This trip covered so much territory and had so many highlights I decided to split it up into a different post for each day, to make it a bit more digestible for you.
Following our aborted attempt to fly to FNQ in 2019, Sigi and I decided to make another attempt in July 2020. We’d planned to fly to the Kimberley but that was “out of bounds” due to Covid border closures so we resurrected our itinerary from 2019 and tweaked it slightly. We’d already been to Bowen and Undara Lava Tubes so this meant we could head straight up to the Atherton Tableland and Cooktown.
With only the two of us in the plane we loaded the folding bikes into the back seat so we’d have transport at our various destinations. The bikes only weigh about 12kg each so don’t give us any problems with the weight and balance and when folded only take up one of the rear seats so we could even take a third person if need be. And they only take a couple of minutes to unload and unfold so a really good local transport option negating the need for taxis.
On day 1 our destination was The Old Station, a cattle station owned by the Creed family, west of Gladstone. It is actually a working Brahman Cattle Station encompassing ‘Langmorn Station’ & ‘The Old Station’, and has been owned by the Creed family since 1869. Located in a scenic valley near Raglan, Queensland, Australia, the property caters for tourism in true Australian country style. We’d stopped there before but it’s such a great overnight stop we had to go again. First stop though was Monto to check out their new murals. We took off from Redcliffe into clear blue skies and headed direct to Monto, IFR. Typical SE Queensland winter’s day.
Not long and we were approaching Monto, where some mural artists had recently finished painting some of the grain silos just south of the town.
We did a couple orbits over the silos to have a good look at them.
We landed at Monto on their recently upgraded runway and taxied to the apron.
A quick trip to the toilet introduced Sigi to the local native wildlife.
The folding bikes got us into town in about 10 minutes. We passed a few farms along the way…
and were exploring the town, with a ride down the main street…
and inspection of some of the murals.
It’s a pretty little town with some historical buildings. While we were enjoying a good coffee on the footpath of the main street a former colleague of mine just happened to saunter past. He grew up in Monto and his parents still live there on a farm. Amazing who you run into.
We rode the bikes back to the airport, passing some more murals on the way.
Soon we were back at the airport, the bikes were stowed securely and we were ready for the 20 minute hop to Raglan.
The Old Station is the home of Helen and Ron Creed. It’s a 42,000 acre cattle station surrounded by the rolling hills of the great dividing range. We did an overfly to check out the stock situation and spotted some cattle but they were at the far end of the 2km long grass runway so didn’t pose a hazard.
Touching down we taxied towards them and they slowly moved out of the way.
Helen was waiting for us and directed us to park next to the “clubhouse” that would be our accommodation for the night. It has a double bedroom, lounge, kitchen and lovely verandah with view across the airstrip to the hills beyond. Idyllic!
She had knocked up some afternoon tea for us so we chatted over that and learned a bit about the property and its 5000 head of Brahman cattle. It’s a beautiful spot and has been developed into a very successful beef cattle business with tourism as a sideline.
While Ron and his brother and his wife focus on the Brahman cattle herds, Helen looks after the finances and the tourism side hosting bus loads of overseas visitors during normal times, weddings, conferences and itinerant fly-in visitors like us. In addition to the “clubhouse” they have a purpose built “hangar” that houses a commercial kitchen, large dining area and about a dozen “motel type” rooms. It’s all very tastefully done.
Ron also keeps his collection of aircraft at the other end of the hangar, making it an interesting spot for aviators. He flies both fixed wing and helicopter but mainly used the helicopter for droving cattle these days. His father built the airstrip and started the aero club in the 1970s and they have been developing it to a more commercial hospitality location for the past 20 years. They have held a few airshows there over the years including performances by the RAAF formation teams. You can find out more about the property here:
Helen and Ron invited us for dinner at the homestead. We were met by “Kiwi”, one of their friends who lives on the property. He picked us up on a quad bike and drove us over to the homestead across the creek from the airstrip. Kiwi is also a pilot and aerial photographer as well as a LAME who works in Gladstone so there was plenty to talk about over dinner.
We wandered back over the creek to the clubhouse and marvelled at the starry sky as we went.