AIRPORT MINI MUSEUM – Self-Operated and Open All Hours
Amy Johnson Memorial and Historical Wool Scour Site
Amy Johnson pioneer aviatrix landed in Quilpie by mistake.
In February 1928, Brisbane turned on huge public displays to welcome Bundaberg’s Bert Hinkler, the first man to fly solo from England to Australia. Four months later Brisbane cheered home Charles Kingsford Smith and his Southern Cross team after the first trans-Pacific flight from America.
In 1930, just two years later, Amy Johnson was 26 and had only been flying for a year, but she dreamed of upstaging the two Queenslanders known as the Monarchs of the Air. Her father helped her buy a small second-hand aircraft that she called “Jason”, which she turned into a petrol tank with wings for her epic quest.
Topping Hinkler’s England to Australia record of 15 days was her goal, and travelling in a machine with an open cockpit and top speed of 140km/h she rocketed through windstorms, rainstorms, sandstorms, freezing cold and tropical heat. She was ahead of Hinkler’s time, until a series of crash landings and bad weather over Myanmar and Thailand wrecked her plans.
Finally, 19 days after leaving London, she arrived in Darwin on May 24, 1930. She was scheduled to fly onto Brisbane via Charleville, using the railway line as a navigation aid. Her map, being out-dated, showed that the railway line ended in Charleville, so when she sited it she did not realise that the line now ended in Quilpie …and that’s where she landed, by mistake.
After re-fuelling in Quilpie, she then flew to Charleville and continued onto Brisbane, where she landed after dark with the aid of headlights from 20 cars. Crowds gathered from across Queensland to see her and trusty Jason after their epic flight.
Her aircraft can be seen in the Science Museum in London. She received worldwide attention as well as a CBE in recognition of her achievement and, was also honoured with the No. 1 civil pilot’s licence under Australia’s 1921 Air Navigation Regulations.
Historical Wool Scour Site
Wool is regarded as both a high-quality and environmentally friendly fibre. These two factors are extremely important in maintaining wool fibre’s position in the global fibre market. Greasy wool contains substantial amounts of natural contaminants, such as wool wax, dirt and suint (water-soluble material), as well as pesticide residues from the treatment of the sheep to prevent disease. These contaminants are removed during the wool-scouring process and are discharged as an effluent that is high in pollutants.
The Quilpie bore was sunk in 1933 and introduced a reliable water supply, enabling the development of a wool scour by Mark Hulse and Percy Thompson on the current airport site. The facility provided work for shearers in the off-season and greatly increased profits, due to the difference in prices of scoured and greasy wool.
In 1939 Council agreed to provide a mains water supply, which was able to deliver 99,000 gallons per day to allow for the scour’s operation. The scour was one of the only secondary industries in town and though small, employing approximately ten people, its impact was important.
The wool boom in the late 1940s and early 1950s undermined the viability of the scour, as prices were so good for wool that cleaning made little difference. Another factor affecting the scour was the higher rates charged by the Railways Department for the carting of scoured wool. These factors contributed to the eventual closure of the Quilpie wool scour operations.
Time has turned and, today, the grease (Lanolin) in a bale of wool is worth almost as much to the wool scourers as the actual fleece. But that’s nothing compared to some of the highly-priced products that lanolin ends up in. It’s the ultimate in product value-adding. Cosmetics selling for hundreds of dollars rely heavily on the wool grease. And while it often does the heavy lifting in beauty products, it’s rarely given the credit. Until now.