Albert Park, Suva
viewed from the balcony of the Grand Pacific Hotel on 25 July 2023.
The red dot marks the position where it is believed that the Lady
Southern Cross was parked. The aircraft would have landed over
the high ground where the tall building now stands at the centre
of the image. The grandstand at the right of the image was not erected
until 2016. Smithy also landed the Southern Cross here in
1928. This event is commemorated with a display in the grandstand
pavillion. Sadly there is no mention of the 1934 flight in the Altair.
This photograph was taken from the balcony where Smithy and P.G.
Taylor would have stood to greet the assembled crowd after their
arrival. P.G. Taylor recorded his deep appreciation of the luxuries
of the Grand Pacific Hotel in his book Pacific Flight:
the Grand Pacific Hotel we are received by Mr. W.E. Hancock, manager
in Fiji for the Union Steamship Company Ltd and by Mr. J. Griffiths,
the licensee of the hotel.
... We were shown to our rooms in the hotel, the proprietors of
which were good enough to make us their guests during our stay at
Suva. The delight of that room was something which would have to
be experienced to be believed. A shave, a bath, and a change to
cool clothing, provided for us, seemed almost undreamed of luxury.
... The next most important thing was a long drink of something
cold. Our friends in Suva seemed to know what was needed in this
respect, and the quality of their beer was very good indeed.
... The entrance to the hotel by road faces over Albert Park, Suva's
Sports and Recreation Ground, and from the balcony on which our
rooms open we can see Lady Southern Cross only three hundred yards
away across the close green turf of the cricket-field.
... Across the park I see the Lady Southern Cross, well covered
by tarpaulins, her motor lying snug beneath a shelter that Tommy
has rigged above the cowl, her silver wing-tips shimmering in the
rain. Lights dance upon the metal of her propeller. The blade stands
out, cold and shining in this scene of warmth and soft sounds, the
silent sentinel of the sleeping power that lies below.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly