Where there’s a Murwillumbah there’s away!

Scenic Rim – Mount Warning – Round Mountain – O’Reilly’s

One of the most scenic flights in this part of the world is to follow the NSW/Queensland border from the coast to the west through the area called the Border Ranges. It’s full of the remnants of volcanos including one which has as its centre a volcanic plug, called Mount Warning. The caldera that surrounds it forms numerous cliffs and valleys, much of which is still wilderness but there’s also miles and miles of rolling farmland with villages and towns scattered around. I’ve loved flying there since I first went on an early cross country flight with an instructor out of Redcliffe. The town of Murwillumbah is at the foot of Mt Warning, on the banks of the Tweed River, that winds its way through farms and sugarcane fields on its way to Tweed Heads and the Gold Coast. Whether you want to see spectacular mountains, cliffs, beaches, rivers, skyscrapers, lakes this border ranges have it all, packed into a very compact area. We’ve spent many holidays at the beach just south of the border and have climbed Mt Warning on three occasions (when it was still permitted) and have friends who’ve built an amazing house on a hill called “Round Mountain” nearby. So we love to visit the area. And you know what? There’s an airfield at Murwillumbah so we can actually fly there and land.

I’d wanted to fly there and land for some time but finally on Sunday 10th July 2022 the planets aligned. Our friends Harry and Rianne would be home and were keen to go for a flight around the area. My pilot friend Luc and I had been discussing a flight there for a while as he was a member of the Murwillumbah Aero Club a while back and knows the area so he agreed to go as navigator and co-pilot. And the weather was fine! We had had some rain in the week leading up to the day so I checked with the aero club president, Martyn, who warned me against flying any earlier as the airstrip had been a bit soft but after some stiff westerly winds on Thursday and Friday said Sunday would be fine.

Luc and I topped up the tanks of MSF to about 230 litres to give us sufficient fuel for the flight down, a one hour scenic with Harry and Rianne and the flight back, while not exceeding the MTOW. Then we were off into the wild blue yonder and that’s what it was. Not a cloud in the sky as we flew VFR from Redcliffe via Lake Samsonvale and squeezed between the Archerfield and Amberley controlled airspace then on over Beaudesert towards the Scenic Rim. The Great Dividing Range was visible on the horizon to the west.

Beaudesert and Dividing Range

We’ve stayed at a couple of mountain lodges in the Border Ranges called Binna Burra and O’Reilly’s that I’d never spotted from the air so, given the perfect weather, and with Luc’s navigational skills, and some help from OzRunways and the VTC map we flew right over the top of them.

O’Reilly’s with Mt Warning in the background

From there it was a short hop, making sure we descended in time to remain below the controlled airspace steps, into Murwillumbah.

Mount Warning

There was a light breeze from the south west so we landed on RWY19, which has the interesting challenge of some industrial buildings quite close to the threshold, so there was a last minute nose down attitude to bring us down to a point near the threshold just before the flare.

I’d texted Harry our ETA as 10:50 and we were right on time. Taxiing off the runway we found a patch of grass that didn’t look too soft and shut down. Harry and Rianne came over and after a short meet and greet and chat about the flight they watched Mike’s Cirrus briefing video on my Ipad while I chatted with Bill, one of the local club members. He was taking the club’s 172 for a scenic flight down the coast.

We took off and headed over to the coast so we could have an aerial view of Harry and Rianne’s house.

Heading for Round Mountain

In a few minutes we were over the top with a birds eye view of their house.

Orbiting over Round Mountain

From there we followed the coast down to Brunswick Heads…

Brunswick Heads

…then headed inland over the hills to Nimbin, and followed one of the many valleys past Mount Burrell and back towards Mount Warning.

You could see the Gold Coast skyscrapers in the distance.

Soon we were landing back at Murwillumbah.

Short final RWY19

Harry and Rianne invited us to lunch at the River View Hotel overlooking the Tweed River in Murwillumbah and we chatted about the flight and the natural beauty of the area. All agreed it had been spectacular.

After lunch Luc and I were dropped back at the airstrip and were soon heading for home. While we were still on the ground we obtained a transponder code from Brisbane Centre, then took off and retraced our steps to Round Mountain at 1000ft.

Over Hastings Point, we obtained a clearance from Gold Coast Tower to transit through their airspace along the coast at 1000ft.

Lake Cudgen and Cabarita

First we passed Kingscliff and the Tweed River. Then it was on past Fingal Head to Point Danger.

Fingal Head and Tweed River

A jet took off to the south as we passed the Gold Coast airport. Otherwise there was no other traffic flying in, out or around. We had the airspace all to ourselves!

As we flew past Surfers Paradise we had an excellent view of mini Manhattan including one new building that looks like it will be taller than Q1.

We tracked from there over Straddie and Moreton Island as the first clouds were building in over the water. Soon we were touching down at Redcliffe once again.

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