Perth to Forrest


Time to get going again. Tom took us to Perth’s Jandakot airport where we settled the bill at the Jandakot Flight Centre for the service on the Mooney. Today’s flight was to be about 650 nautical miles to an isolated airfield called Forrest in the Nullarbor Plain. Believe it or not, at the end of the flight we would still be in Western Australia, so vast is this area.

The procedure here was to obtain flight clearance from Perth International Airport whilst still on the ground at Jandakot. This went without a hitch and we were soon airborne and on our way. We were advised by the Perth controller that we did not appear to be transmitting our height from the transponder but he allowed us to continue. We had planned to fly at 7000 feet to allow a reasonable view of the territory over which we would be flying. We levelled out at that height, but still no height readout from the transponder. We were allowed to continue and, after an hour, the transponder seemed to sort itself out and started transmitting correctly.

The flight was spectacular from a desert scenery viewpoint. We flew for hours over empty country and, for a while, followed the rail line that runs across this southern part of Australia. It is famous for having the longest straight stretch of line in the world – approximately 475 kilometres (yes, 475 kilometres in a straight line..!).

Forrest is an airport which can be used for emergency use by some jet traffic but is in a very isolated area. It eventually came into view and flew past on a downwind leg before turning to land on its Runway 27. We taxied in and soon met Darrell and Lyn, who run the operation there. We were told that we were the only aircraft to land there that day, but another was expected on the following day (an Australian also attempting a round-the-world flight!). The airfield information that we had studied prior to the flight warned about animal hazards on the runway. We hadn’t seen any and asked Darrell what animals there were – he told us that there were occasionally dingoes, the odd kangaroo, and also camels.

Darrel and Lyn are the only inhabitants at Forrest, but they had a visitor that night, Helen, whose husband worked as an inspector on the railway line. He has a pick-up truck with road wheels and also rail wheels and does visual inspections of the track. So the population of Forrest was trebled that night with six of us sitting around the table on the verandah. When we had telephoned from Perth the day before Lyn had taken our order for the evening meal, and she produced a magnificent lamb roast with mint sauce and all the trimmings. This is no mean achievement because she only has one delivery of food a week and also one collection and delivery of mail. The food is delivered by arrangement with the train which passes within a hundred yards or so of the airfield. That evening a train (there are only a few each day) blew its horn as it went past, and Steve and I went to see if anything had been dropped off, but we couldn’t see anything. In the morning, Lyn told us that she had received a call from the railway company to say that the food would be delivered that night, and it had turned out to be at one thirty in the morning. A cool box with meat and other items had been delivered, and Forrest could survive for another week...!

Before turning in for the night, we took a short stroll and listened to the dingoes howling in the distance. The temperature was due to drop to 4 degrees that night, so we turned in early. We had a cabin all to ourselves with several bedrooms, and plenty of space.

Flight Data: 659 nautical mikles in 4 hours 20 minutes.