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Friday June 6th - Canberra

pete and trishCooling our heels in Canberra Just waiting for a break to make it to the coast. I expect that we will get away either tomorrow or Sunday (more likely) and pick up the trip from there. We will still make a symbolic start at Rathmines.

Saturday June 7th - Rathmines

We made it to Rathmines for our Saturday June 7 start as scheduled, although a little later than anticipated.  Despite the formal sendoff being cancelled there was a 50 plus cheer squad of family, friends and supporters there to greet us and send us on our journey.
With cloud on the ground at Bowral and Mt Victoria and showers on the coast we were stuck in Goulburn unable to move earlier in the week as planned.  On Saturday, the skies cleared and we cruised on top in glorious sunshine at 5500 ft into Sydney dropping down to skim over lake Macquarie and Rathmines.  Phil Dulhunty (Flying Catalina Memorial) and Mike Usher  (Lake Macquarie Historical Society) were there to greet us and send us on our quest.  My mother and other family members had made the journey to Rathmines spending the day inspecting the old base and memorial to the Catalina crews.  With little time left in the day we dropped into Wallsend, a local private strip in Newcastle, and bedded the aircraft down in a hangar offered by the local hospitable flying enthusiasts.

Sunday June 8th

peter at myall lakesThe steady ‘rain on tin roof’ might have assisted in the depth of sleep that night but did not herald a good day for Sundays flying.  Sitting in the hangar watching the low scudding showers and brief hopeful breaks provided and opportunity to attend to some maintenance and contemplate  a wheels up takeoff on the grassy strip.  Clearing skies in the afternoon provided little comfort as time had run out.  Barney, Steve, Frank and Bert were tremendous hosts, putting up with our enforced presence and providing great company.  When Pete’s sister’s phone rang that afternoon, she didn't need to answer it to know that a trip to the airstrip and another night on the garage floor was in store for her and Trevor.  Pete’s niece Erica had kindly vacated her bed for us.

Monday June 9th - Gold Coast

peter at myall lakesMonday proved  little better, however it looked like we would have longer breaks.  We took off for Nobby’s Head then Nelson Bay with the underlying water bodies firmly in our sights as the skies closed in to the north.  Not to worry, lake-hopping our way to sit out the showers, we eventually achieved a very wet and muddy airstrip at Old Bar by 3 pm having , having sat down five times on route.  Oh the beauties of a seaplane.

Tuesday June 10th

peteScattered showers along the northern NSW coastal ranges continued but the sea remained clear in sunshine as we continued northwards from Old Bar to the Gold Coast,  taking a break and refuelling at Yamba.  A beach alongside a caravan park proved an ideal alighting spot as mogas was available within a 100m.  Traffic at the Gold Coast airport was heavy and we were slotted in between Virgin and Jetstar.  On the ground we were directed to a GA parking spot and later picked up by our host and long time friend, Jan who treated us royally for the next  18 hours. 

Wednesday June 11th

Our departure from the Gold coast was delayed until midday not by weather, but by a frustrating traffic jam and temporary closure of the newly opened tunnel under the runway.  So near but so far.  With fine weather and light SE winds we marvelled at the beaches and dunes along the Stradbroke islands as they slid by alongside us.  All this pristine coast.  Then passing the urban sprawl of Maroochydore to Noosa we were reminded of the changing scene of continuous development.  Landing on the River at Noosa for a break and refuel we tied up to a post along the foreshore promenade and ate our lunch. Fraser Island and Hervey Bay were next on our afternoon leg that day, with the lakes on Fraser  inspiring in their colours and shades in the rays of a low sun.  Making it to Pacific Haven Airpark we were greeted by Rob, another seaplane owner.  We had met previously on a seaplane tour 12 months ago.  Rob and Brenda treated us to our own guest cabin with greatest of Queensland hospitality.

