A birdy in Bargara

Bundaberg – Bargara – Golf

Our three day “golflyaway” had been planned for months.  A few other golfers of varying levels of ability who I play nine holes with on a semi-regular basis had agreed with me it would be great to fly down to Coffs Harbour and play on the famous Bonnville course. Initially we’d planned it for late in 2020.  However, our plans were disrupted, first by Covid lockdowns, then by weather on two occasions (why play golf when the weather’s no good?), and then by us struggling to agree on a date that would suit us all.  When one of us suddenly had to head overseas for work (yes, that is still possible these days) we shanghaied one of my neighbours to sign up for a July 2021 departure.  Then at the end of June came the risk of the imminent NSW border closure.  So our original trip to Coffs seemed unwise, and at Ted’s suggestion we “pivoted”….to Bundaberg/Bargara.

Tied down in Bundaberg

The flight up was meant to be VFR and an opportunity to spot whales along the Cooloola Coast and in Wide Bay but low cloud and showers appeared in front of us before we reached Double Island Point and forced us to head inland.  Tracking towards Maryborough, avoiding the Wide Bay restricted area while remaining clear of cloud became difficult.  I could see a wall of cloud to the north so I asked ATC to switch to IFR and climbed up above lowest safe before entering the cloud and flying in IMC until we were 20 miles south of Bundy.  Finally it was all clear again.  Ted, Mark and Joe all seemed to enjoy the experience of flying in IMC. 

We were visual into Bundy and while I tied down the plane Mark fetched the hire car.  Nine holes at the Bargara Golf Club were followed by an opportunity to watch some pro golfers demonstrate their skill at a pro/am event.  After a couple of drinks at the 19th hole we headed back to our Airbnb for the night.

Watching the professionals

The next day we’d booked 18 holes at the Coral Cove Golf Course about 15 minutes’ drive away.  We weren’t due to hit off until midday so that gave us the perfect opportunity to visit one of Bundaberg’s key attractions.  With the main hall a structure of soaring glass and steel made in the shape of an aircraft wing, and set in the lush Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, the Hinkler Hall of Aviation brings to life the adventures and achievements of Australia’s famous pioneer solo aviator and native of Bundaberg, Bert Hinkler.  It outlines Bert’s life achievements and personal story. 

It houses numerous full size display aircraft and unique museum artefacts, including the beautifully restored ‘Mon Repos’, his relocated home.  Bundaberg supporters arranged to have the house taken apart in England and brought out to Bundy where it was rebuilt brick by brick.  Anyone who is visiting Bundaberg should drop by for a visit.  It would also be worth having a flyaway just to visit it.  They have a nice little café on site as well.

Anyway, having learned all about Bert Hinkler’s exploits we headed out to the Coral Cove Championship Golf Course. 

Mark tees off at Coral Cove

It has very long fairways, and in fact the 12th, at 635 metres, is Australia’s longest.  Long enough to land a plane on. 

Understandably, hiring a cart was mandatory and even with carts we only managed 16holes before dusk and closing time.  Nevertheless we had time for one drink at the 19th hole before heading back to Bargara.

The next day after breakfast at the Windmill Cafe in downtown Bargara we drove to the airport, where we were treated to a few flypasts by an RAAF wedgetail (Boeing 737) as they practised their instrument approaches into Bundy. 

Then it was our turn, taking off and tracking east at 1500ft over the city and the rum distillery to Bargara, where we had a bird’s eye view of the two golf courses we’d played at.

Coral Cove

Following  the coast we overflew Woodgate and Burrum Heads.

We then turned inland to Biggenden, where we stopped for lunch at the Grand Hotel. 

On the ground in Biggenden with the clouds gathering

Clouds were gathering during lunch so we headed back to Redcliffe IFR, flying in and out of the clouds at 5,000ft until we were near Maleny, where we had a clear view of the Glasshouse Mountains on descent.

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