Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sunderland Flying Boats, Clarence River

One thing I noticed a little while ago when posting Clarence Valley timeline was the reference to the start of the Sunderland Flying Boat service in 1948.

This photo from the Clarence River Historical Society shows the planes on the River.

Until I saw this reference I had no idea that such a service had once existed, yet another thing that I did not know about New England's history.

Nor did I know that P G Taylor had used the river as a set down point. Quoting:

By 1951 the final ocean to be traversed for air travel was the South Pacific between Australia and South America. On 13 March 1951 Captain P.G. Taylor set off from the flying boat base at Rose Bay in Sydney with a crew of four. They made a shakedown flight to Grafton, NSW, landing on the Clarence River, and next morning headed east for South America. Stops were made at Noumea; Fiji; Samoa; Cook Islands; Tahiti; and Mangareva, French Oceania and then Easter Island before arriving in Valparaiso on 26th. March 1951.


Terry Powell said...

P G Taylor was flying a PBY Catalina "Frigate Bird 2" that is now in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

Terry Powell

Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you, Terry. I din't know that. I will go and have a look!

David Gregor said...

Jim is correct abot PG Taylor's last great ocean exploration in 1951.

I was not quite six when Frigate Bird 2 passed over our house 4 miles south of Maclean on their way to Noumea.

About 4 years later PG Taylor also departed from Grafton in his Sunderland one a pacific tour cruise with passengers. He also flew over our house again - it was big news on local radio those days - se we knew when to look for him.

Twelve years later I saw Frigate Bird 2 covered in bird droppings in teh back of the Qantas hangar at Rose Bay. The PBY was later rescued & restored - now hangs in the Power House Museum Sydney.

Incidently I descovered just recently that Taylors Sunderland
later operated under French ownership around Tahiti and also is now preserved in the French aviation museum near Paris.

David Gregor
Retired Qantas Engineer

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, David. Really appreciate this comment. I still have to get to the museum!