Thursday June 12th - Emu Park

coastGood weather still prevails, however, the thought of making up the day behind our schedule did not seem worth contemplating the 6 hour stint it would take to get to Bowen, so we settled for Emu Park just off Rocky.  Max a local resident adjacent to the grass strip was soon on the scene and keen to help us refuel and deliver us to our hotel.  We really have had tremendous assistance form locals who just appear on the scene.

Friday June 13th

BowenEmu Park is a quiet place but is showing signs of recent discovery, with the foundations of new developments rising. Will the help of Peter, a local glider pilot we decide to top up with a little more fuel, to allow a few deviations on our next leg to Bowen.  The Whitsundays looked fantastic, steep rocky green islands poking out of the enticing azure waters.  A little turbulent to fly through and appreciate fully.    Watching the fuel gauge closely, we tarry no more and make Bowen with our reserve intact.

Saturday June 14th - Bowen

We spent the previous evening and the early hours of the morning visiting the bay-side flying boat ramp and the small airport museum, the latter complete with dioramas of the wartime base.  The bay looks much the same as it would have in 1943 with the same forked jetty projecting into the centre of the bay.  An extensive concrete apron and ramp are well preserved and utilised by the local yacht club, situated to the west of the ramp.  A small plaque on a mooring block pays a special tribute to the RAAF Catalina units of 11, 20, and 43 Squadrons.  Increasing wind strength, tide and time rule out an alighting on the bay.  We head off to Innisfail nonstop in fine conditions with a 20kt tailwind.  “Blowin Bowen” lived up to its well earned reputation.

Sunday June 15th

teagardensStaying in Cairns, we visit the memorial dedicated to the Catalina squadrons and take in the harbour and Trinity Inlet, once dotted with moored Catalinas.  The memorial is situated along the Esplanade close to the site of 20 Squadron’s Officers mess.  In the afternoon we meet up with the Channel Seven TV crew and do a piece for the 6pm news on Monday.

Monday June 16th

After clearing our plan with Cairns ATC we arise predawn and fly up the coast to Cairns swinging into Trinity Inlet and performing a touch-and-go for the TV news crew.  In the air, we proceed upwind along the inlet and orbit Admiralty Island, the site of wartime ground facilities for the Cats.  Not much to see except for a disintegrating metal ramp overtaken by mangroves.  Later that day we talk with Stephen Fowler, a local Catalina Historian, President of the Cairns Historical Society and Chief Instructor with 104 (City of Cairns) Squadron Australian Airforce Cadets.

Tuesday June 17th

More photography and filming along the Esplanade at Cairns.  The ground keeper of the Catalina memorial park area, Shane,  approaches us having recognised us from the TV news bulletin last night.  He informs us that a local veteran from Innisfail (whom we believe is probably Henry Sullivan of 11 Squadron- unfortunately in Townsville during our stay in Cairns) visits the memorial about once a month.   In the afternoon we meet up with fellow Catalina-fan Roy Fordham, a member of the Aeronautical Historical Society of Australia.

Wednesday June 18th - Cooktown

Cairns to Cooktown: The logs of the Endeavour say it all.  This day 258 years ago "At 1pm the ship floated and we warped her into the harbour and moored her alongside of a steep beach on the south " (Captain James Cook, June 18 1770).  Soon after we arrived in the bay, we laid the ship on a steep bank, on the side of the river; set up tents ashore, unloaded her, carried all the cargo and provisions into them, and there lodged..."  (Sydney Parkinson).  we decided the airport was a safer place to leave our boat, but lodged and dined within 100m of the same spot occupied by the crew of the Endeavour.

Thursday June 19th

Cooktown to Horn Island: Again a 200 year old plus ships log provides a succinct description of our journey to Horn Island.  "Strong gales at SE and clowdy hazey weather with showers of rain.  At 6 oclock in the AM it moderated a little and we hove short intending to get under sail..." (Captain James Cook, 16 June, 1770).  With a 20kt tail we lopped 30 minutes of our planned journey, rounded the top of the Australian Mainland and headed straight to Horn Island.  Despite the hazey weather the scattered coral rings that rolled by north of Cooktown looked spectacular.

