An enthusiastic group of thirty-two Australian IFFR members, plus our future IFFR World President 2018-20 Phil Pacey and Judy, made their respective ways to the tropical city of Townsville in Far North Queensland.  It was an action packed fabulous weekend full of fun and fellowship mixed with just a hint of frivolity with everyone enjoying the local sights, sounds and the many culinary delights.

Arriving from nearly every state in Australia and New Zealand our members, drove, flew in the  big kerosene canaries or arrived in a cross-section of general aviation aircraft.    Six of the seven GA flew in convoy around Queensland from Hervey Bay via Emerald and Charters Towers arriving in Townsville just before lunch on the Friday in readiness for a big weekend!  

From the historic outback towns of Emerald and Charters Towers to experiencing the best ever whale watching off shore in Hervey Bay with a “movie” to prove it; to meeting fellow aviators for the first time, making new friends, and quietly working on recruiting the latest batch of IFFR members to share our great fellowship's future experiences.

Who was it that said the journey is as important as the destination?  Perhaps it was me; well whoever it was, it's correct as half the fun was getting to Townsville via the scenic route meandering around interesting country towns with lots to see and do in each, all having been hand-selected by Andrew & Joan Mladen.

Townsville is home to a significant Royal Australian Air Force base, which during the whole of our stay was operationally active with a major exercise in progress.  On our sequenced arrival one of our party Rodney Peachey stopped a flight of six F/A-18's from taking off on runway 02 while he taxied to the apron.  Pres Mike, was instructed to “hold short” and enjoyed an unexpected close-encounter with the Hornets, providing a spectacular view as the six F/A-18s took off in front of him with all the speed, noise and turbulence you would expect causing his little Cirrus sitting quietly on the ground to shudder in their wake  – all very exciting for aviation enthusiasts.

The weekend after our visit a crowd of 80,000 lined Townsville's the Strand on Saturday for a spectacular Airshow, with many thousands more visiting the RAAF Base on Sunday for an open day, as part of the north Queensland city's 150th anniversary celebrations.  It seems only Past President Sam Graham and Natalie stayed on to experience this event.

Sorry, I digress, so now reverting back on course with the original story after my slight diversion.  

The planned Townsville sightseeing itinerary under the meticulous leadership of Past IFFR Presidents Colleen & Ted Richey went very smoothly. On the Saturday, the bus departed at 9:30am with team IFFR visiting the “highland” overlooking Townsville and the Airport from Castle Hill and the “lowlands” at sea-level, with lunch at Bushland Beach Tavern, then back to Townsville for a visit to the Museum of Tropical Queensland which has a great display on HMS Pandora, which was wrecked north of Townsville.

On Sunday it was the Military Museum, or a visit to the local Sunday markets for those with a mind for some retail therapy, then off to the Billabong & Sanctuary, up close and personal for wildlife and crocodile viewing, then Harvey's Range and lastly afternoon tea at the Heritage Tea room for special “non-fattening” scones, jam and cream washed own with coffee or tea.

A highlight of the weekend was the traditional Saturday night dinner with a local Club; namely, the Rotary Club of Townsville Sunrise whose Pres Paul Ryan and his members made us all very welcome with lots of fun.  The Chief Pilot from the Royal Flying Doctors Service in Townsville, Captain Warren Schmitt, provided an interesting, informative and very entertaining presentation on the RFDS, its planes and people.  Following Warren, IFFR Pres. Mike McFarlane delivered a short presentation outlining the 70 Rotary Fellowships available to Rotarians.  

Good food and fellowship all intermingled with plenty of fines, lots of laughter and fun ensured that a jolly good time was had by all.

The next Australian Section's IFFR Fly-In will be at Wagga Wagga in South Eastern NSW in early April 2017.

ORANGE NSW  20 - 22 April 2018

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