Our Bushies – An audio history.

Introduction to Part 1

A small group of investors established Bush Pilots Airways in Cairns in 1951, at a time when most people heading for north Queensland went by rail or ship. Cairns was a long way from anywhere, and the large-scale tourism that sustains the region today was unimaginable back then.

Bushies opened much needed air links between Cairns & the small, remote communities of the region, keeping them supplied when the wet season cut roads. Bushies also did emergency medical retrievals and had a major role supporting development and progress in isolated locations.

The late Sir Robert Norman had the idea for Bush Pilots Airways when he served in Canada with the RAAF during World War Two. In 2006, he told ABC Radio’s Richard Dinnen the story.

Introduction to Part 2

Anyone who ever worked for Bush Pilots Airways described the experience as like becoming part of a family. Bushies stopped flying in 1988, but former staff are still in touch, still friends. In 2008, they held a reunion in Cairns, sharing their stories with ABC Radio’s Richard Dinnen.

This bond between the former staff continues to be shown at the ongoing annual reunions held alternately in Cairns and Brisbane.


We heard the voices of Sir Robert Norman, his son Bob, Ron Entsch, Louise Vickers, Wendy Walsh, Brian Williams, Col Whyte, Colin Shedden, Bob McKinnon, Warwick Tainton, Lionel Dyer. Thanks to John Williamson for use of his song Papa Whiskey November © Emusic 1991. Thanks to ABC Radio Far North.