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Dandenong and on to Werribee South.

the Australian National Aviation Museum

We came to Dandenong two years ago without realizing that we were close to the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport. It was an interesting museum for aviation buffs but the one at Temora puts it to shame. The one at Temora puts them all to shame. The Australian National Aviation Museum suffers from way too little funding and way too few willing volunteers. Temora's success is entirely due to one man - David Lowy. (David is the son of Frank Lowy, the hugely successful Westfield Supermarket entrepreneur). David is a founder and the President of the Temora Museum and a generous sponsor.

However, enough of Temora. Moorabbin boasts the only surviving example in Australia of a Vickers Viscount ...

Moorabbin Viscount

VH-TVR John Murray had flown 21,213 hours. It now looks a little lost without its tail parts.

First, a little about John Murray after whom this aircraft was named. John was believed to have been born in Edinburgh in 1775; he became a seaman and explorer of Australia. As commander of the 'Lady Nelson' he was the first European to discover Port Phillip, the bay on which the cities of Melbourne and Geelong are situated. His illustrious career was curtailed when the Navy Board found out he had told porkies about his previous service in England and had not served the required full six years as he had claimed. Oops! As a punishment they took away the 'Lady Nelson' and refused to give him a full commission. John returned to England but there are stories that he did later earn the rank of captain. However, John Murray being a fairly common name, there may be confusion.

But back to the Viscount. As the picture above shows, the cabin windows have gone milky though the cockpit windows have been replaced. I was able to turn over one engine by pushing on a propeller blade. Inside, the cabin had seats fitted though not genuine Viscount seats.

Viscount Cabin

The cabin wasn't very interesting so we persuaded another visitor to give us her impression of a stewardess.
The thing that struck me immediately was that the blue of her hat didn't match her skirt. Did you notice?

Meanwhile, having no interest in this play-acting, I went through to start my cockpit checks.

Viscount Cockpit

Ah, this is more like it! . . . Starting number one. . . . Who needs play-acting?

Being serious for a moment, the guide who had allowed me to sit in the left hand seat nearly had apoplexy when I started moving the controls; he had visions of the undercarriage retracting and dumping the Viscount on its belly.

Of course, there were many, many more exhibits to see at Moorabbin and, to my delight, very many aero-engines, big and small. Some had been sectioned so you could see what went on inside.

The Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow.

Leaving Moorabbin we went in search of a caravan show that I'd heard about. I knew it was at a racecourse and thought it was at Sandown. The GPS took us to a padlocked gate at Sandown Racecourse and we could see enough to know there was no caravan show in progress there. Time to phone a friend.

No, Monika said, The caravan show is held at Caulfield Racecourse ... but not until March. You're too early. I knew there was currently a caravan show somewhere as I'd talked to a man who had just been to it. And it was definitely at a racecourse ... but which one? If only I'd listened more carefully. What the hell, we'd try Caulfield. The GPS took us there, the gates were open and there were people around.
Yes, said a helpful lady, There is a caravan show but it's at Flemington Racecourse.

Arriving (eventually) at Flemington we discovered the caravan show was at the nearby Melbourne Showground; Flemington Racecourse was being used only for car parking and there was a continuous stream of free buses shuttling back and forth. So we hopped onto one. The show closed for the day at five o'clock and the bus dropped us at ten to four. The merciless woman at the ticket office charged us the full entrance fee, just for the last hour. Bitch.

However, we were finally there, having visited three famous racecourses on the way (we missed Moonee Valley) and not seen a single horse. With only an hour to play with we were totally overfaced by a vast area holding hundreds of caravans and motor homes. We decided to zero in on the Jayco stand. Stand? It was a huge pavilion full of all the latest offerings. Before we had time to properly get our bearings we were pounced upon by a prowling salesman and before you could say Jack Robinson we were seriously considering purchasing a new 'van! Thank God the show was about to close for the day. We escaped to consider our options and by next morning we had come to our senses. ONLY $30,000 change-over price indeed. ONLY????

Hello again to Wendy.

Once again we met up with our lovely friend Wendy Storey whom we first met through this web site. Lovely to see you, Wendy.
Sand Sculptures at Frankston

Two years ago we visited the sand sculptures at Frankston. The Tour Director was hugely keen on going again as the old display had been replaced. We already devoted a page in the Miscellaneous section to pictures of the 2013 sculptures so I'll just show a couple of the new ones on this page. Doubtless the Tour Director will also put some in her journal.

Hint to anyone thinking of visiting Frankston: Avoid sunny Sunday afternoons to visit or you'll spend an hour in a stream of crawling cars circling each full car park in the hope of spotting someone about to leave. Parking inspectors wait to pounce should you use your initiative and leave your car on a patch of spare ground.

Disney Fairies

Disney Fairies. What talent these sculptors have.

Disney Princesses

This huge sculpture was called Disney Princesses.

