Welcome to Bucket List Territory. A flight along the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight is about as memorable and dramatic as you can get.
And, to be frank, if you want to fly across the south of the country, coast to coast, you'll be hard pressed missing it. Flanking the vast Nullarbor Plain as it does, this stretch of ultra remote Australia, being constantly pounded by a relentless Southern Ocean, is beyond spectacular from the air.
See that really long, straight road? That's the Eyre Highway, and it's all yours if you don't have a pilot's licence! We get to fly out past the cliffs, and look down at the most extraordinary sight. I call them the Lamington cliffs, as they remind me of our famously layered chocolate and sponge Lamo's. But real people call them the Bunda Cliffs.
If you're flying east to west, get ready for the show just before you get to Head of Bight. The Bunda Cliffs run all the way to the WA border, so you'll have about 55nm of dress circle viewing ahead of you. I recommend you slow down, get down nice and low and have the camera ready.
A big reminder about the Fly Neighbourly Advice we must adhere to here! Read and absorb the rules to be followed in the Gen - SP (Special Procedures) section at the back of the ERSA. It's at FN 4 - HEAD OF BIGHT and is applicable 1st May to 31st October annually.
Once you've taken a few photos, please please put the camera away and just soak up this incredible geological jaw-dropper and contemplate how bloody lucky we are to call this free, peaceful, stunning country home.
It's no surprise, being the first stop after Antarctica, that the ocean takes no prisoners when it slams into the cliffs. Frequent piles of fragmented limestone tell the story of Mother Nature at her fiery best over the past 65 million years, when it is thought our continent separated from Antarctica.
And as if there needs to be any more icing on our Lamington cakes, you've now found yourself squarely in the playground of that magnificent creature of our deep blue, the Southern Right whale. Between June and October each year, huge numbers of Southern Rights, seeking warmer waters than their Antarctic feeding grounds, take up residence around Head of Bight. They are here to give birth in these now famous "nursery waters", often remaining in the region for up to five months before resuming their long migration north (albeit a little slower with Junior now in tow).
Let's give you some way-points so you can start planning your own odyssey.
This route has some remote miles involved, not a huge number of fuel stop options and destinations with limited overnight accommodation. So get focused, start your planning early, and pay a lot of attention to endurance and forecast weather.
So, wherever you're coming from, let's say we'll all get ourselves to Port Pirie and fill up there. Steve Price at Port Pirie wins Australia's friendliest refueller and all-round good guy award. Call in for a coffee, a snack, a comfort stop and then it's westwards ho from there.
Places we have stayed overnight, and I'd recommend, along this track are:
Flinders Island (off Elliston) Quirky, rustic, unexpected. And the fish are usually biting. Have a read about it here.
Streaky Bay: Streaky Bay Hotel Motel. Free transfers, in-house bar, restaurant, good rooms. We never stay anywhere else. Is there anywhere else??
Ceduna: East West Motel. Absolutely pilot friendly, free transfers. Comfy, budget priced rooms. Absolutely recommend.
It's walking distance from the East West to the Foreshore Hotel on the waterfront at Ceduna. Walk around the corner for a fab Italian at Bill's Pizza & Pasta.
Just one caveat for Ceduna: the wind can pick up something shocking here. One time we called in, it was stinking hot, blowing a gale and packed with tourists for the Annual Oyster Festival. It was, also, on that weekend, hosting a global symposium of flies, to which each delegate had brought a plus one. The attraction, of course, was avgas. When you gotta fill up, you gotta fill up.
Nullarbor Roadhouse: It's a cracker of a stopover! Read all about it here.
Eucla or Border Village: Both offer good accommodation, although transfers from the more distant airstrip at Eucla is sometimes tricky to organise.
You can of course divert north here and stay a night or two at Forrest, on the Transcontinental Railway. I LOVE Forrest! An awesome stay in the middle of the Nullarbor. Dinner, Bed, Breakfast, fuel, history and even hangarage! Read all about Forrest here.
Caiguna (for fuel & snacks, and just keep going!)
Esperance Plenty of good accommodation and restaurants in town.
Then, while you're down here, keep flying west towards Albany and touch the Dunlops down at The Lily Dutch Windmill. Best decision you'll have made all year.
So, get your planning gear out and take a flight on the wild side down here - mad if you don't.