Deep mystery over Rover
Last Friday's probing, investigative column revealed the attempts of the Snowy Scheme Museum in Adaminaby to discover whether a mouldering Land Rover in their possession really is just any old mouldering Land Rover. What if it is instead a national treasure deserving of reverent restoration?
For the museum has strong suspicions, because of folklore attached to the hulk they've acquired, that it will turn out to be the very vehicle in which Her Majesty the Queen and her dear husband the Duke of Edinburgh toured some sites of the Snowy Mountain Scheme in 1963. If it is the regal vehicle, then the Land Rover isn't scrap at all, but a glittering artefact.
Meanwhile, though, the museum needs proof that it is the Land Rover before going to the expense of restoring it. The museum is asking the public, through globally-significant mass-audience columns like this one, for any evidence anyone has. For example, what if there's someone out there with family photos taken by the family royalist who stalked the Queen and the Duke in 1963 and snapped them at the Snowy occasion?
Last Friday I, most unhelpfully, didn't publish a picture of the dilapidated Land Rover with the printed column (although it did appear on The Canberra Times' increasingly barnstorming website) but here it is today.
The man to contact with any information is Tim Corkill. and since last Friday people have contacted him and the plot has both thinned and thickened.
One person to contact him was Canberran Lannon Harley, a photographer but more importantly a Land Rover aficionado and a restorer of them. He is even restoring two that once belonged to the Snowy Authority.
We get a glimpse of the depth of Harley's enthusiasm for Land Rovers from his first response ''She's a beauty!'' to his first glimpse to a picture of the museum's contraption. To the average eye it looks like an ugly hulk (Corkill says that when retrieved from Bemboka it looked like ''it's been used as a chook shed'') but Harley can see loveliness in it, just as true enthusiasts for things, even for Cavalier King Charles spaniels, somehow always can.
Harley would love this to be the royal Land Rover but has been able to erect just the sorts of sceptical hurdles the museum knows it must clear. Corkill said yesterday that ''Of course we want these investigations to have a positive outcome but only if it's a truthful outcome.
One of Harley's hurdles is that he can see that museum's vehicle is a 1950s model. Would the Snowy hosts have suffered the royal couple to ride in a Land Rover that wasn't sparklingly brand new? Who can tell?
Suspenseful investigations continue. Watch this space. Corkill's number is 0401 987 628 and the museum is at publicity@snowyschememuseum. com.au
In 1963 and the day after visiting the Snowy scheme and perhaps riding in the museum's Land Rover, the royals flew from Cooma to Canberra in an RAAF Convair. It was March 11, 1963, and The Canberra Times reported that ''there was loud applause'' as the plane's door opened and there was the Queen wearing an ensemble of ''electric blue'', including ''a matching head-hugging hat''.
This was the tour, 1963, when prime minister Sir Robert Menzies made his famous and famously embarrassing speech to the Queen. It was almost the most obsequious speech ever made by an Australian prime minister, although Prime Minister Julia Gillard's scrotum-shrivellingly embarrassing (for Australians) 2011 speech to the US Congress ran it close. Menzies quoted from a poem by Thomas Ford:
I did but see her passing by,
And yet I love her till I die.
Menzies' quotes from the poem were, thank goodness, selective. Ford's entire poem, about a woman high above his station, actually contains as much lust as knightly respect. Other lines have it:
I touch'd her not, alas! not I,
And yet I love her till I die.
Had I her fast betwixt mine arms,
Judge you that think such sports were harms,
Were't any harm? No, no, fie, fie,
For I will love her till I die.