A WONDERFULLY UNIQUE EXPERIENCE!
Stawell Aviation Services has been sharing the beautiful Australian Outback with their tour participants since 1986 and have an intimate knowledge of the outback. This is an outback tour using light aircraft which ventures into areas difficult to reach by other means. This tour introduces you to a variety of outback localities in Western New South Wales and Queensland and continues on through the Northern Territory to North West Western Australia and home through some iconic locations in Southern Northern Territory and South Australia. You will begin to understand like never before, the geography of this great expansive country. You will see from above the massive river systems of the northern gulf country as you fly to the Gulf of Carpentaria and along this amazing coastline. You will be amazed at the size of Lake Argyle and the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. We take you through the rugged and remote Kimberley to the coast where there are no roads and on to the early Pearl producing area around Broome which is now a bustling busy tourist town and bring you home via the heart of Australia, the Tanami Desert gold mining areas, MacDonnell Ranges and Alice Springs, William Creek and Lake Eyre.
DAY 1 STAWELL TO THARGOMINDAH
We depart Stawell and track north over the Wimmera grain growing areas, and cross the Murray River at Mildura. Tracking north over the Darling River flood plain, the Menindee Lakes, for a lunch and fuel stop at the opal mining town of White Cliffs. Here there may be an optional short tour around the opal fields available. Following lunch we track north crossing the flood plains of the Paroo and Bulloo Rivers and the sheep station country of Western New South Wales. Reola is one such station, famous for the “Big Shed”, a modern 16 stand three story shearing shed which was built in 1990, so large that a road train can load while in the wool room. Before the recent drought they shore 56,000 sheep, however now numbers are considerably reduced. Thousands of goats have replaced the sheep and you will see mobs of these as we overfly on our way north. We cross the famous dog fence on the Queensland Border as we proceed to our overnight stop at the town of Thargomindah. This was the first town in Australia to use hydroelectric power. Using high pressure hot water from an artesian bore which was drilled in 1893 to drive the generator and it was the first town in Australia to have electric street lighting.
DAY 2 THARGOMINDAH TO LONGREACH
After breakfast we return to the airport and depart to the north west over the Grey Ranges, passing many oilfields and the town of Eromanga which is the furthermost town from the sea. We will pass over many large cattle stations and close to the junction of the Barcoo and Thomson Rivers which join to become the Cooper Creek, the only place in the world where two “rivers” become a “creek”. We arrive in Longreach in time for lunch at the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, or at the QANTAS museum. The remainder of the day is yours to spend as you wish, maybe tour the Stockman’s Hall of Fame or the nearby QANTAS museum, with our overnight accommodation being at a nearby motel.
DAY 3 LONGREACH TO KARUMBA
The cold winter of Victoria has well and truly been left behind; the days are usually warm and sunny with clear skies making for smooth flying conditions. After breakfast we depart and track north west over Queensland’s black soil country for a short fuel stop at Winton. Leaving Winton we cross the divide where the Gulf country rivers flow north to the sea. In a short time we will note that these rives have become larger and become tidal as they approach the gulf. We will pass the town of Normanton and follow the Norman River into the coastal town of Karumba. Lunch will be at the tavern overlooking the mouth of the Norman River. Karumba is the home of a prawning fleet which covers a large area of the gulf. This evening there is an optional sunset cruise for those who wish to participate with drinks and nibbles before returning for dinner at the Tavern.
