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Canberra airport tree cross??

By Bundah_Bloke 22 May 2011 20


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Does anyone know the meaning and history behind the large cross of trees near the airport?

On Google Earth it’s called an aircraft beacon. Was it some sort of navigational aid in the past?

The trees look fairly old so it must have been planted 50+ years ago me thinks.

I know the disaster memorial is a good 2km away so I don’t think it’s related to that event. I’m curious as to why it was planted there.

You can find it in Google earth with the following co-ords

Lat 35°19’38.13″S
Long 149°12’48.14″E

cross of trees at Canberra airport

What’s Your opinion?


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Canberra airport tree cross??
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troll-sniffer 1:07 pm 23 May 11

eily said :

Aubergine said :

Speaking of crosses, there’s another good one out east of Briars Sharrow Rd, between Captains Flat and Bungendore.

I think this ones an antenna array. But don’t know what or who for.

It’s a radio telescope, run by one of the Sydney Unis if memory serves. Google Mills Cross for more information. It is a VFR (visual) reporting point for aircraft coming in from the E/SE into Canberra.

troll-sniffer 12:44 pm 23 May 11

davo101 said :

It’s a windbreak on the top of a hill. If you have a look to the east there is another windbreak running north-south. As the windbreak is on the top of a hill overlooking Fairbairn it is also home to an obstruction light as are a lot of the hilltop around the airport. So the fact that a aircraft beacon is in the middle of a cross of tress is a coincidence.

No it’s not. This cross shaped set of trees was planted for the purpose, as more than one historian has informed me. Unfortunately a Google search fails to uncover documentation, but it is a well known pre-modern era navigation/identification aid for Canberra airfield.

p1 12:02 pm 23 May 11

qbngeek said :

Isn’t there an old munitions bunker around there somewhere???

Actually, there are four old munitions bunkers out there. One is used by the Police, the other three by sheep.

Gerry-Built said :

Father-in-Law used to change the bulbs in these beacons around Canberra…

Why do trees need bulbs? 🙂

Jclarke 11:24 am 23 May 11

reckon that air port becon exists as it is today?

Gungahlin Al 11:03 am 23 May 11

In one of those curious coincidences, the redwood plantation mentioned below (which is on the other side of the road and further west – marked on the map) was written up in CT this Saturday by Time the Yowie Man.

eily 10:46 am 23 May 11

Aubergine said :

Speaking of crosses, there’s another good one out east of Briars Sharrow Rd, between Captains Flat and Bungendore.

I think this ones an antenna array. But don’t know what or who for.

Jivrashia 10:36 am 23 May 11

Maybe it’s just a bit of fun art, like the one at Rottnest Island near Perth?

davo101 10:09 am 23 May 11

It’s a windbreak on the top of a hill. If you have a look to the east there is another windbreak running north-south. As the windbreak is on the top of a hill overlooking Fairbairn it is also home to an obstruction light as are a lot of the hilltop around the airport. So the fact that a aircraft beacon is in the middle of a cross of tress is a coincidence.

Aubergine 9:51 am 23 May 11

Speaking of crosses, there’s another good one out east of Briars Sharrow Rd, between Captains Flat and Bungendore.

ConanOfCooma 8:38 am 23 May 11

There is also one South of Michelago, between the highway and the Eastern ranges, made out of pine trees.

troll-sniffer 11:10 pm 22 May 11

The cross would have been an additional aid for pilots approaching Canberra in the early days of radio-based navigational aids, when the technology was at best only partially reliable. In addition, a lot of aircraft would not have had any navigational equipment and in times of reduced visibility the cross of trees would have been much more visible than almost any other ground detail, and at a known distance from the field, would have allowed a pilot to head north west and soon locate the field.

The other visual point I hadn’t heard of, the only thing I can see in Google Earth is a circle of trees lined up with runway 35 near the back of the racecourse. Is that what is referred to as ‘painted’ on the railway tracks, as I cannot see anything ‘painted’ anywhere that would be as visible from an aircraft as the cross of trees.

Bundah_Bloke 9:47 pm 22 May 11

RedDogInCan said :

Here’s a clue – it has written on it exactly what it is – an aircraft beacon. It belongs to the Departmet of Defence and was established years ago before such things as radio beacons and GPS to allow aircraft to locate themselves with respect to the nearby airfield.

If you look along the railway line near Hume you will see another painted on the tracks – this one is still in use in case of landing instrument failure.

Can you please give a more precise description of the location of this painted cross, I couldn’t see anything around Hume.

Gerry-Built 4:50 pm 22 May 11

Father-in-Law used to change the bulbs in these beacons around Canberra… it was a fulltime job for two men. Apparently the bulbs, about the size of a 10ltr bucket, were exciting to watch explode as they hit the ground… not sure if they still use the same bulbs…

ThatUniStudent 4:28 pm 22 May 11

RedDogInCan said :

Here’s a clue – it has written on it exactly what it is – an aircraft beacon. It belongs to the Departmet of Defence and was established years ago before such things as radio beacons and GPS to allow aircraft to locate themselves with respect to the nearby airfield.

If you look along the railway line near Hume you will see another painted on the tracks – this one is still in use in case of landing instrument failure.

Is this it at 35°22’55.63″S 149°10’52.66″E and 35°23’3.85″S 149°10’44.92″E ?

RedDogInCan 2:52 pm 22 May 11

Here’s a clue – it has written on it exactly what it is – an aircraft beacon. It belongs to the Departmet of Defence and was established years ago before such things as radio beacons and GPS to allow aircraft to locate themselves with respect to the nearby airfield.

If you look along the railway line near Hume you will see another painted on the tracks – this one is still in use in case of landing instrument failure.

qbngeek 2:30 pm 22 May 11

Isn’t there an old munitions bunker around there somewhere???

andy pandy 2:18 pm 22 May 11

It might be a marshaling point for the rapture.

astrojax 12:37 pm 22 May 11

landing guide for reptoid attack fleet?

i, for one, would welcome the new overlords…

Captain RAAF 12:24 pm 22 May 11

Sammy said :

Presumably they’re the redwoods (Sequoia) planted by Charles Weston for Walter Burley Griffin?

No, the Sequoia are beside the airport, the tree cross is a little further south.

Sammy 11:22 am 22 May 11

Presumably they’re the redwoods (Sequoia) planted by Charles Weston for Walter Burley Griffin?

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