Where: Lightning Ridge, NSW
When: March – October
Stay: 3 – 6 days (Careful – it might become 30 years)
Image: Destination NSW
Things to do in Lightning Ridge:
Black opal is the rarest and most valued of all opals. And there is only one place on earth where it is found. Air Link can fly you to Lighting Ridge, “The Ridge” to the locals.
The cooler months right now are the perfect time to visit ‘The Ridge’ with daytime tops of 25 degrees and cool nights. Summer will see closer to 50 degrees, so things slow down and life goes underground. Literally! The town of Lightning Ridge is built atop some of the world’s richest opal fields with the entire towns industry focused around mining. It’s not a typical mining town however; because the nature of opal mining is that it’s best done by individuals working on their own small claims.
Tourism booms with such eccentric individuals making their living off mining, selling and trading opals – that’s why we say you could spend years at ‘the Ridge’ and never get bored! The best way to see it all is to grab a tour guide and get exploring, because most of Lightning Ridge is scattered deep in the bush. The area has what is described as a highly variable population and it is fact that there’s just over a thousand residents on the electoral role in the Ridge, but there’s THOUSANDS of PO boxes (the Post Office is an attraction in itself by the way!)
Apart from the opals (and there are many mines and retail outlets), you will find some amazing artesian baths within the Ridge’s town limits, as well as some incredible art galleries and local craftsmen selling their goods in little storefronts.
Some of the world’s most significant fossils have been found in the Ridge, dating back to 110 Million years ago. Miners of course dig these up while searching for opals, and with their help museums around the globe proudly list: Lightning Ridge, NSW, Australia as the place of origin on that little white card behind the glass. Our favourite fossil find from the Ridge is Steropodon, a monotreme and likely ancestor of the Platypus.
At Lightning Ridge an extraordinary national monument is taking shape – a world class, energy-efficient, two storey underground building that will be the home of the new Australian Opal Centre, a new world hub for opal-focused activities. The AOC will be a world-class tourism attraction and a world leader in the areas of knowledge, information, education and creative exploration of Australian opal, rare opalized fossils, opal-related geological samples and opal from around the world. It will also celebrate the heritage and social history of Australia’s opal mining towns, their Aboriginal people, the remarkable multiculturalism of these areas and the lives of the opal miners and their families. Amazingly, this project is being built and funded by the local community and private benefactors.
Where to eat in Lightning Ridge:
Walk down the main street of Lightning Ridge, and you will see some awesome street art on the wall of Bruno’s. Authentic Italian at its finest, Bruno’s makes the most incredible Pizzas from scratch in a woodfired oven. If you prefer pasta, that’s good too. In fact it’s all good, and run by some of the best locals in town. Morilla’s Café is a great place for breakfast and lunch.
Other options for meals (there are plenty) include the Bowling Club’s bistro, Piccolo Italian Restaurant and the Lightning Ridge Outback Resort.
Where to stay in Lightning Ridge:
Like Bruno’s, the Wallangulla Motel is authentic, locally owned and an exceptional experience when you drop by Lightning Ridge. There’s no 5 star options in the Ridge, so don’t expect fine dining and poolside bars – instead, the Wallangulla is a place to rest your head, with a pool, friendly owners and great rates. Spend the extra cash on souvenirs instead! Again, there are lots of other accommodation choices, motels, resorts and as well as B&B’s, and caravan parks with cabins. The Ridge has the lot.
How to get there:
Air Link flies to and from Lightning Ridge, via Walgett every Tuesday and Thursday as part of our scheduled services from Dubbo Airport. Connecting flights from Sydney are operated by Regional Express Airlines. Flights from Brisbane, Essendon and Newcastle are available but will need an overnight stay in Dubbo. Alternatively, Air Link can provide air charter options for those travellers wishing to set their own schedule.
Where: Walgett, NSW
When: March – October
Stay: 1-3 days
Image: NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
Things to do in Walgett:
Sometimes an adventure is just as good when you take it slow! Walgett is great for that, thanks to the Artesian Bore Baths and meandering outback touring to be found around town. Heated to 42 degrees all year round, the Artesian Baths are an absolute highlight of Walgett, and they’re free! There are markets on the weekends down at Apex Park, guided tours of the area including the historic Namoi River. Dharriwaa Elders Group can provide you with local aboriginal history, artifacts and knowledge.
The Dharriwaa Elders Group have also developed a tour of Walgett including all the places the Group would like to share with you.
