Hello to some friends we didn't know we had.
We had word from Sue Waterman who manages the Bell Park Caravan Park in Emu Park, Queensland, that some visitors had checked in on the strength of reading this web site. Hello to you, whoever you are; we hope you enjoy your stay as much as we always do. And if there's anybody else contemplating a stay at Bell Park, please check out the other web site I run at http://www.bellparkcaravanpark.com.au
Killarney in the Southern Downs Region of Queensland
Leaving Bribie we travelled southwest, almost to the New South Wales border, an area known as the Queensland Southern Downs. Once again I made the mistake of not checking the route that Alice, our G.P.S., was taking and so instead of bypassing Brisbane we found ourselves surrounded by dense, fast-moving traffic with little idea of where we were and which lane we should be in. It was not Alice's fault, she was just doing what she's programmed to do - taking us the most direct route. My previous navigator, now promoted to Tour Director, came to the rescue reading the road signs and advising me when to change lanes as I concentrated on keeping us alive. Not all motorists are keen to drop right back to allow a car and caravan to move across but we found some sympathetic ones.
We had been advised by Trudy, owner of the Killarney View Caravan Park, not to follow a G.P.S. route at the southern end of our journey as the shortest way is definitely not designed for caravans. The best way is via Warwick but we did use Alice to bypass the town itself and that worked okay. While sightseeing, we later drove along the more direct route without the caravan and were glad we'd heeded Trudy's advice - the Pajero was down to first gear climbing one section of twisting gradient and while the road surface was good, in some places it was too narrow to pass an oncoming vehicle.
The countryside, however, varied between beautiful and stunning.
The wide, green valley dotted with cloud shadows, the road winding into the distance towards towering Wilsons Peak. The Condomine River, its course marked by the trees along its banks, flows towards us from its headwaters on Mount Superbus. Although it changes its name and divides later, all its water flows into the Murray/Darling system.
We had taken the Warwick/Killarney Road south out of Killarney towards the little village of Legume (population about 400) which is located just over the N.S.W. border. Before reaching the border however, we turned left on to Spring Creek Road which climbs into the hills and has an abundance of scenic lookouts and picturesque waterfalls. Carrs Lookout, which is 3,000 feet above sea level, is where the picture above was taken. Before reaching there we stopped off at the Queen Mary Falls where there is a walking track that crosses the top of the falls and then descends steeply down the side of the gorge to re-cross the creek at the bottom.
Spring Creek plunges down Queen Mary Falls.
The total circuit was 2.4 kilometres long and it was frequently steep and narrow. The weather was hot and before long this geriatric was less than enthusiastic about continuing, realising that for every metre you descend, so too you shall climb later. But ... the Tour Director was enthusiastic and since she has only recently recovered from an ankle operation, I couldn't be seen to be the one hanging back. The walk culminated in ten thousand stone steps - or so it seemed - up the gorge wall which thankfully had a metal handrail even though it was almost too hot to touch.
Long before we reached the car with its air conditioner and cool drinks, the
Tour Director's enthusiasm had waned to my level. She had committed the cardinal
sin of all tour directors; she had forgotten to take any water with her. For
this she was demoted to Tour Director 3rd Class. (Mostly she was being punished
for taking me with her but forgetting the water made a more face-saving reason.
For me, that is.)
Killarney View Caravan Park
Although the caravan park was quiet, friendly and totally relaxing, two things will be remembered by us. Right outside our caravan was a tree and on a lower branch was the nest of a pair of Willie Wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys
). There were three chicks in the nest and we sat outside and watched the parent birds run themselves ragged, trying to keep up the supply of bugs to the ever-hungry little ones. They were very tolerant of us but certainly let us know if we crossed the boundary.
Three chicks looking anxiously for the next meal.
Inset: One of the parents - unhappy with my intrusion - waiting with a juicy insect.
The other thing for which we'll remember Killarney was that our new television and Saturn antenna - which gave us some concern at Bribie Island - worked perfectly. On 'autoscan' the television detected twenty seven stations and all of them were free from pixelation.
