The RAAF townsville Museum at RAAF Base Garbutt, Townsville

by David Harvey


On one of my trips to Townsville I stopped in to see the RAAF Townsville Museum. The Museum is located on the RAAF Base and accesed from the main road via a gate, there is no access from, or to, the Base itself. The Museum is free and relies on sales from the souveneir shop and donatiosn. It has a staff of all volunteers that have a great knowledge of the displays and history of military activities in Townsville over the years. I was guided through the displays by John Richmond. An interesting side note to this visit is that John knew my father and my family during the 1970's as he worked at the primary school that we went to.

The Museum has a number of displays that consist of photo boards or a number of artifacts. The displays cover:

Outdoor display

The outdoor display has a number of pieces of equipment ranging from a 3.7in AA Gun to pieces of aircraft. There are propellers from Catalina's, Mosquito and Thunderbolt as well as a few tanks including a Kittyhawk Belly tank and a P-51 reserve tank. Around the back of the Museum is the remains of two Iriquois helicopters consisting of the Tail of A-2102? and half the fueslage of A2-382. There are also a number of other displays outside.

Nissan hut displays

The displays in the huts currently cover the following areas:

a. WAAAF and WRAAF display;

b. Research library;

c. Communication display;

d. Link Trainer;

e. Air Traffic control display;

f. Army Aviation display;

g. 80 SQN display; and

h. A national Service Display.

Townsville Display area

This display covers the various airfields that were used during WWII, including:

a. Stockroute airfield;

b. Aitkenvale airfield;

c. Ross River airfield;

d. Bohle airfield;

e. Garbutt airfield; and

f. Ten Squadron.

Caribou display area

This is an interactive display that covers the history and exploits of the Caribou.

There are a number of other displays in the museum including:

a. A navigation display,

b. American display covering the 5th Air force and 4th Air Depot,

c. Uniform display,

d. Coral Sea display, and

e. Bomb, missile and engine display.

The Muesum shop is only a small affair but has a number of the Stewart Wilson 'in Australian service' publications as well as a great variety of cloth badges. For those interested in photograpy you may be lucky and run into David Brock who was working in the shop when I was there. David kindly showed me his photo albums that he has accumulated over the years. This is a VERY comprehensive collection of aircraft photos that David has taken with permission of the Base Commander. David has been allowed free reign over the base with his camera's and has managed to take a great number of good quality photos of the aircraft and people of the base.

This is an interesting little Museum that tries to cover an important chunk of Townsvilles history. It is only a small museum and as such the displays are not extensive but cover enough to give you an idea on what happened during the war until the present. So if you are visiting Townsville I reccommend that you pay a visit to the museum and have a chat to the guides. It only requires an hour or two of your time but this can blow out to longer if you start talking to the guides as I did.

Opening hours

The museum is open three days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am to 12pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm.

Ph/fax: 07 475 21712

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