Latest News:

  • 24 May 2021 3:48 PM | Bill Anderson (Administrator)

    Good afternoon members and friends.  I will follow on from the Summer newsletter.

    Rathmines Memorial Grounds:

    LMCC ground staff have been active and very well assisted by our member Rod Mellor.  The lawn and gardens improve by the week and the plan to install an irrigation system is still in play.

    After considerable discussion we now have LMCC ‘owner’s consent’ to install the irrigation system, but their list of do’s and dont’s came too late to apply for the ‘Saluting Their Service’ grant.  A fresh grant application was submitted last week, via the Community Building program.  Results are released in November!

    Within the application was an irrigation design plan, provided by Rex Sullings of Aqueduct Consulting…pro bono and our thanks to Rex. 

    Anzac Day:

    A beautiful Autumn day and on our count the attendance was over 500.  Penny did a great job in organising the many facets of this important day.  RAAF presence was very limited due mainly to other commitments, but the fly past of an E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ was spot on time at 1300.  Squadron Leader Ian Murray (Rtd) read the Oration and our local State member Greg Piper read the quaint poem ‘The Shabby Catalina’.   Western Lake Macquarie Concert Band provided excellent music…thanks everyone.  Of note, LMCC Mayor Kay Fraser accepted our invitation to attend.

    Base Heritage Tours:

    Bookings and enquiries are beginning to flow in and we have recently hosted two groups from the Eleebana Shores Village.  Both groups accepted our invitation to visit the restoration after lunch.  We have had several other ‘aircraft visits’ and offer a morning tea at a modest charge, with two more Clubs booked in the weeks ahead.

    Aircraft Restoration:

    Terry Fahey will have an update in the next newsletter, but I can say that it is going great guns.  The fellows have now completed erecting and installing a much needed larger canopy  over the fuselage.  

    We have been in regular contact for many many months with a gentleman in W.A.  He is the owner of a non flying Catalina and the associated internal components.  We have reached an agreement which will see the ‘internals’ gifted to us and this recovery is about to take place.  Volunteers, Terry Fahey and John Tilley will fly to Perth to facilitate the recovery. The Association is funding the mission, including the purchase of a container to load and rail home.  Quite a substantial commitment of Terry and John's time and very much appreciated. These components will be needed to complete the restoration. Possible availability of parts in the USA, cost of purchase and freight make W.A a better option.  More in the next newsletter.

    Catalina A24-50:

    This aircraft was reported ‘lost on Ops’ in September 1943.  The wreckage site was located in remote West Papua in 2018.  I received a call from RAAF History and Heritage section last week to advise that a plaque is to be unveiled in Cairns to honour the crew.  This is planned for July 18th.  If you would like more information please give me call.

    Rathmines Park Heritage Centre and LMCC:

    You may recall that we met with LMCC staff on Feb 1st to discuss our Business Plan (the case for a building at Rathmines) and the external consultant's reviews.  More information was requested by us at that time.  Two months had elapsed with no response, so a letter was sent to the CEO and the Mayor, asking for a response.

    A letter (email) arrived yesterday and the content is in a similar vein to the reviewers….a sea of negativity and disinterest.  So, whilst not unexpected, it is very disappointing and does not offer a realistic pathway forward.  It is clearly time to move on and alternatives are and will be discussed by your committee. Take heart, other options exist and as I have said before our aim is to find the best way forward for the aircraft and the dedicated restoration team.

    I expect many of you share our disappointment and frustration, after so many years of discussion to endeavour to achieve a positive engagement with LMCC.

    DGR:

    A significant donation has just been received from a local charitable trust and our thanks have been expressed.  This level of support and encouragement is a great boost to morale.

    Membership Renewals:

    Our Treasurer, Philip, will begin issuing these early next month.  The committee and I appreciate your on going support.

    Retirements:

    Restoration Volunteers, Graham Barnett and Bruce Fergusson, recently called time out and on everyone’s behalf, I thank them for their outstanding contribution at the aircraft.  Gents, we look forward to the occasional drop in.  Best wishes and take care.

    Kind regards,   Bill
    Bill Anderson
    President
    e: president@rathmines-catalina.com
    m: 0418770400

  • 19 Nov 2020 3:54 PM | Deleted user

    Hello All, as I write, it is Saturday 14 November 2020, and I am at the aircraft, the compressor running and the team hard at work.

    Recent events:   The RCA, a member of the Aviation Museum National Network, took part in the AGM last Saturday via Zoom.  Several interesting matters emerged, not least the effect on Museum business activity and restoration work that the Virus has had, but all groups are pressing on.  An Australia-wide ‘Museum Trail’ is being developed with location and contact details of the member aviation museums – I will forward a copy when it is finalised.  RAAF History and Heritage gave a run down on their activities over the 2020 period and the impending 2021 Centenary of the RAAF.  Air Force Centenary events have been scaled right back, with only one major celebration to be held in Canberra, at a date to be advised.

