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Point Cook Air Base, Aviation Rd, Point Cook, VIC, Australia

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List National Heritage List
Class Historic
Legal Status Listed place (31/10/2007)
Place ID 105671
Place File No 2/12/053/0006
Summary Statement of Significance
RAAF Base Point Cook was established in 1913 by the Federal Government as Australia’s first military flying school- the Central Flying School. From this modest beginning Australia became the only British dominion to set up a flying corps of its own for service during World War One.
 
RAAF Base Point Cook is important as the first military aviation base in Australia and as the birthplace of the RAAF in 1921. The RAAF, formed on the 31 March 1921, was the second professional air force in the world, established three years later than the British Royal Air Force. In these roles, over almost a ninety-year period from 1914, RAAF Base Point Cook had a special association with Australian military forces as the focus of training for the Australian air force, including training Australia’s first military airmen in August 1914. The first circumnavigation of the Australian coastline also occurred from Point Cook in May 1924 by RAAF personnel Goble and McIntyre.
 
RAAF Base Point Cook is the only remaining World War One military airfield complex in Australia and features the oldest, most extensive complex of military aviation buildings in Australia. The master plan, designed in 1917, and implemented from 1918 under J. S. Murdoch, first Commonwealth Architect, was seminal in Australia and would influence the planning and development of later military aviation bases in Australia. Together, the planning, layout and built fabric comprise the only example of a military air base associated with all the major formative periods of development: pre World War One, World War One, Inter-war and World War Two. The base includes uncommon examples of building types specific to each of these periods. In particular the fabric of the base includes examples of the oldest hangars and workshops, military or civilian, in Australia. The Australian Flying Corps complex on the Southern Tarmac area, including the uncommon 1916 seaplane jetty, the water-plane hangar of 1914 and the later 1920s seaplane complex (which is recognised internationally as rare) form part of the air base.  This makes RAAF Base Point Cook perhaps the only remaining relatively intact early military airfield in the world.
 
RAAF Base Point Cook demonstrates the principal characteristics and development phases of military aviation bases in Australia from their earliest beginnings. The 1917 master plan for the base established the clear separation of functions required for military aviation. In particular the social hierarchy, way of life and organisation of the RAAF, was expressed in the range of accommodation types provided at Point Cook as well as in the function and location of the Central and Southern Tarmac areas.
 
RAAF Base Point Cook has a special association with RAAF veterans as the core training complex for the Australian Flying Corps and RAAF from 1914 until 1992.  Candidates Richard Williams and Thomas Walter White, two of the four who graduated from the first training course, which began in August 1914, saw service in the Middle East during World War One in the Australian Flying Corps and are noted for their distinguished service and special association with RAAF Base Point Cook.  Williams is known as the father of the RAAF for his efforts in promoting air power in Australia’s defence.  White, captured by the Turks in 1915 and escaping via Russia in 1918, continued his association with the military, writing Sky Saga, a Story of Empire Airmen in the Second World War, in 1943.  In 1949, White was appointed Minister for Air and Civil Aviation in the Menzies Government.
 
As the longest continuously operating military air base in Australia, RAAF Base Point Cook has been collectively identified by the RAAF for its cultural values. In 1952 action was taken by the RAAF to establish an aviation museum at Point Cook. The museum provides research and restoration facilities for historic aircraft and is involved in commemorative events such as VP Day. Many of these functions are fostered through the services of volunteer staff, including former RAAF engineers and flight crew.  
 
Official Values
Criterion A Events, Processes
The story of Point Cook, as the oldest military airbase in Australia, is an essential part of the story of the RAAF and the development of military and civil aviation in Australia.
 
RAAF Base Point Cook was established in 1913 by the Federal Government as Australia’s first military flying school-the Central Flying School. From this modest beginning Australia became the only British dominion to set up a flying corps of its own for service during World War One, the first flying training course commencing on 17 August 1914. The corps became the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), seeing active service in Mesopotamia and on the Western Front in France.  It was clear by the end of World War One that air power was an important military capability.
 
In January 1919 the Federal Government decided to form a separate air service.  The RAAF, formed on the 31st of March 1921, was the second professional air force in the world, established three years later than the British Royal Air Force.  The Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, saw the benefits of airpower in the defence of the coastline, supporting the creation of the RAAF. 
 
The first aerial circumnavigation of the Australian coastline was made from Point Cook in May 1924 by RAAF personnel Goble and McIntyre.  Five years earlier, in 1919, the first north-south crossing of the continent had been achieved by a BE-2e and pilots from Point Cook, in the search for a suitable landing ground for Australian aviators Ross and Keith Smith. Connections with civilian aviation were reinforced in 1929 when Charles Kingsford-Smith took off from Point Cook in the Southern Cross, for the first non-stop, east -west crossing of the continent.
 
With the outbreak of war in September 1939, RAAF Base Point Cook became the focus of RAAF training in Australia, a role it maintained until the 1990s.  RAAF Base Point Cook is recognised as the oldest military aviation base in Australia serving between 1914 and 1992.  Aspects of the base, which illustrate its long service and origins, include the planning and layout of the base prior to World War One, during the Inter-war period and during World Wars One and Two, as well as individual buildings and suites of buildings. 
 
