Day 11 of the FNQ trip was the proverbial washout. The good weather couldn’t last forever and so instead of enjoying a day in the sun at the Emu Park beach, we had a day in the rain. The forecast was for showers and thunderstorms in the morning and up to 30mm of rain in the afternoon and evening. We decided the best thing would be to take the local bus into Rockhampton for a look around. The rain mostly held off until lunchtime so we had a walk along the Fitzroy River bank and around the CBD.
The river bank’s been done up quite well in recent times and there are a few historic buildings but after a few hours and lunch we’d seen it all (particularly as the art gallery is closed because of Covid19) so caught the bus back out to Emu Park.
The rain got heavier as we headed out and it was pretty well bucketing down by the time we arrived. We headed back to the motel and had a night in, rather than the walk along the beach we’d planned. Some pretty impressive lightening lit up the skies through the evenings as the rain continued…
Day 12 dawned and it was dry. Well the ground was still wet but at least the rain had stopped! The forecast was for early fog clearing by 11am so the first thing I did was ride the bike out to the airstrip and inspect the runway. With the amount of rain we’d had I was concerned that the strip might be soft and result in a longer take off distance required. I rode up and down the length of it and, sure enough, it was damp but firm. Certainly no cause for concern. It slopes down slightly to the south and the east so seemed to have drained well. With a southerly breeze blowing it would be helpful to have a downhill takeoff run but overall it appeared we had plenty of length for our takeoff. So, feeling relieved that we would be able to head for home later, we relaxed and went for a walk along the beach before breakfast.
Emu Park is a great little town and we’d definitely like to return on a less rainy day. There is a really impressive Anzac memorial with some great artwork and gardens and information boards.
Having the airstrip so close to town makes it ideal as a flyaway stopover. After breakfast we checked out of the motel and rode out to the airstrip. The Endeavour Inn was a lovely motel smack bang in the middle of town and was ideal for us.
As we packed MSF the remaining clouds lifted and by 11 we could take off and fly the 15 minute hop over to Gladstone where we topped up with fuel. From Gladstone it was about 80 minutes back to Redcliffe.
We climbed to 9000 ft to get above the clouds but even then we had some cumulus to contend with so I added another 20 or so minutes of IMC experience on the way.
A tailwind had been forecast but I was surprised to see our groundspeed reach 220 knots once we emerged from IMC and were flying above the remaining clouds.
Approaching Brisbane the clouds cleared completely and we had a clear view of the city as we descended into Redcliffe and another smooth landing.