Back in October, the day after the Referendum and the day after I sold my home, an interesting group of Motafrenz gathered in the carpark of the Aircraft Railway Station. Today was to be a day of aircraft, Air Force, a closed attraction, and a great barbecue gathering with a fantastic mix of people.
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. My regular carpool buddy, Gordon, agreed to come by and pick me up at 9:30am from my flat in Deer Park – the aforementioned sold home. Uncharacteristically, he was 15 minutes early! An early elderly Queen – what is the world coming to? We decided that we may as well just leave and make the short journey down to Laverton, grab a coffee, and just wait for others to arrive.
As you may know, the Aircraft Railway Station is named for its proximity to the Air Force base – formerly RAAF Laverton, now part of the amalgamated RAAF Williams. The station is right beside the entrance to the base, and only meters from the Princes Freeway. The other part of the base was previously known as RAAF Point Cook, and is the location of our first stop for the day.
RAAF Williams at Point Cook is Australia’s first military air base. Established in 1914, it pre-dates the Royal Australian Air Force by seven years, and today remains one of the oldest continually operated airfields in the world. Upon arrival at the base, we were fortunate enough to see the RAAF Cadets practicing their drills and formations – no photos allowed on Australian military establishments other than in museum zones, so I am unable to show you the dedication these young people have to the craft.
Some of you may know that I served in the Royal Australian Navy for some time. (I am reliably informed a fully fledged Navy Seal! – Ed). Seeing this drill practice made me nostalgic – I had a love-hate relationship with drill. It was beautiful, but a fair pain-in-the-arse most of the time.
You might also know that I get easily distracted when I write and often get off topic…
Once at the carpark at the museum, I realised that I failed to take pictures of the cars at the meeting point, and I hastily (and against the rules) took some outside the museum.
We then went inside and were met with three large hangers of displays from all war, war-like, and peacekeeping activities from the Australian Flying Corps’ involvement in the Great War, to the establishment of the Royal Australian Air Force (the world’s second oldest air force), to more recent activities. It’s a fantastic facility – only 20km from the CBD – and it’s free! If you haven’t been, you should!
The next stop was the Point Cook Homestead. This is the first residence of the Chirnside Family who would later go on to build their mansion at Werribee which, at the time, was the largest private residence in the Colony. Anyway, the planned itinerary of the day said we will “visit the Point Cook Homestead”, it mentioned nothing about going inside, which was fortunate, as the bloody thing was closed! Everyone was gracious enough not to mention my planning failure (or perhaps I was just smart enough not to listen). Well, I was already hungry by this stage, so off we went to the Coastal Park for lunch.
Lunch today was planned as a supplied barbecue using the leftover sausages and soft drinks from the previous month’s Show and Shine. It was a hit, and enjoyed by all. This part, in fact, was my favourite part of the day. The fifteen attendees gathered around the barbecue, having a chat, telling a joke, and just generally enjoying each other’s company. After lunch, we took a short walk down to look at the beach – having lived in the Western Suburbs since childhood, this was actually my first time there. It was nice, but today it was probably a bit too cold to enjoy it fully.
More chats were had in the carpark as we were preparing to leave – which included many drive-bys from the Parks Victoria Ranger. I was informed he was likely monitoring “beat” activities – again, this may have been a planning failure or an added bonus, having lunch at an active daytime beat. Horses for courses.
At the very end, some of us went over to Matt’s house to see his collection of variously-abled Citroens, and his beautiful Crown. I do hope he gets the Crown into condition so I can a ride in it at a future Club event. And just before I go, don’t forget the next military-themed trip is next month. Please pre-register as I need to book tickets to the HMAS Cerberus Open Day – I’ll see you there!
Words and photos by Paul Hollingworth.