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Melbourne, 26 February to 21 March

As in Sydney, the airmen were hugely popular. Even on the first night they were guests of honour at a theatre production, and their every move was chronicled. A display of souvenirs at the Kodak shop was very popular, including a Kewpie doll which was a mascot. They were lent a Crossley car for their use while in Melbourne. They were deluged with good wishes, offers of paid lecture tours, and even marriage proposals, which they politely declined!

Melbourne was the acting national capital, pending the construction of Canberra. The Prime Minister, ‘Billy’ Hughes was keen to join the celebrations, and on Friday 27 February the £10,000 cheque was presented at the Victorian Parliament House, Melbourne, the temporary premises of the Federal Government.

The airmen were greeted by a cheering crowd, were presented with the cheque in the Prime Minister’s office, and then were guests at an official luncheon. Picture PRG18/7 NT Library

The plan was to fly on to Adelaide within a week. It was proposed that the Vimy might be brought to Flemington to go on public display, but the airmen wanted good security for the machine, which had previously been written on and even had people’s names scratched into the fabric with pocket knives.

The airmen continued their busy schedule of social engagements, and the newspapers ran many aviaton-related and background articles. Bennett and Shiers were given military promotions: there had been some newspaper articles that inferred that their contributions had not been given the recognition that they deserved.

The machine, however, remained at Point Cook while being repaired by Point Cook mechanics, and the first test flight actually occurred on 15 March. There had been a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ activity: Ross wanted to fly to Adelaide, his home town, but others, including some people from Vickers, were concerned at the state of the machine and would have been happier if the flight had been ended at Melbourne.

In the end the aircraft was fully overhauled. On Friday 19 March the aircraft made its long-delayed flight over Melbourne, and on behalf of Vickers Ross presented the machine to the Commonwealth of Australia. The agreement was that the aircraft would fly to Adelaide, then be given to the new war museum that was being established.

Related newspaper articles       Melbourne Ross Smith lecture.pdf   melbourne departure for Adelaide.pdf     melbourne departure for Adelaide.pdf