    There have been numerous visitors to the aircraft, a worthwhile activity that raises our profile and spreads word of what we are doing.  Two groups in are worthy of a mention. 

    The first a group of twenty-seven yachties from the Lake Mac Yacht Club Cruising Division.  After a night spent on the calm waters of Kilaben Bay in the morning the group walked to the aircraft.   RCA provided morning tea and with the group split into 3 they were given a tour of the site.  It was a great morning with interesting and interested people.

    October also saw a visit from the ‘Fortress Newcastle’ group. Fortress Newcastle members are documenting the numerous WW2 sites in Newcastle and the lower Hunter. They were particularly interested in the RAAF Base Rathmines and the Wangi Point Gun Emplacement. RCA will continue to work with them, documenting sites and raising the profile of the role the area played during the war.

    Joy Air Australia, is now operational and offering scenic flights over Lake Macquarie.

    It is great to see such a dynamic new tourism business and we look forward to the day when the Catalina Heritage Centre is on the Joy Air itinerary.  This could be a great addition to the Christmas gift list.

    Christmas is not far away, and I am making a shameless plug for our website shop - see rathmines-catalina.com. I am sure there is an item there someone would dearly love to see under the Christmas tree so check out the site. Our exclusive Catalina themed cards are on special - pack of six for $5 plus post, blank inside they are suitable for all occasions.  We have an amazing selection of books and they would fit well in one of our tote bags

    Progress with Rathmines Park

    Patience is a word I have come to know very well!   A few dot points might be best.

    • The Rathmines Catalina Heritage Centre Feasibility Assessment and Business Plan Final Draft (Rathmines CHC BP) was submitted to Council in May 2020; substantial document produced inhouse by our Secretary and Treasurer.  It was well received by an external expert reviewer, a business consultant and Qantas Foundation Memorial Ltd (Qantas Museum) Board Member.  The current draft is greatly enhanced by Charles Martin’s conceptual artwork. As a draft it is not available for issue, however copies are available for perusal at the aircraft.
    • Council’s Rathmines Park Plan of Management was ratified on 26 October 2020.  Prior to the meeting I addressed councillors on our proposal.  Support for the Rathmines Catalina Heritage Centre (Rathmines CHC) was unanimous with all councillors supporting a request for a regular update on the progress of the Rathmines CHC.
    •  While we had hoped to have the DA underway, Council staff were adamant the Park Plan had to be ratified (patience) first.
    •  Following this, Council staff insisted on an external review of the Rathmines CHC BP, we are expecting that review to be completed by late December (patience!).
    • RCA will work with the external consultant to ensure any perceived issues are addressed. 
    • Three LMCC councillors visited the aircraft on Saturday Oct 31st and we accompanied them for an inspection of the Park.  The discussions with all councillors have been very encouraging.
    • That said, it does seem that progress is being stymied by a series of ongoing hurdles, created by Council processes.
    • We will stay the course for as this picture shows Our Girl is really in need of a home.

    Funding: Our Association is in a very sound position on a month to month basis, but funding of the Rathmines CHC must be met via government grants and donations. Having DGR status provides us with a huge benefit. With certainty around the delivery of the Rathmines CHC we will be calling on assistance and support from all our members.

    As always, if you have any questions, please give me a call. 

    Lastly after what has been a most unusual year, on behalf of the Committee and the Restoration Team, I wish you and yours an inspirational Christmas and 2021.

    Merry Christmas

    Bill       m: 0418770400           e: president@rathmines-catalina.com


  • 9 Aug 2020 9:43 PM | Deleted user

    Hello to you all and thank you for renewing your membership.

    In a limited way restoration recommenced on May 18th and the work has gathered pace with several new volunteers. Terry Fahey’s May Restoration report is now on the web and is already dated, as now the starboard wheel well has been painted and the undercarriage assembly is being installed - it looks very smart!

    July is significant with the planned reopening of the Rathmines Theatre (Community Hall) and the final (3rd) community consultation by survey for the Rathmines Park Plan of Management by Lake Macquaire City Council (LMCC). The Plan of Management is front of mind for us as we await LMCCs response to a Catalina hangar.

    Do you agree the draft Plan of Management/ and Master Plan reflects community sentiment?

    In our view, sadly, it does not. There was overwhelming community support for the Catalina hangar (81% of respondents), with the hangar (14%) highest on the list of community priorities. That information is not included in the main documents, it was found through sleuthing through supporting documents. Please let LMCC know that the hangar is important!

    If you have any questions, please give me a call (see below).

    An RCA team has worked diligently to produce the Catalina Heritage Interpretation Centre Feasibility Assessment and Business Plan (June 2020). A draft is currently under external review and has been submitted to LMCC for review and comment. The Plan, backed by a rigorous financial assessment, provides a vision for a Centre that promotes heritage significance, encourages community engagement and provides a stand-out tourist destination for the Lake.

