Photographic pioneer honoured in exhibition

July 10, 2019

The important moments in Townsville’s aviation history are captured beautifully in a photographic exhibition currently on display at Townsville Airport.

The unique images were kindly donated to Townsville Airport by photographic pioneer Arch Fraley – with the support of James Cook University – before he passed away in 2012.

They have recently been re-framed and moved to a more prominent section of the terminal to ensure greater visibility for passengers.

Townsville Airport General Manager Commercial Isabelle Yates said the airport was grateful to the Fraley family for their kind donation and ongoing support.

“We are fortunate to have been donated these fascinating photographs which capture so well the important moments in our aviation history,” she said.

“The photos remind us just how far we have come in the aviation industry over the past 80 years – who knows where we will be in the next 80 years?”

The photos date back to World War II when Mr Fraley – who served as a photographer and waist gunner in the 5th Bomber Group of the US Army Air Force – was posted to Charters Towers in March 1942 as part of General Douglas MacArthur’s campaign in the Pacific.

From there, the young soldier was tasked with chronicling the American war effort, flying north to Port Moresby in regular bombing raids on the Japanese.

It was during this time he developed his passion for photography and his love for young Charters Towers woman Lorraine Robinson, with whom he settled in Australia at the end of the war.

Mr Fraley soon set up his own photography studio, Fraley Studio, which remains a leading North Queensland business under the tutelage of his son Richard Fraley and his family, celebrating their 70th anniversary this year.

The company – which today trades as Arch Fraley Photographics and holds the North Queensland MSP franchise – is well known from Townsville to Mount Isa for its school portraits.

“I’m so proud to be part of a family business that has played such a big part in photography in North Queensland over so many years,” said Richard, who joined his father’s business as a teenager back in 1962.

“People still stop to tell me they remember us from their school photographs sometimes decades ago. And I’m proud to hear them say the photographs have stood the test of time and their cherished childhood memories have not faded over the years.”

The exhibition is on display near the Strand Café in the check-in hall inside the terminal.


IMAGE 1: A photo of US soldier Arch Fraley during the Second World War when he was tasked with chronicling the American war effort in the Pacific region. He later returned to Australia to marry a local woman and set up his photographic business in Townsville.

IMAGE 2: Arch’s son Richard Fraley with Isabelle Yates The Arch Fraley exhibition on display at Townsville Airport provides wonderful insight into the war effort in Townsville.