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.
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.
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.
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.
Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland