Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Trip to Sydney / Rose Bay Flying Boat Base

We went to Sydney for an overnight stay to celebrate the daughter's engagement to Nick with a lovely dinner at the Chiswick Restaurant in Woollahra. The slow cooked shoulder of lamb was to die for.
We also drank two bottles of nice wine. A Sangiovese from Tuscany and an unusual white from the Between Five Bells winery in Geelong which is a blend of almost equal qualities of Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier. Apparently only 2700 bottles were produced of the 2012 vintage so guess we won't be able to buy a follow up bottle on the open market.
Next morning, before heading home, the co driver had a massage appointment in Rose Bay, a swish Sydney Harbour beach side suburb.
I had a few hours to fill in so walked a bit ending up at the site of the old QANTAS flying boat base.
In 1938, large luxury flying boats began to operate a 10 day service between Sydney and Europe. A ticket cost more than the average yearly wage. Today it takes around 22 hours and costs about a week's average earnings.

C Class Empire flying boats set out for Singapore via Brisbane, Gladstone, Townsville (where they stopped for the night), across the Cape York Peninsula, to Karumba, Groote Eyelandt and on to Darwin. The aircraft then crossed the Timor Sea, flying to Kupang, Bima, Surabaya and Jakarta, before finally arriving in Singapore. There, the service was taken over by British Imperial Airlines, who flew the rest of the route to London via India, the Middle East and Egypt.

QANTAS Empire Airways (and the iconic Sydney to London Kangaroo Route) was born and Sydney's first international airport was in its harbour, at Rose Bay, to the east of Sydney Harbour Bridge
After the war, these services increased access to the South Pacific but their place gradually diminished due to the wartime construction of land airports.
In 1974 the last regular Australian flying boat passenger service, between Sydney Harbour and the beautiful  Lord Howe Island, finished and the 50-year era of the Australian flying boats was over.
Rose Bay, the last major flying boat terminal in the world, closed.
Today the old base is home to a small commuter and tourist seaplane venture.

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