Just down the Barwon River is the great little town of Brewarrina to visit. Did you know the heritage-listed Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps are the oldest manmade structures in the world? Brewarrina or ‘Bree’ as the locals call it is an absolute treasure trove of Aboriginal heritage dating back to waaaaaaay BC. The Barwon River is central to it all, and that’s where you will find the Brewarrina Visitor Centre – staffed by local legends who love nothing more than sharing the regions past with those who stop by. You’ll be glad you did!
Where to eat in Walgett:
In Walgett itself, don’t miss out on a coffee at Stone’s Throw Café. They seriously do the best coffee in the region, and despite not being in the heart of Sydney – their smashed avo is world class. For dinner, a suggestion is to head to the Walgett Sporting Club, the bistro there produces some wonderful meal options, guaranteed you will not be hungry afterwards. If you’re down the road in Bre – the ladies do an excellent job at Muddy Waters. Their ‘works burger’ is an all-day affair, so skip breakfast (and maybe dinner too!)
Where to stay in Walgett:
Walgett has several accommodation and motel options in town, the Walgett and Coolabah Motels to name a couple. Just ask our General Manager Ron: if you’re out Brewarrina way, you have to stay at Beds on the Barwon. 15 mins out of Brewarrina, this group of cabins is right on the river and one of the best kept secrets in NSW. Peaceful. Interesting. Great food. 5 Star accommodation. Lovely owners. We’re all huge fans of the place (as you can probably tell!)
For accommodation with similar vibes closer to Walgett – Check out the Barwon Inn. It is only 7k’s from Walgett, and boasts the quietest accommodation in Walgett, along with bistro and evening meals most nights of the week. It’s set among 138 acres of bushland, and has been operating for the last 30 years!
How to get there:
Air Link flies to and from Walgett every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday as part of our scheduled services from Dubbo Airport. Connecting flights from Sydney are operated by Regional Express Airlines. Flights from Brisbane, Essendon and Newcastle are available but will need an overnight stay in Dubbo. Alternatively, Air Link can provide air charter options for those travelers wishing to set their own schedule.
22nd April 2020
It’s time! Holidays are being planned all over NSW in response to Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s announcement this week that regional NSW is open for holidaymakers, adventure seekers and anyone else who just wants to get out of the house and explore!
We’re so excited! Here at Air Link, we love nothing more than a great outback adventure – since 1974 we’ve been exploring remote NSW to discover some incredible destinations in the most unlikely of places. So in the spirit of adventure, and celebration of the great Australian outback, we’re sharing a few holiday ideas that you can book right now (that’s from the 1st of June 2020). Lets get right to it.
Image: Visit Bourke
Explore the Out-Back (of Bourke!)
Where: Bourke, NSW
When: April – October
Stay: 2-5 days
Henry Lawson once wrote “If you know Bourke, you know Australia”. Who are we to argue with one of Australia’s greatest short story writers?
Things to do in Bourke:
Gateway to outback NSW, Bourke’s tourism attractions draw on a rich cultural history for both indigenous and white Australians during the 1900’s, when rivers were highways and Bourke was the centre of it all. Now, things are a little more laid back in Bourke, with a population of under 2000 people. One of our favourite ways to spend a day in Bourke is to follow the Bourke Town Trail (https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/outback-nsw/bourke-area/bourke/attractions/bourke-town-trail) – retracing the old Cobb & Co stagecoach days of the late 1800’s. Walk in the footsteps of iconic bushrangers like Captain Starlight, tour the blacksmiths workshop, visit the Bourke Courthouse and of course have a beer at the Port of Bourke Hotel. If the river levels are just right, you can even grab a ticket for a ride on board the 1895 era PV Jandra paddle steamer!
For those keen to learn more about the towns history and see some incredible scenes of life in the 1890’s – you can’t miss the redeveloped Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre. Situated between Bourke and the Airport, right on the river, the centre is a modern archive full of interesting tales from farmers, Afghan cameleers, the Barkindji, Bardaji, Murrawari, Nyemba and Nyirrpa peoples from the region and legendary Aussie poets.
If learning about Aboriginal history is your thing, then it’s time to hit the road for the Gundabooka National Park. (https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/outback-nsw/bourke-area/attractions/gundabooka-national-park) Stretching from the Darling River about 50 mins drive from Bourke, the park covers Mount Gunderbooka and features some of the region’s best rock art, authentic outback camping experience and wide outback vistas. Guided tours are highly recommended out here!
