The Heritage Centre at RAAF Base Wagga was originally opened in 1995 as the ‘RAAF Museum – Wagga Annex’ to provide a focus on the RAAF’s 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. As the last remaining Riverina World War II Base within a network of bases incorporating Narrandera, Temora, Deniliquin, Tocumwal and Uranquinty; this 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 on going 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 Heritage Centre supports numerous RAAF Associations and will continue to maintain these strong historical regional specific links.
The high standard of the 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 Heritage Centre
The housing of the 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 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
- Sabre which was a second generation fighter and deployed on stand-by during the Malayan Emergency.
- Mirage which was a third generation fighter and was involved in deployments through Asia.
- F1-11. In 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 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.
Inside the 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.
RAAF Base Wagga Heritage Centre
RAAF Base Wagga
Forest Hill NSW 2651
Open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays
10am to 4pm.
Entry is free.
In addition to the Heritage Centre, RAAF Base Wagga has a display of static aircraft at the front gate which can be viewed at any time. In May 2011, a refurbishment program was carried out on the aircraft, to improve their condition for the next 10 to 15 years.