We love museums! We find interest in anything that makes its way into a museum, so it doesn't take much convincing for us to decide to visit any museum! The kids tell us that they like them too, which is great! When we discovered that the RAAF Amberley Air Force Base opens its doors once a month (every third Sunday) to allow visits to a museum located on the base, we couldn't resist going along for a visit!
Amberley Air Force Base is located just to the west of Ipswich, roughly about 45 minutes’ drive from Brisbane. Before heading off, you will need to know that the museum is on an operating military base, and as such access may be subject to change at short notice. There is a form (download from the RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre website) that you will need to complete prior to entering the base which designates one person (usually the driver), who is responsible for the others travelling with them. You will also need some photo ID (license or passport) for the adults.
Open arrival at the base, which with a well maintained F-111 open-air, static display is very impressive in its own right, we were greeted by some very professional (but helpful and friendly) defence force personnel who checked our forms and ID and gave a brief run-down of where to go and what do. Please make sure that you complete your forms before you go! This will speed up the process and keep the traffic flowing through the entrance. There is a carpark at the entrance where we stopped to get out and have a closer look at the F-111 - these truly are impressive machines! It's very well maintained and cleaned and looks like they could fire it up straight away (although I don't think it any engines currently - this could be an issue)! The kids were suitably impressed! The area is all shaded so at this point you don't need to be prepared - simply park your car and cross the road and enjoy!
Once we thought we had soaked up enough of the first F-111 (don't worry, there are more!), we hopped back in the car and headed off to the museum. It's only a couple of minutes’ drive down the road (not walking distance) and we have some more defence personnel providing directions so that you don't inadvertently head off into a restricted area. Just remember, although you are welcome to take photos while at the museum, there is photography is not permitted between the entrance and the museum. Following further directions into the carpark, we had arrived! Luckily enough for us, there was a C-17 Globemaster taking off just as we were getting the kids and pram out of the car - very impressive! The carpark and the museum are quite close, so you don't really need to pack much as you leave the car - however we did put on a bit of sunscreen and kept a waterbottle and snacks handy as the museum is spread over a few hangers and there are some exhibits out in the open. There are toilets and some snacks available inside as well as souvenirs for sale.
The first hanger that we entered holds a couple of planes and helicopters as well as a small souvenir stand. The aircraft are very well presented and you can get really close. Outside the hanger there is a Caribou which you can climb up into, but only kids of a certain size are able to hop up into the pilots seat - not sure of the requirements as it's largely determined by the volunteer in the plane. There are two other hangers with aircraft - one houses a number of military jets while the other holds a World War 2 era medium bomber. All hangers have various other military memorabilia and exhibits. The day that we were there was also a military brass band - not sure if the band is a regular presence or if we were just lucky that day? In any case, it really added to the atmosphere of the museum and the little kids enjoyed it. A visit to the Amberley Air museum is a really nice half-day out, however there is probably not enough to keep you here for a full day unless you are a real aviation buff. It's a great size museum for the little ones and having the Caribou for them to climb into really made their day! If only we could have had a few more jets taking off from the runway - they are really impressive! The defence force personnel and volunteers staffing the museum are a credit and they are more than helpful in providing information about the exhibits and the museum.
Amenities: A working facility, plenty of shade and shelter and a toilet block 👍👍👍👍
Cost: Free to visit, donations are encouraged. 👍👍👍👍
Parking: The carpark did fill up when we visited - I am sure that they have an overflow area somewhere! 👍👍👍👍
Access: No problems whatsoever with access, however don't forget your completed form and identification! Not sure about public transport? 👍👍👍
Entertainment: The brass band provided a nice backdrop to the visit! 👍👍👍
Best for: The whole family 👍👍👍👍
Wildlife: Not really why we visited – but there is a small zoo in Ipswich if you plan a stop! 👍
Summary: Definitely one to put on the list. As it is only once a month, you will need to plan your visit and maybe plan for somewhere to stop off in Ipswich for lunch! 👍👍👍👍
Hints: Stop at the F-111 on your way into the museum as it's easier to make your way into and out of the carpark!
Brisbane Family Explorers