ABOUT THE MUSEUM
The idea of building a memorial to the service men and women who had been stationed at the No.1 Flying Boat Repair Depot at Lake Boga during World War II was first discussed by a few local Lake Boga Lions Club members over a few beers at the local pub in 1983.
From this humble beginning, countless volunteer hours, “blood. Sweat and tears” and many more beers, the “dream” finally came to conclusion when the modern hangar which houses a restored Catalina and other exhibits was officially opened on 21st April, 2012.
The aircraft on display is a Catalina PBY5. It depicts the type and size of aircraft that were used as patrol bombers during World War II and was built in the USA by the Consolidated Aircraft Company. It was originally a Netherlands aircraft that was adopted by the Royal Australian Air Force in 1942 and given the registered number A24–30. After the war it was sold to Kingsford Smith Airlines, who used for spare parts. The body was sent to Lake Boga for scrap, but it was purchased by a local farmer and taken to Nyah. The farmer used some parts but left the rest lying under a tree for forty years. His family donated it to the Lake Boga Lions Club who has painstakingly assembled and semi-restored it to something of its former glory.
From 1988 until 2010 the aircraft was displayed in the open parkland adjacent to the original secret underground Communications Bunker. In early 1997, work began on developing the Bunker into a museum to house the many exhibits and artefacts that had been collected and donated. The Bunker museum was officially opened in November, 1997. Following its 24 years exposed to the elements and after a long and arduous process to procure funds to enable a hanger to be constructed over the plane, it was restored again in 2011. Late in 2011 the museum was relocated from the Bunker into the hangar with the Catalina and the Bunker was re-constructed using original plans and photographs to resemble its wartime state.
The Lions Club of Lake Boga acknowledges and greatly appreciates the generosity of the many individuals and business who have contributed their time, expertise, materials and machinery to this project. A special thank you to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, based at Albion Park, NSW, for their assistance throughout the project.
Our sincere thanks also to all the financial supporters who have made this memorial a reality They include, from the early days, the Lake Boga Water Ski Club and the Swan Hill Shire through to today for the funding from the Federal Government Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan, the Victorian Government Small Town Development Fund, the Swan Hill Rural City Council and the Lions Club of Lake Boga which enabled the construction of the hangar.
Lake Boga was an integral part of allied defence during World War II, with a facility that helped to keep Australia safe – the No.1 Flying Boat Repair and Service Depot.
Following the Japanese attacks on Broome in 1942, resulting in the loss of 16 flying boats, the establishment of a safe haven for flying boats and amphibians was deemed “Essential to the Defence of Australia.” - “South and inland” were prerequisites.
Inspections of Lake Boga and Kangaroo Lake were made, Lake Boga being the preferred site as it was an ideal stretch of water for the flying boats and amphibious aircraft because it was almost circular (offering unlimited choice of landing/take off direction) and free of obstructions.
The required infrastructure was already in place, vacant land around its foreshore, an adjacent railhead and highway, electricity from Swan Hill and telecommunication.
A requisition of property, Priority A1.” was signed on 1st April, 1942. It had been decided to “build Lake Boga”. Multiple sites were required. The repair depot itself with workshops and hangars (on the foreshore), a stores area (on railway land near the Depot), living quarters (west of the township), sick quarters (at Castle Donnington), first-aid and dental post (on the foreshore), a radio transmitting station (on the Depot site) and a VHF transmitting station (west of the township). Construction started immediately.
June 28th, 1942 saw the arrival of the first RAAF personnel under the command of F/Lt. G.S. Moffatt and on July 12th, 1942, the arrival of the first Catalina flying boat carrying a quantity of stores and equipment was flown in from Rathmines, N.S.W. Hangar construction had just begun. The design, an open-fronted, grandstand type hangar with a cantilevered canopy. Eight large steel-framed structures were erected, 120 feet wide by 58 feet deep. These were to be followed by structures to house activities such as administration, signals & cypher, airframe repair, electroplating, engine/hydraulics repair, drafting, metal work, photography, stores, armament repair, propeller testing, machining, crew rooms, control tower. The first Catalina to be serviced at Lake Boga was A24-17, which carried a crew of 4, plus 12 personnel on posting from Rathmines in New South Wales, arriving August 5th, 1942.
During the Depot’s wartime life personnel undertook large volumes of work. 416 aircraft were serviced, repaired, restored, rebuilt or overhauled. These aircraft included Catalina, Dornier, Sikorsky KingFisher, Sunderland, Walrus and Martin Mariner.
In the five years of Depot life, there were more than 1050 aircraft arrivals/departures and an estimated 800 test flights (plus associated “unofficial aerobatics”). In addition to RAAF aircraft, many allied flying boats used the Lake Boga Depot for repairs, including those of the United States of America and the Netherlands.
At peak operation 39 Officers, 802 Airmen and 102 WAAAF’s staffed the depot.
The base at Lake Boga closed in November of 1947.
The museum wishes to thank our many generous sponsors and donators who play such a large part in the museum's success.
Particular thanks to Patrick Dillon for his vast collection which he has restored over many hours.