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Inspiring Birthday Idea.
‘What do you want for your birthday?’ Was the question asked (as usual) by my family coming up to the ‘important occasion.’
As usual I couldn’t think of anything to suggest. Sure more camera gear would be good, (for a keen photographer there is always something we’d like) but then it wouldn’t be something the family had chosen for me, a nice surprise, as I would have to choose it to make sure it was compatible, what I needed etc etc...okay I’m fussy!
In the end my response was ‘Surprise me!’ And so when the day came hubby did just that and instead of ‘thing’, he opted for an ‘experience to be had.’ He surprised me with the announcement that he had booked in a flight over the Lake Eppalock and Bendigo area. It was a great idea and a natural progress to our exploration of this area, started in earnest in 2005, but also dabbled with in 2003.
After a couple of date changes due to bad weather, Bill, our son and I (there was no room for our daughter and so she opted to miss out) met up with our pilot, Guy, at the Bendigo Airport on a slightly overcast Saturday afternoon.
The light plane we were to fly in was a 4 person Cessna 127. It is a small plane and I had not realised just how small until I tried to fit my medium camera bag into the front area- there was no room for it, and if I put it on the floor it might knock one of the pedals which control the plane – not a good idea explained the pilot. So the boys in the back kindly took it for me. I was glad that I had already chosen a short telephoto lens (a 17 to 70- mm zoom), ‘cos I would not have any room to fiddle around changing camera gear.


Eppalock Essay water in


So, strapped in, I felt a little nervous when the pilot turned the key and the plane, reminiscent of an older car, didn’t turn over on the first try, but on the second. Taking off wasn’t as rocky as I expected and once we were in the air, the flight became quite enjoyable. As we reached Lake Eppalock, Guy instructed that I could now open the side window in order to shoot through. The powerful wind rush was amazing, but the ability to photograph without any distortion from the Perspex was worth it (although I did have a wind-created headache afterwards.)
The view of Lake Eppalock, full to the brim for the first time in years, was stunning. Yachts speckled the water in front of the Bendigo Yacht club, blue green algae formed stunning albeit hazardous patterns in the water, the surrounding countryside peppered with several shades of green and brown, and the water pouring over the spillway looked spectacular even from the height where we were was all lovely to see. We did a couple of circuits of the lake and then I asked Guy to take  us into Bendigo, where the most standout building would have to be the Sacred Heart Cathedral, although the new Lotus flower at the Chinese Museum came a close second.
The return flight highlighted just how much Bendigo is surrounded by eucalyptus forest.
The experience was well worth it and was a wonderful birthday present.
Tips you should know:
When booking, decide if photography is all important, because you will need to book a Cessna which has its wing above where you will see and where you can open a window. If you book a larger plane, the wing is below you and the only way to get good pics is to get the plane to roll onto its side (not my idea of fun), plus you will be shooting through a closed window. The downside of the Cessna is its small size and limited passenger capacity.
Have your camera ready to shoot: there isn’t time or room to change lenses. Ensure your camera batteries are full and your memory card has lots of room.
Cost: not sure what it was as it was a present, but it is not a cheap exercise and you pay for how long you are in the air.
Plan where you want to go and have a map with you. Our pilot was a little uncertain as to where certain roads were for example as we wanted to see our home and he was not certain where our road was. Up in the plane it was easy for us to lose our sense of direction without our own map on board.
Don’t forget to take the camera away from your eye every now and then and simply enjoy the whole experience!

Bendigo Aviation Service can be contacted on 5443 1030 or

Eppalock; bill; Sharon; essay; water; filling; bridge; rail; old; gone; sheep; winter; 2010; summer; plane; flight; Robert; scenic; flight; spillway; overflowing; Bendigo; cathedral; Chinese; lotus; flower; scenery; 2pm

Published: Mar 23, 2011 8:42pm by stlg48.

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  • Birthday flight

    Great minds must think alike. My husband had a special birthday in March, and i had no idea what to get him. He had expressed a wish that he could have learnt to fly, but price prohibitive. So for his birthday i booked him a "Pilot for the Day’ experience. Should be Pilot for an hour – but at least he had a lesson, controlled the tiny little plane while they were in the air and saw parts of Fremantle and Perth in a way he had never seen before. meanwhile I enjoyed watching all the plane and helicopter activity at Jandakot Airport – so many people learning to fly! A good day!

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