Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yackandandah

Yackandandah is a former gold mining town in northeast Victoria between Beechworth and Wodonga. It is an attractive historic village situated in a valley amidst a series of substantial hills. The name Yackandandah is said to have derived from two Aboriginal words meaning "rock" and "water-hole" which relate to one large rock sitting on top of another in what is now known as Yackandandah Creek. It has also been claimed that Yackandandah means "country of hills". The town is affectionately known as "Yack" though in more recent times, it has increasingly been referred to as the "Dandah" by its younger residents.

Soldiers Memorial Park 02
Soldiers Memorial Park

The streetscape is largely unchanged from its heyday as a goldmining town. Many of the buildings, dating back to the mid and late 1800s, are genuinely historic and attractive, so much so that the entire commercial centre, known as the Yackandandah Conservation Area, has been classified by the National Trust.

Yackarandah 14

The main street, High Street, is lined with shady English trees (some planted in the 19th century), verandahs, tea houses, galleries, a couple of country pubs, some gracious churches and an increasing number of antique shops.

Yackarandah 06
An antique shop along High Street

Deciduous trees line many of the town's streets which are particularly colourful during autumn. The local information centre is located on High Street in the old Athenaeum - an institution for the promotion of scientific or literary learning which often takes the form of a library and reading room. The Classical Revival building was erected in 1878 with a strong classical facade, pediment and columns. It was once the social and intellectual centre of the town, housing 3000 books and two reading rooms.

Old Athenaeum
Former Athenaeum (1878)

On the same side of the road as the Athenaeum, a little further east, is the stone Bank of Victoria building (1860) which now houses the Yackandandah and District Historical Society. It consists of the bank and the manager's residence (1850s). Banking ceased in 1893.

Yackarandah 01
The former Bank of Victoria building (1860) on the right

West of the Athenaeum along High St on the corner with Wellsford St is the post office. The original post office (Yackandandah's first public building) was a timber structure. Half of the present building dates from 1863. Additions were made in 1887.

Yackarandah Post Ofice
Yackandandah Post Ofice

Yackandandah has been featured in numerous Australian period films such as the telemovie "The Far Country" and was used for the filming of the 2003 movie "Strange Bedfellows"(starring Michael Caton and Paul Hogan). The film director and writer Dean Murphy grew up in nearby Kergunyah, which is 38 km away and spent much of his childhood in and around Yackandandah. Nearly everyone in Yackandandah has appeared in the movie.

Yackandandah is also home to the annual Yackandandah Folk Festival which attracts local, Australian and international artists.


Ref: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Earthquake in Melbourne

I was at my desk when I felt there was a sudden unusual movement beneath my chair, something like a shockwave rippling through the floorboard. Then I realized that this could be an earthquake.

I asked my wife whether she felt something. She said the windows appeared to be shaking. My daughter interjected and said no, it was her younger brother who was shaking the bed.

Already a lot of people are discussing the earthquake on Facebook and Twitter, much earlier than online news sites. From a Facebook source, this is a ‎5.2 Richter scale earthquake and the epicentre is at 38.244°S 146.194°E, 10 km southwest of Moe (near Trafalgar). It is a shallow earthquake at just 9.9km below ground, timed at 8:53 pm and lasting around 30–40 seconds.

Melbourne-earthquake-20120619

Below is the map location of the epicentre (where the green arrow points):


View Larger Map



Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Border City of Albury

Albury with a population of 53,507 people is the second largest inland city in NSW after Wagga Wagga. It is located on the Hume Highway 7 km away from Wodonga, its twin city in Victoria. The Murray River separates Albury from the southern Wodonga and marks the NSW-Victoria border. The 2 cities together form an urban area with a population of more than 90,000. Albury was once in the running to become Australia's national capital due to its location. It is 554 km from Sydney, 326 km from Melbourne and sits at the centre of the Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide triangle where 75% of all Australians live.

Monument Hill War Memorial 05 zoomin
View of Albury City from Monument Hill

The area was occupied by the Wiradjuri people for thousands of years before European settlement. The explorers Hamilton Hume and Captain William Hovell led an expedition in October 1824 to find new grazing land and map NSW's western rivers. They crossed the Murray River at Albury on 16 Nov 1824. On the next day, Hovell carved the words "Hovell NovR17/24" into the trunk of a tree to mark the crossing place. Within a few years, the crossing place near "Hovell Tree" had become very popular. A police station and general store had opened and squatters began to move into the district. A survey for a town was commissioned in 1838 by Assistant Surveyor Thomas Townsend who proposed the settlement be named "Bungambrewatha" after the area's aboriginal name. When his plan was eventually approved on 13 April 1839, the name was changed to Albury, said to be named after a village in Kent, England which it resembled.

Murray River  12
The Murray River

By 1847, the Albury settlement included two public houses and a handful of huts, a police barracks and blacksmiths. When Victoria separated from NSW in 1851, Albury became a frontier town and a customs post between the two colonies. Albury was at this time starting to grow substantially with German-speaking immigrants using the area to grow grapes for wine. Albury boasted by the 1870s a butter factory, flour mill, wineries and locally brewed cider and soft drinks.

Albury  02

Albury's proximity to Wodonga has spurred several efforts to achieve some kind of municipal union. In 1973, under Whitlam Federal government's grand plans to decentralize uncontrolled growth away from Australia's large coastal cities, Albury-Wodonga was selected for conversion into a major inland city. The Federal government compulsorily purchased large areas of surrounding farmlands and enticed some industries to move there. A certain amount of population movement did result but was well below projection.


Murray River

The Murray River creates a natural border between NSW and Victoria and is the world's 16th longest river at 2,995 km from its source in the Kosciusko National Park. It is fed by several rivers on its journey from the Australian Alps. The main feeding rivers are the Darling and Murrumbidgee Rivers.

Murray River  13

The river's aboriginal name was Millewa. It was first discovered at Albury by European explorers Hamilton H. Hume and William H. Hovell on 16 November 1824. They marked on their maps "Crossing Point" and named it the Hume River. On the next day, they inscribed a tree by the riverbank before continuing their journey south to Westernport in Victoria.

Murray River  15

In 1829, explorer Captain Charles Sturt discovered the Hume River downstream at its junction with the Murrumbidgee River. Not realizing it was the same river, he named it the Murray River after Sir George Murray. Both names persisted for some time, Hume falling into disuse eventually in favour of Murray.

Murray River  09

The Wagirra Trail, a Wiradjuri word meaning "step on the ground", is a planned 70 km of trail along the Murray River, connecting Wonga Wetlands with the Hume Weir. Currently, the Murray River already connects a string of riverside parks including Hovell Tree Park, Noreuil Park, Australia Park and Oddies Creek Park. These parks are extremely popular for bike riding, barbecues, picnics and general relaxing.

Murray River  26

There are 2 places along the Murray River, the Wonga Wetlands and Mungabeena Reserve, which could be very attractive and that I have missed out in this trip due to time constraint. The Wonga Wetlands in particular is a sanctuary for birdwatchers, field naturalists, photographers and bushwalking enthusiasts. An ecosystem of lagoons and billabongs, Wonga is home to 154 identified bird species, a Wiradjuri campsite and ancient river red gums. The wetlands incorporate 7 lagoons covering around 80 hectares on the Murray River floodplain, 3 km of walking paths and picnic and barbecue facilities.

Birds @ Oddies Creek Playspace 03
Birds at Oddies Creek Park along the Murray River


Hovell Tree Park

Located at the corner of Wodonga Place and Hume Street, this is the place where the explorers Hume and Hovell had carved their names into the trunks of two trees on 17 November 1824. Hume's tree was destroyed by fire but Hovell's tree still stands today.

Hovell Tree Park  01

The park was also where the town's first general store and wharf were located. Just south of the park, on Wodonga Place is the Turks Head Hotel - the first pub and inn in Albury and once the most popular place in town. This park is now home to the Community Wood Fired Oven and a popular children's playground where my kids spent considerable time.

Hovell Tree Park Easter Family Fun Day 01

Prior to making the trip to Lake Hume, I had been checking Albury-Wodonga tourism sites for places to visit and activities during the Easter period. Hence, I was aware that the City Central Church was holding a big Family Fun Day at Hovell Tree Park on Easter Sunday.

Hovell Tree Park Easter Family Fun Day 07

Activities include an Easter Egg Hunt, jumping castles, clowns, balloon sculptures, free face painting and sausage sizzles. The highlight is definitely face painting, which my kids enjoyed immensely.

Hovell Tree Park Easter Family Fun Day 15

Also at Hovell Tree Park were two other activities - the Community Wood Fired Oven's Baking Day and Majestic Vanners Australia's Easter Van-In 2012. Classic vans from the 60s up to modern day were displayed at the park's perimeter off Wodonga Place. Having seen the Altona Classic Car Show, I was spoilt so this exhibition did not interest me much.

Albury Easter Van-In 01


Community Wood Fired Oven

The Community Wood Fired Oven is located in Hovell Tree Park by the banks of the Murray River and in the shade of an old river gum - a place to come together to cook, share, learn and eat. The idea came from Albury City Council's cultural development officer Narelle Vogel who saw a picture on a Canadian website. A $15,000 State Government grant kicked off the project and wood-oven "guru" Alan Scott was brought in to help design and build it. The Oven was launched in October 2006. The idea of building the oven was not without its critics who think this was a waste of money.

Albury Community Wood Fired Oven 03

The Oven is fired every second Sunday for free community use.  It is open for baking from 3-8 pm from Oct-Mar and 11am-4pm from Apr-Sep. The Oven is lit the night before a bake. The Oven Coordinator clears out the ash and prepares the oven ready to take pizzas, bread and any other food such as roast meat, vegetables, scones, pies and quiches. The temperature slowly drops during the day. Pizzas and Lebanese bread should be cooked early in the bake (300-400ºC), then bread and finally roasts, cakes and biscuits when the temperature drops to around 275ºC after 3 hours. The Oven Coordinator is available during the bake to offer advice and guidance.

