A Kipling-like character

Auctioned in London a few weeks ago were the gallantry and campaign medals of a long-forgotten Queenslander whose adventures read like something Rudyard Kipling might have penned. Remarkable not only for his military exploits, Major George Edward Clerk, D.S.O. had a more-than-passing connection with Queensland, aviation, Longreach and Q.A.N.T.A.S. Returning to his home State of […]

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Same as it ever was

For some years now I have been trying to locate the surviving Skippy (1960s Australian television series) helicopter VH-AHI with a view towards having it repatriated and preserved in Australia. After serving in PNG it later appeared on the U.S. civil register as N1164T. In 2012 it was permanently deleted from that register however in […]

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Unexpected

The demand for war memorial furniture here in Australia has been so great, for so long, that it’s now difficult to obtain the military-grade anchors, propellers and guns that were once the entitlement of every R.S.L. club. Next-best-things, such as diminutive Cessna propellers which began appearing on memorials some decades ago, have now become acceptable […]

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Going, going….gone.

Aviation heritage has never attracted broad investor interest, the inclusion of such items in high-end auction catalogues being more the exception, than the norm. Indeed, there is no such thing here as a established aeronautica market, as there is say for antiques or fine art. While it was not altogether unusual to see an item of […]

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High above the Dardanelles

Queenslander Alfred Warner served in the Dardanelles for more than two-and-a-half years, far longer than any of his compatriots, and yet you won’t find his name mentioned in any Australian military history. As Australia’s only airship pilot (and airship station commander), his war experience was singularly remarkable, much of it spent floating high above the […]

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Blast from the past

  In 1995 the Commonwealth provided National Estate funding for a pilot study of Victoria’s aeronautical and astronautical heritage, the first state-level thematic study of its kind. This investigation identified more than a hundred significant sites, three of which related to astronautics. The latter included the Graytown Proof & Experimental Establishment near Puckapunyal; the Ravenhall […]

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No Survivor

In 2000 a CBS film crew, surrounded by secrecy and security, spent some weeks at North Queensland’s remote Kirrima Station filming the second Survivor series, then the highest-rated television series in the United States. Most likely, they then packed up and returned to the States, oblivious that another American crew had also arrived there fifty-eight […]

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Townsville’s first aerodrome

Nothing remains in suburban Annandale to suggest that this quite suburb on the southern banks of the Ross River was once the City of Townsville ‘s only public aerodrome. In  November 1938 City Council announced it would be constructing a new aerodrome costing £7,226. Two thousand pounds of this was to be contributed by the Civil Aviation […]

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A camoufleur’s art

For more than a century official war artists have helped shape our understanding of Australian military history. Often selected on the basis of their pre-war reputations, the works produced by official war artists such as Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, Arthur Streeton and Albert Tucker have become staple offerings for a nation now locked into a  […]

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‘never…except by aeroplane’

Like other eminent organisations, Qantas too has its own foundation narrative – concerning two recently demobbed Australian airmen (Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness) who, in an epic 2,180 km overland journey in a Model T Ford, successfully surveyed the continent’s northern aerial route from Longreach (Qld.) to the Katherine River (N.T. ) railhead in preparation […]

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Unplanned

In early June 1944 the RAAF’s No.457 Squadron, one of three Spitfire units recalled from Britain for homeland defence, began exchanging its near-obsolete Mk.V aircraft with more effective Mk.VIIIs. As deliveries of the latter began arriving in the Northen Territory, squadron pilots would ferry equal numbers of the former south for overhaul and re-assignment – […]

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Ipswich Railway Workshops

As a consequence of the 1939 British Air Mission to Australia, the state railways in Victorian, New South Wales, and South Australian each became involved in the production of military aircraft and aero engines. Following a visit to Queensland in March 1939 by the Mission’s Technical Member L C Ord, serious consideration was also given […]

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