Mark and I had planned to go and see this museum with the girls on a short trip from home for something to do on a weekend, After Mark and I were ditched by the girls for a better offer we still decided to make the trip over to Fulham to see the Gippsland Armed Forces Museum and we are both really glad we did!
Gippsland Armed Forces Museum is not to be confused with The East Sale RAAF Base. This is a small, stand-alone, volunteer-run museum located at the T.A.F.E campus out at Fulham right next to the West Sale Airport.
The museum was established in around 2000 and was originally located right in the town of Sale next to the old netball courts. Due to the land being obtained by the government for a redevelopment the museum relocated out to the T.A.F.E campus. Sale has had a long history with the RAAF with the West Sale Aerodrome being the original RAAF base during WWII before being relocated to the current East Sale base that is still operational today. It seems a fitting place for the museum to be in now.
As we pulled up we were greeted by three different, restored aircraft. Seeing them sitting right next to the runway was a sight! We spent some time looking at them and taking photo’s before Mark called me over to see an old engine that had been rebuilt by a local company that still uses the airport. This engine had been used in the Steven Spielberg TV Show ‘The Pacific‘ starring Tom Hanks. Not bad for a little Sale business!
A small piece of Hollywood at Gippsland Armed Forces Museum
We made our way inside and I must say I was absolutely stunned at the amount of memorabilia that the museum has. Gippsland Armed Forces Museum specifically focuses on service men and women from Gippsland alone, I think that is why I was stunned, it really hit home how much small communities contributed to all the different war efforts over time. Three rooms are filled with items that have been donated, gifted or on loan. The care and love put into all the exhibits is absolutely evident as you go from piece to piece. So much pride and effort has been put into every piece that is displayed by a small number of committed volunteers. I was lucky enough to spend some time with one of those wonderful volunteers. As I walked around all the rooms he was with me telling me how they got some of the items that are on show. Some are donated by family after their family member has passed, some are given to the museum by an ex-service man or woman so people can see them and some have been acquired by the museum themselves. Many of the people that the exhibits are about have been extensively researched by the museum or they have had a families input to make sure the information is as accurate as possible.
It was at this point I was glad the girls had gone out for the day. This amazing gentleman could have my undivided attention and I was so glad he spent nearly an hour with me telling me so many personal stories that weren’t on the information boards. It is volunteers like him that make places like this extra special.
The story I liked the most was the one about the American pilot flying from Laverton to Canberra that went missing. Now you may think that this is not a Gippsland story but it turns into one. Aberfeldy is out the back of Walhalla and is pretty rough terrain. The pilot and aircraft were finally found in 1948 by a gentleman walking in the bush. At this point, the pilot’s remains were returned to Hawaii and classed as Missing in Action. Decades passed until a gentleman by the name of Rick, (who is also now a volunteer at Gippsland Armed Forces Museum) took it upon himself to get the pilot the military funeral he deserved. After a long process of DNA testing, the pilot was finally laid to rest again with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery. It was this man’s dedication that got that pilot the honours he deserved. I am sure I could have spent hours there listening to every story that could be told.
I thoroughly enjoyed our visit out to Gippsland Armed Forces Museum and I will be returning with the girls very soon as I do think they will really enjoy it as well.
Saturday to Monday: 10 am to 4 pm
(Other times by appointment)
The Gippsland Armed Forces Museum can be accessed 9.7 kilometres west of Sale Victoria via the Princess Highway. The Museum is located off the Princess Highway at the West Sale Aerodrome. You will find the museum signs posted on the highway. More information on the Gippsland Armed Forces Website is available here
If a family member of yours served in any of the Armed Forces, Gippsland Armed Forces Museum would love to hear from you. Keeping the memories of our region’s military service alive is important for future generations.