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Royal Rover: hopes dim that it conveyed regal visitors

R

oyal tours and Land Rovers! The Snowy Mountains Museum at Adaminaby has an old, dilapidated Land Rover it dares to hope may have been the very vehicle in which, in 1963, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were driven down into underground works of the Snowy scheme.

Can readers help the museum - perhaps with old photographs taken by royalty stalkers in 1963 - prove whether or not this is the Land Rover?

Max Rowe, of Hawker, once a Snowy employee, has been following the discussion and is quietly sceptical.

More on that in a moment, but first here's a lovely story of how, during his many years of working for the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Authority, he used to almost literally ''ride shotgun'' (he carried a revolver) in one Land Rover behind another that was carrying huge (for the time) sums of cash to the mountains.

''Yes, it was like the Wild West,'' he reminisced to this columnist. The two-Land Rover convoy used to leave Cooma and carry workers' pay, in cash, up to remote Snowy workplaces like Cabramurra and Khancoban, where there were no banks. The leading Land Rover carried the money, perhaps as much as £20,000 (''a lot of money in those days'', Rowe observes) and the following one carried revolver-packing men.

He remembers being trained by a pragmatic policeman who told him that, when shooting at someone, always shoot for the body (a nice big target) rather than for the legs. Thank goodness Rowe never had to pull a trigger.

Upon arrival at an alpine workplace, he recalls, the money-carrying Land Rover became the pay office and the men were handed their pay through the window.

Rowe, who points out that over the years of the scheme's construction the authority used and got through about 700 Land Rovers, is sceptical about the museum's battered old contraption being the one. It seems to be a 1950s model and he remembers that the Snowy's hard-working Land Rovers ''really took a hammering in those days'' and so had relatively short lives. The chances of a 1950s one even surviving in the Snowy's employ until the 1963 royal visit, let alone being in good enough shape to be graced by royal bottoms, seems slight.