Albury Community Wood Fired Oven 01

Neighbours and strangers sit together and talk about the food they are cooking, their family and other community matters. There is a real engagement that happens around the oven. The Oven has won a national award recognizing the significant role it plays in bringing neighbours and communities together. Apart from attracting about 100 people to its monthly bake, it is also used for larger community events such as Harmony Day and can be hired for private functions.

Albury Community Wood Fired Oven 06

There is a new community wood fired oven at San Remo (Bass Strait) that is operational only this year. If there is one in Hobsons Bay or Melbourne, I will love to use it.


Noreuil Park

Noreuil Park lies on the banks of the Murray River, less than 1 km from Albury CBD and is one of the city's most popular destinations. The Wagirra Trail follows the river along the foreshore, which is  a popular swimming spot in Albury. The canopies of the regal plane trees provide shade for multiple barbecue and picnic sites throughout the park. There is also a River Deck Cafe that is open during the warmer months.

Noreuil Park 01

The name Noreuil came from an old battlefield village in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France. Soldiers of the Albury Battery, part of the 5th Brigade, helped capture Noreuil from the German Army on 2nd and 3rd April 1917. In 1919, Albury mayor Alf Waugh convinced the city council to name a new riverside park after Noreuil as a tribute to the soldiers’ actions. “Noreuil was the place where the battery covered themselves with imperishable glory,’’ he said at the time.

Noreuil Foreshore 01


Oddies Creek Park

Located off Wodonga Place, Oddies Creek Park is adjacent to the Noreuil Park Foreshore and the Wagirra Trail. Here a new $922,000 playground opened in August 2011. This playspace is designed by renowned landscape architect Mary Jeavons and constructed by Albury Council’s all-aboriginal Wagirra Trail crew.

Oddies Creek Playspace 02

This fully-fenced playground is designed for children from babies to teenagers with features to stimulate physical, social and imaginative play experiences. Highlights include planting of trees and shrubs to create tunnels and a natural cubby space, a small amphitheatre for creative play, rockers, a large climbing net, an observation deck, a multi-directional giant swing and a 30m flying fox. Fully landscaped, the area is an ideal spot for a family day out. It is surrounded by green open space, is only metres from the Murray River and has BBQ facilities and amenities.

Oddies Creek Playspace 05


Albury Botanic Gardens

Albury Mayor Alderman William Jones opened the Albury Botanic Gardens with the planting of an English Elm tree in 1887. For the past 130 years, the Albury Botanic Gardens has graced the western end of Albury's CBD. While the trees have matured and the layout has been modified, the Gardens has lost none of its beauty and charm and to this day, remains the city's "jewel in the crown".

Albury Botanic Gardens 02

Sprawling over 4 hectares, the gardens feature an impressive collection of more than 1000 native and exotic plant species. Around 250,000 people visit the gardens each year, many coming for a picnic, a gentle stroll or the ambience. School children visit the botanic gardens to learn about plants and the local environment.

Albury Botanic Gardens 08

Work continues on regeneration and replacement of species that have reached the end of their life-span, in particular the elm trees in Elm Avenue. With the help from the Friends of the Botanic Gardens, Albury City is planning a range of improvements including the creation of a children's garden.

Albury Botanic Gardens Children's Garden 01
Dinosaur in the Children's Garden


Albury Train Station

The Albury Train Station (photos) is indisputably the grandest railway building outside of Melbourne or Sydney. This magnificent Victorian structure represents both the formal shaking of hands between the two colonies of NSW and Victoria and a monument to their continuing separation and differences.

Albury Train Station 02

Designed and constructed under the supervision of John Whitton, Albury Station was opened on 3 Feb 1881, together with the opening of the Gerogery to Albury extension of the Great Southern Line from Sydney. At that time, the Victorian line was complete as far as Wodonga and a trip between Sydney and Melbourne required a coach connection to cross the Murray River.

Albury Train Station 03

On 14 June 1883, the NSW line was joined to the Victorian network via a temporary wooden railway bridge across the Murray River. Although the rail link between the two states was now complete, all passengers and goods traffic still had to change in Albury and switch over to another train because the two competitive states insisted on retaining different rail gauges. NSW had the standard gauge of 143.5 cm while Victoria had the broad gauge of 160 cm. This interstate intransigence required a platform long enough to accommodate two full-length trains, which led to the building of the longest (and arguably the most impressive) platform in the country, measuring over 455 metres of Victorian wrought iron beauty. The states could not initially agree which should be the transfer point so they had an expensive and attractive iron lattice bridge sent from Scotland which accommodated both gauges. The bridge is still standing astride the Murray and is in daily use.

Albury Train Station 04

The standard gauge line was extended to Melbourne's Spencer Street Station (now Southern Cross) in 1962, with the running of the first non-stop freight service between Melbourne and Sydney in January and the first non-stop passenger train, the Southern Aurora, on 16th April of that year. Broad gauge trains from Melbourne continued using the back (dock) platform but had ceased operating in 2008 as the broad gauge line was converted to standard gauge.

Albury Train Station 08Albury Train Station 09Albury Train Station 10

You can appreciate the station's beauty by walking the whole length of the magnificent platform, the longest undercover platform in the southern hemisphere. Stroll through the original waiting areas with ornate pressed metal ceilings showcasing superb craftsmanship of a bygone era. Located across the road from the station is the Station Master's residences which now houses the Albury's Visitor Centre.

Albury Visitor Information Centre
Albury Visitor Centre

Friday, June 15, 2012

Army Museum Bandiana

On the last day of our trip to Lake Hume just before driving back to Melbourne, we stopped at the Army Museum Bandiana. As we were short of time, we only spent an hour there although many visitors took up to 3 hours as the museum does have a large collection of military exhibits.
 
The Army Museum Bandiana, located just out of Wodonga, is one of the largest and most diversified military museums in Australia.  The museum enjoys a close working relationship with the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. About 5,000 square metres of display space contains a collection from 1863 to present day, showcasing
  • 190 army vehicles including bikes, cars, trucks, heavy equipment and armoured vehicles.
  • 150 weapons including anti-aircraft and field guns, machine guns and pistols.
  • WW1, WW2 and present day uniforms.
  • Medals and other items.

25 Pounder Quick Firing Gun  03
25 Pounder Quick Firing Gun at the entrance to the museum

Apart from the exhibits, you can watch a video in the theatrette or get a souvenir from the museum shop. There are also 3 free covered electric barbecues with plenty of covered seating in the memorial gardens.


History

The original collection was established in 1972 at the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Centre in Bandiana and moved to the present site in 1976 when it grew too big.  The museum was formally opened by the Director General of Supply-Army Brigadier J.A. Munro on 31 Mar 1976 and made accessible to the public.

Army Museum Bandiana Gun   01

The Army Museum Bandiana was formed on 1 Jul 1997 from the amalgamation of this museum with:
  • Army Transport Museum from Puckapunyal
  • Army Catering Corps Historical Collection from Puckapunyal
  • Army Electrical & Mechanical Engineer's Historical Collection from Bandiana
It was officially opened by the Deputy Chief of Army Maj General J.C. Hartley on 23 Oct 1997.


Welbike / Corgi Scooter (1940s)

The Welbike (video) is a collapsible motorcycle delivered in a pod by parachute, intended to be used by paratroops for rapid movement around a battlefield. It was produced during WWII specifically for the British army by Britain’s first motorcycle manufacturer, the Excelsior Motor Company of Birmingham.  Well-preserved surviving welbikes are rare and there is one specimen at Bandiana. This was donated by Captain L. Jensen of the Royal Australian Airforce in 1981 and has been carefully restored by a local enthusiast.

Excelsior Parachute Motorcycle 1940s 02

This 32kg single-seat motorbike is designed to fit into a standard (130cm long x 30cm wide x 38cm high) parachute drop canister. The canister has a percussion head to minimize damage to the bike upon landing. Once it hits the ground, what is needed is to twist the handlebars into their locking position, pull up the saddle, fold out the footrests and then push start the 98cc single-cylinder 2-stroke Villiers engine. The aim is for the paratrooper to assemble the bike and be on the move in 11 seconds. The tiny fuel tank holds just 3.7 litres of fuel and can last for about 130km at 45km/h before the bike is broken up, abandoned or refuelled for further use. A total of 3853 Welbikes were produced from 1942-1945. While not terribly successful, some were used in battles including at Anzio and Normandy by the Royal Marine Commandos.

The Welbike could prove a liability in combat situations. The difference in weight between a parachutist and the canister meant that they often landed some distance apart. Some were captured by enemy forces or lost before they could even be used. The low power and small wheels also meant that they struggled to cope adequately with the often rough battlefield roads so were often abandoned by troops who found it easier to continue on foot. Another problem for the Welbike was that by the time it was in mass production, much larger gliders had been developed that could carry bigger and more powerful motorcycles.

Many of the later models never saw action and were disposed of at the end of the war, mostly exported to the USA where they were sold by a New York department store. The lack of a front brake meant that they could not be legally used on the road so most were bought by farmers for off-road use. The parachute bike concept would live on in the form of the Corgi 50 "Dinky Devil" scooter built from the late 1940s and the popular folding Honda Monkey bike of the 1960s.


Bell 47G-3B-I Sioux AI-407 (1965)

The Bell 47 (video) is a two-bladed, single engine, light helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It became the first helicopter certified for civilian use on 8 March 1946. More than 5,600 Bell 47 aircraft were produced.

Bell 47G-3BI-I Sioux AI-407 A

The Bell 47 helicopter entered U.S. military service in late 1946. In the Korean War, it was designated the H-13 Sioux by the U.S. Army. It has served as the helicopter of choice for basic helicopter flight instruction in many countries. NASA had a number of Bell 47s during the Apollo program, used by astronauts as trainers for the lunar lander. Two helicopter types, the 47G and the 47J Ranger, were used in the popular television series Whirlybirds from 1957 to 1960. Batman used a Bell 47 as the "Batcopter" in "Batman: The Movie" in 1966.

