4:20. The pilots told us we would refuel at Busselton rather than Bunbery. Only a 20 nm flight starting at 4:30.
On board at Busselton and starting the engines at 5:25 for the 40 minute flight to Perth. Takeoff at 5:30. Pitch and mixture adjust at 5:40 when we reached 5000 feet. Fuel flow drops from over 35 US gal per hour to about 18 per hour.
Follow the coast west to land at Perth.
This was their first flight into Perth for our two pilots. As a major city airport it was controlled airspace. So what did Doug do? Asked for a diversion left so his passengers could get nice photos as we overflew Perth at twilight. The air traffic controllers also let Michael overfly Perth CBD. It was great.
We landed about 6:20, taxied forever and had to ask for a parking space. The bus met us once we figured out the gate system. I contacted Sally and arranged to see her and Evan for breakfast.
Overnight at Perth. We stay two nights at Miss Maud, 97 Murray Street, Perth WA, which has to be one of my favourite hotels. Partly for the breakfast buffet. Partly because it holds good memories from the past.
Free time on Saturday morning.
My first task was laundry. I didn't help things much by managing to beat everyone else into the laundry, and have my stuff going before 7 a.m. The laundry eventually became such a social centre for our group that some grumpy guest popped out to ask us to close the door.
Sally and her son Evan (who looked much larger than I imagined) turned up around 9 a.m. We breakfasted in Miss Maud. Evan was an awesome trencherman, and I think he got very good value for my dollar. I simply can not do justice to a Miss Maud buffet myself, so it was a delight to watch someone enjoy the repast. Walk via the railway station to Northbridge to an incredible old style bulk market and produce store where Sally gets coffee beans. Back via stairs to an old market site and then along the interesting Hay Street mall. It was an interesting walk, with Sally mentioning many sights along the way.
David organised a sandwich lunch, which I thought worked really well after the excesses of the buffet breakfast.
After lunch, bus tour of Perth and interesting parts of old Fremantle. It rained. David and I decided to walk one of the streets while the others stuck with the bus. It poured on us. The shopping area near the wharf had free WiFi, which impressed me.
We ended with an excellent ferry cruise on the Swan River back to Perth. The weather improved, but some of the sail boats were close to their wind limits, or so it seemed. I was astonished at the number of large McMansions along the riverbanks. There was even a wine tasting onboard.
Walk from the ferry wharf across Riverside Drive and through the Supreme Court gardens, back to Miss Maud. I failed to get to a supermarket in time to get more camera batteries. David was already ahead, getting lollies for the next stage of the trip.
Overnight at Miss Maud in Perth again.
We were all on the bus at Perth by 7:45 a.m. However the street was blocked by a pair of semitrailers delivering construction material. Driver got out via a narrow lane. Couch north east from Perth to New Norcia. Long drive through countryside on the Great Northern Highway to New Norcia religious town and Benedictine monastery.
The classic Spanish architecture monastery is different. Founded in 1846 by Bishop Salvado and Dom Serra, further developed by Bishop Torres from 1901, and Dom Catalan from 1916. Escorted tour of the town, museum and monastery. Sought to give practical education to indigenous children, and built up a large library. Their motto is Pax, Latin for peace. Fascinating, and larger than I expected. Tour was excellent. I noticed noisy trucks passing by on the highway. They and a nearby Buddist group are combining to attempt to ease traffic noise, or so I gather. New Norcia Museum and their shop.
After lunch at the hotel in New Norcia. Drive north to rural Moora to board our flight in the middle of an empty field. Fly over Cervantes, named after the wreck of a two masted American whaling ship wrecked in 1844.
Fly over Nambung National Park and the Pinnacles wind eroded rock formations. However we were too high to see much.
View coast cliffs on the way to overnight at Kalbarri Palm Resort, Porter Street, Kalbarri WA
The dinner location unexpectedly turned out to be well distant from the hotel. Davo the helpful bus driver drives us to dinner at a restauramt that opened just for our group. Since this was also to be the breakfast source, we had problem, even with Davo being the helpful bus driver. Especially as the cook refused to arrive at the early time we needed. Daveo saved the breakfast plans also, by coming up with a set of self contained breakfast makings we could eat in our rooms before leaving the hotel.
Breakfast in room, thanks to bus driver Davo. Leave Kalbarri Palms Resort.
We had a great morning in Kalbarri National Park. We did the walk to Nature's Window, a small natural arch framing one of the nicer views. Jean and I had been here in 2004. We also got a good view of Z loop after another walk.
Late morning fly along the Zuytdorp Cliffs, site of Dutch shipwrecks. Past Steep Point, westernmost point of mainland Australia. Across Dirk Hartog island, which he landed on in 1616, and the Useless Loop salt mining, overfly Shark Bay and Freycinet Reach. Land at Isolated Shark Bay airport on the Peron Peninsula.
Picnic lunch of chicken and salad at Monkey Mia reserve organized by tour guide Jenny with faulty microphone. Wild dolphins have come here for a handout since the early 1960's.
Catamaran tour onto world heritage listed Shark Bay. The 55 foot vessel Aristocat took us to Blue Lagoon Pearl sealab for a visit, and a great explanation of cultured pearls. Next we looked for dugong, and came across an astonishing herd of between 50 and 100. I have never seen so many .
Tour bus through other areas on the Peron peninsula, and visit Francois Peron national park.
