Autumn Newsletter 2022
Hello members and supporters,
The rain has been persistent!! The restoration has continued at a great pace despite the efforts of mother nature…more later. There has been some travel, Base tours and aircraft visitors.
The Grant funds for the installation of an irrigation system have been transferred into our account. There is now one more meeting to take place with Council staff and the installation contractor… it has been a lengthy process!
That meeting is planned for May 12th and an indicative start date for the project is around mid-June. No surprise that the weather and materials shortages have hampered and delayed the contractors work schedule.
We are still awaiting results for the grant application to renew the Memorial pathway fence.
As mentioned, great work is being done. The scaffolding was hired, and the Pylon work completed in very good time because the volunteers committed to extra days over several weeks.
The Catalina Memorial also had a little restoration when our ever willing volunteers gave it a water blast ready for the ANZAC Day service. Prior to the hired equipment being returned there was time left in the day to give the tail section of the aircraft a good blast.
If you are active on Facebook there is a Catalina Restoration site with regular updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/220438615151435/
Our workdays continue to be each Monday and Wednesday with seven to ten volunteers regularly giving their time and expertise. I admire their humour and goodwill…recall that I mentioned you can see more background of the fellows on our website: https://www.rathmines-catalina.com/
We were approached recently by staff from the Cooks Hill Campus enquiring if we would allow one of their students to participate in work at the Cat, as part of his school project. Lachlan is 15 and has now logged seven Monday visits and has been mentored by the volunteers through a range of tasks. It is clearly working well as Lachlan has asked if he can continue during this new school term…Yes!
This road trip to RAAF Amberley was mentioned in the Summer newsletter. We had received an invitation from the Director General (DG), RAAF History and Heritage (HH) and four of us made the trip in early April.
Apart from some anxious moments and mobile phone calls, enroute, about flooding and bridge closures (recall the weather around the Granite belt in March and April) we proceeded as per plan.
The Amberley Restoration team (all volunteers) made us most welcome and we had a very interesting day seeing and discussing restoration with like-minded people. I was able to have a one-to-one with Air Commodore John Meier (DG. HH.). This was all part of the agenda and purpose of the visit.
As a result, the Warrant Officer who oversees their restoration projects will pay us a visit in June. The intent is to review some of our projects and establish if they can assist with tangible support…the Cat. Blister reconstruction is on the table for discussion.
Williamtown Aviation Heritage Centre (WAHC):
We continue with our discussions about the relocation. As mentioned previously the Fighter World site and all that it contains, is in the planning process to refurbish or rebuild and as such, we are part of a much bigger project…naturally within the RAAF HH there is a ‘chain of command’ and a considerable amount of dialogue…it will all take some time as there are similar projects occurring at other RAAF Bases.
Our refurbished model Catalina (3.5mtr wingspan) was recently handed over (on loan) to the manager at Fighter World and will be put on display at a site within the Base. Our very energetic volunteer Steve Wenban completed the restoration in his own time and did a wonderful job. We have reached an agreement that now sees the Fighter World Shop displaying and selling a limited range of our Cat. Merchandise. This is to put in play the fact that ‘Our Girl’ is going to appear in the months ahead.
90 Ridge Road and Activities:
We have completed two lots of mail-outs promoting the Heritage Base Tours and responses are starting to appear. In the many telephone conversations, the option of a morning tea at the aircraft is also put forward.
In the last month the Newcastle Vintage Motorcycle Club took up that offer. There is a small charge and we put our merchandise on display…this is a revenue source and another opportunity to promote the restoration with some of the volunteers taking on the role of tour guides
Last week a group from Morisset U3A completed a Base Tour and a visit to the aircraft. So this makes around forty more people that now know about the RCA and our activities.
There are several tours booked for May…we had some new brochures printed earlier this year. If you are aware of any potential clubs or groups that might be interested, please give me a call.
In the previous newsletter I mentioned our aim to offer a morning tea to members. With the recent relaxation of Covid rules, this idea becomes more viable and I will seek some committee support to make it happen.
Anzac Day 2022:
The weather cleared to allow a lovely Service that was well attended by RCA members and visitors. RAAF personnel from 11 SQN(Edinburgh) and 20 SQN (Woomera) made the journey to Rathmines. The Commanding Officer of 11 SQN, Wing Commander Michael Sleeman led the delegation.
My observation was we had a bigger attendance and subsequent number of wreaths.
The support of our restoration volunteers in setting up the chairs and gazebos was greatly appreciated…and then re packing it all!
There was a bit of confusion about start times and the event will be discussed at the aircraft this week. The flypast by the E7A Wedgetail from 2 SQN RAAF Williamtown was slightly delayed but nevertheless… spectacular!
• Kennards at Warners Bay supplied 150 chairs for the Service and our thanks for their ongoing support.
• The presence and support by the staff and pupils from Rathmines Primary School and the Rathmines Scout troop is always a highlight and we value their attendance.
• Air Cadets from 316 SQN, City of Lake Macquarie attended, leading the march and formed up the Catafalque Party.The West Lakes Macquarie Concert Band provided the excellent music and I have now met with their President and had a preliminary
Finally, a thank you to Penny. As many of you know, behind the scenes Penny is the driving force of our Anzac Service. A job well down over many years.
Your committee and the restoration lads have been busy. As always… my best wishes and please contact me with any input you may have.
M: 0418 770 400
Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Association Incorporated is a non-profit organisation, trading as RATHMINES CATALINA Association
ADDRESS: PO Box 59, Toronto NSW 2283 AUSTRALIA