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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Burke's Lookout - Mt Corhanwarrabul

Melbourne from Burke's Lookout
Mt Corhanwarrabul, 628m, on the western face of the Mount Dandenong massif, Victoria, 30 km from the Melbourne CBD, is the site of the 1938 Kyeema aircraft crash which occurred near the summit on October 25, 1938.

Eighteen people were killed when the Kyeema, an Australian National Airways DC-2, VH-UYC crashed. The aircraft was flying to Melbourne from Adelaide, and was hopelessly off course.

The disaster is blamed on a combination of the presence of a heavy fog and the use of an outdated navigational practice which relied solely on landmarks to determine position. During the ensuing investigation, it was decided that the pilot believed he was descending for a landing at Essendon but was grossly off course causing him to crash into the mountain. While not the first fatal accident in Australian aviation history it was unique because it was the first aircraft in radio communication up to the time of impact.

Those killed in the tragedy included a parliamentarian, a party of barristers and solicitors, a group of wine industry executives, and a young couple on their honeymoon.

By Public demand a Royal Commission into the cause of the disaster was established, the Federal Government appointed an Air Accident Investigation Committee under the Chairmanship of Colonel T. Murdoch DSO, VCE with the public equiry commencing on October 30th, 1938. Because of the crash, regulations were passed which require Flight Checking Officers to monitor the flights of airplanes and advise on such things as position, weather, and alternate landing options. Also implementation of a 33MHz radio range system was recommended to provide pilots with accurate information on their course.

It was not until forty years after the crash, in 1978, that a memorial cairn to the Kyeema and its eighteen passengers was created at the crash site.

On May 20, 2010, I visited the site, which is marked by a badly weathered sign just down from the Cairn - no trace of the wreckage remains.

The Cairn is next to a small car park off Ridge Rd, then along the Kyeema Walking Track, near the TV towers at the summit of Mt Corhanwarrabul, next to Mt Dandenong. The track passes Burke's Lookout, giving impressive views across Melbourne to the north and west, as far away as Port Phillip Bay, the You Yangs, the Macedon Ranges, and the Kinglake Ranges.

A graphic account of the crash disaster was published in Flight Safety magazine, which may be viewed at

See also "Disaster in the Dandenongs", by Macarthur Job, OAM, from Sierra Publications Australia, at

Melbourne from Burke's Lookout

Kyeema Memorial
View all of the Photos of my visit!

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