No guesses why this antenna is called a Saturn
Killarney View is definitely a park we will recommend. It is a small park with open country all around. There are plenty of trees and the grass is well-watered, green and neat as the picture above shows. The owners, Trudi and Gary are welcoming and friendly. Their standards are high and though many parks keep their toilet blocks clean, the cleaners never tend to look up. If they did they'd see all the light fittings full of dead bugs. Not, however, at Killarney View; there was not a bug to be seen.
The tourist information literature recommended many scenic drives but we only tried one (as described above). If the others are as picturesque they are well worth taking, but we left them for a future date and moved on.
Tamworth via Glen Innes
We were taking a rest break on the way to Glen Innes where we planned to stay
in a park we had visited before. The Tour Director was doing a last minute check
on the Craigieburn Caravan Park on her iPad and discovered a lot of very bad
reports and advice not to go there. Oops, we nearly got caught out! It seems
the park owners are retired and things have slipped badly. A few minutes research
found another park close by with a good write-up so when we continued our journey
it was to the Poplar Caravan Park which didn't disappoint.
Having stayed overnight in Glen Innes, we continued on south to Tamworth where we remained for a week to 'catch up' with the many friends we made when we stayed in the town in 2009. Spending a week there was no hardship; Tamworth is a nice place, large enough to have all the big stores but still a country town at heart. Well known as the country music capital of Australia, Tamworth is transformed every January when a huge country music festival is held and people flood in from all over Australia. The town centre is closed to traffic and buskers and bands are everywhere. But why am I telling you all this? If you've read these pages you'll know that we reported on the festival at length in previous years with plenty of photos.
Once again we stayed in the Austin Caravan Park which is located on the bank of the Peel River. We strongly recommend this park for its relaxed atmosphere and friendly owners, the Edwards family. There are many trees both in the park and along the river in which we once saw a platypus. You have to be very quiet and patient to see one and even then there's no guarantee; dusk and dawn seem to be the best times. Photographing one is difficult as they generally only surface for air then dive again.
Two overnighters on the way to Temora
We travelled across the Liverpool Plains where there is an ongoing battle between
the farmers of this fertile region and the powerful mining companies who want
to risk destroying the water table beneath the agricultural area in their quest
to extract coal seam gas. Politicians seem influenced by the quick but relatively
short term returns from the exportable gas - so what's new? - regardless of
the damage done to this invaluable food bowl and the farmers whose families
have worked the land for generations. We are unashamedly behind the farmers;
may their battle against the greedy miners and superficial politicians be successful
for the sake of Australia's future generations.
Our journey was very pleasant on good roads for the first part which became more hilly later. Our destination was the town of Gilgandra where we have stayed previously. The caravan park mainly caters for overnight travellers like us and was perfectly adequate.
Next morning we set off for Forbes, passing through the town of Parkes which possesses a large radio telescope. From Wikipedia:The telescope played a role in relaying data from the NASA Galileo mission to Jupiter that required radio-telescope support due to the use of its backup telemetry subsystem as the principal means to relay science data. The observatory has remained involved in tracking numerous space missions up to the present day.
The observatory and telescope were featured in the 2000 film,
The Dish, a fictionalised account of the observatory's involvement with the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Being a Sunday, the road was fairly free of those gigantic trucks that appear in our rear view mirror, rapidly expanding as they bear down on us. We have the greatest respect for the drivers of these leviathans and do our best to make way for them which they generally acknowledge as they pass.
We changed from our usual caravan park in Forbes, giving the Big 4 park a chance. Good decision; thanks Tour Director. Okay, you can have your treasured Tour Director First Class rating restored. The park was as nice as the staff and very quiet at the time of our visit.
After a night's rest we resumed our southerly trek with parched, brown countryside on either side for the whole journey. Traffic-wise there were far more trucks going in the opposite direction so we made good time, arriving at Temora around noon. The caravan park we always use is adjacent to the airfield which hosts the Temora Aviation Museum. What a surprise, I hear you say. Unfortunately the site which would have been our first choice had already been taken so we picked another and, before uncoupling the caravan, raised our new Saturn antenna and scanned for available programmes. Peter Grant, you're a star. Every one of the twenty seven available programmes locked in and screened faultlessly. Previously we'd had no end of trouble receiving television here.
A thrilling aerobatics display but ... by whom?