Overnight at Shark Bay, staying at The Heritage Resort, Denham. There isn't a lot of space at Monkey Mia itself, so Denham is a handy site. Jean and I stayed here in 2004. Starting with a whiskey at the bar.
Breakfast at 6:30 and on bus by 7 for Monkey Mia to view 7:30 dolphin feeding. More visitors than last time but I think it may be school holiday. Thought I lost my prescription sunglasses, but it was actually a senior moment.
Flight over Shark Bay. We got away early and had taken off from Shark Bay by 9. Refuel at Carnarvon 30 minutes away. We were refuelled by a fuel truck and ready to take off by 10 a.m. Carnarvon looks like a shared military airport. North over Carnarvon and the Gascoyne River. Gascoyne River bed seems totally dry from the air. Next stop Exmouth in about an hour. We overfly the Tropic of Capricorn. We were over Exmouth Gulf around 11 a.m. running a little late despite a 17 knot tailwind. Follow Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National Park, and land at Exmouth.
One strange event. Over massive Leahmouth airstrip, there was a large Qantas plane. We found later on the news that this Airbus 330 had to make an emergency landing there.
Bus at Exmouth at 11:20 where we drop bags at the Potshot Hotel. Rooms not ready. Emu and three chicks wandered down the footpath, so we all took photos.
Bus for long bus tour through Cape Range National Park along the coastal strip. Stopped at 1:20 at Sandy Bay to view whales. Far offshore.
Boat cruise Yardie Creek Gorge. Yardie Creek cruise ended at 4pm. This was the cruise we took four years ago. Different light for the photos. It was a really nice cruise.
Turquoise Bay for snorkel over Ningaloo Reef. We got away at 5:30. I didn't go in.
Lighthouse at sunset was spectacular. We had champaign as we watched.
We stay overnight at Potshot Hotel Resort, Murat Road, Exmouth, WA. The Potshot Hotel seems choice of the see Australia while you die bus tour crowds.
We originally intended to fly to the historical town of Roebourne, the oldest town in the Pilbara. Tour historic sites. Visit nearby Cossack, a former major pearling industry port, until pearling moved to Broome. Jean and I saw both of these in 2004.
Thunderstorms at 3:30 a.m.
Breakfast scheduled at 6:15 a.m. today. They were not open until 6:30, but we were soon done. Off on the bus despite showers by 7;16 and in the air by 7:45. Air temperature at 5000 feet was still 20. Bound for Karatha and another bus tour of a national park.
View iron ore formations on the way to the wetlands areas of Millstream-Chichester National Park. Aquifiers fed by the Fortescue River feed permanent pools, such as Chinderwarrina Pool. Look at Millstream palm (liistona alfredii). Introduced species include cotton palm and date palm.
We arrived before 9 a.m. However wind and rain may make it impossible to land at the landing site for Tom Price. David is working on alternatives. We set out by bus with Lisa driving around 9:30, without knowing if the weather conditions would improve. David is trying to organize a 53 seater bus from Tom Price to meet this bus at Millstream. However mobile coverage doesn't exist most of the way. It is now 11:30 and we have been on this bus a long time. Now scheduled to pick up the bus at Millstream visitors centre at 3:30p.m.
Heading for Panorama lookout inside park for a scenic overview. Then Python pool on the camel route, 10 km further on. Back to the main track by 2 p.m. for 50km of dirt to Millstream.
We had part of lunch on the way, and the rest at the Homestead visitors centre. A nice little 750 metre Homstead walk past a pleasant but tiny brook.
Lisa drove off at 3:25 and the 53 seat bus driven by Harry arrived at 3:32, which was good timing.
We will be taking the mining railway maintenance track to Tom Price, About 200 km. We were headed along that branch of the road around 4 p.m. Waiting for a iron ore train to clear the crossing, 225 wagons over two and a half minutes to pass. It was interesting watching the number of iron ore trains that passed on this busy track. We got to Tom Price just before 7 p.m.
We were going to tour Pilbara hills for about 80 km from the closest airport before reaching the mining town of Tom Price, at 747 metres, the highest town in Western Australia. With the planes now light without passengers or luggage, and the weather clearing up, the pilots were able to bring them to the airport somewhat before we arrived. They were stuck in the airport for way too long before managing to get transport to tom Price.
We stay overnight at the Tom Price Hotel, Central Road. I wonder how David managed to get a booking there? Rooms in Tom Price are in notoriously short supply, and there are only two hotels in town (we have stayed at both of them previously).
Awake at 2:30 alas. Raining most of night from then. Edge network not 3G at Tom Price. However in the morning 3G was back again. There was a Telstra van at the hotel, so I guess their service people solved it.
Our bus driver told us Mount Nameless, outside town, is over 1000 metres. You can drive up for stunning view. Tom Price is highest town in WA. Sir Thomas Price representing Kaiser Steel during the discovery of the iron ore mountain. Power lines come in from a gas turbine at Dampier. Mt Tom Price iron ore deposit was discovered in 1962. Tom Price and the port of Dampier were established, and linked by rail.
Tour Karijini National Park, second largest in West Australia. It is about 100 km from Tom Price. We entered the park around 8:30.
Circular Pool, Weano Gorge, Dales Lookout, Forescue Falls, and Fern Pool (a plunge pool) for a swim. Oxer's Lookout and Hamersley Gorge. Fossils of stromatolites which oxidised iron from seawater. See oxidised iron in banded iron formations.