DAY 4 KARUMBA TO KATHERINE
This morning we track to Burketown for fuel and then track to the coastline of the Gulf of Carpentaria, joining the coast near Massacre Inlet north of Hells Gate which marks the place where European settlers from Westmorland Station slaughtered nearly all the Ngyanga aborigines in 1884 in reprisal for an attack. We follow this coastline with its magnificent scenery for 140nm (260km) before turning inland to fly over southern Arnhemland passing many remote aboriginal communities and over rugged, rocky and inaccessible country to a small airstrip near Katherine where we refuel and tie down for the night before transferring to town for lunch. Later thisafternoon there is an option to do a Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge) Cruise
DAY 5 KATHERINE TO KUNUNURRA
This morning we depart, overflying Katherine Gorge, and track north over Kakadu National Park to Yellow Waters Lagoon for a landing at Cooinda. We then join a cruise of Yellow Waters Lagoon where you will see the crocodiles, bird life and vegetation of this amazing area. Following lunch we leave for Kununurra on the Ord River. Enroute we cross the Daly River and the majestic Victoria River near Bulloo River Station. Upon arrival we transfer to our home for the next three nights, the very spacious Lakeview Apartments. Tonight we enjoy local pizza relaxing by the pool.
DAY 6 KUNUNURRA
Today you will take the longest daily river cruise in Australia with award winning Triple J Tours traveling 55km on the Ord River through the Carlton Gorge with magnificent scenery and prolific bird life, stopping for a cuppa and refreshments mid-way. These tour boats are equipped with 600 hp motors and can travel quite fast on the open stretches of river. At the end of the tour you will transfer to bus for your return to Kununurra.
Lake Arygyle was constructed not only to provide water to irrigate the fertile Ord River flood plain, but to control the massive wet season floods which had previously prevented any farming operations in this area. The lake has a normal supply capacity of nine times that of Sydney Harbour, however in order to hold back the massive wet season floods the dam has the capacity to contain up to seven times more than the full supply level. The big wet season floods are then discharged through a narrow spillway which regulates the flow and can take many months for the dam to fall to its normal full level. This prevents flooding of the fertile irrigation areas and has allowed the extensive irrigation farming you see around Kununurra today.
DAY 7 KUNUNURRA
This morning we depart early for a flight via the Ord River to the Spillway, the Dam Wall and then over Lake Argyle to complete a scenic flight around the famous Bungle Bungles in the Purnululu National Park. These striped beehive shaped sandstone domes, first seen by white men in the 1980s rise 300m from the surrounding landscape. On the return flight we overfly the Argyle Diamond Mine and track via the western shoreline of Lake Argyle and overhead the Carr Boyd Ranges back to Kununurra. After morning tea at the Zebra Rock Art Gallery we tour the irrigation farming areas, visit a great place for Mango Smoothies at Stonecraft Gallery. We will see extensive areas of Sandalwood and Mangoes. Sandalwood plantations have in recent years replaced the vast areas of melons and sugarcane that was once produced here. We visit the hoochery for lunch which is the only licensed distillery in Western Australia producing a variety of cane spirits and rum from local cane. (their rum cake is also excellent!) There is an optional tour of the Rum Factory in the afternoon and we return to town following a visit to the Sandalwood Factory.
DAY 8 KUNUNURRA TO BROOME
We depart Kununurra this morning tracking west across the vast Kimberley, crossing the Pentecost River passing El Questro Homestead, following the route of the Gibb River Cattle Road. We then fly on until we reach the rugged terrain of the Princess Mary Ranges. As there are no roads to this area the only way it can be seen is from the air. We then fly the 100 km down the Prince Regent Gorge. The Gorge at its beginning is a narrow steep sided ravine 150 m deep. As we proceed down the Gorge we fly past the Kings Cascades waterfalls and as the Gorge widens we are able to in good weather descend down to 500’ and fly on to St George Basin. If we are lucky with the tides crocodiles are clearly visible once we reach the tidal waters. We then turn south west following the northern Kimberley coastline, then via Walcott inlet. On this leg we pass the salt flats where Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith made his ill-fated emergency landing in 1929. This was known as the Coffee Royal Affair. From Walcott Inlet we track for the Horizontal Waterfalls, and on to Broome by lunchtime after a short stop at Derby Airport. In Broome we collect our hire cars and drive to our accommodation for the next two nights, the secluded Habitat Resort. The rest of the day is free to familiarise yourselves with the layout of Broome if you haven't been here before, meeting back at the resort for dinner.
