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Army Museum of SA

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au/
Published April 5th 2014
I surrender, let me in here
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Keswick Barracks


The imposing buildings of Keswick Barracks on Anzac Highway are home to a number of units of our armed forces including the Royal South Australia Regiment, the 9th Brigade, Navy Headquarters SA, and the Australian Army Cadets.

The Australian Army also hosts the Army Museum of SA at Keswick Barracks, and it is accessible via Gate 4. It is the only military museum in SA and proudly showcases army equipment, realistic displays of historical campaigns, a large and valuable collection of military medals and special interest displays.

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Army Museum of SA at Keswick Barracks


Outside the Museum is an impressive display of vehicles and artillery including a Saracen armoured personnel carrier, a World War 2 M3 tank, and a Rapier missile system once deployed at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. This collection of vehicles is bound to keep kids entranced, although they are not permitted to climb aboard.

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World War 2 Tank


On entering the museum I was greeted by a friendly volunteer, who explained the layout and offered to answer any questions. The museum is supported by a large number of dedicated volunteers who have done an incredible job of restoring damaged equipment, setting up displays, researching and maintaining them.

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Saracen Personnel Carrier


One of the things I liked about the museum is that there are informative signs everywhere to describe the items on display. They tell the basic statistics, and also often have background information which helps to bring the displays to life. A number of the displays which kids particularly enjoy are interactive - my favourite was one where you have to guess what an object is in a dark case by touch alone.

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Medals on Display


There is a large collection of medals, awards and trophies just in a room to themselves, all painstakingly documented and displayed to be accessible to visitors. A wall hanging proudly lists all the recipients of the Victoria Cross from 1900 to 1969.

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1917 Beersheba Battle Display


The displays are logically arranged so that you start with the earliest campaigns in history (such as the Boer War), and as you move further into the museum the displays relate to more recent wars. There is even an area reserved for a display about the war in Afghanistan.

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Part of the Women in War Exhibit


One of the special exhibits highlights the role of women in war, both in combat and non combat roles. There is even the original piano used by the Cheer Up Society in their Hut near the Adelaide railway station during the first and second world wars. The Society was founded to support servicemen and bring them into contact with the 'highest type of womanhood'.

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Cheer Up Hut Piano


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Signatures on the Cheer Up Hut Piano


One very personal touch are the signatures that literally cover the entire surface of the piano, written by people a lifetime ago. They have now been faithfully transcribed by volunteers into a document, so it is possible to look up your relations or ancestors in alphabetical order.

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Battle of Tobruk Display


Further on there are some very realistic displays from Tobruk and the Kokoda Trail, showing the equipment and the environment that soldiers fought in. There is a lot of painstaking detail - something that volunteers have clearly spent much time over.

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Map of Army Camp at Wayville Showgrounds


An item that caught my eye was a map of the military camp that took over Wayville Showgrounds during World War 2. Another was a most intriguing invention - a periscope rifle that allowed soldiers to shoot behind cover without exposing themselves. Very ingenious.

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The Gallipoli Display


Other equipment such as gas masks brought back memories of the proliferation of gear that used to be available in army surplus stores around Adelaide years ago.

There is enough here to keep a keen visitor occupied for hours. It's no surprise that the museum is popular with school tours, and guided tours for groups are also available.

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Digger, the Museum Ambassador


If you would like to show your appreciation to the volunteers (many from the armed forces) who put on this fantastic military museum display, then you can buy a Digger, the Museum Ambassador for $15. They are made by inmates at the Northfield Women's Prison and proceeds are used to support the Museum.

For those with an interest in Keswick Barracks, there is an excellent article by Peter Donovan of Donovan & Associates here.
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Why? Explore Australia's military history
When: Sundays,12 Noon - 4pm
Phone: (08) 8305 6021
Where: Keswick Military Barracks, Keswick
Cost: $2 donation
Your Comment
Never knew about this place it sounds great for an afternoon out with the kids. Thanks
by lynne (score: 0|8) 1702 days ago
Superb & something totally different to do on a Sunday with my 10yo son. Thanks Dave for unearthing yet again another sight of Adelaide I was unaware of!
by Jenny (score: 3|1573) 1666 days ago
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