During my visit to Swan Hill, for the AAAA Spring Fly-in and AGM, I took the opportunity to visit the nearby Flying Boat Museum at Lake Boga, about 10 kilometres south of the town.
During World War II, Lake Boga was a major centre for military flying boat maintenance – it was outside the range of enemy aircraft and, long before the days of satellite surveillance, was well away from prying eyes. The facility serviced over 400 aircraft during its short 4-year life and about 1,000 RAAF and WAAF personnel were based there.
Until recently, the main attraction – a complete but alas un-flyable Catalina flying boat – was parked outside, with other exhibits displayed in the underground communications bunker. However, in 2012, after many hours of work by the Lions Club of Swan Hill, the Catalina was restored and moved into a newly constructed hangar, which now also hosts a large collection of memorabilia and photos.
The communications bunker has also been restored to look as it did in the 40’s, using plans and photos from the time.
All the service hangars and personnel quarters have now disappeared, although the three main slipways, where the aircraft were towed out of and into the water still remain. The 3 miles long by 2 miles wide lake is tranquil and, on the day we visited, sunny and warm with families picnicking on the grass banks.
Well worth a visit if you’re in the area. The entry charge includes a 20-minute video about the base, from its origins in 1942 right up to the present day, as well as access to the communications bunker. At $10 a head or $20 for a family of 4 you can’t go wrong