This tweet from Latika Bourke alerted me to the press release (reprinted at bottom of post).
While she may have been joking about the title of the release, it is serious stuff for us out bush.
Imagine the RFDS is landing to take a seriously ill patient away at 3AM. You switch on the runway lights, or perhaps light the kerosene pots and place out along the strip. You do a strip run to make sure there is nothing on the airstrip. You hope the sound of the troopie scares off the roos and camels that may be nearby. But you can never be sure in the dark of what is there.
At least now we can be sure the camels are not near the strip.
Eight isolated communities now have access to improved air services following $2.29 million in infrastructure upgrades to their airstrips provided by the Gillard Government’s Remote Aviation Infrastructure Fund.
Completed upgrades range from new camel proof fencing to freshly rolled runways, replaced windsocks and solar lighting.
Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King, said the improvements provide the remote communities of Kaltukatjara in the Northern Territory and Warakurna, Jameson, Patjarr, Wanarn, Papulankutja, Warburton and Wingellina in Western Australia, with safer and more reliable access to vital air services.
“Safe, operational aerodromes, and the air services they support, play a vital role in connecting remote communities with each other and with major regional towns and cities,” Ms King said.
“The upgrades we have undertaken in these communities are designed not only to improve the reliability of access to remote communities through improved airstrips, but also allow the people living in these areas to have access to food, mail and medicine.
“This is particularly important where road access is unavailable, unreliable or disrupted for extended periods due to extreme seasonal weather conditions.
“These communities are located up to 1,050 kilometres from Alice Springs, so they are dependent on air services to survive,” Ms King said.
The completion of these upgrades is part of a broader program of works to airstrips throughout remote Australia, funded through the Regional Aviation Access Program.
Ms King said the eight aerodromes that received the upgrades were identified for their importance in servicing remote communities.
To assist with providing more remote airstrip infrastructure upgrades, the Gillard Government allocated an additional $26 million in the 2011–12 Budget, taking the total commitment to $43 million over three years to 2013.