Photo of Corkwood tree looking like a bottlebrush. Seeking Robertson Desert Rose within the park. Weano Gorge area, starting at Junction Lookout. Intersection of four gorges. Some great views. One lookout on a spur is closed. Jean and I may have used it years ago. Walk down for views of Weano pool. Little lizard posed for me. Tata lizard, some sort of monitor. We left at noon.
Heading for Visitors Centre. Steel structure. Nice treatment of aboriginal themes. Needed flashlight to read descriptions.
Dales Gorge for lunch around 2 p.m. It rained. Sailcloth shelters are not waterproof (neither is the bus). However we did see both Doris and Boris the dingos.
Next we went to Fortesque Falls. We did the long walk down to Fern Pool. This is a very nice pool. It is higher than the main pool you can see from a lookout near the top. Fern Pool is reached after a walk through a pleasant shaded green track of a few hundred metres.
We got back to the Tom Price hotel around 6:30. I managed to get laundry done. Also visited Coles and (finally) got replacement batteries for the camera.
Overnight at Tom Price Hotel again.
Telstra had 3G service back when we returned yesterday. I guess the Telstra Mobile van I saw in the hotel lot helps explain getting 3G again.
We had a late breakfast on a sunny morning and left at 8 for the Hamersley Iron's town of Paraburdoo, 79 kilometres southwest of Tom Price. The airport at Parapardo is the closest to Tom Price. We saw some of what was left of Mount Tom Price, the former iron ore mountain. We even had 3G at Parapardo, when we arrived at 9 a.m. Giant car park full of 4WD, and trees full of noisy corellas.
Overfly Pilbara headed south, across the Ashburton River, and the Capricorn, Kenneth and Godfrey Ranges.
We fly to Mount Augustus, where a bus should pick us up for a tour. Alas, it sounds remarkably as if whoever had the bus doesn't actually have a working one. David was having discussions on the matter by phone as we drove to the airport. We were in the air before 10 for the short flight, already suffering from the over 30 temp. The pilots had a 30% chance of thunderstorms forcast, so they had to load extra fuel. We had to burn that off before landing, so we got good views of Parabordo and the mine site. Also views of the area around Mt Augustus (3629 ft)
The airstrip led directly to the rustic tourist resort, so we walks to the Donga units. They were small but adequate. Shared showers and toilet block.
A nice selection of cakes and drinks awaited us in the deliciously cool bar.
At Mt Augustus we see the largest rock in the world, and one of the oldest. It rises 800 metres above the surroundings, to 1106 metres, and has natural springs around the base. It is 2.5 times the size of Uluru (Ayers Rock). The Wadjari people call it Burringurrah. There are engravings known as petroglyphs around the rock walls at the base, at sites called Mundee, Ooramboo and Beedoboonu.
Wildflowers should be abundant at the base of Burringurrah. There is a rocky swimming hole, and a permanent pool called Goolinee (Cattle Pool), which may have waterbirds.
Candy and Fin are the owners. Our guides were a local traditional owner Charles, and a local councillor Derek. They had brought along a gaggle of girls from the 45 km distant community. The children showed me bush bananas and talked about other bush tucker they ate regularly. I did notice they had grabbed all the left over cakes, and one was eating potato crisps.
We did a circular tour of Mt Augustus, stopping at various places for walks. The children (and Derek) were amused when the sole of my left shoe started to fall off, so my every footstep was punctuated by a slapping noise. I still managed to crawl through the cave of rock art. I hammed up the shoe slapping for the children at the cattle pool swimming stop. Lindsay showed them skimming stones across the river.
We had a short while at the resort before roaring off to watch the rock at subset.
That evening Candy said the children had opted for fish and chips rather than join us for roast beef. Charles and Derek did however join us for dinner so we were able to talk with them some more.
I never did find any glue, so my shoes are now in very bad shape for walking. After failing to find glue, I did a temporary repair with a spare shoelace after cutting a score mark across the sole.
To bed at 10. Awake at 2.
Overnight at Peter Vogelsanger's Mt Augustus Outback Tourist resort, which I thought was basically camping and caravan only, but it also has some units.
We had hoped to fly west to Jigalong Aboriginal Community in the western desert, 200 km east of Newman. Welcome by the Boodiguda people, part of the 800 strong Martu language group. They were among the last hunter gatherer groups to live without Western influence. The Boodiguda people were to take us to the Rabbit Proof Fence of film fame. Alas, this was not to be.
I awoke at 2 a.m. And couldn't get back to sleep. The heat and mosquitos didn't help much either.
Took an early shower in one of the three shower stalls that seemed least in need of repair. One had a dropping shower head. The one I used had a sealing problem at the ball joint be was smothered in junk in a futile attempt to stop it leaking. The women's showers were reported to be fine. No hot water I could detect, but in this climate hardly a problem.
The generator ran all night so we had power when we wanted it.
There was a really big dragonfly taking off in the early morning. Exploration company helicopter.
Late departure from Mt Augustus for the two refuel flight to Warburton near the WA border.
Off at 9:15 for the 51 minute flight to Kumarina Roadhouse for refuelling. 149 nm on bearing 100. We climbed for almost 15 minutes to 7500 feet before adjusting fuel flow. Michael had planed on nearly 170 knots but even with a 25 knot tailwind we were hardly managing that pace. Kumarina was a remote roadhouse and the airstrip on an adjoining station. Our fuel drums were there, but the roadhouse was a bit vague about payment since the bosses were away. We were not ready to depart until 11:10 a.m.
