Rathmines, NSW

August 8, 2013 at 11:30 am | Posted in Australia, History, Tourism, Travel, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 12 Comments
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We went to nearby Rathmines recently. It is just a few km along the shore from where we live, on the western shore of Lake Macquarie. We bought a coffee at the Bakery and took it to the park next to F Jetty. There are several parks and walking paths in and around the village.

There used to be an RAAF station at Rathmines, with a squadron of Catalina flying boats based there during World War II.

Rathmines RAAF Base c1943. F Jetty is in the bay below the top left-hand corner of the photo.

Rathmines RAAF Base c1943. F Jetty is in the bay below the top left-hand corner of the photo.

F Jetty was part of the station. It was used by the boats that carried supplies and equipment to the base and out to the moored “Black Cats”, as the black-painted Catalinas were known. This squadron operated up the east coast of Australia as far New Guinea. They were low and slow flying planes, and the dull black paint provided camouflage on their night flights.

Restored Black Cat coming in to land at Rathmines Catalina Festival 2012

Restored Black Cat coming in to land at Rathmines Catalina Festival 2012

Many of the former RAAF buildings are still there.

The former RAAF buildings have been transformed into more peaceful uses now. They include a band hall (former Sergeants’ Mess), a bowling club (the former Officers’ Mess), a recently-closed aged care facility (the former RAAF hospital); a Christadelphian camp (the former barracks, relocated & grouped in their present site).

Rathmines, 2012, Bottom left – Bowling Club; Group of buildings in centre –camp run by Christadelphians; Middle right – F Jetty; the grey and white areas between the camp buildings and the jetty is where the aeroplane maintenance sheds once were (grey) next to the hard stand (white), where the Cats came up out of the water to the shore.

Rathmines, 2012, Bottom left – Bowling Club; Group of buildings in centre –camp run by Christadelphians; Middle right – F Jetty; the grey and white areas between the camp buildings and the jetty is where the aeroplane maintenance sheds once were (grey) next to the hard stand (white), where the Cats came up out of the water to the shore.

Modern-day Rathmines is just one of the many pleasant lake-side towns that are now part of the City of Lake Macquarie. The city is made up of over ninety small communities that are situated around the extensive shores of the lake.

Lake Macquarie itself is the largest coastal salt water lake in Australia. It is also the largest permanent salt water lake in the southern hemisphere. It covers an area of 110 square kilometres (42.5 sq. miles), and has 174 km (108 miles) of foreshore. It is a wonderful location for all kinds of water-based activities – sailing; cruising; fishing; water skiing, etc, as well as bushwalking, the arts and many other activities.

Rathmines is just one of the places around the lake that I love to visit, and I am really pleased that I live by this wonderful body of water.

Do you have an area that really speaks to you? Where would you live if you could?

© Linda Visman
August 2013

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  1. The hill in Maimuru is a place which I can never forget. The dusty dirt roads were great to walk and ride along and enjoying the various kinds of fruit when they came to ripen. In summer I can recollect watching the lightning far away on a hot summers eve. It was fun to coast down on the bicycles but without the gears which bicycles have now a days the ride back up was a bit tough.

    • I love the way you’ve written about Maimuru, Paul. It was a special place wasn’t it. 🙂 I think, because we lived there longer than anywhere else when you were all growing up, it was even more special than it might otherwise have been.
      Remember how I made lots of jam with the wild plums that grew down the hill, and bottled so many cherries that they lasted several years after we left there?
      You boys had a freedom as children that not many can enjoy these days. It is a time to look back on with pleasure – and a certain amount of grief for the loss.

  2. What a marvellous bit of history,Linda. I love aircraft, even flew them for awhile, so the Catalina really caught my eye. I didn’t know that those specific Catalinas were called Black cats. Lovely post – thank you.

    • Don, there is a festival every year at Rathmines to celebrate the part the Black Cats played in the defence of Australia. It helps to raise funds for the purchase and refurbishment of two Catalinas from overseas. They will be airworthy, and flown to Rathmines to make up a significant part of the proposed museum there. They just have to get the funds to build that now.
      My father was an RAF WWII pilot & my husband is a plane nut, so I take an interest in them too. When I was a teenager, I wanted to join the RAAF, but it wasn’t something a girl did then.

      • I think that’s wonderful, I really hope they get those funds. Imagine if you were able to join now, Linda, you’d probably be able to fly some of the most sophisticated aircraft around. I see in the USAF women are even flying F18’s. Just a different world we live in.

      • Yes, a different world all right, Don!

  3. We are very lucky aren’t we, Linda, living where we do? The catalina that crashed at Jimmy’s Beach, Port Stephens in 1943 was evidently flying home to the Rathmines base when it crashed.

    • Yes, I suppose it would have been heading back to Rathmines, Debbie.
      And yes, we constantly express our gratitude at where we live, the beauty & the friendships. 🙂

  4. […] is the second of two posts about the morning we spent at Rathmines. The first post is here. I sat at a picnic table in the park next to F-Jetty so I could do some writing. But the winter day […]

  5. Linda, I enjoyed reading your notes about your wanderings near and about the old RAAF base and hospital at Rathmines. The refurbishment of the nursing home building is coming along nicely and will soon be open again as the Catalina Conference Centre, for community use for seminars, group events etc., for family reunions and especially in relation to its primary purpose – a place for wheelies and their families, carers and friends.to enjoy time together. The surrounding park is such an asset to the community, and the location is idyllic. Keep up the excellent writing and reporting on the treasures found around LakeMac.


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