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National Museum of Australia

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Ruined dashboard clock from Australian National Airways Avro X aircraft 'Southern Cloud', which crashed in 1931

2006.0039.0001

Ruined dashboard clock from Australian National Airways Avro X aircraft 'Southern Cloud', which crashed in 1931

Object information

Physical description

Ruined dashboard clock from Avro X aircraft 'Southern Cloud'. The clock is in pieces, including: a round rusty metal clock case with a small bolt hanging from the rim on the side; two circular clock face bezels, one with a ridged surface pattern; a severely corroded clock face without numerals or hands, a rust-stained base plate consisting of a flat metal circle with a small round mechanism attached to the back; two five-spoke gear wheels; a three-spoke balance wheel; an escapement platform; an upper balance bridge; a pallet bridge; and three pieces of broken glass, possibly part of the clock face cover.

Statement of significance

The John Boddington Collection consists of the remains of the clock from the instrument panel of the aircraft Southern Cloud.

Southern Cloud, operated by Australian National Airways, crashed in 1931 during appalling weather on the Sydney-Melbourne route. The wreck was not found in the subsequent search and the mystery of the plane's disappearance captured the nation's attention during the dark days of the Depression. It was Australia's first major civil aviation disaster. Only in 1958 - and quite by accident - was the wreckage found by a worker on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. A significant outcome of the crash was a recommendation for the adoption of radio in civil aircraft in Australia, enabling changed weather forecasts to be conveyed to aircrews. The loss of Southern Cloud and the eight persons on board played a part in creating safer air travel for all Australians. The surviving handful of damaged clock components forms a poignant and graphic reminder of the dangers of flying in the 1930s.

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