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Monthly Archives: March 2012

BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS — AN FNQ AVIATION & TOURISM PIONEER

BUSHIES DC-3 BEING TAKEN DOWN FROM THE PYLON AT CAIRNS AIRPORT

ONE OF THE CASUALTIES OF THE CAIRNS AIRPORT RE-DEVELOPMENT WAS THE OLD DC-3 THAT HAD STOOD ON A POLE OUTSIDE THE DOMESTIC TERMINAL SINCE THE 80s — VH-BPA.

THIS VENERABLE AIRCRAFT FLEW KING GEORGE VI AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN DURING WW2, HAD BEEN A U-S MILITARY TRANSPORT, FLEW FOR QANTAS IN PNG, AND IT FLEW FOR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND’S VERY OWN AIRLINE, BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS.

THE LATE SIR BOB NORMAN AND A SMALL GROUP OF INVESTORS ESTABLISHED BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS IN CAIRNS IN 1951, AT A TIME WHEN MOST PEOPLE HEADING FOR THE NORTH OF THE STATE TRAVELLED BY RAIL OR SHIP. CAIRNS & SURROUNDS WERE A LONG WAY FROM ANYWHERE, AND THE LARGE SCALE TOURISM THAT SUSTAINS THE REGION TODAY WAS UNIMAGINABLE BACK THEN.

BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS OPENED UP MUCH NEEDED AIR LINKS BETWEEN CAIRNS & THE SMALL COMMUNITIES OF FNQ, KEEPING THEM SUPPLIED WHEN THE WET SEASON CUT THE ROADS. AND IT WAS REGULARLY CALLED ON TO SUPPORT THE AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE WITH EMERGENCY MEDICAL RETRIEVAL FLIGHTS. THESE SERVICES KEPT REMOTE COMMUNITIES & STATIONS VIABLE, AND ALLOWED FOR DEVELOPMENT & PROGRESS IN SOME VERY ISOLATED PLACES.

BUSHIES DC-3 VH-PWN CAIRNS 1973. THIS PLANE INSPIRED THE JOHN WILLIAMSON SONG PAPA WHISKEY NOVEMBER

BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS QUICKLY BECAME KNOWN AS “BUSHIES”. THE NAME HAS STUCK TO THIS DAY, AND PEOPLE STILL TELL STORIES OF ITS MANY ACHIEVEMENTS. BUSHIES PIONEERED REGIONAL AIR SERVICES AND TOURISM IN FNQ. BUSHIES SERVED THE STATE’S MOST ISOLATED PLACES, AND IT SAVED LIVES.

BUSHIES EVENTUALLY BECAME AIR QUEENSLAND, AND WAS TAKEN OVER BY TAA. IT CEASED FLYING IN 1988.

FORMER BUSHIES STAFF REMEMBER FEELING THEY WERE PART OF A BIG FAMILY, AND THEY CONTINUE TO STAY IN TOUCH. THERE’S A BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS RE-UNION PLANNED FOR APRIL 28 IN CAIRNS. IN 2008, I MADE A RADIO SERIES TRACING THE HISTORY OF BUSHIES BACK TO AN EXPERIENCE SIR BOB NORMAN HAD WHILE ON MILITARY SERVICE IN CANADA DURING WORLD WAR TWO.

CLICK ON THE AUDIO PLAYER TO LISTEN TO THE STORY OF BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS. 

EPISODE 1

EPISODE 2

EPISODE 3

EPISODE 4

EPISODE 5

A BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS DC-3 ONCE ON DISPLAY AT CAIRNS AIRPORT

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CYCLONE LARRY SIX YEARS ON

JUST LARRIED! NEAR MUNDOO AIRSTRIP INNISFAIL MARCH 2006

THE WEATHER HAS KEPT US ALL ON OUR TOES THE PAST FEW DAYS, WITH THE MONSOON DUMPING HUGE AMOUNTS OF RAIN ON EFFINCUE, AND A TROPICAL LOW IN THE GULF OF CARPENTARIA GENERATING SOME TESTING CONDITIONS.

SO YOU COULD BE FORGIVEN FOR NOT REMEMBERING THAT TODAY, MARCH 20, IS THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY OF CYCLONE LARRY.

LARRY RACED ACROSS THE CORAL SEA & WAS A CAT 5 JUST BEFORE LANDFALL (BOM)

WE’D KNOWN LARRY WAS COMING FOR THE BEST PART OF A WEEK SO THERE WAS PLENTY OF TIME FOR PREPARATION. BUT THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME IN MANY YEARS THAT A SEVERE CYCLONE THREATENED FNQ’S LARGER POPULATION CENTRES. AND WE’D ALL SEEN THE DISASTROUS RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA IN THE U.S THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

LARRY WAS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL CYCLONES EVER TO HIT AUSTRALIA. IT MADE LANDFALL NEAR THE JOHNSTONE RIVER MOUTH AND LEFT A TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION ACROSS QUEENSLAND, HITTING FARMERS ESPECIALLY HARD.

SATELLITE IMAGE AS LARRY MAKES LANDFALL (BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY)

ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY, ABC FAR NORTH RAN A FIVE PART RADIO DOCUMENTARY CALLED REMEMBERING LARRY. IT TRACES LARRY TO ITS ORIGINS IN THE EASTERN CORAL SEA, CHRONICLES THE DAMAGE IT DID, AND BEARS WITNESS TO THE INSPIRING DETERMINATION OF FNQ FOLK TO REBUILD & RECOVER.

RADIO ACE SUZANNE GIBSON & I MADE THE SERIES & WE’VE HAD MANY REQUESTS TO PUT IT ONLINE. SO HERE IT IS. THE THEME MUSIC IS A SONG CALLED HEY RAIN, WRITTEN BY BILL SCOTT AND PERFORMED BY PENNY DAVIS & ROGER ILOT.

REMEMBERING LARRY EPISODE 1: TROUBLE BREWING OUT IN THE CORAL SEA

REMEMBERING LARRY EPISODE 2: WE’VE HAD A BIT OF A BLOW

REMEMBERING LARRY EPISODE 3: WHERE THE HELL DO YOU START

REMEMBERING LARRY EPISODE 4: AND IT WON’T BE LIKE THIS TOMORROW

REMBERING LARRY EPISODE 5: “REMEMBERING LARRY”

 

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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Coral Sea, cyclones, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, tropical weather & climate

 

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I’M BACK ON THE AIR. WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

IT’S MY FIRST DAY BACK ON AIR. A LITTLE RUSTY, BUT WE’LL KNOCK IT INTO SHAPE.

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING WHERE I WAS. I WAS SICK. HAD TO HAVE AN OPERATION ON MY FOOT AND THEN A FEW WEEKS BEING LESS THAN MOBILE. BUT I’VE RECOVERED ENOUGH TO GET BACK TO WORK AND THINGS ARE LOOKING GOOD.

SPECIAL THANKS TO PHIL STALEY WHO DID A GREAT JOB DOING MY GIG WHILE I WAS AWAY. AND ALSO TO THE REST OF THE ABC FAR NORTH TEAM WHO ALL HAD TO CARRY AN EXTRA LOAD DUE TO MY ABSENCE.

THOSE RED HOT RULERS OF RAP DJ TONE DEF AND DJ SAM SUNG WERE MOVED TO POSE THE MUSICAL QUESTION, WHERE’S DINNO?

CLICK ON THE AUDIO LINK TO HEAR THIS MUSICAL MASTERPIECE

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in EFFINCUE, rd on the road