Fly south over the Little Sandy Desert for 65 minutes to remote Carnegie Cattle Station on the edge of the Gibson Desert. Saw an eagle at 7500 feet about 40 km short of Carnegie. Carnegie Station is an oasis at the end of the Gunbarrel Highway. 5000 head of cattle on a million acres. October is muster season. I could not resist getting Jean a stubby holder in purple. A very hasty lunch at the station while the poor pilots hand pumped fuel from drums. We were headed down the runway about 2:15, around 1:15 late, for the 75 minute flight to Warburton.
We had Doug's plane in sight for much of the flight. About 2 miles ahead, and 2000 feet lower. It didn't seem able to reach 7500 feet. As usual, we arrived late.
Fly west to Warburton Community in West Australia, between the Gibson Desert and Great Victoria Desert, 800 km SW of Ularu. I subsequently learned this community of 571 people (91% indigenous) has a median weekly income last Census of $176 or $9000 a year. It is one of 14 towns, all indigenous, where median weekly income is less than $200. Others include Wadeye, Milingimbi, Ramingining, Docker River, Beswick, Elliot, all in the Northern Territory.
In the community bus at 4 p.m. Heading for the Tjulyura regional arts gallery and cultural and civic centre of the Ngaanyatjarra people. This building was opened in October 2000, and evolved from the 1990 Warburton Arts Project. Http://tjulyuru.com
The striking building was designed by Taniz Denis of Insideout Architects.
There were sensitive initiation ceremonies being held in the area, so we were asked not to wander around the town, nor take photos in certain directions.
The roadhouse put on an open air roast dinner for us, but after the heat of the flight, I wasn't able to eat much.
We were able to buy some water for the next long day.
That night I was able to sleep until nearly 4 a.m. About my best sleep for the trip.
Overnight at Warburton Roadhouse in motel style. Latitude -26.13194 Longitude 126.5692 E
At Warburton, artists from local Mirrlirrtjarra community of the very traditional Ngaanyatjarra people. Visit Tjulyuru Cultural and Art Centre. A very substantial collection of Aboriginal art under their own direct control.
Our original plan had been late morning fly east to Giles Meteorological Station, set up in 1956 at the edge of Woomera Rocket Range. Guided tour, possible with release of a high altitude weather balloon. The station provided weather data for U.K. atomic weapon tests at Emu Plains and Maralinga.
This close to the WA border, dawn comes early. The sun was up at 5 or before. So were the peacocks, which checked us out.
Breakfast bacon and eggs came out a plate at a time, and was delicious.
Alas, although the shire bus and driver Elvis were there on time, we didn't have a guide. We boarded at 7:20 and started baking in the sun. Out at 7:30, boarded again 7:35. Our Timotese driver Elvis diverted past a cross marking the location of a church mission that disappeaared in the 1960's. Passed the Connie Sue highway south.
Off road to look at some feral camels.
We had an interesting bush tucker walk with four of the ladies from the local community. They used long slim crow bars to dig up roots of scrubs containing wood grubs. I think they managed to find a grub in every root they tried. Our driver Elvis found a pregnant spiney devil lizard for us to photo. About the only downside us we are getting sunburnt, and it is pretty warm in the sun.
Our plan was aerial sightseeing as we fly east over the Petermann Ranges. This is a cultural area of the Pintjantjatjarra people. Desert dunes as we fly towards the Olgas and Uluru (Ayres Rock). We overfly them prior to landing at Yulara.
I just hope we can get away to the airstrip on time. This is called foreshadowing.
We were on the bus and ready to leave breakout country by 9:40. I had certainly reached my sunlight limit, despite the interest of the visit.
We reached the airstrip early without stopping at the Warburton Roadhouse, as we needed to. Dash back to Roadhouse. Didn't help, as the planes turned out not to be ready. Hydraulic leak in Michael's plane, possibly nose wheel. No passenger travel.
Contact with the outside world is poor, and there are few facilities at the airport, although it has a long landing strip. Eventually David was able to make enough calls from the office phone to organize rooms at Ularu. Michael will fly his plane to Alice Springs for repairs on Monday. Doug will fly his passengers to Ularu, refuel and return to Warburton to pick up Michael's passengers.
We spent the afternoon chatting in our remaining large air conditioned room.
Doug set out with his passengers around 2:30. He made outstanding time to get back overhead by 6:20. We piled I'm the bus and met him at the airfield before the refuelling was complete.
Long flight for Doug back to Ularu. This doubles his number of landings there.
We were to stay at the Lost Camel motel in Ularu. David had organized a feast in the lobby when we arrived at 10:30 p.m. Most of us headed straight for the bar, assisted by David.
As usual, I woke during the early hours. The noisy air conditioning plant outside the room did not help.
We had intended to overnight at Desert Cave Hotel, Hutchison Street, Coober Pedy. The hotel is a magical place, especially if you have one of the underground rooms. There are also underground shops in the hotel. We overfly the opal mine tailings while arriving and leaving Coober Pedy.
