The Uiver Collection

Albury achieved world attention during the running of the London to Melbourne centenary air race. The story of the Dutch DC-2 airliner 'Uiver' and the role Albury residents played in its rescue in 1934, is a fascinating and important event in the city's history.

All artefacts in this collection relate to the Dutch DC-2 airliner 'Uiver'. Built in 1933, the Uiver was the first of 18 DC-2 aircraft acquired by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for passenger transport. It was the first flying machine with automatic steering and one of the few aircraft with retractable landing gear. It was also the first plane to feature an entirely separate cockpit and food preparation area.

Keen to exploit the possibilities of world air travel, KLM entered the Uiver in the 1934 London to Melbourne air race. The event was sponsored by Sir MacPherson Robertson, the chocolate millionaire who believed it a fitting way to celebrate Melbourne 's centenary.

On 20 October, 20 aircraft, including the Uiver, took off from Mildenhall, England for the epic 19,800 km event across the globe to Melbourne, Australia.

The Uiver carried a crew of four, under Captain K.D. Parmentier, and three passengers. It was the only race entrant with fare-paying passengers.

The aircraft performed well and was only a few hours behind the leader when it left Charleville, Queensland on the last leg to Melbourne. But a fierce electrical storm cut wireless contact and the Uiver drifted off course, becoming hopelessly lost.

RAAF signallers at Laverton were trying in vain to contact the plane. They alerted all towns along the route to be ready to help. Radio stations broadcast messages, navy ships switched on their searchlights and railway stations along the Melbourne to Albury line put on signal lamps.

Albury's municipal electrical engineer used the entire town lighting system to flash the word ALBURY in Morse code. Just after midnight, the aircraft was heard circling the town.

Arthur Newnham from the local ABC radio station 2CO broadcast an appeal for listeners to take their cars to the Albury racecourse and line-up so a landing strip could be illuminated with headlights.

At 1.17am, the Uiver dropped two parachute flares and made its approach to land. It bumped several times on the undulating centre of the racecourse and slithered to a halt 100 yards short of the inner fence. The aircraft was safe.

Around the world, millions of people huddled anxiously over their wireless, breathed a collective sigh of relief.

But the drama was not over. Daybreak saw eight tonnes of DC-2 bogged in thick Albury mud. The Mayor, Alderman Alf Waugh rallied 300 people to dig it out and haul the Uiver to firmer ground.

Later that morning, the Uiver resumed its flight to Melbourne, taking second place in the great race and winning the handicap.

Sadly in December 1934, the Uiver crashed in the Syrian Desert during a mail flight from America to Jakarta killing all onboard. Following the tragedy, the people of Albury contributed to a memorial erected in Holland to honour those killed in the crash. The Uiver collection documents and commemorates this historic event.

  • See more of the collection on Flickr

Royal honour for Uiver historian

An amateur historian who has dedicated countless hours to promoting and preserving the story of the Uiver has received a Dutch Royal Decoration from the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mrs Erica Schouten.

On 6 March, retired lawyer Noel Jackling was named Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau for his longstanding and dedicated work on the promotion of the Uiver story and the preservation and extension of the now heritage-listed Uiver collection at the Albury LibraryMuseum.

Mr Jackling, who has been fascinated since a young age by the story of the Uiver’s dramatic emergency at the Albury Showgrounds in 1934, said it was a great honour to have his passion for the famous story recognised by the Netherlands Government.

During a special ceremony at the Albury LibraryMuseum, Ambassador Schouten said Mr Jackling had greatly contributed to keeping the Uiver story fresh in people’s minds through his many publications and contributions to the Uiver Collection.

The legendary landing of the DC-2 on a dark and stormy night 84 years has forged indelible bonds between the people of Albury and Holland – and the award to Mr Jackling provides formal recognition of those bonds as AlburyCity continues to nurture the story.

Prior to the decoration ceremony, Ambassador Schouten, who is the Patron of the Uiver Memorial Community Trust, visited the Uiver Memorial DC-2 Restoration Project at the Albury Airport, and praised the Trust volunteers who are working to ensure the replica survives as a tangible link to Albury’s place in local and international history.

More information on Dutch decorations and orders can be found here