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Puckapunyal, VIC

Famous military training centre.

Puckapunyal, affectionately known as Pucka, is located only 12 km from Seymour. Puckapunyal is a large military base which also houses around 280 families and has a major tourist attraction - the Australian Army Tank Museum.
The Australian Army Tank Museum's mission is to preserve, exhibit and interpret armoured vehicles, artifacts, icons and memorabilia in order to promote and commemorate Australia's Light Horse and Armoured Heritage.
To gain entry to Puckapunyal Military Area, a photo ID is required for people 18 and over, see their website http://australianarmytankmuseum.com.au  for further details.
The name is known to a generation of Australians. It was the place where so many Vietnam War conscripts were sent for basic training in the 1960s (in fact Redgum's iconic I Was Only 19's opening line is "Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing out parade at Puckapunyal"). Today it is the largest military training centre in Victoria now covering 39,290 ha.


Puckapunyal is located 115 km north of Melbourne via the Hume Highway and 12 km west of Seymour.


Origin of Name

It is accepted that the word 'Puckapunyal' was used by local First Nations people (the Taungurung) to describe a hill which is now within the military complex. No one knows exactly what Puckapunyal means which has resulted in such widely varying definitions as 'valley of the winds', 'death to eagles', 'place of exile' and, most likely, 'the middle hill'.


Things to See and Do

The Australian Army Tank Museum
The Australian Army Tank Museum was established to celebrate the achievements of  the Australian Light Horse and the Royal Australian Armoured Corps as well as becoming a training facillity for the Australian Army and RAAC.
The Museum's collection ranges from World War I through to today's 21st century advancements. The exhibition space is divided into two galleries. The inside gallery - Chauvel Hall, features exhibitions focusing on the history of operations, from WWI through to current deployments such as Afghanistan as well as a small arms weapons display. The outside exhibition area features over 80 armoured vehicles and anti-tank weapons.
The museum records how an engineer from Adelaide, Lance de Mole, submitted a proposal, to the British War Office, to build a "chain-rail vehicle which could be easily steered and carry heavy loads over rough ground and trenches". The proposal was made in 1912 and the War Office rejected the idea but it became a necessity as the changing nature of warfare unfolded in World War I. Sadly de Mole's design was ignored. 
The museum has car and coach parking, a barbecue area, a gift shop with a large selection of military models and souvenirs and wheelchair access. The route is clearly signposted from the Hume Freeway. Information about the Museum can be obtained at http://australianarmytankmuseum.com.au which has a detailed history of the army camp.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm and the last weekend of each month from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm. Check the website for any changes: http://australianarmytankmuseum.com.au.

Puckapunyal Birdlife
The entire Army area is known for its birdlife. It is recognised as home to the largest community of bush stone curlews in Victoria and the endangered swift parrots can often be seen in the area. A total of 207 species have been identified in the area.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was inhabited by members of the Taungurung language group.

* The association of the area with army training camps really began in 1904 with the establishment of a troop of Light Horse at Seymour. The rail connection, local terrain, good water supply and agreeable property owners made the area a convenient assembly point for military trainees who met annually for field exercises and official inspection.

* Thus when Lord Kitchener came to Australia in 1910 to advise the government on military matters he inspected a major encampment at the racecourse and recommended it as a permanent military training area.

* When World War I broke out a camp was set up and, in 1920, Seymour shire became the major military area in the state.

* In the early 1920s a rifle range and ordnance store was built on the site.

* Puckapunyal camp was established in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II. It was used as a training camp and the US Army's 41st Infantry Division trained alongside Australian units.

* In February 1941 the first units of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps moved to the camp.

* Between 1949-1995 the 1st Armoured Regiment was stationed at Puckapunyal.

* During the 1950s the Army Base was used by the 3rd National Service Training Brigade.

* In 1964 servicemen conscripted outside New South Wales and Queensland were trained in preparation for fighting in the Vietnam War.

* By 1988 the area covered by the Puckapunyal Army Camp covered 39,290 ha.


Visitor Information

There is a Visitor Information Centre in Seymour with information on the Vietnam Veterans Walk and Light Horse Memorial Park http://www.seymourvictoria.com.au/.


Useful Websites

There is a useful community website http://puckacommunity.org.au/local-information/pucka/ - with lots of local news and suggestions for nearby attractions.

Got something to add?

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8 suggestions
  • I was wondering if there was any chance of you forwarding this around to people that you think may be interested in purchasing a copy to help The Repat Foundation raise money for our returned Veterans. Maybe workmates, colleagues, friends and family.

    It is only $24.95 + postage which is great value. Every single cent raised goes towards helping our returned Veterans who suffer from PTSD and their families nationally. I’ve put the play list below for you to have a look at so you can see how many wonderful artists came on board for this project. The DVD was completely made from sponsorship money and donor money which is how we are able to give back 100% to our returned Veterans.

    Doin’ It For The Troops DVD. Narrated by award winning artist Amber Lawrence and with the following play list this is a DVD that everybody would like to own. One hour and 39 minutes of wonderful entertainment.

    The DVD begins with a live to camera speech from General Peter Cosgrove (Ret’d) – now Governor General of Australia
    Shout – Performed by Kylie Minogue & John Farnham
    Shadow Boxer – Performed by the late Doc Neeson
    Poster Girl – Performed by Beccy Cole
    By The Light of the Moon – Performed by Chelsea Basham
    I Still Call Australia Home – Performed by all Artists in East Timor (John Farnham, Kylie Minogue, the late Doc Neeson, Gina Jeffreys, James Blundell, Jack Jones & Rachel Thorne
    Missing Heroes – Performed by Adam Harvey
    Lay Down Your Guns – Performed by Jimmy Barnes
    Jingle Bell Rock – Performed by Kylie Minogue and The Living End
    The Anzac – Performed by Adam Brand
    Touch – Performed b Touch – Noiseworks
    Rockin’ Robin – Performed by Kylie Minogue
    The Man Across the Street – Performed by Amber Lawrence
    Battle Scars – Performed by Guy Sebastian featuring Lupe Fiasco
    Diggers of the Anzac – Performed by John Williamson – this song is used as a backing song to a Montage that includes various artists who have sung to the troops overseas including Diva Demolition, Beccy Cole, Doc Neeson, John Williamson and many more
    You’re the Voice – Performed by John Farnham, Kylie Minogue, Doc Neeson, Gina Jeffreys & James Blundell
    Come Back Home – Performed by Dianna Corcoran
    I’ll See Ya – Performed by Simply Bushed
    What About Me – Performed by Shannon Noll (only part of the song) – this is Channel 7 News footage of when the troops returned to Townsville in 2008
    Dancing With Elvis – Performed by Gina Jeffreys
    And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda – Performed by Eric Bogle
    Take a Long Line – Performed by the late Doc Neeson and John Farnham, Kylie Minogue, Gina Jeffreys, James Blundell, Jack Jones and Rachel Thorne
    Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again – Performed by the late Doc Neeson and the others as listed above
    There are also live to camera short speeches by Prinnie Stevens, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan (Ret’d), Michael Chugg, Lehmo, The McClymonts and Angry Anderson.

    Contact The Repat Foundation on 8275 1039 or go to http://www.therepatfoundation.org.au to order your copy.

    People can follow Doin’ It For The Troops on both Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook link is https://www.facebook.com/doinitforthetroops?ref=hl#!/ and Twitter is @Dvdtroops.

    Any help you could offer would be absolutely wonderful.

    Thanks 

    Cathy Jackson
  • Why isn’t there an image of the house we used to live in as kids available on Google maps?

  • The hill you are referring to is called Tit Hill at least that’s what it was called when I was a conscript there in the sixties.

  • Are there any actice troops here now? I used to be there when I trained.

    Trevor Powis
  • How can Vietnam conscripts be “only 19”? I always thought they were conscripted for their 20 th birthday. My dad trained men for jungle warfare at Pukapunyal after he arrived back in Australia from the Middle East. He then joined the regular army until 1963. I grew up in Swanbourne Army Barracks. Great memories.

    You are correct. When the song came out the issue of the age of conscription was extensively debated. If I remember correctly the reply was that “I was only 19” was referring to those soldiers who voluntarily signed up. Aussie Towns.

    Karen Hart(nee Boyle)
  • Was located at Puckapunyal for national service in January 1967 at the recruit training facility. My army no. was 4718780. Went on to signals corps and was posted to Balcombe, Diggers Rest, Watsonia and Rockbank. no overseas service. was wondering if there are any photos of the old national service facilities. it appears that a new facility has been built nearby for recruits. Where are the new facilities in relation to the old? Remember being in A company in a barrack next to road adjacent to the wet mess, RAP and some shops. A large parade ground was nearby. Would appreciate any help that u can provide. thanks Lindsay.

    Lindsay Haebich
  • Hi l metal detected at bush at Shepparton area and found a metal tag of j.m. mcelroy corporal, which war was he in? Ww1 ww2?
    Please get back to me on this one.
    Regards Guy

    Guy McIntosh