Monday 30 October 2023

Australian Armour & Artillery Museum

The younglings and myself visited Cairns the other week. It's ~1500km from us. For a frame of reference, think London to Moscow. Or New York to Florida. And we're in the same state. Not even at the extreme farthest ends of the state, either.

Naturally we stopped at the tank museum.

The girl (10) enjoyed it for about 10min. She spotted and identified all the Girls Und Panzer tanks so there's that I suppose. 

The wee lad (8) enjoyed it for about 30 min. He identified a LOT of them actually (thanks to War Thunder and bedtime reading of WW2 weapon encyclopedias) especially the obvious ones - Stuarts, Grants, Lees, Shermans, Churchills, Stugs, Panthers and Tigers. Since his bedtime reading also involved snippets from Tigers in the Mud he was keen to check out the Tiger. The Tiger and the Panther were so big! Favourites included Firefly, Schimmenwagen and Kettenkrad (it's a motorbike tank dad - cool!). He was disappointed how cramped the Lee was inside - in his head canon it would be like mobile home due to its side doors. 

Mum liked the misnamed Goliath RC tank. I was dragged away after a mere hour or so thanks to my cruel family. The kids had a ride in an APC with the sides cut away (I think it was a FV432) which they reckoned was like riding in an eggbeater. Apparently on museum anniversary day they fire up and drive around ~50 'exhibits!'

The Su-152 proves size matters with a round the size of a softdrink bottle...

Below are some photos. I've got photos of most of the tanks and APCs so if you want a shot of a particular tank or tanks, shoot us a line in the comments. The index of the exhibits is here.

Here is the 26min  walking tour. They have a pretty interesting Youtube channel as they restore exhibits etc.

We took lots of photos - as although the lad and I are painting up our 15mm WW2 tanks for a fantasy dieselpunk apocalypse wargame (involving mutants, cannibals and savage monsters as well as tank pirates roaming a wasteland Europe - think Mad Max meets Mortal Engines meets Fury) - we are painting them mostly 'proper' colours in case we want to use them for actual WW2 games. Once my bank balance recovers, I think some more 15mm tanks are in order...

The wee lad was impressed by the size of the German heavies....

...but was most envious of the 'motorbike tank!'

 I was amused to see a Bolt Action display and hear employees discussing Wargaming (from World of Tanks). Obviously there is quite a bit of a crossover between tabletop wargamers/dad pc gamers/'old farts who like to look at tanks.'


My daughter retreated to the small arms exhibits and underground firing range(!) as it was cooler downstairs...  Your ticket works for 3 days but unfortunately I had to go to inland that day.

It was an amazing museum and totally worth a visit - if only it wasn't 1500km away...

Weird fact: There is a free tank exhibit in the Cairns botanic gardens. But - plot twist - it's water storage tanks with art displays inside them!

I reckon the Cairns council got visitor feedback "The tank museum is awesome but we wish it was free and you could go inside the tanks" ... and in typical city council/monkey paw style they misunderstood....


  1. Qué bonito el museo, además se ve muy bien cuidado. Seguro que obtuviste mucha inspiración viendo todos esos tanques.
    Un saludo.

  2. I love this post! I'm writing from the family van some 1900 miles from home (saw Devil's Tower yesterday!), it's amazing what you can see when you get it there with the family.

    1. You are getting out to my neck of the woods!

      Let me know if you have any questions about Yellowstone.

    2. We didn't make it out that far (I only have so many days off) but when we were planning the trip I told my wife if we made it further I'd try to meet you!

  3. I'm a tiny bit disappointed no Flames of War, given the geography and subject matter. Plus, isn't Bolt Action crazy expensive because it's from the UK?

    - GG

    1. I also expected FoW!

      Wargaming is more expensive in Australia, period. E.g a Mumak in UK is 70GBP ($133AUD) but in Australia it is $185AUD. Must be the posties don't like riding their bikes upside down....


    2. Thanks! BA is a nice scale, but 40% is a bit much of a mark up. At some point, it's got to be cheaper to bulk buy from America and ship

    3. P&P from America has become really bad. So US-only games are often 'off the menu'. UK is often better.

      To exacerbate this, while 40K is ever-present, and Warlord/FoW/Malifaux has half a dozen sellers, what I'd call B-tier games like Mantic or Infinitty may have only a few sellers in the whole country. I think Dropfleet Commander has only 1 source...