Viet Vets’ Final Visit
On the 10th December, Tankride in Tamborine saw its last day of operation. Forced to close down as a result of a neighbour’s complaint, owner Tim Wood invited members of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia to take the military vehicles out for ‘a spin of the grounds’ one last time. Peter Farrelly of the Vets said that the equipment at Tankride usually sparked someone’s memory with some of the models previously being driven by the members in Vietnam when they were serving. In his youth, in 1966, Peter became ‘sick of farming’ and walking into the military barracks across the road from the farm where he worked, he joined up a week later. For twenty years he became a full-time soldier serving in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. Peter has been coming to Tankride for five years and comments “Tim has done a marvellous job – it’s so nice to see the vehicles maintained in a driveable condition.”
Len Halford is another life time member of the association, and has owned several original vehicles of which he has restored and then sold including some to Tim. He usually gets hold of the vehicles when someone has left them rusting in a paddock – and may or may not have a tree growing through the middle! He states it has “become more of an obsession than a hobby, as soon as you do one, you want to do another,” said Len, “as Tim is trying to save a bit of military history.” Len was a member of the regular army for many years.
Also a lifetime member, Gordon Johnson, spent 23 years in the regular army from 1968 to 1991 saying he “just walked off the street and became a soldier!”. He became a “9 mile sniper” when posted for a year in 1971 in the Artillery section.
Philip Wallis first joined the army at age 17 and worked in communications in signals. Phil said he saw a lot of equipment at Tankride today that he had never seen before – quite an experience! Graham Pitts, another Vet, said of the equipment “Amazing, amazing, amazing, but not something I would like to work on!
When Tim had half a vehicle restored, he knocked on veteran Phil Lloyd’s door for help. Phil came from an engineering and an army background and ended up working at Tankride from day one. Phil said he has been humbled by the business and the support from Tim, describing him with one word – “different”! Phil said it has been a blessing to have had this experience, to be able to interact with the public, from ages 3 to 105, who have been “so wrapped to be able to climb into tanks!”
Tim said it was “such a tribute to have done 8 years of Tankrides and to have the Vets here today on the last day was a great honour!” Tim said it was “a dream come true – to come from owning one vehicle 12 years ago to this!” Both Tim and Phil expressed great sadness at its closure, Tanks Tim, you gave a such a magical time to so many people – so sad to see it close!
(As a side note: Incidentally, the neighbour has now got approval for 201 blocks and wants to sell to developers for $10 million+.)