Motorcycles Galore: QantasLink Dash-8 300Q to Tamworth
While in Sydney I made use of the opportunity to do some more regional flying. A day trip to Tamworth offered the ability to fly one way with QantasLink and return with Virgin Australia Regional. This report covers the outbound flight on a Dash-8-300.
I checked in using my mobile phone. The process was very simple and soon I had a mobile boarding pass. For this sector I would be sitting in an aisle seat, one row back from the front.
There was a bit of a queue at security but a new lane opened up so things moved fairly quickly. Meanwhile, a couple of young women with angle wings entertained passengers by singing Christmas carols in front of a large Christmas Tree. Once through the scanner, I checked the destination board to see from where the aeroplane would depart.
There was still plenty of time before boarding, so I walked around to see what aircraft were on the ground.
Qantas Airways QF2002
Sydney to Tamworth
Aircraft ID: VH-TQY
Type: Bombardier Dash-8 315Q
STD: 08:45 ATD: 08:41
STA: 10:00 ATA: 10:02
Boarding was from Gate 1B. A cheerful greeting as I presented my phone for scanning. Then down some stairs to reach a bus to take us to the awaiting aeroplane. VH-TQY first flew as C-FDHP before coming to Eastern Australia Airlines and now part of the QantasLink fleet.
It seemed appropriate that today's flight to Tamworth would be operated by Eastern Australia Airlines, an airline founded in 1949. It started out under the name of Tamworth Air Taxi Service (eventually shortened to Tamair) with a single one-pilot aircraft that plied routes to farming communities in New South Wales and Queensland. After considerable expansion and mergers with other small commuter air operators, the airline was renamed Eastern Australia Airlines.
In 1992 Qantas Airways bought Australian Airlines, which had a 26% stake in Eastern Australia Airlines, so the airline automatically became a Qantas Airways subsidiary. In 2002 a common brand was launched covering AirLink (a franchise, operated at the time by National Jet), Sunstate Airlines, Eastern Australia Airlines, and Southern Australia Airlines. Qantas merged its Mildura-based subsidiary Southern Australia Airlines with Eastern, the resulting operation using the Eastern Australia Airlines name.
Eastern Australia Airlines (today flying as QantasLink) currently flies to Albury, Armidale, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Lord Howe Island, Moree, Port Macquarie, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga from Sydney; Adelaide, Devonport, Launceston and Mildura from Melbourne; Port Lincoln from Adelaide, and Lord Howe Island from Port Macquarie.
It was Natalie who was at the door, greeting passengers as they boarded. She helped people to their seats and made sure that those seated at the front near the emergency exit were willing and able to assist in the event of an evacuation. She conducted the safety briefing and reminded passengers to read the safety card.
As passengers were boarding, I thought that one of them looked familiar. He was to be my seat neighbour and I stood to let him into his window seat. As the aircraft commenced taxi, he turned to introduce himself.
"My name is Barnaby," he said and we started a conversation. Australian readers may have already guessed that Barnaby was none other than the Federal Member for New England and the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. He was kind enough to point out some interesting aircraft as the Dash 8 made its way to the runway, including a Boeing bearing the title, "United States Of America".
Once in the air, I checked out the in-flight magazine and looked about the cabin.
Natalie commenced the refreshment service, which on this flight consisted of some Pecan, Orange and Carrot cake and a choice of tea, coffee, fruit or juice. Passengers were also offered a small bottle of water.
The flight was pleasant enough with barely any turbulence. As we approached Tamworth I could see that the surrounding countryside was attractive with farmlands spreading over rolling hills. Barnaby mentioned that QantasLink had upgraded its heavy maintenance facility at the airport and told me that all maintenance of the Bombardier Q400, Q300 and Q200 aircraft in its fleet is carried out there.
Before long the seat-belt sign was illuminated and we were preparing for landing. A little later we were on the ground and taxied to the terminal where once the engines were turned off and the door was opened, we could deplane and walk into the terminal.
Once I had picked up the keys to the hire care, I made my way to the Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum. A must see for any bike enthusiast, the museum houses a private collection of over 50 motorcycles in pristine working order from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. The collection of bikes includes Ducati, Triumph, Honda, Velocette, Laverda and an extremely rare limited edition F4 MV Agusta Series ORO.
All motorcycles have been immaculately restored to concourse condition, plus there are some limited edition current models. It was worth coming to see one of the most unique and highest quality displays of motorcycles in Australia.
How about gunning down the highway on this Harley Davidson Fatboy with magnum pistol pedals?
Included is an immaculate collection of BSA Gold Stars and Shooting Stars from 1955.
From 1959 a Velocette Viper 350.
For those who like Japanese bikes, some grunt from Kawasaki and Honda.
Visitors are offered a cup of tea or coffee, which is included in the admission price. While enjoying it they can reflect on the efforts of the "Men's Shed" who built a replica of the earliest motorcycle from Daimler Benz. Exquisitely crafted from wood, it is a marvel to compare the early steps in motorised transport with the sheer power and lines of later bikes.
Did you know that Tamworth, NSW was the first municipality in Australia to use electricity to light it’s streets in 1888 (15 years before Sydney)? I discovered this and more during a visit to the Power Station Museum.
I was fortunate to meet Albert, a volunteer in his mid eighties and a man who is highly knowledgeable about matters electrical. He gave me a guided tour of the museum, pointing out many artefacts and the original Crompton generators and steam turbines, all the while providing a thorough explanation of the development of the science of electricity and its use.
Soon it was time to return to the airport for the return flight to Sydney. This would be with Virgin Australia Regional on an ATR 72-600. But that is the subject of my next report.
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt Speech, 1783