Friday June 20th

Horn Island: A day of catch up, clothes washing and recconaissance of the Island, once a bastion of military might during WWII.  The island provided a forward refuelling base to Catalinas on their way to and from missions throughout the South Pacific.  The flying boats alighted between the coral reefs outside our accommodation in the protected western lee of the island, where they were serviced by barges from the beach.  The present wharf occupies the site of the old wartime facility and mangroves have largely subsumed the beach. The ferry trip to nearby Thursday Island follows a well beaten lead of channels through the reefs, that although obvious from the air, must have provided some excitment during heavily laden takeoffs in a light breeze (if that was at all possible in this place!).

Saturday June 21st - Horn Is

Horn Island:  Time to take Venessa Seekee's  tour of the military history of the island and view the facinating museum at the Gateway resort.  The tour takes us around the airport to a crashed Thunderbolt, slit trenches, fuel dumps, and anti-aircraft gun emplacements. 

Sunday June 22nd

Horn Island to Karumba: It might have been the shortest day of the year, but it was the longest flying day on the trip. A strong headwind meant that we were in the air for over 7 hours. This was made bearable by a 7am departure and breaks at Weipa and Kowanyama. The early start, facilitated by Henry Gorman (seaplane pilot) picking us up at 6am, was essential to beat the forecast gusts up to 38kts that were to sweep the Cape. Even at dawn we hit 20kt headwinds to the mainland and light showers all the way to Weipa. With turbulence low down all the way to Karumba we headed for higher and calmer levels, missing a lower more picturesque view of the sweeping continuous beaches broken only by sinuous mangrove-lined river estuaries. We arrrived in good company with the Mackay aeroclub who had left Horn the same day.

Monday June 23rd

Karumba: On approaching the aircraft for refuelling in the morning, a lopsided wing and slack tie down on one side revealed the flat tyre before it was visible. With the assistance of Neville Forman, the local aviation contractor, I soon had a jack, some much appreciated assistance and a lift to a nearby garage for a quick tyre repair and top up of the jerry cans. Neville was also a goldmine of information on the local history and contacts regarding Karumba's wartime Catalina base. The Sunset Tavern at Karumba Point was the perfect spot to see the sunset over the Gulf.

Tuesday June 24th - Karumba

Karumba: With clear plan of action for the day and the loan of Neville's vehicle, we visited the site of the home to 43 Squadron for part of 1943. The Catalinas Squadron occupied the facilities constructed in 1938-9 by Empire Airways for their flying boat service. The concrete ramp forms the heart of the port of Karumba as the principal boat launching site. The adjoining apron makes an ideal parking lot for the line of landcruisers and their boat trailers. The Karumba Lodge hotel and "The Famous Animal Bar" occupy the main hangar site. Wartime fuel storage facilities, the officers mess, a storage hut and hospital are all now private residences and are preserved in various states of makover or disrepair. The afternoon provided the ideal time for some waterwork in the SeaRey on the Norman River, however, too much boat traffic and a series of poles prevented a landing on the ramp.

Wednesday June 25th

Karumba to Boraloola: We left signs of human occupation behind for just under four hours as we passed over countless mangrove shores and tidal flats at the bottom of the Gulf. The second half of the journey provided a little more variation with sandy beaches, aqua coloured meandering tidal rivers and salt encusted tidal flats comprising the coastal strip. After a brief ride on land-based thermals we touched down at Boraloola for lunch. Our accommodation choice proved to be a winner as we only had a 100m stroll to the guesthouse.

