Another piece of wartime history – the Catalina Museum, Lake Boga, Vic

After a peaceful camp alongside Lake Boga we set off to visit the Catalina Museum. I had no idea what to expect and didn’t really know anything about flying boats.

The museum is sponsored by the local Lions Club and they have done an incredible job. It’s a really fabulous little museum. I didn’t know that Lake Boga played a huge part in the war effort in Australia. I’d never heard of Lake Boga. The story goes that after the Japanese attack on Broome in 1941 both Lake Kangaroo and Lake Boga were inspected and Lake Boga was chosen to be the top secret site for the No 1 RAAF Flying Boart Repair Depot. Lake Boga was chosen mainly because it is round and the flying boats could land from any direction. It didn’t matter which way the wind was blowing.

Lake Boga saw its first flying boat on July 12, 1942 when a quantity of stores and equipment was flown in by a Catalina Flying Boat. Over the time of its operation the Lake Boga Flying Boat Repair Depot serviced over 416 aircraft with various aircraft such as Catalinas, Dorniers, Martin Mariners, Walrus, Kingfisher and Sunderlands.

The museum houses the original underground communications bunker and the bunker now displays communications equipment of the era. As the mission was top secret only personnel that had top security clearance could enter the bunker.

Lake Boga covers an area of 1000 heactares (2000 acres) and has only run dry twice in recorded history. The last was in 2008. This enabled the Lions Club to arrange to the removal from the lake bed of the huge concrete mooring buoys that had been left behind after the war. These huge blocks, some with chains still attached, weigh 2 tonnes each.

When you enter the museum, after passing past the huge concrete mooring blocks in the carpark, you are greeted by the volunteer staff. You are directed to the the outdoors first to view the underground bunker display. This is followed by a 20 minute film in their little theatrette. Then you go into the museum proper where they have an actual Catalina Flying Boat A24-30 on display as well as lots of memorabilia from the time that Lake Boga was part of the war effort.

You can actually climb up a ladder at the rear of the Catalina and look inside. It must have been very hot/or cold inside those things and I imagine when the engines were running it would have been very noisy.

Over the time the Repair Depot was active there were flying crews from Australia, the US and the Netherlands stationed there. There was also the repair and support crews of men and women of the RAAF and WAAF.

These flying boats played a significant part in Australia’s war effort by bombing, supplying troops on the ground, reconnaissance and ferrying equipment.

What a fabulous museum! We spent a good 2 hours there and could probably have spent longer but we had to continue our journey along the Murray River.


One thought on “Another piece of wartime history – the Catalina Museum, Lake Boga, Vic

  1. Just love reading of your adventures Jenny. We are really looking forward to our own adventures in Tasmania after reading your story


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