Rathmines Catalina Festival
What is the Rathmines Catalina Festival?
The Rathmines Catalina Festival is an annual celebration of the rich history of the WWII RAAF Base. Now in its 7th year, the festival promotes the significance of the base both locally and nationally.
The Rathmines RAAF base reached its peak strength of almost 3,000 RAAF personnel in 1944-45. It comprised 230 buildings and marine facilities and there were forty aircraft in service. Once clouded in secrecy, information about the base is now filtering through to the wider community. A considerable number of Catalinas and their crews were lost (32 CATS and 330 crew). It is only in the last few years that more research has been undertaken and the real history of the Base is coming to light.
The Base has continuing social significance to WWII service personnel and to the community of Lake Macquarie, who recognise the site’s history and continue to use the site, creating an evolving landscape which retains significant elements of the RAAF base. The festival aims to educate the wider community, especially our youth, about the base and the significance it has to the way of life we now enjoy. At the same time, the festival provides a family orientated event that includes displays by Sea Planes and Tiger Moths.
At the festival the Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Trust displays artefacts and memorabilia from the original Base. Over the years the festival has included a march to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Base and a memorial service for those who lost their lives in action.
The festival also aims to raise income to assist the Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd restore the Catalina purchased from Portugal in 2008, establish a hangar and museum on the Rathmines site and display VH-CAT to Rathmines.
The festival has a special relationship with the RAAF No. 11 Squadron, who operate out of RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia. They attended the event on many occasions and presented the festival organisers with a Battle Flag from Afghanistan.
This event is unique in the region and is the largest community festival held in the Lake Macquarie local government area.