Jane & Andy Morris (VH-DDZ)

At the AGM at Orange, DDZ was painted grey in what looked like a military low visibility scheme. However, this was only the primer and subsequently all the panels and control surfaces removed and prepared for the final painting. Some 5 weeks later the job was completed and DDZ returned to home base. The timing was ideal as we were then invited to participate in a trip to Lake Eyre to see it holding water. Four aircraft and 11 people participated, an RV6, C182, DDZ and a Cherokee 180.

A 7:00am departure from Kyneton on the Wednesday morning was called for due to the risk of fog after the recent rains. 1st stop was Renmark, 259 nm, for fuel and a bite to eat. Then it was off to William Creek, 385 nm, via Lake Torrens, a vast dry salt lake, and Wilpena Pound for some photo opportunities en route. There was some middle level cloud as far as Wilpena Pound, but after that is was clear blue skies for the trip. The Flinders Ranges are really spectacular from the air. After landing at William Creek, we refueled, tied down and installed ourselves in our accommodation, prior to grabbing a table to ensure we had somewhere to sit for our evening meal. Accommodation and facilities are pretty basic. It was several deep at the bar most of the afternoon and booking a table wasn't an option. The camping ground was full and there were quite a few aircraft there as well. While our seats were guarded, there was time for a stroll around to see the sights (not many) but some interesting history to check out.
Thursday morning, after a buffet breakfast, it was time to load up and head for the lake, 35nm north east over gibber and sand dunes. There was water to be seen but the lake was not anywhere near full. We reached the lake edge at Helligan Bay and tracked up the western shore line to the North end then East to the Warburton mouth. The Warburton is navigable at present and flowing into the lake through a well defined channel.

Warburton entering Lake Eyre

The Warburton flowing into Lake Eyre

We followed the Warburton over Goyder's lagoon to New Alton Downs station and then continued to Birdsville. Goyders Lagoon is still partially flooded and the Birdsville Track, which crosses the lagoon, was under water. The lagoon is very picturesque with all the small water channels filled and the area green with new growth.

Birdsville track Goyders Lagoon

Goyders Lagoon with the Birdsville Track.

Birdsville was very popular and the Hotel is booked out until late September prompting us to stay in the lodge of the caravan park where the facilities were excellent.
Next day it was back down over Goyders Lagoon to the West side of Lake Eyre then Lake Eyre South, which was dry, before tracking to see Maree Man. (Look this up in Google Earth and Wikipedia - it is well worth the time). It is very impressive.

Maree Man

Maree Man

The air traffic here and at the south end of Lake Eyre was amazingly busy, no doubt due to the water levels. Then it was on to Leigh Creek for fuel and a quick bite to eat and then on to Broken Hill for the night. Scenery enroute was interesting and very rugged in places.

At Broken Hill
DDZ in its new paint scheme on the ramp at Broken Hill

At Broken Hill we hired a mini-bus and installed ourselves in the Palace Hotel (of Queen of the Desert fame). Having enjoyed afternoon tea on the balcony it was off to the bar before dinner. The murals in the foyer, including the ceiling are spectacular, as they are in some of the bar area. It is set up for two-up, one of only two places licenced for this game all year round but only one day per week. We watched it for a while and it was quite interesting. Dinner was excellent with some really interesting items on the menu.
Next morning, some of the group headed home while six of us had a private look inside some of the RFDS aircraft, thanks to a contact who flys for them. We checked out how they are set up, both for clinics and emergencies - very impressive. Then it was off home with tailwinds, arriving at Kyneton for a late lunch and chat. A great time was had by all.
DDZ preformed better than expected. The fuel burn was 32 ltr/hr at 125 kts TAS and we weren't last for a change. Flying time was just over 14 hours . We enjoyed flying DDZ after all the hard work that went into the upgrade and hope to take it away on more trips.