Where's Lake Keepit Soaring Club?
Lake Keepit Soaring Club is situated just Lake Keepit State Park, some 5 hours north-west of Sydney in what is known as the North West Slopes and Plains… which may give you some idea of the terrain. The closest towns of any size are Tamworth and Gunnedah… Lake Keepit is about midway between the two with the town of Manilla just off to the north.
The coordinates of LKSC are S 30.889693º East 150.527700º.
Resident thermals can be found to the left (West) of the picture over the dam wall and caravan park and to the right of the picture over the (often) brown paddock. Visitors from the Northern Hemisphere may need to orientate themselves by turning the screen 180º.
There are no shops at Lake Keepit gliding club though there's a kiosk in the park. Like any good gliding club, there are fridges where you can buy a beer, cider or wine but most other provisions are on a Bring Your Own basis. Gunnedah and Tamworth have all the big supermarkets with a good range (by local standards) of provisions. Manilla has a supermarket too but the range is more limited.
Getting to LKSC
There are serveral ways to get to Lake Keepit, car, train, aeroplane or bus. The best way to arrive is by light plane, but if you've not got one, then read on. If you come by car, you can drive right to the club, entering through the state park. No doubt arrangements will be made for competitors and officials to enter the park but if you are arriving early, you either pay on entry to the park or organise a gate code with the flight centre office at the gliding club in advance.
By train, plane or bus you'll need to get from the nearby town centres to Lake Keepit. If you're coming up this way, ring or email the club to see if anyone is car-pooling or can pick you up from somewhere close.
For visitors from overseas, Australian public transport is maybe not what you are used to, especially the trains. For example, in the 1988 Round Australia Yacht Race, a boat beat the train between Sydney and Coff's Harbour. The train will get you up to Tamworth, but quick it ain't!
Probably the best way to travel to LKSC is by car. If you are a visitor, you may want to take in the sights along the way. The central coast beaches, north of Sydney, are some of the finest in the world. Aim towards Newcastle and follow the newish Hunter expressway. This shaves a good 20 minutes off the trip compared with going through the Hunter Valley. The more scenic route will take you through the Hunter Valley… a sort of alcoholics theme park. It is one of Australia's main wine making regions reputedly selling more wine on a good weekend than produced there in a year… make of that what you will! Either way, you will get to enjoy a little of the destruction of the local countryside from coal mining in the upper Hunter.
Tamworth and Gunnedah are about 5 hours direct drive north of Sydney or 8 hours drive down from Brisbane depending on how enthusiastic you are with the loud pedal. It takes about 45 minutes to drive to Lake Keepit from Tamworth. From Sydney, going via Gunnedah is faster than going via Tamworth.
If you come by car and have a GPS, be aware that Lake Keepit is a get-away-from-it-all type of place, and the club is probably just off the map! Aim for the Lake Keepit State Park or Keepit Dam Road and you can ask directions from there. Otherwise, take highway 1 (The Newcastle freeway) towards Newcastle. Take new Hunter Expressway towards the New England highway. Enjoy the trip through what is becoming China's fastest growing coal region… almost all the way up to the Kamilaroi highway exit towards Quirindi and Gunnedah. You're best to take the Gunnedah road because unless the safety nannies have changed the rules, the speed limit is 110 kph on this road.
At Gunnedah, you turn right towards Tamworth and follow the road until the Lake Keepit turnoff, just after Somerton. From there, you follow the road to the Lake Keepit State Park.
Unless you arrive by night, it's easy to find the club from that point. If you do arrive at night, you are probably in for an interesting time because it can be sodding dark out there. Once through the boom gate, take the first right along the new road and after about 2km, you'll see a sign towards the club. Watch out for roos on the road at night inside the state park.
At the time of writing, Qantas/Qantaslink is the only airline with scheduled flights to Tamworth, flying turbo-props.. Look on the Quantas website for times and fares. There are normally three flights a day and you can be lucky and get a decent price.
Once at Tamworth, you can get to Lake Keepit by taxi or hire-car. A taxi will cost about $100 one-way, it's cheaper to hire a car. Again, there are often members travelling between Tamworth and Keepit so phone the club in advance to see if you can get a lift.
The Explorer train from Sydney goes twice daily through Tamworth, connecting with the Rail Bus to Manilla. You need to take the Rail Bus from Tamworth to Manilla and make yourself known to the people at the Hotel next to the bus-stop. The journey is booked via State Rail Countrylink. Another Explorer train leaves Sydney for Gunnedah daily as well. Both trains leave Sydney at identical times, this suggests they are the same train, but split into two separate trains at some junction, probably Werris Creek. Prices quoted for a single adult economy class ticket are $71.50 one-way, which seems a bit steep for such a slow trip.
Express inter-city coaches are operated by such firms as Greyhound/Pioneer and the bus network is very extensive. You could arrange to go past Keepit when travelling between Brisbane and Melbourne/Adelaide. The Brisbane-Melbourne bus will drop you at the Highway turn off, to do so the bus route must pass through both Gunnedah and Tamworth. Let us know if you are planning to arrive by coach and we will arrange to meet you at the Hwy turn-off (Oxley Hwy/Manilla Rd intersection). In case of trouble, walk about 1 km north towards Lake Keepit along the Manilla Rd and you will see a house by the road-side. That is Mad Bob Dirck's place and he will usually be very happy to help.
Contact Phone Numbers.
- Qantas 131 313 www.qantas.com.au
- CountryLink Trains 132 232 www.countrylink.nsw.gov.au
- Greyhound-Pioneer Coaches 132 030 www.greyhound.com.au
- MacPhersons Coaches (02) 6760 7190
- Avis rent a car (02) 6765 2000 or 136 333 www.avis.com.au
- Thrifty car rental (02) 6765 3699 or 1300 367 227 www.thrifty.com.au
- Budget rent a car (02) 6766 7255 or 1300 362 848 www.budget.com.au
- Hertz car rental (Tamworth Airport) (02) 6762 5545 or 133 039 www.hertz.com.au
- Hertz car rental (Tamworth) (02) 6766 5545 or 133 039 www.hertz.com.au
- Bayswater Car Rental Sydney (02) 9360 3622 www.bayswatercarrental.com.au
- Cruikshanks Gunnedah (02) 6742 0183