2010 GPA Swim in and Military Vehicle Rally
31st Annual GPA Swim-In and Ex-Military Vehicle Gathering at Corowa, NSW. Monday 8th to Sunday 14th March 2010
We have just had a fantastic response to our 31st Annual GPA Swim-In and Ex-Military Vehicle Gathering with the theme: Year of the Jeep. We would have ended up with more supporters than Sir Tom Jones who was also in town on Saturday 13th March for a concert in the vineyards. The final tally of vehicles was 266 which included 180 Jeeps. This was our best display of ex-military vehicles in 31 years of this gathering. Participants were encouraged to pre-register (so we are given an indication of numbers of vehicles, number of people and types of vehicles). Pre-registered participants received a great package of information including a metal badge, calendar, (designed by Andrew McIntosh), important notes on different parts of the event, maps of locations we were visiting, stickers and Jeep Action Australia donated a magazine. The main venues to view vehicles were Ball Park Caravan Park and the Corowa Airport. We appreciate the support that these facilities provide. Most of the other accommodation in town is booked out and if people are considering attending in 2011 the best thing to do is contact the Corowa Tourist Information Centre. They have been a great support and now promote our event widely. There was a display for 2 weeks in the Information Centre which created lots of interest and phone calls.
Upon arrival in Corowa on Saturday 6th March Craig and I were met by a number of enthusiastic participants. We were provided with periodic reports of where Richard and Veronica Davies were after deciding to drive their Jeep from WA. The Corowa Council had generously provided us with a Site Office, filing cabinet and had organised a cherrypicker for our photo shoot. Sonia and Andrew at Ball Park Caravan Park made sure the site office was clean and sourced some extra tables from a local sporting club. We set up our office on Sunday during the rain and thunderstorms, ready for the official opening on Monday morning at 8.30am. KVE members had nominated for particular time slots throughout the week. It was also great to see people who aren’t KVE members at the Site Office. They would have had the opportunity to meet some interesting people from different parts of Australia and across the world.
We had a number of people arrive late Sunday who had been caught up in flooding at various places within NSW, Vic and Qld. They were determined to make it Corowa. Fortunately the weather cleared up midweek and our activities weren’t affected. In the evening a number of us enjoyed a Carvery meal at the Corowa RSL dinner at the Royal Hotel. It was an opportunity for those in town to meet. Richard O’Brien and David Blears from the Military Vehicle Collectors Forum, based in Qld attended and it was an opportunity for them to meet some of our participants. They provided us with banners and stickers for the event which was appreciated by the members of KVE.
I stayed at the Corowa Airport on Saturday and Sunday night and was surprised when I saw Don Vallis‘s tent site nearly underwater on the Sunday morning. By Monday morning it was completely underwater and Don and Carol were forced to relocate. Tim, from the Jump Shak said he had never seen that much water at the airport. Some were referring to the area as ‘Corowa Airport Lakeside Resort’.
There were quite a number of breakdowns this year. It has been given the subtitle “Year of the Breakdown”. We were told about a number of these including Stephen Smith’s Blitz. Stephen had been working day and night to get his Blitz to Corowa. Fred Reeves assisted Stephen with the maintenance and driving. On the way down they had fuel and generator problems. They had to rebuild the carburetor on the side of the road. The first time Stephen drove the vehicle at Corowa he burnt out the No 5 big end bearing. Unfortunately it had to be transported home. What a memory for his first year at Corowa. Peter Robinson had problems while driving his Jeep over Mt Hotham when he broke the distributor shaft and had to have one sent from Maffra, 200 kms away so he could continue his trip.
On Monday there was a steady stream of vehicles arriving at Ball Park to register in. By 6pm we had 63 vehicles. There was still rain but the weather report indicated the rain would stop. A number of the vehicles found tracks alongside the Murray River in a couple of different areas and participants enjoyed testing out their vehicles through the mud. A number of us ended up at D’Amici’s Italian Restaurant for a delicious meal.
Tuesday was the day where people could go over to Wodonga; visit Tooles Disposals, take a look at the Tooles Warehouse and visit Bandiana Army Musuem. During the morning Prime and WIN TV came and did a story which featured on the news that evening. Merv Kennedy’s SAS Jeep featured very well. By 6pm we had 113 vehicles.
