Australia - Safari to Lake Eyre 3'200 km

Lake Keepit to Lake Eyre
The Safari concept was to fly (without the use of motors) from Lake Keepit in Eastern Australia to Lake Eyre in Central Australia and return a distance of apporximately 3'200 km.

Lake Eyre is basically an inland salt sea that fills every 10-15 years after significant rain events in Queensland. It is very remote and surrounded by desert areas and the Flinders Ranges.
Nobody else will understand what we have experienced. Tell a club glider pilot that we are going to do 500 km today, over un-landable country, hopping from town to town 100 km apart, in spite of a mediocre forecast, to a place we've never seen and few will begin to comprehend.

The trip was completed in 8 flying days with less than 1.5hrs on the motor to compensate for poor weather / days dying early. Some days were slow to start 2-3 kts to 4'000 ft and then developing into 11 kts to 11'000 ft, some days were broken thermals of 2-3 kts with a base of 4'500 ft. So a full range of weather to test out the characteristics of each glider, there being a DG800M, 2x ASH25M and the Stemme plus our two car ground crews driven by our wives carrying cold beer and lots of red wine for our evening celebrations.

Our ground time was highlighted by a visit to the opal mines in White Cliffs were we slept underground and then 3 memorable days in the Flinders ranges staying on a sheep property that covered 1 million acres where our activities covered sheep mustering, shearing and wood carting. A welcome relief from days of straight gliding and perhaps the most memorable roast dinner of saltbush fed mutton washed down by excellent red wines.

Best day gliding was from White Cliffs to Jamestown a leg of 486 km with a slow start developing into 6-8 kts to 10'000 ft only to overdevelop into light rain 50 km from our destination.

Our destination Lake Eyre


Thanks to a 302 losing its waypoints and map falling behind the seat a more interesting day navigation wise over remote desert country. Most challenging day was the last day Cobar to Lake Keepit 490 km with a moderate headwind 2-3 kts to 5'000 ft (occasionally 6'000 ft) over terrain varying from 1'500 ft to 3'500 ft. Day died early so motor used for two climbs to obtain final glide and cross the mountain range arriving home at start point at 6.30 in the evening.




So that's the experience made possible by Stemme and I look forward to next year's safari where ever that may take us.



Paul Thompson


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