Criterion B Rarity
RAAF Base Point Cook is the only remaining World War One military airfield complex in Australia and features the oldest, most extensive complex of military aviation buildings in Australia.  The master plan, designed in 1917, and implemented from 1918 under J. S. Murdoch, first Commonwealth Architect, was seminal in Australia and would influence the planning and development of later military aviation bases in Australia.  Together, the planning, layout and built fabric comprise the only example of a military air base associated with the major periods of development of the RAAF: pre World War One, World War One, Inter-war and World War Two. 
 
The base includes uncommon examples of building types specific to each of these periods.  In particular the fabric of the base includes examples of the oldest hangars (Bldgs 95, 104 and 210 erected 1914-1917) and workshops, military or civilian, in Australia.  The Australian Flying Corps complex on the Southern Tarmac area, including the seaplane jetty (Bldg 108 erected 1916-1937), the water-plane hangar of 1914 and the later 1920s seaplane complex, is recognized internationally as rare and as a whole the Point Cook air base is perhaps the only remaining relatively intact early military airfield in the world.  This rarity is reinforced by the survival of early examples of staff housing, such as the Dalzeill Street group of housing (Bdlgs M004-006, M010 and M026 erected 1914-1915) and uncommon examples and groups of seminal, military aviation buildings of each of the major periods of development.
 
Uncommon buildings of the Inter-war period include the Aeronautics School (Bldg 92 erected 1922), Base Squadron Headquarters (Bldg 87 erected 1929) and the Officers Mess (Bldg 33 erected in 1937).  In particular the School of Instruction (Bldg 161 erected in 1940) is one of only three surviving examples, which, in conjunction with the unusually large number of Bellman Hangars (Bldgs 211-214 and 178-187 erected 1940), reinforces its significance as the focus of World War Two RAAF training activities. 
 
Criterion D Principal characteristics of a class of places
RAAF Base Point Cook demonstrates the principal characteristics, including building types, planning and layout, which illustrate the development of military aviation bases in Australia during the pre-World War One, World War One, Inter-war and World War Two periods. 
 
The 1917 master plan for the base established the clear separation of functions required for military aviation.  The dominant functional zones included the Southern (hangars and workshops) and Central (accommodation) Tarmac areas and the runway areas formalized in 1943.  The administration and training areas were typically located between the early accommodation areas and the hangars and workshops, with a clearly articulated layout based on major and minor planning axes.  The plantings of windbreak trees in the 1920s, in particular Cupressus species, created a landscape with both functional and formal values, with characteristics reflected in other military and aviation bases such as RAAF Base Richmond.  The parade ground at Point Cook, completed in 1930, would become a prominent feature of later RAAF bases, as would the rows of prefabricated Bellman Hangars, erected during World War Two, at the interface with the runway and apron areas.  These functional zones, landscape elements and features would be characteristic of RAAF bases erected between 1924 and 1945, their relationship depending on site parameters and operational requirements, including runway layout and orientation. 
 
The social hierarchy, way of life and organisation of the RAAF, are expressed in the location and range of accommodation types at Point Cook.  These accommodation types would become characteristic of RAAF bases such as RAAF Base Richmond and had similarities with early accommodation at HMAS Cerberus and Duntroon College, the pre-WW1 Navy and Army equivalents to RAAF Base Point Cook.  Of particular note are excellent representative examples of single-storey houses and two-storey weatherboard accommodation units (e.g. Bldgs 18, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 41, 42, 46, M011 and M001-002 erected from 1914-1939), in addition to examples of servant’s quarters associated with the single officer’s quarters erected in 1918 (Bldg 22). 
 
At Point Cook, a range of building types demonstrate the role of the Commonwealth Architect’s department in introducing high standards of design across sites associated with military activities.  These generic standards continued into the post 1945 period (the National Service era which began in the 1950s), although little detailed information about these structures at RAAF base Point Cook and elsewhere is available. 
 
Buildings and structures of particular interest, and which characterise the major periods of development, include:
a) Pre-World War One and World War One; 18, 21, 22, 23, 30, 72, 81, 82, 95, 104, 108, 210, 488, M011, M004-006, M010, M026. 
b) Inter-war; 24, 27, 28, 29, 33, 34, 38, 41, 42, 46, 70, 71, 74, 86, 87, 88, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 100, 101, 121, M00, M001-003, M007-009, M0027-0028, sentry boxes; and
c) World War Two; 161, 178-187, 211-214 and the concrete runways of 1943.  P-type, timber hutments illustrate the need for a considerable work force during the wartime years 1939-1945.  These include buildings Nos 73, 110, 122, 155, 156, 158, 163, 176, 188, 190, 203, 221, 225, 228, 241-243, 259, 261, 277, 327-329, 427, 453, 455, 457, 458, 459, 481, 482 and 485.
Criterion G Social value
RAAF Base Point Cook was the birthplace of the RAAF in 1921.  The place has a special association with Australian RAAF personnel and veterans and as the core training complex for the Australian Flying Corps and RAAF from 1914 until 1992.  As the longest continuously operating military air base in Australia, RAAF Base Point Cook has been collectively identified by the RAAF for its cultural values.  In 1952 action was taken by the RAAF to establish an aviation museum at Point Cook.  The museum provides research and restoration facilities for historic aircraft and is involved in commemorative events such as VP Day.  Many of these functions are fostered through the services of volunteer staff, including former RAAF engineers and flight crew.
 
