Day two at Oberon
Up and away by 7.30 am, heading to Bathurst. Nice drive and only a few people on the road. Arrived at Bathurst and saw the crowd at Mt. Panorama and also on every spare patch of dirt in the town. Tents everywhere plus every sort of caravan and trailer you could imagine. We bypassed it all and headed out to Oberon about 50Kls away, but climbing all the way. Arrived at 9am and contacted Matt McMahon. Was nice to finally meet him after all this time. Left town and drove 25 kls to Matt's property--miles inland from the main road, but a little patch of paradise--green grass and trees around the small house on the property (Matt lives in Oberon). Heaps of bird life and most were very tame. Matt has the place declared a wildlife sanctuary.
Up to a massive shed (one of two). The spare parts on shelves was unbelievable, parts everywhere and Matt knew exactly where each bit was. A couple of tanks --three running Bren Gun Carriers---half a dozen very old cars, (one a running straight 8 Buick) and many other items in various stages of repair.
The doors were opened and two of the Brens were started up and driven out and parked.
Then the Cent (169129) was fired up and backed out. Note the pile of dirt beside the tracks. The tank was reversed out and then turned left pushing up a pile of dust--yes I said dust--stand on it and you went down over your knee.
She was a nice tank with everything in place and all working. Matt had replaced the old tracks as the new ones were no good, a mixture of different links, maybe some from a Chieftain, so the old ones were back on. Only thing I noticed was that the old Centurion squeak and groans were replaced with a bit of track chatter, but this was the first run since the old tracks had been refitted.
On the track ready to drive about 400 yards to a very BIG paddock Note the complete set of new road wheels on both sides --- 24 in all. Just under the Glacis Plate you can see the English number and over to the left the English Squadron Icon.
The rear view. We now drove off to the paddock and I switched to my Video camera, hence no more pictures but a couple of young guys who were there said they would forward me down some, so there is more to come.
On entering the paddock I was amazed at the size, without doubt the biggest driving area I had seen since leaving Puckapunyal in the early 1950's. Matt took off for a very fast drive which was to allow me to capture it on video. Boy did he have her flying. Val was sitting in Matt's 4wd and she said she had no idea a tank could go so fast. I must admit it looked much faster than 24 M.P.H. Matt came back and said," Well, have a drive". I climbed aboard with a grin from ear to ear and slowly managed to insert my vastly overweight body into the drivers compartment. Val was watching and said she would be surprised if I could ever get out again. I must admit I had some thoughts along those lines.
Into second and off I went, third was a breeze but I then missed fourth. Every tank feels different in the gear change, and Matt's had a lot of lateral movement in the gearstick. In fact first was very easy to select which is not the normal case. Anyway another start and all went well----third, fourth, fifth and she was flying. I then changed down to third and decided as I had nice hard flat ground, tons of room and plenty of time that I would have a go at a stick change---I have never done one---they were unknown in my time and I have never been in a comfortable situation where I was prepared to try one, but today was the best chance I would ever get ---everything was perfect.
Accelerate and slip the gear shift from third to neutral and just a feather touch on the left stick and into fourth. Bloody hell! It went in like a hot knife through butter, a beautiful change. I would have liked to have driven around for about ten hours but due to the fuel usage I now brought her back. Yes I did manage to extradite myself from the driver seat, and climbed down onto solid ground. I must admit I was still pretty excited, and it took me a few minutes to settle down from the best drive I have had in 40 years.
These next seven photos are courtesy James South
Time to finish up and go home
On the way back driving out of the paddock
Tony, a good friend of Matt's having his first drive in a Centurion and he went well
Then it was back to the house where Matts mother turned on a Bar-B-Que lunch that did indeed fill a spot. Unfortunately as we wanted to beat the race crowd from Bathurst, while I would have loved to stay much longer we had to getaway. We did have a good drive back to Cowra and a nice shower and dinner and I was beat, it had been a full very exciting and interesting day
Down to the corner and turn left down the long entrance road
And off we go
It was a close fit but Tony made it, no worries.
A vert happy crew as Tony gets up a bit of speed.
A shot of Matt giving 169129 a bit of a swim.
Matt takes the Cent, and two or three Bren Gun Carriers and a Matilda into Oberon each year for a festival --a drive of about 25 miles--yeah he drives them on roads and also down the main street. I would love the drive from his property to the main sealed road, about 15 kls on a good hard dirt road, going up hill and down dale would be a top drive in a Centurion. You can see the hill behind ---its like that all the way---nice rolling hills.
My sincere thanks to Matt for his commitment to old Armour in general and his very generous commitment to this day in particular---without these guys, this site would be nothing!
