RAAF Richmond Big Day Out

Written by AHQ

11 September 2014

Normally I would have written this post and told you all about the big  day out at RAAF Base Richmond but instead this time I thought it would be more interesting to see how others saw the day. I hope you enjoy the read.  I will chip in every now and then with a photo or two of the day and a few comments in red.

When asked to write about our day at Richmond, my mind immediately switched back to the school day instructions on ones first day back at school.
Write an essay titled “ What I did in the holidays”. So much happened, where does one begin?

The beginning is a good place to start, after meeting up with the group, being transported to the Richmond Air Movements Terminal, having a coffee, receiving a briefing and a grand welcome, the tour began.

We were driven to the Communications hanger and shown some of the equipment they use. The communicators had hung some quilts and laundry bags amongst their equipment for us to see and admire. The one piece of equipment I want was a Harris type modem, can’t remember its correct name. This great piece of kit allows communication to be established anywhere. It might even work in the black spot in which I live which is only 28 klms from the centre of Sydney. Even more impressive than the piece of equipment was the wonderful mustache displayed by the operator. Its perky curly ends added such a distinctive look.

This motor bike loving officer is soon to transfer from the RAAF to the RAN and so Keryn made him a special laundry bag to take with him.

So on to the Canary Cottage for lunch. What is it about a BBQ, one may not think of a sausage from one weeks end to the next but put a sausage on the BBQ and immediately one starts salivating and wanting not only one but perhaps two.

Another wonderful surprise in store for us after lunch we were presented with individually named bags. Someone had certainly gone to a lot of effort to fill the bags with all sorts of wonderful goodies. I love my teddy, he can sit and overlook my machine and make sure I am sewing correctly. The reaction from a group of, for want of a better adjective, mature people was great to observe. Teddies got shown around and badges put on coats straight away.

On to the fire fighting equipment and again our group had a wonderful time scrambling all over the wonderful firefighting engine. 
Our resident Australia Post truckie, Kiwi Karen, tried the fire truck on for size.

Fully equipped to cope with any emergency, from the serious looking “jaws of life” to the high tech instrument panels in the cabin.

We then carried on to inspect the dog kennels. What wonderful looking animals, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, shorter hair and smaller, but still not one I would like to see charging at me in full flight.

We then went and checked out one of the C130 Hercules. They are a big aeroplane and are used to transport aid and equipment as required. After seeing the seating and lavatory arrangements I will never again complain about “cattle class” in a commercial aeroplane.

The day finished with afternoon tea and presentation of laundry bags to some of the special people who had made our day so successful. If I had harboured any doubts at all about how much our quilts and bags are appreciated they were more than dispelled by the end of the day. Thank you Richmond for a wonderful day and thank you so much for the wonderful job you do for all Australia. If what we do can bring just a spot of colour to your life whilst doing such a wonderful job it gives us the best reason in the world to go back to our sewing machines.


In the Air Movements Building where we were taken at first we were treated to a display of our quilts and laundry bags arranged on the wall.  That was when Stephanie was introduced to James, one of our lovely escorts for the day.  Stephanie had made the blue and green quilt for James and he is the first one of her recipients that she has met – after quilting well over 150 quilts for us.


On the 3rd September Jan Maree and her fellow band of cheeky volunteer quilters where invited for morning tea and lunch at RAAF Richmond. This was a thank you for the work that Jan Maree, founder of Aussie Hero Quilts, and the volunteers do providing laundry bags and quilts to personal serving overseas.

Our day started at 8.30am and 

Morning tea consisted of a welcomed cuppa and cake while we where introduced to Jackie who was the instigator of the day. We also met our transport drivers and guides for the day.

Our first stop was to be introduced to the communications that are used with a show and tell.  It was then up to us to ask questions which the  instructors where more than willing to answer. It was at this display that Jan Maree was presented with her first award for lack of better description. It was also where I, for one, realised how much the making of these laundry bags and quilts mean to these people.

We where then shuttled to a cottage for a BBQ lunch and at this point I should point out that (I don’t know his name) but the gentleman who “folded” the serviettes and handed them out did a fabulous job as well as the cooks. You cannot beat an Aussie barbie, no matter how simple.

It was at this time that Jan Maree was recognised for her tireless work and again presented with a plaque by WOFF Thompson and surprised us volunteers by also presenting to us personally a goody bag filled with a drink bottle, a insulated mug, an Air Force bear, various pins , a pen ,a vanity bag, a towel and some stickers (some bags varied as to contents) all donated by the ADCU (Australian Defence Credit Union).Also we where presented with a Commander Air Lift Group’ coin.

We where then shuttled to the Fires Station where we saw the new and old fire trucks and again personal told us how every thing worked .  Some ladies where lucky enough to be driven in one as they demonstrated the use of the fire truck.

