Week 12 – Adventures on the Nullarbor Plain

So much has happened since the last update from Esperance! Keith and I made it across the Nullarbor and we’re now in Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, the seafood capital of Australia πŸŸπŸ¦πŸ¦‘

I’ve now completed 10 flight legs, visited 21 schools and met with over 1000 students to talk about shorebirds and their local wetlands – all thanks to your generous support in helping to fund Wing Threads: Flight Around Oz at the start of the year. Thank you so much! πŸ™Œ

If you missed any of the action on the livestreams, you can watch the replays on YouTube. Just click on any of the links below.

Flying across the Nullarbor was an amazing experience I’ll never forget! It’s something I wish for every pilot to do some day πŸ₯°

After I left Esperance, I flew to Balladonia and then onto Caiguna in a day. Keith and I car camped at Caiguna overnight with the microlight in the caravan park.

When I got up in the morning, it was a bit foggy at Caiguna, which delayed take-off by a couple of hours. The flight from Caiguna to Madura was smooth sailing – not a bump or a cloud in the sky! I landed at Madura around 11am.

The plan was to continue on to Eucla where we would have lunch and wait until the arvo to head to Nullarbor Roadhouse so that we could stay ahead of the cold front that was approaching from behind.

Balladonia Roadhouse
Parked up at Caiguna Roadhouse
The Nullarbor Plain after take-off at Caiguna

I had a break at Madura then took off at 11.30am. There were cumulus clouds forming ahead of me where the ridge starts to form after the Madura Pass. There was also an offshore breeze causing a lot of lift on the ridge. The condition ended up being a lot more thermic than I expected and the cloud was too thick to fly above it.

After getting thumped by thermals (they were between 700 – 1000 feet per minute) for 15 minutes, I decided to turn back to Madura and wait until the afternoon to get to Eucla. I arrived in Eucla safe and sound about an hour before last light.

Not making it to Nullarbor Roadhouse that day meant the cold front was going to catch up to us the next day and we’d be stuck in Eucla for the week. Keith joined me and we took down the microlight to put it away in the trailer.

The microlight parked up at Madura
The best toastie ever!
Packing up the trike after landing at at Eucla
My muddy trike at Eucla Airfield

Our friends, Robyn and Nigel, from Lucky Bay Brewing knew the owners of Eucla Roadhouse and helped us out by swapping some of their beer for a fuel voucher! Cheers, Lucky Bay Brewing!

The managers of the roadhouse, Christina and Phil, were short staffed due to Covid and offered us some work in exchange for our board for the week. They were such lovely hosts and Keith and I had a great time helping to clean the rooms, fold laundry and do the garden.

Keith even found a Spotted Scrubwren nest hidden in the garden and an amazing frog in the gutter!

Phil also took us to go caving in the Weebubbie Sinkhole. The sinkhole has a deep, underwater lake that many scuba divers come to explore. It was such an amazing adventure to go exploring!

The lake in Weebubbie Sinkhole

The week at Eucla Roadhouse went so quickly and it wasn’t long before we were back on the road again heading to Ceduna.

We set the trike up at Border Village just up the road from Eucla because it was much drier with the recent rain that had come through. The flight from Border Village to Nullarbor Roadhouse along the Bunda Cliffs of the Great Australian Bight was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life!

I’m still pinching myself about it. I go some wonderful footage of the flight across.

(L-R) Keith, Christina, Phil and me at Border Village, ready for take-off!
Sunrise at Border Village
Flying along the Bunda Cliffs

Nullabor Roadhouse was fogged in when I arrived and I had to orbit around for a bit before I could land. I found a gap in the cloud and did a low level circuit. It was good timing as about an hour later, rain came through so we chilled out at the roadhouse for the day.

Across the road we found Rufous Fieldwrens and Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat burrows!

I took off from Nullarbor Roadhouse in the afternoon and headed out over the Head of the Bight where it was whale soup! There were so many adults with calves at the Whale Watching Centre. I flew along the magical coastline to Coorabie Farm where we stayed the night.

Deb and Poggy at Coorabie are so welcoming! I highly recommend their farmstay for anyone interested in checking out the area near Fowlers Bay. Keith and I stayed in the shearing shed before heading off again in the morning for Streaky Bay.

Me getting ready to take-off at Nullarbor Roadhouse
Take-off at Nullarbor Roadhouse
Fog bow at Coorabie Farm

The flight to Ceduna in the morning was delayed again due to fog but we made it into town at about 12pm. Keith found some Major Mitchell Cockatoos to photograph and we had lunch before preparing to take-off to Streaky Bay in the arvo.

The flight to Streaky Bay was also beautiful. South Australia has the most beautiful coastline. I arrived at Streaky Bay at around 4pm. I didn’t have a hangar lined up for Streaky Bay so I began to pack up the wing for when Keith arrived.

However, the airfield was all fenced in and we couldn’t get the trailer in to put the trike base away! We decided to pack up the wing and put it on the car, then cover the base in tarps so protect it from the weather.

But next thing you know, a couple of locals from town, Laurence and his wife Mary, showed up to check on their plane in the hangar. We introduced ourselves and told them about what we were doing and they offered to let us put the base in their hangar.

It’s just amazing how things turn out! Thanks, Laurence and Mary!

Keith zipping up the wing at Streaky Bay
Coastline on my way to Streaky Bay from Ceduna

While in Streaky Bay, Keith and I stayed with Eve and Pat Walsh and their two gorgeous daughters, Ava and Elsie. We both had a great time hanging out with the girls who read us books, shared lots of stories about their ponies and chooks, and even brushed and styled our hair on most nights (Keith tells me I’m not allowed to share those pics though )! πŸ˜†

On Wednesday last week, I did three sessions as Streaky Bay Area School where Eve works. It was a great day with the kids who enjoyed the drawing session the most! I also buzzed the school in the microlight when I left for Port Lincoln on Friday πŸ˜„

Me with Elsie and Ayla at Streaky Bay Area School

Since arriving in Port Lincoln on Friday, I’ve visited Poonindie Area School, gone flying around the Eyre Peninsula with local trike pilot, Gavin Meiers and gone birding with Peter Wilkins from the Eyre Bird Observers Club.

We’ve seen Southern Scrub Robins, Mulga Parrots, Western Yellow Robin, Diamond Firetail, Rock Parrots and even saw a couple of Purple-crowned Lorikeets mating after checking out a tube on the power lines as a potential nesting site! So many birbs! Keith is in bird photography heaven πŸ¦πŸ“·

Huge thanks as well to the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board for sponsoring the flight leg from Streak Bay to Port Lincoln. I’ll be giving a talk for the EPLB on Tuesday 30th August @7pm at the Senior Citizens Hall in town. All are welcome to come along!

Next stop is Port Pirie on Wednesday 31st @ 8am CST. Stay tuned for deets!

I could go on – so much has happened it feels like a month has passed, not 2 weeks! Thank you to everyone who has shown their support along the way. We’ve made so many new friends and are having so much fun.

Until next time πŸ˜„

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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