Look what flew over the sand sculptures.

Giant Blimp

The Appliances Online Legendary Blimp was built in the U.S.A. and first flew from Riddell Airfield,
50 km north-west of Melbourne, in late 2014.

Registered VH-JVW, this airship was built by the American Blimp Corporation as their model A-60+. If I may quote from their website, Van Wagner Airship Group, the company’s blimp division, was formed through the key acquisitions of The Lightship Group and the American Blimp Corporation, and is proud to be the designer and manufacturer of the exclusive Lightship model blimps, the most popular advertising airships in the world. This airship is operated by Van Wagner Airships Australia. The A-60+ is powered by two German Limbach Flugmotoren L2000 four-stroke flat four air-cooled engines.

According to several internet sites, this is the only airship operating in the Southern Hemisphere and perhaps one of only twenty in the world. It is 39 metres long, 11 metres wide, 13.4 metres tall and filled with 1,784 cubic metres of helium. How fast does it fly? That depends on two things: The wind (strength and direction) and which particular internet site you choose to believe. Not fast by aircraft standards, anyway - probably on average about 48 km/hr (30 m.p.h.) in still air. Thus flying against a stiff breeze will reduce its ground speed to a crawl - and vice versa, of course. It is very much at the mercy of the weather and must head for home at the slightest hint of an electrical storm. 'Home', in the case of an airship, is a mooring mast to which the nose is tethered - the dangling ropes can be seen in the photo. If the turbulence associated with a severe electrical storm can bring down an A320 Airbus, imagine what it could do to a bag of gas.

On the positive side it makes a marvellously stable camera platform for still aerial photography and for televising sporting events with its ability to hover above a sports stadium. Events such as a yacht race could also be filmed at much lower cost than from a conventional aircraft or chopper. How about rush-hour traffic reports from over a city, advertising at the same time? Or shark watching along the beaches while advertising surf gear? The inside of the translucent envelope can be illuminated by two 1,000 watt lamps, (hence the name Lightship) so the blimp is able to provide advertising exposure over a city by day and night.

Regarding the economy of the blimp, all I could find on the 'net was that It uses less fuel in two weeks of operation than a 747 would to taxi to the end of a runway. Which means pecisely nothing.
Round Port Phillip Bay to Werribee

Leaving Dandenong South we dragged the caravan round the north side of Port Phillip Bay, skirting Melbourne, to Werribee South which was new territory for us. Let me tell you, that journey along the crowded M1 Motorway took years off my life - and I don't have that many to spare. It would have been okay without the caravan on tow; the 'van appreciably slows our acceleration and makes changing lanes much more difficult - what driver wants to have a caravan in front of him/her? Staying with the traffic meant pushing the Pajero harder than I like, but it does the job without complaint.

The caravan park at Werribee South is quite nice and we had no problem reversing onto our site. To get to the park though, we had to drive down a long bendy road with market gardens on both sides and thick mud on the road deposited by numerous tractors. Fortunately we never drove down it in the rain. The park is on the coast adjacent to the mouth of the Werribee River. Some recent development work has been undertaken around the water's edge and there are nice new walkways, barbecues and benches. A jetty has been constructed for fishing folk and it is well used.

From my perspective the park location is ideal, having RAAF Williams on one side and Avalon Airport on the other. There is a very nice aviation museum at RAAF Williams (which is situated at Point Cook) where there is an interactive flying display three times a week and it's free! I went twice and saw a very good demonstration of formation flying with three Winjeels and four CT/4s practising for the Avalon Airshow. One pilot got caught out when the formation turned left. He was on the right flank and therefore had to speed up quite a lot to remain on station. He was too slow and finished up well out of position, trying to catch up.

On landing, the aircraft parked right in front of the small crowd and the pilots come across to the fence to answer any questions. One little girl, in all innocence asked, If one plane gets left behind, do the others slow down to let it catch up? The crowd and the pilots just cracked up. The Squadron Leader handed the microphone to the offending Flight Lieutenant who entered into the spirit of it all, telling the little girl that he had just popped out of the formation to check that the others were all in the right place. That brought forth more laughter and some ribbing from his comrades.


Five of the team of seven taken earlier from outside our caravan.

The larger CA-25 Winjeel was designed and built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) in Melbourne. It entered service with the RAAF in 1955 as an ab-initio to advanced trainer and served in this role for twenty years. The other aircraft type in the formation, the smaller Pacific Aerospace CT/4, was built in New Zealand and took over the role of the Winjeels as they were retired. Ironically the basic design of the CT/4 was taken from an Australian designed and built aircraft, the Victa Aircruiser. Australia sold the rights for the Aircruiser to the Kiwis who developed the design into this very capable training aircraft and ... sold a quantity back to the Aussies. Not only to the Aussies but to several air forces around the globe. Today many are in private hands.
A Trip To The Werribee Open Range Zoo

Werribee Zoo Pam at Werribee Zoo Safari Bus

The Safari Bus, Doors Open, Ready to Load. It Consists of the Main Bus Towing Three Trailers. It Seats 142.