It was then off to visit the dogs. Again a demonstration of  the training that the dogs are subjected to as well as a walk through the kennels. The dogs welcomed us with loud barks and showing of teeth – not your everyday dog. But talk about pampered, which dog do you know that has their own spar, and this is in contrast to the dogs sleeping quarters. No frills there . Chelly presented a laundry bag to the fellow who gave the presentation.

We where then shuttled to the Hercules planes where we where privileged enough to enter one through the cargo hole and sit in the cockpit .The question on every ones lips “where is the bathroom?”   May I say, that if ever you find yourself in the situation of being transported in a Hercules don’t drink before hand as the loo is not flash and privacy is a curtain.  The rest I will leave to your imagination !

It was while exploring the Hercules that we volunteers where given another coin from the RAAF 37 Squadron. Another surprise handed out by yet another grateful recipient.

After all the excitement of the day we where again shuttled back to the waiting room for a well earned cuppa and what was left of the cake. Again more thank yous and presentation of laundry bags to key personal. We, the volunteers, all made a laundry bag for the day and these were to be distributed at a later date.

We then welcomed home some army personnel who had just arrived from manoeuvres and as they entered we cheered and clapped as they made their way to waiting transport.  

The day finished after 4.30pm at the base and for those interested, dinner at a local café Some people had traveled long distances to attend this memorable day and this was greatly recognised and appreciated .

A big thank you to Jacquie for her tireless efforts of all that made this day so memorable.


Thank you for giving Ian and I the opportunity of visiting the air base last Thursday.  Great looking at things from the “other side of the fence”  

The “thing” that struck me most was how young the majority of the defence force was [maybe I’m just getting old!!] and that the greatest responsibility for keeping Australia safe rests on these young shoulders. [and of course on all 3 arms of the defence force] 

They seemed such a fine bunch.  It was great to see the guys and gals returning from PNG. -just interesting watching their reactions to the applause from AHQ as they came through the gate. No doubt they were wondering who all the old ducks and fellas were!!!

I haven’t had many thankyous back from all the quilts I’ve sent out so I sometimes wondered whether the quilts were really wanted &/or appreciated [and yes, I know they are probably busy or find it hard to put pen to paper so it didn’t  matter but it was always lovely to hear back from those that could manage to send a note] 

So it was with delight I found that every recipient I spoke to really loved his/her quilt &/or laundry bag and thought we provided an invaluable service to those deployed overseas. The gift from someone they didn’t know, I think made it all the more special. Most commented that it helped to make their “space” a bit more homely and colourful.

What made me smile —“Hurry up and wait”!!!

Loved looking through the Hercules -I’d always imagined the interior to be larger

The air force personnel that we spoke to in the I.T. section were so keen to impart knowledge -obviously loved what they were doing and all were keen to be involved in a theatre of war somewhere.

A high light was the “attack”dogs and the trainer/partners. 

Wow those guys have such a close bond with their dogs! 

I tend to remember quite a number of the names that pass through my request list and you will find when I am around people in uniform I am not looking at their faces but at their name tags.  Some names stand out and when I saw this fellow I knew immediately who he was and what quilt he had received as Su, his wonderful quilter, had put his dog on the quilt.  After seeing photos of AJAX it was lovely to meet this beautiful fellow in person and especially nice to find that he was one of the “friendly” ones. Su, I gave him a special scratch just for you.

I was delighted to be “up close and personal” with Ajax -amazing that this friendly gentle dog could turn into a ferocious beast at just a word from his trainer. I hadn’t realised that a dog team would be part of the Air Force -thought it would be army/ground force.

From another aspect, it was lovely to meet a few more AHQ people, chat and exchange ideas etc


What a great day we had at Richmond Air Base.   Yes it was an early start, though others came the night before, as they had a distance to travel.  It was so nice to put a face to names I had seen on the blog.   Some brought their husbands to join us for the day.
We waited in our cars until Jan-Maree made her appearance as the wind would have blown us away though the greetings were warm, and the buses supplied a wind break when we boarded, after receiving our visitor passes.  We were all excited as no one knew what was before us.

Firstly we were welcomed by Jacqui, who organised the day, and then a couple of officers speaking highly of the contribution our quilts give to the moral of their troops.    They had arranged a few quilts and laundry bags as a display on the walls, as well as a lovely morning tea with an assortment of cakes. Yum!

We were shown a short video that had been taken from an aircraft, which was flying in formation with about four others.   It was like travelling aboard the actual plane.

Next thing we were back on the buses.   I was travelling with James our driver, who proved to be a pleasant young man and very informative.  Between visits we had a chance to get to know each other and have a few laughs along the way.   