What else to do? A must see is the Back O’ Bourke Art Gallery where Jenny and Steve Greentree operate a working commercial gallery. Careful, you will be tempted to buy an original painting showcasing Australia’s vibrant and spectacular outback! And on a more sombre note the famous humanitarian Fred Hollows in accordance with his wishes, was interred in Bourke, where he had worked in the early 1970’s.
Where to eat in Bourke:
Classic Aussie meals are not hard to find in Bourke, with plenty of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner right in town.
For breakfast or lunch, check out Morrall’s Bakery or mosey up the road a block and you’ll find Diggers on the Darling. The RSL club, and best bet for a great lunchtime snack – Diggers also does dinner if you are looking for a club style meal and a few stories from fellow travelers. Did you say pub-style meal? Across the road from Diggers the Port of Bourke pub will cook you a good old fashioned schnitty, or a steak. It’s proper outback tucker, and you’re sure to meet some of the locals at the bar. And of course, the Bourke Bowling Club has the traditional Aussie Chinese Restaurant for those who just can’t pass up on their regular Chinese dishes.
Want a more upmarket affair? The Bridge Inn at North Bourke offers fine dining options and can also cater for events and functions.
And a visit to Bourke will not be complete unless you enjoy an evening dinner and show at Kidman Camp’s Poetry on a Plate.
Where to Stay in Bourke:
There are plenty of options in Bourke to rest your head. The Bourke Riverside Motel is situated (you guessed it) right on the Darling River. This historic hotel was created from the 1875 Telegraph Hotel is as old as Bourke itself, with rooms named after the region’s influential personalities. Other great accommodation options include Kidman Camp, The Bridge Inn, Darling River Motel and the newest accommodation in town, the Sunshine Gardens Bourke Resort.
How to get to Bourke:
Air Link flies to and from Bourke every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as part of our scheduled services from Dubbo Airport. Connecting flights from Sydney are operated by Regional Express Airlines. Flights from Brisbane, Essendon and Newcastle are available but will need an overnight stay in Dubbo. Alternatively, Air Link can provide air charter options for those travelers wishing to set their own schedule.
13th May 2020
While major Australian airlines – Qantas & Virgin continue reducing scheduled services, and storing their aircraft in the outback, Air Link continues doubling down on our commitment to the regional NSW communities of Bourke, Walgett & Lightning Ridge.
“These flight schedules were printed back in November 2019.” explains Air Link’s General Manager Ron O’Brien, handing over a page showing the 6 return flights each week from Dubbo. “When Air Link resumed regular flights to these communities last year, we made a commitment to the people living and working in Bourke, Walgett and Lighting Ridge; which we’ve kept throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Those schedules are still current right now, and we’re proud to say we’ve continued to fly this entire time on schedule, without cancellations or delays.”
Part of the success of Air Link Airlines, and critical to providing this exceptional service to these remote communities, is the use of small regional airliners seating up to 7 passengers. These Piper Chieftain aircraft offer the same comfortable legroom of larger airliners, with brand new leather seats and air conditioning to keep our passengers cool in summer, and warm in winter. These compact aircraft are tried and tested in Australian conditions, used by aviation trailblazers Hazelton Airlines and the original owners of Air Link Airlines here in Dubbo. Take a look inside these amazing aircraft in the gallery here, but to truly appreciate just how comfortable they are to fly in – you’ll need to book a ticket on a scheduled flight or charter the whole aircraft with your family or a group of mates!
Our booking process is another key to Air Link’s success during these testing times for the airline industry. We’re working closely with travel agencies and government departments to streamline the ticket buying process by providing flexible airfare options through our website and by phone. With three options available for every seat, from our Flexi Fare offering full flexibility and cancellation, to our Community Fare offering discounted seats for permanent residents of the remote communities served, there’s a range of prices and options to suit every traveler.
Air Link’s scheduled services depart weekdays, daily from the main Passenger Terminal at Dubbo Airport, with connecting flights to Sydney, and beyond available with major airlines. To view our full flight schedule, or to book a ticket or just find out more about our great little company, visit our scheduled services page.
We’ve been in the aviation industry a long time, (since 1974 to be exact) and we’ve never seen anything quite like the global response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
While news outlets are claiming that the worldwide aviation industry has shut down, that’s not entirely true. Air Link are still flying daily across the state borders as well as many other regional operators and charter providers within Australia and internationally. Our clients have many reasons to fly, and in choosing a provider like Air Link, are making an excellent choice to minimize the risks involved in traveling at this time. We thought we’d take this time to share a couple of facts about flying during the Coronavirus outbreak, for those who are still on the fence about moving from A to B.
- Air Link can fly interstate, despite border restrictions. We are an essential service.