Criterion H Significant people
RAAF Base Point Cook is important as a whole to RAAF personnel and ex-RAAF personnel as the first military aviation base in Australia and as the birthplace of the RAAF in 1921. In these roles, over almost an eighty-year period from 1914, RAAF Base Point Cook had a special association with Australian military forces as the focus of training for the Australian air force. Candidates Richard Williams and Thomas Walter White, two of the four who graduated from the first training course, which began in August 1914, saw service in the Middle East during World War One in the Australian Flying Corps and are noted for their distinguished service and special association with RAAF Base Point Cook.  Williams is known as the father of the RAAF, formed in March 1921, for his efforts in promoting air power in Australia’s defence.  White, captured by the Turks in 1915 and escaping via Russia in 1918, continued his association with the military, writing Sky Saga, a Story of Empire Airmen in the Second World War.  In 1949, White was appointed Minister for Air and Civil Aviation in the Menzies Government.
 
The site references refer to features identified in: RAAF Williams-Point Cook and Laverton, an appraisal of heritage significance.  This was prepared by Allom Lovell & Associates, for the Department of Defence, in 1992.
 
Description
Indigenous Sites
Three Aboriginal artefact scatters have been recorded in the nominated area (Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, 2004). 
 
Planning and Layout
Point Cook Air Base is a level site running from Port Phillip Bay in the south to Point Cook Road in the north. The need to accommodate both seaplanes and land-based planes resulted in the hangars and maintenance areas being located initially near the shore. Officers quarters and single men's barracks and married staff quarters were located to the north at the approaches to the operational areas of the base at this time.  This resulted in two built areas, the Southern and Central Tarmac areas, separated by open, grassed runway areas.  The Central area developed to include accommodation, community and administrative and training facilities, but with Bellman hangars erected during World War Two (WW2).  The Southern area included hangars, workshop areas and a jetty associated with seaplane activity.
 
By the 1920s the layout had taken on a more formal quality, reinforcing the early planning decisions.  Principal roads were planned to connect at circular intersections, with planning dominated by a rectangular grid of roads, reinforced by landscape trees.  The separation of functions and rectilinear road layout, characteristics of military bases across the services, was well established at Point Cook by the time that RAAF facilities were planned at Darwin, Amberley, Richmond and Pearce.  Typically, the parade ground acted as a formal interface between the domestic/administrative and operational areas of the base.  The planning and layout of Point Cook are reflected in the wider landscape by the main approach road, Aviation Road, and the Laverton-Point Cook Road, including Burma Road.  The latter links the two parts of the base and is a reminder of WW2, as are the two groups of Bellman hangars and concrete runways completed in 1943.  The layout of the base, as set out in the period 1914 to the mid-1920s, remains intact.
 
Expansion of the site appears to have derived from the Master Plan of c. 1917 by J. S. Murdoch’s office under P. T. Owen, Director-General of Public Works. The planning and layout provide a good example of functional requirements interacting with a strict hierarchical social structure, which would inform the development of later bases, under the influence of British ideas. These ideas included the clear separation of functions, and expression of the social and hierarchical organisation of the Air Force.
 
Areas of particular importance include the original accommodation area on Cole Street, the Officers Compound, Community Facilities and Accommodation, the Parade Ground and the main hangar areas to the south, the Southern Tarmac area, including the jetty. Windbreak and other plantings have contributed to the development of significant streetscapes in particular on early street alignments.  Housing groups such as Cole Street (Buildings Nos M004-11, 488 and 23), designed in the 1920s, also reflect the prevailing Commonwealth approach to housing for officers as well as the evolution of streetscape values. 
 
The base includes several phases of building and planting, which illustrate its planning, layout and development.  All buildings are identified by the original function and allocated number.
 
Tree Plantings The windswept nature of Point Cook required windbreak plantings within the base. Four phases of planting can be identified.
 
  1. The early focus of the base at Stutt and Cole Streets incorporated earlier plantings of Sugar Gum (E. cladocalyx) by the Chirnside family.  One such planting along Cole Street was 3-4 rows deep. 
  2. From c. 1921 Cupressus macrocarpa was planted extensively as a windbreak, building on its successful wider use by the Chirnsides.  Extensive plantings were made along Williams Road, Ross Smith Road and Merz Road with the Parade Ground framed by plantings.  Plantings also extend south from the Parade Ground.  These were restricted to areas away from the coastline, but in the late 1920s were extended to the workshops and hangars. 
  3. Plantings of Cupressus macrocarpa north of Merz Road, extending along Ross Smith Road, and the MacNamara Road alignment, were established in the 1940s. 
  4. In the 1960s and 1970s the use of native plantings reflected the wider use of native trees in the suburbs, although most of this is around the golf course and the former RAAF Academy Complex.
 
