Flying Boats and Botany Bay

R.A.A.F pagent seaplane testing on the Cooks River
Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria

Have you ever seen a flying boat? If it wasn’t for the sometimes shallow and choppy waters of Botany Bay, they could have been a common sight in the area.

In 1937 the Federal Government had to choose a location for Sydney’s ‘sea-drome’. Its two options couldn’t have been more different. On one hand was Rose Bay, which was strongly opposed to the development. On the other was Mascot, which was happy for the investment and infrastructure the drome would bring.

Despite the Government’s choice of Rose Bay, a number of seaplanes have taken off in the Botany area.
In 1925 Sir Lawrence Wackett test flew for his ‘Widgeon’ aircraft on the Bay . Then in 1939, the Maritime Services Board was forced to turn the Cook’s River into a training ground for pilots, because of overcrowding in Rose Bay and Sydney Harbour.

The Widgeon on the water, Botany Bay
Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria

Back then the Cook’s River flowed right beside the original aerodrome at Mascot giving easy access to the water. Talk of a joint marine and land airplane base at Mascot continued until 1950s. It was only the growing popularity of jet planes that put an end to the conversation.

The Cook’s River in 1948 before it was diverted. Check out Google maps and see what the area looks like today.    Adstra Airways

Seaplane slipping into the Cooks River using telegraph poles.As airplane workshops were based at Mascot, many seaplanes or their engines were brought here for repairs.

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