On Wednesday we went in convoy to The Karinyah Apartments Aged Care Facility. There were a number of Jeeps and various other vehicles including Blitzes, Dodge Weapons Carrier, motorcycles, Moke and the Mack. Our visit was appreciated by the elderly people; some of whom told of their wartime experiences. In the afternoon a few of us went wine and olive tasting. There are some great wineries in this area which is probably one reason why we get more women attending the event now. Keith Webb (from Image Control) arrived later in the day and people had been asking for his 2009 Year of the Blitz and Year of the Amphibian DVD all week. There was some great interviews and footage of our 30 year celebrations. If you didn’t manage to pick up a copy email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03 9429 3301. Keith couldn’t wait to get out in the bush and film some of the vehicles going through the mud. By 6pm there were 145 vehicles registered. The Hotel Australia was very accommodating when we asked to book a room for a meal.
With the large amount of rain earlier in the week the trip to Maurice Wilson’s was a bit doubtful. Rick went and spoke to Maurice on the Wednesday evening and as long as people stuck to the tracks there would be no problems. A large convoy left from Corowa Airport on Thursday morning and upon arrival at the property Rick gave them instructions. It was great to see people took note of the instructions. Unfortunately we didn’t have any amphibious vehicles present for dunking in and out of the water at this stage. The water level was quite low and dropped a few feet throughout the week. After the visit a few of us went to a location near the new bridge and found the ‘mud baths’. There are some great photos of Tony Elliotts’s Ford Blitz.
There was a last minute change of plans for the talk on the Normandy pilgrimage last year. We ended up at the Corowa Jump Shak where people were able to have a Gourmet BBQ. Final numbers were required by midday Wednesday so unfortunately some people missed out on this meal. Hopefully next year we will be able to promote this and there will definitely be an increase in numbers of people wanting the BBQ. It was delicious and well worth $15 . Thanks must go to Lang and Bev Kidby along with Leisa and Nigel Ward for the informative talk and photos. People were provided with an informative insight into the convoy of vehicles to Normandy in 2009 from Australia for the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day landings. Fortunately there were no huge problems, just a few breakdowns. Hans Spranger also spoke on a trip he wants to organize next year.
Sue and Leon Heynders were the organizers of the Friday trip to Chiltern. They did a couple of Recce’s prior to the event and had contact with John McDonald from National Parks Victoria, the Chiltern Tourist Information Centre and the Wahgunyah Primary School. In each person’s pack was a copy of the map where the trip would be going and unfortunately some people left their maps behind. Thanks for organizing this part of the rally.
I was invited to attend a function organised by Hugh Davis at Joint Logistics Unit, Victoria. There may be an opportunity for people to view these facilities while we are at Corowa in the future. We will be discussing this further during the year.
DUKW Dunking and salvaging of Tim Scriven’s DUKW occurred on Friday. (Not just once but twice.) This is a recent acquisition for Tim and he had a few experts on board to give him some lessons. In case of any dramas Mark Weltner’s Mack (the largest vehicle in town) was not far away. Tim was dying to get the vehicle into the river and when he did he learnt various ways to get himself off snags. I missed the first ‘dunking’. Upon arrival back in Corowa I received a phone call from Tim saying he had the DUKW back in the river. He provided me with the details of the best viewing spot and upon arrival found the DUKW was stuck. Two GPA’s assisted with the evacuation of people off the vehicle and then once a D shackle was found the vehicle winched itself out of the water. The whole drama was filmed for the next Corowa DVD.
Over the week many of the vehicles had found good mud holes and quite often the vehicle and the crew came back covered in mud. I went across with a number of vehicles to Wahgunyah and turned right after crossing the bridge. There was a number of interesting bogs. Dutchy had to be pulled out a few times. Mark’s Mack capably got through and Peter Kunz was determined to show how good his VW was. We now had 242 registered vehicles by 6pm. John Oldenmenger held a drivers and marshals briefing at the Site Office. Participants were provided with detailed information on how the vehicles were to be lined up at Bangerang Park and also out at the Corowa Airport. Ian Williams had organised a dinner at the Old Empire Hotel at Wahgunyah for MLU forum people. Approximately 20 people attended and the meal was delicious and served quickly.
