Submarine in a rural park?
You would hardly expect to find a submarine submerged in a rural Australian Park. Yet in the southern New South Wales town of Holbrook, the HMAS Otway has become the town’s biggest tourist attraction.
During the late 1980’s many towns on the highway between Sydney and Melbourne were bypassed to improve traffic flow and minimise the affects of the highway on local residents.
The downside was that with the traffic removed from the centre of town, these communities had to find an attraction to bring the tourist dollar into town.
A unique tourist attraction
Holbrook council’s solution to the bypass problem was to acquire a submarine and partially submerge it in a local park. We were actually close friends with the Mayor at the time, and I can certainly imagine how Phil’s wicked sense of humour would have conceived this idea.
His scheme saw The HMS Otway, an 89 metre long Oberon class submarine installed as a memorial to submariners. Holbrook subsequently became known as “The Submarine Town”
Holbrook’s VC recipient
Local resident, Leiutenant Norman Holbrook was a submariner and the first member of the Royal Australian Navy to receive the Victoria Cross during World War I. The town was subsequently renamed from Germanton in his honour.
The local community conceived the idea of establishing a Submariners Memorial during the 1990’s. The Royal Australian Navy gifted the fin of the decommissioned HMS Otway to the town to assist with the projecct.
Subsequent community fundraising and a donation from the Holbrook family enabled the town to acquire the outer skin of the Otway. The submarine was installed in Germanton Park and the memorial was dedicated in 1997.
Holbrook Submariner Memorial
Today it is a popular detour on the Sydney to Melbourne trip down the Hume Highway. The complex also has a cafe, as well as a museum hosting photographs, artifacts and a mock interior to give visitors an idea of what life would have been like in a submarine.