Thursday June 26th

Boraloola to Nulhunbuy: An early morning start assured us of a smooth departure from Boraloola, skimming over the Savanah woodland to the SE corner of the Gulf and the broad mouth of the Roper River. The typical muddy Gulf coast of mangroves and estuaries gave way northwards to aqua waters, reefs and islands around Blue Mud Bay and towards Nulhunbuy. The 20kt SE wind that had been with us since we left Bowen a fortnight ago, assisted again on this leg and resulted in a landing roll at Gove of not much more than the length of the runway numbers. By incredible providence on passing through the security gate at the airport we bumped into Phil Herdmann of the Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory. Phil was a contact we were given to look up amongst the several thousand inhabitants of the bauxite mining town. Latter in the afternoon Phil gave us a brief tour of the Melville Bay WWII base for 42 Squadron.

Friday June 27th

Nulhunbuy: Armed will Phil's information we spent the day walking out the Melville Bay base and planned our seaplane sortie. Much remains of the old base scattered through the bush and along the beachfront. A concrete ramp and apron are in good shape and form the present site of a ship mantainance facility. The old slip for marine craft, and associated workshop, front the beach alongside the ramp. In the last hour of the day we alight on the bay and take the Searey up the ramp, providing some entertainment for the local yachties.

Saturday June 28th

Nhulunbuy: For those a little confused: Melville Bay was the Catalina base, and Gove was the nearby wartime (and still is the current) airstrip. Nhulunbuy is the present modern township. Visiting the Catalina base at Melville Bay for a third and final time, Pete with local guide Lindsay discovers rusty Avgas storage tanks, the main water reservoir, pipes, pump stands and concrete slabs that formed the floor of the officer's mess and adjoining buildings. These are remarkably in good shape, protected by head-high straw grass and guarded by legions of biting green ants. Melville Bay is a delightful place and must have been the pick of of the flying boat bases. Members of 42 Squadron must surely have been loath to leave their Shangri La for the hot dry scrub and mangroves of East Arm

Sunday June 29th

Nhulunbuy to Darwin.
Flying coastal from Nhulunbuy, we kept below thin low cloud cover and made rapid progress past Millingimbi and Maningrida. Tracking inland to Jabiru we passed over familiar territory and landed at Jabiru for lunch and a shot of Avgas. Lack of local accommodation forced us to continue the next day's scheduled flight to Emkaytee private airstrip south of Darwin, riding the mid aftenoon thermals past the fabulous Arnhem Land escarpment, Jim Jim Falls and the South Alligator Valley. We both knew the area as it had been our backyard for many a dry season during Pete's geological mapping days with BMR three decades ago.

Monday June 30th - Darwin

Darwin: At last, a rest day catching up with Pete's relatives; Jenny, Barry, Tom and Susanne.

Tuesday July 1st

Darwin: Time to give the aircraft an oil change and some TLC.  Our recent usage of Avgas, rather than the preferred Mogas, requires a spark plug change at this point so Pete spends the afternoon doing aircraft stuff.  We were so thankfull to the Top End Flying Club for their hospitality in using the Emkaytee airfield, located only kilometres from our Darwin hosts, Tom and Susanne whose place is at Bees Creek.  

Wednesday July 2nd

Darwin: East Arm and Doctors Gully were firmly on the agenda and we set about sytematically walking out the sites of the 42 and 43 Squadron bases, respectively.  The site at East Arm revealed the usual large concrete ramp and apron as well as a boat slipway complete with corroded iron rails.  The site is under threat from future development as indicated by a promotional notice board much grander than the small sign designated to the sites historic significance.  Apart from two concrete fuel storage tanks there is no evidence of the Catalinas home base in Doctors Gully.  The small gully once occupied by a ramp and apron in now a car park and 'Aquascene', a flourishing tourist fish-feeding venture.  The cliff coastline is still recognisable, however a skyline of towering apartments and hotels now overlooks the bay where the 'Cats' once moored.

Thursday July 3th

Darwin:  A second visit to East Arm was needed to plan our arrival by seaplane the next day. Pete whips into the ABC studios in town to record a brief interview.

