Old Bar Airfield | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Old Bar Airfield

Item details

Name of item: Old Bar Airfield
Other name/s: Old Bar Airstrip, Old Bar Aerodrome
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Air
Category: Airfield/Landing Strip
Location: Lat: -31.9649316651 Long: 152.5900721040
Primary address: 0.5km off Old Bar Road, Old Bar, NSW 2430
Parish: Bohnock
County: Gloucester
Local govt. area: Greater Taree
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Purfleet/Taree
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT7303 DP1136782

Boundary:

Refer HC Plan 1887
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
0.5km off Old Bar RoadOld BarGreater TareeBohnockGloucesterPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Land and Property Management Authority (LPMA)State Government 

Statement of significance:

The Old Bar Airfield has national historic significance as a rare intact and representative example of a key `aerodrome' from the earliest days of Australian aviation which has direct and important links with the nation's major aviation pioneers Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, Captain C.T.P. Ulm, Jean Batten and Nancy Bird Walton. The Airfield was a vital component in the development of Australia's air mail and aerial passenger services, was the site of an historic 1930 air pageant and was utilised by the RAAF during the Second World War for refueling and coastal mapping and surveying.

The Airfield has significance for its ability to contribute to an understanding of the cultural history of Australia's earliest development of an aviation industry including air mail, passenger services and associated joy flight/aerial pageantry activity. The Old Bar Airfield has social significance to the aviation community throughout Australia and also to the local community particularly older residents who have witnessed the town's growth in association with the airfield and who for many years have campaigned for the Airfield's permanent protection.

The Airfield has high aesthetic significance when viewed from the air because of its coastal setting immediately adjoining the coastline within a bushland setting and with the backdrop of the Manning River Estuary. The Airfield has landmark qualities for the town of Old Bar (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998).
Date significance updated: 19 Jul 99
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Builder/Maker: George Bunyan and family
Construction years: 1925-1925
Physical description: Old Bar Airstrip is located near Old Bar Beach and is now surrounded by recreation facilities, caravan park and residential subdivision.

The Old Bar airfield is situated at the southern end of Old Bar Park immediately west of Old Bar Beach and adjoining Old Bar Road. While in their beginnings such fields initially accepted aircraft landings from a range of directions the terrain and remnant native vegetation suggest strongly that the current airstrip developed early in the airfield's history.

The airstrip is grassed on a compacted clay base, follows a north-south alignment and is approximately 675 metres in length by an average 60 metres in width.

Adjoining the airstrip to the west is an area of native wet heath vegetation containing the vulnerable plant species, Austral toadflax, (Thesium australe) and to the north and west are native eucalypt woodlands.

Various ephemera such as markers, fuel shed and windsock have been removed over the years. Of these the windsock and runway and flight strip markers are being stored at Taree Airport. A concrete slab at the south eastern end of the runway may be the foundation slab for the 1940s pump (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is excellent. Archaeological potential is medium. It is believed that the underground fuel tank may still be on site and intact. There may also be remnants of the former fuel pump. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
Date condition updated:19 Jul 99
Modifications and dates: There is only evidence of minor changes over the years to markers, windsocks and refueling equipment and sheds. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998).

The underground petrol tank was at the airstrip's south-western end, some 270m from the subject site
"No trace of the ...fuelling facilities.. underground storage tanks...could be found and local informants recall they were removed some time in the 1960's" (Hull, 28/9/16, e-mail).
Further information: It is recommended that steps be taken for the re-opening and permanent conservation (via a Conservation Plan) of the Old Bar Airfield as an historic, operating airfield for air pageants and its traditional low-key use for small aircraft and particularly for emergency purposes. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
Current use: Airfield
Former use: Airfield, air mail and passenger services, national refuelling point, RAAF emergency landing field, coastal surveying base.

History

Historical notes: Old Bar Airfield was constructed in the mid 1920s by George Bunyan as part of the fledgling air mail and aerial passenger services following the Commonwealth Government's decision to call tenders to award contracts for these services. 44 Aerodromes and 90 Emergency Landing Grounds were established in the years to 1926 and Old Bar was the main refueling stop between Sydney and Brisbane.

The airfield was designated as an 'aerodrome' on 6th November, 1930 by the Department of Defence.

