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Successful Take Off For Pilot

This is Ben D's story….he wrote to us saying that he had enjoyed reading "Where To Retire In Australia'

The photo of Ben, above, was taken in 1979 during his time as a pilot with the Royal Flying Doctor Service - enroute from Normanton to Mt. Isa.

We arrived in Sydney on the MS NELLY, docking at Pyrmont #17 on 14th January 1950, after a four week voyage from Naples, Italy. We were displaced persons (refugees) who had lost all our property and more than half of our family due to war action. We firmly believe that Australia is still the best country to live in.

After school, I went on to graduate as an army officer from OCS Portsea in June 1963 (I just love the Mornington Peninsula) before going on to commercial flying, including DC-3's across Bass Strait!

Along the way I had worked in a variety of jobs including as a solo mineral prospector in Central Australia, as a bush pilot in New Guinea, on the Snowy Mountains Scheme plus a variety of aviation tasks Australia-wide, Germany and the United States. I still speak & write fluent German. Hobbies of late have included qualifying as a heritage tram driver at the Sydney Tramway Museum, where I also gained approval to drive the rare Berlin tram that they have there.

Having recently retired from a lifetime in commercial flying, including 10 years based in Melbourne, I can personally identify with your views about the locations that you have so thoroughly analysed.

We just love it down here on the NSW South Coast (3rd highest growth area in the country). Nowra is 30,000 plus, the LGA is circa 100,000 souls, and we have daily rail and road services to Sydney.

Drive time to Wollongong is 1 hour and 2 hours to Sydney. We have all possible shopping opportunities such as two Woolworths, two McDonalds, an “Aldi”, with various other department stores including K-MART, plus some good op shops, so this is not a problem.

We can waterski the big river here (Shoalhaven), plus can surf or swim at various ocean and bay locations all just 20 minutes away. The southern Highlands are only an hour’s drive, and Kangaroo Valley is just a little over a quarter of an hour by car.

I have a 4 BR brick & tile house on a quarter acre right in the main street, 400 metres from the CBD, near the city’s largest park, with a 2 BR brick & tile granny cottage for Mum in the back garden. I enjoy walking to town and have even built a “roadable” shopping trolley based on a 3-wheel pusher with inflatable tyres and a parking brake. – anticipating the likely increase in the cost of living due to high oil prices.

Having done ever so much travelling, including working abroad in a number of countries, I am grateful to be able to call myself an Australian. I had moved here from Melbourne in 1989 to fly with the Navy as a civil contract pilot, and decided that this would be an ideal place to retire.

So I built up a good set of contacts and activities including teaching school cadets and could now perhaps call myself a local, 19 years later. At my age, just turned 65,I feel that it is important to have well-established roots rather than starting off afresh in a strange area. Many is the story I’ve witnessed of people selling up, moving to a new location which in the end did not measure up, and then coming back home again, at great personal cost.

As a hobby, I have been writing aviation technical and historical articles for over three decades and continue to be published both locally and abroad. The Melbourne-based PACIFIC FLYER magazine regularly prints my stuff.

About the only thing lacking here appears to be nice single ladies of the same calibre as those I knew in Melbourne.

Just to let you know how one “little black duck” has chosen to retire.

Thanks to Ben for his story.