Flight 97) Katherine YPTN – Tennant Creek YTNK

I have enjoyed learning a lot about a small community around Katherine and was interested to see what other communities held as I continued to explore Australia. This leg of the tour was to be an extremely straight forward flight of 322.7nm directly from Tindal Airport, Katherine to Tennant Creek, without any detours or waypoints. The only landmark that I knew to look out for along the way would be a large lake I would pass directly over.

I opened the flight simulator at 15.05 and took my time to check the aircraft, the controls, the weights and fuels as it had been a while since I had last flew. I did all of this whilst the engines were running and slowing warming. After topping up the fuel tanks I taxied to Runway 32 via taxiways D A B which were very easy to find on the simple airfield. With a short check in with the tower I received my take off clearance and took to the sky.

The clear blue sky was inviting and as I gently climbed the vast green landscape grew in all directions. I turned to a heading of 158 which I would be holding the entire flight and watched the small rivers wind themselves through the trees and brush below. Travelling at 160 kts my GPS suggested a flight time of 1 hour 45 minutes which was a lot quicker than the information provided by SkyVector, an online flight planning tool.

Having left Katherine behind me I soon found I had issues with my radio. Whilst I was still able to communicate in the simulator, I didn’t have any voice audio so decided to cancel flight tracking with the ATC and only contact Tennant airfield once i wanted to land. This made for a very quiet flight.

A number of dust patches passed by below which broke up the the green landscape and provided the more familiar red “brush” I had been expecting to see over Australia from the air. A closer inspection showed many animal tracks although I wasn’t lucky enough to seen any living creatures from my plane. Following my journey on a map I realised that I was flying over Sturt Plateau.

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This pattern of greenery and red brush was only interrupted by the lake I had been expecting. “Lake Woods Conservation Covenant.” The lake was much larger than the smaller bodies of water which peppered the terrain and it was nice to get a glint of mid afternoon sunlight off the still waters of the lake and sporadic highlights from the many surrounding rivers feeding it. It was 16:30 when I flew over.

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On the far side of Lake Woods some cloud was gathering straight ahead and I knew I would be flying into them. With this in mind I dropped from 10,000 ft to 3,500 ft and watched the clouds quickly form into an impressive wall. I had just thought to myself that this was the sign of a storm front when a single burst of lightening illuminated my cockpit. I listened for the thunder but didn’t hear any over the drone of the engines. It was sod’s law it was going to be stormy over Tennant Creek whilst the rest of the flight had been so clear.

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Being low I was easily able to spot Tennant Creek and it’s airfield well in advance. I took a single lap of the town and announced my landing intentions for runway 29 to the unmanned radio channel. The light touchdown was surprisingly smooth considering the gathering storm happening around me although at least it had not began to rain. I parked between 2 Beechcraft KingAir with Australian livery and watched the clouds darken before ending the simulator.

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Living in the Barkly Region – Tennant Creek – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQoox3NyFvQ

Tennant Creek NT Australia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIQtXQbpt2o

Driving Through Tennant Creek and down the Stuart Hwy NT Australia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EogKRM6cjCs

Dance at Tennant Creek – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytIUGDRaxKQ

Flight 96) Darwin YPDN – Katherine YPTN

I had really enjoyed my first taste of Australia. Quite literally in fact as I was able to find a relatively local Australian themed resturant which sold Kangaroo steak. I found the meat to be pretty tough although I don’t know if that was the Kangaroo or the chef’s ability leaving something to be desired. Still, it was an experience entirely driven from this tour. Maybe I’ll find some other Australian food as I continue through the country.

After being away from the Around The World tour for so long, it was finally time to get back into the swing of things again and plan the next leg. I used SkyVector to look at the route. This is an online map showing airways, airports and other aviation navigation details. Simply enter the departing and arriving airports along with any other waypoints and the site generates a full “NavLog” for the journey. This navlog advised of a distance of 153.4 nauticle miles which would take roughly 1 hour 39 minutes. I was also able to look at the details of the Katherine YPTN Airport. This is actually a military airfield but it was good to know the runway lengths and directions as well as the radio frequencies. I wondered how acurate the flight sim would be when it came to details such as this.