Friday July 4th

Darwin: They say it happens in threes.  And so it did for our final day in Darwin.  After completing pre-dawn checks and making prior arrangements with Darwin Air Traffic Control, we felt well organised for our early morning flight to Doctors Gully and East Arm.   The morning was still and the dawn light perfect for our brief flight.  During takeoff, just as the wheels were farewelling the gravel strip, a wallaby shot out out of the trees and bolted across our path. Somehow the wallaby's jumps coincided with ours as we passed over unscathed but little rattled. On alighting at East Arm we discovered the water was in choppy mess despite our selection of a windless early morning sortie.  We hadn't factored in a roaring outgoing tide.  Despite the current we made an unseemly lopsided venture onto the ramp and then opted for the gravel beach.  Our ABC journalist ended up wading into water in her long work pants to record her interview with Pete who was caught holding the aircraft out from the rocky shore.  In the early afternoon Tom and Pete ventured by boat into East Arm in search of a Catalina wreck.  They had little difficulty locating the remains of A24-1, despite 63 years wear and tear and Cyclone Tracy, there is still recognisable wings, engine bits and the forward gun turret.  Pete jumped out to film and ended up stuck in knee deep mud and had to be content with some shots taken from wildly flaying arms, whilst trying to remain steady and not thinking too much about crocodiles.

Saturday July 5th - Kununurra

Darwin to Kununurra: With an early morning dropoff by Tom and a sendoff from Mark, Secretary of the Top End Flying Club, we set out on a gentle three and a half hour flight from Emkaytee to Kununurra.  The sky was incredibly clear and visibility extraordinary.   Our track took us over the escarpments and waterfalls of Litchfield National Park and the amazing estuary of the Victoria River. Kununurra was hot but welcoming.

Sunday July 6th-7th

Kununurra: With the use of a hire car we made our way to combined church service in the local park and checked out some of the sites and local surrounds of the district. Much too much for us to see this time around so good reason to come back some later date

Monday July 7
Kununurra: The view across the Ord River from our Cabin at Kona Waters Holiday Park was difficult move away from - except to jump in the Searey and do a few touch-and-go's on the water in the afternoon light.

Tuesday July 8th

Kununurra to Mitchell Plateau: Beautiful day but...strong SE winds force us to fly at 4500'. It was a pity, but the turbulence below 3000' was too much for safe flying let alone comfort. King George Falls looked spectacular even well above the cliff top level we had planned to see them at. A water landing was out of the question. Likewise we had to be content with a distant view from above of West Bay, a refuelling stop for Catalinas leaving and returning from missions to Indonesia and beyond. After refuelling at Kalumburu and spending time checking out the mission museum with local Catholic priest, we completed the final short leg of the day to Mitchell Plateau, landing in a strong cross wind.

Wednesday July 9th

Mitchell Plateau to Cape Leveque: Camping out under the wing of the aircraft at the deserted airstrip at Mitchell Plateau was quite an experience. During the early hours of the morning a strong SE wind blew up and threatened to lift the aircraft off the ground with our mossie net attached. We managed to hold on and complete the night's rest and a brief breakfast before tackling the roller coaster ride to Derby. Again 4,500' provided relief from being thrown about. Mitchell Falls, Regent Sound and 'The Shute' were awesome in the early morning light. Refuelling at Derby we continued on to Cape Leveque. The Wilderness camp at the Cape provided us with a tent, hot shower and a restaurant meal, some contrast to the previous night's zillion 'star' accommodation.

