The idea of moving a house lock, stock and barrel from England to Bundaberg seemed to some people as unlikely a proposition in 1983, as flying from one country to the other must have seemed in the 1920’s.
But, just as Bert Hinkler’s historic flight in his small Avro Avian aeroplane succeeded in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds, so too did the project to preserve his English home as a tribute to his flying achievements.
"Mon Repos" was a substantially built residence of cavity brick construction. The flooring boards, joists and roof rafters are of Baltic pine while the architraves, balustrades and mouldings are of European red wood. The ceilings are of lath and plaster.
The faced and common bricks were made at the Burlesdon Brick Works. The upper rendering is pebble dashing, quite common in Britain. This rendering is well noted for its insulation properties. The Welsh slate roof compliments this English detached cottage.
On 16 June 1984, "Mon Repos", Bert Hinkler’s old home, was officially opened by the Premier of Queensland Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen and the former Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Dorothy Brown.
The project’s success is a tribute to those who contributed and raised the $60,000 needed to bring the project to a successful conclusion and to those who worked tirelessly throughout the relocation and reconstruction process, especially the members of the East Bundaberg Rotary Club.
It was learned late in 1982 that the Southampton City Council planned to demolish the house at Thornhill, Southampton, to make way for a block of old age units. Only a matter of weeks remained before demolition was to take place.
J.A. Rowland, a resident of Bundaberg, submitted a proposal to relocate the house to Bundaberg as a Bicentennial Project. The city’s Bicentennial Committee responded favourably and referred the proposal to the Bundaberg District Bicentennial Co-ordinating Committee which was comprised of members of the three local councils and the then Bundaberg District Tourism and Development Board.
A sub-committee was appointed and approaches were made to the Southampton City Council to defer the demolition. The Southampton City Council gave the sub-committee until March 1983 to provide a financial plan. A work schedule was prepared, which would ensure the house was removed by 30 June 1983.
The deadlines were set and the sub-committee sought State Government backing in addition to private donations. A team of three men, including the initiator of the project, went to Southampton to dismantle Bert Hinkler's old home, "Mon Repos", and the task was completed in four weeks.
Valuable assistance was accepted from Bert Hinkler’s old employer, British Aerospace, the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Navy, the Royal Dutch Navy, Qantas, Woolworths, Wide Bay Capricorn Building Society, Mathers, Westpac and numerous others. An honour board in Hinkler House records the generosity of all donors.
The house was shipped to Australia by O.C.L. and reconstructed on the site of the new City of Bundaberg Botanic Gardens by members of the Rotary Club of East Bundaberg, members of the dismantling team, other volunteers and sub-contractors.
Every fitting that could conceivably be salvaged was included in the shipment, right down to Bert and Nance’s kitchen sink, which was retrieved from a well in the back yard of "Mon Repos", adjacent to the site of the old shed, in which the Ibis had been stored by Bert Hinkler in 1930. A point of interest is, that Bert Hinkler’s log book of his 1928 flight to Australia was found in a wing stub of the Ibis stored at "Mon Repos" in 1953.
Today, the Hinkler House Memorial Museum stands in Bert Hinkler’s home town as a fitting memorial and lasting tribute to his outstanding aviation achievements.
The Hinkler Hall of Aviation and Hinkler House Memorial Museum are arranged as a pictorial and general memorabilia display centre, with several special items belonging to the famous aviator on display. Also on display are the five aircraft central to Hinkler's aviation career.
Call the Hinkler Hall of Aviation on (07) 4130 4400 to make arrangements for school visits, bus tours, and special visits. Entry charges and concessional rates apply.
Click here to read more about the history of Hinkler House.