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Old 06-19-2011, 08:49 AM
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newt newt is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 314
Default Flinders Ranges, South Australia

As an ex British colony, Australia maintains a long weekend in June for the Queen's Birthday (who was born in April - Yes, well, maybe the calendar is a bit confused)

I'm a member of a local gliding club which carries out a regular pilgrimage to the Flinders Ranges in outback South Australia during the long weekend every year, where we fly gliders around the mountains looking for lift from ridges and mountain wave systems. It's a five hour journey by road into a pretty isolated part of the country, so most of us take a couple of extra days off to turn it into a more extended trip. I usually start the trip on the Friday before the long weekend and extend it to the Wednesday following, making it a six-day getaway.

We stay at Rawnsley Park, which provides accommodation within walking distance of a 3500' airstrip. Camp fires, bushwalking, BBQ, comfortable beds, no cell phone coverage, brilliant scenery, excellent gliding conditions. Best of all worlds.

We couldn't have asked for better weather this year. Normally we plan contingencies on the expectation that at least one day will be rained out, but this year we had no rain, blue skies, and moderate Southerlies causing the South face of Wilpena Pound to work for the gliders, and a magnificent wave system downwind of the Chace Range, almost directly overhead the airstrip.

This is the first annual Flinders Ranges trip since I acquired the RV-6. Man, does that thing shrink distances! It took 1h 15m to get to Rawnsley Park from Parafield Airport, infinitely better than the five hours it takes if you're schlepping around in a car.

Graham Davis brought his newly painted RV-6A up for a meet-and-greet. He has RV-7 wingtips, which are striking enough that they were one of the first things I noticed. Lovely work.

One of my syndicate partners arrived by car as part of a trip with his partner to Whyalla to scuba with the cuttlefish. Scenic flights and photo-ops.

I took a friend for lunch at Leigh Creek, a casual 40 minute flight North. The weather was superb; While we were eating our chicken kiev in the local pub, one of the gliding club members flew almost the same course we plotted, performing a 300km cross country flight in his LS-4. Terrific effort.

Wednesday arrived. Gliders derigged, time to go home. Cruising at twice the speed of the gliding club's Scheibe SF-25C Motorfalke, three times the speed of the cars towing trailers on the 250 mile drive home.

To add to the entertainment, the coal train from Leigh Creek derailed during the trip. The resulting mess is only a few minutes flying time away from Rawnsley Park, so I did a fly-by on my way home. I think it'll take them a while to clean it up.

I took the scenic route for the rest of the trip, looking at Spencer Gulf in the distance past Mount Remarkable, and overflying the pink salt lakes of Lochiel before dropping down below the 4500' class-C step on the way to the VFR inbound reporting point at Dublin.

If you're travelling through outback South Australia, get in touch with the folks at Rawnsley Park. They have accommodation ranging from bare campsites through to five star luxury ecologically-sustainable villas, they have AVGAS for sale, and they can help you out with the local bushwalking and 4WD trails.

Next June's trip is already booked. Unlikely that the weather and results will be anywhere near as good as this year, but I wouldn't miss it for quids.
[ Paid up on 16 Nov 2018 ]

Last edited by newt : 06-19-2011 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 06-19-2011, 03:09 PM
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Greg Arehart Greg Arehart is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Delta, CO/Atlin, BC
Posts: 2,330

Great country and nice write-up. I'm looking for an opportunity to get there and fly one day.

Greg Arehart
RV-9B (Big tires) Tipup @AJZ or CYSQ
N 7965A
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Old 06-19-2011, 09:19 PM
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Jimboscr Jimboscr is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Adelaide South Australia, Australia
Posts: 193
Default Its a great place.

Sounds like a good trip.

The Flinders is a magnificent place. The sheer age and beauty is astounding. I have been going up there for 30 years!

For those who don't know the place have a look at the map below.

The Ranges are about 1000,000 Square Km (38,500 square miles) in area.
They cover the pastoral areas in the south through the National Park containing Wilpena Pound.

To Arkaroola and the stunning Salt Lakes in the north.

Some of the oldest rocks and thus fossils on earth are found here, with the earliest being 540-620 million years.

