Cairns Army Museum: Largest Private Collection in the Southern Hemisphere

cairns army museum
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Believe it or not, The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum houses the largest private collection of tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery in the southern hemisphere, all right here in the heart of Cairns.

While army tanks aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, for those interested in military history and museum collections, the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum is definitely worth a visit.

cairns army museumIt houses over 90 collection pieces including large tanks, armoured cars, engines, combat equipment, howitzers and artillery from all over the world, such as America, the UK, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria, just to name a few.

And it is amazing to think that Rob Lowden only started collecting these pieces just over three years ago.

Now with another 24 pieces soon to join the current collection, an extension of the museum is almost finished to house these new pieces.

exhibits

cairns tank museumIt all started when Rob Lowden bought his very first tank three years ago called the Centurion Battle Tank which is originally from the UK and was modified for the Australian Army.

Today it sits proudly in the museum collection with the two toy tanks Rob had as a child, encased in glass in front of the tank, showing where his love of tanks began.

Another popular tank in the collection is the Sentinal Tank (see top photo). This is the only Australian-built tank ever made and there were only 65 built in total.

Today there are six left in the world and one is housed here at The Australian Armour & Artillery Museum and another is owned by Australian entrepreneur Clive Palmer. The museum is hoping to acquire another Sentinal tank from the U.S soon.

cairns war museumOf course the collection wouldn’t be complete without the tank that replaced the Sentinal. The Grant Tank.

This is an American-made tank and was the next prototype used by the army as an upgrade from the Sentinal.

While visitors to the museum often enquire about the Leopard Tanks (they can’t get one), the Tiger WW11 German Tank (they are currently building a replica) and the Sherman Tank (getting one later this year), there are many other amazing pieces to see.

not something you see every day

cairns military museumThe collection has a Russian missile which is definitely a stand-out piece and not the type of thing you see every day.

In fact, most of the collection pieces are real treasures that the general public doesn’t often see and the historical significance of each and every item is quite interesting, with plaques providing the history of each museum piece and where it came from.

slice of hollywood

The museum is hoping to soon acquire the interior of the Sherman Tank movie set used in the Brad Pitt war movie Fury.

The movie prop was apparently made 10 percent bigger than the actual size to accommodate filming, but it will no doubt be a popular piece when it joins the collection here at The Australian Armour & Artillery Museum.

fancy a ride?

And for those who want to really experience an army style adventure, for an added fee you can take a ride inside an authentic decommissioned Vietnam-era army personnel carrier.

The ride goes for about 10 minutes in the paddock behind the museum. Make sure you wear a seatbelt because it can get a little bumpy, not to mention dusty. This was definitely a winner with the kids at the museum.

kid’s corner

military museum cairnsYounger visitors to the museum haven’t been forgotten either as there is a large battle re-creation table for them to play with and create their own imaginary battles.

There are also army costume accessories so they can have their photo taken dressed as a soldier or an army nurse.

The battle re-creation table is incredibly popular.

shooting gallery

On the day we visited the museum, the Shooting Gallery wasn’t finished yet but it is due to be completed by mid-2015. There will be space for two people to shoot at the one time and viewing windows have been built so others can watch. Plus a few new exhibits are expected to be installed in the Shooting Gallery area.

facilities

tank museum cairnsThe museum also has a café and a shop that collectors and model-makers will love.

It stocks a large variety of AFV models and scale model kits, Tamiya paints and accessories, reference books and novelty items such as replica toy guns and army-inspired cookie cutters, ice cube trays and chocolate moulds.

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