ACT News


'Big things in store' reveals behind-the-scenes look at war memorial preservation

Thousands of conserved objects in the Australian War Memorial's storage hub will be uncovered to the public on Saturday at the 'Big things in store' open day.

Its last demonstration saw around 5000 visitors.

Since not all aircrafts, rockets, vehicles and equipment used by or against Australian soldiers can be stored at the AWM, many are carefully stowed at Mitchell's Treloar Technology Centre.

Amongst the historic gems is a Caribou aircraft, which flew more than 20,000 hours throughout 45 years and is known to be the only RAAF to ever be hijacked.

"It was just after the Indonesian takeover of East Timor [in 1975] A Portuguese soldier hijacked the aircraft and forced the crew at gunpoint to take him and his family to Darwin," AWM senior curator Shane Casey explained.

It was heavily overloaded with 54 people when it landed in Darwin with just 10 minutes of fuel remaining.


There are around 7000 items within the warehouse's walls, so it's not possible to show the entire collection this weekend.

However, there will be "the world's best collection of World War I artillery," pre World War I aircrafts built with wood and wire, and some of the most significant relics from World War II.

These include a Japanese Ha-Go tank abandoned in the battle of Milne Bay in 1942 and the Japanese Shinyo suicide launch .

"The idea was that the crew would drive the boat at fast speed towards an enemy invasion ship and explode the charge on impact."

The crew who discovered the Shinyo found two armoured vests inside that are also in the collection, and have "beautiful metal scales with leather covering; really medieval looking."

Other highlights include the Renault FT-17 light tank, one of the most successful tank designs from World War I, an Iroquois helicopter that saw hundreds of operations in Vietnam, and a modern battle-damaged Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle used in Afghanistan.

"Another thing people will see is the way in which the memorial controls, operates and preservers its collection," Mr Casey said.

"Such as how uniforms have been frozen and taken down to a large area to eradicate moths, then encapsulated".

Mr Casey hopes the artifacts will be treasured for many future generations to come.

"I'd like to think we are preserving these things for the next millennia, so long as there's money, storage and the will to do so."

Gates will open from 9am to 3pm, last entry is at 2.30 pm.

Visitors are encouraged to use public transport and the available shuttle buses as parking will be limited.

For more information visit the Australian War Memorial website.