The Saturday is the day people look forward to most. For me it commenced early and was a busy day. A knock on the door and a delivery of homemade pancakes from Ian Williams at 7am was a very nice gesture. Sarah Bush, Craig Stathis and I put on our KVE fluorescent jackets and positioned ourselves at Bangerang Park ready to sign in people who had arrived overnight for the parade. We ended up with an extra 24 vehicles. People were encouraged to arrive at 7.30am and fortunately people took notice of this. Marshals were designated to control various vehicle types. The marshals were: Murray Oben, Clark Ross, Rita Thomas, Peter Sabey, Ray Kickert, Hugh Davis, Mark Weltner and Craig Brennan. John was extremely impressed with the work done by the marshals. I left Bangerang Park at 8.55am and upon arrival at the Corowa Airport noticed the Cherrypicker hadn’t arrived. After a phone call to Rick who gave me the mobile number for the Shire Engineer it arrived at the end of the parade. I filmed the parade from just near the entry to Corowa Airport. It was long and extremely well organised. The occasional break between vehicles meant there were very few traffic holdups outside the airport. Sighted this year were the Queen and Prince Charles in separate Jeeps. At the front of the line up was what we classed as ‘Early Jeep and Special Jeeps’. This included a MA Willys, 4 GPA’s, Slat grills, Fire Brigade, SAS, 6X4 Jeep, First Aid Jeep, and imitation railway jeep. The motorcycles flanked this line. The other Ford Jeeps and Willys Jeeps were lined up behind. Each Jeep was given a tag to determine whether they were Ford or Willys. Early Jeeps had a white tag, Special Jeeps had a green tag and late or modified Jeeps had a maroon tag. This ended up being a very effective way to group the Jeeps. The other vehicles were lined up in groups behind. The photos taken from the cherrypicker were fantastic! We had great weather and the Rotary Club did a roaring trade. It is great that the Rotary Club organize this function for us. People are only charged $5 per site and there are usually many bargains to be found. After seeing the airport the weekend before it was hard to believe it was nearly totally underwater. At 12.30pm the group photo of MLU forum members was taken in front of the Willys MA.
On Saturday evening the auction and presentations commenced at 7.30pm. We had received some great donations and Steve Grantham , the local Corowa Auctioneer provided entertainment and encouragement to bidders. Thanks to the many people who donated items for auction. The most expensive item was the official Corowa 2010 banner donated by Tony Dwyer. Thanks for this and the stickers. After part of the auction we stopped for presentations and a few speeches. It was an enjoyable evening. Awards this year were as follows:
Lynda Toohey represented Jeep Action Australia and she presented some awards:
Each participant received a Voting form and had the opportunity of suggesting a theme for 2014. The final decision was Year of the Ford and WW1. In 2011 the theme is Year of the British and European Vehicles, 2012 is Year of the 6X6 and 2013 is Year of the Trailed Equipment.
A large number of participants left for home on the Sunday. After a KVE meeting at 10am where we commenced planning for 2011 and received some great comments, we sorted out the Site Office then had some time to enjoy ourselves. A group of us went over to Cofields Winery and had a nice lunch, tasted chocolates and wine associated with the Tastes of Rutherglen. Approximately 50 people attended the final dinner at The Royal Hotel in the evening. The RSL Carvery is usually on our program for the final Sunday night but with the difficulty providing numbers to the Club we changed the venue. The Hotel was just ideal.
It was great to see more families attending this year. The Stephens family from Warren came down with 3 Jeeps and a Studebaker. There were a number of couples who both had vehicles to drive.
There are many people to thank and hopefully I have covered them in my report. The current committee and members of KVE have helped share the load. If you are interested in joining KVE Inc download a Membership Application Form from our website. It will provide you with opportunities to have more of a say in the running of the event. It is also great to have participants help prior to and during the event. It does take 12 months to organize and hopefully there will be more people who offer to assist in the future. Rick Cove, Maureen Bell and Tim Scriven have been there in the background providing lots of support and have been able to take on different roles as required.
There has been a suggestion of encouraging people who have anything amphibious to attend. The origins of the event were related to military amphibians but there are a low number of these vehicles. We get interest from people with non-military amphibians and we are not a closed group of people. It is important that we accept people who come along with different types of amphibians to keep the origins of the event alive.
We have continued to get great publicity. Look out for articles and photos in 4X4 Australia, Jeep Action Australia, Military Machines International and The Pathfinder. The local newspapers, radio and TV station featured our event prior to us arriving, while we were in town and after the gathering. Information on our event can be found on www.corowaswim-in.org A number of forums also have threads relating to the gathering such as MLU Forum, MVCA Forum, G503.com Message Forum and the HMVF Forum.
Military Vehicle List for 2010: total 266
Written by: Jan Thompson