In November last year a famous landmark on the Princes Fwy towards Geelong upped and disappeared. People were concerned, emails were written, phones were called and questions were tweeted. Where had the big blue jumbo gone?
The consternation was understandable. That old Boeing 747-338 had a history as bright and exciting as its one-time Nalanji Dreaming livery, and many people had, over its many years of flight formed nostalgic relationships with it.
The jumbo came off the production line at Seattle (Everett) in 1984 and was registered to Qantas. It flew all over the world and had several names over its time: City of Sydney, City of Warrnambool and then Nalanji Dreaming after Balarinji created its stunning Aboriginal livery in 1995. It finished flying in 2008, was painted blue and red, and has lived at Avalon Airport ever since.
These days the plane is used often – along with Avalon’s hangars – in training as well as film and television work. One of the most joyful functions to date has been helping children with special needs overcome intense fear of flying.
So back to its disappearance.
Facilities Manager, Dave Moreland and his small team of maintenance staff and external contractors worked tirelessly over those several months in a hangar to bring about the plane’s reincarnation. 375 litres of paint was used to smooth out the skin, and the logo and its mirror image were created and placed painstakingly on either side of the tail. The logos are 11m long and made up of several separate pieces each. The new name, and the name of its home - Avalon Airport – is bold in black.
The excitement from the community after it was rolled back outside in February has been palpable. Interest has been piqued, memories stirred, and people are thrilled that care has been taken and respect has been shown.
Dave hasn’t finished yet. Some of the exterior and cockpit lights are now working, but there’s more to be done…