So if anyone is in South Australia go and see them. It will "blow your mind".
(Just remember that mid-summer the temps are in the 40 - 50 degrees C range so lots of water required)


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Old 06-19-2011, 09:29 PM
Ausmo Ausmo is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Barossa Valley, South Australia
Posts: 59
Default That figures

My wife and I were in the Flinders Ranges, in fact stayed at Rawnsley Park (caravan park).

I noticed there was a lot of gliding activity and thought I saw an RV pass overhead on a couple of occasions. All is explained!

A spectacular place to visit and to fly in, highly recommended.


Building RV-12 S/N 120493
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Old 06-19-2011, 10:59 PM
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newt newt is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 314
Default Visiting in Summer

I'd go a step further than Jim and warn against visiting in summer at all. It can be downright dangerous in that part of the world when it's 110 degrees F in the shade. Spring and autumn are the best times of year for a visit.

For pilots: There are airstrips dotted around all over the place, but most of them shouldn't be considered serviceable until you've walked them. This year they were flying Cessna 182 tour flights out of the strip in front of the Parachilna pub, but it only takes one winter wash-out to rut it up, and when I took a 172 in there last year it looked like the embankments either side caused by the grader would rule out low-wing operations. Orraparinna to the North looks good from the air but it's pretty obvious from ground level that it isn't maintained at all. Rawnsley Park is kept in good condition by the tourist operators based there. There are bitumen strips at Hawker in the South and Leigh Creek in the North. Wilpena airstrip is always in excellent condition but I'm told it's a closed private strip for the exclusive use of the tourist scenic flight operator.

People tell me Arkaroola is a great place to fly to because the guy who runs the place is a pilot who likes visitors, but I've not yet had the pleasure myself.

By this time next month they should have an AVGAS pump at Leigh Creek. That'll make it an excellent waypoint on the way to Lake Eyre, definitely on my list for next year. A Lake Eyre circumnavigation with an overnight stop at William Creek sounds like a perfect RV trip.

(North American friends: Lake Eyre is a dry salt bed for about 29 out of every 30 years, fed by a river system which would drain nearly 20% of mainland Australia if it ever rained there, which it usually doesn't. There were massive floods in the North-Eastern part of Australia six months ago, which are still draining into the Lake Eyre basin now, meaning it has more water in it now than it's had for a generation. Parts of central Australia that are usually arid desert are blooming with wildflowers, seabirds are breeding 300 miles inland)

The lake is below sea level. The local tourist operators tell me you can still JUST see the carcass of the Twin Comanche that belly-landed in 6 inches of water 20 years ago, when the pilot embarrassed himself while trying to take a photo of his altimeter below zero
[ Paid up on 16 Nov 2018 ]
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Old 06-20-2011, 04:22 AM
Richard Connell Richard Connell is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Sydney Australia
Posts: 166
Thumbs up Can highly recommend

Lake Frome to the East as well.

RV7 VH-XRC Sold :-(
RV10 in progress.
Sydney, AUS
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Old 06-20-2011, 06:20 AM
KirkGrovesRV8 KirkGrovesRV8 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Paradise,Pa S37
Posts: 735

Beautiful country! Thanks for the write up
All the Best ;-)
RV-9 once the kids are older
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Old 06-20-2011, 07:34 AM
clarkefarm clarkefarm is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 62
Default Moving Map ?

Just wondering what hardware/software/database you are using and whether you use it as a moving map.

Great report and images.


9A about 50 km NW of Melbourne
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Old 06-20-2011, 08:15 AM
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newt newt is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 314
Default IPad software

I'm using the OzRunways EFB app. It has electronic versions of every Australian WAC chart, all the VNCs, VTCs, ERCs, an electronic version of the ERSA with RDSs, and the AIP. The maps can show all of the ALAs, VFR waypoints and IFR waypoints.

It does the moving map thing (on all of the above maps) if your iPad is GPS-equipped, so you need the 3G version.

If you touch an airport on the map you get its ERSA entry, which is also handy.

It's a bit hard to see with a bubble canopy on a blue day, but if you can keep the sun of it it's indispensable.
[ Paid up on 16 Nov 2018 ]
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Old 06-21-2011, 12:43 AM
Andy_RR Andy_RR is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: private
Posts: 397

I wish my wings had as many rivets in them as your do

Lovely stuff! Thanks for the inspiration!

Last edited by Andy_RR : 06-21-2011 at 12:47 AM.
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