It feels counterintuitive to head to a rural town to see a submarine, but that’s exactly what we did while staying in Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. We took an afternoon drive to the town of Holbrook to visit the Holbrook Submarine Museum.
HOLBROOK SUBMARINE MUSEUM – WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBILITY
The town of Holbrook was named in honour of Lieutenant Holbrook, a submarine commander who was hailed a hero after taking a British submarine into the Dardanelles to torpedo the Turkish battleship Messudiyeh. At the age of 25 Lieutenant Holbrook was awarded the Victoria Cross and the French Legion of Honour. Norman Holbrook was delighted the town was named in his honour and through this connection the town gained a submarine.
The navy gave the fin of the decommissioned Oberon class submarine HMAS Otway to the Shire in 1982 but a group of submariners decided they wanted to get a whole ship. Several thousands of dollars were raised from the town but it was not enough. Through negotiations they did succeed in purchasing the outside skin of the Otway and it’s now on display outside the Holbrook Submarine Museum.
Inside the museum there’s the story of HMAS Otway and submarine memorabilia. Visitors can also see submarine components and mock areas of the submarine interior such as engine room, galley and living quarters
Here we were able to walk through a submarine control room and the cramped living quarters experienced by those operating the submarine.
Submarine life certainly isn’t for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia.
A photographic exhibition showing how the Otway was transported and re-built in Holbrook is amongst other historical naval images.
Lieutenant Holbrook’s widow, Gundela Holbrook, appears in a hologram retelling the fascinating story of her husbands brave exploits on B11 in 1914 and the subsequent towns name change to honour him.
HOLBROOK SUBMARINE MUSEUM – ACCESSIBILITY
Holbrook Submarine Museum has good accessibility throughout the museum but due to the confined quarters of the submarine control room some wheelchairs may not be able to fit inside this space.
Ramp access is provided to the control room and BJ’s wheelchair, with his off-road tyres, just fitted past the periscope and other equipment in the room. His wheelchair is 64cm wide just to give you an idea of access.
A unisex stand-alone accessible bathroom is available in the museum.
The highlight for BJ at the Holbrook Submarine Museum was touring the control room and seeing the submarines outside.
While it may seem unusual to spot a submarine in such a rural setting, I’m thrilled to see attractions like this drawing visitors to these regions. It’s a small museum but unique and a good reason to detour or stop when doing the Sydney to Melbourne drive or vice versa.
You can read more about the Holbrook Submarine Museum and the opening hours on their website.