Bublacowie Military Museum, Yorke Peninsula

Thursday, 21st Nov 2013 by John Pedler
Categories: Family Yorke Peninsula

Great wall of teaspoons

Great wall of teaspoons

Unless you’re around my age you’ve probably never heard of Happy Venture Readers. And if this still doesn’t ring a bell then perhaps the names Dick, Dora, Nip and Fluff will tickle your memory. Yes, these were the reading books for kiddies of the 50s and 60s, and while following the adventures of two young tackers and their pets we discovered the complexities of the King’s English.

“This is Dick.
Run, Dick, Run.
Nip is a dog.
Nip, run to Dick.”

It was a long journey.

I stumbled upon copies of these infant school classics in yet another unsettling encounter with museum exhibits that I recognise from my childhood. It’s getting harder and harder to feign youth. 

Readers of the past

Readers from the past

The Bublacowie Military Museum between Yorketown and Minlaton is owned and operated by Chris Soar, a decorated veteran of conflicts in Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam. The museum occupies the grounds of the former Bublacowie one teacher school, and although the focus is on military memorabilia, the diversity of exhibits here is incredible. Chris is clearly a keen collector.

There are scale-model train sets and vintage cars, a number in their original boxes. There are also cameras, typewriters, record players, radios, sewing machines and biscuit tins, all in a vast collection that Mike and Frank from the TV show American Pickers would describe as ‘picker heaven’.

Model cars and bikesCars, bikes and buses

In sheds on the property you’ll find old motorcycles and bicycles, a classic timber caravan, and even a Leyland P76 in excellent nick.

But it’s the impressive collection of military artefacts covering all facets of Australia’s involvement in global conflict that sets this museum apart.

Chris has managed to gather together a diverse range of equipment from various campaigns. There are American pistols, German lugers, machine guns, armament shells of all shapes and sizes, and a ghostly World War 1 gas mask. You’ll also find the brown uniform of the Hitler Youth and the camouflage fatigues worn by the Biệt Động Quân, South Vietnam’s elite Rangers.

German World War 1 gas maskLife in the trenches

Among the many uniforms, insignias and medals there are also fascinating insights into civilian life during wartime. A leaflet perched on the mudguard of an Austin Champ explains how citizens can sabotage their own vehicles to prevent them falling into enemy hands.
“If time permits, remove carburettor, deflate tyres and puncture walls, perforate radiator at bottom and bottom of fuel tank.”

But Chris’s main motivation for establishing the museum is to preserve the memory of those who served Australia overseas. Many young men and women from Yorke Peninsula left their small towns and family farms to risk their lives in far off battles. In a tiny schoolyard among the farmlands of the country they held so dear, Chris has created a worthy monument to their selfless sacrifice.

Chevrolet army truckChevrolet army truck

Nuts and Bolts

  • See map below for location.
  • Open Sunday, Monday, Tuesday 10am -4pm.
  • Group bookings can be arranged outside of these times.
  • Closed 1st July to 1st of August annually.
  • Contact Chris Soar to organise camping onsite and dormitory-style accommodation.
  • Ph: (08) 88534379, Mobile: 0419853294, 
  • Annual Remembrance and Celebratory Ceremonies are held at Bublacowie. ANZAC Day: 25th April, Long Tan Day: 18th August, Remembrance Day: 11th November

Phil Anderson 4411002
replied 1555 days ago 
This is the best museum out side of Canberra and is a credit to Chris and his volunteers. A fantastic collection of memrobillia.
John Pedler
replied 1551 days ago 
Hi Phil. It's even more remarkable given it's location in the middle of the farmlands of rural SA. I spent hours there. Cheers, John
John FORD 4411076
replied 1496 days ago 
I'm about to find out soon
Gary Brogan
replied 918 days ago 
As an ex serving Defence Force member, I regard this as the best military museum outside of the Australian War Memorial. Spent many hours there and enjoyed a BBQ and chat with Chris for lunch. Will be attending ANZAC Day in 2017.
John Pedler
replied 915 days ago 
Chris has certainly gathered together a remarkable collection of military artefacts, Gary. It can take a few visits to see it all. Cheers, John
Alistair Scott
replied 887 days ago 
What a great location, with plenty of memorabilia. We have attended the Anzac Day service there for the past three years. I highly recommend the Bublacowie Museum to anyone heading to the Peninsula. We have already booked in for a few nights stay for Anzac Day.
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