HomeHistoryHinkler Lions celebrate legacy with link to glider

Hinkler Lions celebrate legacy with link to glider

Hinkler Lions glider history
Bundaberg Hinkler Lions Club President Warren McLucas with some of the club's historical records beneath the glider they helped to restore in 1973. Photo: Morgan Everett

The Bundaberg Hinkler Lions Club recently delved into their historical records to explore how their connection to Bert Hinkler goes further than just their name.

The club played a significant role in rebuilding the replica of Bert Hinkler’s glider which proudly hangs in the foyer at the Hinkler Hall of Aviation, having originally been flown at Mon Repos in 1912.

The story is being highlighted as part of the Australian Heritage Festival’s theme of ‘connection’, with Bundaberg Regional Council celebrating the region’s link to Bert Hinkler.

The remains of the original glider were discovered during renovations at Bert Hinkler's childhood home in 1972, with two main wing structures made of light laminated pine still intact.

After being assessed by retired Wing Commander Roy Bettiens, the glider was removed by Jack Yunker and members of the Palm family before the decision was made to rebuild it as a memorial in 1973.

Members of the Hinkler Lions Club including John Wientjens (president at the time), Maurie Andersen and Pat Waterson inspected the glider wing structures and announced that the club would undertake the project of restoring it.

Current Hinkler Lions Club president Warren McLucas said the club was very proud of its historical links to the project and he had enjoyed looking through old records to learn more about it.  

“Oh I was pretty excited about [reading the records] really because our club was named after Bert Hinkler and the boys put in a lot of hours after they found the wing and decided to rebuild it,” Warren said.

“There were a lot of talented men in our club and they did this.

“There’s one member, Ron Toft, who’s still around and did a lot of work on this.”

Hinkler Lions glider history
The Bundaberg Hinkler Lions Club albums include photographs and newspaper clippings from the Hinkler glider restoration project. Photo: Morgan Everett

Restoration begins

The club began work on the restoration at the Palm Centre workshop in Bourbong Street in 1973, with many parts broken, disintegrated or lost.

By 1977 the restoration had progressed to the point where the wings and tail plane had been shaped and the Gliding Club offered to help with covering the wings, tail plane and rudder.

Local businesses assisted with material and financial support and information was provided by the Palm family including Bert’s sister Queenie.

The replica glider was displayed at the Hinkler Golden Jubilee Air Pageant on 4 May 1978 in a nearly completed condition with the final construction work undertaken by the club in 1979.

The glider was skinned with help from the Bundaberg Soaring Club and displayed in the Bundaberg Tourist Information Centre in 1983 before it found its current home in the foyer of the Hinkler Hall of Aviation on 7 December 2008.

“The club just wants to see the history of Bundaberg [preserved], for the things from Bundaberg to stay here and be restored,” Warren said.

“I wish there were some more projects like that to do now!”

A proud history

The Bundaberg Hinkler Lions Club was established in 1970 by a group of 20 local men with the aim of serving the community under the banner of Lions Clubs International.

The group continues its work in a variety of ways, through volunteering at events and in times of emergency, and through fundraising to support the needy in the Bundaberg community.

The club is always open to new members and meets on the third Tuesday of every month.

“We have 22 members and still growing, we’re still raising money and giving it all away,” said Warren.

For more information on the club or to join, please email bundaberghinkler.qld@lions.org.au.

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