In-tropical-skysIn Tropical Skies

A History of Aviation to Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands

By Tony McGrath

ISBN 978-0-85905-756-1 (New, 2019) A4, illustrated.

$29.95* (to purchase please contact the author)

Author, Tony McGrath, specialises in Western Australian commercial aviation history

This book outlines the development of commercial aviation to Australia's Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands since 1939. Formerly British colonies, Christmas Island lies off the coast of Java just a short flight away from Jakarta, and Cocos Islands lie half-way between Perth and Sri Lanka.

The decades hold interesting tales about these remote and beguiling islands, and this book outlines their aviation history against a backdrop of wars, changes of sovereignty and other geopolitical and major events.

Qantas's post-war Australia-England air services operated via Cocos Islands and this was followed by flights via Cocos Islands to South Africa and to South East Asia. The islands soon became a vital, mid-ocean air junction between four continents. Christmas Island's earliest flights were Royal Air Force flying boats from Singapore to the island's Flying Fish Cove. It later hosted a small private landing strip, before an official airport was opened in the 1970s, enabling regular air links to the Australian mainland and to South East Asia.

This book makes compelling reading for both aviation enthusiasts and those interested in the history of Australia's Territories. Some reviewers' comments follow:

"Tony McGrath has written a wonderful story of pioneering aviation and enterprise, laced with the occasional tragedy, in one of the most unique and isolated parts of the globe." (Jim Eames, Author)

"I am impressed by the detailed coverage of the wartime years and early post-war. Tony McGrath has covered a broad subject in a very readable way, with the right degree of dates and facts where required." (Geoffrey Goodall, Aviation Historian/Writer)

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading... and was impressed with the amount of research about the air services, political intrigue and larger than life characters which made life so colourful in the early days of aviation in this remote part off the world.... profusely illustrated with photographs, many of which had never been published before. These helped bring the narrative to life. I would recommend In Tropical Skies to any reader interested in aviation history and/or life in Christmas or Cocos Islands." (Merv Prime, Aviation Historian/Writer)

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How to buy:

Contact the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0417 134 458 or buy online at

Sample page images at:

RRP $29.95