A Lysaght hangar left languishing in a Queensland paddock for decades has gained a new lease on life after being rescued and refurbished for a very special purpose on a very unique site.
The hangar has found a home at Possum Park, a tourist accommodation complex near Miles, 340 km west of Brisbane, where it will provide protection for a painstakingly restored 50s-era TAA Vickers Viscount 756 passenger aircraft.
Hardly your average tourist haven, Possum Park was known as 3CR RAAF Kowguran during WWII and was the largest bomb and ammunition dump on the Brisbane Line, our last line of defence in the event of a much-feared Japanese invasion.
Then a top-secret facility, heavily guarded by Australian airmen, the depot held up to two and a half thousand tons of high explosive bombs and ammunition, all hidden in twenty well protected underground bunkers.
Those bomb bunkers have now been developed into truly unique motel-style units, while the troop trains that bought 'the boys' and the bombs to 'Kowguran' have been re-fitted as modern self-contained motel-style units.
Thanks to inspired thinking (and a lot of hard work) on the part of Possum Park’s owners of 30 years, David and Julie Hinds, the historic base which gave Australians peace of mind during WWII is now a quiet and peaceful place where the only invasion is one of curious tourists.
Formerly a farmer, David now cultivates history at his unusual tourist haven, with one of the most recent projects having been the restoral of the Vickers Viscount to its former glory with a view to creating a very special airline-themed accommodation option for visitors.
“The Vickers Viscount 756 was Vickers’ first real passenger airliner built after the war and was very popular; it sold all over the world to major airlines including TAA, which is where our Viscount hails from,” David explained.
“Ours had basically been sitting in an industrial lot in Toowoomba for 40 years when we bought it in 2013, so it needed a lot of work; we spent the last three years panel beating, building wings and painting it in its original TAA livery and we’ve been given the tick of approval by a lot of ex-TAA pilots and flight attendants, which we’re pleased with.”
In fact, the only tick of approval the Hinds’ didn’t receive was for insurance, being told their beautiful old bird wouldn’t be covered by insurance unless it was covered by a hangar.
Which was when the old WWII Lysaght hangar David and wife Julie had purchased 20 years ago in a clearance sale was called back into duty and the Lysaght Toowoomba branch was called on for assistance.
“We started researching the hangar to see how it should go together and found out that these igloo structures had been built just prior to World War II at Port Kembla in a partnership between The American Rolling Mill Company and Lysaght,” David said.
“Our hangar was a heap of rusty junk when we bought it, so it took a bit of time on the part of our chronologically challenged team of volunteer workers to get the frame ready to go; the hangar is 30.5 metres long and 10.4 metres high and we had to sandblast and straighten the entire frame, then rustproof it and paint it all silver.”
Having decided to erect the Lysaght hangar, and to do it authentically, David and Julie naturally turned to Lysaght for the sheeting required to clad the hangar and worked with Toowoomba Branch Manager Hayley Eccles to find the right solution.
“There was approximately 700sqm of sheeting required and we quoted both ZINCALUME® steel and COLORBOND® steel for the project,” Hayley said.
“It was decided to use LYSAGHT CUSTOM BLUE ORB® in ZINCALUME® steel, which is a more ductile corrugated roof and wall cladding very suitable for curving into concave and convex shapes, and we then pre-curved the sheeting to achieve the required radius for David and Julie’s hangar.
“David and Julie have done amazing things at Possum Park and it was a pleasure to be able to assist them,” Hayley concluded. “It was also a very special opportunity to restore part of Lysaght’s wartime heritage and we were pleased to be part of that.”
David also enjoyed working with Lysaght on the project is extremely pleased with the results.
“Our deadline was the end of August, 2016, and we made it and the hangar is fantastic,” David said. “Our son Robert is a builder and he and his three young tradesmen did it all; it’s taken a lot of work, but it looks the part.
“It was certainly a very cleverly though out prefabricated building; with the footings in, it all just bolts together, so the boys worked along and put the arches up, then the cross-bracing and the horizontal bracing – it all just fell into place.”
For more information on Possum Park, visit www.possumpark.com