Buildings and Building Groups Pre World War One and World War One 1914-1918:
 
- Building 95, the water-plane hangar, dates originally from 1914 (altered 1915, 1921) and is one of the two oldest aviation buildings in Australia. The oldest section is steel framed with corrugated galvanized iron cladding and there are weatherboard extensions built a few years later. The early roof is gabled, the later roof sawtooth in profile.
- Building 210, the aeroplane hangar, dates from 1914 and is the oldest RAAF aircraft hangar and one of the oldest structures at the Base. Twin gabled and clad with corrugated iron, it has been relocated.
- Building 488, the single officers' quarters, was built in 1914 and extended shortly after. One of Point Cook's earliest buildings, the structure is single-storey, in stud-framed weatherboard, with a corrugated galvanized iron roof.
- Building 104, the Battleplane hangar, was erected in 1917 and is one of two surviving World War One hangars in Australia. It has a steel and timber frame, is gabled and is clad with corrugated galvanized iron.
- Building 108 the seaplane jetty. Dating from 1916 and extended in 1927 and 1937, the jetty relates to the significant early use of seaplanes. It has timber piles, is now 415m in length and has a slipway and a landing.
- Building M011, married quarters, was erected in 1915-16. An early residential building, it is weatherboard, single-storey and features a broad hipped roof clad in corrugated galvanized iron. Like a number of others it has a verandah formed under the gabletted roof. The incorporation of classical detailing into the verandah posts is typical of the refined nature of detailing at this time.
- Building 18, the former single officers' mess, dating from 1918 and later, was the focal point of the officers' precinct. It is a distinctive single storey weatherboard building with a gabled corrugated galvanized iron roof and was the first separate mess building erected for Air Force Officers in Australia.
- Building 23, Single Officers Quarters, is a two-storey, weatherboard structure erected in 1918, which set the pattern for new quarters erected in the Inter War years, and which now form a strong grouping. External staircases lead to first floor bedrooms. Other early associated timber structures include the Single Officers Laundry (Building No.21) and the Servants Quarters (Building No. 22).

Early Commonwealth Vernacular weatherboard buildings are well represented in the base and some are among the earliest examples of the style. They are generally modest, single or double storey, with low-pitched corrugated galvanized iron or tile roofs, with wide eaves and exposed rafters, multi-paned double hung sash windows and a verandah under the roof slope. Buildings M004-006, M010 and M026, married officers quarters, date from 1914-15 and with building 488 are the earliest surviving houses at the base. They are again weatherboard with hipped roofs clad with corrugated galvanized iron. The houses form part of an important streetscape group on Cole and Dalzeill Streets.

Other important early structures which relate to the seminal and social development of Point Cook include: Bldg 30, Water Towers 1918; Bldg 81, Substation No 1 1919; Bldg 72, Barracks Store 1915-1917; Bldg 18, Single Officer’s Mess; Bldg 21, Single Officers Laundry and Toilet 1918; and Bldg 22, Servant’s Quarters 1918.
 
Inter War:

Inter War buildings were erected in two phases, 1919-1924 and 1928-1939, reflecting post First World War consolidation and development in the build up to the Second World War.
 
- Building 86, the flagpole and saluting base, built about 1920, but now relocated. It is a ceremonial focus for the base.
- Building 91, the aeronautics school, was erected in 1922 (altered 1927) and was an early base building and directly connected with the Base's training role. It plays an important streetscape role and is single storey weatherboard, with a main corrugated galvanized iron gabled roof flanked by hipped projections.
-Building M00, Commanding Officer’s Residence 1927.  A large weatherboard residence, the design follows earlier precedents in the use of a central hipped, corrugated galvanized iron roof flanked by lower hipped roof projections.  A timber framed verandah links the two projecting wings.
- Buildings 24, 27, 28 and 29, Single Officers Quarters, date from 1928, 1935 and 1939 (altered 1952). They are weatherboard, double-storey with hipped roofs, planned around a central common grassed area imparting a sense of community in conjunction with Building 23, erected in 1918. 
- Buildings 41, 42 and 46, Airmen's Quarters, dating from 1928-1939, are the survivors of the airmen's precinct. They are two-storey buildings in weatherboard, with hipped, corrugated galvanized iron roofs, and are sited around a central common green similar to earlier units.
- Buildings M001-002, Squadron Leaders Residences 1937 and M003 Married Officers Residences 1939. They are large weatherboard houses with projecting front bays and hipped roofs, similar to earlier forms erected in 1914. 
- Buildings M027-028, new Commanding Officer's residence/married quarters, date from 1937-38. The designs combine the Early Vernacular and Georgian Revival styles and reflect differences between ranks. A stud-framed, weatherboard two-storey self-detached house with a tiled, hipped-roof, reflecting the use of two storeys for other staff ranks.
- Sentry boxes in brick and stone wing walls, dating from 1937, were the first permanent entrance gates to the base.
- Building 87, Base Squadron Headquarters, built in 1929, was the first purpose built headquarters building constructed for the RAAF. It is axially sited relative to the parade ground and flagpole and is an impressive two-storey, weatherboard building with a transverse gabled main roof (and other hipped sections) clad with corrugated asbestos cement sheeting.
- Building 88, the Parade Ground, was formed in 1930 and was central to the Base's ceremonial life. It is surfaced in coarse sand and defined by a white post and chain fence.
- Building 90, erected 1922 in weatherboard as the new Motor Transport Garage.
- Building 92, the new school of aeronautics, was constructed in 1936. A weatherboard, single-storey structure with a corrugated galvanized iron, hipped roof, the building is an important element in the streetscape.
- Building 93, air navigation school, dates from 1939. The building is in weatherboard and has a hipped, corrugated, galvanized iron roof, and is an important element in the streetscapes of the South Tarmac area.
- Building 94, the War Memorial, was erected in stone in 1938 and commemorates Australian airmen who died in World War One.
-Building 96 is the wireless school, dating from 1939. Important in the South Tarmac streetscape, the building is single-storey, weatherboard and has a corrugated, galvanised iron clad, hipped roof.
- Building 100, the seaplane squadron headquarters, was erected in 1938 and is an integral part of the seaplane buildings in the South Tarmac area. It is single-storey weatherboard with a hipped corrugated galvanized iron roof.
- Building 101, a seaplane hangar, was erected in 1927 and extended in 1940. It is twin gabled and is clad with corrugated galvanized iron. This building is the only Inter-War hangar remaining at the base and a dominant element in the South Tarmac area.

The Moderne Style is seen in the 1930s brick buildings at Point Cook. These are symmetrical buildings, restrained in their design. Building 33, the new Officers' Mess, was erected in 1937 (extended 1959) in this style. It represented the provision of improved facilities for the RAAF and has some some Art Deco and Neo-Classical details. In red brick, with a tiled, hipped roof, the architectural treatment of the entrance was typical of the style.
 
Other important early structures built in the 1920s and 1930s, and which relate to the seminal and social development of Point Cook, include: Bldg 38-Airman’s Gymnasium 1923; Bldg 70-Guard House 1929; Bldg 71-Airman’s Garage 1929; Bldg 74-Primary School 1923; M007-009 Married Quarters 1928; Bldg 34-Officers Garage 1934; and Bldg 121-Gunnery Stop Butt 1935.
 
World War Two:
 
- Building 161, Armaments School and Bomb Aiming Training School, erected 1940.  The building comprises a central two-storey brick structure in the Inter-War Stripped Classical style, flanked on both sides by stud-framed, hip-roofed, single-storey wings.  This building was used as the RAAF Academy until the 1960s and is now the focus of the RAAF Museum.
-Buildings 211-214 and 178-187, prefabricated Bellman hangars erected in 1940, relate to development after the beginning of World War Two. They are steel framed, clad with corrugated galvanized iron, have low gable roofs and are characteristic of the rapid response to provide additional hangar and storage space using industrial prefabrication. Few of the approximately 130, manufactured (to a British design) by Lysaghts of Newcastle, remain in use elsewhere.
 
Buildings erected during World War Two, which illustrate the need for a considerable work force during the wartime years, include: Nos 73, 110, 122, 155, 156, 158, 163, 176, 188, 190, 203, 221, 225, 228, 241-243, 259, 261, 277, 327-329, 427, 453, 455, 457, 458, 459, 481, 482 and 485. These are P-type, timber hutments.

Post World War two:

Post-World War Two buildings are mainly constructed in brick. There are also sheds of different materials, including weatherboard and fibro-cement.  However, there is insufficient information to assess their significance.
 
History
Indigenous:
Three Aboriginal sites containing artefacts have been recorded in the nominated area (AAV, 2004; Allom Lovell & Associates, 1992).  Limited information about the nature and extent of these sites is available.  One site contains a small number of artefacts, located beneath a sand hummock behind the foredunes adjacent to the boundary with Point Cook Coastal Park (Allom Lovell & Associates, 1992).  There is other evidence of Aboriginal use of the Point Cook area, with three artefact scatters, including an extensive site around Point Cook homestead, recorded to the east of the nominated area in Point Cook Coastal Park (Geering et al, 1984).  In this case, the assemblage suggests stone tool manufacture at this location, and the artefacts are characteristics of the Australian Small Tool Tradition, dating to the last 6,000 years (Geering et al, 1984:22).
 
Historic:
Defence in general had been high on the agenda for those pursuing federation.  The Defence Act 1903 constituted the legislative basis for the Australian Military System. The 1909 amendments to the Defence Act 1903 introduced a universal training scheme based on the Swiss model, which provided for the compulsory training of Junior and Senior cadets, between the ages of 12-18, and then for adult training.  At the request of the Australian government, Lord Kitchener toured Australia in 1910 to review the Commonwealth’s defence requirements.  Under the Fisher Government from 1910, citizen soldiers were to be replaced by a more organized militia under the Universal Training Scheme, based on the Swiss model. Other changes would include the formation of an Australian Aviation Corps.
 
In December 1903 the Wright Brothers made the first sustained powered -flight.  However, it was not until 1907 that the US Signal Corps submitted a specification for a military aircraft to the Wright Brothers.  In Britain, progress was slower, and it was not until April 1909 that the first British ‘Army Aeroplane’ was handed over to the War Office.  Late in 1910 a plan for an Australian Aviation Corps was submitted to the Military Board. A decision on the matter was deferred until the Minister for Defence returned from the 1911 Imperial Conference in London.  Britain created its Royal Flying Corps in 1912.  One year earlier, in 1911, the Federal Government decided to create a military flying school.  In 1909 the new Federal Government had announced that it would offer a prize for the construction of a military aircraft in Australia, but this was not achieved until the 1920s (Allom Lovell 1992).
 
In 1911, the Commonwealth Government Gazette sought 'two mechanists and aviators' to form a military aviation corps in Australia.  The two people selected were Henry Petre and Eric Harrison, who arrived from England in 1913 to assist in the search for a site for a flying school.  Sites were considered in Victoria at Langwarrin, Cribb Point, Altona and Point Cook, and in the ACT at Fairbairn, Narrabundah, Jerrabomberra and Tuggeranong.  In 1912, Captain Watt considered that the Duntroon Plains were ideal for flying.  Point Cook in Victoria was however selected, since it was closer to the Army Headquarters in Melbourne and had access to the sea, providing both for land based planes as well as seaplanes. Canberra's altitude was considered potentially problem causing, and the interim seat of government in Melbourne was too far away.  The subsequent development of the Point Cook site, during and following two world wars, has resulted in its recognition as the cradle of the RAAF (Hingston 1998).  The story of Point Cook, as the oldest continuously operating military airbase in the world, is an essential part of the story of the RAAF and the development of military and civil aviation in Australia.
 
Located in Port Phillip Bay, on the extensive plain west of Melbourne, the land was first explored c. 1824, although it was not until the late 1840s that the land was officially taken up for pastoral purposes.  By 1880 the land was owned by Thomas Chirnside and his brother Andrew, and was part of one of the largest land holdings in Victoria.  In 1904, subdivision was encouraged by the Victorian Government’s purchase of 23,212 acres, including Chirnside land, which, in December 1913, was purchased by the Commonwealth Government to establish a Central Flying School.  (Allom Lovell 1992).  
 
The Department of Defence ordered its first aircraft in July 1912. The two BE-2a biplanes and two Deperdussin monoplanes, followed by a Bristol Box-kite, were housed in a canvas hangar.  The first training course began in August 1913, but the first military flight in Australia was not until March 1914.  The first four students were officers G.P. Merz, D. Manwell, R. Williams and T.W. White.  Many Australian pilots trained at Point Cook during WW1 (1914-1918) saw active service in the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) overseas; the first aviation course finished in November 1915.  On 8 February 1915 the Government of India sought the assistance of the Australian Government to supply trained airmen, aircraft and transport for service in Mesopotamia (Iraq).  The Australian Government replied that men and transport would be provided, but aircraft they could not.  The unit (known as the Mesopotamian Half-Flight) was under the command of Petre and comprised White, Merz and Lieutenant W.H. Treloar and 41 other ranks.  The Mesopotanian campaign culminated in the tragic siege of Kut and the subsequent ignominious surrender of the garrison included nine mechanics of the First Half-Flight.  Four Australian Flying Corps (AFC) squadrons also joined the British during World War I.  No 1 Squadron, with Williams as flight-commander, flew against the Turks and Germans in the Middle East, while Squadrons 2, 3 and 4 served on the Western Front between September 1917 and November 1918.  A variety of aircraft were flown, including Sopwith Camels and Snipes, RE8s, SE5 and DH5s.  The Australian airmen engaged in photographic reconnaissance, artillery spotting and strafing and bombing raids on enemy troops and positions, and German aircraft.  Additional Australian units were based in the United Kingdom.  Nos 5, 6, 7 and 8 Squadrons were established to train aircrew for service in the four front line squadrons of the AFC.  http://www.defence.gov.au/raaf/history/airforce_history/WW1.htm
 
The first Australian airman to die in battle, in Mesopotamia, was 2nd Lieut George Merz, one of the first four pilots to graduate from Point Cook.  Though many others flew under the auspices of the British Royal Flying Corps, others actually flew as the AFC.  By 1916 the AFC had expanded to four front-line squadrons, with most action on the Western Front over France and Belgium.  Although the number of Australian airmen was relatively small, Australia was unique in that it maintained its identity by establishing its own squadrons.  Many Australian pilots gave distinguished service during WW1.  Sixty-five became accredited ‘aces’ (shooting down at least 5 planes), while Lieut Frank MacNamara, of AFC Squadron No 1, became the first Australian airman to receive the Victoria Cross. 
 
Throughout this period Point Cook remained the focal point of military aviation in Australia, serving as a flying training unit as well as the assembly point for all AFC units going overseas.  Plans for an Aeroplane Workshop and a Hangar were completed by August 1913.  A site plan of 1913 indicates that the intention was to build six seaplane-sheds on the foreshore (the Southern Tarmac Area) as well as an office and surgery, four land-plane hangars and an oil store. However one year later the base was still not properly established. The intention to use the base for seaplanes was not achieved until much later. This ten-hangar scheme was not proceeded with during WW1, with only two seaplane hangars completed in addition to an office and surgery. Concurrently, at the landward end of the site (the Central Tarmac Area), work proceeded on accommodation and service buildings.  By June 1915 the following buildings had been completed: the Single Officers Quarters, the Single Mechanics Quarters and three Married NCOs Quarters.  Additional accommodation included the Warrant Officers Quarters, and by July 1916 further Married Officers Quarters and a garage. By July 1916 the Point Cook base resembled a small country town. Other major buildings and structures erected in the period 1914-1918 included the New Battleplane Hangar in 1917 and the seaplane Jetty in 1916 (Allom Lovell 1992).
 
A master plan for development of the Base had been conceived as early as 1917 under the Director-General of Public Works, P. T. Owen, for the Minister for Defence, and in 1918 Cabinet authorised the expenditure of three million pounds.  John Smith Murdoch, Chief Architect, Department of Works and Railways, noted in 1918 that ‘very many years ago the Department planned out how an arrangement of buildings might best be made’ (Allom Lovell 1992).  The office of Commonwealth Architect, John Smith Murdoch, played a major role in the design of Point Cook buildings, planning and layout from the base's inception.
 
