By Scott Palmer – originally published in SABC newsletter.
On the 13th of July Bunbury Aero Club organised a fly-away to the Lily Dutch Windmill and a BBQ lunch at Narrikup near Albany I was keen to join in as I’ve never been down that way (last attempt to visit the PC9 at Albany several months ago we were met with a wall of thunderstorms south of Bunbury so we gave it a miss that day and returned to Jandakot).
The forecast was for bad weather all week and I had a feeling we’d be missing out again but on the day we were greeted with clear skies and a perfect weather forecast for the rest of the day after a little morning fog.
Gerrit and I arrived at icy-cold Jandakot at 7am prepped for an early get-away in VH-EZT. Somehow luck never seems to go our way and joy of joys during the walk around I discovered the landing light was loose so that needed to be sorted out first which delayed us a bit. Once that was sorted out we fuelled up and departed Jandakot to the south east heading out over Boddington Mine and direct to the Lily.
We had clear blue sky and the views were amazing. We had a nice tailwind to boot and got down there in just under an hour and a half. The air was silky smooth the whole way and before long we found ourselves chatting with one of the BAC Cessna’s as we approached the Lily. We overflew to get a good view of the place then dropped down to join the others on runway 32. I always find these little unpaved runways exciting and the approach for 32 was slightly uphill. I put EZT down and taxied up to the windmill where a small group had formed to watch everyone coming in.
A few more arrived after us and we parked got out to take pictures of the amazing landscape. Wow what a view! This is definitely somewhere to come back to for a longer stay.
We were then distracted by the smell of Apple Pie and Coffee and headed inside for morning tea. We met the owner Pleun and he gave us a fascinating tour of the windmill. I was in Kinderdijk a few years back so I was expecting to see something similar; however, Pleun’s windmill was something else – absolutely immaculate inside and out. The workmanship was incredible. This guy really has some skill and patience 😀 Next up we had the briefing for Narrikup and then headed over to check out the Dakota where more amazing workmanship was on show. The Dakota is almost finished and the fit-out looks great. I managed to get a shot of Bob Main’s RV departing through the wind-shield of the Dakota.
After watching the others depart Gerrit took over the reins and we departed off runway 27 planning to fly around the ranges then head over the Porongurups then on to Narrikup. Again we were met with some striking views; however, the wind had picked up and it was a bit bumpy.
As we approached the Porongurup’s we heard the same BAC Cessna on the radio approaching the circuit for Narrikup. To our surprise we then heard that the previous aircraft had ‘had a problem’ on landing. We assumed they might have burst a tyre or something. We carried on around the Porongurups. We heard another radio call from an aircraft joining the circuit and then on downwind there was another radio broadcast with more info about the previous aircraft which was apparently damaged. We were told everyone was ok. The second aircraft made a go-around and headed back to Bunbury, we decided not to land and overflew the airfield first to get familiar with it for the future. What a fantastic looking runway!
We headed back to Bunbury. We now had a 30kt headwind so it took us 2.3 hours from wheels off at the Lily to landing in Bunbury. The other aircraft flying with us reported much the same at various altitudes.
We landed at Bunbury refuelled and went inside to catch up with the other pilots and grab a quick coffee before heading back to Jandakot. From Mandurah onwards the wind started to die down. It was a quiet afternoon at Jandakot so we were given a straight in for 06L, we landed and packed up the plane. What a day – 5 hours in the air.
I strongly recommend a visit to the Lily if you haven’t been. Unfortunately we didn’t get to check out Narrikup but the runway looked to be in top condition. Next time!