The first competition day at the 38th Australian Club and Sports Class Nationals was slightly less hot than yesterday, but still offered strong lift to over 10,000’. Some blue areas offered challenges, but in general pilots found fine soaring conditions and achieved good speeds. Kathy Fosha and Sarah Arnold took 5th and 6th places; Sylvia got stuck for a while near the final turnpoint, but finally dug herself out and finished the task.
Australia holds its own in any competition for interesting place names. Most of the great ones originate with the aboriginal residents here (whose history goes back some 65,000 years). Here are some mellifluous samples from the Lake Keepit task area:
- Coomoo Coomoo
- Coolaburragundy River
- Moolun Moola Mountain
Kangaroos remain much in evidence at the airfield – hordes occupy the runway at dusk. Several mothers have appeared with sizable “joeys” (young of the year) in their pouches, which are a popular photo subject among first-time visitors here. (Australians are about as likely to chase photos of kangaroos as a New York city resident would chase photos of rats.) They seem entirely inoffensive apart from their inclination to block the runway, to leap into the path of cars, and to deposit their droppings everywhere.
Less benign are redback spiders and the eastern brown snake. The former – readily found in hangars here – is similar in size and markings to the black widow spider, except for a larger red mark on the female’s back, and worse venom. (In general, dangerous animals in Australia are more dangerous than their counterparts elsewhere.) This is definitely the case for the eastern brown snake, whose venom is rated the world’s second most deadly among land snakes. (Will it surprise you to hear that first place is taken by another Australian species – the inland taipan?) Eastern brown snakes are regularly seen here – I hope to get a picture of one.
With help from the intense New South Wales sun, I’ve discovered the concept of the inverse shower. Normally, you start your shower by turning on the hot water – but you don’t jump into the water stream right away: the water will initially run cold, so you must wait until it warms up. During evenings in our cabin at the Lake Keepit Sport and Rec center, you invert this: the first step is to turn on the cold water – but you don’t jump into the water stream right away: the water (trapped in pipes that run through a sun-baked wall) will initially run dangerously hot. It soon cools down just a bit, and you jump in. The water eventually becomes pleasantly cool, but never cold. A few minutes later you finish a refreshing shower, never having had to touch the hot water tap.