On a cold grey morning, hello! The March newsletter does seem to have been ‘just the other day’, but in real time an awful lot of work and effort has been contributed by your committee and member / volunteers, across a range of matters. My sincere thanks to you all.
Our Rathmines service was outstanding, the weather was perfect and amongst the large gathering were numerous families of veterans, with some travelling from Queensland and Victoria.
RAAF support was excellent with attendance by members of 11SQN, RAAF Edinburgh SA including Wing Commander Simon van der Wijngaart, Squadron Leader Justin Hill and Warrant Officers Luke Baade and Stewart Hassall
In attendance also was Squadron Leader Darren Prior of 20SQN, RAAF Woomera.
The words and service conducted by Chaplain - Wing Commander James Cox from RAAF Williamtown was appreciated, as was the presence of the Air Cadets from 316SQN, led by Wing Commander Paul Moro.
Our thanks to Penny and Rob Furner for their part in making the day run smoothly.
RCA Festival, Sunday, May 19th
A wonderful day. The move from an October event to May worked well and the very large crowd were extremely positive in their feedback.
Organisation of the Rathmines Catalina Festival requires enormous commitment and effort from a key group of members, our thanks go to them and in particular to our stalwart Terry Woolard. Similarly, the set up and pull down in the days before and after required many hours given willingly by members and volunteers.
The unserviceability of ‘Felix’, the Black Cat was a disappointment, but the fly past by the two DC-3s from HARS was special indeed.
In summary, positive and happy comments from the crowd confirmed our view that the entertainment, the variety of food stalls, car show and air display combined to make the day a huge success. A special feature, joy flights in the Grumman Mallard, proved a great success.
Financially the Festival was a success with funds raised contributing to the restoration of the Catalina ‘Our Girl’. RCA is extremely grateful for the assistance provided by our sponsors including: Centennial Coal, Kennards Hire, Lake Macquarie City Council (LMCC), Origin Energy, Macquarie Manufacturing, Fly Pelican, Newcastle Machinery Sales, Pumps 2000 and Shannons.
Rathmines Park and our relocation - an ongoing story
To recap briefly: LMCC is the landholder of Rathmines Park, which in recognition of its wartime role, is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register. In 2019 a new Conservation Management Plan (CMP) was completed and forwarded to NSW Heritage Office for approval. That approval is imminent. Once approved the CMP will allow LMCC to start the process of developing an overall Management Plan for the park.
We have been in frequent contact with Council staff on the matter and of late have expressed our frustration about the lack of progress. As a result, last week five senior Council staff met with RCA committee members. Following two hours of discussion we were confident that they understand our need to relocate and complete the restoration in time to participate in the proposed RAAF Centenary celebrations in 2021.
I receive many comments along the lines of ‘why can’t they just approveit...it is a no brainer’. I agree, but the Park is public land and the process has to be transparent and include input from all interested parties. We will work closely with council staff over the coming months to ensure a hangar is on the agenda for Rathmines Park.
Linked to the RAAF 2021 Centenary celebrations is very strong support from the RAAF (Williamtown) and from our Patron, Retired Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin for the Rathmines Catalina project. On that note, in early July, we’ll be privileged to have our Patron, Mark Binskin meet with us at Rathmines.
Other pertinent matters
Due to significant commitments there will be no Festival in 2020. The next Festival is proposed for Sunday May 30th, 2021.
Over the next couple of months, we have some of the committee away on personal matters and so the AGM will be a date to be set in October. I expect there will be a couple of vacancies and if you are interested in being involved or wish to talk about any of the newsletter content please call or email me.
The RCA is in very good shape, both financially and in community engagement.
Just a reminder it’s time to renew your Membership - notices have been sent out. On behalf of the committee I would like to express our gratitude for your membership and we look forward to your ongoing support.