Discover the amazing story of the England to Australia air race of 1919, won by two of South Australia’s favourite sons, Captain Ross and Lieutenant Keith Smith. Together with their mechanics, Sergeants Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett, they were the first Australian airmen to fly from England to Australia, achieved in 28 days in a modified Vickers Vimy bomber. The exhibition follows the lives of the Smith family from their early days at Mutooroo Station in the far north of South Australia to service in World War One and the public response to the tragic death of Sir Ross in an air crash in 1922.
The exhibition brings to life the excitement of the race and its aftermath through the State Library collections including Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith's Archive, as well as precious items on loan from other libraries, museums, and private collections.
Highlights relating to the race include the log-book and certificate of airworthiness of the Vickers Vimy, notebooks kept by Ross and Keith, a pocket compass, a magneto from the engine, and a piece of Vimy aircraft fabric. Also on display are the rarely seen knighthood medals awarded to Keith and the ‘flying wings’ won by Ross in the Australian Flying Corps and Keith in the Royal Flying Corps, which were taken into space with astronaut Dr Andy Thomas in 1996.
View the personal papers of Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith on the Digital Collections website.
Image: Portrait of Ross Smith, circa 1920 (PRG 18/53/2) and Keith Smith, 1917 (PRG 18/5/11)
How do I get to the State Library by public transport?
The 'State Library, Art Gallery, Museum' tram-stop is just outside the State Library. There are bus stops close by near the War Memorial on North Terrace. The closest train station is the Adelaide city station on North Terrace.
You can plan your journey via Adelaide Metro.
Is there car parking near the State Library?
The nearest car park is Wilson's Adelaide Central car park, 225 North Terrace, next to David Jones.
There is paid metered street parking along Kintore Ave and Victoria Drive.
Where is the wheelchair and stroller access?
Access to the Spence Wing first floor and the Mortlock Chamber is via the lift in the glass foyer entrance of the library.
There is on-street disabled parking available in the nearby roads. View more information and maps of Adelaide City Council's Disability parking for permit holders.
How do I check if the Mortlock Chamber is open when I plan to visit?
You can visit the Mortlock Chamber on the ground floor to look at the exhibition bays. All upper levels of the Mortlock Wing will remain closed, including quiet study areas.
Is there a cafe at the State Library?
Yes, the State Library Cafe by St Raphaels located on the ground floor in the glass foyer, but for now the cafe will remain closed but keep an eye on our website and social media channels for the latest updates.