Posts Tagged ‘Saladan Armoured Car’

240. Sunday 26th February 2012. We saw more at Seymour and lots of other places…


008 Monday 20th February.

A Feast of Photos this week.

The week begins…

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Nothing to report.

This is the best way to plan a trip. Cheese, crackers, wine, maps and brochures.

Thursday 23rd February

The CO-PILOT  has 6 days off and we planned to get away in WWWGO to visit new places. An early departure was planned but as things always work against me in these matters we left our camp at Culcairn at 3.30 pm. We drove the Olympic Highway until it linked with the Hume Freeway and drove through Albury, Wodonga, Wangaratta and points south in the direction of Melbourne although that was not our destination. We left the highway to look at the pretty town of Benalla and a Freedom campsite for the night. The CO-PILOT is a fully qualified, black belt, ALDI Stores spotter. True to her amazing talents she found an Aldi and we stopped to look for groceries we did not need. We failed to find the campsite although the GPs took us to the correct dirt track in the middle of nowhere. I decided to push on as the potholed road narrowed. There was nowhere to turn around and no signs of human habitation anywhere. Eventually we came across a narrow sealed road and with the help of the GPS followed several back-roads, finally emerging on the Freeway. We turned off for another pretty town called Violet Town and once again could not locate the freedom campsite. As it was getting dark we called into the sports centre and stopped in a rear car-park and settled down for the night.

Friday 24th February

We were on our way by 8am with the plan being to arrive at Seymour and then on to Puckapunyal Army Base by 10am.

Entrance to Puckapunyal Army Barracks and Training Centre.

I was based at Puckapunyal in 1968 being trained in the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, eventually being posted to A squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment at Holsworthy near Sydney. The unit was dissolved in early 1967 becoming A Squadron 2ndCavalry Regiment.

The flag of A Squadron 2 Cavalry Regiment

My training started out in Saladan Armoured cars,

I learned gunnery on the 76mm cannon mounted on the Saladan Armoured Car.

Ferret Scout cars,

I learned radio technique and remote controlled rocket launchers in the Ferret Scout Car.

Centurion Tanks

On the Centurion Tank, all 52 tons of raw power I learned to find a good foot hold and somewhere to grab with two hands and hang on!

and M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers

The M113A Armoured Personnel Carrier. Comprised a Driver and a Crew Commander. who also controlled the radio communications and whatever firepower was attached to a particular vehicle.

where I became a Crew Commander Gunner/Signaller.

The M113A carried a crew of up to 12 Storm Troopers.

(    note the item about the unit mascot, a Wedgetail Eagle called Trooper Courage. My army buddy, Noel L was the mascot keeper and trainer and I had the honour of being involved when time permitted)

Puckapunyal now has an Armour Museum   which houses 90 tanks and other armour vehicles which were of interest to me and to a certain degree, the CO-PILOT.  We arrived at the base and were issued with a visitor pass, which allowed us to drive directly to the museum, do not pass GO do not collect $200.

Just outside the entrance to the Armour Museum are a number of solid metal plates somne 25mm thick, others only 12.5mm thick. Armour piercing shells are still embedded inside the metal plates. It proves that even with armour, it is no guarantee of safety.

Of course the base has changed dramatically in the last 45 years but enough has remained the same to bring back memories. When being discharged from the Army in March 1968 I was asked by the commanding officer if I wanted to sign on for another term of 7 years. Of course the answer was no. I have often wondered what course my life would have taken if I remained in the Army. I did enjoy my time while in service so staying would not have been alien to me. The regimentation and discipline appealed to me.

The museum, as you could expect covers a huge area on the base and many exhibits allows you to stand in, on or try the equipment.

Getting inside the crew commander cramped turret is just as difficult now as it was then.

An original Furphy Water Cart was on display.

An original Furphy Water Tank.

See the web page for a full explanation.

After a late lunch after walking around Seymour we decided to drive the Goulburn Valley Highway to Shepparton and stay the night there. Before leaving I saw the Royal Hotel where I was plied with beer on my 21stbirthday and became very drunk.

