Gift of rare link to historic flight

The cover signed by all the crew and passengers of the first commercial flight to NZ

Gerringong & District Historical Society Life Member, John Graham, has donated it one of the just 10 official postal covers carried in Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s first commercial flight to NZ.

Being a serious collector of Australian stamps, John has been aware of the existence of these covers for many years, and has so far determined the location of five of the ten official covers.

Of those five, two were postmarked at Sydney on 9 January, and three were postmarked at Gerringong on 10 January, 1933.

Only two of the Gerringong covers were signed by all three crew and two passengers, and it is one of these he has now donated to the new Gerringong Museum.

The covers are rarely on the market. Fortunately one of John’s philatelic contacts was asked to appraise a Sydney collection as part of a deceased estate, and finding this cover in the collection, let John know of its availability.

John made sure of securing the cover, always with the intention of ultimately donating it to the Gerringong Museum.

As the Southern Cross monument at Gerroa attests, the 1933 flight used Seven Mile Beach as its runway.

The beach was selected for his second flight across the Tasman, as it allowed a long, smooth take-off area for the heavy laden aircraft.

Flares were lit upon the beach to mark out the runway and several thousand people came from Sydney and the local area to witness the 2.30am take-off, turning on their car headlights to provide extra illumination.

The flight, which carried passengers and philatelic mail, landed over 14 hours later at New Plymouth on New Zealand`s North Island.

Officially, ten covers were carried, each with proving postmarks, while unofficially a few private covers were carried, all of which were hand-annotated but not postmarked.

While he now lives in Queensland, John has continued his interest in Gerringong history, having digitised the Pioneer Register for Gerringong and compiled numerous booklets for the Society.

He is currently preparing a history of Gerroa.

“The Society is very grateful for the contribution John has made over the years, and for this most generous donation,” says the Society President, Helen McDermott.

The Society has also been been given a donation of $1000 by Gerringong Lions to assist with its digitisation project, being led by Colleen Horner and Dianne Fielding. Literally thousands of articles, photos and audio files are being uploaded onto the Kiama Library’s Explore Kiama’s Past website.

These will be available for viewing on touch screens in the new Museum under themes relating to the display, such as local flora, community, sport, and life by the sea.

Colleen and Dianne would be grateful to receive any more images or resources relating to Gerringong that might be hiding away.

They would also appreciate hands-on assistance from members of the public to help with typing, proofreading, filing, labelling, scanning, cataloguing, condensing oral histories and historic videos, and research.

“We are happy to train volunteers” says Colleen.

“This is an exciting opportunity for local residents, including high school and university students.”

It is now anticipated the Gerringong Library and Museum, will open in mid 2021.

Anyone who has material to offer Colleen and Dianne, or would like to volunteer, should email gerringonghistory@gmail.com

The donor, John Graham

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