RAAF Base Wagga AVIATION HERITAGE CENTRE
The Aviation Heritage Centre at RAAF Base Wagga was originally opened in 1995 as the ‘RAAF Museum – Wagga Annex’ to provide a focus on the RAAFs involvement in the Riverina and to provide access to the history and memorabilia of military aviation and military training. The facility was closed for building repairs in 2003 and re-opened as the newly named ‘RAAF Wagga Heritage Centre’ in 2010 (now known as the RAAF Wagga Aviation Heritage Cente). As the last remaining Riverina World War II Base within a network of bases incorporating Narrandera, Temora, Deniliquin, Tocumwal, Cootamundra and Uranquinty; this Aviation Heritage Centre represents the only repository for regional specific RAAF memorabilia.
Memorabilia, photographs and documents on display are intended to represent the activities of the wider region during World War II and the subsequent activities at RAAF Base Wagga. The process of collecting and maintaining appropriate history and memorabilia is ongoing and the Centre strives to maintain pace with modern restorative processes to present the RAAF in a positive light. With the advent of numerous anniversaries of significant military events in recent years, the Centre has become an important adjunct to the promotion of present day RAAF activities and tourism for Wagga. The Aviation Heritage Centre supports numerous RAAF Associations and will continue to maintain these strong historical regional specific links.
The high standard of the Aviation Heritage Centre and surrounds are a tribute to the many personnel who spent countless hours (often in their own time) in establishing and maintaining the Centre. The Wagga community and service clubs and local businesses contributed significant resources into the development of the Centre and surrounds, and donated some of the original memorabilia and displays. The original RAAF Museum – Wagga Annex was a concept proposed by a group of enthusiasts headed by Wing Commander Brian Duddington and progressed through the significant efforts of RAAF Base Wagga personnel, particularly Flight Sergeant Doug Vickers and Mrs Gabi McCormack. Ongoing maintenance and administration of the Centre and exhibits are now the responsibility of a composite team of serving, ex-serving, Defence Civilian and contractor personnel, who willingly volunteer their own time to ensure that this important link with the Riverina is maintained.
FEATURES OF THE AVIATION HERITAGE CENTRE
The housing of the Aviation Heritage Centre in the old guardhouse is significant, as this was the first building established at RAAF Base Wagga in 1940. It also represents the most accessible point to the public. The guardhouse itself has an interesting history. Its 50 years of functioning as a guardhouse and telephone switch provided the Base with effective communications and a secure access point. It’s imposing external structure and internal cells also served as a deterrent to thousands of trainees and apprentices who might be tempted to transgress the strict discipline codes of the RAAF.
One of the striking features of the Base is the static aircraft at the front gate, next to the Aviation Heritage Centre. These aircraft represent over 50 years of RAAF flying history and are accessible for the public to view and photograph. On display are:
- Canberra Bomber which saw active service in Vietnam
- Meteor which was the first jet engined fighter introduced into RAAF service. The Meteor saw active service in the Korean War.
- Macchi aircraft – The RAAFs first Macchi flew in Italy during April 1967 and was then shipped to Australia and handed over by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) in October 1968. The Macchi replaced the Vampire and Winjeel aircraft in an attempt to establish an all-jet form of pilot training.
- Mirage which was a third generation fighter and was involved in deployments through Asia.
- F-111C. On 09 Apr 74 – A8-142 it was used in an around Australia record breaking flight. It took just 12 hours 30 minutes to fly form Amberley to Darwin, Perth, Edinburgh, Point Cook, Amberley. Crew were WGCDR Ray Funnell, SQNLDR John Miller.
Outside the Aviation Heritage Centre, are specially developed gardens and picnic areas. A commemorative section has been developed for No. 31 Squadron Beaufighters formed in Wagga on 14 Aug 1942 and disbanded at the close of WWII , the only operational squadron to be based at RAAF Base Wagga. No 31 (City of Wagga Wagga) Squadron was reformed on 01 Jul 2010
Inside the Aviation Heritage Centre are important photographs and memorabilia to represent over 50 years of service to the RAAF and the local region. Some elements of history have been classified into trade training, catering and supply, ceremonial and the apprentice training for ease of viewing. Other important elements of the history of RAAF Wagga’s functions are spread throughout the display rooms; including a community room dedicated to 31 Squadron Beaufighters.
RAAF BASE WAGGA AVIATION HERITAGE CENTRE
RAAF Base Wagga
Forest Hill NSW 2651
Open 10 am to 4pm Saturday to Thursday (closed Friday, unless by appointment)
Entry is free.