This helicopter on display was manufactured and placed into service in 1965. RAEME tradesman serviced and maintained this Sioux in the following units:

UnitPeriod
161 Recce it-SVNApr 67-Feb 68
1st Aviation RegimentFeb 68-Jun 69
182 Reece Squadron SingaporeJun 69-Mar 70
1 Aviation RegimentMar 70-Dec 73

It was retired into long term storage in Dec 1973 until issued to RAAF School of Technical Training Wagga Wagga as a Training Aid in Sept 1977. It was presented to RAEME Training Centre Museum (now Army Museum Bandiana) by the Museum of Australian Army Flying following refurbishment by tradesmen of Oakey Workshop Battalion.


DUKW

The DUKW (colloquially known as Duck, video) is a 6-wheel amphibious truck developed in the US during WWII, primarily used to ferry supplies from ship to shore, to transport wounded combatants to hospital ships or to operate in flooded landscapes. It was initially rejected by the US armed forces. When a US coast guard patrol craft ran aground on a sandbar in Massachusetts, an experimental DUKW happened to be in the area. Winds up to 110 km/h, rain and heavy surf prevented conventional craft from rescuing the 7 stranded coast guardsmen. But the DUKW had no trouble and the military opposition melted.

The DUKW was the first vehicle to allow the driver to vary the tire pressure from inside the cab. The tires could be fully inflated for hard surfaces such as roads and less inflated for softer surface, especially beach sand. This added to the DUKW's great versatility as an amphibious vehicle. This feature is now standard on many military vehicles.

Truck 2.5 ton 6x6 Amphibian DUKW 02

535 DUKWs were acquired by Australian forces. After WWII, Australia transferred many to Citizens Military Force units. Many DUKWs were used by civilian organizations such as police departments, fire stations and rescue units. The Australian Army lent 2 DUKWs and crew to Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions in 1948 for an expedition to Macquarie Island. DUKWs were used on Antarctic supply voyages until 1970. From 1945 to 1965, the Australian Commonwealth Lighthouse Service supply ship Cape York carried ex-Army DUKWs for supplying lighthouses on remote islands. Whenever a natural disaster or an emergency situation occurs, DUKWs are well equipped for the land and water rescue efforts. Australian Army Reserve DUKWs were used extensively for rescue and transport during the 1955 Hunter Valley floods.

DUKWs are now used as tourist transport in harbor and river cities.  These duck tours (video) can be found in many cities worldwide, including Singapore, Malacca, Qingdao and Osaka in Asia.


Ford GPA

Ford GPA (video) was an amphibious version of the WWII Ford GPW Jeep. Also known as a "Seep" (Seagoing Jeep), "Duckling" or "Water Bug", it was used in a beach reconnaissance role and as a general purpose runabout between ships and ship to shore. It was used by the American Army during WWII, Russia and by the Australian forces in New Guinea and later in Korea.

Unlike the GPW Jeep, the Seep was not a successful design being too slow and heavy on land and lacking sufficient seagoing abilities in open water. GPA would frequently get stuck in shallow waters, sink if there are significant waves and could not carry much cargo.

Amphibian Ford GPA 02

By 1944, GPAs were being sold as surplus and were purchased by farmers, ranchers, adventurers and others. By the 1970s, collectors had discovered them and started restoring them back to their original specifications. After WWII, several adventurers converted surplus GPAs into world-travelling machines. The most famous one was during the 1950s when Australian Ben Carlin (1912–1981) sailed and drove a modified Seep that he called "Half-Safe" on a journey around the world. A young American couple converted one which they called "Tortuga" and travelled from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. They later converted another one which they called "Tortuga II" which they used in the South Pacific. Replicas of the GPA are featured in the 2007 film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". Custom built by Ghostlight Industries of San Fernando, California, the fiberglass bodies were intentionally constructed 10% larger than the actual vehicle to ease filming.

SpecificationsEngine: 4 cylinders in line 134.2 cu in 54 bhp
Transmission: 3 forward and 1 reverse, 2-speed transfer
Weight: 3660 lbs



Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo LARC-V (1964)

LARC-V is a single-screw, 4-wheeled, diesel-powered, aluminium-hulled amphibious cargo vehicle so called because it can carry 5 tons (video). The craft is capable of operation in temperate, tropic and arctic climates. It can transverse sand and coral beaches, unimproved roads, off-road terrain and maneuver through a surf of 10-foot breakers. 

It was developed in the US during the 1950s for transferring personnel and stores between ship and shore. LARC-Vs were used by the Argentine Marines during the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands. They were introduced into Australian service in 1964 for both military operations and flood relief work including Queensland's Operation Flood Assist in January 2011.

LARC V 01

The displayed LARC was used for resupplying the Australian Antarctic Research Bases at Mawson, Macquarie Island, Casey and Davis from 1970. This LARC was also used in the rescue mission involving the “Nella Dan”. This vehicle is painted in international orange depicting rescue. The shark's teeth were painted by crew members prior to reaching Antarctica.