- Air Link are flying daily, throughout the COVID-19 outbreak
- Air Link & AirMed use the strictest of hygiene standards, we are partners with NSW Health.
Fact: The less contact points, the better!
Flying privately means just that. It’s just our pilot, you, and the people you choose to fly with. Airports are big places and although they might be empty right now (more on that in fact 2), are filled with hundreds, maybe thousands of people. Airliners are filled with hundreds of people too, and who knows who sat in that seat before you? Did the cleaners really clean every piece of every one of the 150+ seats on that Boeing 737’s 30 minute turnaround? Did the check-in staff touch someone else’s phone right before they grabbed yours to scan your boarding pass? OK ok, we’ll stop. You get it. Airports, and airliners are by nature, prone to thousands of contact points.
Let’s compare that to a private flight, where you can literally drive right to the aircraft you’ve chosen to charter. Between your car and that plane, you don’t have to touch a thing. We don’t have boarding passes, we don’t check luggage, it’s just you, and your pilots; and your pilot is not sick (like most others, we have a strict policies in place regarding this). Step on board our aircraft, where capacities vary between 4 – 9 seats, and we have plenty of time to clean EVERY part of those cabins (and we do, every time). What about the air conditioning system you say? No problem, we’ll explain that in Fact 3. Did we mention we use our own private terminals at major airports around Australia too? That means only a handful of contacts during the entire travel process.
Fact: Major Airlines and Airports are not reliable right now.
If you are choosing to fly right now, we understand you have a compelling reason to do so. We don’t need to know your reason, but we’re pretty sure that you want to actually arrive at your destination! We don’t cancel charter flights because seats aren’t filled. We don’t delay flights to wait for anyone (except you of course!), and we certainly don’t cancel flights because our airline is shutting down. Flying exceptional people, in exceptional circumstances is what we do, and we do it well. You can rely on us to get you there.
Fact: Pressurized Aircraft pose no risk to Coronavirus infection.
We hear the myth all the time that pressurized aircraft recirculate the same air around and around the cabin, slowly infecting all occupants with the same virus. This is NOT true. Cabins in small aircraft don’t actually hold that much air, and the way the system works is to push filtered air from the engines into the cabin to heat, cool, and pressurize it. That air doesn’t actually stick around for long, because it quickly gets released at the back of the aircraft through something called the outflow valve. Because the air is being fed in at such a high volume from the engines, it also flows back out quickly, leaving the occupants with an entirely fresh cabin every 1-3 minutes (depending on the aircraft size).
What about unpressurized aircraft you ask? We fly those too, (our Cessna 310’s, and Piper Chieftains are unpressurized) and those cabins have similar air refresh rates thanks to a different system. Unpressurized aircraft have vents in the nose which funnel fresh, cool air into the cabin at a rate proportional to the aircraft’s airspeed (let’s say….. 300kmph). It’s obviously slowed down as it passes through the vents, but there’s still a LOT of air coming into the cabin. That air has to go somewhere, so there’s specially designed vents in the tail which allow the air to escape out the back of the aircraft. The refresh rate is similar; 1-3 minutes and the entire cabin’s air in your charter aircraft will have been replaced.
Fact: Air Link is not shutting down. Or going broke.
We’d like to share a little background about our company, and let you know that we’re here and very determined to stay. Air Link is part of a larger group – Aviation Logistics; which is an Australian-owned and run collective of general aviation companies. Together, we operate flights across Australia, in every aspect of aviation including aeromedical (which is pretty busy right now), charter, scheduled services, freight & mail delivery flights, and government funded flights to community hubs in outback Australia. We’re diverse. We’re Australian. We’re well resourced (60+ aircraft). We’re backed by government and regional council groups, and most importantly, we’re united in providing exceptional service during exceptional circumstances.
Air Link are part of a group of general aviation companies reaching out to the NSW and Federal governments for assistance right now. This is true, and well published in the media right now. We are doing this to stand united with other members of the aviation community who are doing it tough right now. Our business is more agile than others, but with some assistance, we might just be able to keep more of our pilots employed and ready to fly you on your mission.
Fact: Air Link is about saying ‘yes’.
In all our years of flying in regional NSW, we’ve had a mantra of saying yes to our clients. We’re all about working out a way to make a flight happen. Whether it’s a tricky time of day, a lot of luggage, or multiple stops over multiple days. Even global pandemics and zombie apocalypses. Where others may say ‘too hard’, ‘can’t be done’, or simply ‘no’ – we’ll work out a safe way to make it happen. Our clients can vouch for that!
