It's one of Thornhill's busiest roads, lined with homes, greenspaces, a pub, shops, schools, a church and more. The lively thoroughfare is traversed by thousands every day, most of them unaware of the great man it was named after.

On a foggy day more than 90 years ago, Bert Hinkler, the daring Australian aviator who lived in Southampton, embarked on a historic mission to set a new record for the journey from England to Australia.

Under the shroud of darkness, on the evening of January 7, 1933, he skilfully piloted his aircraft "Karohi," a Puss Moth plane, soaring into the skies above Feltham Aerodrome in Middlesex. Watched only by a handful of airport staff and a customs official, this daring flight was a bid to reclaim the record he had established back in 1928.

(Image: CC BY-SA 4.0)

It was beyond anyone's imagination at that moment that the small group of individuals who gathered along the airstrip to witness Hinkler's departure would be the last privileged few who would ever see the man again.

Following his commendable service in the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force during the First World War, Squadron Leader Herbert “Bert” John Louis Hinkler made Southampton his home.

Hinkler was residing on Havelock Road, Southampton, when he embarked on his first solo long-distance flight in a light aircraft, the Avro Baby, which was built nearby in Hamble. In 1920, the daring aviator undertook the remarkable journey from Croydon to Turin, Italy, covering 650 miles without any breaks.

(Image: Echo archives)

The flight lasted nine-and-a-half hours and resulted in Bert’s first major accolade – the Britannia Challenge Trophy.

Not until nearly a decade later did Bert Hinkler captivate the masses and exemplify the genuine spirit of a traditional aviator in the midst of what many considered the golden era of aviation exploration, starting in 1919 and continuing until the late 1930s.

Embarking on a historic journey in February of 1928, Hinkler achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first piolet to complete a solo flight from England to Australia in a light aeroplane. Once more, Hinkler entrusted his mission to an Avro Avian aircraft built in Hamble, showcasing his confidence in the remarkable manufacturers.

His first hop from Croydon non-stop to Rome was a record 1,150 miles and he continued day after day to set more records until he landed at Port Darwin nearly 11,000 miles and fifteen and a half days later. This achieved Hinkler the Britannia Challenge Trophy for the second time.

(Image: CC BY-SA 4.0)

Despite the belief held by numerous individuals that Hinkler's most notable accomplishment as an aviator was connecting countries across different hemispheres, a greater number regarded his subsequent achievement as the pinnacle of his illustrious career.

Embarking on an extraordinary journey in 1931, Hinkler piloted a de Havilland Puss Moth from Canada south to Kingston, Jamaica, before continuing on to Brazil. This remarkable adventure culminated in his historic crossing of the South Atlantic to reach West Africa. He then returned to England in easy stages.

From his ground-breaking aviation ventures to his ambition to create his own aircraft, Hinkler was not only a skilled pilot but also a determined inventor. He was desperate to design and build his dream plane, which he named the “Ibis”, after the Australian bird he studied as a child.

Incorporating a unique design approach, Hinkler's Ibis featured a distinctive cantilever-wing monoplane structure along with a hull-like fuselage. The aircraft was equipped with dual Salmson AD9 engines that powered its innovative pusher-puller propeller system.

(Image: Echo archives) (Image: Echo archives)

Hinkler believed that his design would make the Ibis “as nearly immune from forced landings as it was humanly possible to make it”.

Initially, he created and constructed the Ibis single-handedly in a shed in Hamble. However, his enthusiasm quickly waned as he encountered a setback - the reluctance of aircraft companies to invest in the development of his Ibis design.

In addition, Hinkler lacked business acumen and failed to take advantage of his remarkable reputation. To secure funding for constructing the Ibis, he made the bold choice to pursue breaking the solo flight record from England to Australia once again.

His previous record had been beaten a number of times since 1928 until it was almost halved by Charles William Anderson Scott. He did it in eight days and 20 hours in 1932.

(Image: Echo archives)

Known for his humble demeanour, Hinkler was inclined to keep his flight preparations shrouded in secrecy.

He also hated fuss and any preliminary publicity regarding his flights and, before his fateful flight in 1933, told an Echo reporter to “wait until I’ve done it – then I’ll tell you everything”.

Whilst Hinkler's unassuming qualities endeared him to others, they may have hindered him from seizing the financial opportunities that some of his fellow aviators exploited during his era. These same qualities could arguably be seen as the very traits that led to Hinkler's untimely demise.

After Hinkler departed from Feltham Aerodrome on January 7, 1933, his absence went unnoticed for several days, causing no immediate concern or search efforts to be initiated by anyone when he failed to reappear. Instead, people just waited.

(Image: Echo archives)

As the weather deteriorated over the Alps, Captain Wally Hope, a friend of Hinkler, conducted searches in southeastern France. However, the harsh winter conditions greatly reduced the possibility of locating Hinkler's small silver aircraft.

After multiple weeks of ongoing search efforts conducted by additional aircraft, the wreckage of his plane was finally located on April 27, close to his lifeless body.

Following his passing, Hinkler was given a grand display of military honours in the historical city of Florence, shortly before his remains were transported back to his hometown of Bundaberg.

His home in Havelock Road, Southampton, was demolished years ago and his subsequent home in Thornhill – Mon Repos, which was earmarked for demolition, had a different fate in store.

(Image: Echo archives)

Bert Hinkler built the quaint detached residence within Thornhill Estate in 1925. The name"Mon Repos," paid homage to the beach of its namesake in Bundaberg.

After Bert's unexpected passing, the ownership of the residence transitioned to Southampton City Council, and it eventually faced the risk of demolition.

Established in 1983, the newly formed Hinkler House Memorial Museum and Research  Association began the ambitious project of moving his home from Southampton to Bundaberg, Australia.

Throughout May and June in 1983, the meticulous process of disassembling the house brick by brick, documenting each piece, and transporting it to Bundaberg took place.

The reconstructed house now stands as a memorial museum, paying tribute to the remarkable accomplishments of Bert Hinkler.