Northern escape ...
You know you want to ... I'm just here to give you a nudge. Whenever winter down south is anywhere on the radar, you're gunna want to have this cheeky little safari all planned and ready. Think warm days, ocean swims, perfect morning flying ...
Can you score a 3-week leave pass? Want to escape to the Sunshine State over winter? Here you go - I've done the homework - all you need to do is grab some pals, tick off the places you like the look of, or swap them for your own bucket list itinerary.
As I'm always saying, start planning early, and you'll have a chance of getting a bed where you want one. Particularly since the pandemic, the outback is chockablock with travellers, all competing with YOU for accommodation out here. Some of the bucket list places are off the beaten track, and don't have many beds so get cracking 6 months out. We started planning by getting together our group of 6 and listing the places we each wanted to visit.
This is the time where either OzRunways or AvPlan comes in mighty handy. You can drag and drop those magenta lines all over the country, giving yourself instant distances and EETs to see what you can achieve in a day, and how much country you can happily cover in your (let's say) 3 weeks.
The route you see in the map above worked brilliantly for our group, and I'm hoping you might be able to use it as a vague guide for an itinerary that might work for you. Our fleet of 3 aircraft comprised a C172 (TAS 120), Mooney M20J (TAS 150) and a Falco (TAS 160kts). That span of cruise speeds did not present an issue. More often than not, the Falco had refuelled before the Mooney landed, and they'd refuelled before we landed in the C172. It works.
We chose the pretty reliable month of August for this Queensland adventure. We took off from Bathurst 30 July in C172 CYF. We met the other two crews at our favourite first night stop of Hungerford, up on the NSW/Qld border.Here's how the itinerary ended up:
- Hungerford (o'nt)
- Eromanga (lunch & museum visit)
- Windorah (o'nt)
- Shandonvale Station (3 nights)
- Winton (refuel)
- Cloncurry (o'nt)
- Burketown (o'nt)
- Karumba (o'nt)
- Laura (FNQ) & Jarramali Camp (3 nights)
- Cooktown (o'nt)
- Mareeba (left our aircraft there and hired 2 cars)
- Daintree Eco Lodge (by car, 2 nts)
- Trinity Beach (by car, o'nt)
- Mount Mulligan Lodge (west of Mareeba) (2 nts)
- Gladstone (refuel)
- Airlie Beach (2 nts)
- Agnes Water (3 nts)
- Goondiwindi (o'nt)
The combination of high end resorts book-ended by cheaper accommodation makes an itinerary like this affordable. At both Airlie Beach and Agnes Water, we opted for a house or large apartment which all 6 of us shared. Anyway, go for it. It's a flying holiday that brings home why we all fly, and how lucky we are to call this big old island our backyard.