The Temora Aviation Museum's website advertised that, on the day after we arrived, there would be an
by an Extra 300L ... and that was all! No name, no time, nothing. However, being on the spot, we and just two other people were treated to a really magnificent display of precision flying.
Discovering who was flying the aircraft involved some internet detective work. The aircraft's registration was obtained from the blow-up of a photograph I'd taken. It was VH-IOG, the suffix reflecting the fact that the Extra 300L is stressed for ± 10G. Then, utilising the Aircraft RegoSearch web page, entering VH-IOG revealed that the Holder/Operator of the aircraft was
Inverted Downunder Pty Ltd
. Googling that name revealed that Inverted Downunder had 'morphed' (their terminology) into
Matt Hall Racing
. From there, further Googling brought forth a great deal of data about both Matt Hall and the Extra 300L aircraft.
I later confirmed that it was
Matt flying his aircraft. The quality of the flying suggested it was. There can't be many pilots that could, or would, perform immaculate four-point hesitation rolls just feet above the runway.
The superbly agile Extra 300L which has a roll rate of 400° per second. It was designed by Walter Extra in 1987.
Why is the word
written across the upper and lower surfaces of the wings? Massel must sponsor Matt. Googling again, this company produces Massel bouillon and seasoning which is gluten-free, vegan, all natural and made with GMO-free ingredients. The repeated mention of
in their advertising indicates it's American.
You can, of course, research Matt Hall yourself. Sufficient to say he not only flew F/A-18 Hornets in the R.A.A.F. but also instructed on them. On an exchange programme with the U.S.A.F. he flew an F-15E Strike Eagle in combat over Iraq in 2013. He was decorated by both the R.A.A.F. and the U.S.A.F.
The full name of the Extra 300L is Extra Flugzeugbau EA300L and - as stated in the photo caption - it was designed and built by Walter Extra in Germany. This particular aircraft was built in 1999.
My cup runneth over
In preparation for Temora's Showcase Day on Saturday 15th November, the R.A.A.F. Museum's Sabre was wheeled out and flown on the Friday. I'd guessed (wrongly) that Squadron Leader Paul 'Simmo' Simmonds was flying it - I didn't know of anybody else who flies that Sabre - however it was Darren 'Buster' Crabb, a Canadian pilot who had flown F/A-18 Hornets in the Canadian and later, Australian air forces. The Sabre flew twice for about an hour each time and Darren concentrated on practising emergency approaches but threw in a few aileron rolls. I was able to get some nice photos despite the wine-induced camera shake, the gale force wind and the speed of the jet.
In pristine condition, the Australian-built CA-27 Mk 32 Sabre is powered by a Rolls Royce/CAC Avon RA.7 Mk 26 turbojet. Here her air brakes are deployed either side of the fuselage and underwing she carries drop tanks and Sidewinder missiles. Isn't she pretty? Noisy, too.
This Sabre belongs to the R.A.A.F. Museum but, instead of gathering dust as a static display, she was loaned to Temora where she was stripped to virtually nothing and rebuilt. She is now beautifully maintained in airworthy condition and flown several times a year.
The original North American F-86 Sabre, which first flew in 1947, owed a lot of its design to advanced technology developed by the Germans during WWII. After Germany was defeated, the Americans 'liberated' much of this technology and as a consequence the Sabre, originally intended as a straight-wing aircraft, was redesigned with swept wings overcoming many problems which prevent straight-wing aircraft from flying faster. The Russians also acquired this technology which resulted in the comparable Mig 15 jet fighter. (It was 'liberated' German rocket technology that gave the U.S. a huge leg up in their space programme.)
Australia was way behind most 'first world nations' in aviation technology at the beginning of the Second World War but did a sterling job of catching up during and after that war. The Sabre is a prime example. The North American F-86F Sabre was redesigned by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (C.A.C.). to incorporate a Rolls Royce Avon jet engine which increased the aircraft's performance appreciably. The aircraft's armament was also improved in the redesign. The Sabre pictured above is an Australian-built CA-27 with an Avon engine.
Unfortunately the CA-27 didn't fly until 1953, just as the Korean conflict was ending. Doubtless Australia gained a great deal of knowledge from this experience but the technology was already becoming obsolete by that time. Several American manufacturers were already well advanced in developing supersonic fighters. The British Hawker Hunter broke the world air speed record that year and the following year an English Electric P1, later to become the Lightning, achieved supersonic speed on its maiden flight. Accidentally, it has to be said.