A major historical event was the Air Pageant held on 15th and 16th November 1930 with 35 planes including the 'Canberra' owned by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and the 'City of Lismore' piloted by Captain C.T.P. Ulm. The pageant featured 'joyrides' typical of the early aviation 'barnstorming' tradition.

The airfield was the refueling point for Kingsford-Smith and Ulm's Australian National Airways till mid 1931. From July, 1931 New England Airways operated a bi-weekly air service between Sydney and Brisbane stopping at Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour and Old Bar.

The Royal Australian Air Force utilised the airstrip for refueling from the mid to late 1930s with regular visits of up to six Hawker Demons at Old Bar. For twelve months during 1939/40, the RAAF stationed a Wackett Gannet at Old Bar to undertake coastal Surveying and mapping. The Old Bar Aerodrome was designated an emergency landing field for the RAAF during World War II.

The Old Bar Airstrip was visited constantly by the key Australian aviation pioneers including Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, Captain C.T.P. Ulm, Jean Batten and Nancy Bird Walton.

The Airfield was closed by Greater Taree City Council in February, 1989 but was subsequently re-opened on the order of the then Minister for Natural Resources, the Hon. Ian Causley.

On 1st January, 1995 Greater Taree City Council removed runway markers, flight strip markers and the wind sock, effectively closing the airfield. The markers and windsock are presently stored at Taree Airport. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998).

In 2000 a 1.2m high post and wire fence 200m long was constructed at the airstrip's southern end. The 60m wide southern end is also to be fenced, as required by Council's insurers. This will allow the airstrip to be used for landings and take-offs without risk of any vehicle or person crossing the airstrip at the critical moment (Heritage Branch report, 20/8/2000).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Trading along the NSW coast-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Transport-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Tourist Industry-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Providing a venue for significant events-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing national landmarks-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Building the airport network-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Making air journeys-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Building and maintaining the air transport network-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements air transport-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Jean Batten, aviatrice-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, aviator-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George Bunyan, aviator-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Captain C.T.P. Ulm, National Airways-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Nancy Bird Walton, aviatrice-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The item is historically significant because of its key role in the development of Australia's air mail and aerial passenger services, its direct association with aviation pioneers Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, Captain C.T.P Ulm, Jean Batten and Nancy Bird Walton, as the site of an historic air pageant in 1930 and its military use during World War II as a refueling and coastal mapping and surveying station for the RAAF. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The item has high aesthetic significance when viewed from the air because of its setting immediately adjoining the coastline, within an area of native heath vegetation, fringed by eucalypt woodland and with the backdrop of the Manning Estuary and from the aerial perspective the airfield is the predominant landmark with strong sensory appeal in the town of Old Bar. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The item is socially significant because both the local community and the aviation community throughout Australia have recognised and are directly associated with its long history and have campaigned vigorously over many years for its recognition and conservation. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The item has major significance for its ability to contribute to an understanding of the cultural history of Australia's earliest development of an aviation industry and its role in air mail, aerial passenger services and joy flight/aerial pageantry activity. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Old Bar Airfield is a very rare example of an historic airfield in a coastal town setting, similar airfields have been upgraded with tarmac and facilities or have been closed for redevelopment. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Old Bar Airfield represents the typical grassed airfield of the 1920s/1930s that were utilised by Australia's newly founded aviation industry. Its coastal setting with river backdrop, its overall size, runway length and low grassed appearance are compatible with and reminiscent of the 1920s/1930s Kingsford-Smith Airport in Sydney. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
Integrity/Intactness: Old Bar Airfield is largely intact. It was always a simple grassed airstrip in a native vegetation setting and it remains in this condition to the present day. Ephemera such as the windsock and fuel tanks have been re-sited but the windsock is in storage and could be reinstated. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1998)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)02 Nov 16
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)02 Nov 16
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)02 Nov 16
Statutory InstrumentNominate for State Heritage Register (SHR)02 Nov 16

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0130425 Feb 00 291532
Local Environmental Plan I4617 Sep 10   
National Trust of Australia register   27 Jul 98   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGreater Taree City Council1997Old Bar Park Plan of Management
WrittenHLA Envirosciences P/L1996Conservation Assessment of the Old Bar Airstrip, Old Bar, NSW

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5014216
File number: EF14/4669; S95/00007/1-3


Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.