SpecificationsDimensions: 35'1" long x 10' wide x 10'2" inches high, freeboard amidships 10" 
Wheelbase: 16 feet
Tyres: The large low pressure tyres allow the vehicle to travel over mud, sand and ice
Weight: Gross weight 30,000 lbs, load capacity 5 ton
Troop capacity: 3 crew + 20 passengers
Engine: Cummins V8 diesel, 300 hp
Transmission: One forward and one reverse, both to road wheels and propeller
Fuel capacity: 144 gallons diesel 
Speed: land (max 48 km/h), Water (max 8 knots)
Range: land (200 nautical miles), Water (40 nm)



Light Armored Vehicle-Recovery (LAV-R)

The LAV-R (video) is an 8-wheeled amphibious reconnaissance vehicle, a derivative of the LAV-25 armored personnel carrier. It is in service with the US Marine Corps since 1986. The LAV-R has a raised roofline and is fitted with a boom crane and recovery winch to recover damaged or disabled vehicles, specially other LAVs. It is capable of uprighting overturned vehicles minimizing additional damage. It can also tow other LAVs with suspension and engine damage.

Light Armoured Vehicle Recovery LAV R

The LAV-R is an all-terrain, all-weather vehicle with night capabilities. The vehicle can be made fully amphibious within 3 minutes. On water it is propelled by 2 waterjets, mounted at the hull rear. It is capable of fording streams, rivers and inland waterways. This armored recovery vehicle can be airlifted by the C-130 Hercules or larger military transport aircraft. It can also be carried underslung by the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.

The LAV-R has a crew of 3-4 men including commander, driver, rigger and one additional crew member. The only armament it carries is a pintle-mounted 7.62-mm machine gun with 1000 rounds, used for self-defense. It is also fitted with smoke grenade dischargers.


Searchlight 150cm (1941)

This searchlight has a 150cm diameter rhodium-plated parabolic mirror, reflecting a high intensity carbon arc dishcharge. It has 800 million candlepower with 1.25 degrees dispersion. These searchlights were fitted with radar and had a range of 80km.

1941 Searchlight 02

Searchlights were first used in WWI to create "artificial moonlight" to enhance opportunities for night attacks, a practice which continued in WWII. Controlled by sound locators and radars, searchlights could track bombers, indicate targets to anti-aircraft guns and night fighters and dazzle crews.

Searchlights were occasionally used tactically in ground battles. One famous occasion was the Soviets' use of seachlights during the Battle of Berlin in April 1945. 143 searchlights were directed at the German defence force across the Neisse River with the aim of temporarily blinding them during a Soviet offensive. However, the morning fog diffused the light and silhouetted the attacking Soviet forces, making them clearly visible to the Germans. The Soviets suffered heavy losses as a result and were forced to delay their invasion of the city.


AN/KPQ-1 Mortar Locating Radar (MLR) Set (1960s)

Manufactured in the USA, this MLR set was introduced into the Australian Army in the early 1960s. It was used to track the flight path of incoming, high trajectory projectiles and the attached computing system was then able to extrapolate back to the point of origin. This information provided the gun battery command post with an immediate target for counter-battery fire. The radar was capable of detecting incoming rounds out to a range of 8.515 km. While very capable when tracking individual mortar rounds, the computer tended to get a bit muddled when tracking multiple rounds from multiple sources, which reduced the system's effectiveness.

AN, KPQ-1 Radar Set 2

The AN/KPQ-1 MLR detachment consisted of 11 soldiers - the Detachment Commander, 5 radar operators, 3 signalers (2 of whom also acted as drivers), a radar mechanic and a driver. The complete equipment was carried in 3 modified ¾ ton Land Rovers and trailers. The first vehicle carried the crew's personal kit and towed a trailer carrying a generator. The second vehicle carried the various interconnecting cables on their reels and towed the special trailer with the tripod for the radar antenna. The third vehicle carried the antenna pedestal and towed a trailer carrying the antenna assembly.

The AN/KPQ-1 was successfully deployed to Vietnam during the 1960s and provided support for the task force at the Nui Dat base and various fire support bases throughout Phuoc Tuy Province. Upon returning to Australia, they were refurbished and upgraded until replaced by the more modern and capable AN/TPQ-36 Weapon Locating Radar in 1986.


Rapier Surface-to-Air Missile System (1980)

Rapier is a British surface-to-air missile developed for the British Army and Royal Air Force and which entered service in 1971. The quick response time and high maneuverability of the Rapier made it more formidable than any of the available weaponry and by 1977 had replaced them. It remains the UK's primary air defence weapon after almost 35 years of service and is expected to serve until 2020.

Rapier Surface-to-Air Missile System 02

Rapier entered service with the Australian Army in 1980. Its optical system, comprising a launcher and an optical tracker, can only engage aircraft during daylight hours. In this configuration, the operator uses a joystick to manually track the aircraft and guide the missile to the target. In November 2005, the 16th Air Defence Regiment fired the final missile at the Lake Hart Air Weapons Range, Woomera.


