Aviatrix Jean Batten arrives in Brisbane (1934)

Crowd at Archerfield Aerodrome awaiting the arrival of aviatrix Jean Batten. From Courier-Mail, June 18, 1934

Crowd at Archerfield Aerodrome awaiting the arrival of aviatrix Jean Batten. From Courier-Mail, June 18, 1934

On June 17, 1934, crowds waited expectantly at Brisbane’s Archerfield aerodrome in the city’s south to welcome recent record-breaking aviatrix Jean Batten. A few weeks earlier, the New Zealander had ensured her celebrity status when she successfully flew solo from England to Darwin in 14 days and 22 hours, trouncing the previous women’s record set by English aviatrix Amy Johnson by over four days.

Aviatrix Jean Batten being interviewed by 4BC after her flight from England to Australia, June 1934. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 22820

Aviatrix Jean Batten being interviewed by 4BC after her flight from England to Australia, June 1934. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 22820

Batten arrived at 3.30pm, making a perfect landing. “Just a moment. I have someone here,” she told the cheering crowd, producing a black kitten from her Gipsy Moth. “Isn’t he wonderful?” she remarked as the kitten, named Buddy, was displayed to the crowd. “So are you!” someone yelled back.

Jean Batten and kitten. From Courier-Mail, June 18, 1934

Jean Batten and kitten. From Courier-Mail, June 18, 1934

Buddy attracted much of the limelight – “When the cameras got busy, puss of the blue eyes was as much a centre of attraction as the wonder girl herself,” said the Telegraph newspaper. The kitten was a gift from the Diggers at the Prince of Wales Military Hospital in Sydney. A special afternoon tea to welcome Batten was held in the clubhouse of the Queensland Aero Club, where Buddy received a saucer of milk.

Aviatrix Jean Batten at Archerfield Aerodrome after completing her recordbreaking solo flight from England to Australia, June 1934. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 22823

Aviatrix Jean Batten at Archerfield Aerodrome after completing her recordbreaking solo flight from England to Australia, June 1934. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 22823

Bellevue Hotel in Brisbane, 1933. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 79175

Bellevue Hotel in Brisbane, 1933. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 79175

After a quiet evening at Lennons Hotel, the following day was full of frantic activity for Batten, 24, including a civic reception at City Hall, lunch at Tattersalls Club, afternoon tea with the Town and Country’s Women’s Club, finishing with dinner and a dance at the Bellevue Hotel hosted by the Queensland Aero Club. In stark contrast to the wild scenes at her arrival, “no more than half-a-dozen” turned out to farewell Batten when she departed Archerfield early on June 19, bound for Sydney.

Autographed portrait of aviatrix Jean Batten. Undated. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 49952

Autographed portrait of aviatrix Jean Batten. Undated. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 49952

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland