Dave Jacka


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Day 16 – We arrive in Nhulunbuy!

After the highlight of meeting the Burketown State School kids yesterday, it was time to get going this morning as we had a long day of flying ahead of us.

Gove Airport, Nhulunbuy was our next destination.  I got up at 4 am to get ready. The disabled bathroom at the lodge was located outside. As I wheeled out over the timber decking to get to the bathroom, it was amazing to hear so much wildlife scuttling away.

I could hear massive cane toads jumping around that sounded like little wallabies & other things that puzzled me as to what they could possibly be? There seemed to be so much wildlife out there that you just don’t see during the day.

We took off at around 8.30 am after my phone interview to ABC radio (Mt Isa, covering Burketown). There was quite a cross wind when taking off, but nothing I couldn’t handle. As I turned out toward the coast, the clouds thinned out leaving the blue sky above – another perfect flying day!

Finding a sheltered place from the sound of the wind for an interview.


Today we headed west along the coast, along the Gulf of Carpentaria. I was flying at 3,500 feet, the air was silky smooth & that gave me time to take my hands off the controls & I could take some decent shots with my GoPro cameras.

View from my GoPro camera.

As I’ve been flying along the coast, I keep peering down, hoping to see some crocs & maybe some big sharks. Unfortunately the water is quite murky due to the wind so it’s hard to see below the surface.

Today we refuelled & had our salami & cheese sandwiches at Borroloola Airport. I was optimistic that the great flying weather would continue all the way to Gove Airport, with Nhulunbuy township as our final destination for tonight.

Our three aircrafts at Borroloola Airport.

However, as I rounded Limmen Bight, NT, you could see clouds in the distance building up toward our final destination.  As I drew closer, I had to descend to 1500 feet to get under the cloud base. As I went below, all I could see was a haze of mist & showers up the coast.

As I went under the cloud, my heart sank. I was disappointed that the great flying conditions I had been enjoying, were over – oh well that’s flying – down to business.

View from my GoPro camera.

As I continued up the coast, I was in contact with both support aircrafts, determining each others positions & also the conditions ahead.

I was hoping to get a relatively straight run, but with all the showers, I had to do a lot of dodging to get forward. Some were too big to go around so I opted to go through them, however I was always concerned about my wooden propellor as rain has a sandblasting effect & removes the protective coating.

I slowed the engine down as much as possible to help protect the prop, but at the end of the day, there is only so much you can do & its more important to keep your airspeed up when flying through showers as these can be rather turbulent.

Yay! Finally we arrive into Gove Airport, Nhulunbuy. Our second last stop before our mid-point rest break in Darwin.

As my jab was being refuelled by the team, a beachcraft twin parked behind me & I met the pilot, Andrew Daken. Amazingly as we were tracking up the coast toward Gove, Andrew had facebooked us letting us know of weather conditions ahead &, if we couldn’t get through, had kindly offered accommodation at Groote Eylandt. Thanks for the offer Andrew! Fortunately we made it safely to Gove.

Thanks so much also to Chris Wallace from Gove Operations Pacific Aluminium (Rio Tinto) for all their help with providing us with accommodation & meals while in Nhulunbuy.

Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow & then onto Darwin.

Over & out,


8 thoughts on “Day 16 – We arrive in Nhulunbuy!”

  1. Another massive flight today, Dave. Hope the weather at Gove holds out for tomorrow’s flight. Love the photos. I am amazed at the distance you have covered so far. It is one big, enormous country and I suspect you are nearly half way. Good time to have your 4 night stopover.

  2. Dave,

    What a fantastic trip so far! Hopefully, you’ve used up your dose of bad weather.

    Gerard and I flew much of the coastline from Burketown to Derby 17 years ago, and stayed with my folks at Yirrkala (Gove) when Dad was based there with MAF. Your description and photos bring back good memories.

    Without your descriptions of the sweat in a bottle and other stuff, it would be easy to forget what an amazing effort this trip is. You fly well, so just keep knocking over each road block and you’ll get there!

    All the best to you, Linda, Lida, Gordon, Bob and the rest of the crew. Take care out there.

    Mark D

  3. Love reading your blogs Dave and the fantastic progress you are making; all the very best of the weather for remaining time, regards Stephen Smyth .

  4. Nice going Dave! It’s got to be a unique experience flying in the tropics.

    Stay safe.

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