Photos of Terry with Our Girl taken for the Newcastle Herald Media Release

Possible questions and answers on the move to the

RAAF Williamtown Aviation Heritage Centre

Does Air Force Heritage own the Catalina and Memorabilia now?

Not at all. We are yet to discuss the matter in any detail but discussions re the eventual display of ‘Our Girl’ and the Rathmines memorabilia are in play.  Our expectation is that we will reach a formal agreement in the near future.

Are you disappointed that the Catalina will not be displayed at Rathmines?

Yes we are all disappointed but rather than focus on what we couldn’t achieve, we are looking forward at the enormous benefits that come with the proposed move…see the list 

What do you think are some of the benefits of the move?

  • The primary one is that we now have certainty of a home for Our Girl and a time frame that we can plan and work towards. We are also dealing with motivated and like-minded people who have significant expertise in museum and heritage management which we can draw upon to help us progress the restoration.
  • The move will allow our team to opt in and continue their work if they wish.  We will see a new cohort of potential (younger) volunteers and they will bring a broad range of skill sets.
  • The site is an existing tourist destination with known potential. This is expected to provide us with the opportunity to share the Rathmines story to an even larger audience than that predicted in our original scoping for Rathmines Park.
  • Our memorabilia is quite exceptional and we are excited to have the curatorial expertise of Air Force available to assist us to ensure our display is of the highest standard.

Why can’t the memorabilia stay at Rathmines? It is part of the Base history

LMCC advised that they had a storage room to house the memorabilia. There was however, no current, or proposed capacity for display of the items - they would remain locked away for the foreseeable future. 

In contrast, RAAF Heritage has offered the services of a specialist curator to assess the collection. The proposal is the memorabilia, together with the Catalina, will be used to tell the story of RAAF Base Rathmines.  

The Rathmines and local community are very disappointed etc etc

Yes, we can understand their feelings and have always appreciated their long running support.  The move provides a bigger canvas and the reach and story of RAAF Base Rathmines and the activities there during WW11 will be recognised by a much wider audience.  We can tell this story from Williamtown.  Our aim has been to find the best pathway forward for the aircraft and the restoration volunteers.   We believe we have achieved an excellent outcome.

What does the LMCC think about the move?

We are not sure.  That is a question to direct to the LMCC. What we can tell you is that we advised the Mayor and senior staff by email/letter yesterday. 

What led you to this decision…the move.

This Association has been in discussion with LMCC since 2007. In the intervening 14 years we were unfortunately unable to achieve an agreed way forward. We had a meeting in June 2019 with senior Council staff and laid out a ‘must achieve’ timetable.  We thought at the time we had an agreement, but subsequent discussions dispelled this belief. We subsequently had little confidence that an agreement which included siting the aircraft at Rathmines Park would be achieved and it was clear to us that we had to find an alternative way forward, which we have.  Our focus is now about the future.

Will there be another Catalina Festival.

It is possible, but with current restrictions and uncertainty with large public gatherings, we are focusing on progressing the restoration and planning for the future move and eventual display.

Will you have any active participation at Rathmines.

Most certainly.  RCA’s commitment to Rathmines remains firm. We intend to continue to facilitate Anzac Day services and, subject to COVID restrictions, we would like to recommence our Heritage Base Tours as soon as possible.  We also now have Association members taking an active interest in the Memorial grounds and gardens.  We are working closely with LMCC on this and have their consent to proceed with certain improvements.

What arrangements exist with Air Force Heritage with respect to buildings and costs?

An initial meeting is planned as soon as we are able to visit the site and walk the ground to determine the best outcome for the relocation.  Can I say that from the outset the discussions to date are positive and a collegiate approach is evident.

When will the move occur?

As the release states…as soon as the Facility upgrade is completed.  Expectations are that this will occur in approximately 2025.

When will the aircraft go on display?

Display is dependent upon the progress of the restoration. This is part of a discussion with our workplace colleagues and management but will occur soon as it is safe to do so.  We don’t have a timeframe for completion as yet.

Is it likely there might be a change of heart from LMCC?

The RCA has committed to a future at RAAF Williamtown Heritage Centre

Why now?

It is not a decision that has been made lightly or quickly.  The restoration team currently work under difficult conditions and need to see some light at the end of the tunnel for the progress of the restoration…there is light now showing.

What do the Volunteers think about the move.

THIS question has 2 components…at the time of the media release and post the release…

  • At the time…........I am not sure as they have just been advised.
  • Post the release….well we will find out shortly!

Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Association Incorporated is a non-profit organisation, trading as RATHMINES CATALINA Association
ADDRESS: PO Box 59, Toronto NSW 2283 AUSTRALIA

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