Up early the next day and took our time getting breakfast and packing up our gear. Outside the traffic was bumper to bumper as far as I could see. A nice guy let me into the traffic and off we went. The traffic cleared after we left the town and was good all day. We stopped at Junee, which was a very pretty town with a station and surrounding area all restored, very nice indeed. Had lunch at the Services Club and the took a look at an old mansion that had been restored. Val was in her element and I was also quite impressed. Had its own ball room separate from the two story residence. A coach house with a lot of old unrestored coaches and another one full of about ten restored coaches, all different. Each room in the mansion was done up with all period items , models in ball gowns, heaps of old lamps and paintings and some beautiful furniture. I thought I may need a Centurion to get Val back to the car. The trip to Albury was also good traffic wise until about ten kls from Albury, where it built up. Across the border to Wodonga, and it was about 3 hours to home, so I suggested to Val that as it was a warm afternoon about 4 pm and driving into the sun, maybe it would be nice to drive across to Yarrawonga and spend the night there. Val agreed to this in quick time and off we went.
Arrived at Yarrawonga about 5.30 pm and booked into a very nice motel on the lake just beside the bridge back to NSW. Had dinner and I suggested to Val that she may like to drive across the bridge to the R.S.L. and paly the Pokies for an hour, as Val like the pokies she jumped at the chance. On entering the R.S.L. complex I was surprised at the size of the place Noticed a couple of Artillery pieces and over on the left a Centurion set on a concrete slab with lights set into the slab and shining onto the tank. It looked most impressive and Val said, "Look there is a tank", I replied "yes". "What sort is it"? said Val. "That just happens to be a Centurion MBT", said I. A bit further in was a plane set up on pylons, again most impressive. We had a good night and I won $90 which was rather nice as I do not play them much.
The next morning before leaving I went back and took some pics of the tank and plane.
She was a nice looking tank and was A Vietnam tank or so I had been told. But the turret never saw Vietnam, having an "A" Barrel and no drilling for the .50 cal machine gun. I wondered why the turret had been changed, and this made me question if the hull was the same, maybe just a tank dressed up to represent a Vietnam Tank --- it has happened before. I left feeling disappointed, it was a great looking display but maybe not what it was supposed to be??? As we drove away Val mentioned, "You knew that tank was there didn't you"!
I contacted Ian Summers at the R.S.L and all was made clear! The tank came back from Vietnam and was converted to a driver training tank (this was done to a few) Removing the turret and placing seats in the well. When the tank was passed on to the Melbourne Tank Museum, they just grabbed a turret that was available, unfortunately it was not the same as the original. I have pointed Ian in the direction of the only barrel I know of and hopefully something can be done there. The .50 cal drilling I feel they will manage to have done somehow. It was quick and easy to find the story as Ian has the Log Book---about the only crowd to get one and it lists the changes---the log books should have stayed with the tanks as they do in the Army.
Rather an engineering feat I would say -- anyway most impressive
And so we headed home arriving about lunch time. A great trip, a fantastic drive, and lots of tanks seen, three I had not viewed before, and some more really nice people met.
There will be more added to this page later as photos become available
I received a couple of photos from Mick White
These were of 169051 taken about 1975-1974
This was a farewell parade for General Sandy McDonald at Puckapunyal
The officer shaking Gen Sandy McDonalds hand is Mick's father Capt. Peter White
A collection of photos sent to me by Tony Banns
This set of photos show Centurions towards the end of their service and the introduction of the Leopard MBT
These photos had deteriorated over time and have been restored as much as possible-- not all came up as wished, but better than not having them, anyway!
1 Troop A Sqn. about 1976 call sign 11B or 11C
A dozer tank in the Regiment lines
A TLC at the regiment Hangers
View of the cab of the LTC
Unhooking the tow rope to assist a track in trouble
Tony Banns --Driver training
1976 Armoured Centre
Smoko - Driver Training 1976
Tpr. Spec Cornish 1976
Tpr. Spec Cornish 1 Troop A Sqn 1976
L to R Cpl. Ho Season Smith - Tpr. Peter Diamond - Tpr. Spic Cornish - Tpr. Tony Banns
Crew of 11B 1976
1 Troop A Sqn 1976 --1st Armoured Regiment
Now for a look at some Leopards after the Centurions had been replaced
OK! They can be bogged
Tpr. Paul Maloney and Tpr Tony Banns looking a bit lonely.
Tony Banns -- wishing he was somewhere else
Dozer Training---Cpl Steve Hodges instructing
Tony Banns on guard Albury N.S.W.----Armed guard for Red Eye Missiles
Swimming the Leopard
Cpl. Steve Hodgesen
Cpl. Russel Cannon
Sgt. Peter Blackwood
In the drink--an ARV is just entering the water
Coming out --she made it
Please return to the index page and proceed to section 6