Looking for something to do during the school holidays? If your children (or you) are interested in planes and aviation, give the Aviation Museum at Bull Creek a go.
Within two immense buildings, containing thirty aircraft and thousands of artefacts and displays, there's something for everyone. Although it lacks a little of the curatorship of a professionally-run museum, it is well-presented, clean and jam-packed with fascinating civilian and military aviation history. The aircraft and other material, including communications equipment, aircraft models and military medals, have been painstakingly restored and attractively presented by a large group of keen volunteers.
Amongst the highlights for me were: a Lancaster bomber (of dam-busting fame), a hula-hula skirt made from parachute silk, maps printed on silk and a Catalina (flying boat) which had been found on a Texan roadside advertising a restaurant, painstakingly restored by two American ex-military personnel and shipped to the museum in boxes. There were other intriguing displays too, like the wood and silk replica of a Santos-Dumont Demoiselle from the film Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and the stories of Jimmy Woods of Rottnest's Woods Airways and the sad but inspirational tale of Robin Miller, known as the Sugar Bird Lady.
Although the museum is run by the RAAF Association of WA, I was pleasantly surprised at how many non-military aircraft, artefacts and displays it contained. The first building, the South Wing, is about half filled with civilian material and information including early, Western Australian and Australian civilian aviation history, communications and an assortment of unusual flying machines. The North Wing is dedicated to WWII history.
Almost all the displays are housed in one of two large buildings requiring only a short dash in the rain from the car to the front door and from one building to the other, however as we visited on a cold, wet day, the museum was quite cold. The museum has a great website which suggests allocating one to two hours to visit. As there is no food available, if you are planning on coming with hungry kids, I suggest packing your own refreshments.
It is pretty much a look and don't touch museum, although children can climb into the Sugar Bird Lady's plane for photos. Tours are available but you need to book a week in advance. If you are around at midday, you can check out some aircraft engines which the volunteers start up.