We were originally scheduled to fly from Coober Pedy south east over central Australia hill country and Woomera to land at William Creek for morning tea. Continue over world heritage listed Willandra Lakes for lunch and ground tour of Lake Mungo in Mungo National Park. The Willandra Lakes region are Pleistoceine lakes formed over the last two million years of ice age envronment. A major human site until they dried up about 15,000 years ago.
Flight was to continue to Sydney in short stages, landing in Bankstown around 6 p.m. It will be a long, tiring day.
Up early, so I took a walk to an Uluru lookout point to photograph Ayers Rock.
At the 7:30 breakfast I learned Michael's plane lacked some repair component. So a smaller group continued on the working Piper, while the rest continued on the 12:40 Qantas flight to Sydney. Airtec needed about a half dozen volunteers for their plane, but with two seats empty, our flying range was greatly increased.
Doug said we were to leave on the 9:50 shuttle. David wanted to get lunches for us first, so we skipped the regular free shuttle bus.
Off in Ularu Express at 10:25, plus we stopped to collect lunch on the way. On board the plane at 10:45 and taxiing. We climbed to 7000 feet by 11.10, where Doug adjusted the engine settings. We are headed ok 135 to Cauli for about 40 mknutrs and will make an adjustment to head for Coober Pedy to refuel. A few minutes before our course adjustment we overflew Ernabella. At 11:38 we adjusted course to 134 for Ridge, about 101 nm or another 40 minutes further on. We continued past Ridge at 12:15 to Coober Pedy which was 101 nm or about 40 minutes. I figure heading for a landing around 1 p.m. Central Time. 1:54 SA time landed.
We were refuelled, on board and engine started at 2:10, for a good turnaround time.
Headed for Broken Hill, two hours eight minutes away. We were in the air again at 2:16, after a quick fuel stop. Over 200 nm to Leigh Creek on bearing 111 as our first navigation landmark.
We have an enormous lunch each on board, with a monster fruit salad. However David is complaining that he ordered two sandwiches each. What we got was pretty good, but will also need to be dinner.
Back at 7000 feet by 2:32. For part of this leg Doug got us to a ground speed exceeding 200 knots, at an airspeed of under 140 knots. That must have been some tail wind.
At 3:30 we veered to 112 for Laroo 85 nm in less than a half hour. We have hills below, and a large mine at Leigh Creek. We were at the Laroo checkpoint at 3:59.
Next leg is 92nm on bearing 110 for Broken Hill. We hit some brief turbulance. 30 minutes to landing approach. More turbulance.
Photo of Broken Hill water supply dam. Approaching Broken Hill. 4:32 touchdown SA time. Into the air at 5:02 SA time bound for Dubbo. First waypoint is Arest 226 nm on 085. Time to Dubbo 2:08. We also move to NSW time. Just before seven we moved to 90, about 135 nm or 50 minutes.
By the time we approached Dubbo, BOM radar showed showers approaching Sydney from the south. One of the air freight outfits took mercy on us and let us use their facilities. I spinted back to Doug's plane and we took straight off.
We were on the ground at Bankstown around 9:15.
My bag got ripped open getting it off the plane. Luckily Michael noticed, and grabbed the things that fell out. I was amazed at how much crap I had left at Bankstown when lightening things for the trip.
David and Lesley were kind enough to take me all the way to Sydney. I was within a few blocks of my hotel, the Clarion Suites Southern Cross. Something in the toxic mixture that passed for air in Sydney caught in my throat, and by the time I got to the 24 hour reception I was coughing and gasping.
I finally got to bed in their fancy two room suite around 11:30 p.m.
Demolition noises commenced around 6:30. Jean had warned me of this reason for the good room price. Since I would be out most of the day, that should work just fine.
I breakfasted at Monas, near my previous hotel. Can't beat a $8 bacon and egg big breakfast.
Checked a couple of JB HiFi stores and bought a bunch of DVD. Bad SF DVDs to be accurate.
There was a luggage store under Town Hall. I am tempted by a replacement bag for my broken one however the sensible thing is probably a stripe bag cheap.
Did buy an umbrella since I was getting wet.
Jaycar has moved, and I couldn't find anything interesting.
Headed to UTS for lunch. Got to talk with Layna, Brian, Ron, Graeme, Ed, and Tim over Yum Cha. Back at UTS Barry also caught up with me. It was late afternoon when I left after a very enjoyable afternoon.
Stopped at Central Square and checked out all the computer stores there. About the only tempting thing was a Logitech Vision Pro autofocus web camera. Seems the price and quality are right for Macintosh use.
After breakfast at Mona's, I spent a fair bit of time at the Sydney Apple Store. The floor staff were as usual very helpful. I went to Apple to check how my iPhone photos looked on Picasaweb. I was pretty happy. The Apple store staff also seemed to enjoy my uploaded iPhone photos from all over Australia.
The Apple Store had an iPhone training session that would have been nice to attend. They have some other training courses on the iPhone that sounded interesting, but were already booked, and I had timing conflicts in any case.
I had an appointment appointment at Parramatta in the morning, so I returned to Sydney by train. My exit from the underground was Town Hall.
During my wandering in the underground shopping areas to avoid the rain, I came upon Sydney Luggage Centre located at Shop 19, Town Hall Square. After a fair bit of looking for something to replace my badly ripped light travel bag, I noticed the Black Wolf Blade Runner BR60+20 rolling gear bag. This was the second smallest of the four sizes of Blackwolf Bladerunner rolling gear bags on display. A semi rigid base with rugged looking wheels and a two stage handle. The base also expands by 20 litres by releasing the zippered gusset. It has about 7 compartments for organising stuff, plus a bungee for strapping on a coat or similar to the outside. It wasn't a replacement for the bag I used on light planes, but it did look suitable for a lot of our other trips.
