Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

Spotting at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

Image above: Viewing a Runway 34 Arrival of a Singapore Cargo Boeing 747-400F)

Some of you reading this might be able to remember the viewing deck up stairs where you could watch the arrivals and departures and admire the comings and goings of wonderful airlines like, TAA, Ansett, East-West, Alitalia, Continental, KLM, British Airways and sleek polished aircraft like Boeing 727’s, DC-9s, DC-8s DC-10s and many many more.

 

VH-VXQ RR3
QANTAS Boeing 737-838 VH-VXQ, or Retro Roo II turns for Runway 34
QF 747-400 ASO
QANTAS Boeing 747-438ER VH-OEI departs on Runway 16
RAAF KC-30A ASO
On occasion military hardware can be seen such as this Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A

Well like most things in life they don’t last for ever and today spotting at the airport is a very different game. Gone is access to the viewing deck, security patrols and high fences in place. However all is not lost. This brief is a short spotting guide on how to achieve so nice photos of the coming and goings of aircraft around Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne Australia.

Etihad 777 Nose ASO
Etihad Boeing 777-300ER A6-ETL up close and personal
N300A ASO
Business Jets frequent Tullamarine as Gulfstream G550 N300A shows
RB 787 ASO
Royal Brunei Airlines Boeing 787-8 V8-DLC on the standby apron adjacent to Runway 16

Firstly you need a few things to do the hobby justice, a good Digtal SLR Camera, a radio frequency scanner, fold out chair, a phone, with a flight tracking app, and in the case of Melbourne a hat, sunscreen, jacket, water and or a coffee. I say this as it is Melbourne your sure to get four seasons in a couple of hours!

Virgin 737 ASO
Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 VH-VUO, turns for a Runway 34 Arrival
ANZ 767-300 ASO
Air New Zealand Boeing 767-300ER ZK-NCL is one of several daily Air New Zealand flights

Now your all set but where do you go, where do you park? A good idea is to firstly check your flight tracker app and identify which runways are the aircraft landing and departing from. Once this is established picking your style of photos, do you want landing photos or would you prefer nose up and climbing photos. I prefer to mix it up and try to get a variety of both otherwise you run the risk of shooting the same style of photo over and over thus it becomes a little boring.

Phillippines A340 ASO
Philippines Airlines Airbus A340-200 makes a rare visit to Tullamarine
tihad A340-600 F1 ASO
On occasion absolute gems like this Etihad Airbus A340-600 in Formula One livery visit

Back to the flight checker app, there are several of these available your author has three on his phone and all are used for the various capabilities of them. At Tullamarine the North/South runway is 16/34 and the East/West runway is 09/27. If you have runway 16 arrivals in the morning or afternoon the best place to park and spot is on Uniting Lane opposite the old Uniting Church. There is ample parking off the road and even some tree shading for the summer months (don’t forget that cool drink).

China Southern A330 ASO
China Southern is a regular operator to Tullamarine this was taken from a Runway 16 Arrival
QANTASLINK DASH-8 ASO
QANTASLINK Bombardier Dash8-Q400 VH-QOH, with the Pink Ribbon Supporting Breast Cancer is one of many special liveries you can spot.

There is a designated viewing area right under the flightpath off Sunbury Road. Its not the best for photographing aircraft as you are directly under them as they pass over you. There is however a Food vendor with snacks and drinks if your in need of something. If your photograph here you’ll need to make some adjustment to your lens to compensate for the sunlight.

Atlas Air 747-400F ASO
Atlas Air Boeing 747-400F Freighter cleaning up
CX-747-800 ASO
Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-8 B-LJA is another freighter to pass through on a semi regular basis

A change of scenery and a change of style in photography or viewing leads you on a bit of a road trip. Operations Road which is on the opposite side of the airfield will take you through the airport and around to the maintenance side of the airfield. Passing the Hangars you’ll catch Virgin Australia aircraft in for maintenance and also the Crown Casino Biz-jets frequent the hard standings. Moving on to the Runway 34 approach there is plenty of places to park and view aircraft. Again you can park directly under the flightpath, however if you proceed further along and park on the grass area opposite the golf course there are plenty of places and different angles to photograph the arrivals or departures depending on the days operations.

Scoot 787 ASO
Scoot Airline’s Boeing 787-9 is a new comer to Tullamarine
Tigerair A320 ASO
Tiger Airways Airbus A320-200 VH-VNB, one of Tullamarine’s regular visitors

If your really into your photography and like a different angle on your pictures there is one other viewing point at the end of runway 27. Loemans Road, Bulla will put you in the unique view for head on departures. This spot is further away from the airfield its self and is also an area to watch on the rare occasion that Runway 09 is in operation. To get to this spot a drive along Sunbury Road heading towards Sunbury descend down Bulla Hill and up to the roundabout at the top of the hill turn left and proceed along approximately 200 odd meters and when the road comes to a fork go left. You’ll come to a point where you can see straight down the runway.

Shanghai A330 ASO
Shanghai Airlines Airbus A330-200 is one of several International A330 to frequent
Tulla Spot 6-1-15-3
Jetstar Airline Airbus A320-200 VH-VFV with Sunglass hut livery

Now an important part, of any hobby the rules. Respect peoples property and don’t trespass on private land to get a shot. Also please adhere to the airports no standing areas, take your shot at the fence then go back to your car. Remember to be friendly too security and airport staff they are just doing their job, don’t get snappy when they talk to you. It might seem simple but don’t litter. Then there is the most vital part enjoy yourself. And see you out there everyone! This article is only a guide to spotting at Tullamarine, and like all hobbies you’ll find the area and style that suits your photography.

By Dave Soderstrom

2 comments

  1. Hello my friend , I’m wondering if you can tell me when’s the best time to catch a Boeing 747 at tullamarine ? Departure or arrival ! I never get lucky when I head down these days. Thank you so much !

    1. Hi Mark, one of the best tools to use about flight times is Flight radar or Flight aware apps. You will need a smartphone but these apps give alot of information on flight times. Mark

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