DN181 Radar Tracker "Blindfire"

Although accurate and simple to use, the original Rapier system clearly suffered from a lack of all-weather capability. This led to the development of the Marconi DN181 "Blindfire" radar which was introduced in 1970. A DN181 Radar Tracker was added to the Rapier fire unit or any other optical system, allowing an all-weather day and night engagement of hostile aircraft at ranges of 8 km and height of 10,000 feet. It can be used in darkness or under poor visibility when optical target tracking is not possible, thereby improving the accuracy of the weapon system.

DN181 Radar Tracker Blindfire

To ensure accuracy, Blindfire used a very narrow "pencil" beam and tracks both the target and missile. The Blindfire trailer carries its own generator unit and a third land rover to tow it. Once the surveillance radar in the Rapier launcher detects a hostile target, the Radar Tracker commences a search pattern for the target. When the target is detected, the Radar Tracker "locks on" and produces a "target lock" tone to the operator. The operator can then fire the missile and allow the Radar Tracker to track the target and guide the missile in flight.


M113A1 Fire Support Vehicle (FSV) with Saladin Turret

Following the introduction of the M113A1 Family of Light Armoured Vehicles into the Australian Army in 1964-65, there was a requirement for an air-portable Fire Support Vehicle. To meet the requirement, the turret from the British-made Saladin Armoured Car was fitted onto the American-made M113A1 APC hull. The initial design work was carried out by the Army Design Establishment, with the Ordnance Factory Maribyrnong building the prototype. 15 vehicles were converted at 4 Base Workshops, Bandiana in 1970.

M113A1 Fire Support Vehicle    02

The resulting vehicle, commonly referred to as the "Beast" by Royal Australian Armoured Corps crews, combined the mobility and protection of the M113A1 hull with the firepower of the Saladin Armoured Car Turret while retaining the vehicle's amphibious capabilities. The FSV concept was a success but it was not without problems. The extra weight of the Turret led to a slight decrease in the vehicle's performance and reduced the life on some suspension components.

8 FSVs were sent to South Vietnam in 1971 and were in service until declared obsolete in 1986. The FSV was an interim vehicle and was replaced by the M113 Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle in the late 1970s. Following their withdrawal from service, 6 of the vehicles (without turrets) were sold to New Zealand to be converted to standard APC configuration. One of these vehicles, configured as an Armoured Ambulance and fitted with mine protection belly armour and uparmoured on the hull, saw service in New Zealand's contribution to the UN force in Bosnia in 1994-96 and again in East Timor in 1999-2000.

SpecificationsEngine: GM Detroit Diesel 6V53, 215 hp
Crew: Three
Armament: L5A1 76mm gun and two .30 Browning MG



Centurion Main Battle Tank


The Centurion, introduced in 1945, was British primary post-WWII battle tank. It was a successful tank design with upgrades for many decades. The tank development began in 1943 and manufacture began in January 1945.

It first entered combat in the Korean War in 1950, used by the British Army to support the UN forces. It later served in the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971, where it fought against US-supplied M47 Patton tanks. It was introduced to the Australian Army in 1952 and was used in South Vietnam. Israel used Centurions in the 1967 Six Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War and during the 1975 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon. The Royal Jordanian Land Force used Centurion tanks first in 1970 to fend off a Syrian incursion within its borders during the Black September events and later in the Golan Heights in 1973.

It became one of the most widely used tank designs, with some still in service until the 1990s. As recently as the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Israel Defense Forces employed heavily modified Centurions as APCs and combat engineering vehicles. South Africa still employs over 200 Centurions, which were modernized in the 1980s and the resulting model is known as the Oliphant.

Centurion Main Battle Tank   03

An Australian Army Mk 3 Centurion Type K, Army Registration Number 169041, was involved in a nuclear blast test at Emu Field in Australia in 1953 as part of Operation Totem 1. It was placed less than 460 m from the epicentre and left with the engine running. Examination after detonation found it had been pushed away from the blast point by about 1.5 m and that its engine had stopped working, only because it had run out of fuel. Antennae were missing, lights and periscopes were heavily sandblasted, the cloth mantlet cover was incinerated and the armoured side plates had been blown off and landed 180 m from the tank. Remarkably, the tank could still be driven from the site. 169041, subsequently nicknamed "The Atomic Tank", was later used in the Vietnam War and is now located at Robertson Barracks in Palmerston, Northern Territory. Although other tanks were subjected to nuclear tests, 169041 is the only tank known to have withstood atomic tests and subsequently gone on for another 23 years of service, including 15 months on operational deployment in a war zone.

SpecificationsEngine: Rolls Royce Meteor V 12 Mk 4B
Crew: 4 (commander, driver and 2 gunners)
Armament: 20 pounder main gun, two 30 cal Browning Machine Guns



BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun Mk 3 (1942)

The BL 5.5 inch Gun was a British artillery gun introduced during the middle of WWII to equip medium batteries. In January 1939, a specification was issued for a gun to replace the 6 inch 26 cwt howitzers in use with most medium batteries. The first units were equipped in UK in 1941 and in North Africa a year later. Subsequently it also equipped Canadian, Australian, South African, Polish and Indian regiments.