I was also encouraged that Blackwolf appear to be an Australian company (even if their bags are made in China).
Go see a Gold Class Cinema urged my friends at the Airlie Beach Markets. When attempting to check session times at the Village Cinemas Greater Union at George Street, Sydney, near Town Hall, I happened to notice they had signs about Gold Class cinema. They also had a pamphlet showing a couple of people in recliner armchairs, with a small table with tall beers and snacks. The cinema shown was small, perhaps two dozen seats, set in pairs.
The first movie available, just prior to my lunch time, was Eagle Eye. That sounded good enough. I later found a four star rating from a newspaper film critic. I also got a $7 annual seniors membership, in the possibly futile hope that I would manage to see more movies sometime. It paid off, in that during the daytime the Gold Class cinema did have some sort of $11 discount for holders of their senior memberships. The bar staff were very helpful explaining what was available. They even show you to your well marked seat, the way cinemas used to provide that level of usher service when I was a child.
Unfortunately most of the meals looked too enormous for me to manage, so I settled on ordering a cheese and dried fruit platter, with a red wine, for the commencement of the film, and a follow up sparkling wine around mid film. You can tell from that I had no business appointments that afternoon.
I thought the whole concept delightful. I encountered something similar, but not as fancy, in Florida about 30 years before. A cinema removed two out of every three rows of seats, and served burgers and beer. I loved that too.
On the rare times I manage to get to a cinema, I will most certainly try to manage another Gold Class experience. It wasn't even all that more expensive than an equivalent meal and drinks at any other venue.
A message I sent as feedback to Apple.
I spent the past three weeks flying around Australian in light aircraft with an iPhone 3G as my only computing device (even my MacBook Air was too large and heavy). I uploaded photos from my iPhone as I went to Dreamtime tour by air. So a bunch of people were following my progress, and seeing photos from the iPhone. However at several iconic Australian locations, including the resorts at Uluru (Ayers Rock), and at Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast, gateway to Great Barrier Reef) although I had a good Telstra 3G phone connection, I was unable to get a GPS location into my iPhone camera.
It would be really nice if users could override aGPS, and demand that the iPhone get an (approximate) latitude and longitude to pass through to other applications, even if no Google Maps are available for that area. I know forcing multiple Google Map searches really waste battery life (my iPhone got really hot when I was forcing it to get positions as we flew at 160 knots over remote areas). So giving severe warnings is fine (I knew I could recharge once we landed). But let me have a position, even if it is an approximation. If there is no map, then approximate latitude and longitude are still better than an error message. Especially when looking at Ayers Rock (or the even larger and more remote rock Mt Augustus), and realising my iPhone is going to refuse to tell me where I am!
Why is it so hard to return home? I had a booking on the Sydney Kingsford Smith airport shuttle for 8:15 a.m. I went to the Clarion Suites lobby in plenty of time. About ten minutes after my airport shuttle was due, I asked the reception folks. After a few phone calls they determined the shuttle had been in an accident and would not be arriving. One of the helpful reception folks went outside and attempted (as I was) to hail a taxi. The receptionist also told me how much the taxi should cost (around $22). After about another ten minutes a taxi noticed us.
My taxi driver Martin was about my age and a character. Took a good route to the airport, regaled me with tales of the good life during his career as a thespeian.
The queue at Virgin Blue was out the door, despite the DIY scanning and printing of the actual tickets. Took at least 20 minutes to get my bag to the desk. Security was about 4 minutes. Flight DJ221 to Brisbane at 10 a.m. took about 25 minutes on the tarmac, but was only a few minutes late into Brisbane. It was scheduled to arrive 10:30 Brisbane time (almost before it left). I had nearly two hours in Brisbane before DJ1117 to Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast, according to local council) at 12:35 a.m. Sydney was on that idiotic Daylight Saving Time, whereas Queensland has thankfully ignored it. Finally back at the Whitsunday Terraces.
I had ordered over the internet a Pinnacle TV for Macintosh DVB-T Stick model 70E EU, an ultra compact digital TV tuner and recorder with ElGato EyeTV Lite. It even had a tiny little remote control. When I connected it to my Dell monitor USB port, the software said there was no hardware there. So I tried it directly on my iMac G5 ALS. Well after typing the umpteen character long activation key ElGato give you.
No use trying the electronic program guide (EPG) as I already know IceTV doesn't cover my regional area.
As I sort of expected, the tiny portable antenna wasn't sufficient for the TV tuner to actually pick up anything. That (no outside antenna allowed) is the main reason I have never bought a digital TV tuner. Maybe it will work when we move to Townsville, where I will not be on the other side of a hill from a 250 watt repeater.
Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro for Macintosh web camera. This little A$118 started working with iChat as soon as I plugged it into a spare USB port on my monitor. I used the clip build into it to stick it on top of the monitor. The pictures from the Carl Zeiss optics seemed pretty good, and the autofocus worked. The built in microphone seems perfectly reasonable, according to the level indicator. There was an activity light to show the camera was active. No software to install.