REX SkyForce is an addon piece of software which provides ennhancments across the board for the simulator. Most notibly weather. The clouds, sky colours, lighting, weather effects are all tweekable although it is the real time live weather updates that are imported to the sim which is my favorite part. If there is a thunderstorm over Darwin when I am due to take off in real life, there will be a thunderstorm in the simulator too. Wind direction, temperature, air pressure is all loaded in and effects the performance of the aircraft accordingly. It truly adds to the immersiveness and adds that extra element of planning. – http://rexsimulations.com/skyforce.html

Here in the UK we are entering the autumn months and the weather has noticable taken a turn. On the other side of the world the weather was improving and I was pleased to see that Darwin had clear skies with a light wind of 11 nmph heading South East. This would give me a helping hand as I would be travelling the same direction. That will cut some time off the flight.

07:00 local time (Local for Darwin) and I was once again back in the Carenado Beechcraft Baron 58, making adjustments to the familiar cockpit. Barometric pressure – 29.94 Check. Heading bug correctly aligned – Check. GPS and Radio systems all correctly configured and tuned – Check. Along with the full pre-flight check lists completed.

The tower provided my route along the taxiways to Runway 29 so I knew I would be taking off to the West. Precicely due west would be 27 for the 270 degrees on the compass. North would be 00 or 36, East 09, South 18 etc etc. As I crossed the runway as part of the taxi route I noticed that the wind sock was pretty much dead. Not a lot of breeze to disturb it at ground level despite the advised 11 nmph wind advised. By 07:16 I was ready to leave the City of Darwin, climb into the sky once again and take on the rest of this adventure.

The city passed by below as I climbed a little. I wanted to see what I could of Darwin before continuing. The city appeared to be very lush and green although this soon gave way to expanses of brushland and forest. I was suprised to see the low sun glistening from the large number of rivers snaking their way through the terrain as well.

By 07:38 light clouds were appearing ahead although I knew they would not be a concern. The ground stretched out below and I considered it to be very flat until I dropped lower for a closer look at some of the rivers. On closer inspection the terrain was full of rolling hills. Not very high but very condensed. I found a main road and followed this over the hills and wasn;t too worried about following the purple GPS route line perfectly as I knew I would make decent time due to the tail wind anyway.

The rivers widened as I got closer to Katherine and I saw a large area of drier, dusty ground. I was later to learn that this was Nitmiluk National Park. A large nature reserve with spectacular river canyons cutting through rock. I would certainly look more into this when I had landed.2019-10-4_23-44-43-631

Katherine is situated on the Katherine river whilst the Tindal Military field YPTN is located outside, a little SE from the main population. I made my way in for a left downwind circuit of the runway lining up with runway 32 at 08:22 and my wheels touching down smoothly only 6 minutes later. I took a wrong turn during the taxi route to general aviation parking. I will have to do more research on each airport and see if I can find the taxiway labels as well. I was parked up by 08:35 and immediately took to Google and Youtube to find out more about this rather remote looking place.


I was amazed by Nitmiluk Nation Park. It’s Croc filled rivers, large red rock cliffs and spectacular waterfalls would certainly be something to enjoy first hand. I was impressed to learn about the Jawoyn Aboriginal rock artwork.

“Nitmiluk is the Jawoyn name for Katherine Gorge. It is pronounced Nit-me-look, and literally means Cicada Place. The name was given by Nabilil, important figure of the Creation Time. As he travelled through the country he came to the Gorge where he hears the song of the Cicada, “Nit, Nit, Nit!” The Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park and Jawoyn Association logo is a painting by a deceased traditional owner of Nitmiluk. It depicts Bolung (the rainbow serpent), Nitmi (the cicada), mussels, fish and rocks. By tradition, Bolung still inhabits the deep pools of the second Gorge at Nitmiluk and care must be taken not to disturb him.”

Source – https://www.nitmiluktours.com.au/about-us/jawoyn-people

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The Katherine Hot springs also seemed to be a popular destination. Looking at the clear waters and idyllic scenery, I can see why.

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I also found a great Aboriginal Art center along Gorge Road leading north from Katherine which featured some amazing traditional arts and didgeridoos for sale. I would love to have been able to get one of these as a souvenir. Check out their site: https://topdidj.com/

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Life In Katherine – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydZVg7NgL5o

Top 15 Experiences Katherine NT – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_dlb3sns5A

Katherine Outback Experience – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=95&v=6sqJef5pVFg

Katherine Gorge, Edith Falls, Hot Springs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDRiqWQ1QKY