Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Final approach for Runway A-1...?

Traveling the Eyre Highway (A-1) across the Nullarbor Plain last night, I came upon a road sign for an Emergency Airstrip. I thought, "That's odd!?! Why would someone construct a runway hundreds of miles from any services? There are NO people, NO towns, and, I would imagine, NO reason to land a plane here. Why spend the money for a airstrip?"

300 Meters later, I got my answer!
They didn't build a separate runway; they painted runway markings on the highway. And I was on final approach for Runway A-1!!!

About the image: I'm parked in the center of the highway with the van lights on high. I shot this image using an external strobe to light the area. The off-kilter angle of the shot is meant to suggest the view from the cockpit of a plane on approach. The gravel shoulders of the road, difficult to see in this image, have been widened considerably to accommodate the wingspan of an RFDS plane.

R.F.D.S. stands for Royal Flying Doctor Service:
There are four such emergency airstrips along the Nullarbor highway which are used to deliver emergency medical services to this remote region of the country. I spent at least 30 minutes parked in the middle of the road to take these images and never spotted another vehicle. This section of the road is the longest, perfectly straight stretch of highway in Australia; it's 146 km long - almost 100 mi.
Now that's a runway!!


Muriel said...

Hi Jeff

Just getting caught up with you ..
Boy, you are in the middle of nowhere ! Your photography is always superb though! I do love that glass creation ..Were you tempted to go to the sheep shearing? The outback sure looks like a vast expanse! It could get
lonely ...No?
We miss you
Love, Mom

Juliana Monteiro said...

Beautiful work of yours!
Juliana (from Brazil)

JPT said...

Hi Mom...

The middle of Australia is pretty empty. The country's population lives on the coasts. I can drive for an hour and not see a single car on the trans-continent highway. Still, it's very beautiful and I'm glad I'm making the trip.

If I was not on such a tight schedule (only a couple of free days) I would have stopped and lended a hand in the sheep barns. (Or, got in the way?!?) Maybe next trip. The sheep are merino, so the wool is premium. (It looked quite dusty to me :-( )

Love you, Mom.

JPT said...


Thanks for the compliment on my blog. It's been a great way to keep in touch with friends and family back in the States as I travel Australia.

I especially enjoy sharing my adventures through the photographic images.

I looked at your blog briefly... but I do not read Spanish :-( (or is the Portugese?) But, I look forward to visiting Brazil some day...