The History Behind the Sign!
In 1920 the famed Melbourne to Adelaide flight took place. To aid the pilots in navigation, local businesses on the ground were asked to paint signs on their roofs, Best’s Wines commissioned William Thomas Lewis, a painter from Stawell to paint the winery name on the top of its cellar door as a race landmark.
As 1929 celebrations kicked into gear across the country to celebrate the Centenary of Western Australia. One hundred years before, Perth was founded and the Swan River Colony was established, which was the first permanent European settlement in Western Australia.
One of the festivities in 1929 was the East-West Air Race or the Western Australian Centenary Air Race as it was also known. Pilots flew the 3940km from Sydney to Perth in six stages (and 12 sections within those stages):
Adelaide to Ceduna (via Kimba)
Ceduna to Forrest (via Cook)
Forrest to Kalgoorlie (via Rawlinna)
Kalgoorlie to Perth (via Tammin)
On the Melbourne to Nhill section, the pilots needed a signpost to ensure they were flying on the right path and again the renown Best’s Cellars painted roof came into view. This painted sign has remained clear and crisp for viewers from the skies ever since.
Seventeen teams left Mascot in Sydney on 29 September in 1929, and only 14 teams finished the race, arriving at Maylands Aerodrome in Perth on 7 October.
British Major Hereward de Havilland took out the fastest overall prize of £300 in his modified Havilland Gypsy Moth, and the handicap winner was aviator Horrie Miller, who won £1000. Settling results in the handicap event was a challenging task, with type of machine, tumultuous weather conditions, wind direction and strength of wind for each half day’s hop, compounded by starting times being taken into consideration.
Except for the 1911 Circuit of Europe Air Race, the East-West Air Race and the 1919 England to Australia Flight, the East-West Air Race of 1929 was the longest race in the history of aviation.
We’re thankful the path of this historic race covered the skies over Great Western, so Best’s Wines will forever be viewed as a landmark for those with their heads in the clouds…