Along the Australian coast

Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia
Even though we were excited to be leaving Cairns and getting back in the air, it took us a while to get started. First we had to decide where we wanted to go. We knew we wanted to fly low to see the coast and since we'd just been scuba diving the previous day. We also didn't want to fly for too long, so not all the way to Brisbane. After calling around to make sure we had accommodation to match, we settled on the small private airport of Shute Harbor.

Before taking off we of course also needed to square things away with Hawker Pacific, the FBO that had done the oil change and replaced the battery on Maggie . Their prices were exorbitant and not piston/general aviation friendly. Jared and Allan, our reps there, were friendly and understanding, so reduced the prices a bit. Still, the small repairs put a nice dent in the wallet. They did make a new exhaust manifold shroud, but aside from that Maggie checked out nicely. Upon starting her up, Maggie's half-snapped left alternator switch finally gave way, so we now had to toggle the alternator on and off using the circuit breaker. If it's not one thing, it's something else, but these are all very minor issues.

After takeoff we first circled scenic Green Island and then overflew some of the reefs. The water was pristine and flying at 1500' for the whole flight gave us some great views. I'd picked up the terminal and sectional charts for Townsville and Cairns and they were really helpful in giving us the VFR corridors through those cities. Townsville wasn't a very pretty city and I'm glad we opted not to stop there, as it was a consideration that morning .

The approach in to Shute Harbor was fun. Upon getting permission to land at the airport we were directed to a .pdf with approach and landing instructions. Already in the .pdf they said pilots with less than 100 PIC time shouldn't fly into the airport. Upon seeing the approach I understand why. The runway is tucked in to a narrow valley and it's only 50' wide. Fortunately there was no wind and the approach documentation told us exactly what to expect. It was fun being so close to the hill and trees, and although Maggie's GPS warned us of terrain, Johannes flew it textbook perfect.

Our hotel was near the town so we walked in to Airlie Beach for dinner. It was too late to swim which I was bummed about. Later we read that it's jellyfish season so you can't swim without a wetsuit. No problem then being late on our arrival ;-). Dinner was tasty and the beer was deserved. I had a whiskey which instantly reminded me of Berlin and my buddies that I'm missing there.

Routing: VFR, flight time just under 3 hours, 1500' the whole way.
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