Monday, June 14, 2010

RAAF Wallgrove Aerodrome - yet more on another Sydney airstrip - AKA OTC Doonside

Getting confused yet? The WWII airstrip at Wallgrove (or Doonside) is just 3km or so from the Fleurs airstrip. Sydney was ringed with the darned things, apparently. This one was located near a WWII US Army base, apparently. It was a satellite airfield.

Wallgrove Aerodrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wallgrove Aerodrome was a Royal Australian Air Force satellite and emergency airfield at Doonside, New South Wales, Australia during World War II.

The aerodrome was built in 1942 and the runway was 5000ft (1524m) long and 150ft (45.72m) wide running NW-SW. After World War 2 the aerodrome was closed in 1946 and reverted to farmland.

A number of former revetments are still in existence and the runway can still be located. A industrial area has been built over the southern end of the aerodrome.
This is Darug people's land and important Bungarribee Creek catchment. The location is also within historic "Bungarribee" farmland in what is now Western Sydney Parklands. Bungarribee is bounded to the west by the M7 Motorway, to the south by the Great Western Highway and to the east by Doonside Road. Some of the airfield has been lost to the south and east by development.

The map is a composite of images found on the web, overlaid on a Google Map view of the area.

"The military’s interest in the site was for the construction of an airfield to serve as a training site and as an overshoot runway for the nearby Schofields airbase. A runway was constructed of compressed gravel with aircraft hides and taxi ways to the south. The runway extended on the southern side of Bungarribee Creek, in a southwesterly direction from close to the junction of Eastern and Bungarribee Creeks, crossing Doonside Road and ending near McCormack Street (Arndell Park), approximately 1.8km in length." NSW Planning "Bungarribee Homestead" documentation
Post-war the site was released by the RAAF into the hands of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, a government body set up to take over what had been mostly coastal marine HF communications held in private as well as public, including wartime RAN, hands. This new body handled international telecoms in a similar manner to the handling of domestic communications by the PMG. Later OTC was merged with Telecom Australia to form the original Telstra. Telstra being subsequently privatised. More historical detail may be found here.

The Wallgrove airfield site thus became the "OTC HF Transmission (Doonside)" establishment, complementing the "Receiving (Bringelly) station". I presume that's also the RAAF site at Bringelly. Or perhaps adjacent to the RAAF?

Previous to Doonside, Sydney Radio (VIS) was established on a 40 acre site at Pennant Hills in 1912, remaining in place for various services until after the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. 
The Pennant Hills site, as it is now in 2014 (Google Maps image). More Pennant Hills OTC history may be found here. Long-range HF operations were subsequently moved to La Perouse in February 1927. In 1956 a new HF transmitting station opened at Doonside which was remotely controlled from La Perouse. See also this Coastradio site. And this extensive exOTC History.

Sources include NSW Planning, Ozatwar and exOTC.

Don't forget to checkout Fleurs, just 3km by air to the south and west.  Or perhaps Mt Druitt, about the same distance (or less!) to the west.

Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.  

There is also an excellent heritage study available from NSW Environment and Heritage. On that page search for "World War II Aerodromes and Associated Structures in NSW".

No comments: