Recreating the Wrigley Murphy flight of 1919

A quick story.

100 years ago, in 1919, Australian Prime Minister William Alexander Watt announced the Commonwealth Government would offer a prize of £10,000 for the first successful flight to Australia from Great Britain in under 30 days. This started the “Great Air Race” which (spoiler alert) would eventually be won by two brothers Ross and Keith Smith in their Vickers Vimy G-EAOU aircraft.

My friend and Earth-rounder Michael Smith is recreating that flight in his new Sea Bear and is due to arrive in Darwin on December 10th 2019.

However it’s a little known fact that at the same time as the Smith Brothers were working their way to Australia, Henry Wrigley (pictured in the main photo for this post) and Arthur William Murphy were about to fly the first trans-Australia flight from Melbourne’s Point Cook Airport to Darwin. And is this flight that I’ve been asked to recreate in VH-EYZ.

The flight plan

My plan is to stop at as many of the original locations that Wrigley and Murphy also landed at. You can see the provisional flight plan below:

I’ll be flying this counter-clockwise, spending 4-5 days working my way up from Point Cook, through New South Wales, into Queensland, via Longreach (the home of Qantas and the destination for my first ever “big” flyaway back in 2017), then up into the Northern Territory before reaching Darwin hopefully on December 10th 2019 to witness Michael arriving.

After the celebrations in Darwin I’ll head home the quick way with hopefully just two stops – Alice Springs and either Leigh Creek or Broken Hill.

How to follow the flight

I’ll be sharing this adventure in a few ways, follow along with:

  1. daily vlogs on my YouTube channel – subscribe to get notified:
  2. flight tracking through Garmin InReach
  3. live updates, short videos and pictures on my Instagram or Twitter accounts

Trip breakdown

As a rough plan (it’s wet season in the North after all so this could change), I’m planning to break the trip down into these days:

  1. Point Cook – Cootamundra – Forbes – Narromine – Bourke
  2. Bourke – Belalie Pastoral Station – Cunnamulla – Charleville – Longreach
  3. Longreach – Cloncurry – Avon Downs – Tennant Creek
  4. Tennant Creek – Daly Waters – Tindal (Katherine)
  5. Tindal (Katherine) – Darwin
  6. Darwin – Alice Springs – Leigh Creek/Broken Hill
  7. Leigh Creek/Broken Hill – Moorabbin

I may put a rest day or two in there as well, and I want to take some time out to explore the places I visit so that’s not a firm plan but gives you an idea of the routing I’ll take. As always my only objective is to have the aircraft safely on the ground at the end of the day, I really don’t care where that is or at what time. Safety always comes first.

The plane

I’ll be recreating the Wrigley Murphy flight in a Cirrus SR22 G3 – VH-EYZ – which I’ve been very fortunate to own for almost a year now. Some key specs of the aircraft:

  • range: around 700nm (5hrs) before reserves
  • cruise TAS: 160kts
  • service ceiling: 17,500ft (I carry oxygen to go above 10,000ft)
  • avionics: Avidyne PFD/MFD, 2 x Garmin GTN650s, DFC90
  • other nice bits: Digital Autopilot, basic ice protection, air conditioning, CAPS parachute system, wing-mounted cameras, 4 x cupholders

This is her pictured below with the plane Michael took around the world, Southern Sun.

‘sup? ‘sup.


Watch the video

Check out the video Michael and I made about the flight for more details and to see EYZ in action here:

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