RSL Active has launched in Wonthaggi with an adrenaline-fuelled activity for the young and the young at heart.
Wonthaggi's first RSL Active adventure captivated a group of veterans and their families with a hands-on experience boarding and driving around in army tanks.
Participants were bussed to South Gippsland Tank Adventures, located in the Strzelecki Ranges on a 400-acre farm, which features a range of tanks from different eras and origins restored as close to original running condition as possible.
The veterans were treated to a ride on the Centurion, a main battle tank built in 1950 that served with Australian troops in Vietnam.
The second tank out and about for the adventure was the 1970s-era FV 432 APC.
Secretary of the Wonthaggi RSL, Bert Orr, served in the Navy for six years and was keen to try something new.
“I went on the tank adventure, and I had a ball because I’d never been on a tank before. If I ever jumped the fence to go to the army, I would have been a tanky!”
Bert moved to Wonthaggi just four months ago and has been embraced by the local Sub-Branch.
He says the first RSL Active event was a success and helped to broaden his connections.
"I saw the amount of discussion that occurred between the veterans that were there. I think it’s a great thing because we were all socialising, learning each other’s stories, and it’s through that collective sharing of knowledge and experiences that camaraderie grows."
The oldest participant, an 86-year-old veteran, was lifted onto the tank and driven around, with reports he was smiling from ear to ear.
Bert says it goes straight to the heart of what the RSL is about.
“It’s about helping your mates and supporting each other and that’s what the RSL stands for. It was so great to hop on the back of that tank with him and get him up there. The grin on his face made it all worthwhile.”
Wonthaggi RSL President, Dan Lucas, says thanks to RSL Active there will be future events and get-togethers.
“[RSL Active] allows for social connections, gets people out and gets people involved. Anyone from all over the state or country if they’re veterans or affiliates can join in. We had a veteran and his family from Frankston come along.”
Wonthaggi RSL has already planned its next RSL Active event – a walk around the wetlands - and is working on more to be rolled out over the coming months.
RSL Active is a program from RSL Victoria designed to support the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families.