FL26 The Coffs Coast and South Grafton

Flying along the Coffs Coast

The morning of take-off from Port Macquarie was one of those glorious days that trike pilots dream about. Perfectly calm and smooth – and warm too!

The flight up to South Grafton along the coast was absolutely magic. This part of New South Wales is so green and luscious and the wetlands are vast and amazing. To have a bird’s eye view of them is special indeed.

Again, I got to test out my skills talking to air traffic control to request permission to fly through Coffs Harbour controlled airspace. I was instructed to fly at 1500 feet and remain over water. As I passed the airport, a QANTAS jet was coming in to land and flew alongside me as it came in on finals. It was very cool!

Just north of Coffs Harbour, I met Kerry and Peter Clements from South Grafton Aeroclub in their Jabiru over Red Rock. We then flew inland together to South Grafton airport. They had to slow down a fair bit to ‘keep up’ with me! Kerry too a bunch of amazing photos of me in the sky too, which I don’t often get to see so it was awesome.

One of Kerry's shots of me in the sky
Me over Red Rock
Obligatory selfie after landing at South Grafton

After I landed at South Grafton, I waited for my ground crew to arrive with the car. Volunteering for me on this leg was my lovely friend, Peter West, from the Hastings Birdwatchers. To sort out having a car for this leg, Peter drove to me, then I gave him a lift home, then I stayed at his place the night and drove back to Coffs the next day.

I enjoyed a cuppa with Peter and Kerry while I waited. Then we Peter arrived he said ‘Ok, on the way home we’re going to twitch a Wandering Tattler and a Glossy Ibis’! Well that’s my kind of road trip. I’d not seen a Wandering Tattler before and the word was it was hanging out at the South West Rocks Surf Life Saving Club. Sure enough, we went and checked out the rocks near the beach and there it was! And not just one, but two Wandering Tattlers! ✅

Then when we stopped at Boyter’s Land on the way home we got Glossy Ibis too. What an awesome day 😎

Me with Peter and Kerry Clements
Me and Peter twitching Tattlers
Boyter's Lane wetlands

While in Coffs Harbour, I stayed with the lovely Sue Siwinski from BirdLife Southern NSW. Sue and I first met at the Broome Bird Observatory Congress and Campout back in 2018 when I had a broken leg! Back then she told me she wanted to support my endeavours for shorebirds through BirdLife and I hadn’t seen her in person since, so it was great being able to catch up again 🙏

While in Coffs, I visited the students at Crossmaglen Public School and Casuarina Steiner School. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get photos from these outings to share but I spoke to over 100 students combined.

I also did a public talk for the local Parks and Indigenous Rangers at South Grafton Aerodrome organised by Phil Clare. Phil runs a company that conducts aerial drone surveys of flora and fauna using spectrometry called Trackz. Using chemical signatures programmed into the drone’s software, they’re able to identify different species from a height of 140m! As a thank you, Phil is putting together a library of spectrometer readings from shorebird feathers that will be named the ‘Milly Formby Library‘. First time anything has been named after me! 😄

Thank you to everyone who supported me for this leg of the trip! If you missed the livestream of the flight from Port Macquarie to South Grafton, you can watch the replay on YouTube here or click one of the links below.

Milly Formby
Milly Formby is a zoologist, pilot, and illustrator of the children’s book, A Shorebird Flying Adventure She is currently flying her microlight around Australia in 2022/23 to share,A Shorebird Flying Adventure with primary students.
Image credits:
Book cover for A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

Available Now

Join Milly on her microlight and discover how amazing and awesome migratory shorebirds are!

Milly Formby is a zoologist and illustrator of the children’s book A Shorebird Flying Adventure. Available now through CSIRO Publishing.

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