Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Entrance Airstrip - gone but not entirely forgotten

I have my doubts about this first location, but we have one source that says that the Bateau Bay airstrip was at the Entrance, in the grounds of what is now the Entrance High School. It's possible, but it's very close to the township itself and on sloping ground. Whilst that ground would have at least have been drier than the surrounding swamps, there is a second option - another school site at Bateau Bay proper that is flatter and better in every way. Perhaps it was just too swampy? Perhaps the schools moved? We do have a local report that perhaps backs the second site up, which I'll share down the page...

Firstly, just to document the "unlikely" site: assuming it was on the Entrance High site, although the alignment is unknown (to me, anyway) we could assume it ran northeast-southwest (aligned with Newling lane but uphill and aimed at the township) or perhaps more east-west (logical for such a coastal airstrip and flatter but it would conflict with the road layout). More research required I fear. In any case, I still doubt it was the site.  

Bateau Bay, New South Wales at AllExperts
* Bateau Bay was once home to an airstrip known as The Entrance Airstrip. The site of The Entrance Airstrip is now within the grounds of The Entrance High School *

However, much more likley is: the second site (my preferred option) is mentioned by a Gosford Aeromodeller: "The first time I spotted radio control models was in 1972 at the old The Entrance airstrip near Bateau Bay. This area is now occupied by sports fields and a High School. They drew a big crowd on Sundays because of the nearby Entrance road. The club however was soon on the move because permanent flying fields were hard to find, even in those days. By the time I had decided to join they were no longer at Bateau Bay and for a time I was unable to locate them." 

So it was closer to Bateau Bay than The Entrance, putting it down on the flatter land to the south on what is now Tuggerah Lakes College (formerly Bateau Bay High School). A much better site IMHO. This site fits with my recollections as well - although I didn't come to the coast a lot in the late 60's early '70s I could have sworn I saw an old strip down on the flat near the main junction (now a roundabout).

Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.     


Jillian Logan said...

Tuggerah Lakes College WAS The Entrance High School and IS located near Bateau Bay. I believe both descriptions are describing the same site.

gtveloce said...

Excellent, that makes sense! Case closed then, unless someone has pics of aircraft operating out of that site before the school took it over...?

Jimmy said...

The Entrance High was immediately Nth of the Airstrip.
The car park south of the High School is the exact location of the two runway Bush Airstrip. It was decommissioned in 1969, and became overgrown until the Killarney Vale Soccer Club was formed by splitting from The Entrance Club in 1972. They used the land further south for one season before The Entrance Rugby League took over the land next to the Treatment Plant, whilst the soccer club took over the airstrip to this day.

gtveloce said...

Thanks Jimmy, your detailed comment is much appreciated!

Sheryl Neill said...

I was born at The Entrance in 1956. One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather taking a joyride from the aerodrome, I would guess around 1962. He had decided he wanted to take his first flight in a plane before he died. As events transpired it was his only flight.

My childhood memory was that the aerodrome airstrip ran parallel to Gosford road, which would be approximately north-south. I had it in my six-year old mind that the airstrip was on the WEST side of the road, not on the side where the school was built (I was the first School Captain, so know the school well). This returned to tea-tree scrub after the aerodrome closed, until the Bay Village Shopping complex was built. I am happy to be told that my memory is wrong - maybe it was where the sports ovals are now - but it accords with my wife's memory also.

I will try to do some digging - perhaps one of my relatives took a photo of my grandfather's big adventure.

Dr Roger Neill