November 26, 2020

See Australia's largest display of military vehicles

The historic shed that currently houses Australia's largest display of military vehicles at Bandiana, near Wodonga VIC (DSCF2736)

It’s the largest display of military vehicles anywhere in Australia. Sure, that’s a big call, but the Army Museum at Bandiana, near Wodonga, houses more than 150 military vehicles ranging from motorcycles to massive main battle tanks.

The collection covers materiel from the pre-Federation era including the Boer War (1899-1902) and WWI to the present day and comprises artillery, infantry weapons, uniforms and militaria. Much of the collection has been brought back from actual battlefields and you can see the damage caused by mines, small arms and explosives.

Rows of retired but fully working miltary vehicles on display at the Army Museun, Bandiana VIC

Housed within a WWII-era shed inside the Gaza Ridge Barracks as well as in the grounds outside, visitors can see the entire collection in a single visit. 

One of the museum’s prized items is a genuine WWII Russian T-34 tank, found in postwar storage and shipped to Australia in 2012 after a boozy negotiation with a retired Soviet tank commander in Helsinki who received a Hans Heysen painting for his Moscow museum in exchange. 

This genuine WWII Russian T-34-85 tank can be seen in pride of place at the Army Museum, Bandiana VIC

Identical T-34-85 in Berlin 1945
“We can tell from the serial numbers that this was a 1944-built unit,” museum curator, Dave West tells me, “and it is in original running order. If our sources are correct, this tank may well have been in Berlin at the end of the war in May 1945 and may well have been involved in the intense street fighting in those last days.”

This particular T-34 is fitted with the large, late-war 85mm gun of which some 50000 were produced. 

Sitting in the driver’s seat gives me just an inkling of the discomfort and vulnerability tank crews experienced during the war.  Five men crewed this tank and its difficult to imagine how they all squeezed into this confined and dangerous space, let alone fight a determined enemy. Dave West is the designated driver of this running-order machine.

Australian-built Bushmaster like this can be seen at the Army Museum Bandiana (Army photo)

The massive 30-tonne monster sits among rows of Land Rovers, Blitz trucks and even converted civilian cars including a 48-215 (FX) Holden and an XP Ford Falcon. The brutish Australian-built Bushmaster can also be seen. These 15-tonne armoured trucks are a real success story for Australian design and manufacturing and serve with several international armies today in such theatres as Syria and Afghanistan. 

The museum will reopen to the public after a COVID-19 shutdown in mid-January 2021.

Update: The current ‘shed’ is slated to be demolished with a new purpose-built facility scheduled for construction. 

Gaza Ridge Barracks, South Bandiana, VIC 3694 
Ph: (02) 6055 2525 

Open: Tuesdays to Saturdays between 10:00am and 4:00pm.

All material (c) Copyright unless noted otherwise.

Updated and corrected 30 Nov 20

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