• Loddon Herald

Air race has special place

THE first official air race in Australia flew from Serpentine in central Victoria to the Melbourne Town Hall on Friday 27 August 1920.

The event was the joyous finale for the four aviators of the famous Australian Flying Corp - Matheson, McKenzie, Mustard and Treloar - with four mechanics, Bacon, Hankin, Hazlitt and Moss who had been traversing Victoria during August 1920 promoting the latest Commonwealth Government bond sale.

The Second Peace Loan saw £25 million raised from Australian-based businesses and individuals.

The money was used to service existing war effort loans, repatriate the war-weary servicemen and women back into civilian life with hospitals, housing, retraining, employment, restructure of industry to peace time work, farming land acquisition to name but a few.

Residents of the rural district of East Loddon more than 100 years ago also raised enough funds to build a home in Melbourne for a limbless soldier.

The 1920 race flew to St Kilda and around the Christ Church spire before heading to the General Post Office in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, and crossing the line at Melbourne Town Hall.

A large crowd assembled at the “winning post”, Melbourne Town Hall, to see Treloar win in one hour 15 minutes and 17 seconds, and the second and third place-getters arriving two minutes later, only eight seconds apart.

Their deeds gave the Second Peace Loan a flying start with more £300,000 raised within hours of the race finishing.

By the September, Sir Joseph Cook told Parliament: “Due success of the second Commonwealth Peace Loan is now beyond doubt, and, though final figures cannot be given at this stage, the information to hand enables me to make the unqualified statement that more than £25,000,000 will be secured, and the loan over-subscribed.

“The amount actually in hand in the Commonwealth Bank up to mid-day today is £25,046,470, and our experience in the past indicates that the mails from country districts, which will reach the various State capitals during the next few days, will bring further substantial amounts, which, together with some large subscriptions, of which we have been notified, but which are not yet actually in hand, will bring the total up to substantially more than the £25,000,000 required.”

The East Loddon community has never forgotten its role in Australia’s first air race and raising funds for the Second Peace Loan.

The centenary plaque was unveiled in Serpentine’s in TJ Rudkins Reserve in 2020, affixed to the propeller monument unveiled on Australia Day 1986.



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