Our first stop was to the communication centre, where we were welcomed by a lot of the service people, with a couple that explained the different forms of communication used in the service, from battery phones to the most technical satellite communication.     Having computers to contact family at home as well as run services on the front line.    

Pam was also treated with an introduction to one of her recipients, who had received the blue and green flag quilt when deployed with 1CCS last year.

They had gone to the trouble of displaying some of the quilts that were received during their latest deployment.   On completion of the demonstration, Jan-Maree was presented with a certificate and an CO’s coin by the officers.   She then returned the favour and gave a laundry bag, made especially for one of the officers.

We then travelled to Canary Cottage for another get-to-know-you chat.   Lunch was prepared by some really nice airmen, who cooked sangers on the barby and fresh salad, with bread rolls and soft drink.    Apparently the defence credit union donated funds toward the lunch for us, as well as some goodies for a sample bag.    

After lunch we were all presented with a special coin and a bag of goodies.   They also gave us a thank you talk and it made me feel very proud that something I was a part of, contributed to the moral of service personnel.   Jan-Maree was again presented with a certificate of appreciation.

After lunch we were back onto the buses and driven to the Fire Station.    There we met some of the firemen, who gave us a tour of the vehicles and a demonstration of some of the equipment.   These men were very knowledgeable about their duties and the equipment.  

Next we were on the way to watch the dog handlers.   The dogs they had housed there were attack dogs and they were very well trained.   The corporal gave us a tour of the kennels and a demonstration around the obstacle course with his own dog.   A female dog handler, fitted with a hard arm protector, showed how the dog would attack, with his handler calling him off, he responded immediately.  Afterward another handler brought his dog over and demonstrated how friendly they could be, by allowing some of the women pat him. Chelly gave a laundry bag which was covered in dogs to the corporal.

It was still bitterly cold and many were becoming weary as we boarded the bus again and headed off to where a Hercules aircraft was parked.   Our interest blossomed again and we were off to explore this legendary aircraft.   Ladies and the gents clambered through the rear and others visited the cockpit.  We spent a little time here and took advantage of the backdrop to have some photos taken.    

We had a RAAF Photographer travel with us throughout the day, taking random shots as well as posed ones.

Time marched on and we were invited back to the waiting room for coffee and more cake.   Presentations of more laundry bags were made to the officers and a big thank you to Jackie who organised the visit for us.   

We were informed that an Army unit returning from an exercise in Papua New Guinea, and would be passing through the terminal we were waiting in.   After going through customs they had to walk past group, and we gave each one a round of applause to thank them for their service.   Some were a little embarrassed, though they smiled and waved their thanks.

Our day had come to an end, some went on to have dinner together and others like me headed home, tired though happy, after a lovely day spent with many nice people and some interesting activities.  

I’d like to thank Jackie and Jan-Maree for making it possible for us to explore the base.    For all the airmen/women we met during the day, who showed why we are so proud of their service.   The one’s that drove the buses, gave tours of their work place and knowledge of the equipment and duties.   For the pleasant way we were treated at all times and in the way they gave their time and attention to us.   I also thank them for the acknowledgement that what we do is appreciated and that the quilts assist morale when on active service.
There will be more love going into my quilts from now on!

Thankyou so much for organising this special day. I have no connections with the ADF so would have not had another opportunity to visit.

We arrived , albeit late due to getting lost, to a lovely morning tea and general introductions. We then had a very wide ranging talks on the telecommunications provided to our forces. They even had a truck with a large satellite dish on top for us to see. A special treat was the number of soldiers who came to talk to us after some clutching their quilts and others were proudly displayed for us to see. Next stop was the ‘Fire Station. 
Then onto lunch with several of the staff. Aussie lunch snags and bread rolls with a clutch of lettuce. 
After lunch was the highlight for me with the attack dogs and handlers. I managed to pat a beautiful Alsatian who was thankfully friendly unlike others which clearly did not like us in their homes!
Lastly was a climb over a Hercules. This was from pilot seat to toilet seat literally. 

At every stage we had helpful and very friendly ADF personnel to answer our silly questions as well as those more in depth questions.
At every step there were  our laundry bags and quilts or stories about friends who had them in backs of cars , on lounges and on beds and bunks. They are much loved and appreciated so quilters out there rest assured our quilts do make a difference.


I hope you enjoyed reading everyone else’s versions this time.  I will have a few other snippets to share once I receive the rest of the photo but that will be a while. 


The following people have sent off quilts or laundry bags this week.   If you are not on the list and think you should be please let me know.
 Anna N
Christine C
Jenny and Gale
Jill S
Jacqui P
Jill S
Rita M
Robin R
Stephanie D

Till next time………………..keep spreading the word and happy stitching! 
Jan-Maree xx

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