The town of Temora is widely known for its outstanding aviation museum, as the home of champion 1970s pacer ‘Paleface Adios’ and for being the friendliest town in the state.
Story By Paul Myers
If it hadn't been for some serendipity, the south-western New South Wales town of Temora could have, should have and probably would have gone backwards like many similar mid-sized country towns in Australia in the past 20 years. The fact that it didn’t is due largely to a chance flyover by champion aerobatic pilot Tom Moon on his way back to Sydney from a competition at Griffith in the early 1990s.
Seeking a manned airstrip with fuel, he noticed another aircraft being topped up beside Temora’s sealed but under-used airstrip. When Tom landed, so well did the refueller, Graham Williams, sell the merits of Temora as a location for aerobatic flying that within a couple of years the NSW Aerobatic Club had moved to the town’s former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) World War II training facility. The rest, as they say, is history.
Soon after, businessman David Lowy, a keen pilot who – like Tom – had been the Australian aerobatic champion, became so keen on the location that the son of Westfield chairman Frank Lowy funded the establishment of the now world-famous Temora Aviation Museum and is, appropriately, its president.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this June, the museum has not just been a saviour for Temora, but also a boon for southern New South Wales tourism. An estimated quarter of a million visitors have been attracted to the town by the museum in the past decade. Often, during the weekends of major air pageants, Temora’s population of 4000 doubles, with spillover benefits for neighbouring towns.
The museum’s 14 ex-military aircraft are all airworthy and, depending on weather and serviceability, often fly at the several air shows held every year. Two WWII Spitfires, including one that flew 12 combat missions over Europe with the RAAF’s 453 Squadron, are clear crowd favourites.
The fleet also includes a 1943 Vampire and a CA-16 Wirraway – both donated by David Lowy – a Canberra bomber, the only airworthy Gloster Meteor jet fighter, a Lockheed Hudson transport/rescue aircraft and a Sabre on loan from the RAAF.
Chief executive of the not-for-profit museum, Kenny Love, says the military theme recognises the role Temora played in training 2400 WWII pilots between 1941 and 1946.
Temora Shire mayor, Peter Speirs, says the museum came to Temora at a critical stage of its history. An open-cut goldmine at Gidginbung, north of town, closed in 1996 after just a decade of operations and, with the viability of family farms being tested, the town needed a lift.
This story excerpt is from Issue #71
Outback Magazine: June/July 2010