Apple Universal Dock MB125G/B seems as touchy about those tiny iPod connectors as anything else. It came with an array of docking templates. iPod Video 5th generation for 30GB, 60GB and 80GB, iPod Classic 80GB, 120GB and 160GB, iPod Touch 1st and 2nd generation, iPod Nano 3rd and 4th generation, and iPhone and iPhone 3G. Alas, the Apple Store folks didn't know that, and thought I needed a separate set of iPhone 3G dock adaptors (number 15). Well, I did, for some other gear, but not because the Universal Dock lacked them for itself.
What can I say about it. It works. It is a little easier than using a cable alone. It has a separate stereo audio connector. It comes with an Apple infra red remote.
Jean's Subaru was empty. No, not of junk in the boot. The fuel gauge was showing empty. However we knew from our records that the tank should have been 2/3 full. Had someone managed to steal fuel? When we walked to the newsagent to collect the newspapers I checked the petrol station. They had fuel containers. I begged for help from the newsagent. Peter kindly lent us his van, so we took a container of petrol home from the service station.
Not only did the fuel gauge not move, the fuel warning light was on, the cruise control light was flashing, the emissions control logic light was on. This was not looking good.
Only solutions to the glossy display reflection problems I can see at present are:
1. Buy the matte 17 inch model before it disappears also.
2. Buy a second hand 15 inch matte MBP.
3. Resolve to live in the dark instead of in the daylight.
4. Stop buying Apple notebooks.
Number 4 is looking more and more the only option to me.
Jean phoned Key Motors, the helpful Subaru dealer 300 km away in Townsville. They suggested trying the Subaru dealer in Mackay, 150 km away. However if the car really had an engine fault, then we didn't want to drive it at all. But mostly they seemed to think the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) was a good first response point. So despite it being a busy Monday, Jean phoned RACQ. They arrived in about an hour. The RACQ driver checked a few things, and then decided that the problem was rats chewing the wiring.
Rats are not good news. Our boating friends tell us rats can sink ships (they chew the pipes). Jean arranged an appointment at the auto electrician.
Only 4.13% of the web complies with standards. Ars Technica quotes some nice research from Opera using their new Metadata Analysis and Mining Application (MAMA). Even at only 4.13% of valid web pages, this is still way above the percentage of valid web pages found in earlier studies. That is a bit scary really.
Jean had an appointment to take the car to the auto electrician at 8 a.m. They confirmed the rats as the cause. The top of one of the battery caps was chewed off, for instance. We walked back to the main road and waited for the bus back to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Terraces.
Around ten, the auto electrician phoned. He couldn't locate exactly what the rats had destroyed. We could collect the car, no charge, but it needed to go to a Subaru dealer with a diagnostic computer.
We took the bus back to the William Murray Drive industrial area. Stopped next door at RetraVision to check what upside down fridge freezers were available for when we move. We were told once over a certain size, many were available in bottom or top freezer configurations. Also looked thoughtfully at side loading washing machines. I asked about Display Port for HDTV, instead of HDMI. As expected, not much luck there.
We collected the car and refuelled. Since it took only about 15 litres, this was the final proof that the problem was the electric wiring.
Opera MAMA key findings were interesting. Apache had nearly 68% of the servers, which seems pretty optimistic. IIS is about 26%.
Half the web pages had a Doctype statement. Which means that half of them did not. Get with the program folks. HTML Doctypes were used twice as often as XHTML. Everyone who uses XHTML is serving their pages incorrectly, mostly without knowing it. Transitional Doctypes outnumbered all others by more than ten to one. 85% of pages would put browsers into their antique Quirks mode.
Opera comments on MAMA URL set. Opera have some interesting views on the difficulties of getting together a reasonable set of URLs. Entirely aside from these surveys always being based on a subset, with some sort of sample bias. It also quotes Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, which has to be a good sign.
Terria appears to be falling apart. Soul/TPG have also decided to withdraw from the consortium bidding for the right to make a new national broadband network (NBN). AAPT withdrew on 16 October.
Opera have a nice summary of the MAMA markup validation report.
Most astonishing figure was that almost 82% of pages done using Apple's iWeb were valid. The next nearest editor was Adobe Dreamweaver at 3.4% of pages being valid.
Opera did publish more extensive results of HTML validation studies.
The ACT internet supplier TransACT has withdrawn from the Terria consortium, well before closing of the bid for a national broadband network. From nine member we are down to six. The CEO of the six all said things were just dandy, in a press release. The remaining members are Primus Telecom's Ravi Bhatia, Optus' Paul O'Sullivan, Macquarie Telecom's David Tudehope, Internode's Simon Hackett, and iiNet's Michael Malone.
Found a very nice German notebook computer review site, with English translations. It measures the output of the LCD (9 segments measured) and is thus very handy for comparing different models. Apple put a better LCD in their MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models than they do in their MacBook models. If you value ease of viewing, you need to know about the differences. This site has reviewed many recent Apple computers.
One problem is reviews is that Apple have their computers made at multiple sites, and use multiple suppliers. You need to check which LCD models are used in each model. Some may well be inferior to others. Check System Preferences, Displays, Color, and then look at item 14 in the Color Profile to get a readout of the code for the display model.
For example, here is their review of the original Apple MacBook Air I use as my travel computer.
Daylight saving uses more power according to this recent study in Indiana by Matthew J. Kotchen and Laura E. Grant. They found around a 1% increase in energy use, although this was not consistent through the study. It includes a nice survey of previous studies.
