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RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre

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by Natasha Poynton (subscribe)
Founder of Your Write, freelance writer, editor, corporate communicator and TV Producer in my spare time, around being a busy mum to 3 little ones and managing our team at Your Write. Find out more www.your-write.com.au where words come effortlessly
Published July 18th 2014
Hangars of amazing aviation history
Sabre, Mirage, Caribou, Sioux, Boston Bomber, the iconic F111's – what do these things all have in common? They are aircraft that have been lovingly restored and are out for show (and exploration) every Open Day at RAAF Amberley. From 9am – 3pm, on the third Sunday of every month (except December) RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre opens its doors to the public. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.


The historical base to the number 23 (City of Brisbane) Squadron, the RAAF Amberley is fascinating for both young enthusiasts and the not so young. Amberley is an operational RAAF air base, so when entering, you first need to pass a number of check points and park in a designated public car park. From there, a bus takes you on a short ride along the outskirts of the base (a highlight in itself for my small people), to the Aviation Heritage Centre, where you are greeted by RAAF staff and many keen volunteers to guide you towards the hangars containing an incredible number of installations and displays. Buses depart from the car park every 20 minutes, as they do for the return journey from the Aviation Museum back to the car park at the end of your visit.


There is so much to see that you may need several visits to take it all in and fully explore the hangars housing displays. The displays change on a regular basis so it is worth going back again.


One of the biggest displays sets out the history of aviation. It starts in the 1930s, and takes you through the World Wars as well as other wars Australia has been involved in, right through to modern day. It takes you through the entire history of the Royal Australian Air Force in one hangar, obviously paying particular attention to the role played by the RAAF Amberley air base. Uniforms of the day are displayed, alongside medals, parts of planes, helicopters, even a World War II Jeep and copious amounts of really interesting information. In the centre of the hangar, you can climb aboard a large chopper, and quickly come to the realisation that, although the helicopter itself is quite large, conditions for the soldiers inside were fairly cramped.


Through other hangars and in the centre courtyard, there are many different planes that can be explored, looked over and even carefully climbed on (if you watch where the kids put their feet) including a Sabre and Mirage Fighter jet. There is also a capsule cockpit of an F-111 that you can sit in, have photos taken and listen while a volunteer tells you about how it can be ejected from the plane and how this feature has saved lives. This is all the more incredible as the cockpit sits next to, and is dwarfed by, an F-111 plane itself.


There is also a small installation at the back of this hangar, which shows an interesting video of the bombing of Darwin; interesting but tragic.


The day we visited we were treated to several members of the Lighthorse Brigade saddling up their patient mounts in full World War I dress and regalia. Listening to the volunteers telling stories and explaining small details about enterprising Australian horsemen during wartime, made the history very tangible and utterly intriguing.


There is a gift shop tucked inside a hangar which runs a cash only trade and a coffee cart on the other side of the courtyard which sells a limited number of not-so-healthy snacks.

As well as the Open Days on the 3rd Sunday of every month, the centre is open on every Tuesday and Thursday by special arrangement too for larger groups (can anyone say school excursion?).
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Why? Because history can be absolutely fascinating
When: Open Days to the public every 3rd Sunday of the month, except December
Phone: 1800 623 306
Where: RAAF Amberley Airbase, Southern Amberley Road, Amberley
Cost: free but donations gratefully accepted
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