    As time runs out at the Catalina’s present home a decision has been made to commence a DA. LMCC, is the land owner and we have applied for consent for the DA . We are very grateful for the expertise and assistance of Jason Waziak (J.W. Planning) as we work through the process.

    The next few months will define the future of RCA – we thank you for your support and will keep you updated as we progress.

    On other matters:

    • The Base Tours are still on hold.
    • Several restoration volunteers spent a day at the Rathmines Memorial, enhancing the garden and the watering system. Penny and Rob led the day.
    • The AGM will be held later in the year, our end of year accounts has been signed off, but I would hope the AGM can incorporate a clear pathway for the road ahead.
    • Our Anzac Service was subdued but encouraging to see the number of passers-by and private wreathes.
    • A recent grant will allow us to complete some additional registered training courses. Five of our restoration team will complete a First Aid Course, two members will complete a Forklift Course and remaining funds used to purchase of extra PPE (personal protection equipment).

    If you have followed the Dabster story, you will recall that this Catalina was thought to have crashed at sea in the Philippines, but associated items were found on a mountain top near Manila. A further search planned for earlier this year and cancelled due to the COVID Virus has been rescheduled for early 2021. We will let you know how it progresses.

    Our new DGR status has been recognised with donations received from several sources and I thank them for their generosity and support.

    Over the last few months, nine new members have become part of the RCA and several of them are very active at the aircraft - well done.

    A plug for our website shop … we have several new books in our inventory, all Catalina related, please take time to log in and investigate. A great gift for someone!

    Committee member, Philip Priest, became a first-time grandfather last week. Congratulations Phil on the arrival of Maxwell Whitlam Priest and so the RCA succession planning is underway.

    Take care and best wishes.

    Bill Anderson 

    President



  • 26 Jun 2020 4:56 PM | Deleted user

    Enhanced opportunities for sport and recreation – including a new skate park and outdoor gym equipment – will be central to a draft Rathmines Park Master Plan now on public exhibition.

    The draft Master Plan and separate Plan of Management set out the future of the historically significant site, which was a key seaplane base during World War II.

    Lake Macquarie City Council Manager Assets Management Brendan Callander said the aim was to increase the park’s attraction and broaden its use, without compromising its heritage value.

    “The two draft plans will enhance the community’s opportunities for sport and recreation,” he said.

    “But the measures they recommend also celebrate and commemorate this unique site’s important history.”

    Catalina long-range patrol bombers, along with other aircraft, flew from Rathmines during World War II, conducting coastal patrols in search of enemy raiders.

    The base closed in 1956, but many of its key features remain, including part of the north-east hangar, the former Sergeants Mess, the former Officers Mess and the base hospital.

    Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said Council had undertaken extensive community consultation to produce the draft documents.

    “We will continue to listen to the community throughout this exhibition period,” Cr Fraser said.

    “The result is set to be a suitably impressive public space that respects the past and embraces the future. This is one of Lake Mac’s landmark sites and we want to treat it accordingly.”

    A new Rathmines Park youth hub already funded by Council will include a skate park and pump/BMX track, an upgraded children’s playground, outdoor gym equipment and interpretive signs recognising the site’s history.

    Footpaths will be upgraded and extended throughout the park, connecting to upgraded amenities.

    The Rathmines Park Plan of Management proposes changing some existing land categories within the park. 

    Mr Callander said that included re-categorising some areas from ‘Park” to ‘Natural Area Foreshore’ to reflect environmental objectives.

    “Given the site is now listed in the NSW State Heritage Register and its heritage significance is managed in accordance with the Rathmines Park Conservation Management Plan, it is also proposed to remove the ‘Cultural Significance’ category,” Mr Callander said.

    An independently-chaired public hearing to seek community feedback on the re-categorisation of areas within the park will be held online on 23 July. 

    The draft plans are on public exhibition until Friday 7 August 2020 at shape.lakemac.com.au/rathmines-park.


  • 17 May 2020 8:09 PM | Deleted user

    Hi, did you know its National Volunteers Week?  So many organisations rely on the work of volunteers.  Rathmines Catalina Association is no different.  Our Committee are all volunteers, as are those who conduct the base tours, plan and run the Catalina Festival, and of course spend endless hours restoring Our Girl.  Thanks everyone!

    Meet our volunteers here.

  • 5 May 2020 12:55 PM | Deleted user

    It was wonderful to see so many individuals and families commemorating ANZAC Day from their homes.  Even with social distancing and the cancellation of services we are able to come together to remember such significant times and those who fell in our name and continue to serve.  

    The memorial at Rathmines was not forgotten with some wreaths laid and individuals visiting to pay their respects.  

    This poignant photo of quiet reflection needs no comment. 

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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