MELVILLE BAY AIRFIELD
AND FLYING BOAT BASE, NT
On 7 August 1943, Davis and Rooney of the 8 Mobile Works Squadron RAAF (8MWS) flew by Walrus aircraft to Melville Bay to commence construction of the Melville Bay airfield and Flying Boat Base. They landed at Kevin's Cove. They travelled by boat to Yarkalla where they stayed the night before a 42 km walk to Melville Bay. They looked for sites for possible airfields during their long journey. They arrived back at Melville Bay on 10 August 1943.
After carrying out some depth soundings in Melville Bay they chose Watson's Bay as the site for the new Flying Boat landing area. On 16 August the first construction personnel from 8MWS arrived at Melville Bay. They travelled on the "Southern Cross" from Millingimbi. A total of eight construction parties were shipped to Melville Bay the last arriving on the "Wanaka" on 24 October 1943.
8MWS had constructed 3 kms of road known as "Rooney's Route" and started on the first camp by 1 September 1943. About 6 weeks later, Air Vice-Marshall Cole, the Air Officer Commanding North-Western area, arrived in the first aircraft to land on the new airfield. By March 1944 the airfield had been extended to 2,134 metres long.
Work started on the Melville Bay Flying Boat base on 14 February 1944.
8MWS left the area in July 1944.
"Always First - The RAAF Airfield
Construction Squadrons 1942-1974" (page 38)
by David Wilson
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© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 22 September 2002
This page last updated 28 December 2014