Puckapunyal – another Hume Memory

July 11, 2007

Travelling down the Hume Highway invokes all sorts of memories, building a thirty year tableau of images. The previous two blogs refer. Once upon a time the highway took you though Seymour but now days the freeway blasts you past and you can’t see the town at all. Nearby is the Army training area of Puckapunyal which you could never see from the road and for which I am always mildly thankful. I spent a few frozen weeks there during school holidays as school Army Cadet and the memories are not altogether positive for Puckapunyal. As I know it is not for a lot of the troops who trained here before going to Vietnam. But finding Gary asleep on the fireside log, covered in frost, and where we left him the night before, anaesthetised by a full bottle of smuggled Southern Comfort remains a highlight. So too my first sighting of a Kookaburra. Two in fact who laughed as we stood shivering in the foggy predawn light under tepid, dribbling bush showers. And the appalled faces of my Toorak school buddies – the prospect of eating bits of rabbit slow cooked in tinned butter off a rusty piece of steel plate was too much for them (I had taken three rabbit traps with me – the NCOs checked my gear the next year to ensure there was no repeat culinary horror).

Puckapunyal is the home to the Australian Armoured Corps and I am intrigued to see the M1Abrams there now. That high technology piece of equipment is about as far away from my cadet experience of Puckapunyal as you can get. And a rabbit caught by any of them would not be worth the eating. Unless you had sculled a bottle of Southern Comfort first.