Thursday July 10th

Cape Leveque: The disappointment of the previous days was more than compensated by the extraordinary vista that was Cape Leveque and the Bucaneer Archipeligo. The landscape is a painters canvas of bold brush strokes of aqua, ochre and white, quintessentially Australian. The scupltured cliffs of Cape Leveque were unique and their vivid colours surreal. The winds that had plagued us for the past few weeks abated and our two hour 500' cruise over Cockatoo Island, the Horizontal Waterfalls and the myriad of islands that make up the Archipeligo was otherworldly. The late afternoon light and the mirror calm seas complete with a breaching whale left the aircraft flying itself and both of us pinching each other just to make sure we were on the same planet. Cockatoo Island had been the location of the refuelling ship the 'Shecat' during WWII, providing an essential service for the 'Black Cats' traversing the west coast.

Friday July 11th - Broome

Cape Leveque to Broome: Another incredible day. Back to 500' and the air almost as calm as a frosty winters' night in Canberra. Flying coastal revealed umpteen red Cape Leveque lookalikes with stretches of broad white sandy beaches and shallow shoals and reefs. Trish spotted a number of gigantic manta rays bigger than the breadth of our wing shadow on the water below. Broome approaches with friendly radio chatter and we follow a Qantas jet onto the sealed 2km runway. The hospitable ground staff set a new benchmark for welcoming visitors even dropping us off at our hotel.

Saturday July 12th

Broome:  We linked up with Simon and Rebecca Wilson.  Simon is a keen aviation photographer who took us under his wing. The low tide of 3.2m at 10.30am in Roebuck Bay was not quite low enough to expose the remnants of an assortment of Catalinas and other flying boats destroyed at their moorings during a Japanese raid in 1942.  We had to be content with looking at bits and pieces preserved in the local museum.  The afternoon light along Cable Beach provided the perfect setting for an aerial view of the site.

Sunday July 13th

Broome to Port Hedland:  The spell of calm weather and gentle afternoon sea breezes was over and the persistent SE wind was with us again.  No doubt a high pressure in the Bight again.  We just couldn't seem to find the right level.  It was a choice between low levels where we were constantly moving or at higher levels where the roller coasters simply got bigger.  Trish was not amused.  Nevertheless we enjoyed the vast expanse of Eighty Mile Beach slowly sliding beneath us and the tropical milky aqua waters.

Monday July 14th

Port Hedland to Coral Bay: Port Hedland is on the map owing to its iron ore port facilities and salt production.  Tarring not, we left with the usual vertical takeoff into a 20kt breeze, turned tail and sailed all the way to Exmouth Plateau to refuel and take a break.  The coral reefs of Ningaloo beckoned and we crossed North West Cape and tracked at 500' down the entire length of the reef for an hour, marvelling at the outer reef line, the intricate patterns of coral in the lagoons, the white sandy beaches, sharks, dugongs and rays. The rough coral sand strip at Coral Bay was perfectly located within walking distance of the picturseque village and resort town. We met up there with a group of microlight pilots making a tough go of it travelling in the opposite direction.

Tuesday July 15th-16th

Coral Bay: The combination of warm sun and crystal clear water dictate a day of snorkelling and revelling in the Ningaloo reef environment. 

Wednesday July 16
Coral Bay: Pity our schedule didn't allow us to enjoy this paradise a little longer.  Time for some maintainance on the aircraft.  The slip-on joins for the brake hydraulic tubing are proving to be leaky and the brakes have needed bleeding every couple of weeks with the workout they are getting this trip.

Thursday July 17th - Shark Bay

Coral Bay to Shark Bay: Time to leave, but some more beautiful coastline was to come.  Alternate fringing reefs and cliffs capitivated us all the way to Carnarvon. The change to entering Shark Bay was dramatic with a clear view of the bay bottom we were able to distinguish the sea grass banks, dendritic channels and schools of sharks, the odd dugong and turtle.  The water was so calm we could have landed anywhere across the 15 mile wide stretch to Momkey Mia.  No sign of dolphins or the tourist hordes lining the beaches as we expected. After landing at Shark Bay airport we discovered the only taxi in town was 'out of town', however, with little difficulty we manged to get a minibus to take us into Denham.

