It may be appropriate that the words “GAS” appear on the surface of the tail-plane of this Cessna 310 as it was a fuel issue that led to a forced landing in a remote area of Australia in 1993.
The plane, which is situated a short-distance from the Anne Beadell Highway in the Great Victoria Desert, made a forced landing after the pilot ran out of height, and time, to trouble-shoot an engine failure whilst en-route to the goldfields area of West Australia.
According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau Report, a contributing factor to the accident was a lack of knowledge and understanding of the aircraft’s fuel system by the pilot.
And GAS? Goldfields Air Services…
Whilst the occupants were injured, no fatalities were suffered and these days the aircraft is a curiosity to many travelling this remote desert route.
Photo: Baz – The Landy
Recently we undertook an expedition across a large swathe of Australian Desert Country, where the skies are dark blue and the earth a parched red.
This was a trip that took us across Australia’s Great Victoria and Gibson Desert’s and some other marvellous places along the way.
You can read a little more about the expedition here…
I’ve always considered the journey is what a trip is all about, even the bits in between the good bits when you seem to be travelling no-where fast, transiting from one point to another. But having said that, touring and travelling in this great country of ours usually means “covering the miles” to get to an objective of some kind.
On our recent trip we pulled up in the small town of Peterborough, South Australia, for a cup of tea and bite to eat, doing so in a park not too far from the centre of town. Very pleasant indeed, and perhaps next time we will spend a little more time there to explore it just a little bit further.
Now Mrs Landy, Janet my wonderful partner, and I have been together for over thirty years, childhood sweethearts, almost, having lived next door to each other in our heady adolescent years.
Neither of us has experienced what it might be like to leave a lover, for another, only to run into your ex-partner at the very moment you are looking longingly at your new beau!
Crikey, not in the last thirty years anyway…
Perhaps against all odds, as we were downing a piping hot cup of tea on what was a fairly cold and wintry afternoon in downtown Peterborough, the “Old Landy” or “Old Whitey” as it is referred to these days, the somewhat trusty old vehicle that took us on many trips into Outback Australia, pulled up, right where we were sitting.
Perhaps, just like a scorned lover would.
Goading us by its mere presence; causing us to feel a twinge of guilt at the way it was discarded, for another…
Oddly, I had never met the gentlemen who had purchased “Old Whitey” as Janet took care of the sale, so I introduced myself and he said it was travelling well…
I think he was as surprised as me!
But it did leave us thinking was this “an old lover’s curse” as we headed for the deserts!
Fortunately The “New” Landy performed perfectly, and as expected…
Have you ever had a similar experience?
Um, with your vehicle, strewth I’ll stay out of your love affairs otherwise?
Photos: Janet Planet – Mrs Landy…
A highlight of our recent trip into the Western Deserts, which took us across The Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts in the Australian Outback, was a visit to Maralinga Village.
Many Australian’s will remember Maralinga as being at the centre of the British Atomic testing program conducted in Australia during the 1950’s, such is life in the colonies, although perhaps it is only in more recent history that much of what transpired at Maralinga has been fully understood by the general public.
You might even recall the alternative Australian rock band, Midnight Oil, wrote a song about it, but perhaps that depends on either your age or maybe your taste in music…
We had not previously travelled the Anne Beadell Highway, the track that traverses The Great Victoria Desert, but were informed that the far eastern section from Coober Pedy, the usual starting point, to Emu Junction had some of the worst road corrugations one could ever find, and the crossing experience from a scenery perspective would not be diminished by avoiding this section.
And I should clarify that the term highway is used in a very loose sense. It is little more than an extremely remote sandy track that winds its way across a large part of Australia and not the place for a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive.
With this in mind and a strong desire to visit the very place where the bombs were detonated we headed to Maralinga. Passing by the small community and pub at Kingoonya we made our way west on another access road avoiding some of those bad corrugations, at least for a short time!
