Rose Bay Flying Boat Base - 1939
QEA hangar under constructionControl OfficePassenger Terminal on the ground floorShell fuel bargeCivil Air Ensign - click here for moreiconic 'signpost to the world' - see poster below

The photo above shows the Control Building and passenger terminal at Sydney/Rose Bay flying boat base photographed in mid-1939. The control office was located upstairs while passengers were processed on the lower level. In the background is the skeleton of the Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) hangar which was completed in October 1939. Note the Shell refuelling barge tied up to the jetty. At this time the flying boats moored offshore and passengers were taken to and from the aircraft by launch.

Rose Bay was constructed as the new terminus of the UK to Australia air mail route following agreement to implement the Empire Air Mail Scheme using the 'giant' new Short 'C Class' Empire Flying Boats.


click here for a larger version of this poster

The Skyways are Today's Highways, c.1940.

This poster presents an idealised view from the balcony of the Rose Bay terminal. The signpost was actually at ground level and can be seen at right in the photo above.

In the poster it reads slightly differently to the real thing, from top to bottom: To Australia / To New Zealand / To Netherlands East Indies / To Malaya and India / To Egypt and Africa / By Empire Flying Boat.

Click on the poster to see a larger version.

(Poster: Qantas)

Rose Bay Rose Bay terminal building Short S.23 G-AETV Coriolanus Short S.23 G-AEUB Camilla servicing apron swimming baths jetty slipway under construction future QEA hangar site

The photo above shows the official opening of the Rose Bay Flying Boat Base on 4 August 1938. The opening was performed, amid a certain degree of controversy among local residents, by Lord Huntingfield, acting Governor-General of Australia. Following the cutting of a ribbon linking the aircraft to the shore, Empire Flying Boat G-AEUB Camilla (the upper aircraft in the photo above), under command of Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) Captain Lester Brain, departed for the UK carrying eight passengers, 265 pounds of freight and 207 pounds of mail.

The photo below shows the Rose Bay terminal area in enlargement. The crowd thronging the waterfront can be clearly seen. A public swimming enlosure was situated immediately to the right of the jetty in front of the terminal. To the left, the slipway is still under construction, as is the maintenance apron behind it. The cars parked behind the terminal are on the site of a large maintenance hangar constructed for QEA in the following year.


Rose Bay Short S.23 G-AEUB Camilla Rose Bay terminal building servicing apron swimming baths jetty slipway under construction future QEA hangar site

G-AEUB Camilla (c/n S0844) was launched on 10 September 1937. In February 1942 the air route to England was cut by the Japanese and Camilla was stranded at the Australian end of the route. On 12 August 1942 she was re-registered to QEA as VH-ADU, but crashed in the sea and was destroyed off Port Moresby, New Guinea, on 22 April 1943.

The other aircraft is G-AETV Coriolanus (c/n S0838). Coriolanus operated the first of the thrice-weekly Australia-England services under the new Empire Air Mail Scheme on 9 August 1938 (5 days after the photo on this page was taken). Also stranded at the Australian end of the route in 1942, Coriolanus was re-registered to QEA as VH-ABG and was the only surviving Empire boat in Australia at the end of the war. The last airworthy Empire boat anywhere, Coriolanus was scrapped at Rose Bay in 1948.

The first flights to operate under the Empire Air Mail Scheme took place when VH-ABF Cooee departed Southampton, UK, on 4 August 1938, arriving Sydney on the 13th. The first service from Sydney departed on 9 August using G-AETV Coriolanus, under command of Captain G.U. 'Scotty' Allan with R.B. Tapp to Singapore. This service arrived in the UK on 19 August. Click here to see an air mail cover carried on this flight.


(Photo: 1 - CAHS/Ivan Hodder collection; 2 - Milton Kent/CAHS collection)


Click here to see photos of Short S23 Empire Flying Boat G-AETX at Rose Bay in 1939

Click here to see an aerial photo of the Rose Bay flying boat base, c.1942-43

Compare this top photo with a similar view c.1950



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