We found the Werribee Open Range Zoo very impressive, situated on 560 acres of parkland with the Werribee River flowing through it. The larger animals were able to roam almost unrestricted. Many of the species kept in the zoo are threatened with extinction and in one case can no longer be found in the wild. The zoo's aim is to breed from stock in Werribee and other zoos in order to bring up the numbers and eventually release animals back into the wild.

The 'Safari Bus' tour is fabulous. The glassless windows enable reflectionless photography. There are several large gates dividing the ranges of different animals and the driver of this 'road train' just pointed a remote control at them as we approached and they opened without the need to stop, closing behind us.
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator Memorial

In 1988, representatives from the seven RAAF squadrons that had previously flown Liberator long range heavy bombers met to discuss the possibility of locating a Liberator and restoring it to full working condition as a memorial to the aircraft, its contribution to the Allied war effort and all who had served on the type. The object: Not to fly the restored aircraft but to present it on permanent public display in full operational condition. This would be a huge undertaking as, of the 18,000 plus Liberators that had been built, less than ten still existed in the world and there were no known examples in the southern hemisphere. Notwithstanding this, the decision was made to try.

The next year, 1989, the search was on for any and all Liberator parts from anywhere in the world. It was learned that RAAF Liberator A72-176 had been retired in 1946 and stored at East Sale Airfield, Gippsland, Victoria, until 1948 when the wings and tail were removed and scrapped. The fuselage was sold to a Geoge Toye who moved it to the site of a house he was building. George lived in the fuselage until his house was complete after which the fuselage lay in bushland, abandoned for over forty years, open to wind and weather but ... it was still there! George's fuselage was the only one that could be found in the southern hemisphere.

An offer was made to George to purchase the fuselage provided wings and a tail could be found. In 1991 these parts were found on a crashed WW2 Liberator in Papua New Guinea and a year later, with a great deal of help, they were recovered and brought to an old hangar on a disused airfield in Werribee. George Toye was approached to obtain the fuselage but he had changed his mind and wanted to renegotiate. As a result it wasn't until 1995 that an agreement was reached and the fuselage was moved to Werribee. It was in a very poor state after spending fifty years in the open and work commenced to clean it up. It wasn't until the year 2000 that the wings were attached to the fuselage. The tail and wingtips cannot yet be attached due to lack of space but they have been restored. Five Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp 1830 engines have been obtained - one as a spare. They are not yet mounted on the wings, however they are all in working order and one is run up on one Sunday in each month. The public can attend.

Liberator and engine

Top: The Liberator in February 2015.     Lower: One of the 14-cylinder radial engines ready for mounting.

A team of volunteers, including some WW2 B-24 veterans in their 90s, have achieved a tremendous amount since 1988 on what must have seemed an impossible task. While the aircraft looks near completion, there is still an enormous amount of work to do before it can again be started up and taxied.
The Avalon Air Show

Now from a WW2 aircraft to everything from WW1 examples to the very latest.

Biplanes and Triplane

A scene from a century ago; biplanes and a triplane engaged in a mock dogfight.

Sopwith Camel F1

The Sopwith Camel F1 Fighter first flew in 1916. It was powered by a 'rotary' engine - see below.

A rotary engine, not to be confused with a radial engine, employs the strange concept of rotating the whole engine around a stationery crankshaft with the propeller bolted to the engine and rotating with it. Crazy? Wait, it gets worse. Many rotary engines had no throttle, they were at full power permanently and the only way to slow them for landing was by means of a 'blip' button which temporarily cut the engine's ignition when pressed. The engine in the Camel was a French-designed Clerget 9B 9-cylinder rotary engine and it did have a throttle but it was so complicated to use that pilots preferred to use the blip button.

The huge torque created by this large engine hurtling round made the Camel a difficult aircraft to fly but its idiosyncrasies could be put to advantage by a skilled pilot. For example, dogfights were largely a matter of bringing your guns to bear on the enemy aircraft and if you could turn tighter than your opponent you stood a good chance of putting some bullets into him. The torque produced by this Clerget engine caused the aircraft to constantly try to turn right. This could be exploited by a pilot to turn very tightly in that direction, (though the opposite applied when turning left).

The Camel in the photo was taxiing in, the pilot giving quick bursts of power. And what about that tail 'wheel'? Who needs brakes?

Super Hornet

At the other end of the spectrum ... Super Hornet, Boeing F/A-18F (A44-216), was delivered to Amberley in July 2011.

Interesting to note that, now the Super Hornet is in service, the 'old' Hornets have become 'Classic Hornets'.

Super Hornet

Three Super Hornets supposedly refuelling. Have to get a bit closer than that, guys.

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