DAY 9 BROOME
Today is a free day for you to explore Broome as you wish, maybe visit Cable Beach, the local Port Facilities, join a fishing charter, play a round of golf at the club adjacent to the Resort, visit the Willie Creek Pearl Farm, Chinatown, local crafts, Pearl Diving Museum, or shop for pearls! You may like to take in the sunset view from Cable Beach before meeting up again for dinner at the Resort.
DAY 10 BROOME TO HALLS CREEK
Spend this morning in Broome, departing after early lunch, tracking across the lower end of the Kimberley overhead Fitzroy Crossing and Geikie Gorge, passing Brooking Springs and Fossil Downs cattle stations, one of the largest in Australia, over 1,000,000 acres. We then cross the rugged King Leopold Ranges overflying the headwaters of the massive Fitzroy River which has a catchment area of 117,000 sq. kilometres and in a big wet season can flow at the rate of 29,000 cu metres per second. We then descend for a landing at the old gold mining town of Halls Creek. We overnight tonight at the Kimberley Motel near the airport.
DAY 11 HALLS CREEK TO ALICE SPRINGS
After an early breakfast this morning we depart for our crossing of the Tanami Desert. This flight will take us past the 300,000 year old wonder, the Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater. We then track directly to the Tillmouth Well Roadhouse on the Tanami Track where we land for lunch and a comfort stop and if we have had any headwinds the aeroplanes will also need a drink! On this leg we will cross a variety of desert country varying from grey green bush country to vast expanses of red sandhills, where fires resulting from lightning strikes have burned out many many thousands of hectares which take years to recover. Very little habitation will be seen on this leg. We pass a little to the west of the Rabbit Flat Roadhouse and overfly Tanami Station. In the last few years a number of gold mines have opened up across this desert and there are many signs of exploration in this area. After lunch we depart for the 45 minute flight into Alice Springs where we collect our transport at the airport, and travel to our accommodation in town.
DAY 12 ALICE SPRINGS
A day in Alice Springs with some optional attractions you may decide to visit. In the morning we visit the Australian Road Transport Museum and the Ghan Museum. This is a wonderful collection of road transport through the ages from the very early solid tyre trucks, to the latest in road transport, including the first road train developed by Kurt Johannsen and a huge display of transport memorabilia. We then make a pre-lunch stop at the Aviation Museum at the now disused Connellan Airport. You may also choose to wander around the shops in the Todd Mall if you wish instead of visiting these optional attractions. After lunch we drive west along the MacDonnell Ranges to Standley Chasm and Simpsons Gap before returning to our accommodation for dinner.
DAY 13 ALICE SPRINGS TO BROKEN HILL
This morning we depart Alice Springs and track south east down the west side of the Simpson Desert over the ancient flood plain of the Finke River, over flying the Dalhousie Springs area and part of the Painted Desert, crossing the Macumba River and on to William Creek for a lunch stop at the hotel. William Creek was a station on the old Ghan Railway line and is situated on Anna Creek Cattle Station, the largest cattle station in the world.
After lunch we track east over Belt Bay and the Madigan Gulf in Lake Eyre before taking up track to Broken Hill passing the Northern Flinders Ranges and Lake Frome. We cross the Birdsville and Strzelecki Tracks and the Northern South Australian sheep station country, over the dog fence, and across the Barrier Ranges for an overnight stop in Broken Hill.
DAY 14 BROKEN HILL TO STAWELL
This morning is a free morning in Broken Hill with time to wander around the historic town before our departure to Stawell. You may wish to visit the Silver City Mint and view the “Big Picture” which is a very large 360 degree painting of various sights around the Broken Hill Region. After an early lunch we track south near the Silver City Highway passing the many lakes of the Anabranch system, crossing the Darling River and on across the Sunset Country, the Mallee and eastern end of the Big Desert before travelling over the Wimmera wheat growing areas on our return to Stawell.