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School yard sale brings clock to museum

1 JUNE 2006

A five-shilling school yard sale has resulted in the National Museum of Australia acquiring a wrecked clock from Australia's first major civil air disaster, 75 years after the Southern Cloud crashed in the Snowy Mountains.

Southern Cloud, operated by the pioneering Australian National Airways, crashed during bad weather on a Sydney to Melbourne flight in 1931. The plane was not found in the subsequent search and its mysterious disappearance and the loss of the eight people on board captured the nation's attention.

The wreckage was found by accident more than two decades later, near Deep Creek, by a worker on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme in 1958. Within days hundreds of people visited the site, many collecting souvenirs.

John Boddington, of Dalton, near Goulburn, bought the battered clock components in 1958 for five shillings from a classmate at Canberra Grammar School, Alan Reid. The son of former Canberra political journalist Alan Reid, Alan junior, visited the site with his father and souvenired the clock from the aircraft's instrument panel. Mr Boddington is now donating the clock to the National Museum.

WHAT: Southern Cloud clock acquisition

WHEN: 10.30am, Friday, 2 June 2006

WHERE: National Museum, Acton Peninsula

National Museum curator Matthew Higgins, who has visited the crash site, donor John Boddington and his former class mate, Alan Reid, will be available to talk about the significance of the clock and its history.

Southern Cloud was one of five Avro X aircraft forming the fleet of Australian National Airways, a company founded in 1929 by aviation pioneers Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm.

Mr Higgins said the crash played an important part in making air travel safer for all Australians as it helped to bring about the adoption of radio in civilian aircraft, allowing changed weather forecasts to be conveyed to pilots.

For interviews, images or more information please contact Leanda Kitchen on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or Ellen Peterson on 02 6208 5351 or media@nma.gov.au