Rose Bay Flying Boat Base - 1939
QEA hangar under constructionControl OfficePassenger Terminal on the ground floorShell fuel bargeCivil Air Ensign - click here for moreiconic 'signpost to the world' - see poster below

The terminal at Sydney/Rose Bay flying boat base photographed in mid 1939. The control office was located upstairs while passengers were processed on the lower level. In the background is the skeleton of the Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) hangar which was completed in October 1939. Note the Shell refuelling barge tied up to the jetty. At this time the flying boats moored offshore and passengers were taken to and from the aircraft by launch.

A public swimming enlosure was situated immediately to the right of the jetty, with a slipway and maintenance apron out of shot to the left.

Rose Bay was constructed as the new terminus of the UK to Australia air mail route following agreement to implement the Empire Air Mail Scheme using the 'giant' new Short C Class Empire Flying Boats. Amid a certain degree of controversy among local residents, Rose Bay was officially opened on 4 August 1938 by Lord Huntingfield, acting Governor-General of Australia. Following the cutting of a ribbon linking the aircraft to the shore, Empire Flying Boat G-AEUB Camilla, under command of QEA Captain Lester Brain, departed for the UK carrying eight passengers, 265 pounds of freight and 207 pounds of mail.

The first flights under the Empire Air Mail Scheme took place when VH-ABF Cooee departed Southampton, UK, on 4 August, arriving Sydney on the 13th. The first service from Sydney departed on 9 August using G-AETV Coriolanus, under command to Singapore of Captain G U 'Scotty' Allan with R B Tapp. This service arrived in the UK on 19 August. Click here to see an air mail cover carried on this flight.

(Photo: CAHS/Ivan Hodder collection)

Click here to see photos of Short S23 Empire Flying Boat G-AETX at Rose Bay in 1939

Click here to see an aerial photo of the Rose Bay flying boat base, c.1942-43

Compare this photo with a similar view c.1950


click here for a larger version of this poster

The Skyways are Today's Highways, c.1940.

This poster presents an idealised view from the balcony of the Rose Bay terminal. The signpost was actually at ground level and can be seen at right in the photo above.

In the poster it reads slightly differently to the real thing, from top to bottom: To Australia / To New Zealand / To Netherlands East Indies / To Malaya and India / To Egypt and Africa / By Empire Flying Boat.

Click on the poster to see a larger version.

(Poster: Qantas)

Back to the main Airports & Aerodromes index


If this page appears without a menu bar at top and left, click here