Gun 5.5in Mark III 1942 02

After the war, it was used by the Royal Artillery on operations in Korea, South Arabia and Borneo. It was also used by New Zealand, by the Indian Army in wars against Pakistan and extensively by the South African Defence Force in the early stages of the South African Border War. It was in Australian service until replaced by M198 in about 1984.


German Field 7.7cm Feldkanone 16 (1916-1918)

Soon after the start of the war, the Germans realized that their standard field artillery piece, the FK 96 n.A. had some serious drawbacks. Although it could fire above 5.600 m, the tail of the gun had to be dug down into a pit to allow the tube to be raised further. An interim solution is mating its tube with the carriage of the lFH 98/09, creating a hybrid gun called KiH which allows the tube to be elevated up to 40 degrees, making possible a range of 7.800 m. Work soon started on a new design which eventually became the FK 16.

1916-1918 German Field 7.7 Feld Kanone16  03

SpecificationsWeight: 1.38 ton
Range: 9.1 km 
Muzzle Velocity: 420 m/s (charge 1), 545 m/s (charge 1 & 2)
Type of Shell: He, Shrapnel & Gas



Ferret Scout Car Mark 2 Daimler (1958)

In 1949, the British Army approached Daimler to upgrade its WWII light armoured vehicles. Having previously designed the Dingo Scout Car, Daimler created the Ferret. The Ferret was based on the Dingo design but had more interior space for the crew and could be fitted with an optional small machine gun turret. 

It was built from an all-welded monocoque steel body, making the vehicle lower but also making the drive extremely noisy inside as all the running gear was within the enclosed body with the crew. The 4-wheel drive had "run-flat" tyres which kept their shape even if punctured in battle, thus enabling it to drive to safety. Its turret usually carried a 7.62mm general purpose machine gun and 6 smoke grenade launchers (3 on each side). It is fast and small enough to be used in an urban environment but strong enough to negotiate off-road rugged terrains.

1958 Scout Car Ferret Mark 2 Daimler   02

The Ferret's interior had 3 compartments, the driver's compartment in the front, the fighting compartment in the centre and the engine compartment in the rear. The Marks 1 and 2 Ferrets could carry steel channels to form a bridge over trenches/ditches or for extrication when stuck in sand. Ferrets Marks 3 and 4 featured wrap-around floatation screens enabling them to cross rivers and lakes, propelled by their rotating wheels. During battles, 3 Ferrets were attached to each tank squadron. Each Ferret trio formed a reconnaissance troop which scouted forward of the heavy armour to locate an enemy’s position.

The Ferret is no longer in service in the British Army although several Commonwealth countries still operate them to this day. They were introduced into Australian service in 1953 and withdrawn in 1970. They have been popular with private collectors due to the compact size and affordable price. A total of 4,409 Ferrets were produced between 1952 and 1971.

SpecificationsEngine: Rolls-Royce B60 Mk 6A 6 cylinders, 129bhp, petrol
Transmission: 5 forward and 5 reverse, full transmission in both directions.
Combat Weight: 4210kg
Crew: 2-3 (commander, gunner, driver)
Speed: 93km/h
Range: 300km



M3 Scout Car (1941)

The M3 Scout Car was an armored car in U.S. service during WWII. It was also known as the White Scout Car after its manufacturer, the White Motor Company which first created it in 1938 based on a commercial truck chassis. It added an armoured body and called it the T7 but renamed it as the M3 scout car in June 1939. It was used in various roles including patrol, scouting, command vehicle, ambulance and gun tractor.

1941 White Scout Car 02

The windshield is made of shatter-proof glass and a 0.5" thick armour plate (with slots for vision) can be swung down to cover it. A roller mounted in front of the bumper could be lowered to help it not being bogged down in soft ground. The front bumper was made from heavy sheet metal and the bonnet hood could be opened on each side. The battery was on the right side and had an armoured cover to protect it. Things such as axes, shovels and picks could be stowed on the outside and there was storage in the rear for ammunition, tools and spare parts.

SpecificationsDimension: 5.63m long x 2.1m wide x 2.0m tall
Weight: 4036kg
Armour: 0.25 in (6.4 mm) face-hardened armour
Engine: Hercules JXD 6-cylinder gasoline engine, producing 110 bhp @ 3000 rpm
Transmission: 4 forward and 1 reverse, 2-speed transfer case
Speed: 96 km/h
Crew: 2 (Commander and Driver) + 6 passengersArmament: 1 x 0.5" Browning and 1 x 0.3" Browning Machine Guns
Range: 403 Km



Willys Staff Car (1940)

This vehicle has the same engine as the Willys Jeep and was a conventional rear wheel drive road vehicle. The vehicle was used by the Australian Forces as the standard staff car during WWII.

1940 Willys Staff Car 02



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