In October 2019 I took Sue and Raymond, who were living in Anglesea near Melbourne, from Redcliffe up to Agnes Water/Town of 1770 for a couple of nights so we could check out the real estate. Raymond had dreams of moving to sunny Queensland and buying a place near the beach where you could swim all year. I was also keen to see what was on offer and the costs.
We took off from Redcliffe on a clear blue sky morning and had a lovely VFR flight up with scattered cloud, passing the coloured sands between Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach.
We also saw River Heads clearly, just south of Hervey Bay.
The Burnett River mouth was also pretty impressive.
Shortly after we were approaching Agnes Water.
We flew over the top of the airstrip and then did an overfly to check the condition of the strip and see whether there were any roos around.
Then after completing another circuit, including a birds eye view of 1770 we landed on the grass strip and taxied to the parking area.
At the edge of the parking area were the remains of a 172 that “Woody” the manager of the airstrip had crashed on a beach not far north of Agnes 18 months before.
After tying down the aircraft and taking the obligatory “we landed safely” selfie to send to our loved ones we caught a taxi into town and checked into the Mango Tree Motel.
That afternoon we took part in a tour that ended up with sundown drinks on the cape at 1770.
The next day we had breakfast with some locals who had moved to Agnes from Anglesea a couple of years before and then spent the morning and afternoon visiting a number of potential properties with a couple of real estate agents. One was the typical hard seller while the other was more relaxed. Sue and Raymond said they’d have to discuss it with their architect son.
Lunch was at one of the cafes that is famous for its vanilla slices. Raymond and I made the most of it.
The next day we were due to fly home in the afternoon after having a morning at the beach but the NAIPS weather forecast indicated storms in Brisbane from midday so I decided we’d need to leave nice and early. It was disappointing as I’d hoped that Raymond and Sue would be able to have views of Fraser and the Sunshine Coast again but it was not to be. Although they were disappointed too I explained the details on the weather forecast and that I didn’t want to risk having to divert to Sunshine Coast or somewhere even further north to avoid storms in Brisbane. They quickly agreed it’d be best to leave soon.
After breakfast and a coffee at one of the cafes in the centre of Agnes we headed out to the airstrip and prepared the plane for departure. I put in a notification for an IFR flight, expecting some IMC on the way into Redcliffe.
By 9am, as we took off and turned around the cape at 1770, the clouds were starting to gather.
As we followed the coast at 7000ft the cloud cover grew thicker and thicker.
By about Double Island Point we were flying over 8/8 cloud. I reassured Sue and Raymond that it wouldn’t be a problem. I’m instrument rated and the stratocumulus cloud wouldn’t present any problems with turbulence. I didn’t mention to them but I knew my Plan B was the instrument approach at Sunshine Coast if the cloud was below lowest safe at Redcliffe. Overhead Noosa ATC directed us to start our descent. We descended into the cloud and in IMC surrounded by cloud I could feel the tension building in my passengers – suddenly all was quiet. By Roy’s Orchards we had descended to about 3000ft and were still in IMC. The lowest safe was 2000ft so after ATC had confirmed that we were happy to descend further I continued the descent. At about 2200ft we popped out of the clouds over Toorbul and I advised ATC that we were visual. We could then fly visually the rest of the way to Redcliffe. The passenger stress levels dropped immediately. I saw the gathering weather ahead with some rain showers however so was keen to get on the ground and put the plane away in the hangar. A lovely smooth landing completed the trip and we refuelled then put MSF to bed. As we drove home from Redcliffe a storm hit and we had some driving rain. Sue and Raymond understood why we’d left earlier and appreciated the weather forecast I’d received. So another lesson learned.