Qantas airlines recently made headlines over testing out their new long-haul New York to Sydney route, proposed for 2022. This announcement came just over a year after they launched the world’s longest commercial flight on the new Kangaroo route. This long-haul is almost unidentifiable from what the Kangaroo route looked like when it first began on Dec 1st, 1947, from Sydney to London.
The current route, from Perth to London, flies direct and takes just over 17 hours. The old one took about four days and hopped over seven destinations during the journey: Darwin, Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo, Castel Benito and Rome. Let’s take a look at where the first passengers landed after each hop of the Kangaroo (route).
The first stop, Darwin, is the capital and main port of Northern Territory in Australia. Air services developed in Darwin during the 1930s, and further improved as it was used as a fuelling and military base during World War II. Today, the modern city of Darwin is Australia’s only tropical capital and the metropolis is speckled with a healthy mix of cafés, bars and high-rises, and abundant nature and natural reserves.
The next hop was to Singapore. Arguably southeast Asia’s most-developed metropolis, Singapore is a true melting pot of cultures. Fuelled by a buzzing technology and finance sector, and an international landscape, Singapore is the perfect transit destination. Formerly a British colony, the country is the largest port in the region and one of the biggest in the world. Singapore’s Changi airport has repeatedly been ranked as one of the best in the world, and its central location and availability of air-transport facilities has also resulted in a booming hotel and shopping industry.
On to Calcutta. Now known as Kolkata, Calcutta was the former capital of British India. One of India’s major port cities, it is a hub for commerce and transport. Often regarded as the country’s intellectual and artistic capital, Kolkata is a beautiful blend of the old world colonial era and modern charm. India’s first subway system was opened in Kolkata and the city is extremely well-connected by land, water and air.
Up next was Karachi. Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and the capital of the Sindh province in the south. A coastal city, it is a major port and commercial centre. Now the busiest east of the Suez, the port of Karachi served the Indus river valley and the Punjab region under the British, Karachi developed in importance with the development of air travel. Karachi is also a gateway into Iran and other Middle-Eastern countries.
This gateway then led to Cairo. The national capital of Egypt, Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa. Cairo’s extensive transport system was initially laid out by the British. The city had a significant period of growth after the 1950s as the metropolis developed in terms of transportation and industrialization. Today, the city a cacophony of people, living in symphony in their historic home.
The next stop was Castel Benito. An airport in Tripoli built by the Italians in the 1930s, Castel Benito was known as RAF Castle Benito post World War II, and used by the British. It was a small military airport, which was later enlarged. Currently, Tripoli is the capital city of Libya. It’s the country’s largest city and main seaport.
Hopping on over Europe, the Kangaroo route landed in Rome as its last stop before reaching its final destination, London. The historic city, the proverbial capital of love and romance, there aren’t many hats that Rome isn’t already wearing. The Eternal City is a religious and political centre. 3,000 years of development leaves Rome’s cityscape strewn with ancient monuments, iconic artwork, and a charismatic street life.
This was the first Kangaroo route. Operated by a Lockheed 749 Constellation aircraft called ‘Charles Kingsford Smith’, this long-haul flight carried 40 people onboard, including crew. The four-day-long trip that’s now been condensed to just over 17 hours speaks of the leaps and bounds taken by the aviation industry in the last seven decades or so.