Give the team a call to discuss your charter requirements at any time. We’re always available and have our aircraft and crews are ready to go right now. Literally anywhere in Australia is within reach for us and our fleet (check them on our website). We would love Air Link to be part of your story and you part of ours during this unparalleled time in aviation.
And, perhaps most importantly of all, stay safe and take every precaution you can during this unprecedented event.
People ask us all the time… Are the aircraft on our website really the ones we fly every day? The answer is YES!!
We recently refurbished our entire fleet of Piper PA31 Chieftains, with brand new paint, interiors and avionics upgrades. They look amazing, better than pictures portray – and we couldn’t be more proud of inviting you on board to experience these aircraft for yourself. Take a look through the gallery of images, of our very own twin engine aircraft used for charter and airline services to Walgett, Bourke and Lightning Ridge.
Air Link is pleased to announce the commencement of regular air services for NSW rural communities, in conjunction with the Far North West Joint Organisation (FNWJO) and the NSW Coalition Government. Air Link will be operating scheduled services between Dubbo and the rural communities of Bourke, Walgett and Lightning Ridge commencing in the first week of November, with three return flights a week to Bourke and Walgett and two services a week to Lightning Ridge via Walgett.
Air Link is pleased to announce the commencement of regular air services for NSW rural communities, in conjunction with the Far North West Joint Organisation (FNWJO) and the NSW Coalition Government. Air Link will be operating scheduled services between Dubbo and the rural communities of Bourke, Walgett and Lightning Ridge. The air services are scheduled to commence in the first week of November with three return flights a week to Bourke and Walgett and two services a week to Lightning Ridge via Walgett. The Air Link Schedules have been coordinated to ensure onward connections are possible, enabling travels to now easily connect with Sydney flights.
Air Link was acquired and relaunched by Aviation Logistics Holdings in September last year. Aviation Logistics is the parent entity of Airmed Australia, servicing Non-Emergency Patient Air Transport for NSW and is closely associated with Chartair who provides daily services throughout the Northern Territory and Queensland.
Air Link is a regional-based aviation company with its head office located at Dubbo Airport. It was founded in 1974 and has offered air service over the past 45 years. The new owners have re-focused the Air Link business to provide exceptional customer service with its charter business, this will now extend to the airline service and provide a much-needed boost to the north west communities of NSW. Aviation Logistics Holdings is also committed to providing increased local employment opportunities, associated with the Aviation industry.
The new air services will provide a great transport alternative for government, businesses and all residences within the local community. To support locals, Air Link is providing “Community Fares”. Full-time residents, within the local government areas of Bourke and Walgett, will have access to the “Community Fares”. This will provide all local residences with affordable access to the Air Link scheduled services. Passengers will experience the exceptional service and convenience of air travel with community fares starting from $135.09 per person one way.
Air Link’s General Manager, Ron O’Brien, is looking forward to making the new air services a success. “For the past 40 years, ever since I started working with Max Hazelton at Cudal, I’ve been passionate about the benefits of aviation to regional and rural communities, with both scheduled and air charter services. Aviation shrinks the world a little and is a vastly safer option when travelling long distances. I’m excited Air Link has been entrusted by the FNWJO to be a service provider to these communities. I look forward to meeting our new passengers and perhaps even seeing some familiar faces onboard.”
In our network we own and operate 57 aircraft throughout NSW, NT and QLD. With bases in Dubbo, Bankstown, Alice Springs, Katherine, Darwin and Cairns. The Group employs over 185 people. The group has many years of experience in aviation; Air Link since 1974, AirMed since 1995 and Chartair since 1974.
This week we took off through the early morning mist in Sydney’s Bankstown Airport, bound for the NSW Central Coast. Grafton was our destination, and what a beautiful morning flight it proved to be!
Just 90 minutes in our Cessna 310, the flight to Grafton is always a great one for watching the countryside slip by in the morning light. The Hunter Valley is filled with a light fog, the beaches around Newcastle glow a brilliant white, and before you know it, we’re descending into the small airport just South of Grafton.
The airport there services the surrounding towns of Yamba, Arrawarra and MacLean (yes, we can carry surfboards!), as well of course the regional hub of Grafton and South Grafton. Transport options are plenty, with taxi’s readily available, hire cars available from the airport (limited times) and plenty of free car parking.
Charter flights are available from Dubbo, Sydney or any regional town in the area, and the runway is suitable for all of our aircraft to land, including our jets. Give the team a call, or click here to request a quote for your specific requirements today, we’d love to have you on board with us.