This week, with all the rain and wind around, Roy decided he wanted to hide out at home. He really doesn't like water, and he told me he was sure that there were a few places which he had visited which had 'slipped under the radar' and not been written up. I wasn't so sure, but thought it couldn't hurt to double check so, we searched through the archives of photographs to see what we could find and indeed, Roy was right! Some months ago we visited Anderson Park in North Sydney's Neutral Bay for a picnic with Roy's uncle and were surprised to find out it had a fascinating past, so this week we want to share it's story with you.
Anderson Park is a lovely area, right on the shores of Sydney's picturesque Neutral Bay. Bounded by beautiful, mature Morton Bay Figs, Anderson Park feels like a fantastic retreat from city life. The park is situated on mudflats which were reclaimed in the 1890s when storm water drains, emptying into the bay, were put in. To get to the park, catch the ferry to Neutral Bay Wharf or the train to North Sydney Station and walk. If you come from the station though, be prepared to walk up hill to get back! This waterfront park is not particularly large, yet it has a big history, being the place where Sir Charles Kingsford Smith took off on his trans-pacific flight with P. G. Taylor in 1934! Kingsford Smith had been a pilot in the First World War and continued to fly after the war ended. He made many pioneering flights and was actually knighted for his services to aviation in 1932, two years before his pioneering trans-pacific flight! If you would like to learn more about Kingsford Smith click here.
Kingsford Smith purchased the single engine Lockheed Altair plane which was used in the trans-pacific flight to take part in a London to Melbourne race. The race was part of the Victoria Centenary Celebrations and was sponsored by Sir Macpherson Robertson. The prize was 10,000 pounds, a huge amount of money at the time - after all, Kingsford Smiths entire estate was only valued at 12,875 pounds when he died! Unfortunately for Kingsford Smith, alterations needed to be made to the plane and they were not completed by the time the race began. He decided to fly the plane to America and look for somebody to buy it.
After being denied permission to take off from Sydney's Macquarie Street by the local council, the plane was transported by barge across the harbour to Neutral Bay and wheeled into Anderson Park. Kingsford Smith had wanted to call the plane ANZAC, but due to objections he and Taylor covered the name stenciled on the plane with paper and renamed her the Lady Southern Cross. As they took off though, the paper apparently blew off, revealing the original name. If you would like to see pictures taken on the day they took off, visit the NSW State Library website by clicking here. There is a memorial in Anderson Park, near the water, commemorating this pioneering flight.
The plane was not bought in the end, and in 1935 he had it transported to England where he planned with J. T. Pethybridge to fly it from London to Australia. It would have been another record breaking flight for Kingsford Smith. They took off on November 6, but the plane and both pilots were lost.