Interestingly, both the British aircraft were powered, like the Australian Sabre, by Rolls Royce Avon engines. One in the Hunter and two in the Lightning which also had afterburners.
The Temora Museum Showcase
After the stinking heat and wind of the previous day, Saturday was mild and overcast, rain developing after the flying was over. Fortunately for you, dear Reader, the poor light resulted in dozens of almost monochrome photos which I won't show you. The programme went to plan with the exception of the Sabre which refused to start and had to be left to cool before a second, successful attempt could be made.
One of the great things about a Temora flying day is that, after the show, some of the aircraft that have flown are arranged in the maintenance hangar and the public are invited in to take a closer look, take photos, talk to the pilots they've seen flying and ask questions of the maintenance staff. Additionally there are jet and piston engines on display, some with sections cut away to show how they work. I took a picture from up on the normal viewing platform towards the end of the day after most people had left.
Note how clean eveything is - perhaps compare it to your local garage. In the foreground is the Mark 16 Spitfire undergoing maintenance. To its left is the Mark 8 Spitfire. Back left is the Sabre. To the Sabre's right is the world's only flying Lockheed Hudson. Between the Hudson and the Mark 16 Spitfire is a Cessna A-37 Dragonfly.
The day after the flying display the wind howled so hard in the morning that the wind socks on the airfield stood out horizontally - rigid. Yes, it brought back memories. The temperature was so low that we had the heat switched on in the caravan. It was hard to believe that two days earlier we'd had the air conditioner running all day ... and we're not even in Victoria!
Our Last Day in Temora.
Again the wind was howling but the temperature at three o'clock in the afternoon had just dropped from 42° Celsius to 41° ... figures direct from the Bureau of Met. The poor airconditioner had battled all day but, according to the thermometer, it was still 40° inside the 'van. It certainly felt like it.
All afternoon there had been water bombers landing for a water refill before racing off to a fire somewhere.
I'm not going out to watch,
I told myself.
It's just too hot and I've seen it all before.
So I went. Of course.
Left: A turboprop Air Tractor AT-802 refuelling from a tanker almost obscuring the view of the rigid wind sock.
Right: Another AT-802 taxiing in for a water refill. Far right: With a red nose, an AT-802A topping up with water.
The red and white AT-802A is very similar to the (yellow) AT-802 but has a single cockpit.
Next a helicopter landed, then a glider, then a second glider. Quite a mixed bag. What surprised me was that the AT-802 refuelled with its engine running.
Jet fuel (kerosene) isn't as volatile as Avgas but ... I wonder if these guys have a special dispensation to refuel 'live'? Or have they special equipment to enable them to refuel safely this way, given that time may be of the essence?
Just guessing, but suppose the hose nozzle formed a gas-tight fit into the aircraft's tank and there was a separate venting arrangement for the displaced vapour fitted with a flame arrester and perhaps located out near the wingtip, well away from the engine exhaust? I saw them attach a static grounding cable to the aircraft before refuelling.
Makes you wonder about ordinary petrol stations. You often have several vehicles refuelling at the same time, petrol vapour venting from each car's tank. They'd have a fit if you left your engine running, yet cars at the pumps start up and drive away while others are filling. Additionally, there are no static electricity precautions taken in petrol stations yet it is not uncommon for people alighting from cars to have a spark jump from their hand to the car when they go to close the door. That static build-up can be caused by clothing (usually made of a synthetic material) sliding across a vinyl car seat. But I'm wandering ...
Think of a caption for this picture. Pam thought of,
Wrong! You're supposed to sit inside.
Or how about,
No thanks, son, I cleaned the windscreen this morning.
What could this registration, FFU, stand for? Now, don't be naughty, I was thinking of Fire Fighting Unit.
Both these gliders are of German manufacture. Left is a Rolladen-Schneider LS3 and right, a Schempp-Hirth
Standard Cirrus. Looks like the pilots are comparing notes. I flew a Cirrus once or twice. Not very well.
The water bombers continued returning for water until dusk.
That's the end of Page 189. On Page 190 we're in Goulburn, NSW.