Flying proudly at the front gate of RAAF Base East Sale is a PC-9/A propeller painted by Gunaikurnai artist Alfie Hudson.

The propeller was unveiled at its final home during a NAIDOC Week event on November 12.

Commanding Officer No. 30 Squadron (City of Sale) Wing Commander James Allen said the painted propeller was scheduled to be installed during National Reconciliation Week earlier this year, but the project was delayed because of COVID-19. 

“I am so pleased to see the conclusion of many months of hard work by Alfie Hudson who has done a stand-up job,” Wing Commander Allen said.

“The propeller will be on display at the front of base for all to see, and will be an enduring testament to the strong relationship that exists between RAAF Base East Sale and the Gunaikurnai community.

“We hope to continue to deepen our relationship with the Gunaikurnai community with further projects being pursued.” 

Alfie Hudson, a Gunaikurnai/Monaro man, who hails from East Gippsland, said he was honoured to paint the PC-9/A propeller.

“I am full of energy. This is a great opportunity and I’m very privileged and excited as it will join the historic aircraft already at the front of the base,” Mr Hudson said.

The artwork was inspired by a Dreamtime story about the Southern Cross constellation, with the moral of the story being about sacrifice.

“In the Dreamtime story, a female emu saves a young boy from drowning and she unfortunately died saving him,” Mr Hudson said.

“Driven by the sacrifice of the female emu, the boy then goes on to be a protector of the emus.

“This story is about sacrificing your life for others and that is what I see the Defence Force doing and why I chose this artwork.” 

The artwork on the propeller also features handprints of East Gippsland veterans and base personnel, with poppies representing the stars of the Southern Cross. 

The propeller clocked up 5530 engine hours during its service from August 1990 to October 2018, and was fitted to 11 different PC-9/A aircrafts, which operated out of RAAF bases Pearce, Williamtown, Edinburgh and East Sale.