Friday morning was what you would typically expect on a winters morning in Adelaide; slight drizzle, cold & cloudy as we made our morning pick ups for another 3 Day Lake Eyre & Outback Supreme Scenic Safari. The cloud stayed with us until just before Port Augusta when right on cue, the wind pushed them southerly to open up the Spencer Gulf underneath us and the Flinders Ranges to the north giving our guests the views that they were all expecting. Again,it was a great bunch of people from Denmark in WA, Williamstown in Victoria and picking up the remainder of the pack was friends from Adelaide and Australia’s seafood capital Port Lincoln, who provided us with laughter and entertainment throughout. The jury was out on the joke of the weekend, but we’re giving it to Colin for a side splitting gag told out at the Dog Fence near Coober Pedy!
The Flinders Ranges were again a highlight, as was the flying ability of our ever likeable and formidable pilots, Tony Schwerdt and Chris Pfitzner who gave all punters a great look inside Wilpena Pound before we met Tommy, general manager of Marree International Airport. He is just one of the many genuine characters that we get to meet in our travels and loves spinning a few yarns and cracking a few jokes! The Coopers Creek is as beautiful as ever and I’m happy to report that the birds are back, with large flocks of Pelicans, Cormorants, White Cockatoos present on the water. Due to 40mm of rain 2 weeks ago, we could not land at the Dig Tree due to a wet track but some low level flying meandering along the snaking Cooper, certainly made up for this.
The new team at the Innamincka Hotel headed up by manager Jill Ross, welcomed us with open arms and this is just a great experience on its own. Isolated as you can get but this pub is one that you seriously have to get to and sample a frothie or 2, which our gang was pretty keen to do so after an early morning start. We have a 3 course (with choices) meal here and this food is incredibly good! We got everyone up early so to catch the birdlife down at the causeway on the Cooper Creek, just after sunrise. Its beautiful here, with water flowing a steady rate down towards Lake Eyre and about a foot above the causeway itself. A fully cooked breakfast was again magnificent and we’re off to Birdsville via the Coongie Lakes. These series of lakes are a well kept secret, but incredible to look at, and are brimming with wildlife making it an ideal occasion for some further low level flying to capture thier beauty.
Next stop was Birdsville with Kylie from Skinny Dingo Tours giving us an very interesting, historic and humorous look around the township and surrounds. We gathered at the famous Birdsville Hotel for another fantastic feed for lunch and most were starting to wonder if we were actually in danger of breaking the maximum weight requirement of the aircraft! Within an hour from departure we were back closer to ground level as we flew over and across, Lake Eyre. Recently, the Arabuna aboriginals have been granted native title for 69,000 square kilometers including the Lake Eyre National Park and are very keen to change the name back to the original name of Kati Thanda. Kati Thanda is far from full though there is plenty of water in the Lake and this is further enhanced by our pilots ability to get down amongst it all at lower levels. Its still an incredible sight at the minute and as Ive said before, this really is an opportunity not to be missed as the whole Outback is in prime condition.
William Creek was the next town to touch down on as we refueled the plane, met the new publican and these walls are adorned with mementos from many a traveler and certainly would tell some amazing stories! Next stop was the weird but wonderful Coober Pedy, the wild west of the outback! To meet us again was the familiar faces of the Comfort Inn Experience to take us to their really unique underground hotel. Its a great place, as is the National award winning John’s Pizza Bar & Resteraunt where we have another huge meal on a huge table with lots more belly laughs and a few harmonious drinks.
Next morning after a superb sleep underground, another local legend and character George Russell (OAM) picked us up for his very dry witted but very informative town tour of Coober Pedy as well as the Breakaways and Dog Fence. Last port of call was the self guided tour of another major award winning operation with Trevor Berry’s, Old Timers Mine and Museum. The Old Timers Mine and Museum is an amazing attraction and it opens a window on the fascinating history of opal mining in Coober Pedy, revealing not only the hard physical grind and the occasional bonanza that was mining in the early days, but also an intriguing mystery at the heart of the mine. Highlights here are being able to actually see what the pioneers had to endure to try and strike it rich and also to see how Ron Gough’s family lived in the mine!
By 5pm, we were back in the cool metropolitan air of Adelaide and disembarked with everyone very happy with their 3 days away into areas which you could never see from the road or achieve so much in a short time!
Our next vacancies for the next 5 weeks for these must do flying safaris are on July 14-15th and July 29-August. Please go to our website for more details and to get in touch with us. Cheers!