It was clear by the end of WW1 that air power was an important military capability.  In January 1919 the Federal Government decided to form a separate air service. The AFC was disbanded and the Australian Air Corps was formed. Due mainly to the efforts of Sir Richard Williams, a former trainee of the base, World War One veteran and Chief of Air Staff, the RAAF came into being on 31 March 1921, stimulating the establishment of an Aeronautics School at Point Cook (Allom Lovell 1992).  Richard Williams has a significant place in Point Cook's and the RAAF's history; the current name for the Point Cook and Laverton bases, RAAF Williams, reflects this association.  In 1921 a second site for a RAAF base was chosen at Laverton, for a stores depot, due to its proximity to Point Cook and the Melbourne–Geelong railway. 
 
The RAAF was the second professional air force in the world, established three years later than the British Royal Air Force.  The Australian Naval Air Service was briefly formed as a separate wing.  The first RAAF aircraft (128) were an Imperial gift from Britian.  The Prime Minister, William Morris [Billy] Hughes, endorsed the establishment of the Air Force-‘I am a fanatic in my belief in aviation’.  Hughes saw the benefits of airpower in the defence of the coastline (Odgers 1997 in Hingston 2001).
 
The ambitious master plan of 1917 continued to be implemented, the expansion including sites for shops, reserves, community halls, a hospital, sports grounds and formal avenues defining housing areas set out in a hierarchical manner to reflect rank.  New water and electricity supply lines were established by 1919, including the Electrical Sub Station and the Pump House. Contracts for the Airman's Mess and the first two-storey accommodation block were let by April 1918. Six new NCO's cottages were built on what is now Dalzeil Road. The Workshop and two new wooden hangars were erected east of the Battleplane Hangar. The Aeronautics School was the first of its kind in Australia. Other buildings erected after 1922 include eight NCO's cottages, the children’s school, Sergeants Mess, recreation hall and Airman's Gymnasium. By 1925 the first substantial phase of building had finished. Construction was completed by the use of extensive landscape plantings during the 1920s, reflecting the successful use of similar species in Canberra at this time, as well as locally (Allom Lovell 1992).  A significant aspect of the expansion was the completion of additional facilities for seaplanes, including a new hangar at the jetty in 1927.  However, the Parade Ground was not completed until 1930.
 
The first circumnavigation by air of the Australian coastline was made from Point Cook in May 1924, by RAAF personnel Goble and McIntyre.  Five years earlier, in 1919, the first north-south crossing of the continent had been achieved by a BE-2e and pilots from Point Cook, in the search for a suitable landing ground for Australian aviators Ross and Keith Smith, who won the England to Australia air race in 1919.  Born in Adelaide, Ross Smith had transferred to the AFC in 1917, becoming the most decorated member of the AIF.  In the same year, civilian refresher courses were approved for Point Cook.  Civilian training courses were begun at Point Cook in January 1923.   Connections with civilian aviation were reinforced in 1929 when Charles Kingsford-Smith took off from Point Cook in the Southern Cross, for the first non-stop, east west crossing of the continent (Australian War Memorial records).  Until 1938, Point Cook remained the main engineering site associated with civil aviation.
 
Point Cook remained the only military air base in Australia until 1925, when the RAAF expanded to Richmond, NSW.  However, as the 1920s closed, the condition of the military worsened, with the election of a Labour government and the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 (Palazzo 2001).  Under the Lyon’s government, elected in 1932, the future of the military began to change.  However, Pearce, the Minister for Defence, stated that the defence policy would remain essentially naval based, as it had throughout the nineteenth century (Palazzo 2001). 
 
From 1934, anticipation of another war led to an increase in military activity after the slow years of the Great Depression. The original master plan at Point Cook was now nearing completion. RAAF growth was seen elsewhere too, for in addition to Point Cook, Laverton and Richmond, by the eve of World War Two in 1939, there were RAAF bases at Perth (Pearce), Darwin and Brisbane (Amberley). Planning and design of these bases, and further work at Point Cook, was influenced by British expertise and contemporary Australian experience.  In the Parliamentary session of 1937-38 a new budget statement, as part of the New Defence Program Statement, had outlined the provision of additional funding for Defence.  Over 35% was to be spent on the Air Force, reinforcing the high priority for its expansion. Major capital works were envisaged with the construction of architecturally impressive buildings, many in red brick.  At Point Cook new buildings erected included a new Aeronautics School, a Wireless School and an Armament School (now the Museum). In 1937 new entrance gates were also added and a new Officer's Mess.  Development of the Laverton stores depot site took place in parallel, the functional relationship between the two sites reinforcing the importance of Point Cook  (Allom Lovell 1992).
 
With the outbreak of war in September 1939, Point Cook became the ‘core and the composite training ground’ for RAAF training.  No. 10 Squadron was based at Point Cook pending the arrival of Sunderland flying boats from Britain.  The initiation of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) gave further impetus to the activities at Point Cook.  During the war years 1939-1945, eight new Service Flying Training Schools were established at Point Cook. These were housed in portable iron huts north of Dalzeill Road, with new satellite airfields established to cater for the increased air traffic. Fourteen prefabricated Bellman Hangars were also erected at Point Cook itself in 1940, with the development of satellite areas as training centres reducing the impact of wartime construction on the existing base.  By June 1943, concrete runways had been completed.  During the war, women worked in the newly formed WRAAF, but were segregated from the men on the base.  Over 10,000 airmen died during the war, indicating the vital role played by the RAAF in the conflict and the important role of Point Cook as a training base (Allom Lovell 1992).  The road linking the two ‘Tarmac’ areas of the Base, and along which servicemen marched to work, would be renamed Burma Road.
 