Friday July 18th - 19th

Denham: Winds with gusts up to 40kts at Geraldton and ferocious winds and storms in Perth kept us in Denham. A pleasant place to 'hold up'.

Saturday July 19
Denham: Strong winds persisted throughout the day. The Old Pearler restaurant in Denham, dished up one of the best seafood platters Pete has ever had. Trish savoured a whole crayfish.

Sunday July 20th - 21st

Denham to Perth. We finally departed the roaring 20's. With strong winds forecast for Shark Bay but abating to the south, we departed in one of the most 'exciting' crosswind takeoffs we have experienced. A headwind slowed our steady entry into the more familar world of alternating high pressure sytems and cold fronts. Stopping at Geraldton for a break and some fuel, we made Jandakot by the late afternoon. It was interesting to the see the rapid change from desert scrub to a rectangular patchwork of yellow (canola is in flower here in July!) and green.

Monday Perth, A day behind our schedule, Pete visits the Perth SRK office and picks up bag of much needed winter clothing waiting for us.

Tuesday July 22nd

Perth: Les Jubbs, a WWII pilot and member of the WA Catalina Association, showed us the sites of the American Catalina base at Matilda Bay on the Swan River. The RAAF Catalina squadrons used the base in transit and Pete's father had landed there on his final flight around Australia in late 1945. The area is now the site of the Royal Perth Yacht Club and the adjoining University of Western Australia. Apart from a neglected plaque covered by park benches there is no evidence of its wartime history. Having written seven books, Les was a fund of knowledge and a great host, showing us the sites of Perth.

Wednesday July 23rd

Perth: The predicted cold front and showers came ... and continued. It bucketed down. But what a perfect day to visit the Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia at Bull Creek. At last we saw a Catalina up close and personal. The museum has a fully restored USAF amphibous version complete with all the trimmings: guns, bunks, stove, wirelesses and the original instruments. It was a memorable and moving experience for Pete. Brian, a volunteer guide, gave us tour with a real personal touch.

Thursday July 24th - 25th

Winding up in Perth, we were fortunate that our son Rick had arrived in the morning. Meeting for lunch at Freemantle, we enjoyed a few hours together before he left for Rottnest Island where he was to carry out a marine survey.

Perth to Norseman: The morning kicked off with an interview by Perth ABC Stateline at Jandakot. We left Perth for Norseman soon after with a break in the weather and storms brewing behind us. It was disappointing to miss out on Albany and Esperance, but bad weather persisted further south and it wasn't going to ease any time soon. We concluded the southwest corner of Australia is not a place to be flying in July. The airstrip on a claypan at Norseman provided a novel landing ground. Recent rain had not rendered it too greasy. Russel and Brett provided welcome local logistics.

Saturday July 26th

Norseman to Madura: An upper level depression threatened to keep us bogged down in the Eastern Goldfields, however we escaped in time and spent the entire trip to Madura, fighting headwinds, a low cloud base and light showers. Prudence dictated tracking along the highway with gear down. We missed the friendly coastline we had been tracking for the past six weeks.

Sunday July 27th

Madura to Ceduna: The battle continued but with a lifting cloudbase as we finally passed over the old telegraph station in Eucla and the border into South Australia. It was a different world. At last the coast was back, the sky blue and the scenery incredible. At 500' we rode the uplift wave over the cliffs of the Bight along its entirety, marvelling at the coastal morphology and abundant whales. Calling into the roadhouse at Nullabor, we refuelled and lunched. The afternoon just kept getting better. Endless deserted beaches followed countless cliffs and seastacks. North of Ceduna we were met in the air by the familar shape of a SeaRey piloted by friend Ross Vining, who had flow out from Adelaide at the same time we had left Perth. In company,we continued on to Ceduna enjoying the joys of seaplane flight in the coastal playground.