Kingoonya is typical of the very places we like to visit as usually the small populations are overrun by interesting characters! Kingoonya was no exception and we’ll be sure to spend more time there on future travel in the region…
Robin Matthews, the care-taker of the now moth-balled Maralinga Village gave us a great welcome, meeting us at the locked gate that gives access before settling us into a camping spot nearby to a “donga” we could shower in.
It is worth a walk around the small village and even a climb to the top of the water tower for a commanding view of the immediate facility and beyond. Mind you, it might be worth noting that if you want the commanding view gained by climbing a steel ladder to the top, do it sooner rather than later, as the Occupational Health and Safety team masquerading as the “fun police” might put a stop to that eventually.
Being a family of climbers and mountaineers, we relished the chance!
Robin has a strong connection to the area and the Maralinga Tjarutja (jar-u-ja) people and was able to relate in a sensitive way the impact the testing has had on the traditional landowners, many of whom live in the nearby community of Oak Valley.
Our tour of the forward area included visits to many of the actual testing sites referred to as “ground zero” and Robin was able to tell us much about how the tests were completed, and even where people stood to observe the tests. For all intended purposes these people were “human guinea pigs” drawn from the ranks of the military. Volunteers was the way it was described…
A visit to the air strip showed just how big this facility was and the focal point where service personnel were flown in and out of the area from England under a cloak of secrecy. The strip, measuring approximately two-and-a-half kilometres in length, was the distance the “human guinea pigs” stood from ground zero in one of the tests.
Some of these people, many of whom were from England survived to live a long life, others died within a couple of years. But it is reported that health impacts have secreted its way into their offspring with devastating results.
Similarly, it has had health impacts for the Tjarutja people who now mostly avoid the area due to superstition. As Robin explained, for the traditional owners it would be like living in a cemetery.
We spent a great day with Robin and towards its end we headed north along the Emu Road to a bush camp before continuing our journey to Emu Junction and across the Anne Beadell Highway to Laverton in Western Australia.
A visit to an Atomic Bomb test site might not be everyone’s cup of tea or ideal holiday destination, and you are unlikely to leave with a healthy glow that a holiday in the islands might provide, but it enabled us to better understand a part of Australia’s more recent history and involvement in the nuclear arms race. And this was enhanced by a character you’d be happy to call a mate, Robin Matthews.
If you are travelling that way and have a curiosity of Australia’s involvement in the “nuclear arms race” or perhaps just to draw some dots to the work that one of Australia’s more experienced contemporary bushman, Len Beadell, undertook in this region by building many of the roads, be sure to give Robin a call, I am confident you’ll enjoy the experience.
Photos: Baz – The Landy
One of the great appeals of travelling the vast Australian Outback is that maintaining contact with the outside world is not always possible…
Now don’t get me wrong, I love engaging with others but it is nice to go into hiding every so often, perhaps even therapeutic.
And besides, that isn’t the only reason for travelling our wonderful outback!
We have arrived back from our Western Deserts expedition, a trip that took us across the Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts, and through Australia’s Red Centre. These are truly living deserts full of colour and beauty and I look forward to sharing some of the thousands of images that Janet, TomO, and I took on this trip.
And thanks for your many messages of support during the trip which I am working my way through presently…
In the meantime, how good is that sand dune, strewth, you wouldn’t be dead for quids, mate!
Photo: Baz – The Landy
We are on an expedition across Australia’s Great Victoria Desert and through Australia’s Red Centre, travelling some of the most spectacular country that our Sunburnt Country has to offer.
Communications is somewhat limited in these areas, which has its own unique appeal. But you can follow our progress thanks to the wonders of satellite technology combined with the resources of “ExplorOz”, an Australian Travel Website…
Photo: Baz – The Landy
ExplorOz is Australia’s favourite website for travellers with a sense of adventure. Whether you are a caravanner, camper, into four wheel driving, a motorbike tourer, or fisherman, it has everything you need with loads of trip planning information in articles, trek notes, places, camps and caravan park finder, and updated information on road conditions.