"If anything terrifies me, I must try to conquer it."
- Sir Francis Chichester
Chichester Cottage stands on the left under the tall trees at the far end of Buckley Avenue. Originally it stood in the grounds of Mill House, the larger building next door, which is now Bear Park childcare centre.
The cottage was built by Doug and Audrey Mill around 1927. After their marriage and a long overseas trip they lived in this little house while they built their big new residence. Later the cottage was used to develop photographs when the Mills developed a pioneering aerial photography business.
It is named after Francis Chichester, who stayed in it nearly 90 years ago as he prepared for a great adventure. In 1931 he became the first person to fly alone across the Tasman Sea in a Gypsy Moth bi-plane, via Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.
Hobsonville engineering staff helped him get the small aircraft ready, giving it a careful overhaul, installing long-range tanks and attaching floats he found lying around in a hangar. No GPS then! He navigated by the sun after teaching himself to use a sextant.
The Gipsy Moth name was painted on the bow of a yacht in which he sailed the world more than three decades later. He was 65 when he became the first man to singlehandedly circumnavigate the globe, a feat for which he was knighted.
As plans were laid to change Hobsonville Airbase to a residential community, the cottage stood out as a special piece of local history that needed to be preserved. The Hobsonville Land Company, formerly HLC and now Kainga Ora offered to gift it in a restored state to HPRS to be used by the society and as a community facility.
The HPRS committee consulted with its members and accepted ownership of the cottage. The land around it lies on Te Ara Manawa – The Hobsonville/Onekiritea Coastal Walkway and is the responsibility of Auckland Council.
Chichester Cottage is available for hire as a community facility or for private business hire. It can be used for small group meetings, family gatherings or dinners, classes, performances, workshops, therapy rooms or shared workspace. There’s a petanque court out front, too.