Brisbane’s second airport, located 11km south of the CBD and once the home of QANTAS, Ansett and TAA, has a history dating back to 1855 when the land on which it stands was purchased and later built upon by publican of South Brisbane’s Grenier’s Inn, Thomas Grenier.
In 1859 his 16 year old son Volney was killed in a riding accident and his grave and memorial on their property was decreed God’s Acre, which went on to become a small cemetery for family and surrounding residents and still sits on the edge of Archerfield Airport.
The airport had its beginnings in 1927 when a flying instructor for Qantas landed his DH-61 on a paddock of Franklin’s Farm which was a subdivided holding of one of Grenier’s sons. His mission was to scout for a likely aerodrome site, and, being out of town and on flat ground, the subsequent survey conducted by BCC deemed it suitable.
In 1929 the government purchased the required land from the farm owners and named the site Archerfield. In the early 1930’s after hangars were built QANTAS moved their operations from Eagle Farm to here, followed by the two domestic airlines Ansett ANA and TAA and all three airlines flew out of here until after World War II when, in 1949 they moved back to Eagle Farm.
The fully preserved art deco passenger terminal designed in the ‘30’s and built in 1941 still stands, with its oak-panelled entry and ticket desk and carpeted observation lounge much the same as it would have looked when hatted and gloved passengers passed through in flying’s glamour days.
The air traffic control tower that was built at the same time and stood on the roof of the terminal has now been moved to the far side of the airfield.
During World War II the airport was occupied by the military and accommodated the RAAF, US Army Air Forces, The Royal Navy Air Arm and the Royal Netherlands Air Force as well as being a major offloading port for military planes and equipment. Situated along Kerry road on the outskirts of the airport lies the heritage listed Archerfield Second World War Igloos Complex – a small cluster of the distinctive curved corrugated iron hulks which dotted the Brisbane landscape during the war years. Three of these were hangars and one a store.
It's worth noting that one of the world's oldest flying schools, The Royal Queensland Aero Club, whose pioneering members included Bert Hinkler, Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and Lores Bonney, still operates out of Archerfield.
Today the airport (which since 1998 has been privately owned and operated by the Bird family) is the south-east’s centre for Civil Aviation where plane spotters may stumble across vintage aeroplanes such as Antonovs and Tiger Moths parked on the tarmac. For aviation aficionados there’s also an Aviation shop on site, selling model planes, pilot’s epaulettes, aviation books, posters and wings.
On Saturday October 7th, as part of Brisbane Open House 2017, members of the public can get a fascinating insight into Archerfield's rich history with tours of the art deco terminal, historic hangars and the little Gods Acre Cemetery. Airside bus tours are available throughout the day from 10am-4pm. More info here