The Royal Hotel, Seymour, Victoria.

The afternoon was oppressively hot and although Shepparton was worth a visit, there were no Freedom campsites nearby so we pushed on towards Echuca on the Murray River, the historical once third busiest port in Australia. We found a Freedom campsite, Christies Beach,

Campsite at Christie Beach on the banks of the Murray River near Echuca.

on the banks of the Murray River about 10klms from Echuca. It was a magical spot and the evening was still hot.

Relaxing on the banks of Christie Beach. Hmmm! Did I mention there were speedboats and skiers as well?

A houseboat cruised slowly past our campsite as evening drifted into night.

Houseboat on the Murray (actually there are hundreds of them)

Our view in the morning.

In places the Murray creates flooded backwaters.

Saturday 25th February

What the!!?? Who knits coats for trees?

Echuca turned out to be a pleasant surprise

Echuca Uniting Church

Echuca Catholic Church

and one of the first things we did, after taking a walk around the main shopping area, was to find the historical port.

Entrance to the Port of Echuca

Mostly it has been retained in the era for when it was famous.

Echuca street scene.

Echuca Jetty. Poor quality phone camera pix.

I was excited to take a cruise on a real wood fired steam engine paddle wheeler. The steamer was the fully restored PS Alexander Arbuthnot.

The Paddle Steamer Alexander Arbuthnot

Boiler on Alexander Arbuthnot. Photo quality is poor due to being taken with a phone camera.

A funny but potentially serious incident occurred during the cruise. The deckhand, Darren, was on the dock at a winery escorting passengers ashore. As he was untying the PS ready to jump aboard, the engineer put the PS into gear and pulled Darren into the water. The skipper did not see the incident and it was several minutes before he was able to berth and pick up his sodden deckhand with a ruined mobile phone.

A sodden and very unhappy deckhand, Darren. The photo quality is due to photos taken on the mobile phone.

Of course none of the boat trip was recorded as our camera battery died as we were waiting on the dock. The spare battery was in the camera bag back in WWWGO. I was forced to use the mobile phone camera.

PS Billy Tea.

The PS Canberra.

The PS Emmy Lou.

The day was oppressively hot again with temps pushing around 40° and much too hot to be camped beside the river in a Freedom campsite. We chose a caravan park where we could have a swim and turn on the AC in WWWGO.

Sunday 6th February

It was another hot day although with 50% cloud cover, not as hot as yesterday. After attending a service at the Catholic Church we once again took a walk around the Port of Echuca, stopping at the Beechworth Bakery for coffee and baked goodies. We also bought a loaf of 96 hour sourdough rye bread which they sliced for us. The smell of that bread lingered in WWWGO all day and during the night. Yum.

The jetty is being restored. Most of the old timbers are stored nearby, sizes and dimensions written on them.

Echuca Stagecoach

We enjoyed a simple lunch at a restaurant built on the river walk and watched the paddle steamers and other boats as they cruised by. Our simple lunch consisted of a piece of delicious Triple Cream Brie cheese accompanied by sourdough bread and a plate of duck dim sims with sweet soy sauce and coriander salad. All this was washed down with tall glasses of icy cold James Squires Dark Ale. That simple but filling lunch was enough for us to enjoy two hours on the deck before driving the Murray Valley Highway through several small towns until we reached Cobram on the Murray. Our Camps book indicated a spot along the river bank would be suitable for camping. The dirt track meandered through Red River Gums along the river bank.

Campsite near Cobram.

Cormorant (or Shag) in traditional Cormorant pose.

Finding a spot not beneath one of these widow-makers proved more difficult than expected. After a walk along the river track we enjoyed a hot shower and dinner of chilli and sourdough rye bread.

About 9.30 pm I could see an approaching electrical storm which although a constant spectacular lightning display could mean lots of heavy rain and we did not want to be caught on greasy clay tracks under the trees should the storm reach us. So it was during a dark night we left our camp site following the track to the entrance of Cobram Regional Park where we stopped for the night in an area relatively cleared of trees. We watched the distant lightning display before drifting off to sleep.