Everyone might assume Floriade is the next ‘big’ event in Canberra, but the Treloar Technology Centre is really where it’s at.
Every year, the Australian War Memorial cracks open the doors to its Mitchell-based storage facility and invites the public to walk through 20,000 square metres of warehouses bursting with retired military machines that don’t quite fit in the main building.
Think the ‘G for George’ Lancaster bomber, a jet that travels at 2.5 times the speed of sound, the Japanese Midget submarine that entered Sydney Harbour before having a hole blown in it, and – among the Memorial’s latest acquisitions – a Black Hawk helicopter fresh back from East Timor. There’s also a rebuilt Nazi-built V-2 rocket mounted to one of only three ‘Meillerwagens’ left in the world.
The annual event is called ‘Big Things in Store’, and it’s happening again this Saturday, 2 September.
“Big Things in Store allows the public greater access to the Memorial’s unique national collection,” Australian War Memorial director Matt Anderson says.
“There are currently more than 121,000 items in store and this is a chance for the public to gain a much greater appreciation of the Australian War Memorial’s full collection.”
The full collection includes artillery pieces dating from the mid-1870s all the way through to items and vehicles from the conflicts in Vietnam and Afghanistan.
The facility also includes a workshop that has spent the last three years painstakingly reconstructing the V-2 rocket.
Head of Collection Services Melinda Cohen describes the Treloar Technology Centre as the “workhorse behind what we’re able to show in the main buildings”.
“This is the area where we can preserve and conserve our collection in the hope that one day, they’ll all get to tell their stories.”
The items that never fail to draw the crowds include the ‘G for George’ Avro Lancaster Mk I Bomber, Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter, FA-18 Classic Hornet, Bushmaster protected vehicle (complete with IED damage from its time in Iraq), and the Midget submarine – all of which people remember from their time on display in Anzac Hall.
“We do have some new items too – we have our Black Hawk helicopter, our DH9 WWI aircraft is together, and the V-2 for the first time,” she says.
“A lot of them will go back on display in our new exhibitions that will be coming online in a few years’ time, which is really exciting, but there’s a chance now to see them behind the scenes.”
Big Things in Store was last held in March 2022, when it attracted about 4000 people. Mel expects a similar number this time, so “it’s really important to get those timed tickets”.
‘Big Things in Store’ will be held on Saturday, 2 September, from 9 am to 4:45 pm at the Treloar Technology Centre, 6-10 Callan Street, Mitchell. Entry is free, but all visitors require a two-hour timed ticket to attend. Book online.