The Last Voyage of the Melbourne -

The Caloundra Connection


One year before the Queensland Air Museum chose Caloundra as its home, the former HMAS Melbourne almost made Caloundra her final home as well. On 1 May 1985, the decommissioned aircraft carrier was making her melancholy final voyage under tow to a breaker's yard in China. Thirty knot winds threatened to part the towline while the former flagship was abeam Caloundra. Two tugs were sent from Brisbane to assist and the Melbourne was eventually anchored in Moreton Bay near the Tangalooma resort while the towing gear was repaired.

As the tow was about to resume on 16 May, a Chinese seaman was injured when a towing bridle fell on him while he was in a small boat under the bow of the Melbourne. He was transported by State Emergency Services helicopter to Royal Brisbane Hospital for treatment and eventual repatriation to China. The Melbourne eventually arrived in the Chinese port of Zhongshan on 13 June. Before the ship was broken up, the Melbourne, along with several former Soviet aircraft carriers, was studied by Chinese naval architects who had been charged with building China's first aircraft carrier.