At the end of 1945 the RAAF had 317 mainland and regional airfields. Twelve were considered as being of critical importance, including Point Cook. Williamtown NSW became the RAAF fighter wing, Amberley Qld became the bomber wing and Schofields NSW, and later Richmond NSW, became the transport wing (Brooks 2001).  Point Cook remained the RAAF's most important pilot training facility, but its pre-eminence declined over time due to increased specialization at other bases. This role was reflected in the erection of large numbers of brick veneer and prefabricated housing units at the base.  A Language School was established in the 1950s as well as a Fire Training Unit.  Australian involvement in Malaya 1950-1958 and the Middle East 1952-1953, the provision of holding-forces in Malaya and Thailand in the 1950s and 1960s, and later the Vietnam War, reinforced the ongoing central role of Point Cook.  The Canberra based Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) took over some training responsibilities during the 1960s, including the RAAF Staff College functions, initially established at Point Cook in 1948.  The status of the College was upgraded in 1961, when it was renamed the RAAF Academy and affiliated with the University of Melbourne. 
 
A complementary role, as an aviation museum, initiated in 1952 by Air Marshall Sir George Jones, has provided for the restoration and display of historic aircraft.  The RAAF Museum was administered by Headquarters Point Cook until its constitution as a formal RAAF Unit in 1988.  With the closure of No.1 Flying Training School (Point Cook) in 1993, the Museum moved to its present site, occupying hangars on both the Central and Southern Tarmac areas. 
 
The requirements of the RAAF and other Defence forces in Australia changed in the 1980s and 1990s, with strategic responses and increased specialization, including training, located at other regional bases.  Following discussions with the Department of Defence, and wide public consultation, it was agreed that some areas would be retained in public ownership, with the remainder of the site to be leased for 49 years to a not-for-profit National Aviation Museum Trust. 
 
Condition and Integrity
Historic
The key reference for condition and integrity is: Allom Lovell, RAAF Williams-Point Cook (and Laverton), an appraisal of heritage significance, for the Department of Defence, 1992.  Although this document is outdated (and it is understood is being updated by Defence) it provides the only source as at August 2005.
 
Indigenous
One of the Aboriginal sites is subject to erosion resulting from vehicle traffic.  The condition of the others is unknown.
 
Location
About 250ha, at Point Cook, being an area enclosed by a line commencing at the north east corner of the airfield boundary (approximate MGA point 302670mE 5800280mN), then south easterly via the eastern airfield boundary to a point where it changes to a south westerly direction (approximate MGA point 303230mE 5798900mN), then due south to a point where it intersects the Low Water Mark (LWM) of Port Phillip Bay, then westerly via the LWM to the western boundary of Point Cook RAAF Base (and including the pier), then northerly via the base boundary to its north west corner, then easterly via the northern boundary to the point of commencement.
 
Bibliography
Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (AAV), database report and correspondence, 1 December 2004.
 
Allom Lovell, RAAF Williams-Point Cook and Laverton, an appraisal of heritage significance, for Department of Defence, 1992.

Allom Lovell Marquis-Kyle, RAAF base Darwin: a conservation analyis, for Department of Defence, 1987.
 
Australian War Memorial First World War Nominal Roll Database 21 December 2005
 
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12: 1891-1939, SMY-Z, Melbourne University Press, 1990.
 
[Graham] Brooks and Associates Pty. Ltd, RAAF Base Williamtown N.S.W.: non-indigenous heritage study for environmental management plan, for Department of Defence, 2001.
 
Department of Housing and Construction, Statement of Significance Buildings and Conservation Areas RAAF Point Cook, Victoria, 1986.
 
ERM, Heritage Assessment and Conservation Requirements for RAAF Base Richmond, for Department of Defence, November 2001.
 
Geering, K. and Hughes, P. J.  1984  An archaeological investigation of the Point Cook Metropolitan Park, Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.  A report to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.
 
Hingston, Jane, RAAF Base Fairbairn Heritage Study: A Beginning, University of Canberra, 1998.
 
National Archives of Australia, Service Records. 
 
National Library of Australia (NLA), Manuscripts, MS 9148, Sir Thomas Walter White papers 1912-1992.
 
Palazzo, Albert, Australian Army: a history of its organization 1901-2001, 2001.
 
RAAF, http://www.defence.gov.au/raaf/history/airforce_history/WW1.htm (22 December 2005)
 
Reed, Peter, Report of the heritage survey Amberley RAAF Base, for Department of Defence, 1998.
 
Roylance, Derek, Air Base Richmond, Canberra, 1991.
 
Sullivan, H.  1981  An archaeological survey of the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Victoria Archaeological Survey Occasional Report Series, No. 6.
 
Wartime: Official Magazine of the AWM
 
White T W, 1943, Sky Saga, a Story of Empire Airmen, Hutchison, Melbourne.

Report Produced  Sat Aug 2 10:11:36 2014