For February we had a great run to Caloundra and a great day at the Queensland Air Museum (QAM). Who would have believed that there were over 70 aircraft and related displays, including a magnificent F-111.
As usual, we all met at the Woolies car park at Chermside for a 9am departure. The weather was great for our run and after a fuel top up, for those that needed it, will rolled out fairly bang on 9am. Participating in this run were a variety of Austins, including two A30s, two A50s, two Lancers, an A90 and an a young 49 year old 1968 1800 mk1. We were also joined by two modern cars (our support cars). In one of these modern cars was the family of the the 1800 owner (you know who) who had the breakdown on the Christmas run to Woodford (see separate previous article). It seemed that their confidence in the 1800 had not fully recovered and consequently decided to take the extra car (the fact that is was air conditioned was also another contributing factor)!
Travelling north on the Bruce Highway, we managed to keep our cars together with a number of passing looks from fellow drivers in their moderns cars. Being curtious, we occupied the left lane of the highway, but made a great effort keeping close to the speed limit and showing the modern cars that the old Austins still had a lot of grunt left in them. We exited on Steve Irwin Way and after a short time, stopped at Matthew Flinders Park, Forest Nursery, Tibrogargan for a break and morning tea. The break and snack was welcomed under the covered seating area, with the weather being a warm 30 degrees, but still very suitable for a drive. During our morning tea break, we were surprised with the arrival of two Austin Eights, a 1946 and 1948 Tourer. The 1946 Tourer was being driven by a driver on their "Ls" - what a great way to learn to drive!
We arrived at Caloundra without much incident, except maybe for a wrong turn in Caloundra. The turnoff to the museum was taken one turn too early and as the rules says, "just follow the car in front", so, after a quick detour to Bunnings by a number of us "following the leader", we arrived at the Museum. We were greeted by one of the staff who arranged for us to park our cars at the rear of the museum. We were also joined by another six Austin Eights, making a grand total of 8 Eights. The owners of the Eights are: two tourers from Greg and Pauline Wagner (AMVCQ members), one from Ken Carter (with rare Richards body) and four from Frank Carrol (we will have a separate article on Frank's Austin 8s later). The Eights were proudly parked out the front of the museum and attracted a lot of attention from passers by. In total we arrived with 16 Austins and 2 moderns - quite a procession.
We were welcomed into the museum by one of the friendly staff members and allowed to make our own way around the displays. It was quite a site on entering the first hangar. There was a wide variety of military and non military aircraft, including: Douglas DC-3; Piper Aztec; DH Vampire Trainer; Hawker Hunter; and KH-4 Helicopter. Outside there were more aircraft, some of which were yet to have their restoration started. There was a Beech Super King Air; a DHC Caribou that you could walk into; a Fokker Friendship (I remember seeing my mum off in one of these many years ago) and the very unusual Transavia Airtruck (not a very spacious compartment for passengers). In the second hangar was the F-111C, an absolutely fantastic site and the condition that it was in, it seemed it could take off there and then. You could walk all the way around the F-111, with stairs so that you could climb up to a height that allowed a perfect view along the top of the plane. From the rear, the engines appeared and were massive. It brought back memories of the fabulous fly overs and "dump and burn" over Brisbane during River Fire. Each exhibit had plenty of information, so you could read the story about the particular display. There was also many displays of aircraft related items, including histories of Squadrons and military conflicts. You can also find many displays of uniforms as well as an excellent display of Qantas Airways memorabilia.
The museum does more than just display aircraft, they tend to the preservation and restoration of aircraft. For example, the previously mentioned Caribou was restored, as detailed on the museum's website, by the QAM. It was originally destined for the Australian War Memorial. This most historic aircraft survived two crashes in Vietnam. Rebuilt twice, it served the RAAF for another twenty years. Sadly it was then parted-out to within an inch of its life before it was eventually saved by QAM. The airframe is now substantially complete and internal restoration continues. For before and after photos of this and other aircraft restorations, visit the QAM website or click here.
We broke for lunch with most bringing prepared meals, however, the Museum BBQ was brought out to cook a few snags for some of us (the wind on the day did not help the BBQ, but eventually the sausages were cooked). Tables were put out in the main hangar and we enjoyed our lunch amongst the aircraft, out of the midday sun. As well as eating, there was plenty of conversation about the aircraft. One aspect of the aircraft that was noticed was how the seating in many of the cockpits appeared cramped and uncomfortable - no more complaining about leg space in commercial passenger aircraft.
After lunch we all spent some more time visiting the exhibits. There was also a small theatre room, made from the body of an aircraft, that played various aircraft videos. We each then made our own ways back home after a very enjoyable outing.
You can find the Queensland Museum at 7 Pathfinder Drive (no doubt named after the Pathfinder Force, for which there is a number of displays in hangar 1), Caloundra Qld, approximatley 100klms north of Brisbane. It's open to the Public daily from 10am to 4pm (except Christmas Day). For further details, including their "Engines Alive" and "Open Cockpit" events visit their website at www.qam.com.au. You can also hold your next social or business event at the museum. It is certainly an educational, interesting and enjoyable place to visit and is recommended for anyone with an interest in aircraft.