For the kids of Durham Downs Station in outback Queensland, there is an expectation Santa will visit their dirt airstrip in the week before Christmas.
An approaching mail plane is always cause for excitement, but Jodie Keogh said the last service before December 25 usually has a special guest.
"Sometimes he gets a chauffeur and sometimes he flies himself," she said.
Her boys Jacob, Lachie and Clem know the plane has special cargo and often have cookies ready.
As well as plenty of sugar, Santa can expect weather more suited to a full-length suit with cooler temperatures than are usual for this time of year.
"Usually Santa is delivering in about 45 degree heat," she said.
Totalling 23 takeoffs and landings in two days, Hartwig Air chief pilot Chris Pfitzner describes the run as "very demanding".
An increase in demand for space on the plane started about three weeks ago, and as well as Christmas presents his load can include branding irons, cartons of beer, kitchen appliances and occasionally fresh fruit.
"Essential stuff" he said, things that can wait can be trucked up.
Leaving Adelaide at 6.30am, the flight path tracks northwest to Port Augusta before heading up to Innamincka and arriving at the stations in outback South Australia and Queensland.
Day one typically takes between nine and 10 hours, and pilots overnight at Birdsville.
Regularly flying over the Channel Country that conects to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, they have a unique perspective of how dramatically the land can change from dry to wet and back again.
The return trip heads south along the Birdsville Track.
Hazards on the remote dirt landing strips include kangaroos and snakes, and when no one is home an old fridge serves as a mailbox.
"You've just got to have your wits about you, that's all, when you land you just can't relax," he said.
Mr Pfitzner remembers a prank with a rubber snake left with the mail backfiring on the return trip.
"I didnt think about the next time, and they had a real one sitting there," he said.
"I don't know who was more scared, the snake or myself."
He much prefers stops where he's greeted by someone warm-blooded.
"Every time you land it's always a different conversation, it's not just how's the weather going," he said.
While the window to chat is limited, he knows the conversations are valued after the standard "how are you going?"
"The second question is 'how are you really going?' That tends to crack the coconut a bit," he said.
Australian Associated Press