Monday July 28th

Ceduna to Adelaide: What a day. A full on frost and a beautiful coast of beaches, cliffs, dunes and lagoons. A string of mirror calm bay waters beckoned as we touched water over and over again. The ultimate Seaplane flying. We had travelled three quarters around Australia to find conditions so perfect. Even the trip across the Gulfs of Spencer and St Vincent was astounding as they were invitingly dead flat. But for Adelaide Radar tracking us on a set course we could easily have landed anywhere in the Gulfs. Parafield was a welcome sight and Ross and Linda's hospitality just what was needed after four full days of flying across the Nullabor.

Tuesday July 29th - 30th

Adelaide: Rain - but of no consequence as it was time to give our aircraft an oil change and some much needed maintainance. The old wartime hangar at Parafield, where Ross's aircraft was housed, provided a cosy place to work.

Adelaide: Another day completing the scheduled aircraft maintainance.

Thursday July 31st

Adelaide to Lake Boga: Leaving Adelaide between pre-frontal showers with a strong northwesterly, we shot eastwards across the brilliant green ranges to view the tortuous Murray River. The riverine plains gaveway to endless Mallee attacked on all sides by sprouting grain fields green with optimistic flushes of winter growth. Catching up to a rain squall that blocked our progress to Swan Hill and Lake Kangaroo (near Lake Boga), we opted to take a break at Mantangana. Landing on the strip covered in cow pads proved a novel experience. After a short break we were soon overflying the dry bed of Lake Boga and alighted on Kangaroo Lake to a reception committee of Dick Peel (local Catalina Museum), local media, and locals.

Friday Aug 1st

Lake Boga: The front came through and the wind blew a dust storm over the polygonated cracked black clay bed of the lake where Catalinas had once frolicked. It seemed criminal that authorities and climate change had conspired to close off waters to Lake Boga for the time being. It was a good day to spend in the Catalina Museum that now fills the half buried bunker of the old radio communication facility. Dick Peel, who lived amongst the 'Cats' at Lake Boga as a boy, was terrific company, reconteur and guide to the best collection of Catalina photos and memoribilia we had seen. Dave Mark provided lunch for us all and showed us around his partially built SeaRey , the same as our aircraft. After meeting up with Brett Freeman (author of Lake Boga at War) in the afternoon, a convivial evening at the 'Majestic' was spent with Dick and Thelma, together with 'Pot and Parma'

Saturday Aug 2nd

Lake Boga: Dick again provided expert guidance to all the remnants of the wartime maintainance facility. Concrete ramps, aprons complete with tie down rings, and slabs for a range of hangars and buildings are in abundance. The powerhouse and generator hut are still intact, their 6 inch thick concrete walls resisting demolition to date. The near complete shell of Catalina A24-30 (includes some parts from other aircraft) occupies a prominent position near a memorial to those who served in the RAAF No 1 Flying Boat Repair Depot during WWII. Pete's father had flown this very aircraft during spells at No3 OTU, Rathmines.

Sunday Aug 3rd - HOME!

Lake Boga to Goulburn: With maximum weight and the glassy water conditions our takeoff from Kangaroo Lake was longer than usual, providing a spectacle for Dick, Noel and friends who had lined the shore to see us on our way. Under overcast skies, we traversed the red gum forests of the Murray and irrigation fields of the beseiged heartland of Darling-Murray irrigation area. For winter it looked fairly bleak with few crops planted. Wet green fields surrounded Temora where we took a short break. The excitment built during our short and final leg to Goulburn, as we passed over familiar territory. We touched down to a windy Goulburn airport and were met by Canberra friends. It was hard to believe our circumnavigation was complete. This whole journey has been under God's sovereign hand and protection, and we gave grateful thanks for its successful conclusion and the great adventure it has been.

A Final Word

Although the circumnavigation is technically complete, we plan to end the trip officially on Friday October 3 (anniversary of my father's last flight and arrival at Rathmines) and  be present the following day ,Saturday October 4 at Rathmines for the Catalina Festival.