I left at 7 a.m. to buy the local papers. Peter at the newsagency had some questions about operation of the iPhone. I could not work out why his gmail now failed to send mail, especially since it had previously worked.
Tried the bacon and egg with avocado and cheese at McDonalds. I think it much nicer than their regular. But how much extra am I willing to pay? All their newspapers were already in use, but at least I had the local ones to read.
Off to the Airlie Beach markets, being held since Dawn Princess (the love boat, of TV fame, I am told) was making her first trip since being based in Brisbane. Saw Glenn and Michael setting up their stalls.
Jean wanted to set up the iPod Touch. Perils of not having done this correctly when she first claimed it. It had settings appropriate to my iPhone, not to a Touch. Need to do a much better job of this. Luckily it is possible. Wasted a lot of time.
I did manage to complete 4 pages of ANZAPA mailing comments, which Jean printed. I hope I can get these copied at Office Works.
We were collected by taxi from the Whitsunday Terraces at 1 p.m. and reached Proserpine Airport around 1:30 p.m. Same lady driver whose door Jean had ripped off when she returned from Canberra earlier in the month. The seat I first tried was broken, and listing to one side. Luckily the taxi was not full.
The Virgin flight was full. Virgin Blue Flight DJ1114 left on time at 2:45, and reached Brisbane well after 4 p.m. We were in uncomfortable seats just in front of the emergency exits over the wings. The seat backs did not decline, and seemed to have little give. We arrived in Brisbane at the boarding time for our Sydney flight.
We had DJ262 from Brisbane to Sydney at 5 p.m. After initially looking mostly empty, it filled with late arriving football supprters. Thanks to daylight savings, we were in Sydney around 7:30, so we missed some of the peak hour. The taxi got us to Aarons Hotel at 37 Ultimo Road Haymarket around 8:30 in the evening. We were given that strange room with two long passageways behind the elevator and stairwell. The hotel room, 246, was the strangely shaped one I had described to Jean years ago. It envelopes the elevator like an amoeba eating something. So you have a corridor into the room. The room is filled with a large bed. Then along the windows is another long but narrow corridor leading nowhere. A very strange room. While I had described this peculiar room to Jean, she had never seen it.
We had a lot of trouble finding any place to get food nearby. I lost the Chinese food court I had used during the previous trip. I lost a lot of places during this trip. I think we ended up sitting outside at a distant kebab place, where the servings were gigantic. Went up Dixon Street seeking the Chinese food court I had used previously. Could not find it at all. Eventually went to Yilzig kebabs and had a giant kebab each. Too much for me to eat. Lurched back to hotel. Jean was even more tired than I realised, and nearly tripped over a step in Chinatown Cellars. We found a pleasant $7 cleanskin Chardonnay. And a shortage of glasses in the hotel room.
At 11, someone thought to test their car alarm.
The car alarm decided another test was needed prior to 5 a.m. It was promptly joined by some massive and noisy drilling of what seemed to be the hotel foundations. We were awake. Jean later said her earplugs had mostly worked.
We walked up the slight slope to Monas for breakfast. This time we went for the value breakfast of two eggs, hash brown, toast, and either bacon or sausage. Their regular has both bacon and sausage plus baked beans.
We continued to the Apple Store. Alas, the new monitor and MacBook Air were still not on display. Jean looked favourably at the MacBook. She also tried the Firefox extension that holds your favourite web sites. Did not seem all that compatible with her iPod Touch. I also showed her the Apple TV I want to buy. We wasted a fair amount of time. Jean reminded me I wanted to visit UTS.
Stopped at the Village Cinemas to get a schedule.
Caught up with my former boss Lindsay at UTS. Lindsay didn't recognize me in my tropical shirt. Lindsay is now putting a lot of his time in to the National Computational Infrastructure hosted at ANU, Canberra, so I had only the one chance to catch him. This seemed to follow his work on advanced computing at APAC. I could never slack off while there, because he was the most energetic individual I ever met.
I also caught up with Barry, my first boss at UTS. He seems totally unchanged, after all these years. Still working hard, of course. Still not having any spare time. Despite his computing background, I think the size and capabilities of the Apple iPhone I was carrying gave him a bit of a case of future shock. Might find that he has one in the near future.
One of the things I learned early about computers was to draw projections of how their capabilities would expand. Exponential growth is outside our normal experience.
Back to Aarons Hotel. We had problems locating a decent place to have lunch with Gerald. None of us were familiar with restaurants nearby. Used a Nando, which wasn't as bad as I feared.
Off to Office Works for photocopies of fanzines. That actually was a long walk. No wonder Jean was tired from the equivalent in the morning. Also found a few four colour pens at Office Works. Checked Darrell Lea chocolates.
More A7 notebooks at Dymocks.
CX Computers had a USB to ESata gsdget, so I got one for testing. Can I use it as a terabyte file store. Is it too hard to get iTunes to look at multiple drives being swapped into and out of the system?
Got a paper just prior to the Paddys Markets newsagent closing. Got Jean a Ghiradelhi chocolate from the Gloria Jean coffee shop. We had not realized that brand was available in Australia. Escorted Jean to the Entertainment Centre for her meeting at 7:15 p.m.
Waiting for Jean to emerge 10:15 p.m. to 11:15, which is why these notes are updated.